[Chapter 1.3] A Theater of Gods

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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Kokuten
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Re: [Chapter 1.3] A Theater of Gods

Post by Kokuten »

A shuddering explosion rocked the battlefield as one of Aurus' legs shattered below the knee, Riley's attack had cracked one of the joints that held the beast of a mad god together. Armored fragments flew off of him like the guts of a bursting grape. Aurus began to fall for only a moment before a gout of lava began to answer gravity with a furious howl. The other leg crumpled away in turn as his lower half was replaced with a spirally haze of heat and molten magma.

Above them, high above, the serpent moved even further now, and a hissing roar drowned their ears. The tower of mana contorted further, threatening to break free of the heavens and the earth below in order to evade the moving beast. Laoise watched the massive creature maneuver to chase its prey, and a chilling sensation flooded her as its eyes began to flutter.

It broke concentration for just a moment, slowing as a haze came over its eyes.

Riley found herself lifted off the stable ground. Her grappling opponent surged with power, joints spilling with white-hot energy, tracing lines through the veins from his neck to his very eyes. He had dropped his blades, and gripped the knight in his claws, pulling her over his head and throwing her. The illusionist's armored form skipped over the surface of the moonlike ground like a rock over water. A taunting, dark cackling filled the air as if he were some evil, armored genie.

"Finally! A true challenge!"

Shnk! The frozen halbred shored up into Aurus, ending his glee with a shout of pain that carried over the hiss in his plates. Miyuki had him still for a moment, having him speared like a pig, enough time to give Jane a moment to line up her shots. Bullets crashed into his breastplate, cracking the frozen, craggy metal, spilling more of the heat and magma like blood. Kagami found it hard to bear being so close to the creature; more so when the bullet holes glowed, and the chestplate cracked open, the metal unfurling like a pair of wings.

A blazing hot core was revealed, dislodging Miyuki's halberd in the process and freeing up Aurus' movement. Before she could make another strike, the core glowed like a sun, and unleashed a blazing ray of heat that struck her square in the chest. The blow knocked her back, her magic absorbing some of the heat, but the force and searing air robbed of her of air for a moment. A black claw came down to slam into her, carrying the full force of a god.

The force was less than she thought it would be. Ruarc's lightning bolt crashed into the beast's side, momentarily stunning him.

Aurus, an unstable form atop an undulating mass of lava, spun back around. The core in his chest lit up, firing molten rays and the flittering illusions that circled him. Misreading the direction of the attack, he fired at the false Ruarc first, before spinning on the false Jane in fury and firing another ray at her.

Battered, the binding seemed to release further in the mad god. The pillar of light at the center of the centrifuge broke from its foundation, and coalesced into a tight ball. The ball broke away from the drowsy serpent, racing over to Laoise, shaping further.

She saw it was humanoid, a single trail counting for its legs, a pair of wispy arms fluttering as in the wind, and a faceless head that was shaped as if it were wearing a beret. It sped up to her side, before looking back at the sky-beast.

Thank you for that.

The serpent shook its head, turning to look at the two of them dead on. A world-beast eying its prey, and a potential snack alongside it. It moved, slowly caressing the stars above to chase them.

Hm. We should go.
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Straken
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Re: [Chapter 1.3] A Theater of Gods

Post by Straken »

"Yup, mhmm, sure thing," Laoise responded as she was already a flutter of movement trying to make distance between herself and the snake. In the back of her mind she could already hear Ruarc berating her for not making sure the glowing entity was safe. Gritting her teeth, she extended her wings to slow her descent before twisting her back towards the ground. Singing a new song, it took a lot for her to sing clearly when staring down the maw of one of her personal fears. However, having already died once today what else did she have to lose? The steady cadence also serving to steady her own nerves. From her palm flew a bolt of radiant light streaking like a sunbeam towards the snake; all the while telling herself that she'd be fine in the long run so long a Ruarc survived.

"I will shine like no other Guide has shone before," Laoise thought, a surge of confidence coming to her in the face an incredibly one sided fight.

Ruarc was not so calm. Laoise was on her own for the time until Aurus was dealt with or one of the group split off, or until the monster joined them on terra firma. Regardless, Aurus was being pressured, the illusions had done their job, and he could reach the god easier than he could reach the snake. From the rear flank, Ruarc was going to take a note from Miyuki this time. Gripping the carved wood of his staff he charged forward. As he ran he scraped the tip of the staff against the hard ground as he began to chant. Gradually, cracks began to form behind him, the earth pulling itself up the staff as he channeled.

"Cloch a oscailt agus a ithe," the druid finished as he neared Aurus' back. His staff swung upward in an arch directly towards the god's back, pulling with it a mass of amalgamated stone to create a brutish maul. Planting his feet, Ruarc swung with both hands, putting his strength behind the hit. "Take th' L already, ya two bit half time show," the Irishman shouted.
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Kai
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Re: [Chapter 1.3] A Theater of Gods

Post by Kai »

The blow hurt a bit- Not as bad as the stardust bomb, especially with her armor, and as she hit down she lost more breath to the heat than anything, however, as Aurus was distracted, Miyuki barely tried to pick herself up. Instead, she let the enormous wave of water which had been following behind pick her up, and the cool moisture of it allowed her to draw in a fresh breath, through gritted teeth, as she brought the Halberd to bear on Aurus.

"You won't get rid of me that easy!" she yelled, undeterred, bringing not only herself and the Halberd but also the thunderous wave of water to bear upon the god of fire. "Perhaps this will help quench your rage!" she called, crashing down once more upon the flaming, magma spewing god in steadily breaking armor of black.
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Kokuten
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Re: [Chapter 1.3] A Theater of Gods

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As the tides turned, either by magic or fate, the other members of the group gathered themselves. As Jane departed, Eryl watched her storm back into the fray, the triclops' urgency washed away by a healthy injection of hope into the dire situation. Her lips moved in that unsure fashion, as they played with the idea of saying something clever or hopeful

"You've the skill and abilities of a profession--," Eryl proudly started before Jane was already too far out, squelching the last of her sentence in a mild embarrassment.

"What should I do?" Aulan called out after Jane.

"You should stay here with me," recommended the Triclops, putting a hand on the youngling's shoulder while she charged Unity to support the others. The little goddess slapped the woman's hand off so hard that she bruised it.

"I wasn't asking you, witch," spat Aulan poisonously, fire curling on her tongue in hate. Wounded, Eryl withdrew her hand before the fiery god-child stepped forth wearing the mask of her father's fury. "Do not touch me ever again, or I will sunder you like the brittle crow you are."

Incensed, Aulan surged forth. Akanus, true to his master's words, swept down to Aulan's side to support her as she exerted her influence into the wave Miyuki had summoned, keeping the water's cold as biting as the blade of the Halberd Miyuki was swinging down onto him.

Eryl withdrew her hand to her chest, unable to move it without a cutting pain now. Modeka looked up at her, eyes blank of focus, just like the others. The Harvest Goddess' hands rose and Eryl shook her head.

"No. It's nothing. Help them," shuddered the triclops, sending out shielding spells to their softest fighters first, carefully watching the wild turns the battle took to see who would need protection from the full force of Aurus' attacks.

Modeka, denied, turned to the other fighters on the battlefield, and took a few steps forth. She saw Riley's form cast downfield. The emotionless construct rose her hands, and just as she had done with Jane, sent the wave of healing in energies to the stage magician.
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Gwathdraug
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Re: [Chapter 1.3] A Theater of Gods

Post by Gwathdraug »

The last few moments swirled about as a disconnected jumble of half remembered still-frames as Riley slammed against the ground - crashing hard with far too much momentum - and was sent airborne again and again and again. The final bounce was a half-tumble with the larger-than-life knight clawing furrows through the rock below her and adding a gout of sparks to the curtain of dust drifting around her.

The screech of metal on stone was forgotten - a memory that was fact, but so unimportant next to the fire and the threat and the need to take a step that it was rendered unreal. There wasn't pain. The knight was unbruised - untaxed by the weight of nerves - but the world about it had become wrong. There was a sword and a hand and one held the other and both were it - were important to what it--

The red knight was frozen in a crouch - blade clean of the dust that coated it but absent of even a smoldering of flames - when the golden streamers of healing magic embraced it.

Riley - her - knew that her memories had gained another wound. Knew that when she was whole and alone and un-needed that the last few moments would gnaw at her. For now it wouldn't matter - there was work to do. Her clone - lifting themself from their own crater - and her caught each other's featureless gazes and then as one turned their attention back on Aurus.

Black claws wrote in unreadable fire - stark straight lines and angles without a hint of a curve - as the Phantom formed a glittering field of script in front of them. Riley, coming to her feet, shrugged tiredly and then lifted her sword and pointed it blade first in Aurus's direction. The runes pulsed and for a moment the knight and her blade existed as a multitude of pale, translucent figures layered one over another.

The kaleidoscope existed for a timeless second before it all broke. The fiery characters disappeared so quick that their negative space still burned in the vision of any observer. From out of Riley's blade thick, black chains of smoke lifted from out of the steel and surged towards Aurus attacking him and eating away at his flames.
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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Re: [Chapter 1.3] A Theater of Gods

Post by Mr. Blackbird Lore »

The gunslinger's path was as steady and even as her trigger fingers, in sync with a rhythm only her body knew: the pull, the recoil, the reset; each perfectly timed from a decade of grueling training and harrowing conflict. Aurus was cracking, melting, falling apart, but he was nowhere near defeated. His warriorhood was on full display: the fierce strikes, his keen calculations as he fought several opponents simultaneously.

Jane threw herself in a shoulder roll as he turned his arcane cannon on her, then came up wincing. Stitched together though she was, the pain was sufficient to degrade her natural swiftness to a mild quickness. The pause, however, also gave her eyes time to reanalyze the situation. The world-eater was on the move, and there was no resistance for it to face.

"Dekanus!" she called. "Up!" She holstered a revolver and raised her free hand for him to pick her up. "Put me on that damned snake."
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Kokuten
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Re: [Chapter 1.3] A Theater of Gods

Post by Kokuten »

Like a vessel passing by in the waves, so too did the serpent sail above them, shading them from what ethereal light came from above. A darkness overtook the dusty moonscape, only the blistering energies of magic gave light now. Different colors coming from different sources.

Aurus showed brightly, with veins of orange, and a font of magma fire billowing at his waist. Hellish beams tore from his chest, lighting up the dark. Heat and tendrils of fire tore up his torso each time he fired.

A beam tore just above Miyuki as she dived to drive her halberd back into the god, riding a wave of freezing water. Her blade bit into Aurus' chest, splitting armor, and spilling hot blood that hardened into volcanic rock as the wave crashed into him. The force let her drive the polearm more deeply into him, her vicious assault pressing him down. More of his armor sundered

The blackened plate lost its light, but in the dark, a blade formed from the ground. With a whipping motion of his arm, it cleaved into Miyuki's side, the sharpened edge dulled by a shield of mana, bending into her armor. The force separated her from her weapon, which had become embedded into the rock-like scabs of lava-blood.

It was Ruarc's turn, despite the loss of radiance, the druid could still make out the undulating magma that was the Fire God's legs. Aurus looked to make a second strike at Miyuki, wielding her spear in his chest still, but the concussive strike from the staff-mace dislodged the spear, and the god's stance. Black, obsidian rock spattered off of him like dusty blood in the wind. Crackling vents let loose fire, and the armor was sundered further.

The blade spun back onto the Druid with a strike that he could barely parry as it came by. Again, a shield rose to help in his defense, but as the blow bounced, the god spun about to bring the weapon around to the other side.

Ruarc never felt the strike, as it did not land. Aurus' arm fell free of his body as a column of smoke ate at him. His energy and heat was being drained, pulled, and manipulated against his own will. The gauntlet from his body, meters away, curled and then crumbled.

Becoming further deformed, a explosion erupted from the god's shoulder. A limb of blades and blackened metal stretched out and articulated. Riley's attack robbed the fire from his body at a staggering rate, but the god drew what was left in him within himself, the magma font below his waist becoming a withered, metal leg of sharpened obsidian.

Dark and cursed, the shade of Aurus now moved on a gauntlet, a leg, and a limb of blades; a dark creature emitting no light with the silhouette of a demon insect.

A small gout of flame erupted, and struck the gnarled god on his side, breathed from Aulan.

With Laoise's song changed, Aurus' visage was that of the helmeted shade, and it curled upside down as it stared at the smaller god, the horns curling in like mandibles. Aulan took a step back as she realized its eyes were on her.

"F-... Father...?"

There was only a moments pause before the the helmeted head split open into a vertical row of teeth and Aurus seized upon her.

----------------------------------------

Meanwhile, in the light. The serpent closed in on the ethereal being and Laoise, its enormity more evident now than ever. Her attack rose to meet it, and it seared onto the scales of the large being, leaving a black mark upon it. The maneuver caused the beast's eyes to dilate, and something happening below allowed it to move more quickly.

It surged down to her, its mouth open wide.

I can do something, but the last binding must be broken first.

Then it veered, turning off to the distance. The bright being had sped away from her, it too imbued with greater speed from the events below. A tail of light followed its wake, and the serpent chased.

From the dark, Laoise could see another being rising up to the serpent as well, a bright spark of glimmering armor, and the billowing of a leather duster.

Akanus answered to Jane almost immediately, and her pained form was free from the solid ground below it. The miniature god had his hands hooked under her shoulders, his wings billowing gusts of wind to get them to the altitude they needed. Once they were high enough, he fired on ahead, struggling to keep up with the now more quickly moving beast. As Jane hovered over the scales, she could feel a great deal of power coursing through its body.

It looked like a dragon of eastern mythology, but with no horns, no arms, the beasts frame slithered through the sky as if it were riding upon some wave. Fins of shimmering film fluttered on its sides, carrying wisps of potent magic in them.

Mustering as much velocity as he could, Akanus landed Jane onto the head of the beast, an opening and closing maw of teeth wrapped in a film of spongy scales. Jane could feel her boots press the flesh, they were pliable, the scales, even the spot where Laoise had struck had sputtered away some of the scales on its skin, exposing a rawness beneath that bled gushes of mana. It was clear the beast was not meant for battle, but instead used its size to consume and grow.

Decorated over its head were twenty eyes, six on its crown, of which Jane could see, and then seven in a line on each side its body, starting from the face and stretching back onto the swimming length in close sequence.
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Straken
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Re: [Chapter 1.3] A Theater of Gods

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So how do we break the last binding?

Laoise focused on speed. The serpent was hot on her heels as it chased the entity, so she couldn't do much more than toss out the occasional beam of radiant light. In the back of her mind she hoped she could practice using this form in the real world. Over world? Other world? Whatever world that wasn't this one, as she found she was grasping at straws as to what she was capable of. Shifting to what she knew she could do, she altered the tone of her song once more. Gone was the soothing lullaby, the quiet carol, and the melodic aria; now her song was a harsh anthem as her voice came from her core, practically screaming to create a jarring chorus as she assaulted the serpent with sound.

"Follow the birdie!"

Back on the ground Ruarc could only flinch as he watched a strike come right at him only for it to fall short. His relief was short lived though as Aurus went dark in the worst way. A chill ran up his spine as he watch the god's new form take shape and descend up Aulan. It was show time for Sherlock. The druid dropped his staff and sprinted forward as both of his hands reached into separate pockets of of rune bandolier. His left produced a standard wind rune and chucked it to the ground in front of him. Stepping on it, Ruarc rode the gale in a high arc to land on Aurus' midsection. Willing himself to keep balance he lunged the rest of the way up the torso turned spine towards the grotesque helm. Wrapping an arm around Aurus' neck he pressed the rune in his right hand against the beast and held it there. Produced from his back pocket; the one that held his WSHTF Runes; the ones he only ever pulled out when faced with threat levels as high as these gods; Ruarc had pulled Muscle Rend. Objectively one of the least offensive black runes he kept in his arsenal, the rune could still, in theory, cause irreparable harm to its target; and to this day the fourth time he had felt the situation called for a rune of this caliber. He was done pulling punches. This needed to end; even if Ruarc hated himself a little more for it afterward.

"C'mon ya bast'rd! Plenty o' bett'r picks to eat 'roun' 'ere! Spit out the kid an' me cloak!"
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Kai
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Re: [Chapter 1.3] A Theater of Gods

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It was only seconds, but in battle, seconds could be a lifetime. Miyuki was used to fighting, and against foes with or without magic, but, while she had faced gods before, she hadn't really faced any with the tenacity or ferocity of this god of violence and war. She picked herself back up, the Pykrete armor having handled the blow from Aurus wonderfully, Miyuki had still gotten some of the wind knocked out of her. She sucked wind, trying to replace the air that had been displaced from her lungs. As she did so the raven-haired battle mage also found her weapon, the Arctic Key, and picked it up, pushing off the ground with the haft of it, the halberd end of it looking the worse for wear due to the blows it had traded with Aurus' shade form. Concentrating on the weapon, she reformed it, the halberd blade forming into more of a glaive, a long, broad, sword like weapon that she could effectively slash with instead of simply stabbing, now that much of her oponent's armor was gone.

However, her concentration over, Miyuki opened her eyes to see Aulan confronting her father; and then the shade twisted himselfinto a horrible, awful maw, seeming intent on consuming his own daughter. Without thinking, Miyuki lunged, her armor melting away as the magic was used instead to push her forward with all the speed she could muster- to push the young goddess out of harm's way.
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Gwathdraug
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Re: [Chapter 1.3] A Theater of Gods

Post by Gwathdraug »

Riley's knight lowered her blade to run against her thigh. The armoured figure stood still as Aurus began to shift and then with a snap of its head - cutting a curt nod towards the Phantom - the construct fell apart. The stage magician broke through wisps of disappearing red plate as easy as if it had been made from egg shell. The brown haired woman hit the ground with a sword similar - unadorned iron instead of red steel - to what her knight had wielded. The blade caught Riley's weight preventing her from landing badly and a sheet of flame wrapped out from its edge to curl almost protectively around its wielder.

The stage magician herself seemed disoriented. Her face was pale as if she couldn't catch enough breath, but instead of gasping for assistance the brunette only blinked slowly. Things were slotting back into place as they should be and it felt distractingly wrong. The world and every sensation felt two lenses off from anything real and just having to think felt more alien than not. Almost absent mindedly Riley finally gulped down a bit of air and pushed herself up from out of her crouch. Settling her weapon into a more confident grip the stage magician cut a slow swing through nothing as she forced her emotional turmoil down to a single point and refused to allow it a grip on her thoughts.

As soon as the knight had begun to fade apart the Phantom's form had winked out - only leaving an ink blot of a shadow left behind where they had been standing. The dark spot lengthened and grew, swimming across the ground like a great koi shifting deep in shaded waters. At first, the shadow ran a straight line towards the enemy, but as Miyuki moved to interpose herself between Aurus and Aulan the path shifted towards the oblique. Colour bled out from the ground on Aurus's flank as the Phantom's shadow claimed it as their own territory and then - without a rumble, without the simplest tremour - the stone beside the dark god's feet shattered.

A pair of angular wings - indistinct with each scale barely distinguished from the next - folded out and brushed aside clouds of debris as they spread wide. An eyeless, mouthless head rose next and the flat material of its face rippled like black sea water as the creature let off a low, heavy rumbling to match its displeasure. The beasts sightless gaze took in what Aurus had made of himself and the rumble cut off with a great laugh.

Fire-

As the word reverberated out the shadows of the Phantom's avatar rippled again alongside each sound.

- earth, and darkness. Do you mean to exist as an insult to me War God?

Without waiting for a response the Phantom shrugged the rest of their way out through the stone that had released them. Claws, talons, and bladed tail made rock screech and scream in a cacophonous second and then the dragon was loose - their whole body falling as a blow against Aurus.
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