[TWFNE] Week 248: Day of Hope

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Redfin

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The grand atrium was silent and still. A dim light ran along the walls, barely lighting up the room. Shadows blended into black, stretching into the walls. There were no shuffling on the stone floors of the ancient temple, no decrepit creatures roaming the area. The walls were carved full of flowing symbols. The ceiling was tall, arching into darkness. The original purpose of the room had been lost. What furniture stood there originally had ground to piles of mulch and junk.

To the south was a set of double doors leading to the rest of the temple. To the north was a pair of statues. One of them was missing an arm. The other was missing an arm and head. They were haunting figures cast half in shadow. There was a humbleness to their stance. They were on their knees, looking to the sky. Set in between them was a single door, solid and heavy.

[156]

 

Bat Cthulhu

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Cassius concentrated on his work, ignoring his surroundings, in his left hand he held a small flame, which was held close to the more frozen parts of Aeria. His right hand trailed behind it, rubbing a salve deep into the wounds. He winced as he surveyed the damage. The girl had had a number done on her. She should be on her back, resting, if he was quite honest.

“Not that any of us are any better.” He muttered to himself, sparing a glance down at his own bandages as well as the wounds the others had taken. He had used the last roll that he had brought with him in the aftermath of their battle. A white gauze pad, taped to his side, peaked out from under his brown clothes. He knew that Keydis had multiple rows up and down her arms, and he had secured her head from more trauma with another set of heavy bandages.

He desperately needed a rest, but he doubted Keydis would have any of it. He was here now, and according to her, they were on a deadline. Still, for a moment there was a plea for respite as he locked eyes with the mercenary. Then he looked back up to his work, purposefully taking his time as he went. He could at least give them a breather while they got patched up.
 

MoonlitRain014

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Cassius was soothing her with the magic, but Aeria's face was still contorted and her eyes were misty with pain. She leaned back but immediately all of the lines in her body tensed as Cassius' hands touched certain spots on her skin. Her eyes ran around the chamber, lighting on various features for a few moments, but ultimately they returned to staring fixedly ahead as the pain struck her in waves.

Her keen hearing caught the healer's voice and she replied to it. "I hope you're not neglecting yourself in all of this healing, Cassius. We may need you again."

The salve was beginning to take effect now and so the young spurii leaned back more. The taut lines in her face did relax a little and she tried to take a few deep breaths, wincing as pain seemed to lance through her side and wherever the burns were their worst. The bastards she thought the bloody bastards put us at a terrible disadvantage. She said nothing, however, trying to just let Cassius do his work.

[176]
 

Keydis Lysistrata

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"Nobody else has come in after us," Keydis remarked from where she was leaning near the way they had come in, keeping watch for more of the undead creatures. She reached up and fussed at the bandages Cassius had wrapped around her head. She was feeling rough, but compared to what had befallen Aeria -- or the archer girl before -- she felt like her wounds were nothing. It was too early for her to call it quits, but looking at the others, she felt doubts creep in. Aeria needed proper medical care and Cassius was going to run dry trying to take care of all of them.

Her eyes flicked over to Diamantus and Aelflead, silently judging their condition. The three of them could take on the bulk of the fighting, but one bad injury could take them out of it.

Retreat, or push forward?

Keydis pushed off of the wall and started across the expansive room, wanting a closer look at the statues. "The way back should be clear. You should take Aeria and go. Send reinforcements if there are any."

They hadn't accomplished anything, yet. The people outside were still in danger and the longer Keydis sat around trying to decide, the more people would be injured or worse. Therefore, she decided: she was moving on. With one hand resting on the sword at her waist, Keydis began brushing her fingers over the statues where pieces were missing, trying to guess whether they were broken or made that way.

[250/250]
 

Mystydjinn

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Aelflead the only other spurii, who had been sitting near the exit opposite Keydis, bootless, and with fingertips still strangely ablaze, -but otherwise mostly fine- spoke up in agreement with the impatient brunette.

"The terran's right. At the very least, keep behind us." She said, her fingers dimming slightly as she spoke. "You'd be less of a liability dead than injured like you are, but I'd prefer you kept breathing hard than not at all. Those medics outside should be more than capable." The spurii intoned, then closed her eyes and exhaled.

When flickering lights at the end of her brown fingers brightened again, with her eyes still closed, she turned her head towards Keydis.
"Why are you so concerned?"

WC [120/120]
 

Bat Cthulhu

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“Unfortunately, there’s something here I need to figure out.” Cassius wiped sweat from his brow. “And I’ve been told what would happen if I left without doing so.” He finished up with Aeria and brushed himself off. “So as long as you guys are here, I need to be behind you. Just gonna conserve my energy for a bit.” He had not had time to summon a new demon, but this would be fine. He just had to stay out of sight as best he could.

“If ever you wanna take a nap though, I’m all for it.”
 

Keydis Lysistrata

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Keydis made a sour face at the prospect of a nap. At this point, that would just give her aches and bruises a chance to settle in and cause her to stiffen up.

The brunette finished her cursory exam of the statues. The edges felt sharp enough that she assumed they were just broken, and not intentionally built with missing puzzle pieces. Next she put a hand to the door, brushing away dirt casually to check for inscriptions or obvious traps.

"I'm concerned because.... Well, you and me? We asked for this. We decided to come in, swords drawn, and fix this mess. The people out there, the people who lived here before this magic castle started appearing and monsters started running around, they didn't ask for this.

"If I don't do what I came here to do, more chance they'll get hurt. I know you have some kind of reputation of your own, what with the heroics in demon-town, but so far you all seem green." Keydis placed her palm flat on one of the doors and pushed, grunting as the motion aggravated one of her injuries.

"And guess what? I don't have the slightest clue what I'm fucking doing, either."

[200/450]
 

Mystydjinn

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"Thanks for the pep talk fearless leader," Aelflead snarked, her fingers brightening some as she opened her eyes to watch Keydis push her way into the next room.

Then she rose after a moment and drew 2 of the knives she'd pilfered from the late rogue from her cloak and watched the brunette press into the next room. Then, as she moved to follow, Aelflead turned to the three still crowded around Aeria, locking eyes with the spurii as she spoke.

"Move as quick as you're able. I'm fine, but she's clearly not, but I'm not so green as to think we all keep up with the pace Captain' Hookshot up there wants to set."

With that, she pushed the heavy door open herself and with her fingers still burning, slipped through.


[132/252]
 
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MoonlitRain014

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Diamantus walked up to Aelflead and Keydis casually. "Not to butt into this little discussion, but let me take care of Aeria. I'll help her along. I want everyone here to come out of this fucking disaster in one piece or at least close enough."

Casting her glance around the vaulting heights of the chamber and towards the ancient, mouldering statues that flanked the towering door at the end of the room, she sighed. "Whatever's on the other side of that door, we're gonna have to finish this, so you two concentrate on that."

Reaching down, she rested a hand on the butt of one of her pistols. "Besides, I've got range, so hanging back's alright."

With a great heave of effort and a stifled moan of pain, Aeria used her halberd's haft to lever herself to a standing position, now that Cassius was done his work. Slowly she hobbled to Diamantus' side and stood looking at the others. "You should leave me here, I'm not going to be any use up ahead."

Her muscled velen companion shook her head emphatically. "No Vis-damned way I'm leaving you here, kid. Who knows what might come along while we're up there. I said I'd help you and that's what I'll do, so you can shut up and let me do my job!"

Having said her piece, Diamantus lapsed into a pensive silence, eyes still scanning the room.

[411]
 

Redfin

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Beyond the door was a staircase leading upwards. The once elegant walls had their murals marred by new additions. Metals pipes had been riveted in with no regard to the structure underneath. It was a forceful job, much like what had happened to the rest of the temple.

At the top was an open-walled room. Its large openings had been bolted over by metal plates, leaving the space tight and dingy. There was a source of light, however. In the center was a large crystal encased in metal brackets. It set the room with a cold, blue glow. Metal pipes ran out from the base drilling through the floors and base of the walls. Perhaps everything mechanical addition to the temple sprang forth from this source.

There was a single decrepit humanoid standing in front of the crystal. He was barely more than skin and bones. A long, thick robe hung from his frame. In their pristine condition, they would have been white and ornate with gold filigree. Within the ruins, they were torn and covered in dirt.

[334]

 
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MoonlitRain014

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Aeria made her way unsteadily across the room now, having just noticed the humanoid figure, stopping well short of where it stood and then slowly turning to face the others as she pointed off in the direction of the creature. "Uh...does anyone else notice...him? It? What....is he?"

The spurii's face was pale and drawn, her features taut and her eyes wide. She took a deep breath and tried to steady herself further. Her body was aching and she seemed to struggle to stay upright. Very quickly, her strapping velen friend had moved to her side, one powerful arm clamping around her waist and the other drawing her pistol and training it on the creature.

Her voice was hard as she watched it. "Whatever it is, it sure as shit better not come over here or I'll blast holes in it."

[551]
 

Mystydjinn

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Aelflead stopped a few meters away, stolen daggers in hand and alert. A lack of visible enemies did not mean a lack of additional enemies altogether and even if it did, the fact this figure was alone said quite a bit about it's potential strength and the importance of the object in the room's center.

"I wouldn't count on those seconds either," the redhead quipped. "Impatience is kind of her thing."

[71/323]
 

Bat Cthulhu

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Cassius stood behind the rest of the group, leaning heavily on the wall. One hand clutched at his shoulder, wincing as he rotated it and tried to keep it from getting too stiff. He stayed silent, but made sure to keep the rest of the group between the ghoul and himself. They could handle it… hopefully.
 

Redfin

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The ragged priest spoke, but his words were raspy, like a wind crawling along leaf-covered stone. The language he used was old. A certain phrase stood out. "Tempus terminus." The priest's mouth opened wide, revealing the abyss of stars inside. He paced back and forth, slowly with feet dragging along the ground. "Celsum... Ruptus... Imperium..."

The priest pointed to the device held in the center of the room. "Tempus terminus."

[404]
 

MoonlitRain014

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The spurii stared at the creature, raising an eyebrow, listening carefully. The voice was so weak and thready that it became hard to hear. Once she figured it out, she whirled to stare open-mouthed at her companions. "Something about the imperium on high....erupting? Exploding?" She shook her head, "Time ends? Why does time end? What time ends?"

Her finely penciled eyebrows came together as she pondered. Looking at the faces of all of her compatriots, she shook her head more slowly this time.

"What do you think it means? Is it talking about now? Something about the current rule coming to an end? From on high? Does that mean from something outside of the world?"

She looked at the device in the middle of the room with renewed interest. "Does that thing in the middle of the room have anything that indicates what it might be capable of doing? Does it summon something from the heavens? Does it communicate with them?"

Wandering closer, she cast her engineer's gaze on it, puzzling over what it might mean.
 

swaswj

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Pulling her sword away, but keeping it ready, Keydis listed to Aeria and frowned. "Times end? End-times? Did these people cause the Cataclysm?" History lessons caught up with her, though, and she shook her head. "Except it started in the Denuntiares, right? This is too close to Terminus."

She huffed in irritation. "Whatever, is there another puzzle in here? Is there something to smash? Cass, keep your distance from gramps, I'm not convinced he's harmless." She started looking at the pipes on the wall, checking for broken or scrambled pieces, leaving the pedestal for someone else to look over.

[100/585]
 

Mystydjinn

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"Considering the themes of the day have been scavenger hunt," Aelflead re-sheathed one of her daggers. "And glyphs I should remember more clearly than I do, I doubt the pantheon is involved and I'm guessing puzzle over smash and grab, Captain."

Aelflead turned to glance around the room briefly, then faced the group again with a frown more pensive than annoyed. She began moving towards the crystal and Aeria as she spoke. "I'm pretty sure Dusty here is saying time has stopped here or because of here time is stopping, and that the reason for why involved some kind of..." She trailed off as she passed by Keydis and the corpse, a shudder claiming her tongue for a moment. "Violence." She finished.

"Considering that crystal we picked up a few rooms back, and all the old... Unsavory things running around; I figure this place is a just machine. Probably designed to do something to time, presumably stopping it." The former acolyte wrung her hands slowly, trying to shake the flames off of her fingers, and then when that proved ineffective, she reached out and ran one of her warm brown hands along the cold black metal brackets around the crystal.

"Considering the mention of an eruption, I'm guessing something went wrong." Contempt crept into her voice. "The heavens reference is probably a just an just an expression to describe how disastrous the wrong was from an ignorant group of priests who put too much trust in fairy tales."


WC n More when we return
 

Bat Cthulhu

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“I mean, Eruption could just refer to the cataclysm.” Cassius shrugged, but stayed back from the old zombie. “In fact, this could have been their solution. Makes sense, right?” He tried to figure out a way around the creature to get to the crystal center of the room. “If they could stop the march of time for this place, maybe they could see forward a little bit and saw the destruction coming.” He walked around slowly, leaning against the wall for support.

“Can someone move him for me? I would like to see what this device is all about.”
 

Redfin

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The device in the center of the room hummed louder, as if reacting to the presence of other life forms. The noise was soft, like a whale song far off underwater. The crystal glinted within the encasement that stretched from the floor to the ceiling. The light it gave off shifted in tone from dark to light blue.

The sounds of the conversation drifted away. Why would it? The room was enclosed, yet the words flitted off without any intention of returning. A seeping darkness broke through the seals of the window and the bricks in the floor. A shimmering, star-filled darkness.

The void that overtook the residents of the temple was continuing its expanse, threatening to swallow everything. The noise drifted in, and it responded with a breath.

[533]

Time is a factor. If things go too long, retreat becomes highly recommended.
 

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