[Plot] [Open] Week ---: Pura Imperium (Black Portal Finale)

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swaswj

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#1
Pura Imperium
Unto the Black Portal, Final Phase - Eternal Eclipse


At the highest prominence of Krevati Evimerias stood what had once been a celestial observatory. It was in the shape of a pentagon, no more than one hundred meters across. Pillars lined the outer edges, some still bearing the frame of a roof that had long since crumbled away; seven Januin corpses spread out around the edges. A circle of square granite tiles had been formed in the center of the former observatory, a disc of solid obsidian inside it. Surrounding the circle was a large pentagon, matching the edges of the terrace itself. The lines of the pentagon had been made in marble. The points became wide circles, also surrounding in marble but filled with basalt, and with another disc of obsidian in the very center. At all points but one laid familiar corpses in robes of black in crimson.

Directly above the center of the array, the eternal eclipse darkened the sky. It did not just block light, it stole it away, draining it from the world. The Black Portal dominated the sky. The world below was cast in darkness, as was the sky above. In every direction, a ring of light remained at the distant horizons, a fiery halo.

At the very center of the array stood a man. He was clad in robes of deep crimson, lined in gold. This man had no hair atop his wrinkled skull, but his beard fell all the way to his knees. He bore a spiked crown of black iron, set with a single red ruby the size of a fist. The Januin King, Vasilias Mavros, Archmagi Pura Imperium.

On the final remaining point of the pentagram, a man in black and crimson robes. His skin, like all Januins, was cracked and weathered, and his deeply sunken eyes glowed with red light in the shadows of his hood. One hand to each side, one holding an orb of bright blue light, the other an orb of sickly green light. Dikaiosyne, Archmagi Aequitas. Beside him, outside of the pentagram, stood a humanoid. No skin covered its flesh, leaving muscles, sinew, and organs all exposed, pulsing and beating. Long, oily black hair fell down to its thighs. A many-eyed raven nested atop its head, concealing its face from view: Arch-Daemon Aequitas.

Behind the pentagram, an enormous creature of flames and shadow, with dark grey skin pulsing with red light. Darkness seemed to follow the daemon. Its form was that of a man, impossibly tall and covered in muscle. Great, draconic wings spread out, covered in scales and hide. The feathers of an enlil adorned its waist and shoulders, while the fins of a velen protruded from its arms and legs. Three eyes adorned its head, each gleaming with red light, and a fiery glow escaped its toothy maw. Great horns curved to either side of the beast, and a flame floated above it, growing brighter and hotter as the three eyes narrowed. Its snake-like tail whipped around behind it. The Daemon Lord, Ṃ̵͈͖̻͚̩̜̪̙̯͇̱̰͔̬̗̭͍̲̕͞A̶̵̸̵̱̪̰̟̱L̨̼̟̺͎̱̠̬͈̥̟̦̦̫̣̀P̸͢͏̙͈̞̠̲̱̭H̭̭͙̤̝̘̣͙̜̩͉͈͈̤̀͠A̶̢̫̮͈̮̝͚̩̬̙̺̩͡͝Ś́͟͏̛̮̪̻̖̘̪̜.



[500/500]

Climbing the tower from the Temperantia chapter will lead the heroes to the top of Krevati Evimerias, where this sight greets them.

Come on if you're coming. Don't hold back, but also don't disappear. This is a big fight, but silence is not a valid defense. If you join in, then go silent for a week, your character(s) may experience grievous bodily harm. The thread may not wait for a week before continuing, however.

Do note this thread will end by New Year's -- hopefully sooner.
 

Mystydjinn

UNSTOPPABLE BIONIC PENIS
#2
Aelflead murmured under her breath, "Textbooks don't do that thing justice."

The gruff spurii was among the first to finish the climb and for her trouble was struck with shock at the sight of the pair of horrors waiting to meet her. The grotesque churning of dangling organs in front of her combined with the palpable aura of malice and wrongness in the air was enough to give even her pause.

The warrior’s grip tightened on her blade. What could we have possibly done to earn these kinds of horrors as retaliation? The redhead’s favorite mask threatened to shatter with this thought, the weight of the disgust fighting its way to the surface. Deepening her already impressive scowl was all she could do to keep her feet from dragging her back down the tower.

They’re all mad, she reasoned, still inwardly agape at her sight. These things are myths I studied... Who would call these things? Why? Questions raced through the mind behind the warrior scholar’s face. She found herself questioning the motives of her enemy for the second time through this campaign, trying to understand the reasoning behind what she could see only as insanity.

Demons are horrific, soul-harvesting monsters hailing from another plane of existence with no clear motives, notorious for turning on their master’. Suspicion alone had kept Aelflead away from learning to summon a beast herself, they carried too much risk. One false move and a summoner could quickly find themselves a disembodied glowing snack. Taking that kind of risk just for oneself required a tremendous amount of either foolhardiness or desperation. Anyone capable of putting an entire people, much less your own people at the mercy of creatures like these, much less their king, for the sake of any goal, unnerved the spurii.

Not because the redhead particularly cared for the fell terrans, but because strength won wars. Be it a strength of ideals, character, or military, history proved this fact. Without looking around the spurii knew the motley crew of Terminus was lacking in military power, even to get as far as they had. If the Janu were calling the boogeymen from bedtime stories and things that go bump in the night to help them and trusting them not to turn on them the redhead feared that their strengths of ideals and character were left wanting compared to the archmage and Janu king in front of them.

Vaguely Aelflead hoped that one of the beasts would turn on their summoners instead of fighting them but she chastised herself and her mind replayed a line that was too familiar with for her own tastes and cracked her knuckles. You know better, she thought. Lustus non est de Paradiso, so tuas propiram daemonum appellationem.


[488/488]
The Latin at the end means, (I hope): Heaven comes only for the righteous. Also, wc/fixes.
 
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Valero

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#3
Deni panted as he and a few others finally reached the top of the stairs. As he emerged next to Aelflead, he gripped his bandaged torso.

“Fuck me,” he groaned between breaths. “How am I supposed to fight after that?”

Even though his most grievous wound remained dressed, it was only a precaution. The Castus healers had fixed most of the damage he had sustained from the ship battle.

When Deni noticed the ritual ahead of him, however, he decided that he wanted to go back and stay on the ship. More archmagi, more daemons... he barely survived the first time. His hands trembled at the recent, disturbing memory of Misericorde. Bloodshot eyes begged for sleep. Even without his previous wounds, he was in no condition to fight. But he had to.

“So, business as usual I guess?” he shrugged, finding at least a shred of solace in the familiarity of Aelflead.

[152/152]
 
#4
Once they neared the top of the mountain, Ignis sought out familiar faces. From her perch on a floating nest of vines, sticks and leaves. She'd stuck close to Aeria during their ascent, preferring ranged attacks to getting up close and personal. Her cloak was ripped in several places and smeared with dust and ashes. Nevertheless, the enlil wrapped it around herself tightly and used the remains of the hood as a makeshift scarf to hide the lower half of her face.

Her guns we reloaded and she'd made use of ammo liberated from corpses to refill her stash. Cora sat to one side of her, ready to take flight at a moment's notice.

The darkness made Ignis shiver almost imperceptibly, but she did not turn back. She couldn't let this abomination continue. Gun grasped tightly in one hand, Ignis reached in her robes with the other for some terra regia and mumbled a prayer to Aquila for protection under her breath.

She was afraid, but not deterred.

Laurel, newly healed, stood nearby, a grim expression on her face. She was tensed, like a spring, ready to act.

Dianette held her trusty rifle like a lifeline. She glanced over at Ignis. Could she trust this woman to watch her back? Frowning, the velen looked away. She had no choice for now.

Laurel was doing better at pretending they weren't temporarily aligned with a terrorist. The scarred woman had taken the news calmly and said she'd withhold judgement until Ignis could be observed. That was their task, wasn't it? To observe this woman and her intentions. It wasn't their place to decide whether she was guilty or how guilty she might be. That was to be left up to higher authorities.

“I think we should light this place up,” Ignis said, breaking into Dianette's anxious thoughts. “If we give that demon a chance, it's going to kill as many of us as possible.”

Amicus clung to Ignis tightly. He didn't like this at all, but his partner wouldn't hear of fleeing. The woodland spirit shuddered at the vile aura emanated by the demon lord. Such a creature was the type of thing mons infans tended to avoid.

“We can't afford to attract too much attention to ourselves early on,” Laurel cautioned. “We need to hit it from different angles.”

“Right.” Ignis nodded.

Cora flew away from the party, seeking a good angle of attack.

“I think something big is coming...”

A large barrier pushed forth from the ground at an angle, shielding the group and all those nearby.

“When we get noticed, we will have to act fast, understand?” Laurel looked around.

Several people nodded.

“Dianette, I need you to put your magic skills to use. That gun of yours isn't as important as stopping enemy attacks.”

“Yes, ma'am.”

“Once they're distracted, Bird, you get us close as fast as you can. We're going to hit and run, you understand me?”

“Got it.”

[492]

Ignis
Vigor: 21,845/22,295
Skills:
Art of Ingenarius-Skilled
Calling of Fundibuli-Skilled
Calling of Pythonis-Skilled
Way of Pistolii-Adept
School of Aquila-Adept
School of Occultus-Adept
Discipline of Pugilis -Adept

Laurel
Vigor 20k
Skills:
Bellator-Skilled
Militis-Skilled
Canonis-Adept
Pistolii-Novice

Dianette
Vigor 6k
Skills:
Serpens-Adept
Scolepto-Adept
Militis-Novice

1 Armor (Dahilitium) --worn by Ignis
1 Salve (Dahilitium)
1 Salve (Bigatium)
9 Explosives (Dahilitium)
7 Explosives (Auritium)
9 Bigatium (Pulveris)

 
#5
Alongside Ignis, Dianette, Cora, Amicus and Laurel there was a figure clad in her tattered travelling cloak. Her short hair stood up in fuzzy spikes, stirring very slightly in the wind that blew like a breath from Hell around the great black mass above them. A long, black-hafted spear with an ornately decorated blade rested in Aeri’a grip. She’d picked it up from where it had fallen on the battlefield, replacing her destroyed halberd until she could have one made. The pain in her body had slowly begun to subside, but there had been little time to make sure she was 100 percent ready again.

For now, she didn’t say anything, content to let others make their observations. She had hoped that it was all over, but it seemed that the great evil threatening the world hadn’t let them get away with anything yet. The Janu above them was utterly terrifying and she couldn’t pretend that she didn’t feel a gut-clenching sense of fear right now. However, they had a war to fight and war didn’t stop to ask how you were feeling, it just ground your soul to dust and spat out what was left.

Next to her, she felt a presence and turned to look. Her eyes opened wide as she took in the solid, broad form of the enlil named Diamantus. She was clad in thick leather armour and wore a helmet. In her right hand, she held a thick bladed cutlass and a steel buckler was strapped to her other arm. In her belt, two pistols were holstered and ready. The velen gave her a sharp-toothed smile. “I heard there was some bad shit going down and came to see for myself. I figgered you lot might need a bit o’ help so here I am.”

Something about Diamantus gave her confidence and she flashed a smile back at the velen. “Glad you’re here. I think we could use more like you!”

The rebel leader nodded. “I’ll give that nasty bastard a taste of my steel the first chance I get.”

All of them stood there on that shattered plain and waited, hearts thudding, for the first surge of the attack.

[365]
 

swaswj

Administrator
Staff member
#6
Any hopes that the long battle would end without bloodshed rapidly drained away. Winged monsters soared overhead and even as they stood there facing the Januin King and his most trusted lieutenants, more daemonkind dropped through the dimensional gap overhead. The inside of the portal itself was blacker than black, offering no hint of what was on the other side other than the terrors that passed through into Mortalis.

The fifth archmagi began speaking, the first of the Janu to speak in the common tongue, heavily accented. His voice was gravelly, imperious, and reached to all of the allied forces, even those who had not yet reached the city's peak.

"Perichora, torn apart by hordes of vistra, driven there by the laicar in Excelsus. The people begged for mercy, hoping for a suffering's end more than life, but found none." Over one of the glyphs, the body of Eleos floated upright, still showing the wounds of Ioannes' rifle.

"Rebellitro, set upon by the enlil hunters of Pistris Coda. The people lost their courage, turning their backs to their attackers to flee, and stood no chance." The charred body of Tharros lifted up, marked up by the multitude of strikes and shots from Aelflead, Aeria, Ignis, and the allied forces.

"Anatoli Iliou, destroyed without provocation by the demvir of Cursus. The people held to prudence, in hope of peace, and paid the price for it." Over another glyph, the body of Phronesis lifted up, limbs twisting in unusual directions, crushed beneath the towering bookshelves toppled by the demvir Laebuta.

"Vexento, wiped out by the toxins brought by the velen of Listonella. The people failed to exercise temperance, so desperate to cure their ills, and as many died from medication as toxin." The fourth body, that of Sophrosyne, floated up, pierced through by Argos' trident.

"You stand now in Krevati Evimerias, the final stronghold of all surviving Januin people in the northern reaches of Secare. You come here bearing the sins of your kind, and so you will meet the justice that you deserve." Dikaiosyne, standing over the fifth glyph, finished speaking.

The Januin King, Vasilias Mavros, spoke out a short command in the infernal tongue. "Kill them all."

The great draconic wings of Malphas flapped, lifting the daemon general into the air. With a snap of his snake-lake tail, Malphas soared over the allied forces, laughing and throwing spears of fire. Aequitas began walking forward, flanked by numerous other daemons. The many eyes of the crow over its face seemed to be staring into everyone, judging them. Dikaiosyne unleashed a storm of ice.

King Mavros, meanwhile, stood with arms folded, content to watch the battle unfold, all while smiling.

[450/950]

Sorry for the delay.
 
#7
The women saw the dark shapes above and for a moment, they just watched. Dianette cursed, Laurel frowned, Ignis trembled.

“Let's move!” Laurel commanded.

Their platform rose swiftly, curling protectively around the women. The vines shifted to allow them to see outside and shoot at any winged demons that came too close.

Dianette glanced at Ignis while she took aim with her rifle. The enlil's gaze was focused on her drone, which flew in an erratic dance between and around demons, throwing bullets like flower petals. The shots more often than not pierced wings or heads. Occasionally a shoulder or leg. The avian was trying to kill or disable as many of these aerial demons as possible. Satisfied that the woman wasn't going to turn on them, the velen turned and began defending their shield with well-placed shots. She planned to conserve her energy for when they got closer to the enemy. Her magic skills would be of utmost importance then.

Laurel watched the other two women weave pain and destruction around them and nodded to herself, satisfied that their flight was relatively undisturbed.

“Let's go lower. We can provide aerial support and hopefully avoid drawing too much attention to ourselves. I want to use Star Shriek Blast on that big demon in the middle. We can use its blinding effects to take cover and disappear into the crowd. Dianette, you'll need to pay attention. I need you to bind one of those guys standing back. They're probably orchestrating this. That's why they aren't fighting with the masses.”

Ignis nodded and Dianette grunted in affirmation. Their leafy capsule swooped down and threaded through the beginning battle. First, they needed to ensure they weren't attracting too much attention. Blending in was vital.

[290/782]
 

Valero

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#8
Deni stared down the gathering demonic masses. He had never wanted to flee more in his life. Beads of sweat glistened on his forehead as the remaining Terminus forces poured out onto the pentagonal rooftop.

Someone brushed against his shoulder. Her green feathers averted his gaze. Effie. The one he had encouraged to keep firing the cannons aboard the Hydrus. Without him, she might not have been able to summon enough fortitude to carry on fighting. Without that cannon, the serpent would have likely decimated the ship. As much as it pained him to admit it, he needed to be there.

“Looks like this is it,” the velen shouted at the top of his lungs. Effie and a fair portion of those that heard him glanced in his direction. “Armour in front, gunners and spellcasters behind. Aquila users, make some cover!”

They must have been in dire straits if the rogue was the one barking orders, but enough leaders had fallen in the campaign. Deni’s eyes turned to the skies, where the infernal daemon overlord was sowing havoc. He hadn’t managed to get a good glance at his name before the chaos erupted, but it didn’t matter. The gunner pulled his rifle down off his shoulder as melee combatants charged past him, straight through the icy storm and into the fray. Effie remained by his side, though.

“I’m taking out that Manfloss or whatever his name is,” he said to the blue-armoured spurii. “Give the troops some cover fire.”

She nodded. Deni didn’t know why he was surprised that she followed his order without objection. Perhaps he was better at leading than he thought. Or perhaps she was just grateful for his aid on the ship. It didn’t matter; she immediately drew a rifle of her own and aimed down the sights, unleashing a few shots at winged beasts that soared towards the melee fighters.

The velen dropped to one knee and aimed carefully down the sight of his auritium sniper rifle. Malphas was a terror. His flight pattern was unpredictable and had he not been such a large target, he would have been a nuisance to hit.

Deni inhaled slowly. The daemonic general seemed to slow every time he cast his flames.

One more time... come on... there!

A loud clank signalled the unleashing of a metal bolt towards Malphas.

[391/543]

Auritium rifle + Skilled sniper = 6 tier shot at Malphas.
 

Mystydjinn

UNSTOPPABLE BIONIC PENIS
#9
"Something like that," Aelflead murmured. But she was too transfixed on the Januin king's words to be granted peace by a familiar comrade.

Perichora, Rebellitro, Anatoli Iliou, Vexento, and now Krevati Evimerias. Fear left the woman's body while a new stranger flooded her system: Uncertainty. The woman's mindscape mirrored the chaos on the battlefield as the drive for survival, warrior's discipline, and what few values she had left clashed in her mind.

Her mask fell away for a moment and she hesitated. Last bastion... I-is this genocide? The cloth around her hands fluttered while muscle memory tensed and pulled her body into position for battle, but her mind was still elsewhere.

Murder was not something the redhead was unaccustomed to but that never entailed the destruction of a race. If Kervati Evimerias was "it" for the Janu, what happened when they destroyed it? Fade to black? Curtains for a whole species?

Aelflead's stance faltered and she took a step back. This was a problem when the prospect of having to do it again was on the table, but if this is it... What did that mean? The scholar couldn't decide whether to be horrified or relieved. A victory here meant "never again," but it also meant "never again." Her hands would be guilty of helping to wipe a whole species and their culture off the map forever, not just putting down an uprising.

While the warrior scholar debated the morality of the war going on around her, the war was still going on around her. A demon covered in spikes and dripping blood lunged for the spurii, brandishing a club-like arm with no hand and aiming to crush her beneath it.

Her training as a child would save her here as her body reacted to the threat without the woman's present mind. Foot placement allowed Aelflead's body to sidestep the beast and leave her standing behind it.

A shove to follow through with her motion forced the beast to the ground, and a flash of Auritium combined with her momentum made for a hackneyed amputation.

Inside her head problems remained unresolved though. Images of Deni, the short-haired spurii, the Enlil, and Ego's entourage flew across her mind with a new question. Am I the only one thinking about this?

She backed away from her demonic interrupter's flailing, now brandishing the beast's arm herself.

It rushed her in a rage, seeking to rake black claws from its remaining arm across her body and met the flesh of its amputated arm instead.

Before it could make a second attempt, flames erupted beneath where it had been standing, leaving a newly charred spiky corpse to disintegrate in front of her.

Aelflead's eyes met briefly with her savior before combat called the mage back into the fray. Aelflead's body turned back to combat likewise, and her mind continued soul searching, letting herself autopilot for a while longer. Just because the woman's world was being called into question didn't mean she had to die too, a war didn't stop just because one soldier was having a crisis on the battlefield.

[525/1,013]
 
#10
If Aeria had stopped to think about what was going on, she might not have kept fighting. The Janu had a point, a terrible and searing point in what he’d said. This was the wholesale slaughter of a group of beings. It was exactly what some would have done to spurii if they had the choice given to them. She was thinking about exterminating a whole race of beings. Right now, she had to tell herself that this was a horrible mind game being played by the Janu. How did she know if what their leader had said was accurate or not? There was no way of knowing. It could have simply been a bluff designed to make the weaker members of the army facing the daemons back down.

She’d missed the chance to get onto the mons infans platform so she took up a position next to Deni, her black hafted, black bladed spear at the ready. She glanced across at the velen and nodded. “Well met, Deni! I was wondering when I’d see you in all of this.”

On the other side of her fellow velen, Diamantus gave him a toothy grin. “So yer the Denisis Perfide I keep hearin’ so much about huh? I guess we’re gonna see what you got today!”

She hefted her pistol, aimed and blew the head off of one of the daemons swooping down on them. “There’s one fer me!”

[603]
 

swaswj

Administrator
Staff member
#11
A shimmering white fog rushed out from the archmagi, Dikaiosyne, and where it touched, jagged crystals of ice sprang up from the ground. Each spike was sharp and hard as steel, just long enough to pierce or slice into unwary feet, easily tearing through softer leather. The daemons that rushed forward were the first to bellow in pain, but in moments the icy storm had engulfed the people of Terminus. Chills rushed through their bodies, and many were thrown off balance by the rising ice.

Fighting atop the spiky field, men and daemons alike yelled when thrown to the deadly floor. In mere moments, blood already flowed freely.

Through it, the arch-daemon Aequitas strode forward. One brave soul rushed forward and sliced down across the skinless daemon's chest. Blood splashed into the air, but not daemon blood: the attacker fell back, a great gash on his own chest. Aequitas turned toward the man, the many red eyes of the raven peering at him, but then he walked on, moving forward with purpose. Every blade or bullet that struck the daemon seemed to be met with a yell of pain from the attackers. Aequitas ignored them, setting his sights on the shield of vines.

The great daemon above laughed at it all as he threw his spears of fire. Each bolt of flame was deadly, nearly as fast as a bolt of lightning. Ten, fifteen, a score of the defenders fell, desperately rolling as their bodies went up in flames, but with only the knives of ice there to meet them. Malphas starting to conjure up yet another flaming missile when pain blossomed in his chest. Immediately, the third eye in the center of the daemon's forehead turned to Deni, with the rest of the daemon following.

With a crack of thunder and the stinging scent of brimstone, Malphas vanished and then reappeared directly in front of Deni, baring his fangs in a wide grin. Dark blood rolled down the daemon's chest, but he in the face of puny men and women that barely topped its knees, it showed no concern. "Well, well, look who we have here! Thrower of the mighty spears which laid waste to the Dread Serpent E̵̵̤̥g̷̲͢͜ͅt̮̝͓̯͚̝̯͓h̖̬͈̲͔̠͉̭o̢͏̧̳̺m̛͉̼̹͖̜̱̼͈̞͡e͓͖̳͓͔̠͎̕t̢͉̯h̛͈̹̗͔̖̀̕! He who cast off the warm embrace of our Lady of Mercy, only to repay her with violence!" The daemon sneered at the accomplishments. "Your arrogance must know no bounds," Malphas growled out, and the third eye began to shine brighter, nearly blinding Deni, "O Deniisis Perfide, of the Cloak and Guile, Assassin's Aide, He Who Crumbled the Unfailing Tower. If surviving one arch-daemon will not appease you..! "

Malphas roared and a ring of flames erupted from the daemon, washing over Deni, Aeria, Diamantes, and those around them. The daemon held out his hand and the flames halted, rushing back in many ribbons to gather in front of Malphas' palm, forming a sword of flame as long as the daemon was tall.

[500/1450]

Aelflead's body hacked and coughed in the smokey air and closed her eyes to shield them from the sudden flash of light from the Demon King's magic. When they opened again, it was because of the newly blossomed pain coming from her abdomen re-engaging her mind with reality.

A spear of ice had left an already bloody gash in her side, like friendly poke gone awry. The redhead pulled away from the offending blade and snapped it in two with a kick for good measure. Her pride satiated, she turned her eyes to the battlefield. She would have to ponder the sanctity of life and politics in a more practical fashion.

After all, she couldn't very well fight for her life half-heartedly, nor could she damn anyone there fighting for theirs. Genocide or not, she was far from prepared to die for the sake of someone else's revenge. No, "Unavoidable casualty" would not be her epitaph if she could help it.

The most efficient way to make that happen was making sure combat was as short as possible, and that meant cutting off the proverbial dragon's head. Mavros had to be reasoned with, or die. She shot a brief glance towards Deni while he engaged the demon king and a pang of struck her, but she quickly Denied it. She had seen the man fight. No reason to be worried, he'll be fine.

... I mean, he'd better be. I'm still broke if he dies on me.. This in mind, she turned her back on the scene and dove for the epicenter of the chaos.

[265/1,278]

Deni shielded his face with his arms as the flames danced around him. He gritted his teeth at the pain from the overwhelming heat. For a moment, it felt as though the hydrofoil on his forearms was about to melt. Then the flames receded into the great daemon's towering blade.

Screams from every fallen ally stung the velen's ears. Blood trickled through the sheet of jagged ice ahead, forming into patterns like some form of sickening macabre art. Yet he never tore his gaze his gaze from Malphas.

Deni knew that keeping the daemon general distracted aided the battle. It was better than him setting fire to their troops in the dozens. Malphas spoke of the rogue's arrogance, but he himself was arrogant enough to confront him personally.

Deni swallowed his fear with the lump in his throat.

"That's an awful lot of titles for a low-life like me," he said, sweat pouring down every side of his face. He slung the rifle onto his back and drew his auritium pistol. "If not for the scorn in your voice, I'd say you admire my accomplishments."

The velen leapt back a few times, out of reach of the flaming sword. With the speed and power that Malphas had already demonstrated, Deni wasn't going to last against him alone. He glanced briefly at a few soldiers that stood beside him. Effie had disappeared, but that was the least of his problems.

"I beat one Arch-daemon and I bet I can beat another."

Malphas was a big target and the gunslinger barely needed to aim to get a decent shot. He pulled the trigger twice on the serpent's kiss and unleashed two rounds at the first wound that he caused against the flaming horror.

[291/834]

Skilled pistolii + Auritium pistol = 6 tiers

Double-tap = 4 tiers

Remaining vigor: 24,491

The heat was intense and violent. Diamantus threw herself flat on the ground as it washed over her, making the scales on her back feel terribly hot. Aeria turned herself aside and tried to weather the blast. She was happy to have only short fuzz on her head because longer hair might catch from the sparks. The heat was painful, but she came off alright.

Across from her, the muscled velen pushed up rapidly to a standing position, drawing her other pistol and aiming both guns at the gigantic daemon. She grinned grimly and discharged them into its face before holstering them and sliding her cutlass from its sheath again. "These bastards sure do play fer keeps eh?"

It was at this point that Aeria wished she had more magical ability than she did. All she could do was sketch the sigil for fog into the air and step forward, exhaling the covering mist towards the daemon. It seemed a minor gesture indeed, but it might buy Deni more time to press his attack on Malphas. She wasn't about to charge the big bastard with only a spear for protection.

[793]

The leafy orb swerved, but not quickly enough to avoid the fiery spears. One flaming rod pierced their fragile stronghold, causing it to dissolve in flames. A new one began forming, vines snatching Dianette, Laurel, and Ignis and ensnaring them with in a new shield. Once the leaves and vines shifted to allow its occupants to sit up, the three women let out varying grunts and sighs of relief.

"I think we need a new plan," Ignis muttered. She turned her head to the side and rubbed the bridge of her newly healed nose.

Laurel pushed herself up. "I suppose we have our first target." A portal appeared beside her. "I need to see."

The vines shifted to allow the women to see outside.

"Deni!" Ignis scrambled to the edge to see the arch demon before her companion. Lighting struck at the hulking form of Malphas. Ignis covered her eyes with her arm at the bright light.

"Move!" Laurel shouted.

Their capsule swerved erratically to get distance between them, forcing Ignis onto her side with the abrupt motion.

"We can't stop moving or we risk death," the laicar shouted. "Dianette, immobilize him as soon as we're close!"

Ignis frowned as fog shrouded them. "I think we're gonna have trouble doing that."

Laurel frowned. "Keep moving. Provide aerial support."

[218/1000]

"I am no mere arch-daemon!" Malphas stood and laughed, as shot after shot rang out. Bullets, arrows, and spells blasted into the great daemon's hide, most meeting a red light and turning to ash. Deni's bullets found the mark, breaching the unseen barrier, piercing the armor-like skin, but Malphas barely flinched. Streams of dark blood escaped the daemon's wounds, scorches appeared on his skin where the bolt of lightning struck him. They might as well have been scrapes and bruises.

The men and women of Terminus had toppled the many walls in front of them -- the sea serpent, the archmagi, their arch-daemons. They had reached the summit of Krevati Evimerias and come within a hair's breadth of fulfilling their goal. Malphas stood before them not as a wall, but a mountain.

Malphas pulled his arm back and swung the massive greatsword blindly into the shrouding mist, a vicious cleave. With that one stroke, he would decimate the forces arrayed against him.

Those huddled in the shield of vines couldn't afford to provide further support, however. They found themselves surrounded in a flurry of feathers, sharp caws. Talons and beaks ripped at their sanctuary, an entire murder of crows descending upon them with multitudes of glowing red eyes peering through the gaps in their protection.

Dikaiosyne, also, refused to let up. The ground of icy daggers was followed up by a storm from above, jagged hailstones raining down with punishing force upon the invaders.

"Don't give in!" a man bellowed out, and the daemon's blade halted. The third eye flared and a sinister grin spread over Malphas' lips.

"Ahh, well met, Argos of the Red Sun!" Malphas roared, his words dripping with scorn. There, in front of the daemon, stood Argos, a powerfully built velen with a heavy iron shield held in both hands, trident stabbed into the ground behind him. The man's bulging muscles trembled, the shield nearly crumpled in half. "He who stained the shores of Depon Cove! Right hand of Exarch, the Fallen, and Slayer of the Archmagi of Temperance! One who sought to hide all the blood on his hands behind a shield!"

Argos grit his teeth, straining to hold the daemon's sword at bay, to protect the others gathered there. "You will die here, dae--!"

"Well met," Malphas interrupted with cold finality, pulling the sword away suddenly. The daemon's snake-like tail snapped forward, fangs flashing. In a single sharp motion, the tail pulled back. "And farewell." The velen's body crumpled to the ground, headless.

Then the daemon's three eyes turned back to Deni, locking on even through the fog. "Worry not, I haven't forgotten you." The heat and rumble of many roaring fires swelled up. Malphas reached out, dipping a hand back to his home realm of Infernalis, and from it plucked a single ember, a flashing emerald spark clutched between two claws.

Malphas gave a lazy flick, sending the ember arcing through the air.

[500/1950]

A weak "oh" was all that managed to escape Deni's lips as the head of the stronger, more courageous pelagian was torn from his body. A few that witnessed the horrific scene elicited astonished gasps. Many of them knew Argos as a leader from previous battles, but Deni only knew him as another that had slain an Archdemon. And yet Malphas had killed him in a single blow.

"Argos!" one person called out.

"How?" another questioned.

Then a spellcaster noticed the emerald flame hurtling towards them.

"Get away from that flame!"

Deni heeded the call of one who apparently recognised the nature of Malphas' chosen offense. He and any other soldiers near him scrambled, opening up a circle in the crowd as the ember descended. A loud bang and the flames violently erupted. The velen flung himself away from the explosion. The heat followed, almost singing his spine, but was suddenly cut off. Deni gasped for air as the screams of those less fortunate pierced his ears. He turned his head to see the edge of the emerald flames brushing against an iron wall. When he turned back, a violet-scaled woman stood next to him. An amalgamation of chainmail and white robes adorned her body. She would have seemed regal had she not been visibly trembling.

Deni looked around at the soldiers lucky enough to survive the conflagration. A combination of the overwhelming power on display and Argos' death demoralised the forces in the area. The aquatic rogue grit his teeth together and let loose a guttural snarl in his native tongue.

"Spread out!" he shouted. "Melee combatants, defend the spellcasters! We need more walls like this one!"

The velen woman nodded immediately and began preparing another spell.

"You heard Argos' final order. Don't give in!"

Deni cocked the hammer on his auritium pistol and forsook the cover of the iron bastion. He aimed straight for the sadistic daemon general. One deep breath to focus, calm himself. Then he pulled the trigger, sending a bullet straight for the Malphas' third eye.

[341/1,175]

"What now?" Dianette peered through the branches.

"We deal with the guy still following us," Laurel decided. "Normal attacks don't seem to work on him. Try a binding spell."

An instant later, they were surrounded by cawing, claws, and vicious red eyes.

The velen nodded and snapped her fingers before tracing a triangle in the air, eyes trained on the murder of crows. Dianette grasped at some bigatium dust in her pocket and threw it in the air before jabbing a finger in Aquitas' direction. The air above the crows shimmered before a heavy weight slammed down on them.

Dianette braced herself as their shield swerved once more. The lieutenant grasped the branches as force of their motion nearly threw her into the opposite wall. She heard Laurel shouting, but couldn't make out the words as her body was bounced back and forth. Gunfire sounded nearby.

Dianette grabbed her rifle and began to shoot at the crows, hoping to get rid of any surviving feathery monsters.

More vines and leaves grew coating the inside of their shield as they veered and swerved. Suddenly, they made a sharp motion, throwing Dianette to the other side of their basket like shield. When she managed to peel her outermost eyelids open, Ignis was jumping from their airborne shield. The woman's ragged cloak billowed as she glided down.

"What the fuck is she doing?"

A flicker of motion caught Dianette's eye in time for her to see a spherical drone shooting at Malphas and dancing in erratic patterns through the air.

"Dianette! Focus!"

Dianette shook her head and scrambled for her rifle to keep up fire.

Ignis' chest fluttered rapidly as she ran towards Deni. Cora's shots rang in her ears, but she paid it little mind as long as it attacked the monster threatening her lover, she didn't care. Swiftly, she dodged ice spikes, teeth gritting as she slid on the frost. She flexed her toes, digging her talons into the ground for more traction. Ignis darted through the smoke, ignoring the heat of the charred ground until she was at Deni's side. The enlil fell to one knee, palms pressing flat to the ground to support her as she panted.

"Deni," the engineer called out. She looked up, brown eyes locking on him. "Are you alright?"

[384/1384]

Atlas aimed at Aquitas' (2 tier +10m range from Bigatium augment)
Basic attack from Cora 5 tiers (dahilitium 2 + skilled 3)

Also remade the shield


Standing in front of Deni and Ignis, Diamantus drew her pistols and took aim. She concentrated all her energies for one attack that would send three bullets winging simultaneously at all of Malphas' eyes, following Deni's instructions to provide covering fire. Her first pistol spoke and flame erupted as she fired three shots, one for each eye of the daemon. She figured that using this technique meant that at least one shot would reach its mark and hopefully slow the creature down. It seemed impossible that a few small bullets could do anything, but they needed a chance to actually press an attack.

Aeria was standing, watching the whole situation unfold, wondering exactly how she'd be able to do something other than stand around and wait to die. She saw no way of getting close enough to actually stab any of the daemons with the spear and her magic wasn't really suited for offensive attacks.

Meanwhile Diamantus was using her second pistol and blasting away at whatever came in range. It wasn't subtle but it did provide cover. The velen was itching to use her cutlass on something, but there was nothing to attack that really made any sense. [992]

Diamantus' stats:

Vigor: 10,000

Latens: 5,000

School of Barbaris: Skilled

School of Pistolii: Skilled

School of Serpens: Adept

School of Manseutis: Adept

[Heavy sabre - Mundane]

Diamantus used Pistolii ability Quick Draw for 3000 Vigor. Total vigor is now 7,000.

With the confrontation with the demon king so rapidly escalating, shifting the center of chaos, Aelflead's decision to dive into it suddenly reeked of irony. That said, no amount of screaming would change the woman's mind.

Aelflead's boots pounded the muddy turf with the force of a drum, and her breathing matched the rhythm. Around her, the rage of war was thick with bodies and red mist while visae charged the air enough to make her hair stand on end.

By the time she'd cut through enough of it to get within shouting range of her target, Aelflead herself had been "cut up." Wounds adorned her body Nocte Nils ornaments. Most of them were just superficial after the effects of occasional prayers to castus, but if the red color staining her hand wraps was any indication Aelflead had been taking quite the beating.

But with the goal, so close the warrior would not be deterred. Now that she was here she solidified her decision. The only way she disengaged from the Janu would be if she killed him, or changed his mind. It didn't matter terribly to the redhead which path had to be taken, but she'd be damned if she failed after coming as far as she had. Straining to cast her voice above the din of shouting and clashing metal against flesh, Aelflead taunted Mavros with a chastisement trying to appeal to his hubris.

"What kind of King sends foreign monsters to fight his battles for him?" The sound of auritium slicing through the air followed her taunt. "At least fight like a man if you're going to imitate one."

[271 /1,549]

Auritium B.F. Sword + lvl 2 Barbaris = 5 tiers strike no abilities

Just realized I never dropped stats in here:

Vigor: 9248/9248

Level II Notable -

I Aquatic Affinity-Velen

II Voice of Serenity-Velen

Skills:

Adept -1500- Pugilis (The Brawler)

Adept -1500- Militis (The Soldier)

Adept -1500- Ingeniarius (The Engineer)

Adept -1500- Barbaris (The Barbarian)

Equipped:

Mundane dagger (Hand)

Aruit B.F. Sword: Heavy

Bigatium bastard sword: Medium

Occultus' Shade [C]

Auritium head adornment/armor

For every crow struck down by the Atlas spell, two more remained, cawing violently as they ripped into the vines as quickly as they grew. Soon, the red-eyed monsters were inside the floating shield, clawing and snapping at Dianette and Laurel as they tried to fend the beasts off. They could do nothing more but try to throw the birds off them.

Then the crows began drawing together in a flurry of feathers and red eyes. From the chaos, Aequitas stepped forward, inside their dome of protection. The red-skinned humanoid stood taller than both of the women, slender and genderless. A crow with six glowing red eyes covered its face, or perhaps was its face. It stepped forward and put its hand to the velen. "Dianette!" Laurel shouted just before there was a concussion to the air. Dianette was blown downward, tearing through the remains of the leafy shield.

The archmagi Dikaiosyne concentrated his efforts on the bulk of the forces, locked in combat with the swarms of daemons. He had summoned ice from below and above, and this time he let loose a cone of white winds, frigid enough to offset the swell of heat from the daemons' general. The glittering ice crystals swelled outward, howling as those caught in it, men and daemons alike, froze for an instant.

The heat rolling off of Malphas could not be fully washed away, however. Those nearest the daemon general backed away fearfully as the towering monster laughed. Most of their shots continued to fail, unable to overwhelm the magical barrier over the daemon's skin. Most.

As Ignis swooped in toward Deni, the third eye of Malphas focused in on her, in an instant flooding his mind with knowledge about the troubled avian's past, her failures and accomplishments, and her attachments. Laughing with sadistic glee, Malphas prepared to call out her name to all around.

Before his mouth opened, Deni's shot rang out, and it fired true. Malphas let out a bellow as the velen's shot found its mark, breaking past his defenses, piercing straight through to his third eye. Dark blood sprayed like a fountain, and before the pain had even sunk in, Diamantus followed up with three shots of her own. The first one slipped through, blinding Malphas in his right eye, but then the daemon's wings curled in front of himself.

With a roar of rage, the daemon swept his giant sword out, launching a crescent of raw fire at the forces arrayed in front of him. "Deniisis!" Malphas spat the name like a curse, his one remaining eye consumed with fire and wrath. No further taunts or boasts, no grand displays of arrogance: Malphas held the massive sword up in front of himself. Flames rolled from the daemon in pulses, licking at the boots of his adversaries. As those flames grew hotter, the sword changed color, first brightening to gold, bright as the sun, then to green, otherworldly, terrifying.

Malphas took the sword of emerald fire and pointed it straight downward. After seeing what a single ember of such fire was capable of, the defenders had some idea of what was about to happen.

But what could they do?

"What kind of King sends foreign monsters to fight his battles for him? At least fight like a man if you're going to imitate one."

Aelflead haphazardly threw herself at the Januin King, her sword cleaving the air no less fiercely than her words. The sunken eyes of Vasilias Mavros met those of the wild-eyed redhead, and the only emotion they held was disdain. He made no move to evade or defend himself, instead spitting out the incomprehensible, sinister syllables of an infernal name: "Ṃ̵͈͖̻͚̩̜̪̙̯͇̱̰͔̬̗̭͍̲̕͞A̶̵̸̵̱̪̰̟̱L̨̼̟̺͎̱̠̬͈̥̟̦̦̫̣̀ P̸͢͏̙͈̞̠̲̱̭H̭̭͙̤̝̘̣͙̜̩͉͈͈̤̀͠A̶̢̫̮͈̮̝͚̩̬̙̺̩͡͝Ś́͟͏̛ ̮̪̻̖̘̪̜."

The auritium blade cleaved into Mavros at the shoulder, a deep diagonal slice that cut midway down to the king's ribs. However, there was no blood, no flinch of pain: a line of violet fire marked where the blade sliced into Mavros. He uttered not a sound.

Instead, it was Malphas that roared. Violent flames traced the daemon's shoulder down to his chest and then blackish blood spewed forth, bearing the grievous wound that had been meant for the Januin king. His sword of emerald flame fell, scattering into a flash of embers.

Black winds erupted from Mavros, whipping at Aelflead's hair and clothing before yanking her from her feet and sending her tumbling through the air. A whirlwind surrounded Mavros and slowly, the leader of the revenants lifted into the air. His voice reached out, and though he continued to speak in the infernal tongue, all present could understand. "I am no man, half-blood. As you said yourself, I am a King! What King should dirty his hands upon the masses, as long as his faithful subjects exist to obey? I am King of all Krevati Evimerias, King of the Black Portal! Janu and daemon alike kneel before me!"

"What is the meaning of this, Januin?!" Malphas snarled, turning upon Mavros.

A decrepit smile spread on Mavros' lips. "We had an accord, daemon."

"An accord which I have upheld!"

"Ahh, yes, as a loyal lapdog should! So eagerly, and willingly, you submitted yourself into my service, O general of Infernalis!" The king's voice darkened further. "As a loyal minion, you should be grateful to be able to protect your master. You owe your very existence upon this plane to me, and so you shall obey me, or suffer the consequences. So fulfill your duties and wipe this pathetic resistance from my city!"

Realization dawning on the daemon general, he snarled, raising one claw to smite the king down. "I will serve no mortal!" Instantly, black iron straps appeared, wrapping around the daemon's torso, binding his arms to his sides.

While the daemon fought against the bindings, Malphas retorted coldly, "Yes, you will. Reduce them to ashes, O Mighty Daemon. Starting with her." His sunken eyes narrowed and one bony finger pointed toward Aelflead, struggling back to her feet.

Malphas roared, straining against the binding straps, but though his muscles bulged and blood seeped from the wound underneath, the bindings didn't budge an inch. Gouts of flame erupted from the daemon's mouth, but no matter how he tried, they wouldn't touch Mavros. Unable to sate his bloodlust that way, instead, growling in pain and rage, Malphas turned his one remaining eye on Aelflead. It was her sword that wounded him so.

An emerald spark began to glow.

[1050/3000]

Alone with only a bush for backup, Laurel knew she was in deep trouble. First, Ignis abandoned them, then Dianette was forced away from her. The blast left her reeling. The laicar blinked, eyes searching for the enemy before she realized that vines were holding her aloft and steadfast. Her entire body felt like a bruise, especially where the vines held her limbs like marionette strings. She glanced down to see the strange animated bush holding onto the vines and managing to look worried.

The world seemed to swim by in slow motion as magic swirled in front of her in a vague semblance of a portal. She paused when the shouting match between the demon and the king thundered across the battlefield. The king. He was behind it all. He was the lynchpin of this mess. He had to go. If he didn't die soon, they were all goners. However, if she didn't deal with the enemy in front of herself, she and Dianette would be vulnerable. Gritting her teeth, she whispered to the bush.

"Hey, Leaf, I need you to get Dianette to safety. Heal her. I'm as good as dead. Tell your master the king must go."

The bush nodded at her, beady little eyes peering at her with intelligence she hadn't expected.

Laurel spoke to buy some time, if that were possible.

"Looks like there's trouble in paradise. Nasty work there, tricking a demon and forcing him to do his will. Is that the kind of King you fight for? Someone who views you as disposable?"

Amicus was already flashing images into Ignis' mind at a rapid pace with the occasional word. Although Amicus himself didn't speak, he understood Laurel well enough to push his memory of the sounds she made in order though their bond. It was urgent. He tried not to think too hard about how anxious being so far from Ignis made her. Why had she left him with these people instead of letting him come along? What inspired her to protect them at all?

They needed help.

Ignis must have heard him.

Like a blessing, that damned Cora swerved in firing bullets towards Aequitas with fervor and fury. Was his companion getting angry? Nevertheless, they needed to move now.

The sound of something crackling and popping drew his attention back to Laurel. Lightning in the shape of a cross floated in front of the commander. She pulled an orb out of the portal and threw it with all her strength at Aequitas' chest with a battle cry.

Just after they began to fall rapidly. Laurel cried out as her body writhed, burns starting to appear on her body, concentrated over her chest. Only a few feet before smacking into the ground they swerved sideways, Laurel swinging back and forth. The vines extended to grasp Dianette as they swooped past. Panicked, Amicus kept them moving. Hopefully they could evade the Janu long enough to regroup.

"Dianette?" Laurel reached out to her friend.

A weak groan answered her. The velen's head lolled to the side. Other than being mildly concussed, she appeared intact. That didn't mean much, though. Unseen injuries could be just as deadly.

Laurel hoped she had managed to take at least one of their enemies out of the equation. She narrowed her eyes and searched for Aequitas' form.

Below them Ignis watched Malphas fight the king and lose. Moments later, Amicus' panic reached her.

Then, Ignis squawked, surprised. Blood began to flow from wounds to her arms and back. What was that? It happened right when she sent Cora to back up Amicus. She turned to her partner, and spoke desperately.

"Deni. You have to take out the king. He's the…" she squinted briefly at the images her companion was forcing to the front of her view, "pin…? The key! He's the key to part of this. They're connected like Amicus and me." She groaned at her injuries, head swimming.

Just after she spoke a thump sounded behind her.

Laurel hit the ground, cradling Dianette in her arms.

"We need a healer!"

A couple people garbed in armor and torn white robes rushed to their side, hands glowing.

Vines withdrew from the two women and Amicus scrambled for his contractor. Ignis scooped him up and hugged him to her chest. Both of them looked relieved to be together again. Amicus reached into Ignis' and ripped out a few feathers to show his displeasure with her.

Ignis yelped but hugged her familiar nonetheless.

Amicus gripped the bloody feathers tightly, hardly soothed by his companion's warm pride in his abilities.

"I knew you could help them out, Amicus. You know I trust you," she murmured to the leafy creature in her arms.

Amicus let his hands began to glow, in an attempt to soothe some of Ignis' injuries.

[805/2189]

High Mend (1500 vigor)for Ignis because I shot myself in the foot lol

Lightning Orb (500 vigor) 2 tier magic attack at Aequitas



Ignis 18,845
Laurel 18k

Dianette 5,550


Deni turned his head as soon as he heard the familiar voice.

"Iggy!" he breathed.

A gasp escaped him as he witnessed the enlil fall in front of him. Without even a shred of hesitation he wrapped one long arm around her waist and turned his back to Malphas, scrunching his eyes as the adjacent flames heated their skin.

Instead of delivering them an infernal death, however, Malphas released a bellow of pain. Deni turned and watched as the sword burst into shards of fire.

It was impossible to hide the smile of relief that dawned on his face as he heaved his companion off the ground. There were dozens of things he wanted to ask Ignis. Was she alright? Had she sustained many injuries?

Before he could say a word, however, she told him about the King and Malphas.

"Connected?" he repeated after her. The velen slid the serpent's kiss back into its holster and withdrew his sniper rifle. When he peered through the sight, he saw the huge diagonal wound through the daemon general's torso. As he scanned where Malphas was looking, he noticed Aelflead mere meters away. Further was the Janu and his unnatural, luminescent scar, identical in shape to Malphas' wound.

Ignis' words were one thing, but she hadn't witnessed that muscular velen get his head ripped off in an instant. Aelflead was alone over there and needed his help.

Deni dropped to one knee, butt of the auritium rifle resting on his shoulder. With one eye closed he focused on the base of the fiery monster's snake-like tail. It was easier to get a shot since Malphas had turned away from him and had remained grounded.

One breath in, then out.

With a sharp clunk, the bolt released, soaring towards a vital part of the beast's tail.

[302/1,477]

Deni used Incapacitation on the beast's snappy tail to disable it.

Remaining vigor: 23,491

The sound of rushing wind filled Aelflead's ears until she hit the ground like a bag of bricks on a muddy hill. Except for the bricks in the bag were bruised spurii limbs getting tangled in a black cloak instead of bricks, and the hill wasn't muddy because it had been raining outside.

While she slid through the mud she made a promise to herself. If I survive this, I'm taking a long shower and shoving my boot up the ass of the first person to complain about cold water.

When she stopped moving Aelflead took quick stock of her body for working parts. Then, pleased to find nothing more than bruised ribs and a dull pounding in her head, pulled herself to her feet. Pain sucked, but as long as everything worked there was nothing to complain about, especially if a set of bruises and a mild concussion was all she had to pay for a flight simulator decades before they were invented.

Besides, there were more important things to deal with, arming herself for one, was high on the list of battlefield priorities. It went without saying that standing around a battlefield unarmed was unwise.

She'd lost her auritium sword at some point during her short flight and so looked for it first, casting a quick glance over her surroundings. But, when the brilliantly colored sword didn't show up in her immediate line of sight she counted it a loss and reached for the bastard sword on her hip. Bigatium was definitely a downgrade to be sure compared to its more notable cousin, but it was better than the steel knife in her cloak.

Arms squared away she turned around to get her bearings and immediately a pit of dread formed in the woman's stomach.

Vis, damn it all. Aelflead cursed her luck, she'd wound up in the exact same spot she'd been trying to avoid when she went after Mavros, center stage of the demon king's personal shitshow.

At least she assumed it was an shitshow because the expression on the demon king's face certainly made him look like it had been smelling shit. The massive gash going through the giant's torso certainly couldn't be helping matters either.

Aelflead took a step back before she noticed the chains holding the monster in place and shot a glance at Mavros' perch atop his pillar of wind before turning her attention back to Malphas. Did he do this while I was in the air? How long was I aloft? How far did I fly?

The warrior shook her head. Questions for later, she decided. The demon in front of her was loudly demanding her attention.

Aelflead moved to take a defensive stance and guard her body with her sword. Her feet shifted to brace for impact, her chest and the right side of her body tensed, but her dominant arm, her sword hand, her left arm would not move.

[499/2,048]

Aelflead's finally feeling the effects of a plot thing, so despite her attempt captain red edgelord can't use her left arm to make actions. If its important to your turn,

to know, assume her left arm has awkwardly positioned itself to sit stiffly behind Aelflead's back.

Block - grimy contractual agreement with a weirdo in a mask = 0 magnitude

Diamantus saw where Deni was aiming and after seeing his shot head to its target, she sighted down her pistol and fired behind his shot. If one shot to the tail was damaging, a second one could only double the destruction. Now she could only hope that her aim was true.

The extreme destruction unfolding in front of her jarred something loose in Aeria's mind. She realized that if she didn't act now, she'd lose even more friends. It occurred to her that all of the magic she'd learned as a student of Occultus was just sitting dormant in her head, so maybe it would be a good idea to break it out and actually do something with it. There was one spell in particular that she considered, a spell that might just help turn the tide against their enemies. If Deni was unseen, he could act more readily. She wasn't sure of the sorts of powers the Januin had, but now wasn't the time to be risk averse.

First of all, she had to get Aelflead out of harm's way. The lean spurii ran to the side of the fallen swordswoman and hastily sketched out the glyph for Break of Dusk. When all ten strokes were done, she tapped the warrior woman's arm as she got to her feet. Her voice was urgent. "Here! I'm going to grab you by the arm and guide you through the darkness."

She left the aggressive woman standing behind a large stone monolith. As fast as she could, she headed in Deni's direction. The thick veil of darkness obscured everything and bought her enough time to help Aelflead out of harm's way. She left the tough woman standing behind a large stone monolith and turned to her next task.

Aeria sprinted up to Deni's side. She spoke in quick, low tones to the velen. "I'm going to make you invisible now, Deni. Remember that as soon as you start to shoot, you'll become visible again, so pick your time carefully!"

She made the nine glyphic strokes for the spell and watched as her comrade faded away into total invisibility. It had been a large expenditure of magical energy and she hoped that it was worth it.

[1363]

Aeria Base Stats

Vigor: 10,845

Latens: 584

School of Ingenarius -Skilled

School of Fundibuli - Adept

School of Contigeri - Skilled

School of Occultus - Skilled

Esteem: Prominent

[Spear - Mundane]

Spells Used: Fog, Break of Dusk, Glass Veil

Vigor Used: 3,150

Remaining Vigor: 7,695
 

swaswj

Administrator
Staff member
#12
Within the darkness, Malphas unleashed the explosion of flames, and though they went unseen, the searing heat was inescapable. Flames crashed over the backs of Aeria and Aelflead, rapidly burning through their clothes to lick into skin. The others, just out of range, still had to endure the painful flash of hot air, reddening their skin beneath their clothes.

The daemon general, even in his enraged state, commanded flames drawn from the deepest pits of Infernalis.

Off to the side, the red arch-daemon walked calmly from the sparks and smoke. If he was bothered by the lightning or the hail of bullets, it did not show.

"O grand protector, set eyes upon those who fight in your name, and send unto them a soothing current of your mercy!" The broken, tinny voice came from the demvir Laebuta. His blue robes were tattered and dirty, and the machina's right arm had been viciously ripped from his chassis. His left hand cast out a handful of auritium sand and even through the darkness, both Aeria and Aelflead felt a faint lessening of the pain in their burns.

The bearded demvir staggered forward. The machina was clearly on his last legs. His mouth flashed blue in time with his words. "The arch-daemons… they are summoned as part of pleas and prayers, not from malice!" he called out to the others. "Yet, a daemon's nature is malice, and they corrupt the prayers! Instead of mercy, a painless death. Instead of courage, ferocity! The red one bears the name Aequitas, 'Justice' in the old tongue, but a daemon cannot fathom justice."

Laebuta came to a stop, in between Aequitas and the others. Behind his wire glasses frames, the demvir's eyes were mostly shut.

"This creature knows only punishment. An eye for an eye."

"What does such knowledge gain you, O scholar?" Malphas growled. With a sudden clap, the daemon's great wings flapped, lifting the beast above the magical blackness. With his one good eye, Malphas locked onto the survivors, and rings of fire began to form underneath all of them.

[350/3350]

Sorry this was a little short. It's late enough in the fight that I'm going to start revealing a few things.

Aequitas is the Arch-daemon of 'Justice.' His unique feature is that he punishes any who would seek to harm him, equal to their transgression.

King Mavros did trick Malphas, and since the Black Portal's opening, has technically been the daemon general's Summoner. That means that he can use the abilities all daemon summoners can, including one to force the daemon to receive damage to the summoner. After becoming bound, Malphas cannot use his claws or sword, but can still wield all of his magic.

Currently, all of your characters here (PC and NPC) have unique Infurnus-like pillars about to burst up from underneath you. They're each 3m (~9 feet) in radius, so you have to move your chars at least that far to avoid the attacks.

Aeria and Aelflead: Laebuta's spell will lessen some of the pain, but it will take at least two turns for any of your burns to heal.

I'd like this to end after two more rounds of combat, so plan accordingly. If you want to lay all your cards on the table, it's getting close to that time.
 

Valero

Lobster Mobster
Latens
37⯎
Exa
⏆30,868
Bounty
⏈0
#13
The dark cloud spread through the air quickly, obscuring Deni’s vision. He didn’t bother to look down his sights; he knew he wouldn’t be able to see his target. For a moment he stood on edge, unsure of the spells origin. Had some foul daemon cast it to trap him? Perhaps it had been one of the archmagi?

When the sound of Aeria’s voice reached his ears, he almost felt soothed. His body remained tense, however, and he never lowered his guard for a second.

“Sure,” he acknowledged with an involuntary grin. “This’ll be just like sneaking into ladies’ changing rooms.”

As his face disappeared in front of his spurii friend, he muttered a few words.

“Fortuna spera.”

Then he was gone, storming through the black fog with his rifle in hand. The sudden eruption of flame brushed against him, or at least felt like it had. He brought his hand in front of his eyes to make sure that Aeria’s spell held. To his surprise, it did. The pelagian slowed his pace to a brisk walk. He was so deep in the darkness that he didn’t know whether he was going to just wander off the edge of the platform to his death. Falling to his death in a titanic battle against arch-daemons would not have been a glorious death.

A shadow swept past him and he held his breath. Was it one of them? Surely it couldn’t have seen him. Another moved past him. The clink of armour confirmed that one was an ally. A few times he had to dodge around shapes in the black.

Deni inhaled suddenly as he reached the end of the cloud. He had ended up on the other side of the large platform. The intense heat that burned his skin vanished under the exposure to unnatural frigid winds. As his teeth began to chatter he sighted a dark-robed figure to his side holding two orbs. Dikaiosyne.

The velen lowered himself to one knee and lifted his rifle to aim. His vision locked onto the archmagi’s weathered face. He inhaled deeply. One sharp breath and the trigger was pulled, loosing a bolt toward the side of Dikaiosyne’s shrouded head. [COLOR]

Skilled + Auritium rifle + Ballistic Advantage = 8 tiers
 
#14
The sudden heat made Ignis panic; she was going to burn again. Her pupils swallowed her irises, though it did little to help her see through the darkness. Breath catching in her throat, she whispered a prayer to Aquila and jumped. Her legs folded beneath her before propelling her body out of the way just as fire seared upwards in a great pillar behind her.

Ignis threw her arms out in an attempt to slow her decent and transitioned neatly into a somersault that allowed her to roll across the ground, ending in a crouch. Panting softly, she glanced around warily, trying to pick out figures in the fog and shadows. The smell of burnt feathers and singed flesh made her gag, but the soothing feel of Amicus’ healing helped her settle herself. The raw skin left behind was tender and stung, but the enlil could ignore it in favor of straining to see through the darkness.

Lips pressed together in a thin, grim line, Ignis called out to her drone and familiar. Regrouping was her top priority.

Amicus had responded to the flash of panic his partner sent through him by protecting those nearest to him. His protective nature wouldn't let him flee after Ignis abandoned him. Someone snatched him up just before he materialized vines to protect him and the nearest two people.

Laurel cursed as she tried to dodge the flames, grateful for the shield the bush in her arms conjured. Several people screamed and cried out, but the lieutenant couldn't see them through the thick smoke. She rolled, smothering the flames that ate through their shield and burned her. The pain was sharp, but began to ease as Amicus held up glowing hands.

“Thank you, friend.”

The mons infans rustled and then pointed.

“Alright. I'll take you to your master. We need to regroup. But first, we need to make sure we can protect ourselves.”

The bushy creature cradled in the crook of her elbow, Laurel brought two fingers to her mouth and whistled.

A few whistles came in reply, eliciting a nod from the laicar woman. She began picking her way around scorched ground and corpses to gather reinforcements. It was time to end this before they all got sent to Infernus.

Dianette awoke with a start as a wave of uncomfortably hot air washed over her. She mumbled groggily and opened her eyes.

“Good, you're awake.”

The velen recognized the healer’s torn robes as she was set down on the ground. The smoke in the air made her cough.

“Here.” A rifle was pushed into her arms. “We can't afford to have anyone helpless.”

The healer and the soldier both paused when they heard a whistle pierce the darkness and smog separating them. Both women whistled in response.

“You're not fully healed, but it's enough to move. Come on,” the healer ordered.

Dianette forced herself to her feet and began to follow the healer, staying close.

The healer whistled again.

The volume of the replies helped direct them towards their allies. Unfortunately, they had also attracted the attention of an ugly demon with bat-like wings and a scaly body.

Dianette pulled the trigger before she fully registered the threat.

The demon dropped and the healer tugged her away from the scene of the confrontation. They couldn't afford to get waylaid by cannon fodder.

Meanwhile, Ignis crouched in the darkness, making herself small. Help was coming, but she had to stay safe long enough for it to arrive. Cora sailed through the air, unleashing a hail of bullets aimed for Mavros, despite the lack of sight.

[601/2790]

Ignis used Coiled Leap to dodge the pillar then attacked Mavros using Unshakeable Drone. Still healing from gunshots.
Laurel dodged the pillar and was shielded by Amicus and then healed using Soothing Current
Dianette was kept safe by a healer who also dodged using Coiled Leap and healed with High Mend
Ignis: 15,445 vigor
 

Mystydjinn

UNSTOPPABLE BIONIC PENIS
#15
Nothing was ever as simple as it seemed.

“Stercore!” Aelflead ran after Aeria blindly through her smoke, her arm dangling uselessly at her side and cursing all the while.

The universe seemed to be dead set against her getting anything she decided on done today.

Marvos had flung her like a ragdoll who knows how far, a stranger was leading her through a cloud of smoke as if she were blind, and most concerning of all, her arm wasn’t working.

No, concerning wasn’t the right word for it, unnerving was more accurate.

It wasn’t as if she couldn’t feel her arm, rather it was far from it. She could still feel all of the digits and muscles just as clearly as before, it was as if her arm was just refusing her commands. If she'd had time, more questions than: "Fuck me, why?" would have been plaguing her mind, but Malphas was still an important, flying problem, and he was passing out burns from the best seat in the house.

A hiss of pain escaped the spurii’s lips as the flames made contact, and she turned instinctively towards her aggressor and growled in frustration. “Vis-damned canker sore with wings!” Aelflead caught sight of the more amicable spurii disappearing back into the cloud of darkness out the corner of her eye and began swinging her obedient, and armed, arm uselessly at the flying daemon while she spewed colorful strings of curses at the beast from the top of her lungs.

At the sight of Malphas’ twisted portals of visae building beneath her, Aelflead took a break from her tirade to leap to the side, roll, and run towards the edge of its influence to escape the subsequent pillar of flame exploding into the sky mere seconds later. Efforts aside, she still managed to earn herself a new swath of burns across her back.

If she felt the flames licking her back it was impossible to tell, since as soon as Laebuta finished speaking, Aelflead took off. Rather, she seemed to pause a moment, nodding to affirm the new information, and then exploded back towards combat with a shout and flashing bigatium in her working offhand.

Laebuta’s information prompted a very clear decision in the spurii at his speaker finished its output. If Mavros is summoning Malphas, then I had the right idea in killing him first. She decided, So I just need to finish what I started to finish their flying friend.

“Abscisum caput fucking hydram!” Following the sound of a dull “BOOM” was the only indicator to her comrades hidden in Aeria’s cloud of darkness as to her whereabouts. The demons between her and Mavros received a package deal of scattered stone showers and sudden, spontaneous flight or beheading in addition to the woman’s roaring battle cry.

Allied forces stuck in her path were forced to dodge and scramble to get out of her way, but those who understood her shouting took the chance to focus on the pair of prophets flying above them flinging magic, hampering their movement while the redhead charged.

Nothing was ever simple, but as long as you were angry enough to fix that, apparently it didn’t matter.


[537/2,585]

All inning Mavros this turn
Popped: Earthshaker, Limitless, Blood from a stone, and Deflection on incoming attacks this following round.
Vigor: 7,786/9248

She's saying cut off the hydra's fucking head if google didn't lie to me.
 
#16
The disarray and disorganization that was dominating the battlefield was making everything worse. Lines of communication had been broken and units weren’t functioning as they should. It was driving Diamantus nuts. She had been burned, although not seriously in the flame attack of the daemon and she could see that things were getting ragged. Somehow she managed to make her way through the smoke and death to Aeria, who was looking dazed, and she put a strong hand on the young woman’s shoulder. “Buck up there, kid! We gotta job to do here and people ain’t doing it. You’re a contigeri, there’s a battle square of lancers over there without command, so what do you say we go and get ‘em moving in the right direction?”

It took the spurii a few moments to focus on the blue-grey velen, standing in all her muscled glory nex tto her. She blinked and stared, trying to speak. “I...well, I’m not a commanding officer, am I?”

Diamantus laughed. “It ain’t what badge you’re wearing, kid. It’s how you carry yourself and what you do that counts. These demonic bastards are trying to break us by breaking our discipline. Let’s try to restore a bit eh?”

Something inside of Aeria had shifted as the muscled velen spoke. She nodded grimly. “Alright. If you come with me to give me some support, I’ll go take ‘em in hand like you say!”

The pair set off at a half-run towards the square of contigeri who were unsure of what to do. Aeria could see that their commanding officer’s body had been broken almost in two by one of the enemy. It was a gruesome sight, but she steeled herself and picked up his halberd from where it lay. It was finely inlaid, elegant and deadly. One of the lancers closer to her shouted, “Hey! That was Commander Mathusis’ weapon! Who the hell are you to take it?”

Aeria stiffened her spine. “I am a contigeri. I am one of you and I’m here to get you lot organized. Now let’s go, form up!”

The lancers all looked uncertainly at each other, but Diamantus stepped in. “You swabs heard what the woman said! Fall in! Now!

The parade ground bark that emanated from the velen seemed to have the desired effect. Aeria took up on it and added tones of command to her voice. “All right, all of you, listen up! Those fuckers wanna break us. Are we gonna let them? We are contigeri! We are the fangs of the army! Are we going to let these bastards dominate us? Well are we?”

Uncertainly and then with more strength, the company shouted their approval of what Aeria had said. She stood at the head of the bristling square of lances and pointed in the direction of Ignis and her embattled little group. “We’ve got to get to those people over there. Form up! Wedge Pattern! Now!”

The contigeri made themselves into a triangle of bristling weaponry and Aeria raised her arm. “Company advance! Let’s move!”

The lancers began their march towards Amicus, Ignis, Dianette and the others with Diamantus blasting away beside them, her pistols roaring as she plugged away at the aerial enemies while the contigeri made ready to slice their way through any ground forces in front of them.

[1918]
 

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