[Chapter 1.2] The Call of the Centrifuge

The story unfolds around Osaka, Japan, with the unlocking of one girl's hidden potential, and a gathering of Young mages whom are destined to change the fate of the Earth.
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Gwathdraug
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Re: [Chapter 1.2] The Call of the Centrifuge

Post by Gwathdraug »

A gout of fire burst around Riley as both the flames and her clone hissed in unison. Anger - enough for the both of them - pressed in against the connection between the magician and her partner. The sudden rage wrapped itself around Riley's dulled senses, hiding the pain, but her jaw still set itself hard - her teeth clacking together in a sharp bite in response to the unexpected violence. The brown haired woman could feel the words, the accusation - the 'YOU' - that her clone fought to call out but couldn't find the ground to manifest.

Unable to share in the sudden weight of anger Riley pushed forward with the emotional fog that the fight with Doubt had left crowding her head. The clone first shook its head, then lowered it breaking the eye contact it had been maintaining with the godling before it. The flames snuffed themselves out as sudden as they had appeared leaving behind a matching set of magical burns across both Riley's that seeped with tendrils of steam until both that heat and the wounds themself dwindled to nothing. The only mark that remained of the altercation were thing, bloody lines in the shape of a hand scratched across where the clone had gripped at the arm Riley was holding her copy with.

Shrugging off the hold that the stage magician had over it, the doppelganger turned to her copy. "You - you can deal with..." The other Riley seemed to struggle with its words again as the muscles across its neck went taut and her one visible eye drifted towards her periphery - towards Aulan. "-this." As the last word was hissed out the clone slipped underneath Riley's shoulder and stalked towards an open space between the different groups.

Riley, rubbing at a spot that had just been covered in burns, watched the other Riley for a moment before turning towards Aulan with half a crooked smile on the back of half a crooked shrug.

"Percival Caxton is alive as long as you're alive." The stage magician's tone was blunt and contrasted with her earlier apologetics. "We're making a bet-" As she spoke Riley lifted one finger above her head and circled it about to include everyone around them. "-either Percival Caxton dies and everyone here is killed by that death before we'd even realise it or-" The finger came down and poked solidly into the center of the godling's forehead. "-we work together to save you and everyone else here so that he can get better." The brown haired woman cocked her head to the side as she pulled her arm back to rest against her knees where she was squatting. "We broke a lot of things last time because we didn't think to care about anyone but Percy. So, at the least, I would very much appreciate any help you have to prevent from at least this one poor mage from drowning in future apologies."

The finger came back up as Riley poked herself squarely in her own forehead.
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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Re: [Chapter 1.2] The Call of the Centrifuge

Post by Mr. Blackbird Lore »

Jane parsed Eryl's words slower than she would care to admit, which was due in large part to the fact that she didn't much care for the implication. He's intimidated by me. Of course, that wasn't the part she didn't like. She appreciated the men in her life having at least a twinge of fear- and villains beware. Before she could confront the more uncomfortable message, she had another, much more powerful realization: He wants my approval.

With a cocksure grin that was only slightly forced, she answered the triclops: "I got y'all don' I?" Before Eryl could press the point, Jane raised a gloved hand. "Ye can psychoanalyze me later. Not here."
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Kokuten
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Re: [Chapter 1.2] The Call of the Centrifuge

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Aulan blinked her eyes, the tears spilling off of her cheeks onto the Spriggans below her. Those words seem to give her a measure of hope, but the anguish that crept behind her eyes were washed away in a wave of confusion.

"This can't happen unless the font has died," Aulan insisted, her eyes traded back and forth between the two Rileys, "This doesn't happen until the connection is severed, until the Font has gone entirely, that's what causes the world to crumble. The link has to be cut first. Something else must be wrong. Like when the witch rose to power here and tried to take Percy's soul for her escape."

The 'witch' furrowed her brow, her three eyes cutting away from Jane a moment, wishing everyone wouldn't bring up her cardinal sin every five minutes. She quickly whirled back around on Jane, a small but devious smile on her face.

"Is that an invitation, Lady Smith? I haven't called upon a friend in such a long time, I would quite enjoy that," Eryl leaned over as she spoke, nearly knocking off the Spriggan sharing the saddle with her. She righted herself again, patting No-Name's mane, "I would love to see this fine fellow again too, he's so handsome. I quite love horses you know; that's why you found me in the stables. I was going to come to the front door, but I heard the horses."

The sound of hoofbeats rumbled off in the distance, cutting off their conversation. Thunder began to rumble in the skies, as if to herald the challenge ahead. Some of the Spriggans began to tremble, their heads rattling all at once, Laoise could make out words that meant, "Wind", all spoken in fear.

"Ms. Kagami," groaned Jakku resting at the woman's shoulder, she had been quietly recovering in the trip, "something is controlling the weather."

A figure crossed the road ahead, four legs beating against the cobblestones. The small creatures gathered around the party began to falter, but the a loud rattle from the beetle warrior in the fore helped them keep their cohesion. A loud crack sounded off from the four-legged figure, a gunshot. Jane recognized it as a rifle shot, but wouldn't be fast enough to answer as the beetle warrior was struck. Instead of penetrating the armor, it seemed toss the Spriggan to the back of the line, caught by its brethren. The beetle warrior recovered, but its armor was completely shattered.

"Shame." The word was spoken with great gravity, as the creature came closer. From the waist up, he was a mauled cavalryman, wearing a mixture of bright military dress and knightly armor. His head was shrouded in sundered metal, with six eyes staring out deeply from the holes made for them. From the waist down, he was a steed of ravaged hides, wounds of old wars marred his form. "How could I stand and watch him murder her? I was not fast enough. Not agile enough. By the time I found my sword, her head rolled upon the floor, the name of the beast barely left her lips. Begone fools, there is no hope here, only shame."

A gasp was heard atop No-Name; Eryl having another spout of melodrama at the reveal of the next deity. Except this time, it was followed by several short breaths.

"Jane," she whimpered.

Atop the horse with Eryl stood the Spriggan riding behind her in the saddle, having buried a large dagger into her back, protruding out of her stomach.

"Feaaaar..." Hissed this Spriggan, before it exploded into ribbons of Shadow, revealing an emaciated figure covered in rags, the 'hood' of its head opening into a gaping maw of teeth. The creature drew a second dagger and ran it across the woman's neck, blinding energy halting the gnarled edge from biting skin as Eryl desperately held it off.

"Consume. Do you understand... Black One? I must. I could do nothing but hide, it consumed me. I will consume you."
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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Re: [Chapter 1.2] The Call of the Centrifuge

Post by Mr. Blackbird Lore »

"Ye can see em whenever, long as ye 'nounce yerself next time," Jane offered. Before they could set a date- what madness, to discuss such triviality in the face of impending oblivion- Jane affixed her attention on the next piece of business.

And that was all this truly was to her: her cosmically ordained business. Fighting evil, righting wrongs, and avenging the innocent were the headliners on her resume. A knight- a centaur, actually- approached rapidly. Now to find the--

"Jane." The fright in Eryl's voice flooded the gunslinger's veins with ice. She cocked her head toward the triclops. A flurry of emotions sped through her mind causing mild perturbations in her tightly controlled face as she took in the scene.

Somewhere in the quaint town below, a bell tolled.

Anyone watching would have sworn time slowed as she prepared both mind and body for the coming storm. The gunslinger spun to face Fear, (appropriate) and the motion kicked her duster wide. A pair of round sunglasses emerged and were pressed up her nose. The duster swirled, sweeping a small cloud of dust into the air and revealing her Colts, eager to run. The gleam of light as they were drawn in unison evoked the image of a viper baring its twin fangs, and hid her eyes behind a fierce orange glow.

"We don't fear a worm like you!" She declared in her battle tone. Strange winds swept toward them, and Jane walked headstrong into them, whipping her hair and duster behind her. Her first step and first shot were synonymous, the crunch of the battlefield and the CRACK of the opening volley punctuating her spell of intimidation and inspiration.

"But." crunch CRACK "You." crunch CRACK "Will." crunch CRACK "Fear." crunch CRACK

"ME." crunch CRACK
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Gwathdraug
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Re: [Chapter 1.2] The Call of the Centrifuge

Post by Gwathdraug »

"Shit." The word slipped out as the world around Riley surged with sudden violence. The stage magician's attention whipped first from the flying, armour broken spriggan to where Fear and its blades had begun painting a scene much bloodier. With barely a thought Riley pulled her clone's magic to her - her body changing from real to unreal with less than a snap. Flashing a wan smile at Aulan the brown haired woman slipped forward - through the godling - and into the ground.

The earth itself shivered through Riley's incorporeal form as Jane's first stomp announced her response loud and clear.

Breaking up and out of the ground the stage magician was suddenly in the midst of a dizzying mix of dust, shadow, sparking magic, and lightning cracks of lead. Sparing a moment to only flash Fear her most innocent grin, Riley reverted back to a physical form - howling bouts of wind and sand leaving scratches across her skin and a long line of blood cut across her cheekbones - touched a hand to Eryl and then they were both slipping back into the earth.

Reappearing behind where Jane had began her assault, Riley remained floating - preventing blood flow - the front of Eryl's robes were stained with a large patch of blood but otherwise undamaged. Snapping out of her hyperfocus on the wound instead of the person she was holding Riley shook her head. "I'm going to have to lay you down on your stomach. I can work to stop the bleeding-" As she spoke the stage magician floated gently to the ground and positioned the triclops as carefully as she could before taking her hands off the woman - both mages returning to the physical world. "-but I'm not really a healer."

A crescent of white material formed above the palm of one of Riley's hand and stretched and contorted itself into a long-haired, plush cat toy. Pressing the stuffed toy into one of Eryl's hands Riley's voice was suddenly ragged as she worked her words past a grunt. "H-he-hold that. Sympathetic soul magic. Will ke-eep you conscious." The magician shook her head and twitched, biting back a gasp, as the little cat doll spread the pain inflicted on Eryl between the triclops herself and Riley.

--

Riley's clone was just wiping away the line of blood that mirrored the wound on its partner's face when a lance of raw, stabbing pain spread through its back and core. With a snarl, pulsing waves of barely leashed anger rose greedily and devoured this new feeling. The copy turned its eyes - the only visible one barely more than a slit - on the two possible enemies: a centaur, still pompous as it kind was want even while clad in a visage of abject defeat, and the shadow creature.

The gloom around the assassin and the words it had spoke earlier - its need to devour filled with both contempt and cowardice - made the dark masked doppelganger feel like it could taste Fear's preoccupations, its predilections, in the air itself. Each breath the creature continued to take sparked indignation across the clone's nested rage.

A brief spike of shame arose as the clone's feelings bubbled uncontrollably but was burned away and the momentary interruption only increased the need to swoop in and burn the avatar of Fear into nothing.

"Weapons-Mistress." The title was a snarl and a shout as the copy tore its magic back from its partner, disappearing in a gout of shadows only to flit back into existence behind Jane. "Weapons-Mistress!" The repetition was low, susurrous, and utterly frustrated. "Do you request your prey be dueled-" The last word was thrown out as if it was nothing but garbage - a thing composed of pure contempt. The clone's hands were balled into fist as shadows gathered around them earnest in their readiness to form into claws. "-or slaughtered?"
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Straken
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Re: [Chapter 1.2] The Call of the Centrifuge

Post by Straken »

A shiver ran up Ruarc’s spine before he heard or saw anything. One moment he and Miyuki were playing charades with the spriggans, and the next a jolt ran subconsciously between him and Laoise. She had been perched on his shoulder, but then something spooked her and she took flight. The druid was still processing it when the first alarm rose; a gunshot. From the quaint little town rode the group’s next challenge; Shame. In like a pale rider the entity rode; a dissonance forming between what he wore and the state of his being. Almost immediately Ruarc felt unnerved. This new centaurian aberration rode toward the group as it began into its own little monologue. Previously, where Ruarc had felt sympathy for Sorrow, the druid felt empathy for what Shame was saying; and this disturbed him more than he could put into words.

Just as he was thinking he understood what made Laoise take flight, Ruarc heard a commotion off to his side. Risking a glance, he found the shiver that he had felt hadn’t been from Shame; it had been from Fear. The group had been ambushed, Eryl had been stabbed, and the Irish Keeper now felt as though he were staring into an Eldritch void.
Somewhere in the quaint town below, a bell tolled.
But for Ruarc there was no facing Fear. The entity, coupled with the bell, drew back memories from childhood he would rather stay buried. Surely with a pallid face, the Irishman turned back to Shame.

“I’ll work on keeping this side busy,” Ruarc called, hoping his voice wouldn’t break. Carefully, the Irishman took a step. The sensation of ground shifting slightly beneath his feet was, well, grounding for him. If all else failed, he could always focus on his next step. Focus on the tactile; the real. His left hand white knuckled on his staff, and his right hand making the leather on the gauntlet creak; all the while the injuries he sustained before ached.

First focusing on the staff, Ruarc recited ”Craiceann na cloiche”, while with his right gauntleted hand he grabbed a wind rune. His next step he felt truly grounded, picturing himself as an extension of the stone beneath his feet. He felt heavy and sluggish as his skin grew as hard as stone.

”Never gone up against a gun before,” the druid thought, hoping his magic would hold up.
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Kai
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Re: [Chapter 1.2] The Call of the Centrifuge

Post by Kai »

Watching the Spriggan closely, Miyuki wasn't sure at all what it was trying to say, but she tried her best. When Jakku spoke up, Miyuki observed that the weather had indeed changed, and concern fell over her face to accompany the sounds in the distance. Suddenly, the world was awash with violence tearing through the air in the form of a shot, the spriggan she had been so intently watching being hit with a sudden fury and destruction. behind, the heard a scream, followed by more shots, as a second assailant befell them. unsure of what to do, Miyuki pulled the Arctic Key from her side, holding it aloft and sending power through the device. If someone else could control the weather, perhaps she could as well. concentrating on the newly formed storm above them, Miyuki attempted to freeze the maelstrom, to turn it into something that she could use for their benefit instead, trying to turn the water into ice and then pull that ice down toward the enemy that was nor charging them, in an attempt to trap the shade of Shame before it could do any more damage.
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Kokuten
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Re: [Chapter 1.2] The Call of the Centrifuge

Post by Kokuten »

What began as a cacophony settled under the rousing storm. Jane's attacks scored through Fear like hammers through a hay bale, flinging fragments of the creature out into the woods as Riley stole Eryl away. Fear began to wail as its body was perforated, its limbs reeling and spinning and turning in unnatural ways, like a child was wringing it's body.

"PAIN!" screamed Fear, hissing the words like a fresh burn on the tongue. "PAIN. PAIN. PAIN!

The shade began to claw at its face, pulling off pieces of itself and exacerbating its condition. Veins of shadow began to bleed and form a cloud over it. Every bullet that smashed into the body crushed the physical form away and gave forth something else that hid under the pitiful Fear.

When Jane's rage broke Fear completely, a globule of darkness had coalesced and on its 'face' was a mask, a theater mask like the half-masks that Riley and her copy wore. There appeared to almost be an intelligence in its gaze, before the wet mass fell to the floor with a sloppy flop.

SKRIIIEIE!

A blood chilling scream emitted from the mass and a horrific array of bladed limbs erupted from the core. Mouths began to form at the edge of the creature, speaking in different voices.

"Raiko!" came a young Ruarc's voice.

"Percy!" came Miyuki's voice, morphing into something more controlled at the end.

"Sorry..." the words became less hurried in Riley's voice, then...

"Jane..." mewled Eryl's voice.

"Jane... Jane..."

The slobbering mass lurched forward, swinging a bladed claw at the gunslinger, the mask focusing entirely upon her.

Meanwhile, Eryl lay unmoving on the ground, there was little indication that she lived other than the fact she still bled, and that her fingers clutched around the toy. Her head was turned away from the stage magician, her hair matted with sweat and dirt from the last battle. What Riley discovered was that the abjurer was still hurting from the last fight, but the sensory feedback was starting to fade. Riley's charge was slowly dying, and the energy in her was starting to fade away.

Some of the Spriggans joined to Riley's side, some unsure of what to do; some, more moss-ridden, carried hefty, fat flowers and began shaking them over the drained body. Sparkling pollen puffed over the wound, and Riley's hands, the pain became more severe in the moment, but the bleeding began to stop. Some of them rattled, pointing off in the brush off the path the group was on, pointing at a small creature making its way out of the brush. It was a small stony thing, dressed in miners garb, a big helmet on its large head, a single glowing eye, and a pickaxe over its shoulder.

While having two legs, it only seemed to have one arm. It gave Riley a look, something of reassurance, and fished out a bottle of something to pour over Eryl as she began to die.

At the front line stood Shame. The beast that confronted the group from the other direction. When Ruarc began to ready himself, the centaur cleared the chamber of the empty round, sending the shell bouncing onto the ground. The six eyes of the horse-man stared at the wind-rune, watching it disintegrate in the glove's grasp. One of Ruarc's knuckles glowed, at a small chip wearing the wind rune's symbol formed upon it.

At that he felt Tulan press the trinket she held to his leg, as she had tugged it out when hadn't been looking.

"I will give you only one more warning, fool. I failed to save her. I will not be responsible for you. That is my shame, my inaction. No... To let you leave would bring me greater shame. To let you live." calculated Shame, shouldering his rifle. "Your blood will help warm against the chill of this shame..."

As his sight picture aligned, the storm began to churn, and a different target took his notice. Miyuki, having drawn the Arctic Key, began to impress her will upon the elements. The clouds above began to churn into a darker, greyer shape, and lightning began to course through the billowing ceiling. Darkness became intermittent as lightning began to dance upon the ground and snow began to lurch over them. As if pressing its hand upon him the elements turned on Shame.

"You seek to rid yourself of me..." growled Shame as his hoofs began to freeze to the ground. Slowly, and steadily, he ripped his legs from the earth, having to renew his efforts each time it fell. Miyuki's control of the weather was stronger than she realized and he began to be pelted by freezing hail. His figure was becoming engrossed in the windy blizzard forming.

A spark flashed, and a bullet erupted through the mist, striking Ruarc square in the chest. The magical missile burrowed through his armor, and embedded itself in the stony skin of his chest.

"I AM SHAME, AND FOR WHAT YOU MAY TRY TO HIDE, TO SHEATHE ME IN, TO BREAK ME, YOU WILL NEVER ESCAPE MY GRASP."

A sound made it's way through the howling wind, the sound of another round chambering.
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Straken
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Re: [Chapter 1.2] The Call of the Centrifuge

Post by Straken »

Ruarc had a quip in mind as he was regaining his focus, but before he could respond he saw the muzzle flash from Shame's gun. The wind was forced out of his lungs and he stumbled. He could feel the bullet lodged under his armor against his sternum, and noting in the back of his mind that his armor couldn't stop a gun; objectively useful information. That said, getting shot was incredibly unpleasant.

When he had stumbled, Ruarc found himself on one knee, with his gloved hand holding him up and his staff helping to brace him. That’s when he noticed the rune he had grabbed was gone, and the gauntlet had adopted its symbol; interesting. He was also closer to Tulan’s eye level, and she was still holding the trinket. He had thought it trivial at first, but for the little god seemed insistent that Ruarc take it. The Irishman’s sigh was raspy as his chest still burned. Pushing himself back to standing, Ruarc grabbed the trinket as he rose. Then he heard the rifle cycling in a new round.

”Need to keep him off balance, and aiming at me,” Ruarc thought as he tightened his grip on his staff. “Ag mo dhroim na gaoithe!”

Channeling, Ruarc moved his focus from the ground beneath his feet to the winds blowing all around him. His joints were still stiff from his Stoneskin spell, so he would use Wind Step to move around Shame. Feeling a gust behind him, the Druid pushed off and the wind pushed his stride to a great distance. Crossing about fifteen meters to Shame’s side, Ruarc raised his gauntleted hand. Focusing energy on the wind rune, Ruarc would send a blast of wind at the centaur.
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Re: [Chapter 1.2] The Call of the Centrifuge

Post by Mr. Blackbird Lore »

Before Jane could answer !Riley, the form of Fear had dissolved into something else entirely. Something that gave her pause.

"Jane." Her name from that foul mouth sent chills through her steely spine. It was a trick, but it was a good one. But it also made something click for the gunslinger, something that overtook the unsettling tingle the crept through her. It wasn't a fully formed thought, more the shadow of an idea, or half a concept. The whole scene struck her as strange, but the voices had been the last piece to this vague puzzle she was putting together in the dark of her mind. As if sensing her need, and no longer trapped beneath Eryl and Fear, No Name began to circle safely around Fear.

Though she was still, Jane was not frozen. She leaped back, tumbling rearward, and coming up on her feet to begin a reload. Then her eyes met the great steed's. She pointed to !Riley. "To her! To her!" No Name comprehended this simple command immediately, and continued past his rider toward the shadow-girl. Jane then turned her eyes briefly toward !Riley. "In the saddlebag-- the grenade! Slaughter." Though the last word was spoken more softly, the weight of it easily carried the message to its recipient through the rising wind and sudden fever-pitch of battle.
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