[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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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

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After Mr. Caxton’s little demonstration Jane returned to the background and resumed her familiar role as a silent sentinel. She was on edge, never having fully recovered her calm from the morning’s earlier strangeness.

And then she saw it, charging Percy from behind. By the time she’d drawn, the beast was already upon the alchemical instructor and she dared not risk a piercing shot.

She knew a hound when she saw one, hellborn or otherwise, and moved quickly to the children. “Circle up! Quick!” She waded into their center. As much as she wished to stand before them, she could not stop attacks from every side. More importantly, she didn’t need to. She had an army of fledgling mages at her disposal.

“Prepare to fight!” She spun a slow circuit with guns akimbo to survey her students and the encroaching beasts. It was about what she expected. “Healers to the middle! Set traps and defenses if you can!” She wasn’t even sure the students around her were capable of either, but she didn’t have time to catalog all their abilities and form a perfect defense.



Eeeeuuggggkay,” wheezed Johann within the bodily bastion of the Hawaiian Druids embrace. “I’m Johann the necromancer and my friennnnnds need your help.”

Once released, the one eyed Austrian smiled. He had done it! Another life saved! I might actually be good at this! Even the pain in his soul couldn’t overpower the joy he felt at his success.

With a smile on his face, he turned toward the fight. Then he frowned, confused. “Maybe it’s ovvvver?”
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Kokuten
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

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The Tree Limb
Laoise and the Corpse Bird

The withered bird next to Laoise distracted itself by preening one of its featherless, wingless nubs; she couldn't feel the limb shake with his movements.

"You know, I've seen one of your shows."

He paused, to see if that would stick, but then craned his head back, "No... You're right. This was unwise of me."

His words ended on the branch he had began on, when Laoise turned to look at the source of the noise, he was there again hunched. "You'll find that a difficult request, Laoise, familiar of Ruarc Flynn, The Beauteous One, Songbird of Osaka, Protector of Earthly Grounds of Safeholme, Beacon of the Unknown God. My master's titles are similarly unabridged, nor are they for anything but unadulterated power. To say any more invites a death much like Erindur's, what you witnessed."

The leaves on the branch that the dove was standing upon began to curl and brown. "I will tell you this, because you are brave, kind and true. The children your master issued forth are in the most danger, because they are closest to what mine seeks. The forest will try to guide them to..."

He squawked, choking, before straightening himself. Dribble rolled over the edge of the creature's beak that it could not wipe away. Laoise watched him spare one more look at her, before disappearing behind a wave of a tree branch and a gust of dying leaves.

The Learning Glade
Ruarc, Caoranach, Percival, Jane, the Faculty and Students, and the Pack

The charge halted in its tracks as Caoranach cast her otherworldly figure forth, the eight gwyllgi hesitated as they recognized who they were attacking. As members of Cwn Annwn, they were also subordinate of the Wild Hunt, and that meant considerations needed to be made, Caoranach could tell this much. They were hounds, not fools.

Percival hobbled away from the action, grunting under the weight of pain. One of the students watched his struggling pensively as the others began to scatter, now thrown into confusion as the pace suddenly stopped. Manon and Eryk were trying to keep the others from going into the woods, their prior expensive lending to a need to maintain the group instead of rushing off into the unknown. Few would listen to them as the panic still surged them and the snapping of teeth could be heard in the shadows beyond.

Like the toll of a bell, Jane's call to action was felt throughout the glade, there was a pause in all of the students. As the cowgirl rolled up in the center, they rallied and bunched around her, the bravest of them forming the outer wall, the panicked and fearful huddling in the center.

A howl rang through the trees, and the sense that the eight gwyllgi found was lost in all but two of them. The precious seconds Caoranach had won the group were now spent. They surged forth, ignorant of royalty and sense to seize on Percival and the rest.

The pathetic Alchemist had only made it a few feet after clambering off the ground. His eyes went up to one of the discarded bowls, filled with powder made by one of the more dutiful students. Scooping it up he spun around, Jakku emerging from his tattered shirt.

"Tegwyn!" hoarsely cried Percival as Jakku spat flames into the bowl.

One of the recent exchange students broke from the line, her movements issuing the sounds of articulating machinery. Her hair was a striking blonde under her hood which lit up brighter as her form burst into hissing flame. The conflagration gave way to a small warrior in molten armor, its form defined by layered mail of obsidian and pistons. In her hands was a large glaive, with a shape and heraldry that only the god slayers could recognize. With a furious, horned visage, she and the exhausts on her back screamed into the fray.

"SMITE!" the word fired from her lips as she struck one of the gwyllgi, and a vicious explosion of divine, elemental magic erupted from the wound. Percival's eyes filled with an energy of similar color, but it didn't distract him. He tossed the flaming bowl into the woods from where the howl came from and erupting from the impact was a plume of mystical, glowing smoke. Powered, the wisping smoke rushed into the thicket, lighting up behind the brush to the most powerful thing it could find.

"There it is!" cried Percy, trying to make his voice heard as the smoke glowed around something unseen beyond the glade, the tree-wall beginning to brown into fall colors that were unfitting of a jungle.

The students circled around Jane began firing into the remaining hellhounds that were still charging. A couple of the beasts stayed with Tegwyn, wary of the reach of her glaive, but trying to find a way to tear her down. The other three tore past the withering body of their comrade, soaking up classical fireballs and mystic missiles. One of these gwyllgi crumpled over itself as one of the students caught its leg, the other two fired towards the group. Six more issued from the tree line in pairs from the east, west and south.

On the Path
Willow, Johann, Drysi, Vrey, the Gwyllgi and the Man

Vrey could feel the connection strengthening between the beast and herself. It was added confidence that made her gesture all the more powerful, but her more normal fellows had differing opinions. Despite the more tame demeanor it showed, Vrey's attempts were ramping up Drysi's anxiety, and she furiously spun through her book to find a way to separate the two.

Images of bowing to honorable kings and tearing apart despots flooded the link. Nobler, more wild hunts, chasing game and abominable creatures through hallowed woods.

It was almost too distracting, but despite clearly seeing Willow flying at her, Vrey could feel a sense of acceptance, an acknowledgement of what was ancient within her and the truth in her emotion. She could also feel that the flow of mana that sustained the beast's existence change color, as its summoner realized a loose end. Just as the allomancer collided with her, she could feel the sudden loss, as the beast erupted in dark flames beneath the vines, its corporeal form dying.

The druid had nearly bowled Johann over to join in the restraint, but they all watched quietly as they saw the hound perish into a pile of jungle ashes.

"Oh, thank goodness," Drysi sighed, putting her hand to forehead, relieved. "Quick thinking, Willow. That could have been..."

Yip! A small voice issued from the pile of soot, and silence fell on the path again. A small form pushed itself from the dark remains and a gwyllgi puppy revealed itself, nearly a tenth of the size of the beast it once was. It padded from the pile, panting, and then shook off the remains of its former self, looking up at the one it was now bound to.

It sat dutifully.

"W-Willow, hold me," sputtered Drysi, falling to her knees next to the Willow and Vrey pile, "I might die."

"If it weren't happenin' in front a'me, I wouldn't believe it," the large druid put a hand to the cold sweat on his face, before staring down at the scene unfolding before him. "Flynn's rollin' deep with some weird kids."

The trees above them begin to wilt, their leaves giving away to an autumn never-before-seen in this place. The man looked up at this phenomenon, his eyes growing wide. "Oh... Oh no."
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Straken
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

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“So, fury it shall be,” Caoranach hissed, “And prey for the Hunt you have become.”

With a flick of her wrist, the weightless blade in her hand traced a line along the ground in front of her. Stepping across it, a waist high wall of black flame erupted from the earth. It was merely an illusion as well, but she needed the hounds to hesitate more and waste precious seconds. She found herself yearning to be back to her full strength, as keeping these students alive long enough to get A’s this semester would be a cake walk. Instead she had to actually expend effort, and possibly even get sweaty. To say nothing of if she actually bled onto her new clothes.

Grumbling as she considered her approach, Caoranach realized she’d also need to worry about one of the inexperienced students hitting her. As she was, she was stuck entering the fray in melee, and thus friendly fire was certainly a possibility. Pouting as she gave her pristine outfit another look, the Mother of Demons pressed forward. With a graceful spin she slashed the ethereal blade at the neck of the closest hound.

~~~

In general, it is difficult for a bird to roll its eyes, but Laoise had perfected the skill early on. Flattery would normally work on her, but somehow niceties coming from this thing made her feathers itch. She was similarly inclined to give an amused chirping chortle as Six Piece described his own master, and was just about to accuse him of being an edgelord following the unadulterated power line. Before she could offer her snide remark though he offered his first real bit of important information.

No sooner had Six Piece vanished than Laoise sent alarm bells ringing in Ruarc’s mind, and the dove dropped from the branch and took flight.
Ruarc! Willow and the other’s are in danger!

Ruarc himself was already privy to that information. As the corpse bird had surmised he had been eavesdropping on the exchange. The Irishman had been carefully positioning himself in the underbrush, and had a bolt of lightning with Six Piece’s name on it; all ready to truly fry the bird. Following the reveal Ruarc had already spun on his heel and begun dashing back the way he had come.

”Laoise! Get back to Percy and the class,” the Druid Keeper ordered. ”Make certain they are safe, then come find me!”

”Always,” Laoise punctuated as she adjusted her course to head to the larger group of students.

Ruarc wheeled his hands and chanted, ”Ag mo dhroim na gaoithe”

The magic of Wind Step flowed from his core and down through his feet as he brought his will forth, urging himself to move with utmost haste. Every step of his enhanced movement brought with it a sense of guilt. He had been foolish to assume the students would have been safe here simply because there were local druids around. Safeholme had been infiltrated, and so had this sanctuary.

Ruarc’s mind was racing faster than he was. If the students got hurt because of his hubris he’d never forgive himself. Nor would he forgive whoever was the cause. What’s more, should his worst fears also come to pass that another druid was behind this he wasn’t sure what he’d do. At least not in the long term. Short term, if a druid was behind this, then Ruarc intended to be exactly what Archdruid Clarke told him to be. An attack dog.

Reaching into his fanny pack, Ruarc pulled out a very specific rune. A fine tuned Detect Magic rune, calibrated specifically to detect either Willow or Drysi’s magical signature. Panning around until he found his heading, the Wolfhound of the Council sped off through the trees.

~~~

Picking herself up off of her friend, Willow held herself over top of Vrey while quickly counting all of the bald girl’s limbs. Sighing in relief, the Brit pushed herself the rest of the way off before quickly looking for the gwyllgi. Upon spotting the puppy, and seeing Drysi’s reaction to it, Willow barely contained a snort and its accompanying laughter.

“It’s okay, Dryce,” Willow couldn’t stop a few stray chuckles. “I’ll protect ya.”
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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

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Eight. Eight was manageable. “Alright, kids! You’re battle Mages now! Just focus on the one in front of you! If you can slow or stop them, do it! It’s time to get loud.”

The pair of American-made Lightnings turned northward, drawn like compass needles to the most immediate threat. Long before this moment, perhaps even in the instant she recognized what the exact danger was, her gunslingers instincts had charted a course through her enemies. In the time it took to blink, she had composed the dirge for these Devil dogs. It began with percussion stamping out a neat 3/4 time signature.

BAM. BAM. BAM.

She swiveled to the west, guns resting on the fourth beat.

BAM. BAM. BAM.

These were hardy creatures, built for war. It would take more than one or two bullets to stop each of them, but that wasn’t her goal. If she could slow and soften these targets, overwhelming mage fire could do the rest.



Druid worries failed to grab Johann’s attention. He was laser focused on the cutest, most adorable harbinger of death he’d ever laid eyes on. He charged forward with reckless abandon, dropping down onto his knees to slide the last couple feet. Delicate hands gently petted dusty fur, and an absurdly large grin split thin, white lips.

“Puppy!”

BAM. BAM. BAM.

Johann jumped, startled by the sound of what was very clearly gunfire. He'd never heard a gun before, except in movies or on TV, but it was unmistakeable. Three distincts gunshots.

BAM. BAM. BAM.

He hardly stirred with the second sequence of reports, but hugged the puppy protectively. "It's not over," he murmured grimly, and with the resolve of one who knows there is more dirty business yet undone.
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Kokuten
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

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The Learning Glade
Laoise, Caoranach, Percival, Jane, the Faculty and Students, the Pack, and the outsiders

Under direction, the students were a whirling porcupine of fire, ice and fury. Jane towered over her defensive line, bathing the shade of the glade in the dragon snarls of her twin guns. She halted the advance of the two from the north, cutting their joints out from under them. The students fired on them, bringing them down for good. One hound from west came crashing flat into the grass, its head pierced. The other weathered the assault and threatened to jump into group. Dorothy's hand went up and a hex chained the beast to the ground, putting it at the mercy of a pair of evokers.

In the east, Eryk threw himself forward as Tegwyn had done, using a sign to slow one of the beasts and heaving a thick branch at the other. He managed a strike, giving his side the seconds they needed to start pressing down on the beast with ice. The other leaped at him and he brought the branch up to defend himself, tumbling backward. With a vicious crack, the gwyllgi snapped the wooden weapon in half. The maw of the beast came down, and up went the glint of something sharp followed by a torrent of blood. In an instant, the gwyllgi went limp over Eryk.

The south was not so grim.

"Ole!"

In fact, far from it.

"Ole!" shouted Manon, dancing about with a red towel. Her side had downed one of the gwyllgi in its approach, and now she played the part of the bullfighter. She contorted and twirled, narrowly avoiding the fangs of her pursuer. "Ha ha! Cursed beast, you must do better than that to get the best of Diego Arryano! Finest bullfighter in Oahu!"

Incensed, the hound jumped; Manon bent and turned to allow it over and past her. As it landed, it spun and caught an intense bolt of fire magic to the snout. Disabled, the rest of the students turned the monster into a pyre.

At the fore, Caoranach surged and sliced into one of the two pressing Tegwyn. The girl was pushed back and getting overwhelmed in her zeal. With a fresh gout of blood, the hound spun about to bite at the royal, but few had the pleasure of seeing one like a fae move. Caoranach flowed past it and carried the attack into the other while Tegwyn hesitated.

The small, mechanical girl stared on amazed as the two Gwyllgi fell at the same time, shadowy blood bursting out and filling the grass.

With stench of dying hellhound filling the air, the battle seemed to reach a calm stage. Percival, taking advantage of this, hobbled forward, touching Tegwyn on the shoulder.

"Alright, that's enough, back... back with the others," said Percival, looking a bit woozy. Tegwyn slapped away his hand, incensed and amazed by the fae before her.

"I don't need--" she started to speak, but a hissing noise cut her words short. The Alchemist opened his mouth to say something, but only smoke spouted forth. A glowing glyph appeared on his chest, marking him with something in an ancient tongue that Caoranach recognized as fire.

"Quite enough! Quite enough!" came a sing-song voice from the brush. Through the leaves emerged the form of three people that Jane could place rather easily as some of Eryl's three-eyed folk. At the lead was a slender woman with auburn hair, who continued, "This is as messy as it gets. No foolishness or heavy-handedness, or you'll get the same treatment."

She clenched her hand over a glowing glyph in her hand that matched the one on Percival's chest. He coughed and sputtered more smoke and fell to his knees. As he came to a terrible realization, his skin began to redden.

"Burns from the inside out. And as long as we remain civil, only one of us needs to die."

A different sort of look came over the Alchemist.

"Theh ashes..." he muttered through more smoke, more coughing, "a-are di... vine..."

Caoranach could feel the man's reddening eyes upon her, his mouth making the words. Hide me.
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Straken
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

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Drifting over the wind, almost imperceptible to any who didn’t know the sound, came a subtle song. The sounds flowed with the breeze, enfolding the students in quiet confidence.

With an almost dismissive swipe of her hand Caoranach removed the illusion surrounding herself. Swirling her free hand, the ancient Fey Princess of Shadows redirected her energy towards weaving an illusion around Percival. It had been a long while since she had needed to move this much magic, and focusing on multiple at the same time took a lot out of her. Were she in her prime she could have strung together a personalized illusion for everyone in the glade, and shapeshifted into a massive sea serpent while she was at it. Instead she settled for a classic growth of thorny vines growing up and over Percy until the Welshman was cocooned; for a bit of flair she added some roses. Maintaining her grip on the shadowy blade to keep it from dissipating, Caoranach rubbed at her eyes to relax some stress wrinkles that had surfaced.

“Great, some of you lot. Well, bad news for you. You trifle with Fey nobility, Daughter of the Queen of Summer, my vines have seen fire and mending the flesh of Man is trivial compared to creating spirits and monsters from raw primal energy,” Caoranach said slowly, her tone layered in contempt as she bluffed. “So good news, students. Your drab professor will be just fine after a short rest.”

Not long after Caoranach had turned back towards the gaggle of triclops then the song on the wind shifted to something a little more mainstream. Riding the energy of the song Laoise flew in low and fast over the tree tops, her form shifted out of Stealth Dove mode and into her full winged majesty. Like a Valkyrie, Laoise swooped and strafed across the path of the triclops. Flicking her hands as she flew Laoise scattered a half dozen coins around the three hostiles. No sooner had the coins hit the ground then Laoise past the trio, and the coins began to glow furiously. All at once the coins, carved with Wind and Fire, erupted in gouts of blisteringly hot torrents of gale force winds. Landing with grace and poise, Laoise stood off to Caoranach's left side and held up another cluster of runes between her fingers.
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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

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Right on time, Jane swept South; as there was no problem that required her attention-- the joys of childhood, she mused at Manon's display-- she turned toward the East 3 beats ahead of her carefully conducted display of violence. Her barrels lined up just as Eryk shoved the dying mass off himself. A quick glance confirmed that the South team had handled their affairs.

She rested on the next and final measure, taking a slow and calming breath while her hands mechanically reloaded her half-empty chambers. The Lightnings snapped shut when a small voice at the American's shoulder said, "Who's that?" She spun toward Percival and Caoranach and Tegwyn to find a trio of Maelgwyns kicking dirt their way. And Caxton...

"Children," she said in a stern instructor's voice. A cold wind blew in from the distant shore. "Line up and space out like gym class. If you can touch hands, you're too close." Then she took three steps forward, and sheathed her weapons, but never took her hands off those sandalwood grips. Even in her sweaty button-up and mild blue jeans, she cut a striking figure. It was the eyes, of course: steely blue eyes that fell on villainous souls like an almighty judge's gavel.

There were three villains this day. Many evils, yes, but only three villains. But many pieces were moving in her mind, and Jane was realizing something. I've been in Osaka too long.

But she said nothing, and dared not move. One wrong move from any of them, however, and she was ready for war. True War. The kind that felled gods and disturbed the pleasant dreams of comfy children in their safe places. If they began here, she would not stop until this evil was cut at the root. In her laxness, she had let it fester too long. Caoranach had set the terms and Laoise set the stage. It was time to see what these Maelgwyns were all about.
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Kokuten
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

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The Learning Glade
Laoise, Caoranach, Jane, the Faculty and Students, the Pack, and the outsiders

The fullness of Safeholme's response drew out a little grin from the auburn witch. The two at her flanks drew their wands to bevy the winds and ready themselves for any more threats.

"I'm glad we could be adults about this," she curled her fingers around the glyph in her hand, crushing it, causing it to burst into flame. The mound of rosey thorns, which had a faint sound of shifting, fell silent. "We are conducting important work, and it's truly... truly painful to expend our own kind, however tainted by the Occultus."

She pressed her hands together, her third eye not matching the genial nature of the other two. "My manners. Morwen Scurlocke. Librarian of Cardiff. These are my inheritors. Ceri and Eira. And these..."

From the brush on either flank of the group's broad formation, came a mixed gathering of mages and gwyllgi. On the left were three mages as wells as three on the other side; in their hands were a collection of different foci. "... are my hounds."

"Professor Scurlocke, the Mister is almost done," said Eira, eyes glazed over.

"Patience. There's no need to hurry," explained Morwen, gesturing out to the audience before her. "Our goal here is not to harm you all, but casualties are expected in war. You are unfortuantely caught within the crossfire. As were the druids. The Lamplighters have nothing against the fae and their constituents."

She looked at Jane now, "Nor are we against the independent mage, quite the opposite actually."

Morwen spared a hand towards the thorns, "We merely seek to dismantle the Occultus Magica and all those who are determined to uphold it. Once we are done few will miss it."

Jakku emerged from the brambles, slipping through the vines, dusted with ash. She fluttered over to Caoranach, seeking refuge on her shoulder and whispered quietly with a weak voice. Thank you.

"Today we intend to disturb the dust, a little shake-up, a little wake up," Morwen grinned. "We are going to show this secret world that it cannot shut out those that don't agree with them."

She raised her arms, and the trees above began to shed leaves in preparation of a permanent winter. All around them, the once lush and green glade was browning into dull shades of indolence.

On the Path
Willow, Ruarc, Johann, Drysi, Vrey, the Gwyllgi, the Man, and the Torchbearer

The gwyllgi pup, still fierce and wild began to teeth harmlessly around Johann's fingers. Then, forgetting its oath, began to lick at what it bit, before remembering its ferocity and teething again.

"Ah," called a voice up the path, "so that's what happened to Morwenna's animal."

The students of the scouting party could see a tall man traveling down with two in tow; they had nine eyes between them. They were robed in thick, dull linens, carrying staves. The tall man was almost of a build like Mr. Flynn, but with curly bronze hair.

"Are you little ones all lost?" asked the towering triclops politely as they approached. He was carrying a large, egg-shaped stone in the crook of his arm. "That's no good. There are dangerous people about."

"The lodestone!" The mountainous druid shoveled his arms forward and pulled all the kids back in one sweep. This gesture seemed strange to the tall triclops, until he realized.

"Ah. We killed you, that's right."

The triclops appeared to be gathering energy in his hand to amend the issue, but was abruptly interuptted. Bursting upon the path off a gust, upturning leaves and brush, was a man of great stature interposed between the two parties. He was broad and dressed plainly, but beheld the bristling ferocity an angry bear.

"Mr. Flynn," said Drysi, breathlessly.
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

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Ruarc allowed himself temporary relief as he arrived just in time. Taking in the situation with precise glances, the Keeper squared his shoulders, planted his feet, and locked eyes with the tall man standing down range. Taking measure of the hostile mages he would have almost felt like laughing, were it not for the fact that the triclops had ended up someplace they had probably not intended to be; in front of Ruarc who fully intended to use them as an analogue for Alexei. He had not been around to protect the students then, but he was here now; and these poor bastards would potentially live to regret wrapping his class up in whatever ridiculous plot they were executing. He opened his mouth to speak.

“Drysi, there are runes in here, use ‘em if you need ‘em,” the Irishman said, completely disregarding the tall triclops while keeping his eyes locked and watching for hostility. With his right hand, Ruarc unclipped his fanny pack and lobbed it over his shoulder towards the students. As he continued to speak, he reached down and unvelcroed his sandals before kicking them off to the side of the path. “Everyone, be smart, don’t get in over your heads, work together. This isn’t a game.”

Ruarc stood stolid between the students and the triclops. His Hawaiian shirt had snapped a couple buttons and been ripped in a couple places after his whirlwind sprint through the forest. A number of nicks and cuts dabbled his arms, as well as his calves below the hem of his cargo shorts. Never once did his eyes leave the tall man, even as he began to cast a spell. It was new. Well, it was a variation. A tip taken right out of Alexei’s playbook. Drysi would recognize the base chant of Ruarc’s Fire Dragon spell, but it was different. He had never tested this in combat, but figured now was as good a time as any.

Starting as sparks, white flames erupted from Ruarc’s hands that shifted to a shimmering blue as they wound up his arms. Raising his left hand, he flexed his fingers to confirm the flames were holding properly. Talons of fire extended from his fingertips, and even though the flames were his own he could feel himself beginning to sweat. The last time he’d tried this he singed off all his arm hair in one go, so his control was improving if nothing else.

“I hope you don’t expect me to ask you your name and titles, because frankly I don’t care,” Ruarc called as he began to move towards the triclops.

Willow could only watch. Wide eyed and slack jawed, the young teen felt excitement well up within her chest. They were going to see Mr. Flynn working. That also meant the students had found themselves once more in a precarious situation, but this time they weren’t alone. Now she just needed to play smart. With Mr. Flynn on the roster, Willow didn’t need to play Lock position, and she racked her brain to think of how she could contribute.

“Guys, it’s go time. Remember back to Mr. Flynn’s exercise. We all beat him, and we’ve only gotten better. We’re probably out of our depth here, but I’m not keen on leaving him to a three-on-one,” Willow said, before perking up. “Hey, big Hawaiian guy, you much of a fighter? Because we could probably use the help.”

Doffing her own satchel, Willow burned Iron and pulled her coin purse to her chest. Collecting a healthy amount of American quarters, Willow figured out her role.

“I’ll play Blind Side… uh… I’ll help with counter-spell,” the Brit added as she began to move off the path. Coins at the ready, Willow prepared to launch coins at any of the evil triclops that tried to cast spells. Maybe it would work, maybe it wouldn’t, either way Willow figured they probably wouldn’t like getting pelted by fastball quarters. For good measure, Willow burned Tin. Working through the intensity of the bright sunlight that managed to poke through the canopy in searing pinpoints, Willow would rather be aware of any more hellhounds slinking through the undergrowth.

Back with the main group, Caoranach gave Laoise a humoring look of approval following her showy entrance. As soon Morwen began to speak though the fey shifted a hard eyed stare at the triclops. Only once the glade began to wither and Jakku clung to her shoulder did she shift her focus. Looking softly to Jakku, she gave the sprite a soft look with eyes that seethed with roiling shadows beneath the surface.

“Go elsewhere, sweetling. You will not enjoy being near me,” the fey cooed, her tone sorrowful as she sent the little one on her way. Once more Caoranach looked to Morwen, and as though she had donned a mask her gaze became one of unbridled contempt.

“How disgustingly self-righteous,” Caoranach’s rebuke was tinged with frosty malice as she took slow and certain steps forward. If the other’s used their time well she would be willing to act as a distraction, if only for the purpose of seeing the certainty drain from this other woman’s face once she realizes she’s been beaten. “For what it’s worth, my constituents and I have nothing against you either, nor do I care for the Occultus. You just got in our way. Consider this a favor. If you were to actually somehow win, you would have gained the ire of the Faerie Courts, the Druid Council, our Academy and its ancillaries, and I’d be amazed if Jane’s mother wasn’t pretty handy with a shotgun. You children think you are ready for war simply by the results of one small battle. Should you somehow live to see tomorrow, your Library shall burn; and everything you were, are, and could have been will become little more than a footnote in histories that actually matter.”

In Caoranach’s wake, the grass beneath her feet withered and died. Shimmering just at the edge of visibility, a half dozen chitinous spirits began to dart around the woman’s body. Best described as large winged centipedes, a number of the spirits latched on to her arms and wound themselves across her soft skin, sharp legs gripping tightly. The largest of them wound itself around Caoranach’s neck as though it were some nightmarish choker. The Mother of Demons reached up and caressed the creature lovingly.

Entirely unrelated to Caoranach’s performance, Laoise began to move at an angle away from the fey. Her wings stretch wide, she would screen the students as best she could. Shifting some runes around, she activated one that created a veil of darkness around her. While it only lasted a couple moments it served the purpose of obscuring Laoise’s next move. Once the veil dissipated, two more Laoise’s fanned out. Arms outstretched, two of the Laoise’s brought forth spheres of radiant energy, and the third began to sing. Soft and low, the soothing song permeated the dying glade.
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Kai
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Re: [Episode 3] Disturbing the Dust

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From elsewhere, outside the barrier and beyond the way the group had initially come, there was a small sound if anyone had bothered to hear it. Though it had been going for some time, and had mostly been drowned out by the sounds of battle it continued, now an even repeating tone. Slowly rising in volume, the sound was still below what anyone would notice, so focused on everything else that was happening. That is, until it suddenly became loud. A crash could be heard in the distance, sounding like a mix between the shattering of glass and a rending of earth, followed by a second louder sound of the same variety as several powerful barriers had just been shattered by an immense force.

Accompanying these two crashes were a rush of cold, frigid air well beyond what the triclops had started flowed in with the rage of a winter storm, all the warm air above rushing away and blowing the leaves with nearly gale-force winds. From beyond the glade, a mist grew, with plants that had already begun withering seizing with a layer of frost that appeared faster than anyone could take account for. Another crash could be heard, followed by the snapping sounds of something rather large and quite solid pushing its way through the undergrowth directly toward the glade, heedless of any paths or wayfinding.

A large wall of ice emerged, with the crushing and cracking sounds finally ceasing, and then the wall crumbled, revealing the form of a relatively tall Japanese woman, fury in her ice blue eyes and her chest rising and falling with heaving breaths. As the other adults, she was dressed less for war, and more for vacation, a blue two piece bathing suit with a skirt and a flowing, translucent Sarong tied around her sternum, with a pair of flip flops on her feet, if it weren't for the fury of her gaze and the scars marked here and there around her body, she could have been mistaken for a model. Her right arm, beginning at a perfect ring around her bicep, seemed a slightly different color, and was giving off an additional aura of frost, with her fist raised and poised, ready to strike the moment she figured out what was going on here.
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