[Plot] Dark Water

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swaswj

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Dark Water
Anguis Trigon, Phase Three




Deep, dark blue in every direction, ice-cold, pressing in heavily. The two velen floated, alone in the abyss. Still reeling from the lightning that had coursed through her, Diamantus looked around into the emptiness, one hand still clutching tightly to Garus' shoulder. The captain's orange scales were the only bright spot in sight, but the burly man was unconscious. The pair tumbled slowly through the rocking, frigid waters, only slowly figuring out which way was up and which was down.

Diamantus adjusted her grip, throwing the captain's arm over her shoulder and holding it by the wrist. She hooked her arm around his waist and began kicking, swimming upward. There was no telling how far down they were, but she was chilled down to the muscles and every movement left her bones creaking from the pressure. The ship was nowhere to be seen. She couldn't hear anything, no sounds of struggling or drowning. That should have been a good sign, but instead all she felt was dread. She dared not call out; the silence felt like a trap. So she swam, as fast as her feet would carry her, toward the surface and hopefully answers.

Then, out in the deep blue, she did hear something. A bony clacking, starting slow and growing faster, until it seemed like one continuous rumble. Garus stirred in her arms, groaning only briefly before his body went stiff. Doptetrei, he warbled out in the velen tongue, pushing Diamantus away and reaching for his belt. His three-barreled handgun trailed behind on a wire, but rather than reel it in, he grabbed a smaller handgun and a knife.

Diamantus pulled her heavy saber out, clutching her own pistol in her other hand. The noise now seemed to surround them, and only then did the first monster come into sight: doptetrei, red teeth, a small fish with a mouth that made up most of its body. A mouth filled with dagger-like teeth. Its eyes were glowing red, leaving trails in the dark waters as it flitted wildly about, straight toward the two velen but in an erratic pattern. Alone, such a wish would be laughable. This was only the first of a swarm, though, a school of dozens. Together they would shred any prey into pieces small enough for their tiny stomachs, a bloody cloud that would also draw in other, bigger predators.

Garus was the first to act, kicking forward and spearing the leading fish on his knife. Diamantus took aim with her pistol, firing two shots at the incoming wave. Garus clicked his approval and then fired past the woman, calling out a warning. Diamantus darted out of the way. The red teeth were closing in from every direction. She hacked with her sword, splitting several of the fish but more kept coming.

Up! Swim up! Garus called shrilly. Diamantus didn't have time to question it. The pair kicked wildly toward the surface, shooting, stabbing, and slashing at every fish that came too close. One ripped into the velen woman's pants, somehow missing her skin. Two of them bit wildly at her saber blade before she ripped it free and chopped at them. Furious fins and ravenous teeth surrounded the pair, and the water clouded with blood.

Then, somehow, they were free of the frenzy. Keep going! Garus commanded. They'll eat the dead ones first and then look for more! He holstered his pistol but kept his knife in hand as he swam desperately upward, trailing a line of blood from unseen wounds. We may see nagas soon, they love to send red-teeth ahead to hunt for scouts and spies!

Now that they were making their escape, Diamantus tried to wrap her mind around the implications. The doptetrei were native to the dark waters of the Tenebrae Ocean. They'd been hunted to extinction in the Sea of Occidens and couldn't survive warmer waters in the Copiae Ocean.

[650]

This thread will have a Success Check. Details will be available once the situation evolves.

I'd like this to be a collaboration, not just me leading you along, so feel free to take initiative, introduce new elements or obstacles, show off what Diamantus is capable of. You can control Garus in your turns if needed. The water is 4-5 Celsius - velen have some natural resistance to the cold and pressure, but prolonged exposure is obviously not great.

Garus, Captain of the Arsenic before its destruction, finds himself cast away from his home and surviving crew into the icy waters of the Tenebrae Ocean, with only Diamantus for support. Squarely in enemy territory, the weight of his losses and his failure leaves him bowed and beaten.

Difficulty: 70
100+ Great Success
70+ Success
< 70 Failure
< 50 Critical

Mission Bonuses (Unique to the Mission)

+/-?? - The Upset: The situation resolved in an unexpected way.
+20 - The Best of It: You turned your disadvantage into advantage.
+20 - A Spark: Rekindle the captain's fire.
+0 - Survive: This is a requirement for success (obviously).
-20 - Words, Not Deeds: The message was lost because it lacked substance to back it up.
-20 - Bloodthirsty: Peace was never an option?

Standard Bonuses (each available once):

+30 - Page-turner: Wrote at least 3000 words.
+5 - Neophyte: Used a novice- or adept-tier ability.
+10 - Veteran: Used a skilled- or master-tier ability.
+20 - Legend: Used a grandmaster-tier ability.
+10 - Great Feats: Used a feat ability of any tier.
+10 - Magnum Performance: Used a magnum or ultimum ability of any type.

Roleplaying Bonuses (subject to reader scrutiny):

+10 - It's Personal: Your PC has a history with one of the characters, which is touched on or fleshed out here.*
+10 - Rogues' Gallery: The antagonists were given distinct personalities.
+10 - Playing the Part: You performed actions iconic to your character.

*In this instance, fleshing out some of the military history for Diamantus is an option.
 
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MoonlitRain014

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At the surface, Diamantus easily treaded water, glancing around before briefly shutting her eyes and starting to breathe more slowly, to focus. Her motions became still and more easy despite the threat of the situation in which they found themselves. Somewhere below them the dopetrei were tearing apart the remains of their dead. Panic was a heartbeat away but panic was death. The velen woman turned to the Captain, her voice full of forced calm. "We need a direction. Floundering around out here isn't doing us any good."

Even though they were inured to some of the effects of the cold, it wouldn't be long before they'd start to feel it. The water lapped at Diamantus' heavily muscled, scaled body as she kept one eye on the water underneath her and one eye on the horizon. Land didn't appear to be anywhere in sight and she shaded her eyes, looking up to see the mid-afternoon sun. The explosion of the Arsenic had thrown them all into wild disarray. Again deep breaths came from Diamantus, muscles slowly unclenching as she floated in the cold waters. Shivering hadn't set in yet but if they didn't start moving again, it would. Once that happened, they'd be done for. There was also a disturbing, faint sound that was coming from behind them. It was the sound of water being powerfully churned.

The muscled velen fighter turned back to glare at Garus. "Damn nagas are on their way. We better fuckin' get moving or they'll make a hash out of us."

Fighting out here would simply leave two battered velen corpses floating in the cold waves. Glancing around, scanning the area Diamantus spotted a substantial piece of floating wreckage and pointed to it. "At least we'll be out of the Vis-damned water if we get onto that thing!" Without waiting, she began powerfully swimming toward it, propelled by her impressive physique.

[316]
 

swaswj

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As Garus breached the surface, he sucked in deep gulps of air, hoping it would be warmer than the icy water. If anything, it was actually colder. Midway down one forearm and thigh, the bite wounds he'd taken from the red-teeth throbbed, alternating brief bursts of warmth as blood spilled into the water and deep stabs of cold as the sea water seemed to pierce beneath the skin.

"Be cautious!" he shouted at Diamantus. "We're not in the Copiae, that's not part of my ship!" Garus followed after her, favoring his left side but still keeping pace. If the frigid cold hadn't been enough of a sign, the waters around them were deep and dark, nearly purple, even under the mid-day sun. The captain knew the blue waters of the Copiae better than anything, and he had sailed parts of the green waters in the Chlorae in his youth. This dark water, though, came from only one ocean: the Tenebrae. Home to some of the fiercest monsters in Araevis, where few ships ever returned from.

He didn't want to take in more of the tainted waters than necessary. Before Diamantus reached the wreckage, Garus formed an image of the lady Serpens in his mind. He kicked downward in the water with one heel and lifted one hand above water to snap his fingers. In-between the two velen, there was a snap and glass-like tinkle as ice coalesced just above the waves. It burst outward, sending up splashes of foam. Water started to freeze, multiple patches of ice forming and then joining together. The miniature glacier bobbed in the water, some of its bumps and edges rough and sharp.

Garus hauled himself up onto the ice, shivering as he moved into the open air. He also hauled his three-barreled hand-cannon up out of the water, gripping it in one hand and his lighter pistol in the other. He covered Diamantus as she made her way to the wreckage. It was a common tactic for the naga to lay traps on such debris, but that was in the Occidens, where they battled the velen daily.

Tenebrae was purely ophidian territory, so would they do the same out here where no velen ought to be?

[375/1025]
 

MoonlitRain014

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Without thought, reacting to a man who would know what his own ship’s pieces looked like, Diamantus turned away and with several powerful kicks of her thickly muscled thighs and pulls of her equally powerful arms, she reached the artificial ice floe that had been created and hauled herself onto it. Now she stood alongside Garus, head cocked to the side, listening. Concern was plain on her features as she turned to look at the captain. “I’d say they’re comin’ in from the north-east. Best we brace ourselves, I don’t think this hunk of ice is gonna move us anywhere.”

As if on cue, a faint series of moving shapes could be seen on the horizon, coming closer through the dark water. Diamantus checked her pistol and had her heavy bladed sword close at hand as the enemy began to close in on them. “So how you wanna do this? Back to back?”

It wasn’t exactly a tactically secure place that they’d found themselves in, but at least they weren’t in the water and that darkness creeping through it was distinctly unsettling. Already Diamantus raised her pistol, readying it once the nagas got in range. Her jaw was set and her expression grim as she waited for Garus’ reply.

[209/525]
 

swaswj

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A sarcastic chuff was the elder velen's response. Garus slowly turned about, but there were no signs of land, only their refuge on the ice and the wreckage not far off. In the open water, even with years of experience fighting against them, Garus had little confidence in an open battle. Especially given the new behavior in the recent attacks.

Diamantus, for all her bravery, lacked the basic experience of the Pelagian navy, or what experience she previously held had eroded away. If Libra were there, Garus might have held onto a sliver of hope.

With that thought, Garus suddenly felt a weight settle in on his shoulders, the weight of all the years he'd been fighting and leading. He let out a chilled breath to fog up the air and then lowered himself down to sit on the ice, leaning one elbow over his knee. The cloak still hanging from his broad shoulders stiffened in the freezing air.

"There's nothing left to do," Garus said, weary and resigned. "They aren't like they used to be. No out-thinking them, no strategy to predict. They come in swarms. They're drawn to blood, just like the fish."

[195/1220]
 

MoonlitRain014

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Diamantus just stared at him, eyes hard and surprised, as the sound of the approaching naga grew louder. She clenched her free fist and glared down at the sitting form of the proud, fierce captain who seemed to have halved in size as he sank down. The sound was terrifying as it implied violence and forceful movement, but when the powerfully-built velen spoke there was no fear in her voice. "So yer just gonna sit the fuck down and let 'em come? That's yer Vis-damned solution to the problem?"

Her voice was sharp and diamond-hard, not brooking any argument. "Some fucker of a shaman blows yer ship up and kills half yer crew and passengers and all ye can do is sit there like a lump of chum fer the red-teeth? Get the hell up, Captain! Get the hell up and tell me how we can fight these bastards. They might kill us but d'ye wanna go down fighting or sittin' here waitin' ta die? I sure as shit know which one I wanna do."

Violently gesturing out at the oncoming enemy, her harsh voice barked out. "D'ya want all the death to be fer naught? If you just sit down and give up, the fact that people like Libra died fighting fer ya's gonna mean less than shit! I need yer fuckin' help here if we're gonna fight these Vis-damned things! Show me what a captain in our navy's made of instead of sittin' on yer ass on the ice, waitin' to die."

Diamantus' keen eyes were still scanning the horizon, her pistol held loosely but with intent. One eye was kept sharply trained on Garus, scanning him as if reading his face and his posture.


[287/496]
 

swaswj

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Her words fell on deaf ears. Diamantus wasn't saying anything Garus hadn't told himself, again and again over a dozen different campaigns in the never-ending wars to protect their borders. Each time, losing more of the men and women he trusted and relied on and, no matter how he hardened his heart, cared for.

"To what point or purpose?" Garus asked.

The ice floe shuddered, rocking hard enough to drop Diamantus to one knee. From her left, the first ophidian burst from the dark water. The creature was smaller than she expected, tightly muscled and clad in armored indigo scales, but lanky, a teenager at best. Any sympathy that might have provoked was wiped away by the animalistic gnashing of teeth. His eyes were a solid black, shark-like. It lifted up two glimmering blades, swords bent like the waves and made from a hardened nacre like the velen armor, only theirs was black, with a rainbow shimmer like oil.

Diamantus fired her gun before the naga brought his weapons down, but even as he fell, three more surged from the waves. Even down and out, Garus half-heartedly gave in to reflex, raising his pistol. The naga lunging at him, smaller even than the first one, bit the end of the barrel before Garus pulled the trigger. Rather than prepare another shot, though, he let go of the pistol, leaving it to go down with the naga's corpse.

Two more splashed up, leaving the pair surrounded by four of the juvenile, frenzied ophidians. One lunged with a spear at Garus, another surged high into the air atop its powerful eel-like tail and came down swinging a great-axe, while the remaining two lashed out with teeth and claws, fighting to rip into Diamantus from both sides at once.

[300/1520]

Note: First post has been updated with the success conditions.

 
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MoonlitRain014

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"To what point or purpose?! I like fuckin' breathing! That's the point and purpose!"

A further torrent of curses poured from Diamantus, but the attack was on them and there was no more time to swear or think. Reflection was what got people dead and fast. There were three ophidians now facing them, terrifying and full of a battle rage that was intimidating, even to those used to battle. As two of them rushed her, years of training and fighting made her muscles react without thought. Her pistol was holstered and her heavy blade moved, faster than anything with that weight should be able to, as she rapidly drove a chopping stroke at the face of the first attacker. In what seemed an impossible maneuver, the blade changed arc and direction to slash across the throat of the second attacker who came at her with razor teeth and slicing claws.

This fight was already uneven and made more so by the lack of any action from the captain. He was sitting hopelessly while Diamantus was fighting. Her face was set and hard, concentrated on the task ahead, but there was more than a flickering of fear in her eyes as she tried to fight off the ophidians with no help at all.

[212/708]

Type:
Versatile
Cost:
1,200 Vigor
Range:
Melee, 360° Arc
Frequency:
3 Round Cooldown
Magnitude:
+3

Those who adhere to the Discipline of Barbaris, should they survive long enough, gain a terrifying reputation. Enemies go after the Barbarian in greater numbers, and so it's necessary to learn how to deal with attacks from every side. Whirlwind is the no-nonsense answer to that situation, a bold series of attacks, aiming at every enemy in range. Though an incredible strain, it comes with such speed and ferocity that few can defend against it.
This attack costs 1,200 Vigor, and replaces the user's normal attacks that round. Every enemy within melee range is attacked once. The user is considered off-guard when the attack finishes, and three rounds must pass before this ability may be used again. This Versatile technique is applicable to all disciplines.
 

swaswj

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The axe slammed down to the ice as Diamantus narrowly slipped to the side, pulling her blade back from the naga whose throat she'd slit. From the opposite side of the ice, the spear thrust straight into Garus' unmoving form but the captain didn't call out. Instead, he had drawn his combat knife, jamming it between the spread tines of the fishing spear.

However lost and hopeless he felt, he had decades of military training honed into his body.

Without his heart in it, of course, reflexes would only carry things so far. Indeed, rather than counter, he twisted his wrist to slam the knife and spear blade into the ice, accepting a furious clawed swipe across the face from his attacker before Diamantus chopped at the fiend to send him back.

The woman couldn't spare the attention to cover for Garus, though. The instant she turned her back to protect him, the naga with the axe let go of his weapon and lunged for her, grabbing her and pinning one arm to her side. The one with the slit throat came rushing in, blood spilling down his torso but prepared to fight to the death.

More curses spat free and the saber bit into the wounded naga's chest this time. Diamantus slammed an elbow into the one grabbing her, then punched behind her head, clocking it in the skull with the sword's hilt. She broke free, spinning and slashing across its stomach.

Already more were swarming to the surface on all sides.

[250/1770]

Remember, I'm wanting to avoid that turn-by-turn type of fighting. Write it like you'd write in any other story.

On that topic, remember that you're not aiming for wordcount. You're aiming for the experience. For combat and action, you want to be brief; your delivery should be rapid. Describe what Diamantus is doing, what the naga are doing. Don't fixate on the why or on embellishing the situation. This isn't Dia's first rodeo, so it's not momentous enough for slow motion analysis, and it's not a defining moment like Ichigo gaining shikai. It's kill or be killed.

That is, if you continue fighting, of course.

Also, without spoiling too much, remember that sometimes you need to adjust your approach rather than abandoning an idea altogether. Like when Garus said to be cautious of the wreckage, you could have approached it with caution and awareness rather than dismissing it entirely. There's context clues in this thread for some of the ways out. Not counting death, there's at least three ways to resolve this situation (and potentially some I haven't thought of).
 

MoonlitRain014

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The naga youth were a horror as they came in a rush, teeth sharp, muscled bodies rippling dangerously. Diamantus fought on, heavy cutlass slashing and chopping about her, her powerful body seeming to react on pure reflex and instinct, all the years of training baked into that body expressing themselves in easy motion.

Memory hazed back many years. The water had been full of bodies and the black clouds of blood from them, the enemy coming in seemingly endless waves. Diamantus had tried so hard to get to Velius, but he was too far away and there were too many of their attackers. She'd fought so close to him, killing anything in her way and was reaching him when one of the enemy slashed his throat wide open in gaping red flesh and he fell, choking on his own blood to die.

The tide of ophidians continued to wash over their small chunk of magically constructed ice and the muscled velen's voice rose, strengthened by the roughness of memory and loss. There was calm in her voice but also an air of authority that was given more weight by the velen's preternatural powers of persuasion as she spoke. "Ex Oceanum, Ad Oceanum! If I gotta die with you, I die with you. Mebbe I ain't part of your crew but I swore an oath and I take my oaths serious. Sit there or don't sit there, I ain't leavin' you behind."

The clamouring crowd of creatures was a dark tide washing over them, even as they were cut down, they swarmed anew. The powerfully-constructed velen woman was hewing away, but her motions were getting less crisp with each sweep of the blade. The water boiled with more and they were closing in more and more tightly to the position of the pair of velen.

[304/1012]
 

swaswj

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The frenzied naga were relentless, falling back briefly from Diamantus only to attack again from another angle, racking up grievous wounds without showing any fear of death.

"Ex Oceanum."

"Ad Oceanum, sir!"


Garus clenched his fist, not wanting to hear the words. He did not want to be reminded of Libra, be reminded of all the men and women who had served with or beside him. The words brought it all back, emotion so strong that his chest physically ached.

Furious, the naga attacked. A claw slipped through to gash Diamantus in the thigh. The statuesque woman grit her teeth and thrust her cutlass into the beast's open maw, finally putting that one down. Before she could rip the blade free, another one chopped in with a sword. Its other arm was sliced almost clean through, dangling by a flap of skin, but the creature fought on, sluggish but fierce even as the waters frothed crimson around the ice floe.

Furious, the captain attacked. He grabbed the sword, growling as it bit deep into his palm. It also cut deep into the woman's shoulder, but if not for Garus stepping in, Diamantus might very well have lost her sword arm. "Damn you, woman," he growled out. "And damn all of you slithering eels!" He wrenched the sword out of the naga's hand with his good arm, booting the creature back to the water.

The captain and Diamantus moved so they were back to back, velen blood mingling with ophidian as they fought fiercely.

To what point and purpose? The thought flashed through the captain's head again and again, but the only answer he had was loyalty, a noble death accomplishing nothing except to show that some oaths were unbreakable.

Garus desperately reached for another option, though, something to give their deaths meaning. "Deo gwnuhiwnd!" His voice roared over the churning waters, hissing nagas, and the clang of weapons beating against one another. He shouted it again, then a third time before finally, mercifully, a shrill whistle cut the air.

The naga warriors shuddered and halted in their attacks. Garus reached back and grabbed Diamantus by the shoulder, stopping her from attacking the youths as they slowly retreated backward. "I'm giving you a choice," Garus whispered hurriedly in the common tongue. Ophidians shared the Himai tongue with velen, enough so to negotiate, but few of them could understand or speak the surface language. "A scouting party has at least one commander, one with their senses, one who can control the others. I'm going to parlay."

An ophidian rose from the dark waters, an adult male, clad in armor and holding a long spear. Colored scars on one arm marked the creature as someone of rank. Tail undulating to hold itself upright and above the water, the ophidian eyed them warily.

"Make no mistake, we'll likely die either way. But maybe we can do some damage before we go, eh? Or if not, use me as a blind, shoot through me and take this bastard out. It might cause enough confusion for you to get away."

The ophidian trilled out in warning as it approached, pointing its spear toward Garus. The creature eyed the bloody water, snarling at the sight of at least eight of its companions dead and several more likely to be there soon. Garus tossed his stolen blade into the water and held up his empty hands, standing between the ophidian and Diamantus.

"However it goes down, we'll see it through to the end, right? Ex Oceanum…" Garus met the ophidian's eyes and tapped the bars on his chest marking his rank. The ophidian tapped the colored scars on its arm, still wary but giving in to curiosity.

Garus could sense Diamantus moving behind him and braced himself for her choice.

[630/2400]
 

MoonlitRain014

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Looking around, the water boiling with sleek black forms, Diamantus grimaced as blood ran from the gashes and wounds on her muscle-bound body. There were so many of the ophidians that it was hard to see clear water. Her eyes ran in a circle around them, taking in those churning naga before settling on the ophidian leader for a brief moment before flicking over and focusing on Garus' face. "I'm willing to go along with the parlay ploy. Whatever happens, it's still Ex Oceanum like you say."

It was a ploy that might work. If death was nearly guaranteed, anything was worth a try. Her eyes again began to move as they scanned the area. Odds were being weighed, options calculated and angles examined. As the leader's expression moved to the curious, Diamantus continued to silently glance about and occasionally narrow her eyes in a particular direction or look briefly pensive before returning her gaze to the situation unfolding in front of her.

All around them, there was a miasma of barely contained ferocity. The young naga were at bay, but the atmosphere was contaminated by the rage that poured from the enemy. It almost had an animal stench in the cold air. Diamantus' uninjured arm was resting close to the pistol at her hip, inches away from twitching down and flicking it up and into action if it became necessary.

[231/1243]
 

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