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  1. #151
    Faraking Island of Taroc in Far Western Rekōdo: The Floating Heli'Dom

    Attachment 2307

    Arion, Acting Guild Master of Taroc and Nalia of Enchantry


    Their words of reassurance do little to persuade Nalia. Even if she were allowed back in to Astral, she was not sure if she would desire to go. That place held too much sadness for her. Too many memories she would rather forget. Astral may not have a reason to keep her in exile anymore, with their betrayal of Shamaa and massacre of their warriors alongside peaceful Taroc troops, but they would still, somehow, find a way to twist the murder of her mother into a reason for Astral's downward spiral.

    Perhaps, to a degree, they were right.

    There was proof now that she did not murder her family, but without someone else to pin the devastation upon, there would always remain a taint upon her for the act.

    The practice pains she felt eclipse her faded away and her hand relaxed on the chair she held. It left her breathless. Arion's crimson eyes watched Nalia carefully and listened even more so. When the false contraction faded, his lips pursed. He offered Olivia his attention when he saw Nalia's hand ease its hold.

    "You should 'ear 'Deanna Under Moonlight' when played in time wi' 'Liar'Adon's Starry Skies'. Th' two tunes are made to perfec'ly 'armonize their-"

    The air became alive with crimson and gold streaks in the cloudy night. Arion turned sharply and then froze at the sight of the electrified clouds farther north. Among the thick mist of the Ailes, it was like watching something from another world make berth on theirs. Arion felt the hair and skin of his body raise, as if the energy from the storm were powerful enough to reach even them so far up. The snow, falling silently, seemed charged with the energy. He felt it as it impacted the protective barrier of the Heli'Dom's observatory, set in place long ago so that stargazing might not be disturbed by anything but clouds blocking the sky.

    Arion turned a split second before Olivia and Nalia. Over the deafening claps and crackle of charged crimson and gold bolts, he barely heard Ryth's angry Soul Song coming. It set off a moment of panic that was quickly subdued and then replaced by the sight of Ryth's battle-worn body. His mouth opened, but the Song of another began to play after Ryth's. One he did not recognize. Arion's crimson eyes found Elions just as Nalia turned around.

    She turns just in time to see Eliona flinch and she froze where she was. Her emerald cloak and raven curls spilled over her prominent shoulder, protecting much of herself from Eliona's judgement except for her eyes, which echoed the haunted emotions of a young girl. The sudden change from the well-versed Astral hurt to sympathy threw her off guard, and her own haunted look melted into something entirely unsure of itself. She turned away so that she was profile from Eliona's guilt to try and process her own heart.

    "Ryth" Arion's passive, gentle voice held an increasing note of urgency to it. "Ryth wait-"

    Eliona's cry made Arion wince. Then the all the Songs in the room that weren't his and Nalia's swung violently in the wrong direction. An explosion of music filled his mind, three different symphonies screamed at each other at one time and threatened each other with crescendo and tempo. Arion winced at different intervals over and over and hovered one hand close to his head as if touching it would cause him to hurt more. His newly healed wreath of Tarka horns were sensitive to the cries of impending battle that Alain had sharpened him to find.

    "Wait, Ryth" he said and held out a hand to Ryth. His hand moved to Olivia next."Please wait."

    There were too many pistols up.

    A flurry of a green cloak made him blink. For a moment, he thought it was an illusion at the corner of his vision. She was infinitely graceful. He remembered that from one of his earliest times in Taroc, but even the sudden, silent touch of her hand on his surprised him. He did not know a woman so pregnant could be so silent and fluid, but there she was, and before he could open his mouth to say anything, Nalia's cold touch was gone.

    She stood in the middle of the triad that was Eliona, Ryth and Olivia.

    And on her way in, her cold touch came to Eliona's trembling hand. In it, she left a tiny firefly of white light. Just a spark. Something her mother would do for all her children, but especially for her. A piece of happiness, a spec of joy and comfort and calm. it was hers to absorb or lift to the universe as a token given back. Then Nalia moved to stand between Ryth and Olivia's raised pistols. Now she was their target, their aim in a direct line of fire and her eyes fell directly to Ryth.

    No more secrets.

    There was no hiding the presence of the unborn child she carried. She had always been thin, terribly so despite everyone's efforts- Ryth's especially- to the contrary. Now the weight she carried was great, and he would see how exhausted she was from carrying it as she focused her emerald eyes on him. He'd asked someone to explain what was going on. No one had yet.

    "They were killing her, Ryth" Nalia said to him bluntly, but in a voice of calm collectiveness. She hoped he was not so far gone in his anger that he would make her speak of the Spirits aloud. She did not know if it was safe with the other person he brought-

    -of course she was. This was Ryth.

    "She was dying" she repeated, using different words. "No one is meant to house all the Ancestral Spirits of Rekōdo. The Princess is tethered to Olivia. Once the Spirits are released, she will bring her back. This was the safest way."

    There was so much more that needed to be said. But there was no time.

    "The Spirits need to go home" she said in a quiet, begging voice. "and Rekōdo needs its Princess."

    Arion's crimson eyes looked between the four of them. He waited and listened.

    "That is the simple version" Nalia offered apologetically. "If you want to help her, then let Olivia finish what she started."

    Nalia spoke to Eliona then, but her eyes remained on Ryth. Even so tired her stare was as intense as ever with Ryth's gun pointed at her head.
    *The Golden Goddess|The Goddess of All Motherless Secundae*
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    \"You know me: everything detailed and long, blah blah blah.\" (Brath OOC)

  2. #152
    Beyond Emporium: On the Journey to Death



    Pasce, Princess of Rekōdo and the Spirits of King Heron and Queen I'yana


    ~We have to do something!~

    They were alone, together as a group but alone from the singular Vessel that housed them. Clow was approaching a state of panic. Arxus just folded his arms and shook his head. J'Adonai looked to Clow sadly.

    ~It is beyond our control now. She is with Spirits of her heart, not her head.~

    ~If she goes to them. J'Adonai... If she strays too far- ~

    J'Adonai put a hand on Clow's shoulder.

    ~Brother, I know. We all do.~ J'Adonai's accented Eastern voice was gentle as were his glowing orange eyes. He gripped Clow's shoulder a little harder. ~Whatever happens, we will face either light together.~

    ~It looks like the Lovers will finally get what they want~ Arxus muttered slyly, but when he looked back at the Spirits of Old Magik, his snarky expression changed.

    They were a distance off from the others, but not terribly so. They were facing each other and there were tears in Capria's eyes. Before they could fall, a strong hand on her cheek wiped them away with a thumb. One of her hands rested atop the one at her cheek. She lovingly caressed his skin. When Arxus turned, she looked down from her Lover's glowing, crimson eyes.

    ~Arxus, you are a fool~ she said and tried to hide her sorrow behind a mask of scolding.~It was never about what we wanted. It never has been about what any of us wanted. As soon as we took the Oath of Masters, we forfeit that right.~

    ~Oh, and I suppose you and mystery man over there having children and messing everything up is part of that selflessness of which you speak?~

    The Forgotten Spirit tensed and emitted a low, guttural growl. The look he gave Arxus caused the elder Spirit to squirm uncomfortably. But Capria's gentle touch was all that was needed to soothe the anger in her lover's body.

    ~Arxus~ Capria said in a voice that was as tired as it was chiding. ~We are of Old Magik with traditions older than time. It was foolish of us to have taken the Oath of Masters knowing very well that we could not refuse the Calling we feel. Our people have paid our debt and now, Arxus of Maginus, they will be lost forever.~

    ~If our Spirits pass on, there is nothing left of our memory. Everything that was of our People and Guilds will be lost with us. Our people's truth will be forgotten forever.~

    Arxus opened his mouth, but there was no retort. His mouth closed and he turned away. Clow and J'Adonai turned back to look together in the direction had vanished, as if direction had meaning here. Clow cupped his hands to his mouth and yelled.



    -+-



    ~Princess! Pasce!~

    Pasce's head turned slightly from the sight of her parents before her, but not enough to take them from their sight.

    ~You've earned a rest~ her mother said gently.

    The voice that called her. She knew that voice. She felt herself being pulled downstream and the temptation to look back and go into the darkness was fading.

    ~I can't~ she breathed with tears in her eyes. ~There's something I must do still. I have to... When I go back, I must...~

    What was it that was left for her in the living world? Pasce looked down finally, enough so that she could not see their faces, but the slightly radiant outline of their bodies. There was something... Wasn't there? Something she was supposed to do? She came here for a reason and-

    ~That world is not meant for you, daughter~ her father King said in a gentle, deep voice that was reserved strictly for her. ~I tried to leave you better.~

    The King's voice faltered and the Queen by his side linked her arm more tightly with his. The look she gave him was of love and support. It was everything she imagined her mother and father would look like if together.

    ~You have earned your rest.~

    Heron hald his hand out to his daughter.

    ~Come~ he said to her. ~Come and meet your mother. She has waited long for this moment... As have I.~

    She felt the river pulling her to them, urging her forward with all its undeniable strength and forward urgency. And slowly, the Princess of Rekōdo took one step forward.

  3. #153
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Olivia Kuhrson, Verona Aliester, Eliona & Commander Filip Ryth




    Above Faraking Island: The Heli'Dom...


    Verona's hand is back on the mantle. It's a subtle move, and likely not noticed by anyone. She isn't reaching for a weapon or taking any of the confrontational actions as most in the room are taking. Simply touching the mantle, and once again reaching her mind out to the Heli'Dom. She instructs the Heli'Dom to prepare itself to take action. If this stand off should get out of hand Verona will command the room itself to separate Ryth and Eliona from Olivia and Pasce. There's a buzz in the chamber that only Arion's mystical senses might notice. He will recognize it as the will of Verona reaching through the Heli'Dom, and readying it to intervene if necessary.

    Eliona pulls her hand away from Nalia's touch. It's a move that begins as instinct and ends as outrage. She recognizes the ember of light as the light of Astral healers, but assumes it's an illusion. It must be a fabrication. That's the only explanation for it. If it is indeed an illusion it is a vile insult. How dare the murderer of Astral's greatest healer mock the white light.

    Both Olivia and Ryth raise their weapons upwards, and away from any potential targets, at the same time. The man and woman have been trained on averting their aim whenever a noncombatant gets in their way. It's almost instinctive at this point.

    Eliona's anger over the offered firefly soon gives way to confusion. She holds the small spark of white light within her grasp. Her studies in both healing magic and illusion weaving grants her the intuition needed to feel that this firefly is not a falsehood. It holds none of the telltale signs of an illusion. It even resists the typical methods of breaking down such deceptions. Meanwhile, Eliona's senses of healing energy tells her she holds a true spark of life. She now looks upon Nalia with absolute shock and confusion. How is this possible?

    Ryth grimaces at Nalia's intervention. It's almost like he's enraged at the woman for exploiting a flaw in him. He can't very well have a gunfight while an unpowered and very pregnant woman standing in his way. Nalia has effectively tied his hands. He hates that.


    "You don't know O.K. like I do," Ryth growls. "She'd sacrifice everyone in this room if it would save Alain."

    There's an emphasis when Ryth says 'everyone', as if hinting to Nalia that even the life she carries would not be immune to the darkness he's trying to warn her about.

    "Then she'll tell all of you anything she needs to say to get you to believe what she's doing is the only way to do things," Ryth warns his friends. He's seen Olivia at her worst and most desperate back during the War. The only difference between then and now is that back during the War Olivia had plenty of Maginus people to sacrifice for her dark arts... Now it seems as though Pasce is the victim of Olivia's single-minded devotion to Alain. Sacrificing this innocent girl is too much for Ryth to ignore this time. Olivia's one of his oldest friends, and he's had to overlook a lot to maintain that friendship, but right now Ryth isn't willing to ignore this.

    Eliona, still working her way through her confusion, looks down to Nalia's very pregnant abdomen. Eliona recalls all that she was taught as a healer. When a woman is with child it's possible for the mother to gain a new power. It's either changes in the mother's body awakening something that is dormant, or the power originates from the baby itself. However, even if the white light is coming from the baby it can't possibly be channeled through Nalia. The white light, no matter where it comes from, can't be used by a murderer.

    Olivia watches Ryth, and picks apart what he says. She notes that the old man said 'Alain' instead of calling him 'LeCavalier'. She knows Ryth well enough to see there is some meaning there. Calling Alain by his last name is something all members of his elite squad did during the War, and continue to do today. Ryth is cutting himself off from that tradition, and the bond that the tradition is a part of.

    Olivia then dissects how Ryth is treating Nalia. He almost always treated her like a child, a young niece. Now there's open aggression. He's challenging her. He's also not surprised to see her pregnant.

    She concludes that Ryth found out about the affair, and it must have wrecked him. Ryth must have felt betrayed. Not only betrayed, but also foolish. Ryth is meant to be commander of the high guard. He's supposed to be the protector of the guild master and highest authority on the defense of Taroc. To learn that he's been so completely oblivious to something that is such a great danger to both Alain and Taroc must leave Ryth feeling as if he's a failure. He wasn't watching the guild master closely enough to see that Alain was destroying everything.

    This isn't anger at Alain or Nalia, it's anger at feeling like he's the last one to realize he's worthless. Learning about the affair must have stabbed Ryth's pride right in its giant heart. Olivia feels bad for her old friend. He doesn't deserve this pain. Even if he is accusing her of essentially murdering the princess.


    "I didn't lie," Olivia defends herself with a calm, even tone. "I explained the situation and offered the quickest solution available to us. Pasce agreed to it, which technically makes this a royally sanctioned ritual. Most people in this room swore an oath to abide by royal decisions."

    Ryth glares past Nalia and towards Olivia. The necromancer has seen her friend like this before. He's too hurt and angry for reality. Only killing or death will exhaust this amount of rage. It would seem Ryth's battle with the Nightmares didn't provide him with enough of either. She worries that he sought to end this rage and pain with his own death. He still might. It would seem tonight is the night that Olivia has to find ways to keep everyone she cares about from falling apart and dying all around her.

    "Is there another way?" Ryth snaps at Olivia.

    Olivia holds up the hand with the nail imbedded into it.
    "It's too late. This is the only way we can take now. If I pull her back too soon she'll die. Reintegrating her soul while the spirits are still there would put too much of a strain on her body."

    Olivia's hand then trembles. She can feel movement along the tether she shares with Pasce's soul. The girl's soul is moving. Olivia turns to look at the princess's body, trying to sense what is happening. The tether offers the necromancer far too little information. She can't tell what's happening, only that the girl's soul is moving away from life.

    Eliona holds a hand over her mouth. Her features have given way to an impossible, yet irrefutable, fact.

    Nalia didn't kill her family?

    Eliona takes a step back. They- All of Astral has exiled and punished a victim of the massacre, not the perpetrator. They treated Nalia like a monster, taught their children to hate and fear her, have dismissed any good the woman does. This entire time it was Astral that was the monster, and Nalia was their eternal victim.

    Eliona places a hand on Ryth's shoulder. He turns to look at her.


    "If Nalia trusts in this ritual, we should give it a chance," Eliona softly tells Ryth. The old soldier tilts his head, trying to puzzle out the change in Eliona. Something's not right with her. She appears weirdly upset, or maybe too calm when she seems like she should be more upset.

    Olivia forgets about the others, as she steps towards Pasce. The necromancer holds up her uninjured hand and reaches her mind out towards the ancestral spirits. She will appear to them, as if she were another spirit. Although, unlike them her appearance shifts and shimmers depending on where others are seeing her from. It's as if she is continuously on the verge of looking like something or someone else at all times.


    ~Why is Pasce moving away from us?~ Olivia demands of the ancient spirits. ~And can't any of you speed up your exit? You've worn out your welcome, and then some.~

    The spirit Olivia raises her good hand. Ribbons and symbols of necromantic magic glow to life all around her and the other spirits. She's illuminating the various spells she has cast on Pasce, allowing her to assess what's going on with her role in this scheme.

    Olivia takes hold of one of the threads of magical energy and tugs on it, trying to gauge how well this portion of her ritual is holding up. Once she's certain this threat will not break any time soon, Olivia runs her hand over a row of floating runes. She plucks one rune out of the series and crushes it into vapor. The other runes glow brighter as the spell is slightly altered to run more effectively.

    For the most part her magic appears to be working fine. Unfortunately, this means that if Olivia is going to fix things she might have to take drastic actions. She wonders if this is that willingness to sacrifice others that Ryth is so worried about.

  4. #154
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    Branwen

    Branwen stood before Zarena as she and the rest of the Maloto tribe prepared for war with the Nightmares. A quiet hush fell all around them as the glow from their paint illuminated all along their bodies, bringing its own ominous feeling to the already tense atmosphere. Events were beginning to unravel like a loose thread, and soon it would become undone and reign chaos upon them.

    The acting Guild Mistress took a stance, solidifying her grounding to the earth while she took up her own post outside the world of dreams. She would remain here, to protect their vulnerable bodies, while they took the battle to the Nightmares on another plane.

    She watched them quietly, before turning to Commander Weir.

    “You may stay or go with them; the choice is yours Commander. Whatever you choose, may your aim be true, may the ancestors guide you and protect you.”

    Branwen turned to the warriors that had remained outside to help protect their brethren, Zarena would guide the few that had followed. Animal spirits dashed to and fro, vigilantly keeping watch over their people.

    Unsheathing her staff from its leather bind, Branwen reached out to the land, her feet dug into the sand as she felt the grounding of the earth firmly plant her feet. She reached out to all the elements, gathering her strength and seeking their protection for her people. A land older than any of its inhabitants, wiser than any that had walked this place since their gods roamed among them, the planet knew. Waters and sand swirled into runes, barriers formed around them and the earth itself waited. With bated breath, they all knew the Nightmares would come, come to remove any obstacles to their triumph.

    As spirit animals bound around her people there upon the beach, others flickered into site as if from the air itself to deliver messages to her from Zarena. The earth trembled where they stood, a reaction to the magiks upon the land itself and the chaos that swirled around them.

    “Be prepared brothers and sisters, the Nightmares will not tolerate this new intrusion for long. I feel the lashing of a whip in retaliation!”

    Glowing blue eyes looked out over the water to Capios and a flickering thought of her sister pushed its way there.

    “Hang on Kali, you are not alone.”

    As if in response, the darkness seemed to roar in protest. and If the Nightmares hadn’t known already, they knew now. Reinforcements had come.
    Peace is a lie
    There is only passion
    Through passion I gain strength
    Through strength I gain power
    Through power I gain victory
    Through victory my chains are broken
    The Force shall set me free

  5. #155
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    KALI


    It was a siren’s call, the blood, the battle, the chaos. Every part of Kali revealed unbecomingly as a female in it. She loved the sweat as it dripped down between her shoulder blades, dropped into her eyes from her hair, stung the cuts along her body and made her feel soaked through to the bone. But unlike a good spar with Dyani, their people were dying, many lay dead scattered throughout the isle. She could see them, smell the decay, the taint upon them from the Nightmares and it only made her grip her sword handle that much tighter.

    “With no hope of the barrier returning, let’s not waste any more time Dyani, let’s get our people to safety.”

    Dyani’s words echoed in her mind as she wondered the same thing. They could not allow dread to creep into their thoughts and give the Nightmares a way in, she could not!

    “Dammit someone answer…..” Kali hollered out when Evalynn’s voice came through.

    There was complete silence, save for the noise of battle, but in Kali’s ears it seemed only a distant sound as if far far away. Words rolled from her mind to her tongue and stopped, never to leave her mouth as Evalynn answered some of her questions.

    “Do what you can for her, we’re coming to you Evalynn.”

    But that still left two others of their number unaccounted for and Kali teetered between concern and outright rage.

    “Fateema….Merriam….”

    At this point Kali’s voice was becoming distinctly more coarse and reptilian. Her red eyes darkened and glared at the unending darkness of Nightmares. She inhaled another breath to call out mentally to the other two when Merriam finally spoke.

    “Thank the gods!” Kali replied.

    But her joy would be short lived. In the silence that hung about the women mentally, Kali’s anger raged as she roared with anger, spewing Dragon’s Breath on the Nightmare’s around them. With a free clawed hand she crushed out the essence of a Nightmare as her blade swung its vengeance in an arc around her.

    Her mind was plagued with what to do, as a leader even as a stand in, she could ill afford to be. Even as Merriam and Evalynn spoke, she knew the older woman was right. Unbeknownst to Kali a tear slid down her sweaty face as she listened to Merriam’s command and request of her sisters.

    “Kai! Blas!” The two dragons without a word curled around the pillars one last time and shot out toward Fateema and Merriam.

    “Merriam, Dyani and I will get the others to the Cavern. Kai and Blas are on their way!”

    “Merriam?!”

    The link was quiet, whether for their own safety or, for some other reason but it did not stop the ball of lead that Kali felt in her gut.

    “KAI!”

    The two dragons zipped up onto the balcony, furiously working the entire area searching for Merriam and Fateema.

    “Kai no find.” His words echoed in Kali’s head.

    But there was no time to speculate, no time to wonder, they could only hope. Without pause, Kali spoke back into their link.

    “Evalynn….”

    “Dyani and I will be bringing the others. We’ll keep rear guard to buy us all as much time as we need to move the people to safety. Prepare for the last of us.”

    Dred settled in Kali’s stomach. They were sitting targets out here, and she knew they would lose more before they reached the Cavern. Seven dead pillars, seven groups of people. They had to move fast if they were going to get anyone else to the Cavern.

    “Kai, Blas, get back here and help the groups to the Cavern.”

    A wave of tiredness fell over Kali the likes that she had never felt before, not even when she’d been fighting Darmon so long ago. Her blade, her body and her spirit seemed to move of its own accord, but her mind felt trapped in an unfamiliar quagmire.

    “Dyani, let’s get our people out of here.”

    She knew that her friend would dictate the most strategic plan for evacuation, even those minute details that even Kali herself might miss. The question was on her tongue when she felt a refreshing breeze seemingly pass through her soul. The scent was undeniable and the voice that followed bolstered Kali in a way she never would have guessed.

    “Branwen?!”

    Her words were barely audible, but Dyani would hear them and she would sense them likely before Kali even got the words out of her mouth.

    “Shamaa…”


  6. #156
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Captain Jacob 'Gold-Eyes' Petrov & Lieutenant Lydmila Pavlich




    The Raven's Triumph... Approaching Capios...


    As the Raven's Triumph speeds towards the island, Lydmila fires her rifle at the shell of darkness that has claimed the city of Capios. She alternates between lightning and fire. Masses of Nightmare beasts burn and burst under her near constant barrage.

    Lydmila is on her fifth magazine of ammunition before she notices the pirate ship is very close to the barrier of Nightmares that is shrouding the city. Very close and not showing any signs of slowing down. Lydmila tears her focus away from the scope of her rifle and looks back towards Captain Gold-Eye. The ghost is steering with one hand and waving a sword with his other hand. He's cackling like a madman the entire time. Lydmila lets out a tired sigh. The dead don't appear to care about the little things like crashing, destruction, and the potential of dying. This ghost in particular seems greatly amused by their apparent destruction.

    Lydmila rushes away from the front of the ship, and ducks behind a mast. She hugs her sniper rifle to her body and braces herself against the mast. Her eyes snap shut and she waits.

    The sails of the ship pops. The sails are haunted by the souls of the damned. Souls of those that have made themselves enemies of the Raven's Triumph. Captain Gold-Eye has used dark spectral magic to conscript them into service to he and his ship. Now, Gold-Eye has commanded those souls to break free from their sail form, and shape themselves into a protective barrier around the front of the ship.

    It's the souls of the damned that impacts the shroud of Nightmares. They strike the curtain of Nightmares with the full speed and weight of the unnatural ship.

    Lydmila is only aware of bouncing off of the mast she had been braced against. Then she's airborne as the ship around her seems to go sideways. She looks up and sees the churning ocean. A cold hand grips the tumbling sniper by the collar of her coat. She looks to the source of that hand to see a cackling Captain Gold-Eye holding her collar and keeping her from flying free from his undead ship.

    There's the sound of one massive construct of wood smashing into another as the Raven's Triumph has broken through the Nightmares barrier and has crashed into a pier of Capios. The air all around Lydmila is an explosion of splashed ocean and shattered wood. The Raven's Triumph seems to take to the air for a few seconds before landing on its side on the docks. Gradually the docks collapse beneath the mass of the ship, allowing the vessel to settle in a tilted position.

    The docks surrounding the crashed ship are broken, twisted, and buckled. The wreckage resemble a massive nest that the haunted ship is squatting on like some crooked, undead sea bird.

    Despite the entire ship being lopsided, and the entire crew struggling to move around the tilted deck, Captain God-Eye stands perfectly vertical in relation to the deck. It's as if it's the world and people around the ghost that are tilted, and not the ship he now strolls across. The captain's laughter dies down as he looks out at the city of death, horror, and tragedy. The sounds of violence and destruction can be heard in the distance. The entire time he holds Lydmila up by her collar, as if the sniper weighed nothing at all to this ghost.


    "You could have warned me about that," Lydmila tells God-Eye.

    "Where would be the fun in that?" The ghost replies as he carries her to the very front of the ship. The ghost chuckles to himself. It truly was a spectacular entrance.

    Lymila looks behind the captain and his crashed ship. The hole they smashed in the darkness is sealing itself up. They're now trapped here. The sniper shows no reaction to the idea of being trapped with countless horrors. It's as if this were exactly where she is meant to be.

    The ghost smiles as he takes notice of how calm Lydmila is in the face of certain doom. A woman after his own heart... if he still had a heart. He hefts the woman and tosses her off of his ship. Lydmila reacts to that with a surprised yelp before she lands on a patch of boardwalk that is raised up. She dusts herself off as she rises.

    That's when the screeching begins. It's a chorus of banshee wails descending down from the darkened sky. Nightmare beasts. The sound of their screams is nauseous. Lydmila turns about to face these beasts. Her rifle is in her grasp, being aimed at the oncoming foes.

    To Lydmila's surprise the screaming creatures are scattered by an explosion. They were hit by an artillery shell. The sniper turns around to see the pirates of the Raven's Triumph have used ropes to hoist up a cannon from the lower deck and have fired it at the Nightmares. A dozen other undead pirates aim their muskets and also begin attacking the Nightmares.


    "Happy hunting, ma'am," Gold-Eye tells Lydmila as he bows to her. "We'll deal with these beasties here. You keep on moving. There are no lives to save here. Find those poor souls in need, and be their guardian angel."

    She replies only with a swift salute to the captain. Then Lydmila turns around and hops her way across the twisted and broken docks. As soon as she is on more level, and less damaged, ground she sprints away from the waterfront and moves deeper into the Nightmare infested city.

  7. #157
    Faraking Island of Taroc in Far Western Rekōdo: The Floating Heli'Dom

    Nalia.jpg

    Arion, Acting Guild Master of Taroc and Nalia of Enchantry


    Arion's crimson eyes move slowly to Verona. The hum is so delicate, so calm, but it permeates the entirety of the Heli'Dom and joins with its melody. His crimson eyes hold onto Verona, noting her hand gently laid upon the mantle. He knows and he remains silent. In fact, Arion begins to move away from Nalia and the triad of people she is attempting to calm. He steps back and his shoulders relax. Everything about him radiates calm and his step back is a show that he will not fight anyone present, at least not yet. What he heard, what Alain had taught him to hear, bid him to remain passive and calm.

    The pistols are raised. Their Soul Songs shift and flow in a new direction. Not away from the tempo of imminent violence that had exploded into his mind, but around it as if circling the idea of it still. Arion remained cautious and it is with careful amounts of it that he offers his crimson gaze to the triad of people with weapons. He is careful to avoid looking at Nalia and Verona. He keeps his eyes on the ones whose Songs sing out to him.

    Nalia is perfectly calm as she faces down Ryth's pistol. Even after it is raised, the intensity of her tired, emerald eyes remain fixated on him. Even as he warns her of her own expendability, Nalia's eyes remain firm. Arguing with him will not gain anything for any of them. Ryth's mind is made up. She's survived too many of his attempted match-makings to know that there is no derailing him once his mind is made up. Another time, reminding him of how poorly things went then would have brought on many stories and laugh, now, looking back on those times would only cause grief for the already hurting man. Olivia speaks before Nalia can, and that is just as well. She does not know what she can say to make Ryth believe Olivia has the best intentions. She is a direct part of the anger he is feeling and because of that, whatever bargaining chips she had from their many years together while she was a ward of Taroc were squandered.

    "What?"

    Nalia's voice has little wind behind it. Whatever stamina she seemed to have maintained in the face of Ryth's insatiable anger left her in a rush. She took a small step back from Eliona and Ryth. Nalia stepped back as if retreating from Eliona's words, but her eyes were hopelessly locked on the Astral woman as if she could divine answers from her like a Taroc oracle. Nalia's face moved swiftly and unrestrained between the same emotions mirrored in Eliona's face. That same upset, or too calm when she should be upset battled within her.

    "Why?" she finally managed to ask Eliona. She had nothing left to guard herself. No person in the entirety of Astral that lived and breathed would ever dare utter such words to her. As a child she had hoped for such compassion, wished for it, dreamed of going home to it. Now that it was laid before her, she did not know what to do.

    And Arion offered her nothing. He couldn't. If he placed himself into this, it would break whatever was about to transpire. Here, as in may times throughout her life, Nalia was on her own.

  8. #158
    Beyond Emporium: On the Journey to Death



    Pasce, Princess of Rekōdo and the Spirits of King Heron and Queen I'yana



    ~Princess! Pasce!~

    Again, she hesitated.

    ~What keeps you, daughter?~ her mother's eyes, the eyes she has, studied her reluctance. There was no judgement in her sight. She has waited an eternity to finally be with the child she brought into this world.

    Something... Who was it that yelled her name? She was drifting with the current. She felt it. Even though her feet had stilled, she was being dragged forward toward the cloudy light.

    ~There's something...~ Pasce struggled to remember. The closer she drifted to the light, the farther away everything from before seemed to be. No words seemed right, so she repeated herself.~There's something I must do still.~


    ~The thing which you seek to do is impossible~ her father interjected. He still used his reserved voice, the one just for her. ~It will tear Rekōdo apart.~

    ~It will?~ she asked.

    Would it? She truly did not know. She could just remember-

    ~This task was not meant for you, daughter. I did not wish this upon you.~

    ~She is still so young~ the Queen, her mother, said to her husband. Her hand was on his arm again. She looked sad now and everything within her Soul begged her to make her mother smile again. She needed to see that light again, the one that came when she was happy.

    ~But- ~ she questioned, at war with herself. ~But I promised...~

    She did. She promised something to a man with dark hair and kind eyes. A man who could read the stars.

    ~You are obliged to nothing now. Come and rest with us.~

    Again, the King held his hand out to his daughter.

    ~Your brother will lead. He will restore the peace that was.~

    The Princess's brow furrowed.

    ~My... brother?~ she said. Her voice trailed off. She had a brother? Did she? She did! He was older, wasn't he? What was his name...?

    ~Eri.~

    Eri was her brother. He was the Prince of Rekōdo. The firstborn to Heron and I'yana of Liar'Adon's line. He was her Protector. He swore an oath to protect her. He would feel her dying-

    Pasce looked up suddenly.

    ~Eri... Can't fix this.~



    -+-



    The Spirits of Rekōdo turn suddenly at Olivia's appearance.

    ~What is she doing here!?~ Arxus barked and stepped forward. He hesitates as her form seems to shift when he moved closer to something, someone different. he could not quite make it out, but the haziness of her permanence was there. Capria and her lover separate, but they do not leave the sanctity of each other's arms. Her dark eyes look at Olivia and watch her form with studious light.

    ~Spirits of her past have appeared to her~ said J'adonai of Da'Jinn. ~The Father and the Mother of the heir to Rekōdo.~

    Arxus stepped back and looked around him as the Necromatic energy is illumined all around them. He studies the threads and walked their length. He looks at but does not touch the runes. He is smart enough to know better. His path leads him to stand directly beside Olivia. He cares not for the proximity. His voice is low as he studies her work.

    ~Who are you?~ he asks of her. His blue eyes glance up from his studies to contemplate her.~How have you come to know such power in the Dark Arts?~

    Clow began to pace slowly as J'Adonai explained who has come to Pasce. His mind was, as it often was, thinking, calculating, reviewing every tidbit and tome of knowledge he had ever studied. Unfortunately, very little had anything at all to do with Necromancy unless it was how to combat Maginus Dark Arts...

    A sudden pull made him stop. It nearly toppled him. He stood very still. Waited. And he felt it again, like a fisherman feels the first tugs of his prize taking the bait.

    ~What is that?~

    Arxus had continued asking Olivia of her heritage and origin. He stopped. They all did. Then they all felt it. Something called to them all like a whisper. It was words they could not understand and, at the same time, if they just listened a bit more, came a step closer to its source, they would hear everything being said. Arxus's face puckered. J'Adonai stepped curiously forward. Then they felt it and collectively looked startled: a tug on the most inner parts of their Spirits, a calling to the depths of their Souls. Clow's question hung unanswered in the air and so he repeated himself to make sure he'd spoken it aloud.

    ~What is that?~

    The pull had not gone. It remained constant and, like the strong current of a river, it dragged them forward.

    ~It is as we felt in our last moments with the Princess~ J'Adonai said and turned to face the direction he felt inclined to go.

    ~Has she passed?~

    Clow turned to Olivia. His glowing eyes were a mixture of relief and concern. Arxus, still by Olivia lifted his nose at Clow.

    ~If she has delved deep enough into this woman's madness then it must be.~ Arxus turned to glare at Olivia with eyes only a shade less icy than Darmon, but a thousand times more intolerant of her presence.

    ~Well, go on then. We've got business to attend to.~

    They were still away from the others, alone in their grief. It was compounding upon itself. Capria was weeping silently now. Her lover, the Forgotten Man kept lifting her face in the cup of his palm. He spoke gentle words to her, but she shook her head at them and looked down until her forehead touched his chest. The feel of her touch made the Forgotten Spirit close his eyes. Strong arms wrapped around her slender frame and pulled her close. He declined his head to rest it nearby hers so that he could continue to whisper to her. Just as Olivia's form shivered, she would see echoes of these two Spirits. The woman had antlers growing from her forehead entwined with Tiarnan Ivy with small, white blossoms, like a woodland nymph of age-old lore. He, horns much like a ram that curled back toward his head, a bit of earth and brimstone smoke to his clothes and skin. They were like earth and fire, order and chaos, the things from which death and life flow. The lovers seemed to drift farther from the group, as if they had already succumbed to their inevitable fate of lifelong separation once more.

  9. #159
    The Island of Capios: In the Heart of the City, by the Seven White Pillars



    Dyani of the Border Forests


    Dyani grit her teeth as she struggled between listening to her Sister's conversation and not succumbing to the dark things that constantly seemed to replace the ones she felled. She knew their situation was grim. She knew how Merriam felt without a plan, without knowing where they would end up if she teleported out of there. Merriam felt a fierce devotion to Fateema. They had been on Capios from the beginning. Evalynn had too. They were, all of them, like family. Tears of anger stung at Dyani's blazing blue eyes. Merriam and Fateema did not deserve this. None of them did.

    "We have to get to the Caverns" Dyani said sharply to Kali. The bitterness of her words was not directed at her, but came up as a wellspring from her heart. They could not get to Merriam and Fateema in time to help. Even if she could ride her Spirit Animal to the palace or sent it they would be without here and all the Sisters who guarded the pillars would be lost. Dyani felt like she were sacrificing her right arm to save her left.

    With a zip, Kai and Blas swept up the hillside to the palace with speed none of them had from the ground. Dyani spun around and looked skyward toward where the hills of green and the city streets melted into the white stone and emerald domes with a backdrop of gray bedrock behind it. Hope and fear of what they might find marred Dyani's face.


    "Go" she urged with a whisper lost among the sounds of battle."Go!"

    Dyani felt her heart cease within her chest. She turned only at the sound of oncoming Nightmares and ripped them apart with her rage and her fighting knives. When Kali spoke to their Sisters again, Dyani felt dread sink into her bones. Her muscles felt heavy, like the white stone amid the darkness all around them. She expelled the presence of another series of Nightmares and turned sharply to look at Kali.

    A wave of something washed over the land, something that made Dyani's breath catch in her throat. She breathed rapidly, as if tasting fresh air for the first time in years. Her hawk-like blue eyes scanned the city and land around them, the plentiful trees that enriched the cityscape with lush green. From above, her Animal Spirit swooped down in a low arc and let out an echoing cry as it soared over her head. A smile of relief and exuberant hope washed over Dyani's features.

    "Shamaa!" she shouted and then arched her back with a feral sound akin to her Spirit Hawk. The Nightmares around them hesitated and jittered amongst themselves. An uncertainty filled them as a low, hum filled the air. Dyani ran forward to Kali and in her wake, footprints of white light were left on the stone beneath her. The Nightmares hissed and then collectively let out a ear-piercing shriek as the land beneath them took on a soft, white glow.

    "The Dreamspeakers have come! Shamaa comes to our aide!"

    Dyani, hope restored, laid a hand on Kali's shoulder.

    "Your flight is faster than mine. Circle the farthest three pillars. My Animal Spirit will fly with you. Gather any who remain there. I will gather the remaining four pillars to me. We will meet together at the forest's edge by Laelis's beacons."

    Dyani's grip firmed on Kali's shoulder.

    "So long as there is light, there is hope."

    The Nightmares knew this and even as Dyani spoke the words Nalia had said to them so often, many of the Nightmares turned and flew from Capios. They headed southwest on a direct intercept with the Dragon Scale Island.



    -+-



    The Island of Capios, Below the White Palace: The Caverns




    Evalynn Agravaine of Maginus, Shalla of Tuah and Laelis of Lymes


    Evalynn looked desperately back to where several sister with white cloaks huddled around Laelis. For her Sister from Astral, there was nothing she could do. Everyone on the hillside had become organized into lines waiting for Shalla to guide them into the water. Evalynn's blue eyes found her Shamaa Sister and watched her work stiffly in the cold cave water. She reached out with surprising accuracy in her bandaged blindness to lead the women of Capios to the awaiting O'aris. How many were there? They seemed to disappear beneath the water and spring back up in an endless supply. The one thing Evalynn did not know was where they were being ferried. Was it to another island? To the placed Nalia had called Nu'Alu far below the water's surface? Nalia had made it very clear that no one was to know the location. If any of them had been captured or infected, the safety of their evacuation would be compromised.

    Evalynn suddenly felt a pang in the pit of her stomach. She so wished Nalia was here, but, even then, Nalia had her own personal problems. Evalynn felt her hope drop several notches. Nalia is gone. Now Fateema and Merriam and Laelis...

    ~Ev?~

    Shalla's voice was gentle but probing in the mental space they shared. Evalynn glance down the hill to the shoreline of the cavern's massive lake. Shalla had her back to her as she helped an injured woman tentatively take the hand of the O'aris merwoman who offered her a reassuring smile before plunging them both down below the icy water's surface. Shalla inclined her head back to her friend just slightly.

    ~Merriam and Fateema- ~

    ~They will make it.~

    Evalynn let how unsure she felt permeate the silence. She could not see it, with her back to her, but she knew Shalla was smiling at her.

    ~Merriam promised. You know she never breaks a promise.~

    Evalynn's smile was slightly unconvinced, though Merriam strictly adhered to the value of her word. Kali's voice penetrated her hopelessness and filled her with a renewed purpose. Evalynn turned and began to run through the descending people up the winding paths and carved stone stairs toward the Cavern's entrance.

    ~Shalla... We have incoming.~

    ~The good kind or the bad kind?~

    Kali spoke again and it was a few moments before she was able to answer her Sister in the water.

    ~Kali and Dyani are en route with the Sisters at the pillars. I am heading to the Cavern entrance to meet them. Prepare for their arrival.~

    It was then, as Evalynn ran that that their world was opened to a storm of universal energies and then their island was overcome with Dream Energy. The cave water where Shalla stood vibrated in a way that made her lift her arms up as if sea serpents had just swam into the cavern. The clicks and cries of the O'aris rang out even above the surface of the water. The high ceiling of the caverns far above trembled and the people beneath froze in fear. Evalynn stumbled but kept her footing and continued running.

    ~Shalla~ she called. She felt her Sister's shock and fear in a wave through their shared mind space. ~What's going on?~

    ~Shamaa~ Shalla breathed in relief and longing.~The Dream Speakers have come!~

    She paused.

    ~Ev~ she said in a voice that had changed.~There is something else...~

    Shalla trailed off. In the lake water, she was frozen with her blindfolded gaze turned skyward. Her mouth opened in horror and in awe.

    ~Kali? Dyani?~ Evalynn's voice called out to the two remaining Sisters of Nalia's Council.

    ~What is it? What's going on?~

    Somewhere on a cross-shaped island deep in the mists, Alain LeCavalier had activated an ancient Totem and released an army of energy into Emporium.



    -+-



    The Island of Capios: By the Forest's Edge




    The Dire Wolves of the Ailes


    The Dire Wolves had all come to the forest. Their work on the Ailes was done. The pack gathered in a large mass of black fur and crimson eyes. They lifted their paws an sniffed the white, dream-energy paw prints they left behind. They made curious sounds, but then, as one they lifted their heads and turned to the northwest. Their ears lifted and flattened on their heads in a chorus of concern. At the sight of the giant bolt of light that managed to illumine the thick mists and snow clouds of the Ailes, the Wolves began to whine and yelp. They backed up a few paces. Then they lifted their heads and began to howl. The eerie sound of their long cries echoed throughout Capios, through the forests and up the hills, even down to the Caverns below.



    -+-



    The Guild of Enchantry: The Island of Capios, The White Palace



    Fateema of Ordh'u, Merriam of Clow


    They had been found. The darkness moved with agonizing slowness so that she would know her fate was sealed. There was no escape from this place. The Nightmares were organized now that their quarry had been found. They crept and slithered into the room from every corner and blocked any possible hope of escape. They were trapped there. They would die there.

    Merriam of Clow, a Sister of Enchantry, rolled the clear, Dragon Glass orb in her palm.

    The eight, glowing eyes had multiplied into too many sets to count so she stared down the original set. She forced her breathing to become calmed, just as Nalia had taught her. Find her center, her anchor. Merriam thought of the bell tower at the heart of Clow's old center. She remembered the sight of it, the sound of the bells as they rang out over the city. The orb in her hands was cold. Merriam closed her eyes and listened to the sounds of the bells.

    ~Liar'Adon's heaven, Deanna's starry skies please help us~ she whispered and then threw the orb into the air.

    It spiraled upward into the air between the fallen Sisters and the Nightmares. It slowed as it reached its apex and when it reached the full height of Merriam's upward toss, the clear orb burst into light. The Nightmares shrieked and shielded themselves vainly with their claws and hooks and talons. The vision of pure starlight called down into the seer's orb from the clouded sky above blasted the darkness with heavenly light. The air became putrid with the smell of burning, Nightmare char. Injured and angry, the Nightmares dove blindly through the light for Merriam and Fateema, but as soon as the light had come forth at her Summons, Merriam of Clow grabbed the cut of polished, emerald stone that hung on a golden chain about her throat. She grasped it tightly in her hand and pulled Fateema to her. She held on to her dear friend tightly as a burst of emerald, teleportal power swallowed them both.

    Before the scarred Nightmares had a chance to reach them, they were gone. Their cries of defeat were deafening and then cut suddenly short as the starlight destroyed their presence and essence into nothing but ash. It's job complete and its Summoner gone, the dragon Glass orb went dark and fell from where it hovered like a miniature sun in the air.

    When it hit the marbled ground it shattered and scattered its remains across the ash on the floor.



    -+-



    The Ailes Bones... To the Southwest: Dragon Scale Island



    They could not go far, not with the little power she had left. The polished emerald on the golden chain was endowed with a single, emergency charge of teleportal energy and Merriam used it blindly. She had not the magikal fortitude to steer the direction of pinpoint the destination of where they were to go, but it was with urgency that she and her infected Sister needed to get away. So the pulse of emerald took them from their plight and delivered them with the same, radiant starburst of its power onto the rocky, wood-strewn shores of the Dragon Scale Island tot he southwest of Capios. It dropped them unceremoniously a few feet above the shoreline into the cold water below. They hit the water together, with the Sister of Clow clutching the Sister of Da'Jinn tightly to her. They were a curtain of emerald in the water that was pushed and then left at the hem of the earth where the land met the sea. The sea seemed to urge the two Sisters forward form the clutches of its cold water with every break of its waves upon them and the shore. But the bundle of Sisters in tangled, wet emerald cloaks do not move. One with dark skin and Nightmare-blighted eyes had a head scarf that had come undone in the waves and hung on by her collar. It loosed her long, dark curtains of wet, sandy hair and plastered them to her body. The other, older and more plump breathed deeply in exhaustion. She closed her eyes tightly against the spray of the sea and grit of wet sand. She was afraid of what she might see if they opened.
    Last edited by SilntAngl5; 02-03-2018 at 01:45 PM.

  10. #160
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Commander Colina Weir



    The Ailes Bones... To the Southwest: Dragon Scale Island


    Colina takes a position further inland. She leans herself against a snow dusted boulder. Colina props her storm rifle upon the stone in order to better steady her aim as she guards over her Shamaa allies.

    Some part of her had been tempted to trek into the world of dreams. The idea of stepping into another world and fighting under different rules of reality held the allure of pure adventure to the woman. However, she is a novice at dream travel, and would end up being a liability to the masters of dream magic. And so Colina resists the call of adventure, and has now set herself up to better fight in the waking world.

    Colina carefully surveys the air and water between Capios and this island. Her finger hovering near her guns trigger, waiting for a chance to shoot down any horror that might emerge from the sieged city and approach the Shamaa.

    Unfortunately, the horrors that stalk bad dreams rarely appear where they're expected.

    An icy chill runs up from Colina's toes to her scalp as she hears thick, labored breathing behind her. She twists around, the barrel of her gun scrapes against stone as she turns her weapon towards the sound behind her.

    She sees something that seizes her body with irrational fear. Something that just doesn't make sense to her. Something that shouldn't be.

    It's a face. It's the face of a man, but it's almost as big as a carriage. It's twisted in anguish and misery, like it can feel the pain of reality rejecting it's existence. Even more grotesque is that the face occupies an upper third of a house sized spider's body. It's as if the face were a tumorous growth claiming much of the giant creature's body. It's a collection of Nightmare beasts, merged together into a single terrifying form. By combining their might the monsters hope to resist and even overcome the dream magic they sensed on this island. They will match the azure magic of the dream speakers with inhuman brute force.

    The massive spider beast storms its way towards Colina. The face growing out of its body begins to scream in madness. Colina leaps off of the boulder just as this hideous beast slams the dagger-like tips of its two front legs into the stone. The attack cracks the boulder in half. The face-infected spider crawls over the halved boulder and continues advancing at the Taroc soldier.

    Colina shouts. It's a savage roar. Something born of instinct. A survival mechanism. To replace the freezing terror with fiery aggression. She raises her rifle and squeezes the trigger. The air between her and the oncoming monster explodes with intense fire.

    The burst of fire strikes the Nightmare spider and staggers it. Much of the beast is set ablaze. The face infecting the beast begins to shriek in terrible agony. A leg swings out and slams into Colina's side, sending the woman soaring through the air. Eventually, she slams into the sands of the beach.

    Colina is motionless for a moment before the adrenaline surging through her body motivates her limbs to move. Her hand immediately takes hold of her fallen rifle, even before full consciousness returns to her. Colina slowly struggles to force herself to rise back up.

    Even as the woman gradually begins to rise, the waters beyond the beach begins to bubble and ripple as dozens of warped Nightmare monstrosities emerge from the waves. They're the bodies of the men and woman that have died in the waters around the islands, but with Nightmare beasts infesting their rotted, bloated carcasses like a gruesome suit of armor. That is exactly what these Nightmare beasts seek to use the animated corpses as, a means of protecting them from the dream magic the Shamaa have brought with them.

    The dozens of dead-covered Nightmares shamble onto the beach and charge towards the Shamaa warriors. From their rotting hands sprouts blades and tendrils of Nightmare matter. Their mouths open wide revealing rows of needle-like teeth. Their only desire is to tear the Shamaa apart, and eradicate their magic from these islands.

    The flames on the spider begin to die down, revealing the burned portions of this creature are oozing and dripping like melted wax. Ebony vapors rise from the injured beast. The Nightmare turns its attention away from the dazed Taroc woman, and glares at the dream painted Shamaa. It moves towards the Shamaa warriors, but its pace is slowed as some of the spider's many legs have been melted away into stumps. It's charge towards the Shamaa is a clumsy stagger. However, as it moves more legs begin sprouting from the back of the beast. More legs to compensate for hindered mobility, and to provide the Nightmare with more blade-tipped limbs to strike at its enemies.

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