[Plot] Convergence of Tides

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swaswj

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Convergence of Tides
Anguis Trigon, Final Phase




The Orca cut through the turquoise waters, quiet save for the hum of its engines. The tension was thick in the confined quarters, the air filled with dread and the promise of coming bloodshed. It was the calm before the storm. Figuratively, and quite literally. When the ship began making its final approach toward the surface, the waters began to grow darker, turbulent.

Caesar disappeared behind a black veil as clouds rolled in, darker and thicker, raindrops starting slow and then falling in sheets. Nervously, the men and women aboard the sub looked at each other. From a sunny day to torrential rain in mere moments: if they expected to have the element of surprise, that hope was washed away.

Captain Driweus finally broke the silence. "The sea needs storms to prove it is powerful," he declared loudly, "but every storm must end with a calm sea. Steer into the wind, ride it out, let the shamans exhaust their strength! We have more. For Pelagia! For Araevis!"

The crew of the imperial ship joined in the shout, lifting fists on high, and some of the surfacers got swept up in the enthusiasm with them.

The Orca breached the surface, and through the pouring rain, they could see the docks up ahead, amid a mire of smaller fishing vessels that had already been scuttled in the earlier attacks.




Aelflead had never seen such stercore before.

Together with the others who had fought to defend the royals the night before -- Aeria, Dante, Deniisis, Ignis, Keydis, and Red -- Aelflead stood in a large room in the palace above the waves. It might have been a small banquet hall, but the long table was bare. A pair of thrones sat behind a smaller table, and First Prince Caput sat in one of those. "First you all but tell us to get fucked and now you've got the balls to ask us for help?"

"I said no such thing. I recall thanking you all for your bravery." Caput had a coldness in his words. He regarded Aelflead sidelong and then his bright blue eyes shifted to Aeria. "I am indeed asking for your help. Asking, not ordering. You all came to serve at the emperor's pleasure, but I am not my father. You are not obliged to honor my request, and it will hold no bearing on the rewards already promised to you. You railed about being kept in the dark, I believe. Leave if you so desire, but after I have shed all the light I have to offer." Caput rested his elbow on the arm of the throne and his chin upon his raised fist. His eyes closed. The dark bags under them suggested that he had slept little, if at all, since their prior meeting.

"I met with Drars Ulupi last night. That is no minor title. A close approximation might be 'prophet,' and they hold similar sway over the naga as our prophets hold in the Arcanum." He outlined what he had learned from the fierce shaman, through her conduit. He shared the story of how the statues had been taken from the former velen kingdoms, and how it interrupted their purifying pilgrimage. He shared how it affected the young ophidians, who had never received the blessing of Serpens at all, the hardest.

Caput opened his eyes. "I have had the displeasure of speaking with Ulupi in the past, when we were first learning of their shamanistic capabilities. Given the chance, she would tear my head from my shoulders, and I would not pass on the opportunity to bury my sword in her breast. Yet I do not doubt her words. It rings true with the actions at the feast last night, rings true with what we've seen on the battlefield." He scowled, staring off into space, grinding his razor teeth together. "The worst of it was learning that the naga did seek a parlay. At least a half dozen envoys from the Chlorae alone who never returned to their tribes. I know not how many came from other tribes."




"You executed envoys under a banner of peace?!"

"I ordered the execution of
snake-tailed spies who tried to slither into the city, probably assassins sent to kill you or your siblings!" Thadal snapped back. His flamboyant clothing was gone and his upper body was wrapped tightly in bandages. Despite copious amounts of healing magic, his wound refused to close cleanly, and continued to darken the bindings. He sat on the edge of the Ocean's Throne, pale but stubbornly sitting up straight, matching his son's stare.

"Envoys! Sent to negotiate the return of relics that you
stole from their homes!"

Thadal laughed derisively. "Velen relics from velen kingdoms! Those are remnants of
our history, the legacy of our people. They never belonged to the naga in the first place."




"You should know that the other two prisoners were not controlled by magic," Caput continued. "They were bought. One through promises delivered by a demon, the other by one of the traitors you killed." He sat up straighter, gripping the armrests so tightly that his knuckles turned white. "Let it be known here and now that I will not demand a price in blood for carved stones, nor pay a price in velen blood. … but I have no sympathy for anyone that would raise a weapon against my family. Fath… we are responsible for this war, but for those who would harm children, they brought their deaths upon themselves. If you had any misgivings about your actions, cast them aside!"

"Easy for you to say," Keydis spat out.

Caput cut her off, "Yes, it is." He stood up then and pulled a sheaf of papers from the floor next to his seat, spreading them across the table. A map of the western Copiae ocean had a red circle on it. "One of my ships, which was escorting volunteers from Hiemis, went down here. I've gotten word that most of the survivors were rescued and continued to Cautes Petram. However, our scryers have determined that the captain of that vessel is somewhere in the northeast, in naga territory. They can tell that he is alive, at least, but cannot see him or contact him through whatever barriers the naga have in place.

"I have already ordered my men to bring the statues from the Ocean's Throne. Ones who will listen to me over my father. They should be arriving soon. Every moment that passes is another moment that my soldiers and my citizens are in danger. That's why I need you.

"Pelagia commands many ships, airships, and submersibles. However, most would take at least five to seven days to get where they need to go. Most, except for three Sky Cutters. They can travel the same distance in one or two days. Ulupi has promised to halt aggressions for three days, and so we should have enough time to return the statue to the Chlorae tribes. She will demand more, but we will deal with that later.

"I am considering Captain Garus a prisoner of war. Prisoners do not last long in naga custody. Getting a statue to the northern Tenebrae tribes may be key to getting him back alive. We cannot afford to waste time. Miss Luxus, Grace tells me you're an engineer. If you know how to work an airship, I would ask you to take one of the Cutters, give the naga their statue, and bring my captain home.

"I have two pilots who trust in me enough to disobey my father's orders. I need a third pilot, I need you, Miss Luxus. The Cutters are small. With the statues on board, they can hold four, maybe five before their speed is compromised. I would ask some of you to go with my pilot heading to Ulupi. Keep him safe, make sure nothing goes wrong.

"After that, I could use some battle-hardened 'heroes' to accompany me west, to Flumen Petram. I've just received word that the city was taken by the naga, and that a counter-attack is imminent. I tried to issue a ceasefire, but our communications are being blocked. The reds are notoriously bloodthirsty, and I fear conflict is inevitable. I won't ask anyone to bleed in my place, however, not anymore, father's demands be damned. With myself and the pilot, that leaves room for three more."​




Hollow thuds echoed through the sub as the Orca rammed past the flotsam and jetsam surrounding the docks, bringing the ship right up to the piers. On both sides of the vessel, crewmembers rapidly turned heavy wheel locks, and with a rush of air, the confines depressurized and hatches lifted up and out.

With a rallying cry, the imperial velen officers were the first to disembark, Driweus leading the way with his men. With less coordination, but just as much bravery, the volunteers -- most of them come all the way from Hiemis, even after being shipwrecked and left waiting for rescue for days -- charged out afterward. What greeted them was a vicious storm, with hurricane-force winds blasting the rain at them sideways while thunder rumbled and roared overhead. In the heavy grey downpour, visibility was almost nothing.

They didn't have to wait long for contact, though. Like a red wave, ophidians rushed the docks, swaying atop their snake-like tails, gripping swords and spears of razor-edged black nacre. There was no pattern to the attacks: these were the berserkers that had led the invasion. Even the juvenile naga were physically imposing, however, nearly as large as the average adult velen, with a thin armor of scales and tightly coiled muscles. They howled and hissed as they rolled in and attacked, lunging in with gnashing teeth and rending claws as much as with their weapons, even using their powerful tails to try to slam their enemies to the ground.

[1666/1666]

Special Thanks to Valerodude for the "Naga Storm" track!

This is going to be a bit of an experiment. The events in this thread are being written asynchronously. Because of the shipwreck, the timeline between the different branches of the story has shifted, putting the Basal Lake segments behind the others by several days. This means that what you're seeing with Caput and the Emperor's Pleasure crew happened in the past.

TBL writers, use left align as normal. TEP writers, use right align. If that doesn't work out, we'll split the threads, but I thought this could be interesting.

That means you can expect reinforcements. However, it has yet to be revealed/determined who will be arriving as reinforcements.

You have to hold out and survive until then. The earliest that reinforcements from TEP will arrive is after a combined 6000 TBL words have been written, not including GM turns. The map below shows the starting locations. Red zones are more dangerous, but danger could also bring you closer to your priority targets. Remember, this is not tournament-style turn-by-turn combat -- write the combat in the way that best suits your character and creates a dynamic flow.

The Gdoc link is editable. Move your icons around to show where you're going. I'll put snapshots of the map as it changes with each of my turns. There are rulers to gauge how far you can move in a 'turn,' but depending on what you write, each of your written turns could cover 1-3 combat turns. And ultimately, these are guidelines, not rules.


 

Deni Perfide

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Deni was paler than ever and eerily quiet as the Prince explained the situation. Dark bags hung from his bloodshot eyes and the usual arrogant smirk that rested on his face was absent. In its place was an oddly neutral expression.

Perhaps his previous experience in Pelagian politics had given him more patience, because he seemed to be one of the only people present that had not felt insulted at the deceptions of the Emperor and attitude of the Prince. That alone was enough to decide his course of action.

"I'll accompany you, my Prince, unless you feel my sharpshooting skills will be more useful elsewhere," the rogue said in a mildly husky tone. He tried to maintain the necessary respect in his voice and only barely managed it.

[129]
 

Ignis of Animi

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Ignis listened to the exchange tiredly, massaging her temples. The tensions from the night before remained, it would seem, even after they had all had a chance to recover and cool their heads. However, the hostilities seemed to have died down a bit at the very least, allowing for effective communication of what they needed to do.

Deni looked like shit, she noticed, but looked away quickly. Amicus, from his position hanging off her shoulder, glared at the haggard velen.

She might have had more to say about Aelflead's temper and possible misinterpretation of events, but she was quite frankly too high to care. Though her eyes were no longer red, the enlil wore a rather spacey and distant expression. She'd gone through several of Deni's special hand-rolled cigarettes last night and the effects were still going strong. Ignis reached up to stroke Amicus' feathers and urged him to stop glaring at Deni. Even if she wasn't looking at him, was refusing to glance his way, none of that meant much when Amicus wouldn't take his beady eyes off of the man.

Her head ached in part from having way too much to smoke and in part from shedding an excessive amount of tears the night prior. The enlil did her best to push these distracting thoughts from her mind.

"I'd like to accompany Aeria if possible. With tensions so high, I think it may be best that she doesn't go into enemy territory without backup. I'm decent with a pistol and my drone gives me more fire power than what a single person might ordinarily have."

It was entirely possible that the prince might prefer she accompany him and Deni so that he could make use of her firepower, but Ignis wasn't going to volunteer to go with them. If she had to choose who she would spend this particular risk to her life with, it was an easy contest of choosing between Deni and Aeria. She was going to choose her best friend. Barring that, she'd support Deni. No matter what had happened between them, Ignis didn't want him to die.

#c22f5d
 

Aeria Luxus

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Aeria leaned against her halberd, using the long haft of it to balance herself. Her sharp-featured face wore an expression that seemed to be a study in neutrality as Caput spoke. Whatever anger she'd exhibited earlier, it didn't make an appearance on her face or in her voice. "I will warn you that my skills are good, but it has been some time since I piloted any kind of craft. However I am certainly willing to fly any of the Cutters, Prince."

Glancing across at Ignis, her voice remained still. "I, too, would like it if Ignis could accompany me. However, I do understand that it isn't really my decision. I'll go where ever and do whatever I can to support you in your fight."

It seemed as if she might add a biting comment to the end of the last statement, but instead returned to leaning on her halberd, violet eyes moving across the faces of everyone gathered there, as if trying to divine motives or make decisions about what might happen as they ventured into the unknown battle they all faced.
 
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Aelflead Kirastes

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Aelflead was... Shaking?

Her face wore the same neutral scowl most had gotten used to seeing on her sharp features; her head held high, her chin tilted up, and her jaw set so disapprovingly that her lips scrunched up looked as if she were a strict mother who'd just read a low score on a report card. It hadn't changed since Caput started his explanation, though other things clearly had.

Her hands, deep bronze and wrapped in the same white cloth bandages she always wore; hands that had killed more than once, and easily just a [time] ago, hands that had been sure and steady in the midst of a demon invasion and myths coming to life, were shaking now. In fact, all of the spurii was shaking now. Her red curls, half wrangled into tight braids and half roaming free, shivered atop her head and on her shoulders. The heat emanating off of her now made it hard to tell if the shaking was her or ripples of warming air around the cambion. She appeared in the form the group had been most familiar with up until that point, so her tail was nowhere to be seen, but there was a dull *plap* sound that could only be it slapping against the stone somewhere near her.

Quietly, Aelflead reached out to the wall with her left hand and set her right akimbo on her hip, feigning thoughtfulness.

Following Aeria, the redhead spoke in warbling tones. " I̵͈̤̱͚͎͚̜ ̖̦͚̰̯̞͝a̺͉͇͈̳m̻͉͍͖̣̭ ̧̭̦͎̦̙̥̲s̻͇̰̥̙̹̪t̩̦̞ų̭̭͙͇d̦͕̮͕͞i͙͉ͅe̠̗ḏ̦̟͚͎̺͡ ̼̲͔͈̙̖̯i̪̥̣͍̠͇n̩̺͔͕̜̮͈͟ ̙͕̰̮͎̺͙l͇̙͜ang̟̪̼u҉a̭̼g͇̞͔̳̗̣e͍̣̲̰͓̻͞,͈̼ hi̴̦̫̠͍͚͙st̻̝̖̭͡o̝͔͍̮ŗ̥͉̟̳y,̧̻͍̲̪ ̩̣̫̯̼t̳̕h̠͙̭̻̲̝͡e̞͉̰͜ ͓̞̱̞̦m͕̞a̺̺͇͕̞̰̦ŕ̟̫t̻į̳͉̱̤̼a̙̮͉̖l̩̥̠̼͖̮ ͝a͎͚͉̤r̯̳̖͓̰̟͢ͅt͖͖͈̱̰͘s̫̙̹̤͙̀ͅ,̦̞͈͎ ͎̲á̖̱̠̙͉͓̠ṇ̶̙͙̗̗d͍ ̮̲a̟̗̪̞̠͉̗s͖̯̗̤̟̥̞ ̦̝̳̭̳̤̥͡we͖̪̱l̙̼̘l͍̱̭ ̯̩͘p͎̱̙̣͉r̛̩̫a̰͔̦͠c̝͎̼̞͙̹̖ṱi̞̺̲͓͖c̨̗ęḏ͜ ͕̦i̤͙̦͉͜n͔̝̱͚̲̕ ҉̝s͇̟̟̫̳̖̰u̷f͍̳͓͎́fȩ̤̯̘̮̤r̜̙̟͇̠ͅi̗n͕̻̮͚̻͖̯͝g͓͍͕̜̟̺̭.̦̝̮̳̪̞͟ ̯̱̙̰̕U͙͙̭l͠ṳ̲̝̭p̲͓̻͈̫̗ͅi̼̣̮͖̟͉ ̶̬̩͈̘̤̮m̢͔͎a̤͔̮̟̰y̴̞ ̷̮̖h͕͔͚͕e͎̺̱̬̪͝a̙̖̗r̯͚̙̳̯̞ ̛̹̩ͅm̲̳͔̬͎̀ę̰͍̳.͏̜̠̻̖̩̬.̫̞͎̪̕.̩̮͚̞̦̩ "

She took a deep breath, and released it with a hiss.

" I̠͕̩̟̭͝ ̝̼̙̖̥̫͙w͏͕i̻l̦͖̼̞͙̟ͅl͕͓̺͈̳̭͢ ͙͇̹s̞̹͓͔͍̘p̪̜͡e̬̲̮̦̟̳͡a̤ͅk̗̤̫ ̠w҉͍ͅi̡t̳͈̪̼͉͔͓͡h̨̤̹͙ ̲t͉h̩e͖̥̤͡ ͡Dr͉͉͞á̲͈̱r͎s͍̰̹͟.̨̺̦ "

Apologies for that ugly mess before.
Context for Deni (I keep forgetting your passive): Aelflead is trying, badly, to veil a combination of disgust and fury, mild indignance, senses of solidarity, and remorse. Aimed at Neptuem, Tiae Caput, Ulupi & the Naga overall, and the lost children, in that exact order. She hasn't exploded because she can't see Neptuem at that moment, isn't sure she could kill him and survive afterwards; and considering the context she can't justify an outburst while an issue directly harming kids is involved now that she knows that's the case.
 
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Kaizaell Songe

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Word Count: 722
5278 Words until Reinforcements Arrive.

Kaizaell felt the tension in the air as the thumps reverberated in the hold he was in. He saw the other men and women waiting ready for the sides of the sub to come open as the grating below him shook when they surfaced. He knew it was only a short amount of time before they’d hit the docks and disembark.

Captain Driweus’ voice came from above, seeming to lift some of the tension and he felt a rush of heat go through his veins at the words. The people around him, no matter what kind of things they’d been through in the past few weeks, all cheered in unison seemingly getting pumped up as they began to get ready to dock. A solid chant began, the beating and thumping of boots on metal and weapons on breastplates began to spread throughout the ship.

Then a solid thump and the ship came to rest on the docks. The sides of the ship opened quickly, allowing the wailing wind outside to wash through the mass of soldiers, and yet the people quickly rushed outside, ready for the bloodletting.

The dark haired laicar missed the original rush, deciding to stay back and watch, but the rush of men had pushed him forwards and off the ship. He stood at the docks, seeing the seething mass of naga before them. He saw the men and women before him rush headlong and he felt the familiar rush of battle around him. Felt the urge to throw himself directly into the manic bedlam that was unfolding before him. To rush forwards, as the others were and slash with his blade, shoot at the clawing horrors before them to...

A sudden scream snapped the Sniper out of his thoughts and he stopped, his feet had moved on their own towards the battlefront and he looked around. He saw a laicar man he didn’t recognize fall back, screeching and clawing at his face as a noxious bubbling greenish goo ate at his face. His eyes, what was left of them, seemed to plead to have the living horror end as the man crumpled to the ground, flailing and wailing the whole way. A medico rushed forwards, checking the man quickly and shaking his head, then bringing out a curved knife and ending the man, piercing him through a gap in the ribs with a solid clean strike through the heart.

The other soldiers didn’t seem disturbed by this and Kaizaell shook his head, trying to keep the battle furor at bay. He wouldn’t do them any good being nearby enough to be hit by whatever the hell that was and he looked around quickly to find a strange looking naga slithering forwards. This one had strange spiked ridges that curved from below its throat that curved up around and behind its eyes, but was almost identical to the other naga around them.

“Huk, Huk, Huk,” the beast seemed to say, as though it was having trouble speaking, then the spikes seemed to glow a dull green and only instinct made the Sniper duck quickly as it exhaled a solid green globule at him.

The spit hit a man behind him and the hazel eyed man turned to see it had hit a velen in the shoulder. It must have been some kind of acid because it ate through leather and cloth and flesh just as viciously quickly and the unfortunate victim took a few moments to realize something was wrong before beginning to scream and flail though he managed to smear more of it on one of the other soldiers near him.

“Huk, Huk,” a voice spoke again behind him.

No you don’t, fucker, the Sniper thought angrily to himself as he turned back. He brought his rifle up and ready in less than a moment and had it ready to shoot in a practiced motion. He pulled the trigger as the third ‘Huk’ came from the beast before him and the bullet pierced the creature in the throat, causing acidic spittle to leak on the beasts’ chest. It looked surprised and tried to move, though its spine had been severed.

Then it fell over and the battle continued to rage around Kaizaell as he tried to make out the landmark of the lighthouse amidst the rain and storm.


The Spined naga are the ones that spit out the Acid, use them as you will.
 
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425
4853 words to reinforcements.

Amanita wasn't certain what to feel. It certainly wasn't the fervor of the people nearby. The soldiers and mercenaries were ready. The stormy weather only bolstered their resolve. Amanita stood on the deck of the Orca, feeling the rain upon her body. Being dressed in velen armor was different from what she was used to, but it kept her dry, at least the parts that were covered. Strong gusts were enough to send the water sideways. Amanita blinked and wiped the water from her face.

A flash of lightning revealed the monsters waiting for them. Whether she was up to it or not, the time had come to fight.

Amanita's heart was pounding, but she kept an outwardly calm demeanor. She took a deep breath and crouched down to concentrate. She drew a circle on the deck using her fingers. A faint glow appeared, as if she was scratching through the metal to another plane. The more she completed, the brighter the light got. Rain that fell in evaporated out as steam.

If it was monsters they were facing, she would have one of her own. "Come to me, Memerosia."

A red demon burst from the circle. She had the top body of a lanky woman with the bottom body of a crab. Red carapace covered her entire form. Chains were wrapped around her body with a device especially meant to muzzle and mouth and restrain speaking.

"Do you have it?" Amanita asked.

Memerosia bristled, shaking her carapace. A gladius and scutum fell out from between them. They were Amanita's weapons of dahlitium. They had been on the Arsenic when it sank, but Amanita sent her servant to get it while the ship was breaking apart. She was glad to see they had survived unharmed. Feeling the weight of the armaments in her hands gave her confidence.

"There's a lot of havoc to be caused. Get down there and clear the way of naga," Amanita ordered.

Take ship for the free cities with my horse and my hammer, spend my time warring and whoring, that's what I was made for! Memerosia exclaimed.

"Don't hurt anyone not a naga," Amanita added with a stern glare.

It was tough to tell through the metal muzzle, but the demon was smirking as she leapt down from the deck onto the docks. Amanita followed using the same method, though she had a lighter landing. Standing upright, the chaos was already upon the forces of Pelagia. If they were to do anything, they would need to break the first onslaught.

Yes, Memerosia is speaking in quotes from somewhere.
 

Laermont

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4617 words to reinforcements



Laermont did not seem to react in an intense way to the battle raging around him. His eyeplates scanned the scene, moving to analyze the battlefield, observing as his impassive faceplate swept back and forth. His gaze settled on Kai and on the acid spitting naga with spikes protruding from them. He paused a moment more before raising his pistol and firing, one shot clear and true that blew the front of one of the naga’s heads off.

Stuffing his pistol back into its holster, he waded into the fray. There was no drama, no roaring and no charging. His thick-bladed sabre just swept out and back in a smooth pattern, dropping any naga close enough to meet it. One of the naga with acid for spit was rushing him. His hand drew his pistol in one rapid flick and fired, the bullet striking the acid spitter in the forehead and dropping it.

Without breaking stride, Laermont’s sabre lashed out again and a raging naga fell back, hand lopped off at the wrist. The demvir slashed his way through the surging battle, seeming to almost anticipate attacks before they hit and retorting with his heavy blade. Eventually he stood shoulder to shoulder with Kai, pistol drawn and ready.

He put a large metallic hand on the sniper’s shoulder, eyeplates sweeping the battlefield. “We do appear to have our work cut out for us, do we not?”
 
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4,347 To reinforcements

On the ship over Gwendowlyn found herself going through a mysterious gift from a stranger who thought paper masks were an appropriate way of signing. It was a new bow, a compass with another strange mask carved into it's back, and amour seemingly made to fit. A pair of vambraces, fauld of four lame, an archer's breastplate and knee guards for the long boots she wore, all made with expensive auritium woven into and around the fabric.

Mildly confused but unconcerned, she'd spent the short bit of the morning she had to herself before they set out sewing the armor into a navy version of the dress she'd worn the day she joined the main forces, made sleeveless and sturdier with the bettered armor.

When she stepped off the Orca she did so with trepidation and prevalent but tempered fear. She'd come to meet heroes and ask for their help when this was all said and done though, but she'd have to be able to manage at least this much before she could make the words come out of her mouth then. So as the girl looked across the fresh battlefield, she did so with determined focus.

Now as the others made their way slowly into the hordes of Naga before them, Gwendolyn was steadily beating her wings against the air, the nearest rooftop less than a meter from her already. When she alighted onto the slanted top, fear kept her from celebrating so she scrambled into a crouch and drew her bow.

There were more than a few other rooftops she'd need to hop before she found her destination.


She's headed straight for the light house

Gwen's Capabibabilities n such
Equipment:
Auritium Recurve Bow
Bigatium rapier
Auritium Shield
Auritium Light Armor (As described, the armor's been sewn into a skater dress by a skilled seamstress)
Auritium Compass (catalyst)
Bigatium Brush (catalyst) I know they don't stack, they're present for narrative purposes, she'll be using either or catalyst when casting.
Tiny Sack of Auritium Pulveris
Tiny Sack of Bigatium Pulveris
Cantantus Arcana (Her journal & brush)
Porro Vox (Kirastes Aelflead, ???? Whoever she's reporting scouting information to -idk how communications are happening???-)

Personal feat: Lipservice
Skills:
Cantantus Adept
Serpens Skilled
Aquila Novice
Scolepto Adept
Pistoli Novice
Perspicax Novice

18 Spell Slots:
Familiar Stranger -1
Eagle Eye -3
Hunter Eye -1
-
Glitter -3
Thunderous Purring -3
Coil -2
-
Repulsor -2
Halt -1
-
Mend -1
Set Fracture -1
 
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swaswj

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The red wave of ophidians broke upon the rushing forces of the Orca, the line folding in around and rapidly surrounding the brave men and women. Blood spilled freely, shouts lifting up from both sides over the continuous downpour and crashing thunder. It was like the invasion all over again.

Until it wasn't.

The ophidians didn't have the numbers to sustain their blind offensive. The berserkers were vicious, relentless, but still mortal.

Over the clamor of battle, a horn sounded.

Huuhuuhukuku. All at once, the tides of naga turned, some of them mid-attack, and slithered away. The only ones to remain were the ones with the spikes, who were making a disturbing new side as they convulsed, cheeks bulging as they clutched at their own throats. Spikes flickered slowly, then gained speed.

"Shields, now!" came a cry from one of the velen on the front lines. He and several others at once went into a familiar chant, nearly in sync. "A fortress, lonely and watchful, break on it!"

Iron slabs appeared just as the convulsing naga seemed to explode, a reptilian shriek followed by burst of green vapor, a thick and deadly fog that rolled out from each of the spitters. Rain hissed and sizzled where it touched the acid clouds. Men and women shrieked where they were caught in the clouds, feeling armor, clothing, and then skin peel away.

Medics rushed forward. "O Grand Protector, grace these brave souls and permit her to feel a soothing current," one prayed over an acid victim, holding hands wreathed in frost over the wound. The bubbling slowed, and finally, stopped. Another medic pulled out conventional medicines, dumping a powder over another man's acid burns, neutralizing the burn.

Past the clouds, the spitters could be seen flitting away after their brethren, still very much alive.

The acid continued to spread, the separate clouds merging together and forming a wall between the retreating ophidians. "We have to get rid of that acid!" Captain Driweus ordered, lost among the crowd but his voice unmistakable.

Light flashed in the distance, rapid pulses closing in: repeated bolts of lightning crashed in straight lines toward the Orca's fighters from five directions at once.

"Make no mistake, it is your decision," Caput replied to Aeria. "The duty assigned by your Magister was to my father; it does not extend to me. If you choose to help us, to help me, that is because you choose to do so. If that doesn't sway you, know that I am glad to have your aid. All of you, under whichever conditions you deem appropriate. You know each other best."

The prince spoke with confidence, but it was clear that he was unused to asking for aid from others, particularly not people from outside the empire. "I would have you pilot the Cypselurus Callopterus then -- a Sky Cutter, as I said, perfectly maintained but an older model, more likely to be controls you've seen before. Together with Miss Animi, I will send one of mine with you, Durio Sea. She is the scryer who pinpointed Garus. I'm hoping that as you get closer, she'll be able to guide you more directly to the Captain's location. She can also speak to the naga if opportunity presents itself. That would leave enough room for Garus, at least."

Caput's attention went to Aelflead next. He waited a long while, choosing his words carefully. "We have made strides with Drars Ulupi, and my primary concern is staying true to my word to deliver the statue to her people. You must uphold our end of the accord first and foremost. I cannot condone applying any conditions to the delivery of the statue." His misgivings about Aelflead were painfully obvious. The prince closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and then opened his eyes again, meeting Aelflead's eyes head on. "If you agree to that, then see if she will speak with you. It could be that a neutral party, such as you, can find common ground that I am unable to."

Keydis leaned against the main table, lifting her sword a few inches from its sheath and letting it drop back in with a click. "I'm not the type for a diplomatic mission, but I've got my own reasons I want to see those snake bastards get kicked out of Flumen Petram." It was, after all, where Annora had grown up, where her father still (hopefully) lived, and where Keydis herself had recently stayed for months on end. "I'll come along with you and Smiles. If he's got the long-range covered, I've got close-range under wraps. This firebrand can cover whatever's in-between that you don't toast yourself, and she's Aridusian born and raised." She nodded toward Red.

That left Dante. Caput sized up the athlete for a moment. "If these three join me on the Fodiator Acutus, you'd have to choose between joining Miss Kirastes or Luxus and Animi. My recommendation is to join Miss Kirastes on the Exocoetus Volitans. If she is to focus on diplomacy, I would like for someone to be there to watch her back. Maswae, the pilot, is well past his prime. I could perhaps find someone else, though there isn't much time."

[872/2538]
 
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Aeria Luxus

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Aeria nodded to Caput. "I am quite ready to fly it, Prince! I will be glad to have Ignis as a companion and will gladly accept your choice of companion to add to the mission. I am ready to depart as soon as you give the command."

She added softly, "I do not feel that I am being ordered in that sense, Prince. I stand ready to help in any capacity I might serve."

Since their clash, Aeria's body language had become more relaxed and her demeanour seemed to have softened where the Prince was concerned. He had been much more communicative and the strain was telling on him. It was as if, seeing the humanity in him, the contigeri had contacted her own sense of compassion. Her eyes were softer as they met Caput's again and then drifted around the room. There was tension in the lines of her body, a sign of the adrenaline that was likely building up in her system.



 
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4083 until reinforcements.

Amanita grimaced when she saw the incoming wall of acid. Normal shields and armor weren't going to stop that. While the forces of the Orca were well-prepared to deal with such things, the mercenaries fighting through the city didn't have the organization to deal with such a large attack.

"Get back behind me," Amanita ordered. "Carry anyone that can't move, but hurry!" She stared down the incoming cloud, waiting for as many people to get clear as possible. Her eyes flicked to Memerosia. "Prepare the black winds."

The daemon shook her chains with laughter. Her hands extended out drawing a portal to the realm of violent energies. It had the shape of three triangles joined at one corner. It was made out of black stone that was already old and cracked despite just being made. The sound of wind came from the portal.

"Do not unleash until I tell you," Amanita said with a fierce gaze upon her servant. Anyone caught in the radius would be tossed right back into the fog. She switched her attention back and forth between the retreating mercenaries and Memerosia.

"Hold. Hold."

As the last mercenary within sight passed the line, Amanita ordered, "Now." She knelt down next to Memerosia, using the tall carapace body as a shield, but she also raised the scutum up.

There was a snap as the portal was broken in to. In that instant, wind burst out with gale forces enough to lift up people and objects. The oncoming acid fog was sent tumbling and curling inwards as it rushed back to the nagas.
 

Aelflead Kirastes

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Aelflead's eyes narrowed and she straightened her posture so she seemed to look down her nose at the tiae despite being noticeably shorter. "I am some part demon, but the last m̵o͠n͏͕̝̭̰̠͔ș̥t̛̪͉̰̬̥e͖̹ŕ̗̼͕̼̯ ̲͖̬̰̣y̯̥͎͇͇͉̗ou͖͈͞ ͓͓̤s̞̝̯͙͇̝̜po͜k̖̝̟͈ͅe̜͇̺̳͘ ̠͚̰̠̲̠͢w̳̻̲i̛̭̯̲̮͔͎t̰̯̜̥̲͡ͅḥ͠ ̭̝͢wa̤̹̗͖͔s̛ ͙̥͔̖̙̜̗͞y͓͍͈̹̤̮͟o͚u͖̥͔͟r͡ ͈̟͕f̣͓͉̳̗̖̪̕á̝̥̤̼̲t̸̳he̬̳̱̝͓͢r,̷̹̖̝̱̼̯͓ ̴͙ͅT̢̘̙̬̖͈͔i͈̝͎̝̼a̜͍̰̥̞e̮, ̲̺̥͍̪͟ͅn̼̲̞o̳͍͚͎̭̥t҉̗ ̲͔̫͙̻͓̦m̡̖͙̲͚̺e̲͕̭͢.̷̯͎̫̤͚͙͚ ͎͓̞̹̫̯͉́ ̱͇̱͖͠Dw̡̰̱͕̣̦̯̭f͉͈̹̭n̹ṵ̹̞̳̫̗̩w͇̝͔͢n̶̘̫͍d̺̱̺ ̰͎̻̠̣ͅh͖͓̫͍̹u͟w̦͎̳̜̭͜i̙̗̮̠̯͓o̰̰͍̣͚̳ͅ ̤̙̗̱̖̮̱ḓ̻͔̼̟̭͘ͅr͈̤̻͍͖̯̯a͈̬̣͈͖̺ u͚̥̰͜o̟̰̪͔͟a̠̺̖̕e͘ou҉ú̹̺̙̹͇̮̩a̮͚̣͔͘p̜̝͍̠͍̪ ̸̘͔̰̗̺̝͙ģ̘͎͚͍̠̝ų͔̘̱n̟̤͚̘̰f̢̼̣͍͖̝̖f̴̫o͚̹͇͚̕em͖̯̳͙̦̞̬p͏ ̬̘̤͈̰w̮̠̥ru̯͠w̩̻u͍̮̫͢r̲͓̟̕t̫͙̭̰̼͚͇͢ẖ͔̩̤̕ú̟ ̝̘̲͉C̨͉̪̫̪͓o̭͡p̱̮͙̩̝̘͇i̴̹̻̼̠̺̹̯a͉̻̩͓ḛ̥.̮̤̝̦̥̜
͉̫̲̻

Then she turned to the others with a look that mixed parts anger and reprehension. "These are.." She paused for a moment, and then left their gaze to focus on her bandaged hands instead. "Kids." She exhaled and dark smoke furled around her face. "I know they're not all... Right, but doesn't this bother any of you?"

"How are you all so relaxed about this?" The woman's hands clenched and unclenched slowly in front of her, grasping for something to hold on to and coming up short.

Mistake don't the reef for the ocean
Dwfnuwnd huwio dra uoaeouuap gunffoemp wruwurthu Copiae.

How velen's say, "don't judge a book by it's cover ig."
 
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Ignis of Animi

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Ignis looked over at Aeria and sent her a tired, relieved smile. If there was anyone she wanted to have at her side while going to risk her life, Aeria was her top choice at the moment. The support for her choice was appreciated. It was also good to see her friend appeared to be less frustrated and distressed than she had been the last time they'd all gathered with the prince.

The smile faded a bit at Aelflead's outburst. The avian ran her claws through her short head-feathers before giving the demonic woman a long-suffering look.

"No one here is pleased with this situation, Aelflead. I think it's safe to say that everyone present is bothered by what happened. Besides, anger clouds judgement and we'll need to be sharp if any of this is to work." The words were a double entendre of sorts that only Deni would catch.

Her hand came up to stroke Amicus' leaves for comfort. The mons infans rustled and nestled closer to her.
 

Deni Perfide

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Deni continued to stare at Ignis, even when she spoke. His hand reached into the pocket of his sleeveless leather jacket and then came out empty. He wished that Ignis hadn’t taken the last pack of cigarettes, but he owed her a lot more than that. His blue eyes darted between his two closest of friends, Ignis and Aeria. He wished he could say a great many things to both of them, but now was neither the time nor the place. Instead he took a few steps towards them before deciding against an emotional farewell.

“You two take care of each other,” he said simply. “Make sure you make it back alive.”

I have some things to make right, he thought to himself. Don’t you dare die on me before I can do that.

As he took his side by the Prince, he eyed up the duo that would have his back in the near future. After a few moments an amused smirk crept onto his face.

“Looks like I’m babysitting again.”

[301]
 

Kaizaell Songe

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Word Count: 659/1381
3424 to reinforcements

“Y-yeah,” the Sniper responded as he turned to see the Quaestor standing near him. He sighed a little breath of relief. Trying to push forwards and make it to the lighthouse had been a struggle. He’d stayed a little further back from the frontlines, providing what support he could, but still some of the bastards were pushing through and trying to get to the ships.

They probably assumed that was where the more vulnerable members of this assault were.

Kai brought his rifle up and fired, taking a naga that was bringing its spear up to stab into a soldier who had stumbled on her back and was holding her hands up in panic, trying to shield herself as much as possible. The heavy round shot through the beasts chest and pierced easily through scale, leaving a hole through its center, where the man assumed its heart would be.

The naga fell over and writhed for a moment before going still. Then the hazel eyed man looked over to see Laermont continue to slash at any of the scalies that got close.

“Laer!” the young soldier yelled, moving forwards towards a large warehouse near the docks. It would provide him some cover as he reloaded. “Cover me!”

The dark haired laicar brought the trigger guard forwards in an arc until he felt a shifting click and the rifle expelled its spent round out the side. Then he got five of his bullets out of his pack and quickly fed them into the open side slot. They slid down smoothly and went further into the understock that fed them into the firing tube. When he was fully reloaded he swung the guard back into place and felt a familiar click that told him that the rifle had fed properly and a round was ready to go.

“Alright, so we’ve got to...” he started to say before a horn cut off the rest of his sentence. He turned to see the naga retreating and found himself feeling a strange mixture of elation and dread. Either they had been dealt a mightier blow than the sniper could see or the scalies were planning something.

Suddenly the soldier heard a popping noise nearby and he saw the spined naga, those that had remained behind, flailing around as their acid suddenly exploded from them, creating big puffs of acid that quickly coalesced into a wall of acid.

Some of the front lines got doused in it and Kaizaell winced sympathetically at it. He knew how bad burns could be and he saw how quickly the naga’s acid could burn through them.

“Sonofa-” he started to say before bolts of lightning began raining down in the distance, but were rapidly closing in on the main group of the army, drawn towards the metal barrier as if it were a giant lightning rod.

If it’s not one thing it’s another, isn’t it? the young laicar thought to himself as he looked over at the Quaestor.

A sudden burst of wind blew past and dispersed some of the acid back on the naga, causing shrieks of pain and confusion after a few moments. He saw some of them stepping forwards, out of the acid, their scales slowly burning from the acid eating away at them. The horned ones that were revealed, however, seemed completely untouched but confused at the sudden gust that uncovered them. The Sniper brought his rifle up and shot at one, scoring the side of its face and ripping half of its head off as it fell over and writhed hissing in agony.

“Come on, you big damned lightning rod,” the soldier said to Laermont, looking at the big wooden doors of the warehouse in front of them. He brought his rifle up and bashed at the lock on the door once, twice, then the third time broke open the lock and the doors swung open while he dragged the detective into the relative safety of the stone building.
 
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Laermont

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3167 until reinforcements

Laermont responded immediately to Kai's request. His arm snapped up and his pistol began barking out shots, dropping naga as he covered the sniper. Only stopping to reload, he covered their retreat toward the warehouse, accurately dropping any closer naga that Kai could not kill with his rifle as readily. Once they were at the door, his pistol leaped again and dropped one naga that was making a determined run at them.

Now they were behind the doors after Kai had smashed his way in. The building was cool and quiet. Laermont holstered his pistol and drew his thick, heavy bladed cutlass, as he stood by the door. There was no tension in the metallic lines of his body, but he gave off the sense of a great force held in check that could explode at any moment.

Looking back at Kai, his voice was the only thing that held expression. "Now that we have shelter, what is your strategy for how we ought to proceed? I would think we need to try and end this lighting. I would think our best bet is to find out what is generating it and put an end to it."

A naga slithered towards the door and the Quaestor swung forward, smashing the heavy blade of the cutlass into its neck hard enough to hack through it and leave the head dangling by sinews and a little bone. It fell dead at his feet and he continued to watch the door, seemingly unphased by the carnage he had just inflicted.
 
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2,578 till reinforcements

Up above, Gwen had taken a similar approach to that pair.

While Amanita's demon's winds blasted the naga's acid back towards them, Gwen made the smart decision to leave her rooftop for her building's interior. Now, covered in glass from crashing into that building's top floor, the girl sat nestled behind a counter inside with a number of knicknacks around her and her bow drawn and pointed out the window. The building seemed to be a curio shop of sorts, at least on it's top floor.

"Okay, so the acid smokey stuff is going back and that's good but-" The spurii looked up at the sky to see those jagged pillars of angry light exploding around allied company and gouging away stone tile where it struck, then turned away to blink the veiny after images off the back of her eyelids. "What about the lightning? Everybody's wearing metal, I mean I think I'm safe -I hope I'm safe- but that's only because I'm in here. What if the lightning is strong enough to break the ceiling in? I might be in even more trouble then, cuz then I'll have rocks and... Well I don't know what other kinds of stuff but falling stuff to deal with and that'll suck a lot, and I don't know if I can draw a portal out of here fast enou-No."

The girl shook her head, then slapped her hands to either side of her face till she'd squashed her cheeks together. She spoke to herself through this and though it would have been harder to discern for someone listening, it went roughly something like: "I can't panic right now! I have to do what I can. Everyone here is cool, I can't do nothing here and then ask them for help later! I have to be at least a little cool too!"

With that said, Gwen let her cheeks go and looked out of her perch at the Pelagian soldiers and the volunteer forces, then to the Naga pushing forward at the edges with their already extremely bloodied spears flashing with vicious speed at her grounded allies, and then back up at the screaming sky. "Garus said that the Naga have storm magic, so they're doing this but he said they needed a conduit- No he said that was because they needed to aim at us on the ship."

She smacked a nightshade colored fist into her hand. "That means they can see us, and if they can see us then that means somebody's looking at us and so if they can see us, then that means-" The girl readjusted her bow grip, and pulled back on the string, gathering power for the arrow to form against her cheek and began scanning the battlefield for her idea of a shaman.

In her mind, that meant a naga with a large top hat and a cane far too long to walk with. On second thought though, some great amount of magic power would have had to be the most important thing a shaman had. "Shoot, what were the words? A big ole pall yields to warm Sols, a really cold wind beats a big drum anyway, good and evil don't care about magic?"

A warm prickling sensation began to steadily grow behind the girl's eyes. "Hah! I knew I'd remember. Now I just gotta wait for it to warm up annd-" With her bow aimed neatly out of her perch's window, Gwen began to hum jauntily while she waited for Hunter Eye to build.
 

Red

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Arms crossed tightly over her chest, hips cocked to one side, Red’s storm-gray gaze tracked the discussion - kept civil by what felt like the barest of threads - with a half-lidded look and her usual scowl. An awful lot of judgemental, self-righteous bastards in this lot, she thought. But then again, this was a group composed of royalty and people who were considered ‘heroes’. What else did she expect?

As Aeflead’s reprimanding glare landed on her, the other redhead stared back, flatly indifferent. She kept her own thoughts and opinions to herself, though. No need to start shit with a chick who looked like she could - and would - tear Red’s jugular out in an emotional temper tantrum. Instead, she kept her comments constrained to the situation at-hand.

“Like she said,” Red tilted her head Keydis’s way, eyes on Caput. “I’ve got your back.” She flashed the velen prince a thin smile. “Though it seems to me you’re used to watching your own.”

After a moment, Red returned Deni’s expression with a flat look. “Really?” she said. She gave him a sharp once-over. “Keep your shitty snark to yourself, you tall fuck.”


[192]
reds here workin overtime to make new friends ya'll!!!

 

swaswj

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Caput met Aelflead's eyes without flinching. "He is no monster," he asserted calmly, "but he is a fool. Many have paid dearly for his foolishness, and that will come to account, but that is secondary to what must be done now."

After Red's outburst, Keydis had a smile curling at the corner of her lip, subtly different from her usual mad grins. She gave Red a light punch to the shoulder and then turned her attention to Aelflead, ignoring Deni's comment outright. "Oh lose the scary voice, kid. We're all on the same side now. This isn't the first time I've had to clean up a mess made by the powers-that-be, and last time I didn't have a room fool of capable allies. That's why I'm relaxed."

Truthfully, her blood was boiling just beneath the surface. There was an unspoken fear that Annora's father might not have made it out of Flumen Petram, that she might be going to help broker peace with his killers. That shook her more than the thought of the naga kids. As far as she could tell, they were going to solve that particular problem.

She couldn't bring a dead man back to life, though.

Caput stood up, resting his left hand on the hilt of his sword. "You have my sincerest gratitude. This is more than I have a right to ask of any of you. With me, then!" The prince turned and rushed off, and although he wasn't running, his swift, long-legged gait forced some of the shorter members to trot to keep up. He swept through the hallways of the palace, with stunned staff and maids stopping to bow deeply as he passed. Within moments, they were outside at the palace's personal landing.

The Geamhess floated there in all of its splendor, just as impressive as ever, with the prominent figurehead featuring the same design as the statues. Nearby, there were three smaller airships, Stratus-class. These did not have balloons like the larger ship, and rested on the ground on thin skids. The powerful engines within would serve to lift the ships. They each had four side wings; Aeria would recognize that two of the wings were stationary, while the smaller pair were linked to the navigation. Each had a pointed prow, and tall, lateen sails.

One in the center had a mainsail that had noticeably faded from a deep cerulean at its center to almost a sky blue: the Cypselurus Callopterus. On the right, the mainsail was a solid aqua color: Exocoetus Volitans. The last, on the left, had a red sail fading to orange, and a reinforced metal prow: the Fodiator Acutus. Already, the three statues from the throne had been loaded onto the ships, with several uniformed velen standing at attention while others prepared the ships to make way.

The princesses Grace and Venus stood waiting. Grace retained her usual poise, with hands folded neatly in front of herself. Venus, however, had her arms crossed and was glaring at Caput. The prince looked at them, but never broke his stride. Seeing that he wasn't stopping, Grace called out, "We know what you are planning, brother, and we are going with you."

"No," he replied firmly, and it seemed as if he would leave it at that. After a moment, though, he began to slow, stopping just past the two. With his back still to them he instructed, "It's too dangerous. I… we must make things right, but there is no place for you on this mission."

Venus scoffed. "They won't hurt us! We're bringing the statues back aren't we?"

"Grace, I want you to follow in the Geamhess. Miss Kirastes will bring the statue to the naga at the mouth of the Occidens, and open talks. You will arrive after, if it is safe to do so, to broker more permanent accords." The slower airship would arrive days after the Volitans. "Venus, you must remain here."

The younger of the two princesses gnashed her teeth. "I will not! I am not just some doll to be gazed at! I'm part of this family, too, you know!"

Caput sighed. "I know." He turned to look at her. "You've seen Father's injury. Someone must remain here to take care of the capitol. If you leave, that duty falls to Cordatus."

"He could--"

"He cannot." Before Venus protested further, Caput added, "It's not just to support Father, either. Someone needs to keep him from doing something… foolish."

Venus seemed unhappy still, but she took the last words to heart. "Very well, then," she said quietly.

"Smile," Caput suggested with a small smirk of his own. "After we do this, you might become next in line for the crown." With that ominous declaration, he turned back to the others. "Everyone ready? Then let's get this treason over with." There was a sadness in his voice, but certainty as well. Especially considering that he could have simply sent the others and stayed behind, the fact that he was personally going and risking everything he had underscored the strength of his resolve.​

With every crash of lightning, arcs of deadly electricity spread out across the soaked ground, jumping up along any nearby metal. The lines of lightning shot through the docks, striking dozens of times. Some of the fighters put up shields, others dover for cover, but some weren't so lucky. The strings of lightning bolts all converged together, hammering into the Orca itself before finally coming to an end. The ship's hull was left glowing cherry red but remained intact.

Immediately, more lightning began striking in the distance, new chains heading their way.

Driweus, holding up a wounded velen under one arm, shouted out, "Loose the grioeyi already!"

Several loud splashes sounded from behind as metal rods were tossed into the water just off the piers. Three of the imperial sea dogs ran forward. They each held a large bundle of rods in both hands, attached to a metal cable. In near unison, the men spun and threw the bundles high overhead. As soon as they were released, the spring-loaded devices blossomed outward. Light giant caltrops, they were designed to always have at least one spike pointed upward, regardless of how they landed.

As they were designed to do, the lightning lures drew in the storms, bolts veering toward them and striking repeatedly until their energy was exhausted. All of the electricity followed the metal cables to disperse into the salt water.

They wouldn't last long, however. Already the balls of lightning rods were past red, glowing orange at the tips. The cables were glowing red, as well.

The naga berserkers that had been called away did not return, leaving them to deal with the still-spreading clouds of acid and the shaman lightning. A third volley of bolts began.

The warehouse Kai and Laermont had ducked into was hit by a bolt, accompanied by the clatter of shattering glass, the bolt arcing all the way down to the ground floor right in between the two men. Before the glass had even finished raining down on them, a second bolt hit the roof, setting it ablaze, and then by the third, it had been drawn toward ones of the lures, hammering into it again and again.

Tucked away in the farther warehouse, Gwen held her concentration as her vision shifted. The world took on a greenish hue first, but the low-light sight showed her little that she couldn't see before. Soon, though, the world shifted from green to red and purple. Her hand glowed like an orange beacon against the cooler purple of the wall and window frame in front of her, but with the heavy downpour, the thermal vision was blurry. She could make out distant buildings, warmer than the air around them.

The next volley of bolts forced the girl to squint, white-hot lightning nearly blinding her. Even so, she held her concentration, repeating some of the words in her head until the red shifted to a watery blue. She opened her eyes again.

There! On top of the distant buildings, she could see magic coalescing, power radiating and casting silhouettes around the ophidians casting. There were at least five of them, hands drawing in the storm magic in rhythm with one another. One atop the building nearest to her, two more on one further away, fourth and fifth on rooftops of their own. Gwen sat up higher in her hidden perch, setting her sights on the nearest of the shamans, drawing her bowstring back.

Then she realized there was a bright blue glow at the edges of her vision. Gwen tilted her head back, looking upward.

A massive shape was limned in blue light overhead, stretched out across the rooftop, easily covering half of it. Gwen hadn't seen it at all when she had been up there, would have run right into it if she hadn't ducked inside. Tentacles spread out in every direction, hugging the sides of the warehouse. Then, as if it sensed her looking at it, dozens of smaller tentacles lifted up around the tip of its main body. The blue glow intensified, flashing along its body and down to the tips of its tentacles.

One tentacle lunged in through the window in front of Gwen, wrapping around her and ripping her from the building. A queer squeaking, chirruping sound came from the monstrous cephalopod as it raised itself up high on its tentacles. Over ten stories high, it dwarfed the building. To Gwen's eyes, it was lit in almost blinding blue light, pulsing with magical energy, and as it rose into view of everyone else, they could see a dark body with metallic plates of chitin, shorter tendrils surrounding its bowed face lit up with a green glow.

"A wicker worm," Driweus breathed out in disbelief. Other velen whispered, "A son of Cete," equally dreadful.

The towering worm pulled Gwen up close to its face as yet another volley of lightning began, with the lures on the verge of melting away.

[1675/4213]



Your new friend is a vimen vermis, or wicker worm, brought up from the deep by the naga.

36m (120ft) tall:
 

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