[Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

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: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

Post by Kokuten »

The faculty present stood boredly as the class carried on. Percival had already plucked up some specimens for examination and was beginning to lecture on the connections of arcanoflora of isolated regions with that of interconnected ones.

"... take this sample of spirit palm. While biologically this plant is very different from anything back home, its hues give away some of its abilities, just as any other..."

One of the students was already having a hard time staying awake, until Mr. Caxton called over Jakku, who spat a gout of flame on the sample. The spirit palm shuddered and exhumed a gout of ethereal energies. It was an effect that snared the quickly waning attention of the student body.

"Who can tell me the effects of igniting Elderoot, the kind you can find in most western countries? Mr. Kashevsky."

"It makes a smoke that draws itself to the most powerful thing it can find."

"Correct."

The theatrical display of the rising fumes gave way to a stormy squall, one Jane suddenly found herself engulfed in before it dispersed. Percy's mouth resisted a grin as the glade became silent, "It seems we have found another way to track down Ms. Smith, if necessary."

Most of the students laughed, taken by the demonstration, where as Drysi was making her way across the back of the group to Johann. She jabbed him with her toes in a kick that backfired on her immediately.

"Argh," Drysi cursed as she grabbed her pained foot, "c'mon Big Ben, we have chores to do."

What seemed like a romantic opportunity to be alone with Willow quickly turned into work. Poor Johann was unfortunate to be the reason for it, but happenstance didn't stop the triclops from projecting her frustration. In the short time prior to Willow inviting the boy along, Drysi had already fashioned a story in her mind of how their assignment would end up as a sappy string of confessions ripe for a romcom B movie.

The glitter and fire in her eyes had died into gloom and consternation. She began to fish into her big bag and pulled out a fourth edition of Hoelbahn's Grimiore of Elemental Writ.

"Hoelbahn studied a lot of different cultures in her later years," commented Drysi, the book floating in her hand, as she turned pages with gentle flicks of her wrists. "She'll probably have some illuminations on what Mr. Flynn wants."

She looked back at her friends with pupils that had dilated widely, her eyes opening to take in mana to fuel the sight. "I can already see something past the tree line."

Drysi pressed the group on, and they were near a stone that marked a path that she claimed had a rune on it. She stooped to study it with her book. Though the triclops had claimed she could see the rune from the glade, they could no longer hear or see Mr. Caxton's class. Their surroundings were deep and dark, with tropical foliage seeming to stretch on for miles. Had Drysi not been able to see the runes so clearly, it may have seemed like a hopeless expedition.

Their surroundings were mostly the same as they traveled, with strange fluctuations of fluttering spirit magic causing nauseous interference. That is, until they came to a set of pillars marking what seemed like a crossroads.

"Okay... Two of these are path runes that I have been seeing at all of these points," Drysi studied, pointing to the pillar that leaned toward what looked like refreshing daylight and one that pointed to back where they came. "The other two look like... Source and... Distress? I can't tell. Which way should we go?"
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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

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When the smoke swirled around the gunslinger, a peculiar effect was visible to anyone viewing through a magic lens. The smoke enveloped her, but refused to touch her, as if there was a barrier-- or as if the potent magic that drew it was an aura around her.

Jane saw none of this, but she swatted the air around her to clear it. The mundane eyes of the American and those watching saw the smoke dissipate as one would expect, but properly attuned eyes would see that it folded out of this dimension and into a cosmic space beyond before it was no longer visible.

Johann followed the girls quietly, but there was an eager smile on his face. A mission! He was on the path to becoming a hero! Somehow, the teachers must have found out what happened in the woods, and decided he was ready to be properly tested. That would explain why Drysi and Willow were also on the mission: they had likewise proven themselves valorous in the battle of the wood.

"Distress!" he exclaimed from behind the girls, breaking his lengthy silence. Then he cowered, surprised by the volume of his own voice. "S-sorry. B-b-b-but if there's troub- troub- trtrtr- t r o u b l e," he dragged the word out slowly, like a washman dragging thick pants through a wringer. "Then we should go that way."
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Straken
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

Post by Straken »

Ruarc pondered the options available to him, and settled on his first one; and likely the simplest, should it actually work. Flipping his phone open once more, the Irishman was grateful that this nature pocket was rather porous as far as magical circles went; rather than the absolute hard edge of the magic circles used by many other mage types, this had softer edges. It encapsulated who knows how much space, but it didn’t prevent the flow of energy in and out of the space; as evidenced by his phone still sending and receiving messages. As such, Ruarc began to slowly type out a message simply asking Keo to cancel the exercise in favor of something a bit more traditional.

Caoranach, reading over Ruarc’s shoulder, apparently disapproved of the overly wordy old man text and promptly swiped the archaic device. With rapid taps from her slender fingers, the fey woman rewrote the message to something more succinct; which mostly amounted to “Hey, could you not?”

Handing the phone back with a punctuating snap, Caoranach placed the phone back in Ruarc’s fanny pack with a certain degree of sass. Spinning light on her toes, she placed herself directly in front of the Druid and wore an excited smile.

“Hey hey, what if we think of this as a magical… oh, what were those… right! Escape room! Come on, this could be fun,” Caoranach chimed.

“Now now, this, if anything, is educational, not fun,” Ruarc said back with a dry joke.

“We could invite Jane. With the three of us it could be fun, and educational,” she practically purred the last word into Ruarc’s ear as she returned to his side, causing Ruarc to sputter. Caoranach grinned and posed triumphantly, having won some undeclared game. Then with confident strides, she began to walk towards the class while talking over her shoulder back to the Irishman. “Joking aside, I shall recuse myself. Nature circles are old hats, even if they are Hawaiian flavored.”

“One could say Miss Smith is smokin,” Caoranach called from the back of the class. Laoise pursed her lips, but Carrie could tell it was because she was trying to avoid smiling at the canned joke. “Miss Laoise, trade with me. Professor Flynn needs a proper assistant; I shall step in to assist Percival and watch the class.”

Looking somewhat skeptical, Laoise looked back to Ruarc and saw he was in fact thinking through something and making his way towards one of the edges of the field. Unable to think of any sort of game the fey may be playing, the young familiar sighed and moved to intercept her Druid as Caoranch moved to stand beside Percy with an almost concerningly innocent smile.

Alright, what’s the deal? Laoise spoke subconsciously.
Nature circle. Hawaiians’ are having a laugh. Ruarc replied.
Seriously? Fine, fine, fine.

With that, Laoise made her way behind a bit of cover, and reverted back to her dove form. Taking to the air, the original duo set to work. Opening his Sight, Ruarc would follow magical currents on the ground; while Laoise scanned the area from above.

Back in the tree line, Willow brought up her own sight, except her’s only let her see better in the dim light. For magical detection, the Brit needed to down an extra vial of metal. She was kind of excited to have a chance to properly utilize her Copper and Bronze. The two had always seemed, well, boring. Copper would mask her presence and the presence of anyone within a small radius around her from being detected by magic, while Bronze was its opposite and allowed Willow to sense magical pulses radiating from magical people and items.

In a bit of curiosity, Willow also drank down a vial of Zinc and Brass. To Willow’s disappointment, she didn’t actually attract fairies and other fey creatures. Instead, they were drawn to inadvertent burning of trace Zinc from her diet. In this instance, perhaps there might be a fairy or two around that might be able to point them in the right direction if it was drawn to them.

Once the group of students had reached the cross road, Willow was impressed by Johann’s initiative. “That’s the spirit!” Willow called, her own volume unabashedly high, before toning it down for the sake of not announcing that they were on a secret mission. Striking up an adventurous pose while pointing down the trouble path, and burning her Tin, Zinc, and Bronze. “Onward into the Yawning Void!”
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Gwathdraug
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

Post by Gwathdraug »

Vrey was feeling snappish. A rush of static was filling her head and distracting her from the conversation and people around her. Her teeth where on edge and it was because someone - or something - thought that the school group could be trapped in this... mana suffused, excuse of a gullet. Gnashing her teeth as the entrapment spell scattering throughout the area around them bit down on her own boundaries the bald teen pulled her hat down and tried to calm herself by first concentrating on the dark underside of the brim and then by closing her eyes.

Pausing everything and holding her body's need to breathe made the scrawling, hostile feelings across her skin only redouble but allowed Vrey to take in everything around her without any of it moving. In just a suspended moment her eyes and head scanned her surroundings: her uncle and the other adults seemed unbothered but Drysi, Johann, and Willow had all disappeared from amidst the group.

As Vrey's magic snapped out of her control the teen pressed one of her gauntleted palms against her eye as a spike of pain stabbed out through her head and used what little magic she could grasp to eat away the bile that had risen in her throat.

Raising her other hand into the air Vrey growled as at first she failed to find her voice. Dragging her hand down and away from her eye the teen allowed herself to frown just slightly. "Uncle." As she spoke to Percy the girl's eyes switched from dull grey to an illuminated green. "I am permissing myself an absence."

Without another word or sound the teen flickered out from the middle of the group.

--

Vrey appeared in the middle of the group gathered at the crossroad. The bald teen's sudden appearance was only enhanced by her almost normal outfit of a pair of shorts and a short-sleeved plaid button-up and hightop sneakers - if it wasn't compounded by the full length wetsuit she was wearing beneath everything else and her omnipresent gauntlets. Squatting amidst the group Vrey pushed her dark coloured cap further up on her head so she could rub circles against her temples with the heel of her hands.

"What is going on-" Vrey murmured as dispassionately as ever despite her eyes squinting down to barely visible slits. "-and how does it break?"
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Straken
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

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Shifting her pose in one smooth motion, Willow pivoted on her heel into a kneeling position; twin finger guns snapping at Vrey as the Brit smiled wide to mask her surprise. She hadn't been expecting Vrey to show up, but that's exactly why it made sense that the other teen suddenly appeared. After all, Willow wasn't not expecting for Vrey to show up. Letting the surprise roll off, she defaulted back to the usual chipper baseline that made up most of her personality.

"Vrey! Right on time!" Willow said, holstering her finger guns. "Mr. Flynn gave us an honest to goodness mission! Strictly covert ops, ya dig? The class is trapped, imprisoned by some magic geometry, and it's up to us to bust the trap!"
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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

Post by Mr. Blackbird Lore »

Johann jumped again. Was everyone trying to startle him? Or was he just sensitive? He never got around to answering his own questions, because Vrey's presence had thoroughly derailed his thoughts.

"Hey. Um, Drysi sssssaid there's runes, and M-M-M-Mr. Flynn gave us the mission, so it sssssounds pretty--" he waved his hands vaguely, scrounging for the word, "--druidy to me. I'm just here to help." This was quite obviously Willow and Drysi's area of expertise, not his, but he was more than happy to be there if he could help them figure it out.
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Kokuten
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

Post by Kokuten »

"Mr. Caxton?"

"Yes, Ms. Chinami."

"I would also like to permit myself an absence."

"Why?"

Tanaka shifted uncomfortably with this resistance, her face screwing with dissatisfaction.

"... Vrey didn't have to say why."

"Ms. Hallinel does not feel well, Ms. Chinami, if you all were curious. Pockets like these are the equivalent of floating in a bath of oil with a headache to those who must manifest themselves."

The consternation was felt, but the affection the Alchemist had for his niece was one of the few signs of emotion the students were allowed to see.

"Mr. Caxton?"

"Yes, Ms. Adderbin."

Dorothy's eyes trailed off in careful reflection, before asking in her small voice.

"What is this place?"

----

Laoise broke through the treeline with ease, her wings helping her push through the thick foliage that served as the roof of the misty pocket they found themselves in. The air was thick and heavy, with an overcast net of clouds obfuscating the sun's light and shape. As she soared, Laoise could see the jungle stretch for miles farther than Oahu could have supported, a distant ocean circled the horizon.
"That is an excellent question, Ms. Adderbin. We are within a type of sanctum that is unique to druidic, natural orders of magic. What makes it unique from other forms of sanctums is that it is semi-sentient, similar to collective consciousness in a magical forest, which helps the hosting mage to manage the sanctum's function and security. It feels and tries to act."
The phone in Ruarc's hand was frustratingly still and silent, but he found it easy to tap into the lines of magic running beneath them. A pulse beat against his feet, it was rapid and panicked. A flow pushed towards this glade, and seemed to source from the direction the children went.
"But that doesn't mean it isn't impermeable."
A rippling croak burnt through the birdsong above the forest, and Laoise only had a heartbeat to turn her head and see a creature bearing down on her. It was around her size, and it slammed into her doveform, sending both flyers tumbling.

She saw it recover and spread its bat-like wings to recover and descend upon her. It had the head and body of frog, and the tail of a snake with a briar on the tip.

----
"Mr. Caxton, what does it mean when 'it tries to act?'"
Drysi's hair and arms exploded outward in a fierce display of shock when Vrey appeared, but she managed to choke down the surprise in her voice. While the others spoke with Vrey, she worked to rally herself and settle her nerves.

"We don't know that we've been trapped." firmly asserted Drysi, gesticulating to the sign reading Distress. "This is just a fact-finding look-around. We look around, we find facts, and then we go back and tell Mr. Flynn about it."
"Curious, Ms. Adderbin? We have time. The pocket has something vaguely resembling sentience. It is an image of something more complex and powerful, copied and deployed to serve a purpose. What you see here is merely a recreation of a true mystic forest. Its collective consciousness is not ancient and alien, but young and rudimentary."

"But, how would you know it had a mind of its own?"

"It would tell you."
The students pressed on pass the Distress sign, Drysi leading the way in a huff. Willow could feel the energy roiling off her shoulders, that same kind of careless radiation that went with anxiety in Mages. While it was nothing dangerous, it was easily distracting for someone trying to get a sense of the things ahead. All the more troubling was how much she felt around her, not in a sense of overwhelming fog, but the number of individual things she could feel. It was the same kind of feeling that one got being surrounded by mages, but far off and indistinct.
"You see, the forest is alive. Its heart beats in the trees, flowers and leaves. It manifests to inform and guide its master and her allies."
When they pressed past the leaves on the path, they caught the smell of blood first. Strong to those with normal senses, heady and overwhelming to someone with greatly enhanced senses. Johann could feel the loose tethers of someone's soul snapping

As Drysi's foot broke into the leaves, a growl rose to answer it. The students saw her take a step back, and then saw what she saw.
"So we would be very safe here?"
A broad, dog-like beast curled over the body of a mage, its hackles raised and its teeth caked with blood. Red eyes burned through a hide of dark fur. Breathlessly, Drysi spoke its name.

"A gwyllgi, how--... ho--"

The muscles on the animal coiled, and it leapt at her.
"In theory."
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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

Post by Mr. Blackbird Lore »

The fight in the woods had set Johann down a path of significant change. There was trauma, but there was also revelation. He had to learn, to know more, to be a better mage. He had become even more reclusive, not to escape, but to explore. Nearly every night since he had phylactered a rogue soul, Johann had studied his tome deeply.

There was revelation. Necromancy, a close cousin to his father's biomancy, was fixated on death and the manipulation of souls. Where he had initially understood his magic to be of a healing nature, he now understood its typical functions were the opposite.

There was trauma. He had eagerly tottered down the path of villainy as an ignorant fool. He could have hurt his friends with a single misspoken incantation. He could have killed someone. He couldn't understand why someone would want to do that, much less write it down, and Johann continued to avoid those spells.

But it was possible to modify the default function of this book. He had already- unwittingly- created his own signature spell by misreading the incantation. There was a complex mixture of joy and anxiety when the young necromancer realized that fact: joy because he had made a spell! but anxiety that he had so easily misread and misused information within the book. If he was not more careful, future consequences would be far more severe.

All of this to say, when Johann felt the strings of someone's fate snicking free like loose lashings, that fierce confidence that had overcome him in the woods took hold again. That creature was an avatar of death and it sent shivers through the boy's soul. "Death beast!" he shouted and leaped at the same time as the gwyllgi. Being closer to Drysi his tackle connected first.
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Straken
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

Post by Straken »

Following the group, Willow had been focused on the sensations given off by her Bronze. There were the standard pulses that her friends gave off; Drysi felt like an anxious staccato, Johann felt like low and slow beat that lingered, and Vrey felt warbly. Beyond all of that the humid jungle all around them pulsed as well, and Willow had set about parsing through the magical heartbeat when a new one surfaced in the ripples of the sensory pond of Willow's mind. It felt unpleasant, and made her feel tense. Almost like a big dog growling.

At the sound of a commotion, Willow lifted her gaze and refocused. Catching sight of the beast, she tapped a closed fist onto an open palm in an aha moment. Making her proud, Johann was the quick draw this round and was tackling Drysi out of harms way. Action time. Immediately flaring Pewter, she focused and charged forward. Winding up a punch, Willow was going to give this Hell Hound a surprise. Rather than the waifish Drysi, the beast would catch a fist flying right at its nose.

Once she had committed herself to the action, Willow realized she had her coin purse this time and could have just shot some quarters at the hound rather than punching. Damn muscle memory.

---

Laoise was met with her own precarious situation as she was intercepted by an utterly bizarre creature. In a moment of panic the dove was about to retreat back to Ruarc, for if nothing else she'd be able to change forms again with some dignity. With a defiant slam of her wings, the familiar saw no dignity in retreating from this abomination. If she could have screeched like an eagle she would have as she pushed herself into a sheer dive back to the tree canopy. The dove had a size disadvantage in the open sky, but if she could lure her opponent then her size would allow her to out-maneuver it within the branches. All she needed to do was get to its flanks and strike at its eyes, all the while avoiding being to close in front of it. If it really was a frog scorpion then it s tongue and its tail were the primary hazards, it would have difficulty bringing them to bear outside of a certain angle in front of it.

"This may be more difficulty than an escape room, I've got a Water Leaper on my tail," Laoise said to Ruarc.
"What? Why would there be a Water Leaper in Hawaii? They're..." Ruarc started to say back.

Pulling out his phone, Ruarc quickly typed up another text.
Hey Perce, why is Laoise dogfighting with a Llamhigyn Y Dwr?
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Kokuten
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

Post by Kokuten »

For once, the class seemed quite engaged, it almost seemed like Mr. Caxton had an answer for every little thing. So, they kept probing, first to test him, and then to learn.

"What other kinds if sanctums can act like this?"

"Dream worlds, djinn containments and divinely managed pockets."

"What constitutes a dream world?"

"A pre-constructed plane which manifests spectral representations of yourself when you dream."

"Can you go there when you aren't dreaming?"

"Decidely less pleasant of an experience on average."

"Have you been to a dream world?"

"Several times."

The students all gasped, some at the notion that this thing might exist, and some at the notion that Mr. Caxton might be cool.

Bzz!

"Ah, that must be Keo."

Percival tugged out his phone and read the message. He waved the device, indicating he would be a moment, taking his time to type a response. There was a bit of unrest with how blatantly a teacher would use their phone in the middle of class. With a ginger tap, he sent the message, and regarded the students with a tempered zest.

"Now, if we're done with the questions, we can continue..."

"Wait, wait, wait, I've been feeling the presence of beast spirits this whole time. Does that mean you can stock sanctums?" asked Chinami.

"Of course. Sanctums like this produce, live, and thrive like a regular forest, they would likely live comfortably."

Bzzt. Ruarc's phone chimed a new message.
Perce wrote:Welsh flavor of Summon Beast. Practiced in three places. Bangor Institute. Swansea Academy. Library of Cardiff.
----

A sharp beam of sunlight erupted from the canopy of the jungle as Laoise burst through. The water leaper chased hungrily, croaking and whipping its tounge. Whatever drove the creature, it sought to bring down Laoise with a purpose. The two whirled through the trunks, proving the dove's calculation to be correct. Her opponent's fleshy wings were clumsy in the enclosed spaces, and while she could dart and bounce, it could only flubber and burst.

After a particularly hard turn through a tight gap in a tree, she heard a wet flop.

"Bloody fuckin' hell! Stoo'pid fockin pij'un!"

Rounding a wafting cloud of leaves under the canopy, Laoise could see the water leaper had gotten its tail caught. It was flapping wildly and cursing loudly in its animal tongue. "Mag-pie must'r swapped her egg at hatch, fookin' slippery crow."

----

As Johann connected to Drysi's shoulder, she went tumbling. Before she slopped into the mud, her form erupted into light. The flash upset the gwyllgi intensely, and forced it to stop short of raking its maw through the boys frame. It was just the right amount of time to line up Willow's punch.

Willow flew in, contorting with every muscle in motion and her fist connected with the eye of the beast. The disoriented animal crumpled inward, before springing back, flipping head over haunches over the bleeding form a man who looked like one of the teachers with the Kilokilokula school. He shuddered as the gwyllgi went by, just barely showing some life left in him.

"Can't catch a break," snarled Drysi, emerging from her bright light wreathed in a thick cloak of leathery brown, a heavy hood over her wild, bright hair. A pair of hardy gloves emerged, one cut at the middle and fore-finger. With them floated out a hefty tome bound in iron plates. "Just one day. Just one day to have my romance on a tropical island."

With an outstretched hand, the book opened and presented its pages to the gwyllgi. Drysi empowered the book, and willed a pair of pages to tear forth. Each page had its own strange symbols, but Willow could recognize it once the papers sheafed over eachother and combined.

It was a rune.

"TURRAING!" roared Drysi, causing the symbol for thunder on the page to erupt in lightning.

The arcs of energy burst wildly, but the triclops hadn't the experience to control them. Instead it ignited and shriveled the pages in fire. Cursing, she quickly withdrew the book back into her hands. "Argh! Not again!"

By now the gwyllgi had recovered itself, and began to size up its threats. The lightning and fire had intimidated it, but only for a moment. Hackles raised, it loped forward to leap onto Willow.
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