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  1. - Top - End - #451
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Recaiden's Avatar

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    Apr 2008
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    Default Re: Serious Plots 8: Rawr serisaurus!

    Spoiler: Previously, on Discord, Part 1
    Show
    [Ell Hive]

    High in the mountains, within the throne room of the living castle that is mother Ell, Osa enumerates to Sekhmet the creatures that she might command.
    Workers, yes. Diligent, precise. Critical to a hive cluster’s growth and success.
    Voxes, for facilitating communication. They are barely alive and working with them is a trivial effort. Osa regards them with a little distaste. Voxes, you see, are partially mechanical.
    Weavers, who have power over life and cloth. They are clever, but placid, lacking ambition of their own.
    Hounds like your ‘Ellie’. swift, precise, sensitive to the supernatural. Usually come in pairs. Of our normal servants, these are the easiest to command.
    Archers, the primary warrior flight. Also excellent diggers.
    Mantises, the primary aerial flight. Their senses, mode of movement, and other peculiarities make them tricky to control.
    Striders, for purposes requiring immense strength or toughness
    Stalkers, stealthy and troublingly smart. Some develop extensive abilities of illusion, and they have power enough to control a hound or two themselves. Consider them our...loyal knights.
    The princess sends impressions of each of these creatures, what they look like, what they are like, so Sekhmet isn’t completely unfamiliar. There are others that require a princess’s touch, or that tend exclusively to the hive, which you needn’t concern yourself with now. And there were kinds that didn’t survive the journey to the Nexus. In the future we will surely welcome more.
    bc5601/30/2020
    Ell Hive

    I, uh, understand Sekhmet thinks back. The information helps, but in some ways it's worrying. Stalkers are too smart? What does that even mean? What about her? Is she too smart? She mostly maintains her composure and asks more questions. How do I summon them, uh, especially if I'm far away?
    RecRec01/30/2020
    [Ell Hive]
    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, Sekhmet. Spike is a stalker; Stalkers are definitely people. People have many advantages, but they can also come up with ideas much worse than anything a mere animal could get itself into. Are Marquesses too smart? Maybe. There were similar concerns with dukes, but they worked out find.

    Think ahead, and try not to be caught too far from those you'll need. Coordinating creatures to be able to respond when and where they're needed is a skill.
    To call them, just reach out through your sense of your fellows, and will them to you, like with a hound. If they're very far, think to one of us princesses to help connect you. You should begin with those who are already physically present, to get a sense of it. There's a noticeable difference in the 'texture' of mental communication with creatures depending on their current connections or lack thereof.
    bc5601/30/2020
    Ell Hive

    I, uh, can't have too many following me. It would be too conspicuous Sekhmet still hides her affiliation from the public. Not many people know what has happened to her. She extends her mental sense, looking for something nearby which isn't busy that she can try to call for. Come here please. She's not sure if she needs to say more or less.
    RecRec01/30/2020
    [Ell Hive]

    Then it will be important that they be able to come to you quickly for as long as you are undercover amongst humans, won't it?
    The nearest creature is an archer that would sometimes guard explorations in dangerous environments, but no such expeditions are going on now. It is laying outside in the shade of a tunnel entrance. It has no words, but it responds with a sort of skepticism towards Sekhmet's polite request, or perhaps skepticism towards the whole idea of Sekhmet. She will need to say more , or connect with it more deeply than that simple instruction.
    bc5601/30/2020
    Ell Hive

    That's rude. Sekhmet's doing her best, you know. She just doesn't have a dominating personality. Just come, she thinks, slightly annoyed, It's just a short test. It won't take long at all. She's broadcasting a little more forcefully, but at the same time, she doesn't want it to only come because she seized control of it.
    RecRec01/30/2020
    [Ell Hive]

    The archer is...amused, let's say, and acquiesces, all of its sensory impressions and vague animal thoughts becoming more clear to Sekhmet as it lifts itself from rest and slithers up the castle.

    An archer is pretty big. They weight up to a ton, and can stretch 20 feet long (but are almost always hunched and folded over in an 's' shape). They have two arms (ending in digging claws that could also cut a person up pretty well) two cannons (in their shoulders), two eyes, two sets of jaws (one inside the other), and a huge bony crest sweeping back from their head and sheltering their slithery bulk behind it.
    bc5601/30/2020
    Ell Hive

    As the archer approaches, Sekhmet resists the urge to shiver in fear. That thing is huge! She can control that? She beckons it closer, reaching out with one hand. She wants to touch it, to feel its carapace. She monitors its thoughts as she does so, trying to get an understanding for what she's working with.
    RecRec01/31/2020
    [Ell Hive]]

    Yes, it's big. Yes, you can control it. Actually, shivering in fear is a pretty reasonable response.
    What the archer will do if not willed otherwise is slowly slide closer and then lunge forward the last bit of distance so as to startle Sekhmet. Archers love surprising people. But Sekhmet will probably be able to see this coming.

    Its upper carapace is smooth and hard, like polished wood grown warm. Lower down, it has rough patterns like a snake or a tree, to help it grip. Once she touches it, it makes a throaty hissing noise, a sound of deference to its leader.

    The creature is no smarter than a cat, at best, and most of the cleverness it has is focused on hunting-tracking-fighting.
    bc5601/31/2020
    Ell Hive

    It's one thing to know something is coming. It's another think entirely to be prepared for it. With a startled, "Yeeeek!" Sekhmet jumps away from the archer as it lunges at her. When she realizes that this is the massive killing machine over 10 times her size's way of playing with her, she calms down. A little. It's like a cat batting at its owner's hand, except bigger and scarier. She runs her hand along its shell and listens to it hiss. It's not so bad, really. When it thought skepticism and amusement at her, she thought it might be a real person, but it seems more like a cat, and that makes sense. Cats are like that.
    RecRec01/31/2020
    [Ell Hive]

    No, it's not a person. Just a playful half-tame predator.
    There, you see how it's done. With practice, you will learn to split your attention between at least a few creatures at once Osa doesn't have the context to communicate 'like conducting an orchestra', but there's a feeling vaguely like that.
    The archer casually wonders 'what next?'

    Sekhmet may notice the approach of another hive creature, a noble's complicated tangle of thoughts and intentions. It's approaching rather quickly, at that, zooming (down) towards the castle.
    bc5601/31/2020
    Ell Hive

    Sekhmet doesn't have any experience conducting or even attending an orchestra, but she gets the point, more or less. The archer is told to stay put and rest until it is dismissed. Sekhmet then turns her attention towards the descending noble. This must be the other Marquess she asked to meet. She looks up to where she knows it is and watches it approach with anticipation.
    RecRec01/31/2020
    [Ell Hive]

    The archer curls up and lies down as instructed, folding its arms under and coiling up so that its tougher carapace is facing outwards in each direction.

    ((Now, I was under the impression that they were in a fairly interior space, and looking up will see, at best, one of the spiky turrets of Ell with the new Marquess off somewhere behind it. But without the forum I can't really check.))
    The other Marquess is swooping down through the air, performing some pointless aerial flourish like a flip or a roll as she arrives and spreads her four wings to come in to a landing. So the biggest difference between Sekhmet and the others - the lack of arms - is obvious right away. She looks more thin and angular than either Sekhmet or Serket, but the family resemblance is very strong. She's wearing a tight-fitting purple-grey outfit for improved aerodynamics.
    "You wanted to see me, Sekhmet? Wow, how great to meet you in person!"
    bc5601/31/2020
    Ell Hive

    Apparently Sekhmet's reputation has preceded her. Why would it be great to meet her in person though? Surely she can't be that important? "Uh, hi, uh..." She has the distinct disadvantage of not knowing her compatriot's name. She takes in the Marquess' appearance, the wings in place of her arms, the uncanny resemblance to herself, and the flight suit. That's actually not a bad idea, but Sekhmet only just learned to fly and still spends more time walking than flying. "You're uh, a duplicate of me?" It's probably best to address the elephant in the room first.
    RecRec01/31/2020
    [Ell Hive]

    It's not that she's important, although she probably is, but that she's a small celebrity.
    "You can call me Lokvah." They have different naming conventions here in Ell, and less familiarity with egyptian myth. Lokvah nods her head. "That's right. Not you you, we're duplicates of your essence. We're a little more in-sync with the hive, since we grew here rather than joining later." Little things like the repositioned wing bone, the larger middle horns. But only some; I mean, she still has hair on her head. "As soon as you joined, the queen started working on us. Apparently you have a lot in common with humans, so it went pretty well." Lokvah is fairly excited to exist.
    bc5601/31/2020
    Ell Hive

    Why would Sekhmet be a celebrity? It's not like she did anything important. She has more important questions for Lokvah though. "How was it done? How are we, uh, related? Why do you look so old?" Lokvah couldn't be more than a few months old, but she looks fully grown. And is she Lokvah's mother, or sister, or something else entirely? The naming convention wouldn't have touched Sekhmet's mind either way. She doesn't have any knowledge of Egyptian myth to work with. All she knows about her namesake comes from a stranger she met at a Spooktober party: that she's a sun goddess associated with lions.
    RecRec01/31/2020
    [Ell Hive]

    Silly Sekhmet. You don't have to do anything to be a celebrity.

    "Oh, well, the Queen gained your essence when you first joined the hive." Remember that, Sekhmet? When you were poked and pricked by various implements while you looked at yourself in horror and hoped that it was all a bad dream? "Then she studied and tested for a while before delivering it to the mothers."

    "I'm not actually just three months old." Lokvah explains, impossibly. "We grow for a while inside our mother, and then longer out in the hive, and then we spin a cocoon where we grow into our adult forms. Like a butterfly." And in a display of outrageous cheating masterful psychogenetic manipulation , they can receive their adult DNA after having lived through their whole childhood. "It's just that I grew these wings back then. The princesses help us change faster, too."

    "Well, in one sense we're sisters, but in another, you're my, uh, aunt?" They've never really had to worry about this, but one of them did say sister earlier, for simplicity. English kinship terms fail to capture having multiple different dimensions of parents. "Our expert recommends 'cousin' since we're both Marquesses." See, Sekhmet counts as being an adopted child of Eurus, who is Lokvah's mother's mother. On the other claw, the two of them are almost as close as identical twins. On the gripping hand, there are actual twins in the hive for certain flights of creature. "Sisters would mean we came from the same mother-hive, we think."
    bc5601/31/2020
    Ell Hive

    Well that's a confusing mess. Sekhmet gets a sense of just how hard it is to categorize. It sounds like their relationship is more defined by hive politics than biology. Biologically speaking, they're sisters, but by measuring their connections to the hive queens it comes to something closer to aunt and niece. Of course, the first answer leads to more interesting questions. "Uh, if you don't mind me asking, what were you before?" Before she butterflied into becoming a Marquess, that is. She thinks of something else, too. "And how did you know my name?"
    RecRec01/31/2020
    [Ell Hive]

    "Oh, you know, like a giant caterpillar. We all are, except princesses." Lokvah thinks an image of a young hive creature to Sekhmet. Segmented body, twelve stubby tentacles to help them wiggle around, short tail, perpetually confused expression, chitinous plates down it's back. Not a hint of humanity anywhere in it, which might be a good thing. "I barely remember any of it." It's not like the larval forms are sapient; what a waste that would be.
    "Princess Osa told your name when you asked to talk with me." Well, with any marquess, which happened to be this one.
    bc5601/31/2020
    Ell Hive

    That seems, well, confusing to Sekhmet. That's a pretty big change, from an insectoid creature to a humanoid form. It also raises new questions with the implication that the larvae are more like animals. "So you're older than three months, but your mind isn't? But you seem so, uh, mature." There isn't much childishness in Lokvah's speech.
    In hindsight, Sekhmet should have expected that answer. Of course Osa would have given Lokvah Sekhmet's name. But Lokvah spoke of her as if she already knew of her. "What else do you, uh, know about me?"
    RecRec02/01/2020
    [Ell Hive]

    It is weird, but it's also how they live. The idea that you might get better humanoids with a special growth system, like the princesses have, has come up before. But it's a ton of effort for an uncertain reward, and they're not really in a position to try it while the humanoids themselves are so new and unstable.
    "It's not like I learned nothing as a larva. Things just changed a lot. But I get a lot of help from my older siblings too." The stalkers and the princess and other creatures of Ell.

    The first weaver is of the opinion that humans learn lots of bad habits by living so long as a child.

    "Well, you're Sekhmet, and you're a teefling, and your original parents lost you so you had a second pair to take care of you. You're afraid of us and of yourself so you live alone at a weird place kinda near Eurus." A frown appears on the marquess's face. "You've got lots of awesome powers but mostly fire, and you're in love with this human Prumathe - I hope nothing like that happens to me - and it turns out your blood mother is a great monster from another dimension so now you're hiding out with us!'
    bc5602/01/2020
    Ell Hive

    That's an apt summary of Sekhmet's life to date. Some things were left out, like the fact that she's seeking therapy and has mostly gotten over her fear of her own nature. Some of the other statements are concerning, however. Great monster seems an odd juxtaposition, but there's something even more pressing to Sekhmet. "Why wouldn't you want to fall in love? It's the greatest thing that has ever happened to me! It's wonderful!" Sekhmet cannot understand at all why someone wouldn't want that.
    RecRec02/01/2020
    [Ell Hive]

    Great as in very monstrous. A monster of considerable magnitude. A great danger.

    "Love is gross, and it makes people do silly things." Lokvah insists. Perhaps it's the fact that it's foreign to the hive's way of life, or perhaps it's simple childishness.
    bc5602/01/2020
    Ell Hive

    "I don't think so, and I think you'll change your mind when it happens to you." Sekhmet doesn't care much for the hive's way of life, and she doesn't live with them anyway. Love is a powerful force, and she thinks discouraging it is wrong.
    RecRec02/01/2020
    [Ell Hive]

    "Do you think love is part of what makes teeflings special?" Lokvah asks, skeptical but not entirely disbelieving. Sekhmet could be right. She's so similar, the potential for awful humanlike emotional entanglements is surely there!
    A princess could explain more eloquently why love is outdated and unnecessary, but Osa has turned her attention to Ell and the workers in the tunnels, leaving the marquesses to argue.

    ((At some point Sekhmet will need to be interrupted with the results of visiting Sapphira's wherever-that-portal-was-to, but that could be whenever in-character))
    bc5602/01/2020
    Ell Hive

    "Uh, no," Sekhmet explains, "No. It's not special to Tieflings at all." A smile crosses her face as realization strikes her. "It makes humans special. Humans and everyone like them! Don't you see?" The sudden understanding hits Sekhmet hard. All this time, Sekhmet was worried about being a monster while ignoring the evidence right in front of her face. She's more human than she ever dreamed possible! It took a totally inhuman perspective to reveal it to her, but she sees it now. She's grinning ear to ear with happiness.

    A Fiendly Visit
    Quite right. I didn't really think about it. Partly because it wasn't my turn, partly because I couldn't recover the exact text.
    But I know the gist, and this is probably a good time

    Sapphira takes up a position between the two mortals, following Serket and preceding Prumathe through the portal. Once all three are through, the portal slides closed behind them, sealing them off from the outside world. It's a good thing they extracted a promise that they wouldn't be harmed, because this demiplane is warded against all but the most powerful forms of communication. It would be very difficult to call for help.
    The room, now that it is not seen through the blurry lens of the portal, is actually a long hallway, with walls of white marble, and black marble tiles making up the floor. The atmosphere, however, is more striking. To Prumathe, it probably feels oppressively hot, but to Serket, since she's similar to Sekhmet, it would be comfortably warm. The hallway seems to stretch on forever, lined with elaborate black marble pillars down its center and doors every so often along its walls. "Here we are," Sapphira breaks the silence. "Please follow me. And watch your step." Walking here feels... strange. The floor is clearly flat, yet every step feels like you're moving down a slight incline, no matter which direction you go. Sapphira seems to ignore this, and begins walking towards one of the nearby doors.
    RecRec02/02/2020
    [A Fiendly Visit]

    Thanks to the warning, Serket doesn't topple over when they start walking in the weird always-downhill hallway.
    Beautiful place. Solidly built. Totally cut off from the normal universe.
    The temperature may be nice, but she can feel how empty the place is. Of hive creatures. Which is what matters.

    The marquess follows the fiend to the door.
    Earl of Purple02/02/2020
    [A Friendly Visit]

    Prumathe is a little hot, but so is standing too close to the forges when he's helping the metallurgists move things around. He can deal with it, even if he is sweaty. He follows as directed, stumbling slightly as he gets used to the oddity of the floor. He'll try bracing himself against the wall, because this weird gravity angle is harder to get used to.
    bc5602/02/2020
    Fiendly Visit

    The door is made from marble, like the walls, and is surrounded by a carved doorframe. It's handle, surprisingly, appears to be made from solid gold. Sapphira opens it gently, revealing the next room. It's a throne room, with a large, golden throne standing prominently on a dais to the right, with a slightly smaller throne off to one side. The left wall is completely covered by a deep red curtain with gold embroidery, and inlaid into the other walls in gold are scenes of fiendish creatures. Sapphira seems to have no intent to stop here, already heading towards another door on the opposite wall.
    RecRec02/02/2020
    [A Fiendly Visit]

    Serket follows, looking around curiously. A second little throne - for Sekhmet, presumably? Would it make a good seat for someone with a tail?
    She tries to look what's behind the curtain.
    Earl of Purple02/02/2020
    [Friendly Visit]

    Prumathe is also interested in what lies behind the curtain. Otherwise, he's following... Not quite happily, but obediently.
    bc5602/02/2020
    Fiendly Visit

    Both thrones would make excellent seats for tailed persons, and seem to have been designed with that in mind. The curtain is heavy, almost seeming to resist attempts to open it, and the instant before it is pulled open, the faintest tremor of rumbling can be felt in the floor near it. Beyond it is another room, a large hall, sparsely furnished and designed to receive petitioners. Sapphira stands in front of the door impatiently while the two mortals look.
    RecRec02/02/2020
    [Friendship Visit]

    Why would a curtain do that? There isn't even anything interesting behind it, just an empty hall. Serket is puzzled, not thinking that it might be for revealing Sapphira dramatically or something like that.

    After a confused look, she heads through the door Sapphira is waiting at.
    Earl of Purple02/02/2020
    ['Friendly' Visit]

    Prumathe thinks that what's behind the curtain wasn't what was behnd it when they entered the room, but that's creepy and probably impossible. Probably. He'll head over to Sapphira and Serket, following the fiend's lead and basically avoiding the angel.
    bc5602/02/2020
    Fiendish Visit

    The heroes are led through the door into another hallway, then to another door. This one leads into an opulent bedchamber, furnished in red, gold, and dark brown oak. "Feel free to look around," Sapphira invites, "Please don't break anything." There are several interesting furnishings, such as a large armoire with detailed golden inlay, its door slightly ajar to reveal that it is full of fancy women's clothes, a massive four-poster bed draped in crimson, and a writing desk with a few odds and ends atop it. Sapphira goes to the desk and to an elaborate lacquered jewelry box resting on it, and begins rummaging about inside with metallic sounds. "You." Despite what Prumathe might have expected, she doesn't know his name yet. "Come here. Help me find something Sekhmet would like." She holds it out to him, inviting him to take a look. The box is full of golden jewelry of all types, some plain, others set with gems.
    RecRec02/03/2020
    [Friendly Visit]

    I'm not sure we can call them heroes. Prumathe, more likely.
    This is all so much. And for what?
    Serket heads to the armoire, nudging it open with a wingtip. Is there a secret passage at the back, behind the clothes? No, just clothes? Very fancy clothes, it's true, but she isn't much for fashion. She looks at the dresses more closely, trying to make sense of it all.
    Earl of Purple02/03/2020
    [Fiendishly Friendly Visit]

    Prumathe quite likes Sapphira not knowing his name. Would make keeping track of him harder, he thinks. Well, hopes more likely. He'll go over and rummage through the jewellery, though he's not going to pick one for Sekhmet- that'd be stupid; it probably has a tracking spell on it or something. Instead, he'll pick the one that he thinks is quite expensive. That way, he can sell it to a jeweller and use the money to buy something he can actually give to Sekhmet.
    bc5602/03/2020
    Prumathe picks out an incredibly gaudy necklace studded with diamonds and emeralds. "Really?..." comes a response from Sapphira, under her breath and almost inaudible. She's good at spotting when something fishy is going on. "Tell me more about her. What does she like? What does she do?"

    Meanwhile, Serket pokes around the wardrobe. The clothes inside are very fancy, mostly dresses in various flattering styles and dark colors such as black, grey, and navy. All of them are designed to fit a wearer with a tail, and judging by the fact that most have low or cutout backs, they're probably intended to accommodate wings as well. Bundled at the bottom of the wardrobe, however, is something different. A suit of armor rests there, consisting of a mail tunic, breastplate, helmet, and pairs of greaves and armguards. Like the clothes above, it's clearly designed for a woman with both wings and a tail, and the helmet clearly has space to fit around someone's horns.
    RecRec02/03/2020
    [Fiendly Visit - Sapphira's Palace]

    What's this? Another side to Sapphira?
    Serket carefully picks up the helmet with her four thumb-claws and goes to set it on her head. Getting on a whole suit of armor is out of the question, but this should be doable.
    Then, she'd ask "Who did you fight?"
    Earl of Purple02/03/2020
    [Sapphira's Palace Visit]

    This is a little trickier. Now he has to justify his choice! "Um, she likes flashy. She's a good illusionist, which really helps that. Flash but no real substance, magical fireworks and stuff." Hopefully Sapphira buys it; she knows Sekhmet's good at illusion, since that's an ability the Hive-grown marqueses have. Prumathe isn't the best liar, however.
    bc5602/03/2020
    Palace Visit

    Sapphira makes a "Tsk, tsk," sound at Prumathe's statements. She is an excellent liar, and can figure him out very quickly. She drops the topic, even though she didn't get an answer to the question she actually asked.

    The helmet probably fits Serket well. It rests just above the horns, with a piece hanging between them to cover the bridge of the nose. The back is also raised slightly from the base of the neck so hair can spill through. "Who I've fought? No one in centuries. That's ceremonial armor." It's pristine, undamaged state corroborates her statement. "It's not for me either." On second glance, Sapphira is slightly too tall to comfortably wear most of the clothes in the wardrobe. They look like they were designed for someone shorter.
    RecRec02/03/2020
    [Fiendly Visit - Sapphira's Palace]

    "Who did you fight centuries ago, then?" Serket tilts her head back and forth, feeling the helmet.
    "Oh, I see. This room isn't even for you though?"
    Earl of Purple02/03/2020
    [Fiendish Visit]

    Prumathe answered the first question! Just not the second. He's going to try avoiding work to prevent Sapphira from following him there, but he doesn't know for sure how long it would work for- if it would even work. "How do you know Sekhmet's size?" If it's all tailored to be generically smaller than Sapphira, it'd be one thing, but armour is usually smithed for a specific person.
    bc5602/03/2020
    Fiendly Visit

    "Ah, you mortals and your limited perspectives," Sapphira half laughs, half sighs. "I have known her essence since she was conceived. It was not hard to see what her potential is. Of course, there are things even I cannot control, but they are small matters." She snaps her fingers, and an image of Sekhmet appears in the center of the room. It's not a perfect copy. The false Sekhmet is wearing one of the black dresses from the wardrobe, a long, tight-fitting garment and a copy of the necklace Prumathe chose, which actually stands out nicely against her clothes. She seems a few inches taller than she should be, but it's because she's wearing high heels. She also differs from the real Sekhmet physically in a few ways. The copy lacks the armor on her forearms, hands, and torso, her hair is loose rather than tied in a ponytail, and she's somewhat better endowed than the real Sekhmet. She stands perfectly still, more like an incredibly lifelike wax statue than a person.
    RecRec02/03/2020
    [Fiendly Visit]

    Serket heads over to the illusory Sekhmet and pokes at the wax-like apparition with a wingtip. It does appeal to a certain human glamour, doesn't it? Soft and pretty. Pointless.
    "She isn't supposed to change any more after this?" she inquires, trying to think what she ought to ask, what Sapphira might tell them or let slip.
    "It doesn't suit her; she has more potential than this...showing-off outfit suggests."
    Earl of Purple02/03/2020
    [Fiendly Visit]

    He shouldn't, it's not Sekhmet, but... it also is Sekhmet, and Pontius is a little surprised at how accurate it is. He notices the differences, and walks around her a few times. "It's... pretty good. Some differences, subtle ones." He's particularly interested in the illusion's face; is it identical to Sekhmet, is it as close as an identical twin's face (with subtle differences most people can't detect) or more like a sister's face?
    bc5602/03/2020
    Fiendly Visit

    The image remains perfectly still, even when poked. It's skin feels, however, like normal human skin, albeit cold and lifeless. Its face isn't a perfect match for Sekhmet's, but it's very close. They could easily be mistaken for each other, but only if you discount the fact that the illusion's expression, posture, and style of dress are so completely unlike Sekhmet. "She could change further, but it would be dangerous." Then the comment about it not suiting Sekhmet. "Perhaps this is more to your liking?"
    The image shifts. Now it is wearing the ceremonial armor and holding a black leather whip coiled in its left hand. "She should have been my princess, as beautiful and terrible as the dawn." The image seems to blend with the previous one, and the observers might realize that they're looking at the juxtaposition of two roles Sapphira hoped Sekhmet would fill.
    RecRec02/03/2020
    [Fiendly Visit - Fashion Show]

    Serket steps away from the cold image. It's uncanny, to see someone so like yourself, frozen, dead yet alive-looking, not really there.
    "A little better. But why a whip? She shouldn't need anything like that." It's closer to what the hive would like for Sekhmet, anyway. Perhaps it would suit Serket or Lokvah, who aren't as set in their ways. Still pretty unsuited for the sekhmet they have. If they weren't in a sealed off demi-place, someone else could fill her in on the cultural references. But they go right over Serket's head, just confusing her a little.

    This does bring her back to an earlier topic.
    "Why do you only have the one daughter?"
    Earl of Purple02/03/2020
    [Fiendish Fun]

    "Isn't that form a movie? Oh, what's it called... Um, an elf woman was given a ring they were going to destroy, she said she'd be terrible and beautiful as the dawn because it was corruptive, or something. Lord of the Rings! That's it. How'd you get a DVD player? I don't think Sekhmet knows what a DVD is." Granted, she's never visited him and he hasn't visited her, but after a date or two they've gotten to know each other and the technology level of Sekhmet's parent's house didn't seem to fit DVD players.
    bc5602/03/2020
    Fiendly Gathering

    "I know many things..." Sapphira smiles knowingly at Prumathe. Her knowledge isn't limited to just one world. She turns her attention to Serket. "It is a symbol," she explains the whip without elaboration. "Do not think I do not have other daughters. I have many descendants, but my other children have moved on. They cannot stay with their dear old mum forever." With those words, Sapphira seems to suddenly take on a wizened appearance for a moment, before returning to her far more youthful form. For that one instant onlookers may get a sense of how immeasurably ancient the fiend truly is.
    RecRec02/03/2020
    [Fiendish References]

    "How long is Sekhmet supposed to be a princess for, then?"
    Serket asks, marveling at the brief transformation. Older than any of the hive here, that's for sure. Or...is she? If she can shift her appearance so easily, how much can they trust their senses? This could all be illusion.
    Earl of Purple02/04/2020
    [Fiend Party]

    "I'm not sure Sekhmet would like what it symbolises. Pain, domination, and mastery are what I think of with whips." Prumathe is possibly giving too much away here, about his girlfriend.
    bc5602/04/2020
    A Fiend in Need

    "Interesting... What I see depends upon who holds it. In the hands of of an oppressor, you are correct. In the hands of the oppressed, however, I see a sign of of freedom and revolution." It's apparently Sapphira's turn to say a little too much."She would be my princess until she dies or moves on to found her own domain. Such is my way."
    RecRec02/04/2020
    [A Fiend Indeed]

    "But you rule here. Aren't you the oppressor, then?"
    Serket observes.
    Such a strange system, with the princess moving on over time.
    "Hey, why is she part human, and not like you?"
    Earl of Purple02/04/2020
    [Fiendish Overlord House]

    "Who, or what, oppresses demons? Or devils, I'm not too clear on the difference." He knows a bit of Earl-demonology, but that's not a help here, since Sapphira isn't a castle-hive of one individual spread across millions of bodies.
    bc5602/04/2020
    Fiendly Talk

    "She is not meant to lead my servants here, but my descendants in her own world." Prumathe might know a bit about the situation in Sekhmet's homeworld from her.
    RecRec02/04/2020
    [A Better Fiend]

    "What's the difference between her and the descendants already in that world?" Maybe someday they can go there, and collect more part-fiends. That would be interesting.
    But either way, something about this plan of Sapphira's isn't making sense to Serket.
    Earl of Purple02/04/2020
    [Fiendish Talkings]

    "From what Sekhmet said, she wasn't very welcome in her homeworld. Particularly compared to Nexus. People reacted to her with fear and hatred, and were too scared of her heritage to get to know her." Which is something Prumathe is very much opposed to. He thinks Sekhmet's a lovely person.
    bc5602/04/2020
    I'm running out of fiend puns

    "They are merely distant descendants. Sekhmet is my daughter. She has a small portion of my power, whereas others have none." Prumathe's description elicits a nod from Sapphira. "My descendants are hunted and killed, unable to stand in the light of day. I want to change that."
    RecRec02/05/2020
    [Make a new fiend, keep the old]

    Huh. Could that desire actually be part of the family? Maybe she is like Sekhmet. Or she's finally understanding Sekhmet well enough to pretend.
    Sekhmet might actually go in for liberating all her tiefling cousins. But if they have no power, it's a huge waste of time and effort, right? Just get some humans.
    "And a child could accomplish this more easily than you could?"
    Earl of Purple02/05/2020
    [Keep your Fiends Close]

    "So you thought the best way to make that happen was with another descendant, rather than trying to inspire one to heroism?" Granted, that might not work as well as Prumathe thinks, but unlike finding a mortal to serve as father it doesn't create more descendants to be oppressed.
    bc5602/05/2020
    Pick your fiends

    "Sekhmet is no mere child. Surely you know this?" She's also an adult, if only barely. "She is better suited to the task than I." Sapphira doesn't explain why. She'd rather not talk about her weaknesses.
    RecRec02/05/2020
    [No Fiend of Mine]

    "I understand, but she is still not suited to the task." Serket insists.
    Because there's so few ways Sekhmet might be better suited than this insightful, powerful, ancient creature. It must be her human ancestry. A diluted, safer fiend.
    Earl of Purple02/05/2020
    [And Your Enemies Closer]

    Prumathe nods, agreeing that Sekhmet isn't a mere child, before hesitating. "What makes her better than you? Or one of her... nieces or nephews, ones whose bloodline has been human for much longer?" Meaning that Sapphira is a more distant ancestor.
    bc5602/05/2020
    Fiends don't let fiends...

    Serket's words spark a more intense reaction in Sapphira. "What do you mean by that? How is she unsuitable?" This seems to be the first she's even considered the possibility. She ignores Prumathe's question, mostly, instead gesturing at him with one hand. A grimoire appears from nowhere and flies at him, slowly enough to catch easily. Its leather cover is marked with a pentagram in gold leaf, and it is fairly heavy.
    RecRec02/05/2020
    [With Fiends Like These...]

    "She's uh, I don't know the word." It's not 'useless', exactly.
    "She is oddly bad at conflict and leadership." Serket settles on.
    Earl of Purple02/06/2020
    [Demons are a Girl's Best Fiend]

    "In a world where people hated her for what she was, and said that it was inevitable that she'd go and kill people and cause havoc, she decided to prove them wrong. She's a pacifist, and I dont' think she'd be comfortable wearing even ceremonial armour." Not what Sapphira wants to hear, but probably not enough to convince her the plan's a failure and to try again, with a new half-mortal baby.
    bc5602/06/2020
    The Devil's in the Details

    "YOU LIE!" Whether Sapphira really believes that they lie, that's her response. Both of them will feel a pressure against their minds, gentle, but dangerous. More like the edge of a knife against a throat than a crushing force. "TELL ME THE TRUTH!"
    RecRec02/06/2020
    [Do You Know Sapphira?]

    Serket shrinks back against the wardrobe, her tail curling up automatically at the sense of threat.
    "It's true! When we first met her, they tried to convince Sekhmet to use her powers to help liberate other Tieflings, and couldn't." Sapphira is so good at noticing deception. Surely she can tell that Serket does believe that Sekhmet is as timid as a lamb.
    Earl of Purple02/06/2020
    [Fiends are a Girl's Best Demon]

    Prumathe, feeling the pressure against his mind, starts going through the method of carving a statue, from assessing the raw block of stone to every chisel blow and finally smoothing it down and polisihing it.
    bc5602/06/2020
    A Devil of a Time

    The mental blades withdraw quickly. Sapphira frowns heavily, disappointed. How could any daughter of hers be, of all things a pacifist? One named after a goddess of war, no less! The gods must have a sense of irony. "Nevertheless, I would like to see her."
    RecRec02/06/2020
    [Fair-weather Fiends]

    Serket relaxes slowly once the psychic knife sort of sense disappears.
    "W-I can let her know of what you've shown us."
    She glances to Prumathe. Surely leaving it up to Sekhmet isn't a bad idea....?
    Earl of Purple02/06/2020
    [Girls are a Demon's Best Fiend]

    Even though the sense of mental pressure is gone, Prumathe continues carving his mental statue. "...Yes, I suppose we could." It's pretty clear that he doesn't think Sekhmet should meet Sapphira, in tone of voice.
    bc5602/06/2020
    Fiendly Enemies

    "Very well. Your door awaits." With a swirl of power, a new portal appears, leading back to the lot they left from. Sapphira doesn't want them to stay longer, before she really starts to regret her oath not to harm them.
    RecRec02/06/2020
    [Fiends and Foes]

    Not really thinking on how to exploit the oath, Serket heads for the portal. She'll wait for Prumathe to be through or just about through before going back herself.
    Earl of Purple02/07/2020
    [Fiend's a Jolly Good Fellow]

    Prumathe will take the jewellery he'd taken and heads through the portal. He's quite glad to go first; his understanding is that Serket is at least a little expendable, and he isn't.
    bc5602/07/2020
    Empty Lot

    This portal, to anyone with developed magical senses, is slightly different. It has something like an oily consistency, invisibly coating the people and objects that pass through. I'm sure nothing bad could come from that, not at all.
    Prumathe and Serket will exit right where they entered, but something has changed. The sun is much lower in the sky than before. They were in there for maybe half an hour, but it appears several hours have passed outside.
    RecRec02/07/2020
    [Farewell to Fiends]

    I can't say that Serket has developed magical senses. She hops through the portal, not noticing a thing.
    Now, some other hive creatures would notice right away, when they pay attention to her.

    Sapphira doesn't come through with them? In that case, Serket will ask Prumathe "The fiend was hiding something, yes?"

    Either way, the marquess will reach out to someone who can relay a message to Sekhmet, telling her everything that her mother said.
    Earl of Purple02/07/2020
    [Exit Stage Below]

    Prumathe can magically enhance his existing senses, but can't detect magic like that alone. He's unlikely to detect Sapphira's tracer before he meets up with Pontius next, who has several devices that let him see magical energies- like the monocle he used to see if Sekhmet was hiding herself under any illusions when they first met.

    "Oh, almost cetainly. I need to send word to my boss, I don't think I'm able to go to work for a bit." But he's not planning on meeting up with Pontius, just... not letting Sapphira track him to his place of work.
    bc5602/07/2020
    Lots to think about

    The stuff isn't actually doing anything it's magically inert, just an invisible slime that coats whatever it touches and is hard to get off.

    That's a lot for Sekhmet to take in. Eventually, she sends back, a mixture of relief that Prumathe's okay, confusion at the very mixed nature of her mother's statements, and a little anger that Prumathe would put himself in such extreme danger. When she does get around to sending actual words, it's several minutes later, and she is much calmer. I'm not going with her. She wants to start a war, and she must be plotting something else. My, uh, books say never to trust anything a fiend says. I guess I'll keep looking for information that could help you. She finishes with disappointed resignation. She spent most of her life in hiding, and now that she's had a chance to really be free, she doesn't want to stay in hiding again, but it seems like she must.


    ((Actions continued below))
    Last edited by Recaiden; 2020-02-22 at 01:37 PM.
    ~Inner Circle~
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    He takes normality and reason and turns them UP TO 11!
    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Recaiden, stop using your mastery of the English language to confuse the issue.
    Echidna by Serpentine

  2. - Top - End - #452
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    5a Violista's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Next to the Mandolinist

    Default Re: Serious Plots 8: Rawr serisaurus!

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty
    "That's just what we needed. I'm not a doctor, but his wounds are getting worse. If we don't get some serious help soon, he's not going to last," Olvisin says, then looks out into the dark. She doesn't need light to see quite clearaly through the night.
    Quote Originally Posted by sweet crear
    [Carriage Ride]

    M. Monteur blinks several times towards the curious device as he retrieves it from Marin's purse, tapping at a button multiple times and recoiling as the cone of light produced by the electric rod illuminates the inside of the carriage. "How extraordinary, this light!" He steps out of the carriage before flashing his hand over the light, aiming it in the direction of the grounds ahead.

    Several moments later, another man with an aged lantern limps forward out of the darkness, gesturing towards M. Monteur. The gate is soon opened, and the men exchange words briefly in the same strange language he'd been speaking throughout the journey.

    --

    Beyond, Chateau de Lacoste looms, a dilapidated estate built upon a murky swamp. Huge pillars complete with baroque carvings support enormous steeples and roofs, while the structure itself sprawls out in all directions.

    The pair of men march forward, gesturing for the carriage to follow. Once at the large pair of staircases which lead up to the double-doors ahead, M. Monteur speaks somewhat hurriedly.

    "We are here. Straight to the medical ward?"
    [Carriage Ride]

    Marin is glad the light helped.
    Once the gate is open and M. Monteur is back in, she tells the horses to go forward again.

    She follows the two men.

    "Y-yes," she says. She gets off the front and goes around to grab her purse and help Maison out of the carriage. She's definitely not strong enough to just carry him by herself, but with enough help, but would definitely need M. Monteur or one of the other men to lead the way to the medical ward.
    Favorite sports:
    Fencing
    Football (Soccer)
    Figure Skating
    (and basically everything else that starts with 'f')
    ALSO! Come roleplay FFRPG in the Nexus!
    Nexus Characters.

  3. - Top - End - #453
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Recaiden's Avatar

    Join Date
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    Male

    Default Re: Serious Plots 8: Rawr serisaurus!

    Spoiler: Previously, On Discord, Part 2
    Show

    "Sekhmet is happy you are alive and mad that you went through the portal."
    Serket reports.
    "You should fortify your home with holy items." she instructs him, with some distaste. The whole concept of holy items is troubling. Every day in the Nexus is another impossibility, it can drive you mad with frustration. And that's leaving aside the trouble of items in general. But it's the best advice they have. "Would help if there was a better way to communicate with you." Phones are so....overhearable.

    Sekhmet is reassured by Osa that she is part of the hive and they will hide and protect her as long as necessary.
    Someone suggests they try to find Sapphira's weaknesses by studying Sekhmet's weaknesses in detail. They should have a lot in common, right?



    "Right, holy items. I think I know where to get some of those." He'll pop in to the little Chapel of Anoia located behind the soup kitchen opposite his apartment building on his way home. Maybe see if they can point him to a more relevant deity, and pick up a Sacred Egg-Whisk. "I've got a mobile phone, and I don't think she can listen in on it." He could be mistaken, however.



    Sekhmet doesn't want to stay with the hive. She wants to go back to her normal life. She's also slightly worried by the talk about her weaknesses. The best way they could study them would be to use them against her, and she doesn't want more silver burns. The last ones took forever to heal. She can tell the hive all about her weaknesses though. Tell him to get some silver jewelry. He can use it to detect if she's nearby.



    "Wearing silver, especially, will help detect her...or us."
    Serket swishes the tip of her tail back and forth nervously.
    "Maybe not. Don't know how good her senses are. Might still be watching us. Maybe I should stay with you."

    Don't worry, Sekhmet. They already know that silver works. They've been working on that since Spike's battle with eldritch monsters that one time. Let's hear about your other weaknesses.



    Prumathe nods at the explanation about silver, making a mental note to get some. "That... might not be a bad idea." Although Prumathe doesn't like it much; he doesn't want anything to do wth the Hive, except the little he needs to do to try and get Sekhmet out. Hopefully he'll be able to figure stuff out whilst he's spending time with Serket, though he's going to be distracted.



    I, uh, can't enter a holy place, like a church or a graveyard. Sekhmet tried, shortly after her transfomation. It's like there's an invisible wall in the way. She's very unhappy just thinking about it. In her mind, this is the worst downside of her nature. And holy symbols act like silver to me. Probably holy water too, but she's never encountered it.



    But what makes a place, or a symbol, holy? That's what they need to figure out. Is it the faith of the people? The act of powerful entities? Is it the items and shapes inside?

    Serket waves vaguely. Prumathe should lead the way; only Sapphira followed him from his house.
    "Do you have any idea what the fiend actually intended? The armor seemed real, but what she said about her other descendants is...?"



    Prumathe does, though he's headed first to the chapel of Anoia to get some holy symbols. "I don't know. Really, I don't. But I don't think she wants what she said she wants. That might be part of her plan, but it's not the entirety of it."



    I don't know? It, uh, just works. Sapphira could probably answer that question, but Sekhmet certainly can't. She's not sure what to do now. She can't really help Prumathe and Serket. All she can do is wait.



    "We need more information. Other fiends, or associates of Sekhmet's father, or...what were those things you mentioned?" Serket follows along with Prumathe. Sapphira had mentioned being interested in meeting her 'creator', and never followed up on that. And she's probably a much better source of fiendish power than Sekhmet. But she's apparently hostile and untrustworthy by nature. What a puzzle.

    While you wait, Sekhmet, why not join the other marquess for some flying practice?



    "Rakshasha. They're tricksy, though. They give what you ask for, and take what you agreed on. But that's not always what you were expecting." Perfect clarity is needed- but they often ask for knowledge or other ephemeral things. Prumathe isn't trying to lose anyone any more; he's going in as straight a line as he can to the Chapel of Anoia behind the soup kitchen. Shouldn't take too long to get there.



    Flight practice sounds like a good idea. A good diversion from the looming threat of her mother. Sekhmet mentally agrees and prepares to take to the air.




    You didn't think she just gave up did you?
    The fiend is actually following invisibly behind the unlikely pair. Now, she finally acts. She reaches out once more to Prumathe's mind, much more subtly this time. She unleashes psychic whispers at him, very simple ones. She tries to plant a seed of distrust and paranoia in him. Maybe Sekhmet is in danger. Maybe Sapphira has already found her daughter. Maybe Serket's people are actually holding Sekhmet for nefarious purposes. Maybe some other terrible thing is going on. She just wants him worried and paranoid.



    Oh, right, there was something she was supposed to do.
    "Ey, Sapphira? Are you still listening somehow?"
    "Sekhmet isn't interested. You lone creatures care a lot about independence, right? So, uh, that's that. But you should come talk to me some other time."

    Now, when they approach the chapel of Anoia, Serket will hang well back. She's pretty vulnerable to holy things herself. Going into that chapel is right out. Instead, she'll just spread her wings and fly up to a rooftop nearby to loiter.



    The chapel's quite small, a single-room with a ladder to an upper storey where the priestess lives. It doesn't take long for Prumathe to come back, this time laden with several ladles, a corkscrew and a potato peeler. Also a small bottle of holy water and strict instructions of how to ward his apartment. He doesn't have much silver yet, though. That's going to be a different stop.



    Sapphira's mental attack vanishes as soon as Prumathe enters the church. She can't touch him while he's in there. As soon as he leaves, however, it resumes, trying to feed his doubt and suspicion. Does he really think those holy relics are powerful enough to protect him? What was Serket doing while he wasn't watching her? Why won't she give him any useful information about Sekhmet's situation? Sapphira continues with the psychic whispers.



    It looks like Serket has been playing with fire. There's a little candle-flame over her thumb claw.
    When Prumathe emerges from the church, she hops down and catches up to him.

    "The tricksy Rakshasa; like the sound of that. Exactly what you asked for. Are they alive?" Or are they something stranger than that?



    "Um, I think they're alive, but I've not met one personally. I'll have to ask one of my sisters about it." Next stop is a jeweller's. "I'm going to buy some silver, do you make it glow too?" A ring, is his thought. Something small, relatively cheap, he can slip on his finger and keep an eye on.



    Sapphira follows behind, continuing with her manipulation on Prumathe's mind. The conversation is uninteresting. She'll have to move away soon so Prumathe doesn't suspect her presence, but her patience is wearing thin. Clearly Sekhmet is hidden somewhere they can't easily get to her. She might be able to convince her to come out.



    "Yes. Even more than Sekhmet, actually." Serket confirms. Having said that, she also waits outside the jeweller.



    "Huh, that's odd." And with the paranoia, he frowns. Serket's clearly more Hive-y than Sekhmet, and she makes the silver glow more. Does that mean the Hive is demonic? Either way, he comes out shortly from the jewellers. "I'm worried about Sekhmet. Could I ask my boss to send some golems to you for you to send to her? More guards can't hurt." And it'd make him feel a lot better... Even if it would also give Sapphira a chance to find Sekhmet.




    That's promising. Sapphira doesn't move away. Her glow will be disguised by Serket's, as long as she's relatively distant. She continues to send suspicious thoughts to Prumathe. If he's turned against Serket, that will be to Sapphira's advantage. Yes... The clone's kind are other fiends. Don't trust them.



    Serket considers for a moment. "Yes. We just need to think how to get them to her without being followed."



    "It's a pity Sekhmet's the illusionist Pontius keeps on staff. Nobody else can disguise them, except maybe as a different type of golem." They could possibly go for glass golems, but... glass golems are mostly for decoration, as they're a little too fragile to make effective guards. If Serket can use invisibility, however, that'd be a boon.



    Sapphira continues listening. All she has to do is figure out where these golems are kept.
    But there were several useful things here. She knows now that Sekhmet and Prumathe work for someone named Pontius, and that he makes golems. Wherever he works must be where the golems will start, and wherever Sekhmet is will be where they travel to. She still doesn't stop the suspicious whispers to Prumathe. Will the golems really be led to Sekhmet? How can he be sure she's okay if he doesn't actually see her himself?



    "Our stalkers can disguise the golems once they're together." Serket says. She personally hasn't figured out invisibility; it doesn't come naturally like pyromancy, and Sekhmet has a big head start actually learning magic. "I don't know the details so I can't accidentally give them away. The golems should meet the stalker in a church, and then go to Sekhmet under cover of illusion or something."
    Earl of Purple02/11/2020
    [Frankenstein's Human]

    "Do you and yours know where Pontius works?" They should do, because if nothing else they can ask Sekhmet. "I'll ring him now, have him send however many golems he can spare right now to the nearest church."


    Sapphira leans a bit closer. This is important information. She's confident she can track golems, disguised or not, easily enough. She just needs to find the church they start from.



    "Yes, we're aware of Sekhmet's job. They-"
    Serket leans in close to Prumathe and nods.
    "Not the nearest church. Send them to the Chapel Unbreakable, in Apocalypse Square." Not terribly far from where they met Sapphira.



    "I've not visited that one, I don't think. I don't know if Pontius knows where it is." And he doesn't trust Serket not to put stuff in place so they won't go where Prumathe wants them to go, if they get to the church first.



    Sapphira continues listening and projecting paranoia at Prumathe. There's not much else she can do right now.



    "From here, you (directions back to the chapel). Send them to us here, and we can go with them." Serket explains, relaying directions from the rest of the hive.
    "It's not safe for Sekhmet if you go to her yourself right now."



    "I wasn't planning on going to her. Just sending the golems. For all I know, because we visited her realm she can track us using magic." And he might not trust the Hive, but he also doesn't trust Sapphira, and increasing his paranoia doesn't actually change that. He does trust Pontius, however, and the golems.



    Aha.
    Directions.
    But Sapphira'll need to keep an eye on these two too, for as long as possible. She'll wait at least until Prumathe actually makes the call before going to track down the golems. Besides, it could be a trick.




    "We know. That's why I am here with you, in case I'd be followed elsewhere."
    That reminds Serket. They believe they should be able to track Sapphira's mental and magical presence, as long as she's in the Nexus, based on the earlier contact with her. And she reaches out with her mind and tries to do this, without mentioning a thing to Prumathe. How comprehensively is she hidden?
    "What are the golems like? How do they protect someone?"



    "Well, I don't know. I don't know what Pontius has available. They're usually humanoid, made of stone, metal or clay, but not all of them. Pontius builds with pretty much anything he has available. Generally they act as really, really durable shields that also pack a punch. Pontius might have some more unusual ones he's not been able to sell, ones that can do other things as well." Pontius is very big of developing new forms of construct and interesting golems, out of any unusual material he can get his hands on.



    Sapphira's mental presence is very difficult to detect. It's amorphous and slippery, and if you don't have plenty of power, it can be hard to get any sort of psychic reading on it. She almost, almost uses the chance to mentally attack Serket, but holds back. If she disrupts their plans now, Serket and Prumathe will know she's here. Later, later.



    Okay, looks like Sapphira isn't around. Judging from the lack of signal, she's in that awful demiplane of hers.
    Still, may as well be safe. Sekhmet has other enemies.
    "Call for the golems."



    Prumathe gets his phone out and flicks through the contact list. Pontius is quite far down. "Hey, boss. I've got a favour to ask for Sekhmet. Could you send any golems you have spare to, um, the Chapel Unbreakable? I think we're meeting them there and going off. Okay, thank you sir." He puts his phone away. "There's five available right now, maybe six if he hurries on this last one."



    Sapphira keeps an eye on Prumathe and Serket. She'll follow them to the chapel, but she wants to be sure they're going there before she goes there herself. She also looks out for more psychic probes. Looks like Serket inherited some of her original's powers.



    They don't really expect the golems will be useful. Maybe if Sapphira sends some mortal minions? She probably has those. But Serket doesn't say this aloud. It wouldn't help. She just leads the way to the chapel, which was picked out because of the extensive tombs underneath it. Hallowed burial ground through which they can hopefully slip out the golems without any fiendish detection. At some point, the hive will come to believe that Sapphira just sin't watching Serket. But not yet; they know too little about true fiends to guess what she's capable of.
    Perhaps the golems will have already arrived.
    Perhaps they'll be loitering outside waiting for them.
    Perhaps something will interrupt them along the way.




    Prumathe follows to the chapel, still carrying all the symbols of Anoia.

    The golems arrive shortly after, marching down the middle of the road. There's five in column, with a sixth shortly behind. The first two are gargoyles, a snarling granite lion with eagle wings and a diorite clawed warthog with bat wings. Then a humanoid clay figure, three metres tall and basically featureless, bar a strong nose and red glowing eyes. Then a spiky and bladed aluminium spider, followed by a bronze warrior in archaic armour and a full suit of plate mail, green light leaking from the joints and bearing a heavy zweihander. Finally, a marble statue, still in need of finishing and polishing.



    Sapphira can't follow into the church, which poses a problem. However, the golems provide a possible advantage. As they pass by her, she reaches out and touches each of the golems, infusing them with just a little of her power. That should allow her to track them in case something tricky is attempted.
    Consiglierwolf02/12/2020




    "Can golems make golems?" Serket asks suddenly, as they arrive.
    "March them in and downstairs. Don't answer any questions." Such as 'what are all these golems doing in my church?'
    If Prumathe follows these instructions, once down in the tombs he'll get a phone call.



    "No, not unless you're willing to create self awareness and figure out how to create something able to use magic in its own right." Pontius has dabbled in golems that can repair themselves and others, but actually building new ones is not something he's willing to try.

    The armour golem tries to dodge Sapphira's touch, and all will move around her rather than over her, but Prumathe is keeping his eye on Serket. He doesn't notice their behaviour.



    As long as Sapphira manages to touch most of the golems, she won't bother going back to the ones she missed. She's quick and precise in the task, but she still notices that the golems avoid her, and makes note. They can see her, even if Prumathe and Serket can't. She'll steer clear of them from here on out, until they're out of the church, taking to the air and circling far above, still invisible.



    "What is that one doing?" Serket calls after them, pointing to the armour golem's attempted dodge. But she doesn't put it together, and Sapphira is long taken to the air by now anyway.

    The plan is for the golems to enter the church, descend to the tomb, and slip off into an underground passage that leads to the sewers. From there, they will be met by one of the hive's Stalkers, a beckoning tentacle appearing from nowhere.
    Serket can't follow Prumathe into a church, after all.



    "I'm... not sure. What were you doing, armour?" Prumathe directs his speech to the golems, and it stops, gestures like it's trying to touch Prumathe, and pointing in Sapphira's general direction- if she's still 'visible' from the street.



    The golem can still see Sapphira, but it will have to point almost directly upwards, since she's currently circling far above the church.



    "You were avoiding the touch of something? Which is... now up there." Prumathe frowns and gazes in roughtly the right direction. "Serket, I think we may have a problem." But also they learnt that she emanates enough magic that she can't easily hide from the guardian-type golem's sight.



    Serket looks up following the golem's pointing gauntlet.
    "Something touching the golems. That we can't see. Did Sapphira send something after us, or do we have another problem?" Ugh. This is what comes of, uh, doing something wrong that Serket can't quite fathom. (The answer is ' operating in a city, without the support of a Duke'. They could just see what the problem was right away.)
    She hopes away from the golems, nervous.



    Sapphira can't actually hear this conversation from her position. She continues circling and waiting for an opening.



    "Did it touch you, armour golem?" The suit of armour shakes its... helmet. "So we can send the armour to Sekhmet right off, but the other five need checking over by somebody with better magical sight than I do, make sure they haven't been tampered with or tracked. Has she touched you, Serket?" Because if she's placed a tracker on the golems, might be she's done it to them, too. She can do it seemingly soundlessly, too.



    Serket nods. "Before we visited the portal. So I should avoid going anywhere important until examined. Send the armour along now and-" she pauses to look all around "Who should 'check over' the golems? Pontius?"



    "Pontius is busy. And if we're being followed, she might follow him back to his place of work. And that might not be the best outcome. Is... is there anyone in your lot who could do it?" He still doesn't trust the Hive, but he thinks it currently has Sekhmet's interests in mind... Even if he's not sure that's a permanent state of affairs.



    Serket consider and confers. "Our best magical expert is in Riverside, which apparently is far away? But a Duke can probably figure out what was done to them. We can meet one outside the city's east gate."



    "Riverside's quite far, yeah." An hour or so on Riftline, he thinks, though he's not actually been there. Prumathe hasn't really left the city since he arrived. "Are we going through the tunnels to the gate, or walking?"



    "We will walk." Serket declares, starting off away from from the church. Just a guy and a demon and four golems, walking through town. Barely unusual around here.
    "What has Sekhmet told you about us?"



    "Not much. That you're telepathic, and that's about it." He also knows she doesn't trust them, and whilst they probably know that, there's no point in telling them he knows that, too. Because it currently means they don't know he doesn't trust them.



    As the party heads away from the church, Sapphira turns and follows overhead. They still don't seem to suspect her presence, and now they must be on their way to Sekhmet. Perfect.



    You're not exactly keeping your distrust hidden, Prumathe. :P

    "That's true. It's more than te-le-path-y, apparently. We're all connected, and-"
    Serket has an idea!
    She tries to think Can you hear me? to Prumathe. But she's quite bad at it. He might feel something, but he almost certainly won't understand, and might not even notice. But the prime Stalker, after becoming, can talk this way, and Sekhmet is even better at communication and control than that, so maybe her close cousins can do it too!
    "Some people really love being lonely, Sophia says." She shrugs her forewings.
    "The Nexus is really dangerous, so we help protect it. Fight off demons and space monsters and stuff." For now. Someday, those lesser threats will be defeated, and the hive will be ready.
    "There's lots of different kinds of us. Like me!"



    Prumathe hears a buzzing, and waves a hand to ward off what he thinks is a bee. "You protect the Nexus? Like Vigil or something?" He thinks the bit about loving loneliness is a non sequitur.

    "I see there's some like you. How many, exactly? Are connected like that? Is Sekhmet linked up?" Quite important questions, he thinks.

    And I missed a few words; they don't know he knows Sekhmet doesn't trust them.



    "Yes. We work with VIGIL sometimes."
    Hmm, he tried to wave her thoughts away. So they must have reached him! Try again, slow and clear: Hellllo?
    "Uh, we're all the same generation, besides Sekhmet, so there's at least four of us, and no more than fifteen who-, oh, yes, of course she is. We're all linked up more or less." I think Serket misunderstood somepart of Prumathe's questions, but that answer probably still helps.



    "How many of you are there, all in the link?" He's a little surprised there's fifteen not-quite-clones of Sekhmet running around, but he doesn't know where the Hive has its base or how to find it, plus this one has proven adept at disguising herself.



    It turns out there's just six other marquesses. Fifteen was an optimistic estimate.
    This is where Serket would start counting on her fingers, if she had any, before that became hopelessly inadequate.
    "Well, there's me, and my sisters, and cousins, and the mothers and their workers and, uh..."
    "There's a lot. At least hundreds."



    "So you're quite a big organisation, then. Why do you keep yourselves hidden, or do you have a name that I've likely heard?" Bigger than Prumathe was expecting, honestly. But if he can find out what they call themselves, at least he'll know what to call them.



    "It's safer that way. We do not need public attention." Serket answers. Neither an explanation nor a name are forthcoming. "Would it matter if you'd heard our name? What are you going to do now that you know us?"



    "I... suppose it doesn't matter that I don't have a name. It would have been good to have something to refer to you by, if only in my head. Now? I'm not sure. Whatever I do, it'll have to wait until after Sekhmet's safe and Sapphira's dealt with, however that ends up happening." So it's on the backburner, for a much later date.



    "Think of us as Sekhmet's third family." Serket suggests as they continue on and leave the city behind.
    They walk away from the buildings.
    They walk away from the roads.
    Towards where a pair of hive creatures are waiting. One is an archer, hiding and half-buried between the roots of an old and twisted tree, ready in case of any danger. The other is a duke, drifting lazily against the wind, descending from a hundred feet up to get a closer look at the golems. (Important facts about dukes: they're huge, they have incredibly keen senses and extrasenses, they're psychically powerful, they're slow and unlikely to hurt you).

    If Sapphira is still following them like she has been, the duke is almost certainly going to notice her. And Serket is going to look very sad when she learns that fact! She'll look up and shout "Sapphira! We heard from Sekhmet!"



    Sapphira knows she's been spotted almost before Serket calls out. She reveals herself and descends. "Are you ready to introduce me to her?" She knows what the answer is already, but she'll give Serket and Prumathe a chance to do as she asks.



    Prumathe nods and his eyes widen as he sees what, exactly, Serket has brought him to meet. They're much scarier looking than he was expecting, even if the Duke looks slow and cumbersome.

    The golems are pretty simple, though potent. The magic animating them isn't a form of natural spirit bound to the golem's shell; rather, they're artificial spirits that are linked to the golems by their very nature. No risk of the bindings breaking and the golem going on a rampage; and the simplicity makes the magic robust and hard to remove. They are pretty impressive pieces of magical engineering, whose major flaws are their rigid mentalities, inability to improvise outside their orders and a few flaws based on their material components. Most surprisingly, the two gargoyles, despite being made of stone, have complex enchantments worked into their wings, enabling them to fly- though being more complex, they are likewise easier to disrupt.

    The material flaws are their weight; they're all heavy, and whilst that gives them power, it makes them slow. The armour is lightest; but it's also the only one which is hollow, and is therefore relatively fragile. The spider is heavier, but faster, its multilimbed design complex and intricate, with jointed limbs that can be jammed. The stone statuary are particularly cumbersome and rather brittle, hard to cut or slice but easier to smash. The clay golem is even more vulnerable to such attacks. The bronze warrior is less brittle, but softer; it could be cut by high-quality steel weaponry.



    The duke looks over what the golems are and how they work. It hasn't seen this sort of artificial spirit before, but is just quietly bemused. Observing how their enchanted materials move as they walk along will be useful information when the hive someday has to fight constructs like this. Completely different from the robots they once fought, aren't they? Serket says they can't make more of themselves, but that it isn't impossible? How curious. And those two fly, a little bit like the duke itself, although it is assisted by large quantities of helium and vacccum.

    Serket flutters her wings apologetically. "Sekhmet refuses to come with you at all. I think some of us might be able to help free your descendants in her stead, though."



    "That is not acceptable!" Sapphira's response is angry and sharp. "I must see my daughter!" She seems to loom over the conversation, despite not physically changing at all. "I'll give you one more chance! Take me to Sekhmet!"



    "Accept it, Sapphira." The Duke might note that Prumathe is calling on his own magic, boosting his strength. It probably won't help, but chances are it won't hurt either. The golems simply stand there, for now.



    "We only came here to inspect the golems. I couldn't take you to her if I wanted to." Serket says in a small voice.
    She could, potentially, take Sapphira to someone who could take her to someone who could take her to someone who could take her to Sekhmet. That was the plan with the golems. But then the fiend would have to intimidate everyone along the way.



    Sapphira doubts that explanation. "Perhaps a demonstration is necessary?" Her eyes lock with Serket's and her power reaches out, forcefully wrapping around the hiveling. If Serket can't break free, Sapphira will tighten her hold and attempt to break one of her wings, crushing bones in her telekinetic grip.



    "I cannot tell you." the Marquess protests. Literally.

    Serket struggles against the crushing power, but she's not terribly strong, and has nowhere near the skill with such magic as the fiend. Right away, she cries out in pain. In just a moment, her bones are going to snap.
    During that moment, the duke focuses its own telekinetic powers on Sapphira, trying to hold her in place while the archer pops up and shoots at her, a pair of long bone-and-metal spikes fired at considerable speeds. A human would be unlikely to survive. But who knows if these mortal weapons can hurt a fiend?



    As Serket cries in pain, Prumathe clicks his tongue and points at Sapphira. "Kill." It's not an order he's given before, and he looks pretty scared, but the golems obey- those that can. The gargoyles fly up and attack, the lion's mouth moving soundlessly whilst the warthog manages to squeal. They're going to target Sapphira's wings, primarily; with claws or tusks. Due to their nature as magically animated statues, their claws and tusks are embued with magic; possibly enough to bypass any defences the fiend may have.



    Sapphira smiles cruelly. This won't even be much of a challenge. She relaxes in the duke's grip, clearly not at all worried. Her grip on Serket barely weakens at all as she reaches out to the incoming projectiles and golems, and tries to force them together, redirecting the spears into the gargoyles and trying to slam the gargoyles together.



    How amazing, to fend off four dangers while keeping such a tight grip. Fiends truly are the creature the hive has been searching for. But then, her grip does weaken. Serket can feel a slight lessening of the pressure on her crushed wing, and the the duke notices this and records it.

    The giant hiveling now psychically pushes down on Sapphira, a weight growing greater and greater by the moment to try to drive her to the ground. It, in turn, drifts further up and away.

    The archer rises fully from its hiding place and slithers forward. Sapphira has shown herself resistant to a single ranged attacker, but it still has its claws and fangs and the potential of a shot from too close to deflect. It feels a dim sense of familiarity towards the fiend. She isn't planning to eat them, but otherwise it's a lot like playing with her food.

    Serket is directed to grit her teeth and try to fly towards Sapphira with her remaining good wings. She does her best.



    The gargoyles crash into each other, hampering their ability to move their wings... But they don't actually need to move their wings to fly. It helps them steer, but unless Sapphira's moving out of the way that doesn't matter much.

    The golems move around, trying to stand underneath Sapphira without getting in each other's way. The Archer and the Duke are both pretty much ignored; the golems haven't had any orders regarding them. The aluminium spider rears up on its rear four legs, trying to jab at Sapphira with its bladed front legs, pedipalps and fangs, whilst the armour golem adopts a simple fencing pose.



    Sapphira is pushed into the knot of attacking creatures and golems, still smiling. Their blades and claws slice into her, and she disappears into the group. Seconds pass. Is she dead? She hasn't been seen for several seconds now.

    Then an explosion of psychic power blasts out of where she just was, forming into kinetic tendrils which wrap around the golems and the archer, trying to lift and hold them in midair. Even if they resist, Sapphira strides out unhinder, not unharmed, but clearly not worried. Her wounds don't bleed, but rather reveal an empty void within her, as if she's a hollow shell of skin. They're also rapidly stitching back together. She looks up at the incoming Serket. "Impressive. I hope you get your tenacity from my daughter. Are you two done resisting yet?"



    "Sekhmet didn't turn you down because she thought you were weak." Serket's voice says "This only shows she was right not to trust you." Fire sparks into existence at the tip of her tail, which she jabs at Sapphira. Maybe fiendish magic can hurt a fiend more than blades. Or maybe it's the opposite. But it's her best plan at the moment.

    The archer is lifted up just as it gets close. Clearly mere heaviness is no obstacle to a fiend. The duke pushes it through the air, back towards Sapphira. Clearly she let herself be pushed to the ground, unafraid of the fighting golems. But perhaps if the archer can lunge forward and grab ahold of Sapphira, it'll be able to resist getting thrown around a bit better.



    The golems resist as they're lifted and held, though there's little they can do. Attacking their minds doesn't work; they don't have minds to attack, not really. The gargoyles attempt to fight out by flying, beating their wings and distorting the air around them with the enchantments suspending them in the air. The armour golem tries to jab out with its massive sword, and the spider also jabs with blades.

    Prumathe is also approaching, though he looks a little scared. He'll lash out with a punch at Sapphira's face, enhancing his strength to the point he could crack stone with his knuckles. It probably won't work, but he has to try.



    Sapphira continues to hold the assorted minions away, increasing the pressure on the archer enough to keep it from coming into reach of her. As Serket's tail lashes at her, she reaches up and tries to grab it with one hand and pull the fiendling off balance, lashing out at Serket's broken wing with the other. Prumathe is more successful. His punch slams into Sapphira's cheek, and he can feel her bones shattering beneath his fist. She turns her ruined face towards him, and with a sickening, twisting motion, her bones bend and snap back into place, and she smiles coldly. "Nations and empires have bowed before my power. I have devoured the greatest archmages of the millenia. If you continue to defy me, you too will fall."



    The approximately-half-fiend is grabbed by the tail and pulled to the side.
    "It's not about defying. You simply can't get Sekhmet by hurting me." Her voice is calm, ignoring the injury to her wing as it takes what must be a very painful blow. The duke has the literal and metaphorical distance to impart detachment about these things.

    After a moment, the archer ceases to press towards Sapphira. It will need something else to create an opening.



    "I don't know where Sekhmet is, and if you hurt or kill me, she'll never join you." The chance of Sekhmet joining Sapphira is low anyway, but he's confident his death or maiming would decide matters for certain. Either way, he'll aim his next punch at Sapphira's elbow. He can't hurt her; but maybe he can disable her limb long enough for Serket to escape.
    bc56Last Tuesday at 6:25 PM
    The Fight Continues

    Sapphira smiles evilly at Prumathe's statement. "Perfect." His attack temporarily shatters her arm and frees Serket, but she's already changing her strategy, trying to telekinetically grab and immobilize both of her remaining opponents in the same way as the others. Prumathe is treated slightly differently than Serket. The grip is gentler on him, although no less immobilizing.



    "You are not a golem. Do not only hit her." says Serket's serene voice.
    When the fiend's grip falls away, Serket does not try to get away, but darts in towards Sapphira, invoking the draining cold and darkness (that Sekhmet demonstrated for Spike and then used against Ilpholin) around them both.

    A moment later, the archer tries to launch another pair of spikes at her, from its now-closer position, as a distraction. They'll probably meet some resistance from the telekinesis, but it's a much more concentrated force than trying to reach for a fiend with your claws.

    The duke continues drifting away. It was really just here to look for weird magic on the golems, and that job is done.



    Prumathe's magic is mostly internal, but what Serket says does give him an idea. He pulls out a spatula from his pocket and shouts. "ANOIA! Goddess of Things Stuck in Drawers! Banish these fiend to the back of the kitchen cutlery drawer, with the egg-whisk and the dormouse-baster!" The spatula is one of the blessed ones he got from the chapel earlier, and he tries to wave it around if the telekinetic grip allows him enough movement.



    For an instant, the darkness seems to wound Sapphira. She grits her teeth and responds with a blast of fire at Serket. When Prumathe pronounces his incantation, she shoots him a look that says, "Are you serious?" followed by a much more surprised look when her hold actually breaks, abruptly releasing Prumathe. At the same time, the spikes fly towards her. One is deflected by her power, but the other impales her through her head. She stumbles, grimmaces, apparently not seriously injured, and pulls it free, the dark holes in her head quickly sealing themselves shut again.



    That did something. They could defeat Sapphira...if she were stronger. Or if, well-, don't you worry about that, Serket.
    But she can't maintain the darkness while being burned, which even manages to draw a cry of pain from Serket. She seems to be recovering pretty quickly, but can't muster another attack or even advice for Prumathe at the moment.



    Now he's free from the telekinesis, he rushes back to Sapphira boosting his leg strength to speed himself up. He'll try to touch the spatula against the fiend's face. Hopefully it'll hurt.



    The wound in Sapphira's head is nearly gone now, and as Prumathe approaches, she swings around, trying to grab the injured Serket and force her in front of the attack. She looks far more enraged now than she has during the entire fight.



    You know what gets your attention? Someone swinging a blessed spatula in your general direction.
    Serket steps away from Prumathe's rush, keeping her out of Sapphira's reach at the moment.
    She brings her good wings together and sends a blast of fire at the fiend. Much smaller than the one thrown at her a moment ago. But maybe it'll help as a distraction.



    Since Serket's out of the way, Prumathe tries to touch the spatula against Sapphira again and shouts "Anoia, aid me!"



    Without Serket to take the blow, Sapphira lets loose an inhuman screech as the spatula strikes her face. She leaps back, out of the way of the flames and further attacks, and faces Prumathe angrily, revealing a burn in the shape of the spatula's head across her cheek. "You are lucky, but it will not be enough to defeat me."



    "Prumathe. You should run." Serket seems to say, stepping up towards the fiend. Is that burn mark about to heal as easily as the other wounds? Or is it going to stick for a while?



    Prumathe feels a little bad- Serket looks like his girlfriend, and he'd not run from her, if she was in trouble- but running might just be the best plan. He's going to turn and flee, waving the spatula at the clay golem as he runs past it. If that breaks the telekinesis about the animated figure, it'll drop to the ground with a loud thud and steadily advance upon Sapphira, trying to deliver a bone-crushing hug.



    "Get back here!" Sapphira turns and follows after Prumathe at a brisk walk, ignoring Serket for now. Just waving the spatula isn't enough to break her hold on the golem. She's also fast, faster than she has any right to be, matching Prumathe's speed seemingly without breaking into a run.



    Serket breaks into a run to chase after Sapphira. Not sure how she's doing that, but she should be able to keep up.
    And then maybe she can tackle the fiend if she gets close?
    She can try, anyway.



    Prumathe pours more magic into his legs so he speeds up again, and he's headed into the city. I don't think he knows there's a tracer spell on him, from the portal, but he's running along any way.

    The golems, if the TK is lowered at any point, will also join the chase. The spider and the gargoyles are fastest, then the armour golem; the incomplete statue is slowest, but not by much.



    Prumathe puts on speed, but so does Sapphira, even though her pace clearly hasn't changed. Serket will somehow have to match her pace in order to keep up, despite her injuries. The golems aren't released until they're out of eyeshot of Sapphira. She can maintain her hold until then.



    It's going to take Serket a few minutes to recover from the broken wing. So for the time being she's going to run.
    And that means she's going to fall behind.

    The archer, once released, is going to get out of here, slithering back the way it came.


    The gargoyles swoop into the air once released and try to spot Sapphira, heading in the direction they saw her go. The other golems wll follow behind, though they are walking. The gargoyles can fly faster than Prumathe can run; despite being primarily guards, some gargoyles are messengers or hunters, and Pontius tries to keep his usual constructs as generic as possible to fit as many potential customer's needs as possible.

    Prumathe ducks down an alleyway, hoping the confined space makes flight impractical and hinders his pursuers.


    Sapphira follows Prumathe into the alley. She's not flying, so it's not exactly a problem for her. She waves a hand, and flames spring up at the other end of the narrow lane, blocking the exit. "Stop. Let's talk."


    The gargoyles were flying, so unfortunately Prumathe's not getting help from that quarter... Yet.

    "Fine. We'll talk." He turns around and frowns, a little nervous that he's trapped in an alleyway by a fiend he doesn't trust.


    [Meeting with Sapphira]

    When a golem passes her by, Serket will try to hop a ride on it's back, so that she can focus on straightening and regenerating her wing.
    They move by magic, right? And she's not so big. Probably won't even slow them down.
    ~Inner Circle~
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  4. - Top - End - #454
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Serious Plots 8: Rawr serisaurus!

    Spoiler: Meanwhile, on Discord (part 2)
    Show
    RecRec02/09/2020
    [Fiendless Lot]

    "Sekhmet is happy you are alive and mad that you went through the portal."
    Serket reports.
    "You should fortify your home with holy items." she instructs him, with some distaste. The whole concept of holy items is troubling. Every day in the Nexus is another impossibility, it can drive you mad with frustration. And that's leaving aside the trouble of items in general. But it's the best advice they have. "Would help if there was a better way to communicate with you." Phones are so....overhearable.

    Sekhmet is reassured by Osa that she is part of the hive and they will hide and protect her as long as necessary.
    Someone suggests they try to find Sapphira's weaknesses by studying Sekhmet's weaknesses in detail. They should have a lot in common, right?
    Earl of Purple02/09/2020
    [Fiend Or Foe]

    "Right, holy items. I think I know where to get some of those." He'll pop in to the little Chapel of Anoia located behind the soup kitchen opposite his apartment building on his way home. Maybe see if they can point him to a more relevant deity, and pick up a Sacred Egg-Whisk. "I've got a mobile phone, and I don't think she can listen in on it." He could be mistaken, however.
    bc5602/09/2020
    Unfiendly Encounter

    Sekhmet doesn't want to stay with the hive. She wants to go back to her normal life. She's also slightly worried by the talk about her weaknesses. The best way they could study them would be to use them against her, and she doesn't want more silver burns. The last ones took forever to heal. She can tell the hive all about her weaknesses though. Tell him to get some silver jewelry. He can use it to detect if she's nearby.
    RecRec02/09/2020
    [Lean a Little on your Fiends]

    "Wearing silver, especially, will help detect her...or us."
    Serket swishes the tip of her tail back and forth nervously.
    "Maybe not. Don't know how good her senses are. Might still be watching us. Maybe I should stay with you."

    Don't worry, Sekhmet. They already know that silver works. They've been working on that since Spike's battle with eldritch monsters that one time. Let's hear about your other weaknesses.
    Earl of Purple02/09/2020
    [Forgotten Fiends]

    Prumathe nods at the explanation about silver, making a mental note to get some. "That... might not be a bad idea." Although Prumathe doesn't like it much; he doesn't want anything to do wth the Hive, except the little he needs to do to try and get Sekhmet out. Hopefully he'll be able to figure stuff out whilst he's spending time with Serket, though he's going to be distracted.
    bc5602/09/2020
    Fiendless

    I, uh, can't enter a holy place, like a church or a graveyard. Sekhmet tried, shortly after her transfomation. It's like there's an invisible wall in the way. She's very unhappy just thinking about it. In her mind, this is the worst downside of her nature. And holy symbols act like silver to me. Probably holy water too, but she's never encountered it.
    RecRec02/09/2020
    [Sekhmet and Serket]

    But what makes a place, or a symbol, holy? That's what they need to figure out. Is it the faith of the people? The act of powerful entities? Is it the items and shapes inside?

    Serket waves vaguely. Prumathe should lead the way; only Sapphira followed him from his house.
    "Do you have any idea what the fiend actually intended? The armor seemed real, but what she said about her other descendants is...?"
    Earl of Purple02/09/2020
    [Prumathe & Serket]

    Prumathe does, though he's headed first to the chapel of Anoia to get some holy symbols. "I don't know. Really, I don't. But I don't think she wants what she said she wants. That might be part of her plan, but it's not the entirety of it."
    bc5602/09/2020
    Sekhmet and the Hive

    I don't know? It, uh, just works. Sapphira could probably answer that question, but Sekhmet certainly can't. She's not sure what to do now. She can't really help Prumathe and Serket. All she can do is wait.
    RecRec02/10/2020
    [Sekmhet & Sekhmet, Attorneys at Law]

    "We need more information. Other fiends, or associates of Sekhmet's father, or...what were those things you mentioned?" Serket follows along with Prumathe. Sapphira had mentioned being interested in meeting her 'creator', and never followed up on that. And she's probably a much better source of fiendish power than Sekhmet. But she's apparently hostile and untrustworthy by nature. What a puzzle.

    While you wait, Sekhmet, why not join the other marquess for some flying practice?
    Earl of Purple02/10/2020
    [Serket & Prumathe]

    "Rakshasha. They're tricksy, though. They give what you ask for, and take what you agreed on. But that's not always what you were expecting." Perfect clarity is needed- but they often ask for knowledge or other ephemeral things. Prumathe isn't trying to lose anyone any more; he's going in as straight a line as he can to the Chapel of Anoia behind the soup kitchen. Shouldn't take too long to get there.
    bc5602/10/2020
    Sekhmet and Hivelings

    Flight practice sounds like a good idea. A good diversion from the looming threat of her mother. Sekhmet mentally agrees and prepares to take to the air.

    Prumathe and Serket
    And Sapphira

    You didn't think she just gave up did you?
    The fiend is actually following invisibly behind the unlikely pair. Now, she finally acts. She reaches out once more to Prumathe's mind, much more subtly this time. She unleashes psychic whispers at him, very simple ones. She tries to plant a seed of distrust and paranoia in him. Maybe Sekhmet is in danger. Maybe Sapphira has already found her daughter. Maybe Serket's people are actually holding Sekhmet for nefarious purposes. Maybe some other terrible thing is going on. She just wants him worried and paranoid.
    RecRec02/10/2020
    [One and a Half Fiends]

    Oh, right, there was something she was supposed to do.
    "Ey, Sapphira? Are you still listening somehow?"
    "Sekhmet isn't interested. You lone creatures care a lot about independence, right? So, uh, that's that. But you should come talk to me some other time."

    Now, when they approach the chapel of Anoia, Serket will hang well back. She's pretty vulnerable to holy things herself. Going into that chapel is right out. Instead, she'll just spread her wings and fly up to a rooftop nearby to loiter.
    Earl of Purple02/10/2020
    [Esses And A Pea]

    The chapel's quite small, a single-room with a ladder to an upper storey where the priestess lives. It doesn't take long for Prumathe to come back, this time laden with several ladles, a corkscrew and a potato peeler. Also a small bottle of holy water and strict instructions of how to ward his apartment. He doesn't have much silver yet, though. That's going to be a different stop.
    bc5602/10/2020
    1.5 Fiends and 1.5 Humans

    Sapphira's mental attack vanishes as soon as Prumathe enters the church. She can't touch him while he's in there. As soon as he leaves, however, it resumes, trying to feed his doubt and suspicion. Does he really think those holy relics are powerful enough to protect him? What was Serket doing while he wasn't watching her? Why won't she give him any useful information about Sekhmet's situation? Sapphira continues with the psychic whispers.
    RecRec02/10/2020
    [I think we can count fiends as Humans]

    It looks like Serket has been playing with fire. There's a little candle-flame over her thumb claw.
    When Prumathe emerges from the church, she hops down and catches up to him.

    "The tricksy Rakshasa; like the sound of that. Exactly what you asked for. Are they alive?" Or are they something stranger than that?
    Earl of Purple02/10/2020
    [But Do Humans Count As Fiends?]

    "Um, I think they're alive, but I've not met one personally. I'll have to ask one of my sisters about it." Next stop is a jeweller's. "I'm going to buy some silver, do you make it glow too?" A ring, is his thought. Something small, relatively cheap, he can slip on his finger and keep an eye on.
    bc5602/10/2020
    Fiendly Humans

    Sapphira follows behind, continuing with her manipulation on Prumathe's mind. The conversation is uninteresting. She'll have to move away soon so Prumathe doesn't suspect her presence, but her patience is wearing thin. Clearly Sekhmet is hidden somewhere they can't easily get to her. She might be able to convince her to come out.
    RecRec02/10/2020
    [Humane Fiends]

    "Yes. Even more than Sekhmet, actually." Serket confirms. Having said that, she also waits outside the jeweller.
    Earl of Purple02/10/2020
    [Hufiends]

    "Huh, that's odd." And with the paranoia, he frowns. Serket's clearly more Hive-y than Sekhmet, and she makes the silver glow more. Does that mean the Hive is demonic? Either way, he comes out shortly from the jewellers. "I'm worried about Sekhmet. Could I ask my boss to send some golems to you for you to send to her? More guards can't hurt." And it'd make him feel a lot better... Even if it would also give Sapphira a chance to find Sekhmet.
    bc5602/10/2020
    Fiendmans

    That's promising. Sapphira doesn't move away. Her glow will be disguised by Serket's, as long as she's relatively distant. She continues to send suspicious thoughts to Prumathe. If he's turned against Serket, that will be to Sapphira's advantage. Yes... The clone's kind are other fiends. Don't trust them.
    RecRec02/10/2020
    [Fiendman Prometheus]

    Serket considers for a moment. "Yes. We just need to think how to get them to her without being followed."
    Earl of Purple02/11/2020
    [Helios]

    "It's a pity Sekhmet's the illusionist Pontius keeps on staff. Nobody else can disguise them, except maybe as a different type of golem." They could possibly go for glass golems, but... glass golems are mostly for decoration, as they're a little too fragile to make effective guards. If Serket can use invisibility, however, that'd be a boon.
    bc5602/11/2020
    Fiendkenstein: The Modern Prometheus

    Sapphira continues listening. All she has to do is figure out where these golems are kept.
    But there were several useful things here. She knows now that Sekhmet and Prumathe work for someone named Pontius, and that he makes golems. Wherever he works must be where the golems will start, and wherever Sekhmet is will be where they travel to. She still doesn't stop the suspicious whispers to Prumathe. Will the golems really be led to Sekhmet? How can he be sure she's okay if he doesn't actually see her himself?
    RecRec02/11/2020
    [Frankenfiend's Monsters]

    "Our stalkers can disguise the golems once they're together." Serket says. She personally hasn't figured out invisibility; it doesn't come naturally like pyromancy, and Sekhmet has a big head start actually learning magic. "I don't know the details so I can't accidentally give them away. The golems should meet the stalker in a church, and then go to Sekhmet under cover of illusion or something."
    Earl of Purple02/11/2020
    [Frankenstein's Human]

    "Do you and yours know where Pontius works?" They should do, because if nothing else they can ask Sekhmet. "I'll ring him now, have him send however many golems he can spare right now to the nearest church."
    bc5602/11/2020
    Insert a fiend pun here

    Sapphira leans a bit closer. This is important information. She's confident she can track golems, disguised or not, easily enough. She just needs to find the church they start from.
    RecRec02/11/2020
    [Pun Not Found]

    "Yes, we're aware of Sekhmet's job. They-"
    Serket leans in close to Prumathe and nods.
    "Not the nearest church. Send them to the Chapel Unbreakable, in Apocalypse Square." Not terribly far from where they met Sapphira.
    Earl of Purple02/11/2020
    [Serkhmet, Sapphira & Prumathe]

    "I've not visited that one, I don't think. I don't know if Pontius knows where it is." And he doesn't trust Serket not to put stuff in place so they won't go where Prumathe wants them to go, if they get to the church first.
    bc5602/11/2020
    SS&P

    Sapphira continues listening and projecting paranoia at Prumathe. There's not much else she can do right now.
    RecRec02/11/2020
    [SSP]

    "From here, you (directions back to the chapel). Send them to us here, and we can go with them." Serket explains, relaying directions from the rest of the hive.
    "It's not safe for Sekhmet if you go to her yourself right now."
    Earl of Purple02/11/2020
    [Sappathe, Serkira & Pruket]

    "I wasn't planning on going to her. Just sending the golems. For all I know, because we visited her realm she can track us using magic." And he might not trust the Hive, but he also doesn't trust Sapphira, and increasing his paranoia doesn't actually change that. He does trust Pontius, however, and the golems.
    bc5602/11/2020
    Saket, Sermathe, and Prupphira

    Aha.
    Directions.
    But Sapphira'll need to keep an eye on these two too, for as long as possible. She'll wait at least until Prumathe actually makes the call before going to track down the golems. Besides, it could be a trick.
    RecRec02/11/2020
    [Semaet, Sarkra, and Prupphithe]

    "We know. That's why I am here with you, in case I'd be followed elsewhere."
    That reminds Serket. They believe they should be able to track Sapphira's mental and magical presence, as long as she's in the Nexus, based on the earlier contact with her. And she reaches out with her mind and tries to do this, without mentioning a thing to Prumathe. How comprehensively is she hidden?
    "What are the golems like? How do they protect someone?"
    Earl of Purple02/11/2020
    [Tekres, Arihppas & Ehtamurp]

    "Well, I don't know. I don't know what Pontius has available. They're usually humanoid, made of stone, metal or clay, but not all of them. Pontius builds with pretty much anything he has available. Generally they act as really, really durable shields that also pack a punch. Pontius might have some more unusual ones he's not been able to sell, ones that can do other things as well." Pontius is very big of developing new forms of construct and interesting golems, out of any unusual material he can get his hands on.
    bc5602/11/2020
    Miscellaneous Garbled Names

    Sapphira's mental presence is very difficult to detect. It's amorphous and slippery, and if you don't have plenty of power, it can be hard to get any sort of psychic reading on it. She almost, almost uses the chance to mentally attack Serket, but holds back. If she disrupts their plans now, Serket and Prumathe will know she's here. Later, later.
    RecRec02/12/2020
    [&,aaaeeehikkppprrrssttu]

    Okay, looks like Sapphira isn't around. Judging from the lack of signal, she's in that awful demiplane of hers.
    Still, may as well be safe. Sekhmet has other enemies.
    "Call for the golems."
    Earl of Purple02/12/2020
    [My Names Weren't Garbled, They Were Backwards]

    Prumathe gets his phone out and flicks through the contact list. Pontius is quite far down. "Hey, boss. I've got a favour to ask for Sekhmet. Could you send any golems you have spare to, um, the Chapel Unbreakable? I think we're meeting them there and going off. Okay, thank you sir." He puts his phone away. "There's five available right now, maybe six if he hurries on this last one."
    bc5602/12/2020
    Backwards is a type of garbling

    Sapphira keeps an eye on Prumathe and Serket. She'll follow them to the chapel, but she wants to be sure they're going there before she goes there herself. She also looks out for more psychic probes. Looks like Serket inherited some of her original's powers.
    RecRec02/12/2020
    [Three Names, Six Golems]

    They don't really expect the golems will be useful. Maybe if Sapphira sends some mortal minions? She probably has those. But Serket doesn't say this aloud. It wouldn't help. She just leads the way to the chapel, which was picked out because of the extensive tombs underneath it. Hallowed burial ground through which they can hopefully slip out the golems without any fiendish detection. At some point, the hive will come to believe that Sapphira just sin't watching Serket. But not yet; they know too little about true fiends to guess what she's capable of.
    Perhaps the golems will have already arrived.
    Perhaps they'll be loitering outside waiting for them.
    Perhaps something will interrupt them along the way.

    [Backwards is not garbling!]

    Prumathe follows to the chapel, still carrying all the symbols of Anoia.

    The golems arrive shortly after, marching down the middle of the road. There's five in column, with a sixth shortly behind. The first two are gargoyles, a snarling granite lion with eagle wings and a diorite clawed warthog with bat wings. Then a humanoid clay figure, three metres tall and basically featureless, bar a strong nose and red glowing eyes. Then a spiky and bladed aluminium spider, followed by a bronze warrior in archaic armour and a full suit of plate mail, green light leaking from the joints and bearing a heavy zweihander. Finally, a marble statue, still in need of finishing and polishing.
    bc5602/12/2020
    Agree to disagree then!

    Sapphira can't follow into the church, which poses a problem. However, the golems provide a possible advantage. As they pass by her, she reaches out and touches each of the golems, infusing them with just a little of her power. That should allow her to track them in case something tricky is attempted.

    RecRec02/12/2020
    [Garbled Agreement]

    "Can golems make golems?" Serket asks suddenly, as they arrive.
    "March them in and downstairs. Don't answer any questions." Such as 'what are all these golems doing in my church?'
    If Prumathe follows these instructions, once down in the tombs he'll get a phone call.
    Earl of Purple02/12/2020
    [Agleed Garbmernet]

    "No, not unless you're willing to create self awareness and figure out how to create something able to use magic in its own right." Pontius has dabbled in golems that can repair themselves and others, but actually building new ones is not something he's willing to try.

    The armour golem tries to dodge Sapphira's touch, and all will move around her rather than over her, but Prumathe is keeping his eye on Serket. He doesn't notice their behaviour.
    bc5602/12/2020
    Grabblead Augeireemant

    As long as Sapphira manages to touch most of the golems, she won't bother going back to the ones she missed. She's quick and precise in the task, but she still notices that the golems avoid her, and makes note. They can see her, even if Prumathe and Serket can't. She'll steer clear of them from here on out, until they're out of the church, taking to the air and circling far above, still invisible.
    RecRec02/13/2020
    [Golems]

    "What is that one doing?" Serket calls after them, pointing to the armour golem's attempted dodge. But she doesn't put it together, and Sapphira is long taken to the air by now anyway.

    The plan is for the golems to enter the church, descend to the tomb, and slip off into an underground passage that leads to the sewers. From there, they will be met by one of the hive's Stalkers, a beckoning tentacle appearing from nowhere.
    Serket can't follow Prumathe into a church, after all.
    Earl of Purple02/13/2020
    [Golem Church]

    "I'm... not sure. What were you doing, armour?" Prumathe directs his speech to the golems, and it stops, gestures like it's trying to touch Prumathe, and pointing in Sapphira's general direction- if she's still 'visible' from the street.
    bc5602/13/2020
    Golem Church

    The golem can still see Sapphira, but it will have to point almost directly upwards, since she's currently circling far above the church.
    Earl of Purple02/13/2020
    [Golem Church]

    "You were avoiding the touch of something? Which is... now up there." Prumathe frowns and gazes in roughtly the right direction. "Serket, I think we may have a problem." But also they learnt that she emanates enough magic that she can't easily hide from the guardian-type golem's sight.
    RecRec02/13/2020
    [Golurch]

    Serket looks up following the golem's pointing gauntlet.
    "Something touching the golems. That we can't see. Did Sapphira send something after us, or do we have another problem?" Ugh. This is what comes of, uh, doing something wrong that Serket can't quite fathom. (The answer is ' operating in a city, without the support of a Duke'. They could just see what the problem was right away.)
    She hopes away from the golems, nervous.
    bc5602/13/2020
    Golemch

    Sapphira can't actually hear this conversation from her position. She continues circling and waiting for an opening.
    Earl of Purple02/13/2020
    [Gollum Gollum]

    "Did it touch you, armour golem?" The suit of armour shakes its... helmet. "So we can send the armour to Sekhmet right off, but the other five need checking over by somebody with better magical sight than I do, make sure they haven't been tampered with or tracked. Has she touched you, Serket?" Because if she's placed a tracker on the golems, might be she's done it to them, too. She can do it seemingly soundlessly, too.
    RecRec02/13/2020
    [Golem Alone]

    Serket nods. "Before we visited the portal. So I should avoid going anywhere important until examined. Send the armour along now and-" she pauses to look all around "Who should 'check over' the golems? Pontius?"
    Earl of Purple02/13/2020
    [Church of Blind Fish Pool]

    "Pontius is busy. And if we're being followed, she might follow him back to his place of work. And that might not be the best outcome. Is... is there anyone in your lot who could do it?" He still doesn't trust the Hive, but he thinks it currently has Sekhmet's interests in mind... Even if he's not sure that's a permanent state of affairs.
    RecRec02/14/2020
    [Precious Church]

    Serket consider and confers. "Our best magical expert is in Riverside, which apparently is far away? But a Duke can probably figure out what was done to them. We can meet one outside the city's east gate."
    Earl of Purple02/14/2020
    [What's in the Churcheses]

    "Riverside's quite far, yeah." An hour or so on Riftline, he thinks, though he's not actually been there. Prumathe hasn't really left the city since he arrived. "Are we going through the tunnels to the gate, or walking?"
    RecRec02/15/2020
    [Church of the Clay Man]

    "We will walk." Serket declares, starting off away from from the church. Just a guy and a demon and four golems, walking through town. Barely unusual around here.
    "What has Sekhmet told you about us?"
    Earl of Purple02/15/2020
    [Clay Men in the Pocketses]

    "Not much. That you're telepathic, and that's about it." He also knows she doesn't trust them, and whilst they probably know that, there's no point in telling them he knows that, too. Because it currently means they don't know he doesn't trust them.
    bc5602/15/2020
    Clay Men Marching

    As the party heads away from the church, Sapphira turns and follows overhead. They still don't seem to suspect her presence, and now they must be on their way to Sekhmet. Perfect.
    RecRecLast Sunday at 11:34 AM
    [Clay Men Riddle]

    You're not exactly keeping your distrust hidden, Prumathe. :P

    "That's true. It's more than te-le-path-y, apparently. We're all connected, and-"
    Serket has an idea!
    She tries to think Can you hear me? to Prumathe. But she's quite bad at it. He might feel something, but he almost certainly won't understand, and might not even notice. But the prime Stalker, after becoming, can talk this way, and Sekhmet is even better at communication and control than that, so maybe her close cousins can do it too!
    "Some people really love being lonely, Sophia says." She shrugs her forewings.
    "The Nexus is really dangerous, so we help protect it. Fight off demons and space monsters and stuff." For now. Someday, those lesser threats will be defeated, and the hive will be ready.
    "There's lots of different kinds of us. Like me!"
    Earl of PurpleLast Sunday at 2:09 PM
    [Walking to the Gates]

    Prumathe hears a buzzing, and waves a hand to ward off what he thinks is a bee. "You protect the Nexus? Like Vigil or something?" He thinks the bit about loving loneliness is a non sequitur.

    "I see there's some like you. How many, exactly? Are connected like that? Is Sekhmet linked up?" Quite important questions, he thinks.

    And I missed a few words; they don't know he knows Sekhmet doesn't trust them.
    RecRecLast Monday at 12:20 PM
    [Getting to the Gates]

    "Yes. We work with VIGIL sometimes."
    Hmm, he tried to wave her thoughts away. So they must have reached him! Try again, slow and clear: Hellllo?
    "Uh, we're all the same generation, besides Sekhmet, so there's at least four of us, and no more than fifteen who-, oh, yes, of course she is. We're all linked up more or less." I think Serket misunderstood somepart of Prumathe's questions, but that answer probably still helps.
    Earl of PurpleLast Monday at 12:32 PM
    [Marching to the Gates]

    "How many of you are there, all in the link?" He's a little surprised there's fifteen not-quite-clones of Sekhmet running around, but he doesn't know where the Hive has its base or how to find it, plus this one has proven adept at disguising herself.
    RecRecLast Monday at 12:57 PM
    [Strolling to the Gates]

    It turns out there's just six other marquesses. Fifteen was an optimistic estimate.
    This is where Serket would start counting on her fingers, if she had any, before that became hopelessly inadequate.
    "Well, there's me, and my sisters, and cousins, and the mothers and their workers and, uh..."
    "There's a lot. At least hundreds."
    Earl of PurpleLast Monday at 1:00 PM
    [Gating to the Walk]

    "So you're quite a big organisation, then. Why do you keep yourselves hidden, or do you have a name that I've likely heard?" Bigger than Prumathe was expecting, honestly. But if he can find out what they call themselves, at least he'll know what to call them.
    RecRecLast Monday at 2:15 PM
    [Gating to the Gate]

    "It's safer that way. We do not need public attention." Serket answers. Neither an explanation nor a name are forthcoming. "Would it matter if you'd heard our name? What are you going to do now that you know us?"
    Earl of PurpleLast Monday at 2:44 PM
    [Traversing the City For an Aperture in the Wall]

    "I... suppose it doesn't matter that I don't have a name. It would have been good to have something to refer to you by, if only in my head. Now? I'm not sure. Whatever I do, it'll have to wait until after Sekhmet's safe and Sapphira's dealt with, however that ends up happening." So it's on the backburner, for a much later date.
    RecRecLast Monday at 3:41 PM
    [You Are Now Leaving Inside City Limits]

    "Think of us as Sekhmet's third family." Serket suggests as they continue on and leave the city behind.
    They walk away from the buildings.
    They walk away from the roads.
    Towards where a pair of hive creatures are waiting. One is an archer, hiding and half-buried between the roots of an old and twisted tree, ready in case of any danger. The other is a duke, drifting lazily against the wind, descending from a hundred feet up to get a closer look at the golems. (Important facts about dukes: they're huge, they have incredibly keen senses and extrasenses, they're psychically powerful, they're slow and unlikely to hurt you).

    If Sapphira is still following them like she has been, the duke is almost certainly going to notice her. And Serket is going to look very sad when she learns that fact! She'll look up and shout "Sapphira! We heard from Sekhmet!"

    bc56Last Monday at 4:47 PM
    Inside Exit

    Sapphira knows she's been spotted almost before Serket calls out. She reveals herself and descends. "Are you ready to introduce me to her?" She knows what the answer is already, but she'll give Serket and Prumathe a chance to do as she asks.
    Earl of PurpleLast Monday at 5:09 PM
    [Beyond the Thunderdome]

    Prumathe nods and his eyes widen as he sees what, exactly, Serket has brought him to meet. They're much scarier looking than he was expecting, even if the Duke looks slow and cumbersome.

    The golems are pretty simple, though potent. The magic animating them isn't a form of natural spirit bound to the golem's shell; rather, they're artificial spirits that are linked to the golems by their very nature. No risk of the bindings breaking and the golem going on a rampage; and the simplicity makes the magic robust and hard to remove. They are pretty impressive pieces of magical engineering, whose major flaws are their rigid mentalities, inability to improvise outside their orders and a few flaws based on their material components. Most surprisingly, the two gargoyles, despite being made of stone, have complex enchantments worked into their wings, enabling them to fly- though being more complex, they are likewise easier to disrupt.

    The material flaws are their weight; they're all heavy, and whilst that gives them power, it makes them slow. The armour is lightest; but it's also the only one which is hollow, and is therefore relatively fragile. The spider is heavier, but faster, its multilimbed design complex and intricate, with jointed limbs that can be jammed. The stone statuary are particularly cumbersome and rather brittle, hard to cut or slice but easier to smash. The clay golem is even more vulnerable to such attacks. The bronze warrior is less brittle, but softer; it could be cut by high-quality steel weaponry.
    RecRecLast Monday at 6:49 PM
    [Outside Entrance]

    The duke looks over what the golems are and how they work. It hasn't seen this sort of artificial spirit before, but is just quietly bemused. Observing how their enchanted materials move as they walk along will be useful information when the hive someday has to fight constructs like this. Completely different from the robots they once fought, aren't they? Serket says they can't make more of themselves, but that it isn't impossible? How curious. And those two fly, a little bit like the duke itself, although it is assisted by large quantities of helium and vacccum.

    Serket flutters her wings apologetically. "Sekhmet refuses to come with you at all. I think some of us might be able to help free your descendants in her stead, though."
    bc56Last Monday at 6:58 PM
    Entrance Argument

    "That is not acceptable!" Sapphira's response is angry and sharp. "I must see my daughter!" She seems to loom over the conversation, despite not physically changing at all. "I'll give you one more chance! Take me to Sekhmet!"
    Earl of PurpleLast Monday at 7:29 PM
    [Outside Inside]

    "Accept it, Sapphira." The Duke might note that Prumathe is calling on his own magic, boosting his strength. It probably won't help, but chances are it won't hurt either. The golems simply stand there, for now.
    RecRecLast Monday at 7:52 PM
    [Golems]

    "We only came here to inspect the golems. I couldn't take you to her if I wanted to." Serket says in a small voice.
    She could, potentially, take Sapphira to someone who could take her to someone who could take her to someone who could take her to Sekhmet. That was the plan with the golems. But then the fiend would have to intimidate everyone along the way.
    bc56Last Monday at 8:04 PM
    Brewing Fight

    Sapphira doubts that explanation. "Perhaps a demonstration is necessary?" Her eyes lock with Serket's and her power reaches out, forcefully wrapping around the hiveling. If Serket can't break free, Sapphira will tighten her hold and attempt to break one of her wings, crushing bones in her telekinetic grip.
    RecRecLast Monday at 8:15 PM
    [Fight!]

    "I cannot tell you." the Marquess protests. Literally.

    Serket struggles against the crushing power, but she's not terribly strong, and has nowhere near the skill with such magic as the fiend. Right away, she cries out in pain. In just a moment, her bones are going to snap.
    During that moment, the duke focuses its own telekinetic powers on Sapphira, trying to hold her in place while the archer pops up and shoots at her, a pair of long bone-and-metal spikes fired at considerable speeds. A human would be unlikely to survive. But who knows if these mortal weapons can hurt a fiend?
    Earl of PurpleLast Monday at 8:22 PM
    [Fight!]

    As Serket cries in pain, Prumathe clicks his tongue and points at Sapphira. "Kill." It's not an order he's given before, and he looks pretty scared, but the golems obey- those that can. The gargoyles fly up and attack, the lion's mouth moving soundlessly whilst the warthog manages to squeal. They're going to target Sapphira's wings, primarily; with claws or tusks. Due to their nature as magically animated statues, their claws and tusks are embued with magic; possibly enough to bypass any defences the fiend may have.
    bc56Last Monday at 8:50 PM
    The Fight of the Century!

    Sapphira smiles cruelly. This won't even be much of a challenge. She relaxes in the duke's grip, clearly not at all worried. Her grip on Serket barely weakens at all as she reaches out to the incoming projectiles and golems, and tries to force them together, redirecting the spears into the gargoyles and trying to slam the gargoyles together.
    RecRecLast Monday at 9:43 PM
    [The Fight of the Evening, at Least]

    How amazing, to fend off four dangers while keeping such a tight grip. Fiends truly are the creature the hive has been searching for. But then, her grip does weaken. Serket can feel a slight lessening of the pressure on her crushed wing, and the the duke notices this and records it.

    The giant hiveling now psychically pushes down on Sapphira, a weight growing greater and greater by the moment to try to drive her to the ground. It, in turn, drifts further up and away.

    The archer rises fully from its hiding place and slithers forward. Sapphira has shown herself resistant to a single ranged attacker, but it still has its claws and fangs and the potential of a shot from too close to deflect. It feels a dim sense of familiarity towards the fiend. She isn't planning to eat them, but otherwise it's a lot like playing with her food.

    Serket is directed to grit her teeth and try to fly towards Sapphira with her remaining good wings. She does her best.
    Earl of PurpleLast Tuesday at 11:28 AM
    [Tuesday Night's Alright For Fighting]

    The gargoyles crash into each other, hampering their ability to move their wings... But they don't actually need to move their wings to fly. It helps them steer, but unless Sapphira's moving out of the way that doesn't matter much.

    The golems move around, trying to stand underneath Sapphira without getting in each other's way. The Archer and the Duke are both pretty much ignored; the golems haven't had any orders regarding them. The aluminium spider rears up on its rear four legs, trying to jab at Sapphira with its bladed front legs, pedipalps and fangs, whilst the armour golem adopts a simple fencing pose.
    bc56Last Tuesday at 12:09 PM
    Extreme Fighting

    Sapphira is pushed into the knot of attacking creatures and golems, still smiling. Their blades and claws slice into her, and she disappears into the group. Seconds pass. Is she dead? She hasn't been seen for several seconds now.

    Then an explosion of psychic power blasts out of where she just was, forming into kinetic tendrils which wrap around the golems and the archer, trying to lift and hold them in midair. Even if they resist, Sapphira strides out unhinder, not unharmed, but clearly not worried. Her wounds don't bleed, but rather reveal an empty void within her, as if she's a hollow shell of skin. They're also rapidly stitching back together. She looks up at the incoming Serket. "Impressive. I hope you get your tenacity from my daughter. Are you two done resisting yet?"
    RecRecLast Tuesday at 1:09 PM
    [No-Holds-Barred Fiend-Fighting]

    "Sekhmet didn't turn you down because she thought you were weak." Serket's voice says "This only shows she was right not to trust you." Fire sparks into existence at the tip of her tail, which she jabs at Sapphira. Maybe fiendish magic can hurt a fiend more than blades. Or maybe it's the opposite. But it's her best plan at the moment.

    The archer is lifted up just as it gets close. Clearly mere heaviness is no obstacle to a fiend. The duke pushes it through the air, back towards Sapphira. Clearly she let herself be pushed to the ground, unafraid of the fighting golems. But perhaps if the archer can lunge forward and grab ahold of Sapphira, it'll be able to resist getting thrown around a bit better.
    Earl of PurpleLast Tuesday at 3:02 PM
    [Still Fighting]

    The golems resist as they're lifted and held, though there's little they can do. Attacking their minds doesn't work; they don't have minds to attack, not really. The gargoyles attempt to fight out by flying, beating their wings and distorting the air around them with the enchantments suspending them in the air. The armour golem tries to jab out with its massive sword, and the spider also jabs with blades.

    Prumathe is also approaching, though he looks a little scared. He'll lash out with a punch at Sapphira's face, enhancing his strength to the point he could crack stone with his knuckles. It probably won't work, but he has to try.
    bc56Last Tuesday at 4:46 PM
    Fight Club

    Sapphira continues to hold the assorted minions away, increasing the pressure on the archer enough to keep it from coming into reach of her. As Serket's tail lashes at her, she reaches up and tries to grab it with one hand and pull the fiendling off balance, lashing out at Serket's broken wing with the other. Prumathe is more successful. His punch slams into Sapphira's cheek, and he can feel her bones shattering beneath his fist. She turns her ruined face towards him, and with a sickening, twisting motion, her bones bend and snap back into place, and she smiles coldly. "Nations and empires have bowed before my power. I have devoured the greatest archmages of the millenia. If you continue to defy me, you too will fall."
    RecRecLast Tuesday at 6:38 PM
    [Clubbing]

    The approximately-half-fiend is grabbed by the tail and pulled to the side.
    "It's not about defying. You simply can't get Sekhmet by hurting me." Her voice is calm, ignoring the injury to her wing as it takes what must be a very painful blow. The duke has the literal and metaphorical distance to impart detachment about these things.

    After a moment, the archer ceases to press towards Sapphira. It will need something else to create an opening.
    Earl of PurpleLast Tuesday at 6:44 PM
    [Sapphira Clubbing]

    "I don't know where Sekhmet is, and if you hurt or kill me, she'll never join you." The chance of Sekhmet joining Sapphira is low anyway, but he's confident his death or maiming would decide matters for certain. Either way, he'll aim his next punch at Sapphira's elbow. He can't hurt her; but maybe he can disable her limb long enough for Serket to escape.
    bc56Last Tuesday at 7:25 PM
    The Fight Continues

    Sapphira smiles evilly at Prumathe's statement. "Perfect." His attack temporarily shatters her arm and frees Serket, but she's already changing her strategy, trying to telekinetically grab and immobilize both of her remaining opponents in the same way as the others. Prumathe is treated slightly differently than Serket. The grip is gentler on him, although no less immobilizing.
    RecRecLast Tuesday at 7:45 PM
    [The Promethus Club]

    "You are not a golem. Do not only hit her." says Serket's serene voice.
    When the fiend's grip falls away, Serket does not try to get away, but darts in towards Sapphira, invoking the draining cold and darkness (that Sekhmet demonstrated for Spike and then used against Ilpholin) around them both.

    A moment later, the archer tries to launch another pair of spikes at her, from its now-closer position, as a distraction. They'll probably meet some resistance from the telekinesis, but it's a much more concentrated force than trying to reach for a fiend with your claws.

    The duke continues drifting away. It was really just here to look for weird magic on the golems, and that job is done.
    Earl of PurpleLast Tuesday at 7:49 PM
    [Stealing Fire From Hell] (damn, now I have a vague future-Prumathe-plot idea)

    Prumathe's magic is mostly internal, but what Serket says does give him an idea. He pulls out a spatula from his pocket and shouts. "ANOIA! Goddess of Things Stuck in Drawers! Banish these fiend to the back of the kitchen cutlery drawer, with the egg-whisk and the dormouse-baster!" The spatula is one of the blessed ones he got from the chapel earlier, and he tries to wave it around if the telekinetic grip allows him enough movement.
    bc56Last Tuesday at 7:58 PM
    Hellfire and uh, something

    For an instant, the darkness seems to wound Sapphira. She grits her teeth and responds with a blast of fire at Serket. When Prumathe pronounces his incantation, she shoots him a look that says, "Are you serious?" followed by a much more surprised look when her hold actually breaks, abruptly releasing Prumathe. At the same time, the spikes fly towards her. One is deflected by her power, but the other impales her through her head. She stumbles, grimmaces, apparently not seriously injured, and pulls it free, the dark holes in her head quickly sealing themselves shut again.
    RecRecLast Tuesday at 8:09 PM
    [You Know I am a Righteous Fiend]

    That did something. They could defeat Sapphira...if she were stronger. Or if, well-, don't you worry about that, Serket.
    But she can't maintain the darkness while being burned, which even manages to draw a cry of pain from Serket. She seems to be recovering pretty quickly, but can't muster another attack or even advice for Prumathe at the moment.
    Earl of PurpleLast Wednesday at 12:28 PM
    [Fire Fight]

    Now he's free from the telekinesis, he rushes back to Sapphira boosting his leg strength to speed himself up. He'll try to touch the spatula against the fiend's face. Hopefully it'll hurt.
    bc56Last Wednesday at 12:59 PM
    Fighting Fire with Fighting

    The wound in Sapphira's head is nearly gone now, and as Prumathe approaches, she swings around, trying to grab the injured Serket and force her in front of the attack. She looks far more enraged now than she has during the entire fight.
    RecRecLast Wednesday at 11:32 PM
    [Fighting Fighting with Fire]

    You know what gets your attention? Someone swinging a blessed spatula in your general direction.
    Serket steps away from Prumathe's rush, keeping her out of Sapphira's reach at the moment.
    She brings her good wings together and sends a blast of fire at the fiend. Much smaller than the one thrown at her a moment ago. But maybe it'll help as a distraction.
    Earl of PurpleLast Thursday at 11:42 AM
    [Firing Fight With Fire]

    Since Serket's out of the way, Prumathe tries to touch the spatula against Sapphira again and shouts "Anoia, aid me!"
    bc56Last Thursday at 1:25 PM
    Fighting Fighting with Fighting

    Without Serket to take the blow, Sapphira lets loose an inhuman screech as the spatula strikes her face. She leaps back, out of the way of the flames and further attacks, and faces Prumathe angrily, revealing a burn in the shape of the spatula's head across her cheek. "You are lucky, but it will not be enough to defeat me."

    bc56 Last Monday at 4:47 PM
    Inside Exit

    Sapphira knows she's been spotted almost before Serket calls out. She reveals herself and descends. "Are you ready to introduce me to her?" She knows what the answer is already, but she'll give Serket and Prumathe a chance to do as she asks.
    Earl of PurpleLast Monday at 5:09 PM
    [Beyond the Thunderdome]

    Prumathe nods and his eyes widen as he sees what, exactly, Serket has brought him to meet. They're much scarier looking than he was expecting, even if the Duke looks slow and cumbersome.

    The golems are pretty simple, though potent. The magic animating them isn't a form of natural spirit bound to the golem's shell; rather, they're artificial spirits that are linked to the golems by their very nature. No risk of the bindings breaking and the golem going on a rampage; and the simplicity makes the magic robust and hard to remove. They are pretty impressive pieces of magical engineering, whose major flaws are their rigid mentalities, inability to improvise outside their orders and a few flaws based on their material components. Most surprisingly, the two gargoyles, despite being made of stone, have complex enchantments worked into their wings, enabling them to fly- though being more complex, they are likewise easier to disrupt.

    The material flaws are their weight; they're all heavy, and whilst that gives them power, it makes them slow. The armour is lightest; but it's also the only one which is hollow, and is therefore relatively fragile. The spider is heavier, but faster, its multilimbed design complex and intricate, with jointed limbs that can be jammed. The stone statuary are particularly cumbersome and rather brittle, hard to cut or slice but easier to smash. The clay golem is even more vulnerable to such attacks. The bronze warrior is less brittle, but softer; it could be cut by high-quality steel weaponry.
    RecRecLast Monday at 6:49 PM
    [Outside Entrance]

    The duke looks over what the golems are and how they work. It hasn't seen this sort of artificial spirit before, but is just quietly bemused. Observing how their enchanted materials move as they walk along will be useful information when the hive someday has to fight constructs like this. Completely different from the robots they once fought, aren't they? Serket says they can't make more of themselves, but that it isn't impossible? How curious. And those two fly, a little bit like the duke itself, although it is assisted by large quantities of helium and vacccum.

    Serket flutters her wings apologetically. "Sekhmet refuses to come with you at all. I think some of us might be able to help free your descendants in her stead, though."
    bc56Last Monday at 6:58 PM
    Entrance Argument

    "That is not acceptable!" Sapphira's response is angry and sharp. "I must see my daughter!" She seems to loom over the conversation, despite not physically changing at all. "I'll give you one more chance! Take me to Sekhmet!"
    Earl of PurpleLast Monday at 7:29 PM
    [Outside Inside]

    "Accept it, Sapphira." The Duke might note that Prumathe is calling on his own magic, boosting his strength. It probably won't help, but chances are it won't hurt either. The golems simply stand there, for now.
    RecRecLast Monday at 7:52 PM
    [Golems]

    "We only came here to inspect the golems. I couldn't take you to her if I wanted to." Serket says in a small voice.
    She could, potentially, take Sapphira to someone who could take her to someone who could take her to someone who could take her to Sekhmet. That was the plan with the golems. But then the fiend would have to intimidate everyone along the way.
    bc56Last Monday at 8:04 PM
    Brewing Fight

    Sapphira doubts that explanation. "Perhaps a demonstration is necessary?" Her eyes lock with Serket's and her power reaches out, forcefully wrapping around the hiveling. If Serket can't break free, Sapphira will tighten her hold and attempt to break one of her wings, crushing bones in her telekinetic grip.
    RecRecLast Monday at 8:15 PM
    [Fight!]

    "I cannot tell you." the Marquess protests. Literally.

    Serket struggles against the crushing power, but she's not terribly strong, and has nowhere near the skill with such magic as the fiend. Right away, she cries out in pain. In just a moment, her bones are going to snap.
    During that moment, the duke focuses its own telekinetic powers on Sapphira, trying to hold her in place while the archer pops up and shoots at her, a pair of long bone-and-metal spikes fired at considerable speeds. A human would be unlikely to survive. But who knows if these mortal weapons can hurt a fiend?


    "I want to tell you that you're making a mistake. You've already given me all the information I need to find Sekhmet eventually. Maybe you can escape me, maybe you can even successfully banish me for a few days. I'll be back. Even if the two of you want to spend the rest of your short lives in hiding from me, I'll eventually find you. I want to offer you a choice. You can spend the rest of your life in fear, or you can help me. I want to see my daughter again." Sapphira smiles. She has Prumathe where she wants him. "You bring her to me. I talk to her, face to face, for no more than five minutes. Then I leave this world and never return."
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    Cornered Alleyway

    "If I'm making a mistake, it's my mistake to make. I don't trust you, I don't like you and I don't think you want Sekhmet to be happy, healthy and content. You want something else, and I don't know what, but it will treat your daughter as a tool, a means to an end. And I don't care if you don't give up. I don't care if you hunt us down and get what you want anyway. I care about Sekhmet, and her happiness. And that's not something you've ever considered in this plan or plot of yours." He's still holding the spatula, and is holding it ready to use if she gets too close or tries using her telekinesis again.

    Meanwhile, Sapphira's riding a golem! Probably one of the humanoid ones; the spider is a little too spiky to be ridden, and the gargoyles are flying.

    Pyramid of the Cosmos

    "There's a door out of that room over there. And there's what looks to be the main entrance over there." Benedict points out the doors, as he thinks knowing about them would be a big help. Currently, he also thinks being in the same room as the recently disturbed space-snake is a bad idea, so he'll stay just inside the last room, moving over so others can leave if they wish.
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    Default [Approaching Cornered Alleyway]

    No, Serket's riding a clay golem.
    Shame on this family for all the 's' names.
    As she rides along, her bones slide back into place, her skin returns to its normal color, tears and bruises seal up.
    ~Inner Circle~
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
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    Cornered Alleyway

    "Very well. We'll do this the hard way." She raises a hand, and heavy iron chains are conjured into it. She swings the chains at Prumathe, trying to entangle him in them.
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    Alleyed Cornerway

    The conjured chains take Prumathe by surprise, and they wrap around his legs and torso. He grunts and falls to his knees, boosting himself in as many ways as he can think of- physical strength, weight and the durability of his bones and skin- before grabbing the chains and pulling in turn, hopefully knocking Sapphira off balance with his massively increased weight and strength.
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    Alleyway (there really aren't any corners. It's a straight line.)

    Sapphira stumbles a few steps towards Prumathe, then recovers, and begins using the chains to reel him in towards her. "You won't escape me this time."
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    Roundered in an Alleyway

    Prumathe doesn't respond, letting himself be pulled closer to the fiend before lashing out with enhanced speed and the blessed spatula, aiming for Sapphira's eyes. He's hoping she can't regenerate those as quickly and easily as the rest of her body, because that would give him a better chance of escaping.

    One of the gargoyles lands at the entrance of the alleyway and starts to barge in, shoving the rubbish and detritus along the edges aside. The other golems aren't too far away.
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    Enchained Alleyway

    Sapphira reaches out with her free hand and catches the head of the spatula. The sound and stench of burning flesh rises from where she touches it, as she pulls on it with superhuman strength and tries to fling it away. Her teeth are clenched with pain, but she doesn't let go. "Give in. You are outmatched."
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    Chainway Alleyed

    Prumathe doesn't respond, even though the spatula has been pulled from his grasp and flung aside. Prumathe instead hardens his skull and brings his head crashing into Sapphira's, the only answer he's willing to give. He's trying to break the chains, if that's at all possible, straining his muscles and boosting his strength underneath it all. If it works, he'll try throwing the fiend onto her own pyre, and starting to run again. If it doesn't work, the attempt spoke loudly enough and he continues trying to boost his strength until he can break the chain. Or he's rescued by the Man with no Name.
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    Alley of Chains

    Sapphira passively takes the headbutt to her face, and doesn't loosen her grip. Her free hand stretches out for him, the burn scar from the spatula clearly visible. She reaches down, trying to go through his pockets with her clawed hand. She's looking.
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    Spoiler: Blue City/Feia/Pyramid Spoils
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Chaotic Bob View Post
    [The Blue City]

    Feiadyne drifts upwards into the air, sand and debris swirling around her as she rises.
    Her ascent is not particularly hurried, but neither is it necessarily slow. She is raising herself alongside the exterior of one of the many spires of the Blue City, contemplating the nature of the task before her as she goes.
    Giving herself time to think, but not so much as to jeopardize other operations.

    The current situation is not ideal, though it is typical to a point. Courtesy the actions of her rebellious child, she was dragged back into the spotlight just long enough to attract the attention of at least a handful of "heroes". The majority are making no immediate moves against her specifically, perhaps, but there are those that are.
    The Magtoks, specifically, in this case. Not the most stereotypical of heroes, but such is the nature of the Nexus' interference.
    It is still enough for protagonism to take effect and enforce an expectation of failure upon her, regardless of the discrepancies in power and situation.

    She's done the math. Magtok is not even vaguely comparable to herself. This is not arrogance, but objective fact.
    It does not change the inevitability of his intended victory.

    Feia continues to rise, her face schooled into a relatively neutral flatness. Behind her, the wind-born sands veer away as the debris begins to separate itself out. Cloth, wood, bits of stone, and the like are pulled out and dropped to the receding ground below. A growing cloud of iron and steel remains, rotating in a slightly bent figure eight behind her.
    As more of the metals are accrued, their movements go faster and faster.
    Her rise remains steady.

    So then, there is a degree of futility to her own side of this conflict, isn't there?
    Certainly, going at things headlong with naught but the expectation of crushing one's foes. However, she's been giving this a good deal of thought of late. The recent arrival of her latest guest has given her the agency to act on some of these thoughts. To make some adjustments to her own expectations and intentions.
    Just because one side has to win, doesn't mean you have to lose. Futility is just a matter of perspective.
    Make their victory your own.

    Her feet clear the lip of the spire's peak and she steps out to settle upon it. The witch's gaze slides across her externally meager kingdom, so many of its wonders and curiosities buried under sand and drab stone monoliths. Her eyes settle on a particular tower and she takes a moment to mentally calculate and lament the impending damage. It is high, but not enough to stay her hand.
    It is still far less than the recent consequences of her son's actions wrought. Still within acceptable and functional limits.

    Behind her back, heat roars and spills around her, burning the surrounding ground before she tightens her grip on the containment.
    What had once been a floating mass of garbage has now become a vortex of molten metal, swirling at such devastating speeds that any degree of separation between pieces of metal has long since been lost.
    It begins to shrink in area, pressure collapsing it into a more compact space and subjecting it to ever more terrible forces.

    Continuing to stare ahead at her chosen tower, Feia smoothly draws symbols into the air before her with her finger tips, generating a floating circle of glyphs.
    At some point, smaller and smaller ones begin appearing beyond it, stretching off towards the tower.

    Step one: don't play to expectation.

    [TBC - MagQuest]

    The confused but nonetheless alert soldier cautiously accepts his watch, after watching everyone else take theirs, while Libby tries to give him an encouraging sort of smile.
    Not that this works super well, when she recently murdered one of his companions via terrible shadow demon, but it's the thought right?

    If nothing else, it serves to conceal her own concern about whatever plan is being formulated here. Needs recent lucidity bodes well for the viability of the plan, but there is a degree of complication building up here that usually makes things more difficult...
    "Theoretically there should not be much for us to do from the inside."
    Probably. There's a possible complication that's just occurred to her, but she's not sure how relevant it will be.
    Probably won't be. Right?

    Blue is talking to the walls! The walls, obligingly, talk back.
    "Oh, just an experiment in weaponizing choice characteristics of her foes. I wouldn't worry about me too much. I'm only so much a puppet as you or she happen to be, I wouldn't hurt your little heads over it. Everyone has their little cosmically abstract strings, hmm?"
    There's a little tittering noise, someone's terrible impression of a lightly synthesized laugh.
    "Would you look at that. Hm. Good luck!"
    Then the walls promptly go silent again after that vague final message.

    In precisely eight seconds, a terrible lance of nearly boiling] molten iron is going to tear through that far wall, at an angle that carries it through the floor just shy of its opposite wall. In its wake, the surrounding stone melts and waves of burning air will crash through the room. The lance itself isn't likely to hit anyone.
    But a second later, another one will fly through a different wall, at a different angle. And another. And another. Each as potent as the last and aggressively lethal.
    It won't take terribly long for the entire room to be reduced to a melted ruin and likely collapse this entire portion of the tower.

    Was this accounted for in Needs' plan?

    [TBC - Pyramid of the Cosmos]

    Benedict's surveillance will certainly identify a spot along one wall that looks like a sealed door, as well as that portion off to one side with most of the lights that seems to be the primary (the actual, non-cheaty) entrance to the room.
    So there's that.

    Norael, meanwhile, proceeds onwards. That barrier that had been blocking their magic and the great snake's effect impedes her not at all.
    Once within the room, the presence of what feels like electricity in the air mingles freely with a wet sort of heat.
    Being in this room just feels bad. Not lethal, or necessarily immediately dangerous, but pretty unpleasant.

    For good or ill, the snake does not immediate rise up or strike at Norael as she approaches it. It doesn't even open its eyes, on the vague presumption it has any in the first place. There is a slight shifting of its body, but it doesn't seem an inherently aggressive motion.
    Just a slight adjustment of its weight around the plinth upon which it rests.

    Its head isn't reachable from just standing nearby, placed such as it is on part of its own coils, but she could fly near it easily enough.
    As long as she goes fast enough to not be terribly impeded by its next breath.

    More than anyone else is likely to, perhaps, she'll feel as all the ambient light and energy in the room is sucked in towards the serpent, creating a brief flash of heat as it all rushes past her and then a deep, bone-chilling cold that is left in its wake. And the darkness.
    It's as complete in here as it looked from the other room. Even attempts to make more light just results in the serpent's breath devouring that as well.
    But before the cold becomes truly dangerous, the snake exhales again, heat and light returning to the room immediately.

    Still predictable, at least.

    Up until the entire room begins to violently shake, as if subject to an earthquake, splashing bits of whatever terrible fluid lies below to sizzle onto the edges of the floor around it.
    The serpent does react to this, uncoiling itself and raising its head up most of the way to the ceiling, angled straight up. No eyes ever open, but it seems to be sensing something anyway.
    Where it was once clearly relaxed and at rest, it is most assuredly taut and tense now.

    Back in the piping room, the rest of the party is not spared whatever quake has hit the area, the room violently rattling in its wake as well. Gauges on the pipes flicker back and forth ominously, trending towards the red zones more often than not and some faint keening noise can be heard from many of them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Magtok View Post
    TBC - MagQuest



    Oh crap. Lava flying all over the room. That's bad news for a couple of the MagDrones, but fortunately there's so many that it doesn't really matter. All of those extra Purples were just going to go inactive and lie on the floor the moment the real Magtok passed through that portal, after all. The lava will kill people who aren't so expendable if we all keep standing around like idiots, though! Purple, Libby, Blue! Get going already! The fate of the entire Nexus depends on you morons! Go!

    "Hold on. So we're supposed to just leave you here, with Feia? Needs, I thought we talked ab-"

    "I will still be here when you get back, Magtok. This is not martyrdom," Needs insists, honestly a little disappointed his brother thinks there's time to squeeze out one last futile protest. There isn't. A massive tentacle pushes everyone towards the portal, lest anyone else get the idea to follow Purple's example. There is no more time to argue; everyone will die if they dawdle here. This entire tower is doomed; it's not a place anyone can get away with standing around for even another few seconds.

    "When you find the prisoner, give him one of the spare timepieces. In unison, or as close to simultaneously as you can manage, squeeze them until they break. Good luck, and may the Force be with you," Needs calls out, as a quartet of damp, insectoid wings burst from his spine, buzzing and vibrating like the dragonflies they were so clearly modeled after. Feiadyne won't be able to melt him so easily when he's flying around outside the tower, surely. He's also got a few ideas for that very important thing Blue just passed to him, but we'll get to that in a moment. Have to get out of the tower before it crumbles to pieces first, after all.


    Quote Originally Posted by Gnrlshrimp View Post
    [TBC - MagQuest]

    "Good luck to you too, talking wall. You'll need it. We won't." Blue chuckles, strolling away portal-ways, running a thumb over his pocketwatch. Given the choice between flaming death from above and time portal, he'll take the time portal.

    It won't be martyrdom, Needs. I won't allow it. Keep yourself safe. Push the button if you need to. I'll be watching. And Affy will. But he's watching something else too. This little secretarial ghost in the walls could be an unwelcome element in this confrontation.

    Cosmically abstract strings, hmm? What a curious little phrase. All the Nexus is a puppet-stage, and by those strings we dance across it, a bunch of toys being pulled about by puppeteers. Are you going to stay out of this, Syncope? Your interference would be, mmm, most unwelcome, for both of us I imagine. Feia doesn't seem in the mood to protect her allies at the moment now, does she? Well who was that thought addressed to? Maybe someone. Maybe no one. Hard to say. But a little spark flicks off to the wall, in search of some trail from Syncope to follow.

    We can't have unknowns getting involved at this stage of the game.
    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowcaller View Post
    Pyramid of the Cosmos

    "Are you sure about this course of action, miss Jones?" Jaahlyn implores back at the relative safety of the doorway. Something that might be put to the test very soon if Nora does truly 'boop the snoot' of the snake. "It doesn't seem very wise!"

    She's not actually planning to stop her, instead she's planning to invoke one of her precations if things went as bad as they seemed to be heading.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gnrlshrimp View Post
    [TBC - Pyramid of the Cosmos]

    "Yeah, I'm with Jaahlyn, this does not seem like a very boopable- agh!" Magtok yelps as the room decides to go nuts, staggering off to one side and leaning against the wall.

    "Uh, think we might be on some sort of time limit?" He glances at the dials pointing towards dangerous on the pipes and hesitantly edges away from them. Getting a blast of steam to the face is not fun. "Hey! Do you see an exit past the galaxy-snake? We need to keep moving!"


    [Within the Portal - ????]

    The various Magtoks (and Libby and soldier) find themselves standing on a vast field of snow, at dusk, with decrepit little traces of shrubbery poking forth from the ground.
    Behind them stretches an endless plain of ice, but before them the snow eventually gives way to grass and fields.
    Even further in the distance, mountains, a plateau of some kind, and great plumes of smoke rising from behind rolling hills.

    Clouds roll thick overhead, dark and angry, the low rumble of thunder permeating the air like the threatening growl of a beast.

    Even further away, the blare of horns can be heard.

    Libby clasps her hands together, taking a sharp breath at the sudden impact of the ambient cold, but straightens herself.
    This is what she has been aiming for. What all of this has amounted to.
    Finally.
    A little longer, my love.

    *****

    Cycle# @!%^&*, Day 9, Plateau Overlooking Fólkvangr

    You are Magtok and you are trapped in a time loop.

    You stand overlooking a field of war, already littered with bodies and occupied by many more on their way. A battle has broken out, hosts of men, spirits, giants, and beasts tearing into each other.
    It has been this way for two days. It is almost always this way. It takes concerted effort to prevent the conflict at the beginning of Day 8.
    Perhaps you didn't feel like it this time, or desired it to be so. Over the past days, weeks, years, possibly centuries, you have tried many things in the ten day limit you have found yourself stuck with.

    The war didn't really matter, the Vanir and Aesir's apocalyptic conflict with the giants was just another obstacle on your path to Freyja. At first, anyway. It has been a very, very long time.
    Methods change, opinions change, goals change.

    With an initially impossible task before you, the fact that you got close to assassinating the goddess at all would be considered by most an incredulous miracle.
    It should have succeeded.

    Something happened at the final moment, which you never did verify and were never again given the opportunity to witness. You perished, she did not, and the cycle began anew.
    But everything was different this time. Actions you had taken previously had subtly different outcomes, certain individuals were in different places, doing different tasks. Some fundamental aspect of the timeline had shifted without your intervention and set you back months, if not years.
    Worse still, this shuffling of variables seemed to happen again and again, sometimes after a few cycles, sometimes after dozens. You never again found a consistent trail of decisions you could invariably rely on, for more than a small time.

    It has been a very, very long time.
    Do you remember why you're here? Are you still trying?
    Do you care?

    You are Magtok and you are still trapped in a time loop.
    "Fear and creativity are conjoined twins."
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  15. - Top - End - #465
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    [Château de Lacoste - The Grounds]

    With a worried expression upon his weathered face, M. Monteur barks an order to the hunched servant with the lantern. The pair of men rush towards Maison, the injured driver, and work alongside Marin in order to carry him safely towards the sunken estate ahead. An impenetrable copse of twisted willow trees surround the house, their weeping branches swaying violently in the cold and unforgiving wind, leaves fluttering about as the shrill howl of the gale echoes mournfully throughout the creaking estate. As the small group navigates the mud-splattered murk, careful to avoid pitfalls dug into the spongy earth, lightning races through the sky, its shape eerily evocative of the shape and structure of a swollen vein.

    The sudden burst of light weaves disturbing silhouettes and shapes which flash into being behind the glass windows of the château, their short-lived forms dancing most unnaturally before fading away once more. A contorted face can be seen for but a moment! It appears to be gazing through a partially cracked and boarded up octagonal window far overhead! A smile forms upon its cracked face, but it vanishes as swiftly as the lightning which illuminated it. Was someone there, watching everything occur below? No. No, what a strange thought. A trick of the light, perhaps?

    Once at the front of Château de Lacoste, M. Monteur gestures up towards Olvisin. "You there, the door! Get the doors, if you would!"

    --

    Should Olvison wander up one of four crumbling brick staircases, she'll find herself before a pair of twenty foot tall double doors crafted of a dark red wood. Oil lamps flank each door, held within scarlet sconces carved in the shape of skeletal hands, each hand posed in a somewhat evocative fashion. In between faded ivory panels which cover the double doors, a weaving cameo featuring nude men and women intertwined in a most disturbing way and engaged in unspeakable sexual acts can be seen, agonized expressions carved into each individual figure's face.

    The entire tapestry is beyond graphic. A pair of ivory handles carved to resemble fingerbones serve as the primary way in which one would open the doors. Just as Olvison likely begins to inspect the doors, thunder rolls overhead, and it begins to rain harder. Only, this time, strange objects proceed to fall from the sky; worms, wriggling earthworms, by the thousands.

    It is raining worms.

    "Oh, goodness! Hurry, please!"




    Spoiler: Château de Lacoste
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    Last edited by The Mad Hatter; 2020-02-23 at 03:15 AM.
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    [Château de Lacoste - The Grounds]

    Sadly, Marin doesn't have the time or attention to admire the atmosphere. The contorted faces in the windows? She doesn't have the time to watch them for long enough to notice how they fad smile and vanish. Obviously there's somebody watching out the windows.

    She, with the two men, continues to carry the man through the mud and to the door. She gets mud all over her shoes and some even splatters up to her skirt - but considering how wet she is from the rain and how muddy she already is and how much blood she already has on her from helping Maison into the carriage way back when, she doesn't seem to mind. A little more mud isn't that big of a difference.

    However,

    When worms start falling in her hair and on her shoulders and down her collar...
    Marin shivers. This feels disgusting. She looks up to see where they're coming from, and promptly gets worms in her face. She shakes her head and turns her head back down and focuses on carrying Maison towards the entrance.
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    [Chain of Alleys]

    Quote Originally Posted by Earl of Purple View Post
    Prumathe doesn't respond, even though the spatula has been pulled from his grasp and flung aside. Prumathe instead hardens his skull and brings his head crashing into Sapphira's, the only answer he's willing to give. He's trying to break the chains, if that's at all possible, straining his muscles and boosting his strength underneath it all. If it works, he'll try throwing the fiend onto her own pyre, and starting to run again. If it doesn't work, the attempt spoke loudly enough and he continues trying to boost his strength until he can break the chain. Or he's rescued by the Man with no Name.
    Quote Originally Posted by bc56 View Post
    Sapphira passively takes the headbutt to her face, and doesn't loosen her grip. Her free hand stretches out for him, the burn scar from the spatula clearly visible. She reaches down, trying to go through his pockets with her clawed hand. She's looking.
    Serket tests her wing as they round the corner. Good? Good. Good.
    She vaults down the alleyway, grabbing up the discarded spatula with a flick of the wingtip and then wrapping her tail around it. This is of course extremely painful, but willpower stronger than her own keeps her holding the blessed tool as she wildly swings it at Sapphira.
    "Anoia! Banish this fiend and let it be lost and forgotten!"
    ~Inner Circle~
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    He takes normality and reason and turns them UP TO 11!
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    [Château de Lacoste - The Grounds]

    Olvisin does scurry up to the doors and can't help but stop for a moment when she reaches them. Seriously? Did someone find a dial labelled "creepy" somewhere in here and just kept on cranking it until it broke? Whatever happened here can't be responsible for all of this. Nonetheless, she does open the door, all the more hurriedly when worms start raining. By the Spirit in Gears.
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  19. - Top - End - #469
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    Alloy of Chains

    Sapphira goes through Prumathe's pockets. I'm not sure what she's looking for, and he's trying to punch her and break free from her chains. In his pockets are his mobile phone, his wallet, a small chisel, a red jasper marble, a silver ring he bought earlier, his house keys and a small brass snake.

    The golems will also try to grab Sapphira and pull her off him, and also pull her head off.
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    Alley Fight

    What Serket is doing is incredibly stupid. Nearly suicidal, even. Prolonged contact with a holy object won't only burn her flesh. Depending on how in tune she is with her fiendish power, she may be able to understand that her essence is draining away, but regardless, she'll be able feel it, excruciating pain spreading out from her tail, coupled with a feeling of weakness and an inability to draw on magical power. The only reason Sapphira can do it successfully is because she is so much more powerful.

    And the action. Prumathe punches Sapphira, which predictably does nothing serious, but the chains have slackened. This is because she got her prize (and a slight silver burn on her finger) from his pocket already. Clutching Prumathe's phone, she twists away, swinging the loosened chains into the charging golems' legs. Then Serket attacks. The invocation increases the effect of the holy icon on both fiends, Sapphira screeching again as she's struck, this time across the back of her neck, searing a new mark into her skin. She turns now, and flees, running past Prumathe who is fully loose now and towards the wall of flame at the far end of the alley.
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    [Alley Fight]

    So it is that after doing this, in the moment of completing the invocation and striking Sapphira, Serket collapses.
    She hits the ground pretty hard.
    The spatula falls from the coils of her burnt-black tail.
    There is no attempt to move.
    ~Inner Circle~
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    He takes normality and reason and turns them UP TO 11!
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    Fight Alley

    The clay golem's legs are shattered and it falls to the floor. It continues to advance, but pulls itself along with its arms. Prumathe makes a wild grab for Sapphira as she flees, but he's a little off-balance and probably misses. The other golems will also follow; their last order was to 'kill' and directed at Sapphira. They aren't going to stop, and unless the flames are supernatural somehow, they won't much affect any of the golems; stone, bronze and aluminium don't burn easily. The armour golem hangs back, if it's still around (did it get destroyed earlier? I can't remember) because its leather straps do burn and it would fall apart if it walked through the fire.

    Prumathe swears when he sees Sapphira run off with his phone, which is a pretty hardy model so it's unlikely to be too badly affected by the flames. But then he notices Serket, and swears again before rushing over. He knocks the holy symbol further away and tries to feel if she has a pulse. He doesn't know if she had a pulse to begin with, to be fair, but it seems likely that she did. After that, it's basic first aid. Mostly he knows how to bandage wounds, but he does know the mundane method of treating burns. He works in a place where there's lots of tools and fire; first aid is useful, though he hasn't been formally trained in it.
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  23. - Top - End - #473
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    [Château de Lacoste - Grand Foyer]

    With a great deal of effort, the goblin manages to pull one of the disturbingly carved double doors at the front of the house open, allowing access to the large foyer ahead. Beautiful statues carved in the shapes of extraordinarily built men and women support cameo-covered arches which line the walls of this hall, each arch leading off into small adjacent rooms containing all manner of closet and rack. The floor itself appears to be composed of hundreds of bright white tiles, and the baroque walls are lined with exquisite granite countertops which sparkle in the light.

    Glittering chandeliers with arms carved to resemble skeletal structures hang overhead.

    Rows of perfectly polished shields emblazoned with a crimson coat-of-arms which depicts a stylized, two-headed gryphon against a golden sunburst line the southernmost walls, flanked by framed portraits of stony-faced aristocrats, all of which possess dour, melancholic expressions.*The northern walls, in contrast, are lined with several suits of well-maintained ornamental plate armor. Beyond the individual decorations of each wall, the foyer is largely dominated by a magnificent fountain complete with a marble statue carved in the shape of an almost supernaturally beautiful woman.

    Seashells cover her breasts, and her long hair falls behind her form. A whip is held within the palm of her right hand, with its serrated tail wrapped around her wrist. The other hand clutches what appears to be a set of ivory prayer beads. She appears to be weeping blood, for her tears are crafted of bright red rubies. An ivory plate below the statue reads, "Vénus Pleure; 1772".

    Mahogany-framed double doors leading from the foyer to the main hall are set with crimson panes of stained glass depicting scythes at work in crimson fields.

    --

    M. Monteur, Marin, and his hunched assistant take advantage of the opening and trudge on into the area beyond, their muddy boots befouling the clean tiles before them. The smaller mahogany double-doors remain closed, and rushing through the long foyer towards them may leave Olvisin short of breath. Fortunately, these doors appear free of unsettling depictions.

    "Ah, just through there!"
    Last edited by The Mad Hatter; 2020-02-23 at 09:16 PM.
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    Alley Fight

    Sapphira continues fleeing. Once she's through the flames, they shift and change behind her, dimming and chilling first, then shifting in shape into a spiked wall of ice. That should hold the golems for a little bit. She looks at Prumathe's phone and powers it on, trying to access his contacts list. For a magical creature, she seems oddly tech-savvy.
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    [Alley Escape]

    Serket has a pulse, although it's slower than you'd expect from a human. Maybe because of the injury, maybe she's just like that.
    She does not seem to be conscious, and Prumathe can provide whatever medical care he knows how to give.
    If hive creatures weren't so hardy, she would definitely lose most of her tail from that stunt.

    [Ell Hive]

    "-don't see where love comes into it?"
    Lokvah is asking Serket, totally dumbfounded.

    Osa interrupts with a message.
    Sekhmet, be aware, Sapphira has attacked several of our members and your human in an attempt to find you. She fled with a stolen 'phone'. There were no fatalities.
    Last edited by Recaiden; 2020-02-23 at 10:50 PM.
    ~Inner Circle~
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    He takes normality and reason and turns them UP TO 11!
    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Recaiden, stop using your mastery of the English language to confuse the issue.
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    [Château de Lacoste - Grand Foyer]

    Unlike Olvisin, Marin is very distracted by the lewd imagery. She does her best to avoid looking at them and just concentrate on carrying Maison. Luckily, the worms seem to help.

    The same is true for the Venus. Marin's face goes flush, but she still manages to push through thanks to constantly reminding herself that she needs to hurry and get this guy over to the doctors.

    The catgirl shakes her head: a worm just crawled into her ear. How awful. Luckily, shaking it seems to get it out. "Good," she says, looking forward at the mahogany doors. "I hope we made it in time."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rebonack View Post
    [Everfree Park]

    "Oh yes, of course. My name is Nicholas of Myra," the old man replies with a twinkle in his eye. "Though I believe you may know me better by the title Santa Claus."

    Oh.

    But...

    There aren't any reindeer around here!

    Or elves!

    Or a workshop!

    And this certainly isn't the north pole.

    Then he offers a small smile to Sam. "I work in miracles, my friend. And gifts to those in need. And I dare say, you are both in need if you wish to heal the Heart of the Nexus."

    The old man rises and shuffles over to his bed, reaching inside a large sack laying next to it. He retrieves a pair of colorfully wrapped boxes and hands them both of our heroes.

    "A Merry Thanksmas to you."
    Quote Originally Posted by Deathkeeper View Post
    [Everfree Park]

    Sam is confused. He’s pretty sure he knows a lot of people who have been Santa. Wasn’t he Santa for a few minutes one Thanksmas? He can’t remember.
    But he’s certainly not going to complain about a gift. So he says ”Thank you” and opens his present.
    [Everfree Park]

    Raril looks genuinely surprised and confused. There were so many stories surrounding Santa Claus, so much history, so many cultural views, so many characters morphed and changed to fit the modern setting. Hells, maybe this guy was the original? Or one of the origins, anyway.

    Blinking, the drow accepts the present. "Ah, uh... Thank you. Thank you very much." He says, sliding a finger under the wrapping paper to open the package.
    ~Amor Vincit Omnia~
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    [Château de Lacoste - Grand Foyer]

    Olvisin seems to be tougher than she looks, but she is getting a little winded by now. All her equipment does weigh its share. Still, she does her best to push the door open quickly. Lousy human-sized buildings. This one is worse than most. Big, as if compensating for something, and unceasingly creepy.
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    Pyramid of the Cosmos

    Bright idea or not, Norael was already committed to her course of action. She drifts up towards the snake's head, shivering slightly at the uncomfortable feeling of the chamber. "Universal Speech." She murmurs, touching her throat as she casts the spell. She stops drifting when she's in front of the Serpent's head, smiling as she lowers her self-restraint a bit to unleash more radiation. <Hear me, Great Serpent.> She speaks, holding out a palm towards its nose. <Hear me and awaken. This prison has begin to become Undone. You felt that tremor and know that your existence here is in turmoil. I am Norael, daughter of nuclear fire, and I would come to offer you a pact for you to escape. To escape and sup to your heart's content.>

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    [The Blue City]

    There is ruin.

    [Pyramid of the Cosmos]

    Things seem to jitter and skip a bit, as Norael completes her petition to the serpent. A bad run of film, jolting ahead over corrupted frames in an unconvincing manner.
    Time itself briefly becomes unhinged, a passing between moments concealing something far greater.

    <...-heart's content.>
    A wall is missing now. The floor is tilted at a slight angle. There's a pile of rubble against a still-present wall, beneath a gap in the ceiling above, which itself is filled with more rubble.
    The pool of energetic liquid in the chamber's center has spilled over a portion of the steps, in the direction of the tilt, and seems to be aggressively hissing on contact with high volumes of sand now blowing into the room from the broken wall.
    There is a sandstorm beyond, it seems, through which nothing is actually visible save more sand.

    Back in the piping room the rest of the group can see that several of the pipes seem to have burst at some point, though there is nothing to show for it in the room beyond some peculiar iridescent stains on the ceiling and some of the other pipes.
    All of the gauges have fallen to zero.

    The air itself rumbles, as some truly titanic shockwave ripples from an unknown location. In its wake, the walls groan and some more of the rubble plugging the ceiling hole falls.

    Now, for the initial presentation Norael was putting on, the serpent was giving all the indication that it was probably just going to eat her. It was pulling back, subtly, and its neck seemed to be flattening just a little bit.
    Either it wasn't capable of communication, or was entirely disinterested in the face of being presented with so perfect a meal waving herself in its face.

    It's almost inadvertent, when it seems to breath in harder, that same force that was consuming the light of the room extending itself towards her, trying to more actively pull some of that energy she's leaking out.

    But then the world changes. Abruptly and apparently severely.
    The creature's head jerks towards the hole in the room, its influx of foreign sand, and then towards some unknown point when the shockwave pulses the room.
    This assortment of bewildering occurrences seems to change something for it.

    A seam appears along its head, before a mouth completely concealed by the darkness of its scales opens to speak. Fangs outlined as if constellations and colored as if nebula radiant a light of their own, an appearance lethal and beautiful both.
    <The jailor rages. Free us and be not consumed.>
    Its voice is the roar of a star given meaning and shape.

    [MagQuest - Needs]

    Needs may be uniquely situated to glean some fragment of what happens, in the broken stutter between moments.
    A great writhing parasite, passing over and through the branches of the timeline, strangling and devouring it. A golden goddess' second and final sacrifice. A wyrm's raging desperation.

    The tower he was just retreating from is almost entirely gone. A broken stump remains, closer to the ground where it is almost entirely concealed within the depths of a raging sandstorm.
    From the great height he is evidently at here, the scene appears to be similarly presented as far as the sands permit vision. What had previously been a sprawling forest of stone spires seems to have been leveled.

    A few still stand, in the immediate area, but the majority seem to have been toppled or otherwise ruined.
    The sky above and beyond the sandstorm is black, purple lightning roiling within its depths.

    Tremendous magical potential saturates the air, thick like tangible humidity, but almost all of it is immediately torn off to some point in the distance as time stutters forth one more time.
    A great spike of purple lightning, as thick as any of the towers, lances down from the clouds on the horizon.
    In its wake, there is a massive shockwave, rumbling its way through the already fevered sand in the air. Perhaps, also, a roar.
    Time stabilizes. For now.

    The portal the rest of the Magtoks (and Libby and soldier) took remains behind Needs, but it is now floating in the air quite some distance from the ground below.
    "Fear and creativity are conjoined twins."
    Absentee Spirit

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