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Sugar-Free

The Eternally Guilty Sun: Revival

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Falling through the painting, feeling it peel away and ruffle the hairs on his back, he landed feet-first onto the grainy, yellow plain. His skin felt heavy with the burden of the heat of the sun—a contrast to the damp dinginess of the basement moments prior. Soon following were Lightweaver, who buried her face unceremoniously in the sand as she plummeted; Solar, who was significantly more composed and seemingly taken with Lightweaver, for whatever reason; Ratchet, the force-field sort of energy propelling him above the ground cushioning his landing; and Valerie somewhere behind. He only noted her arrival, too taken with the view beyond. It was, for a burning wasteland, surprisingly lively. And...was there an overtone of...drums and sitar being played overhead? Had he not noticed this sort of thing before? He became lost in the feeling of the place and began padding forward, mindful of the lone Bob-omb and Crazed Crate nearby, and made for the stone gazebo.

 

Ascension secretly hoped their time here would not be prolonged. Unfortunately, he didn’t know the locations of the stars for this world, but could guess that at least a couple were inside the pyramid that stood amongst the swirling quicksand far to the west. But that was a far shot between the already treacherous maze path...with the Tox Boxes and their shoddily spray-paint faces...and with one wrong move, even...

 

A shudder ran through his spine.

 

“I’m sorry to say that I have no idea where the stars are for this course, everyone,” he admitted. His eyes went back to the maze path; all around was quicksand as well, and that...well, if the first wrong move didn’t invite death, then...

 

“...hmm...” Ascension pondered his options. “Taking an educated guess, I’d say we try heading for the large pyramid.” He pointed out with a paw. “Only problem is these Tox Boxes on the maze...”

 

A few gravelly guffaws echoed over the stinging winds, causing his ears to drop and quickly rise; they were mocking him! He glanced to the group for help.

 

“I’d rather not try taking the maze via the normal method. Any ideas?”

--------------------------------

 

Now the campsite, or the approximate location of the campsite, was now within sight. Stormcatcher had settled and had seemed to come to an understanding--or so he hoped--for the time being, and Tyrande had backed him up on his assertions. Alex had drifted down to the back against Ike's wishes, and was now trailing her right boot in the river as she walked, occasionally stabbing the mud with her sword. He couldn't help but stare at her; for someone who was a self-professed "master of the sword and spell", she was almost unbelievably childish. Was she always so...self-absorbed? And not so much in a selfish, self-interested way, really--more like...why was she always so internally stimulated? He shook his head in disbelief at her, but, in a strange way, he almost envied her. Alex seemed completely invulnerable to being actually being angered or hurt, and by extension be distracted by any sort of hindrance or reservations she might have. Whether or not that was true, he couldn't help be be reminded of another person who gave off an air of aloofness...

 

"Heeey, Ikaroo? I don't see any tiny Sorbets around here. You sure we're in the right place?"

 

She clipped the sword on her hip and took out her tome, giving it a shake and rubbing it all over her chest. He was about to ask, but judging by how she was smearing a hand over the cover, she was trying to wipe it clean of water in vain. She began calling out at the water--"CEREAL KILLER. CEREAL KILLER. CEREAL KILLER. CERE--"--waving her hands from side to side, causing the water to fly up in great arcs.

 

"Yes, I'm sure. And what are you even doing, Alex? Quit yelling at the water!"

 

"Pfeh! You'll be saying that once I pull that little mage bro up by the ponytail--wh--?"

 

 

 

A flash of light appeared from the sky, farther up the riverbank. Ike flung up an arm to guard his eyes, but the light faded as quick as it had shown. Something, a silhouette in the poor lighting, fell into the water with a scream, and began to come down the river. Whatever it was, it was floundering around with its arms just barely breaching the surface.

 

 

"Is...is that a person?"

 

 

He took off at a run up the bank, hollering out at Alex as he passed her: "I take it back: keep yelling at that river! Hold the water back for me!"

 

"U-uh? Okay? I'm...YES, OKAY."

 

The current was pulling the person toward Ike's position at an alarming rate. He glanced back at Alex, who had cut a part in the river and was using her magic to push the water forward, making a wall of churning darkness at her hands. She was grimacing. He'd have to be quick. Just in front of the form, he made a sharp right and jumped into the miasma.

 

 

Force. Swirling, bubbles, the roar of the element. Cold pervading his eyes, ears, nose and mouth. He swept out his arms and found the presence of cloth billowing: he grasped until he found limbs, and securing the form against him with one arm, he pushed upward until the numb roiling gave way to vivid noise. Ike gasped and shook the droplets from his sight, then turned himself to face Alex further down. He switched the person--just a boy, from the looks of it--to his left and swatted his right arm outward.

 

"Get on the bank! Pull the water towards me!" If it went as planned, that'd leave a spot on the river bottom free of water. He held on tight to his charge as he hit the wall, passing through it and depositing on the muddy space. He rolled and picked himself up, moving the boy onto his shoulder and climbing back onto solid ground. Once safe away, he had Alex let the spell falter, and the wall fell back onto itself and the river continued on its way.

 

Now, Ike slid the person off of him, standing him on his feet, as he was still awake. Shaken, obviously, but alive. He steadied his shoulders and stood back.

"You okay? You...wait."

 

He recognized these features: green outfit, a wing-hilted sword, blond hair, even if it was soaked and darkened. He crossed his arms.

 

"Aren't you Link? I know you, don't I?"

Edited by Sugar-Free

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As the rest of the group all went through the painting, Valerie and Spritzee followed. It felt pretty odd passing through it, but luckily that sensation was over quickly. She landed in a place that mostly reminded her of the Lumiose Badlands, with hurling sand everywhere and the sun intensely burning on her skin. She didn't like going to the Lumiose Badlands, just like most people. Then again, she had to remain here to help the group find the star.

 

For the first while, she simply followed Ascension, together with all the others. Then he stood still, saying something about the maze they stood in front of and that he'd rather not take it the usual way.

 

"Hmhmm... I think Spritzee wouldn't mind looking for the right path, hmm? Sprr- Sprrit?"

 

"Sprrit! Zee- Spritzee!"

 

"Wonderful. Well, Ascension, what do you think?"

 

---

 

"Klllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeefffff...... -Ki"

 

Klefki screamed in surprise as it was thrown away by a creature that looked like a big, walking bomb. It guessed that would be the King Bob-omb that Blossom had mentioned.

 

As it got back up to a comfortable altitude, it noticed the black, spherical thing had thrown it almost all the way back to Blossom and the boy.

 

"Klef! Klefki!", the Klefki shouted out after travelling the last few feet to them.

 

"What happened?" Blossom asked. "Did you find something?"

 

Klefki tried everything it could to communicate to them that they should follow it, but failed to get much further than ringing with the keys it was carrying. Noticing Klefki wanted to tell them something, but couldn't find a proper way to do it, Blossom decided to send out Kirlia,

 

Shawn, honestly amazed by the creatures Blossom was summoning, understood that this was probably just as usual for her as hissatsu techniques were to him, and he had already seen that those were certainly not a common thing to see for her, so he decided to stay quiet and see what she was up to.

 

"Kirlia, can you please tell me what Klefki i trying to say?"

 

"Kir, Kir!"

 

"Klef! Klefki."

 

"Kirlia?"

 

"Klef!"

 

"Kirrr! Kirlia"

 

Kirlia waved it's arm at Blossom and Shawn, signaling they should follow it.

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It was cold and the surface was always fleeting. When his head would break the surface the water would yank him down, it was unforgiving and he had angered it with his presence. As punishment it dragged him under, but with no reprieve for air this time. Links lungs felt as if a fire was consuming them, they burned and ached as did his body from the beating that he was getting from the river.

 

Is this how I die, did I really go through hell saving Zelda, just to drowned.

 

Thoughts ran rampant through his mind as clear as day. What he couldn’t see, his mind played out for him in vivid details.

 

Ufff

 

Link felt precious air escape his mouth and slide smoothly pasted his face as his tunic caught on something. He couldn’t hear much other than the dull roar of the water as he was dragged out and then laid over something.

 

What is this

 

Links fingers grabbed onto something that felt like clothing, crumpling it up while trying to use it as a life line. He found that he could also breath now that he was no longer in the water, but over a shoulder(?). Feeling his weight shift as he was put down he coughed a couple of times, clearing his throat as he looked at the people who had saved his life.

 

"You okay? You...wait.”

 

"Aren't you Link? I know you, don't I?"

 

 

Link looked at him with confusion written in his features. He had never meet him before, that he was fairly certain of. He was sure that he would have remembered anyone that dressed and looked like him, with his blue hair and strong features, he had a memorable face.

 

Mmmmm

 

Shaking his head, he smiled and held his hand out. He may not have known him but he did just save his life and that was something to be thankful for. Dropping his hand, he shifted from foot to foot as he glances around at the surrounding land. He had never seen this place before and worry started to eat at him, he didn’t know where his loft wing was or how to get home.

 

Looking back at the man in front of him he waved his hand in the air with a questioning gaze hoping that he would get his meaning.

Edited by Acornia

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Cyil’s eyes went to the battlefield, her face set as her eyes targeted their foes one by one. He watched her expression change ever so slightly, little creases between her brow and jaw flexing and fading as her mind cycled through a thousand possibilities, measuring her stride and the openings in her foes’ limited defenses. This was not the look of an everyday bandit leader, with his palm itching for coin, nor was it even the look of the more prolific mercenary heads he’d worked alongside in the past, who’d only guessed at their enemies’ intentions before him; no, standing here was more than a “commander”, as she liked to say. She was not only a fighter—she, too, was a tactician. And though her foolhardy, self-leveled actions spoke otherwise, she obviously had an extensive history of being one. It was no small wonder to him how exactly she performed as one in her land, seeing as she didn’t appear keen on sharing what was going on inside her mind, but...still, it was there. Any fool could step onto a battlefield. It took a master to read one.

 

And before Soren could ask her intentions, she suddenly leapt forward into the fray, leaving a splash of water and his stomach reeling as she disappeared into the dark. He tottered in place, but quickly recovered as he held the reserves of Cyil’s magic inside, and watched his surroundings. Nothing was within his range, but should anything try him, he would lay them to waste, even if it killed him.

 

The growl of the chainsaw and the wet slicing of grimy flesh reassured him of her survival, and he was greeted by another rally of droplets to the face as she returned.

 

“I’ve got your satchel, hold onto it tight.”

 

Soren’s hand shot out to catch the bag out of the air, ignoring the sshliing! behind him to round it onto his shoulder. He smoothed it open with the back of his hand to check—two green tomes, one red—and looked up fast enough to see a disembodied arm fly past. There wasn’t time to change out yet, so he made do with Cyil’s Thunder. In a moment where their eyes met again, he offered silent gratitude.

 

Thank you.

 

Now that the battle was properly underway, he backed close to Cyil and stood away from her, his tongue rolling the silent utterance of minor magic in quick succession. Each repetition was a bolt of lightning incarnate, and one by one the revenants fell, piling onto themselves or dissolving in a blast of plasma. When Cyil moved, he moved with her; he mirrored her steps with an inner rhythm, never inhibiting and always empowering her lunges and spins. As a mage, it was his duty to cover, not conquer; as a strategist, it was to guide, not to lead. And so he did, but with a fervor unlike what he had experience since the last great battle he’d ever fought—where he’d stood at Ike’s side as he faced down a goddess. It overcame him, that memory, and he found his motions becoming more pronounced, more intent, more powerful. What is this?, he wondered, and in a breath between bolts he dared to turn his gaze onto her again.

 

 

She...was smiling?

 

 

Smiling...in the heat of battle, in the face of odds far against her. Smiling, as though she was almost enjoying herself. A break in the façade of even uprightness. Emoting, showing, revealing...free. As she swerved, he winded to make up for the deficit in her defense, and he could feel an incredible sensation rising throughout his body.

 

He had no love for battle. Fighting was a necessity, a byproduct of humanity, an eventual end to men and women both cruel and kind. It was biased. It was thoughtless. It had taken so much from those who did not deserve it. A man run through by knight clad all in black, his son unable to even mourn from shock...

 

 

But yet...

 

 

Again, Soren’s hands came up, the text now so familiar that he had no need for the tome as anything but an implement, and he shot past Cyil’s overhand swing to dispatch an undead on her right, rounding in the same motion to destroy another on the left. At points, he was close enough to feel her cape brush his robes, or see her hair whip out in his peripherals as she danced. It reminded him of those days long past. Of when he’d stood with his back to an ethereal barrier, mutilating the “blessed” soldiers of the tower as that son, now a man, stood similar on the other side, his mighty blade clashing against its twin in the hands of that same ebony knight...a cathartic reflection of that cursed night that had brought him here, so many years ago...

 

For a moment, his lips trembled, betraying him. But he wouldn’t let himself be misled. There was no happiness in strife. Now more than ever, all he wanted for was rest. For him. For Ike. For all the blood they’d shed and spilt, and all the innocents who lives were claimed by their hand and others, in ignorance and defiance, for king and country, in the name of Ashera...

 

 

Soren stopped as he heard Cyil’s movements cease. Had she been stricken? Had he been too caught up in the dregs of the past and let his commander fall? He turned and found her eyes on him again. They were bright, but steady and confident, and she looked no worse for wear. Soren diverted his gaze only for a second, noticing the dearth of enemies around them. Had they really accomplished this much?

 

"While this may be a bit sudden and surprising, I need you to trust me on this. We can't hold our ground against these monsters forever, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the skeletons will be harder to deal with.” He nodded in response, more receptive than he desired to be to her words. But what she said next threw him for a loop.

“I'm going to transform into a dragon and have you ride on my back while you charge up some spells from the air, that way we can clear out some of the weaker monsters and weaken the tougher ones. You'll have enough time to aim and charge your spells while still being able to draw on my magic. We'll also have a better vantage point and be safer, especially since I doubt any of these monsters have weapons with enough range to hit us in the air."

She wasn’t wrong. They were surrounded, and too outnumbered to even hope to match them fairly. But...for her to transform...right here? And into a dragon...Soren had made it a point to stay as far away from dragons as possible. It was not until he’d faced King Dheginsea that he’d been in such proximity with one transformed for the first time, and the overwhelming power that the gods-aged hero of legend had exuded had convinced him it had been the right decision...even if it was by Soren’s hand that he was slain. He wanted to tell her it was unnecessary, that they could likely stretch their resources with a bit more planning...

 

But before he could protest, a bright glow emanated from her bracelet, and burst of purple and engulfed her before being bleached out by soft blue. He held his ground, even as his heart plummeted into his stomach and his skin began to crawl, and as the light dissolved it revealed a creature unlike what Soren could comprehend.

 

Her armor had become her body. Her body had become that of some cross between that of a serpent and a deer. All along her neck, torso, legs, tail and wings were rows of segmented scales, and her head was rounded, antler-crested and set along two thick, almost whisker-like appendages. She knelt down to him, and the settling motion of her head reminded him of some fae woodland creature from fairytales. Somewhere within, she inspected him, eyeless but seeing.

 

“Well? Are you in?

 

“I...”

 

 

I refuse.

 

 

Soren’s attention drifted to the mindless hoard shuffling about outside his sight.

 

 

I refuse.

 

I refuse.

 

 

He refused. His fists balled. He refused.

 

 

I refuse.

 

 

Did she think it was this easy? He’d been so caught up in the moment before....but now, with this pull at his heart, he remembered.

 

 

I refuse.

 

 

You are...what is your name?

 

 

'Soren.'

 

 

I refuse.

 

I-I see. That...that is a fine name.

 

 

A strangled chuckle escaped him, and that image brought a bitter smirk to his lips. Even without eyes to see his reflected in, he knew it, somewhere inside. Every time crimson looked back at him, all he could see was her. That woman.

 

I-I see...

 

You...

 

...a fine name...

 

 

 

But...there was another. A reminder. Bright and warm. So...naive...but so...

 

 

 

All right. I understand. So?

 

...You're still you, Soren!

 

...we are a family.

 

 

 

He forced his hands to relax and he shook his head.

 

 

 

“This is ridiculous...but I don’t have a choice, do I?”

 

 

He went to her side and grabbed tight onto her arm, jumping and swinging himself up onto her back. It felt incredibly awkward, and he couldn’t help but jitter as he situated himself in between the blunt, but shaped plates running down her spine. He finally found a stable seat at the base of her shoulders, looking all the world like some sort of corruption of a wyvern rider. An unpleasantly-timed image of Ranulf popped into his mind; if he were here, he’d be making a spectacle of it. He sucked in a breath and exhaled, putting away Ragnarok and Thunder and withdrawing Rexcalibur and Bolganone. Soren kept Caesura in close reach, just in case his mount—his blood curdled at that thought—happened to fall. Within moments of touching the tome, the Wind spirits immediately came to Soren’s call, old friends of a war long past. He directed his voice at Cyil’s head, the quickly-amassing circles of runes quieting as he spoke.

 

“Try not to get hasty—take a look at the monster’s claws.” One had come into the light, this one much bigger and muscular than the others. Its bony protrusions dripped with a vile green liquid.

 

“I don’t like the looks of that. They could be poisoned, or worse, and if you happen to fall, we’re both done for.”

He then directed a hand at the farthest side of the room. There, light illuminated a set of long blocks descending from another floor.

 

“And mind those stairs! I can reach them from here if need be, but if something slips out from under my range, you’ll need to deal with it!” As if on cue, handful of red streaks bounded down the steps, their maws dripping with foam. Before they could advance much, darts of ice impaled them from above, nailing heads and bodies to the stone. Soren dispelled the wafts of white-green swirling around himself and passed a hand to Bolganone. Already, jagged lines of red made cracks through the floor, seeking a prime spot to burst from the ground.

“We’ll work together culling their ranks up close with your attacks and Bolganone, and I’ll focus on the outliers with Rexcalibur in between. I’m ready when you are.”

Edited by Sugar-Free

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Solar narrowed her eyes. The sand was picking up, and it was stinging her eyes, causing her to squint. The inside of her ears also stung. "...curse this sand. Hopefully it doesn't act like a sandstorm in Alola."

 

She pricked her ears as Ascension spoke, before flattening them to try and keep the sand out. "I don't see any way around unless everyone can climb that hill over there and we can reach it."

 

---

 

Lightweaver would've just flown over the maze, but there was a sandstorm. Enough of one that it was lowering visibility - not good in foreign skies. Sandstorms were one reason she felt Stormcatcher really should've made his territory less sandy. She should know, given she's had to return... borrowed... items to the Ruins from the Expanse. It was a headache ending up on the ground - belly-first if you were lucky - because you couldn't distinguish sky from earth or had been blown off balance by a sudden storm.

 

The brown beast spoke up. Quite honestly, the dragon didn't see any way around except a looming hill and the maze with hoxes on it. While she was tempted to disregard the boxes, part of her recalled those enchanted chests of Shadowbinder's... and the fact that she wasn't in Sornieth any longer.

 

---

 

Stormcatcher backed up as Alex used her tome to manipulate the water. Oh, no, he wasn't getting close to that magic... wielders of water and wind couldn't be trusted, and he didn't care to find out which of the elemental alignments was in use.

 

Ike had jumped into the river, and was pulling out what appeared to be another Beorc, this one in rather diffferent apparel than the other three. The new Beorc also appeared to be younger. He narrowed his eyes when he caught a glint of sword, and kept his distance. A low electrical humming joined the mix of sounds.

Edited by Dusky_Flareon

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Ratchet Made it to the stone gazebo with the rest of the group. While Ascension Explained the situation and they he was unsure where the star was. Ratchet constructed his Flux Rifle and aimed it towards the maze floating in a sea of quicksand. He peered through the scope to get a closer look. Ratchet could see these large, rusty metal cubes flipping end over end along the maze. They looked huge and he could hear the rhythmic thump that came from each one. Ratchet's gun vanished in a flash of light and he switched to another weapon. A blue glove constructed around his hand and a black ball appeared in his hand.

 

Ratchet tossed it up and down in his gloved hand and turned to Ascension. "Well I can clear a path. I'm sure I have enough firepower to destroy those Tox Blocks" he offered. He assumed that the way into the pyramid was around the other side. Ratchet wished he had some kind of flying gear but he left it all back on Pollox.

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Solar looked out again, waiting for Ascension to speak. That was when Ratchet decided to use force - and a fight was something she understood. Solar grinned, and moved forwards.

 

First, she started with a Swagger, hoping to Confuse the Tox Boxes. After executing the Swagger, she summoned balls of flame that glowed red yo white on the heat spectrum. Narrowing herveyes, she aimed, and spat. Multiple balls of flame isdued forth from her mouth.

 

A Will-O-Wisp attack... or several. They could burn the boxes, and well, heat plus steel...

Edited by Dusky_Flareon

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Ratchet smiled when Solar stepped forward and faced the first metal block head on. He knew he liked this cat for a reason. Ratchet followed to give her a hand.

 

Stepping up next to the orange and black cat he smiled at her, " "Keep going! Your doing great. Ratchet liked her style. Heat warps metal. He held both his hands low and his Pyrocitor constructed in his hands. Ratchet took the weight and squeezed the trigger.

 

A jet of blue flame erupted from the tip. The inferno spread across the surface of the metal block. It did not seem to notice. The Tox Block continued to flip end over end towards them. Ratchet and Solar held their ground.

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Before he could answer Valerie, Ratchet and Solar went into action, a blaze of flames as they matched against the Tox Blocks on the dark path. The sand was growing it its voracity, whipped by the wind into Ascension's face and hair, and his voice felt muffled. He looked back at Lightweaver and Valerie, maling a quick dash for the maze.

 

"Come on! Have Spritzee guide us across! If you can make it, give us a barrier! Lightweaver, keep to the ground and watch the quicksand! Let's get moving!"

 

 

((Adding as I go!))

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intruders? On my maze?!? This will not stand. I will SMASH YOU. the Tox Block said in it's own language of grunts and groans. It flipped end over end with a steady rhythm in a direct path to crush the strange creatures. It's spray painted faces were obscured by the upright thing's weapon. Did they really expect for fire to hurt it? A being of iron and heat. The Tox Block would have laughed it it had lungs.

 

They were standing strong and the Tox Block closed in. It was one flip away when it suddenly forgot what it was doing. The block noticed the two small creatures and remembered Oh Yeah! Intruders! Just gotta flip once more and kill em The Tox Block said, and slowly began to tip forward to kill Ratchet and Solar. At the last second, it seemed to pivot to the right, heading perpendicular to the duo. It toppled off the edge of the maze and into the quicksand.

 

Ratchet burst out laughing and watched the block sink into the quicksand, That was great, Solar! What did you do to it?" he asked, clutching his stomach with laughter, "Whatever it was, keep doing it"

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Solar grinned as the Tox Box flipped sideways and into the quicksand. Even though she was fairly sure Ratchet couldn't understand her, she still spoke.

 

"...and that's why I keep Swagger as a move. Well, then. To repeat this..."

 

Once again, Solar sprayed Will-O-Wisp at the Tox Boxes to infuriate them into an attack. When she saw more coming, she used Swagger again to Confuse the incoming Boxes.

 

"Wonder how many we can take out this way...'

 

---

 

Lightweaver heard Ascension orders as the sand bit into her body. By the rest of us, this was... she would never understand Stormcatcher's love of deserts. It stung, and she growled.

 

The weather was awful, to a dragon from a relatively calm area. As one Tox Box flipped into the sand, she started forwards, only to snarl and retreat as more approached.

 

"These boxes!" Lightweaver growled, annoyed now at the weather and hostile metal hunks. And was that Solar TRYING to lure them in?! The golden dragon mentally growled.

 

Ugh.... why do you have to lure them in? Couldn't you just do... whatever it is... from a distance!? At least a greater one?

Edited by Dusky_Flareon

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Owain turned to Severa, then back to the thing in front of them.

Then back to Severa.

"...I think that thing just spoke to us." he whispered.

"SEVERAL things have spoken to us today when they shouldn't have! How are you still impressed?!" Severa wondered, gesturing to the golden rabbit. "It's just a rabbit this time instead of a fox!"

"True! Very true!" Owain replied, tilting his head slightly. "But... what does it want?"

"It just said it wants a star. ITS star, specifically." Severa responded. "But I'm just as confused as you. Doesn't that mean this thing beat one of those worlds too?"

"OR PERHAPS, like the giant stone king, we must beat it too!" Owain said, readying his sword.

"Wait, so you're OK with killing the talking animal this time? What happened to 'Maybe it holds useful information?'"

"This rabbit doesn't seem nearly as informative." Owain stated. "...But..."

He sighed, lowering his blade.

"Much as I love a flourish and fantasimo, attacking an innocent rabbit doesn't look good to the general populace." Owain rubbed a hand through his hair. "Also, he may know something more about the stars here. Who knows."

"Ugh. Again with the information." Severa crossed her arms. "But you're right. He's not currently in a form I'd want to fight either."

"Little rabbit, we don't know anything about your star." Owain began, holding out his hands. "But maybe we can work together to find it? We're ALSO looking for stars. But we can get yours back too!"

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On cue, Valerie released Spritzee, its chirruping voice ringing out over the howl of the storm. She directed it to keep itself visible with Dazzling Gleam, and soon after, Valerie followed after Ratchet and Solar as they made their advance. Ascension was forced to keep at a distance, as even as he tried to feel for Flareon's fury, there was no response. Instead, he kept Spritzee in his sight, and tried to think of where the star could be.

 

Maybe the pyramid is the best place to check...somewhere at the top or inside?

 

He looked around, seeing the end of the maze close within reach. There were a couple red pillars visible in his hindered vision. Maybe if he could get there...

"You see the pillars coming up? We'll all need to convene there! I'll go with Spritzee to scout!"

 

He hopped between a tumbling pair of Tox Boxes, heading to the checkerboard pillars beyond.

===================

 

Orbs. Green, blue, red...mushrooms, keys, traps...

 

None of these things were worthy of the adulation his prized possession. Long before, when the evil king had first commandeered the castle and its multiple paintings--right from under his nose. The king koopa held the Castle Stars in his arms like mounds of candy. Befitting, for a child.

 

{"A golden star...eat your heart out, Bowser. I never knew you to be a smart man."}

 

He tossed it in the air and caught it with a roll, diverting his wings to land him on top of the pyramid. His free claw dug into the ancient stone, cracks like bolts of lightning emanating from his impact. He was pleased, SO pleased with this one object, he thought he'd never grow tired of looking at it. No matter what, that fat plumber would never get his grubby gloved hands on it, even if it would secure Bowser's defeat. There were plenty to go around, and this one...was his.

 

 

He fluffed out his feathers and leaned forward, craning his fleshy neck over and examining the dust storm below. Seemed like the Tweesters had become too overzealous with their twisting...and now, even the Tox Boxes were in a frenzy, throwing themselves into the sand and growling. Odd, but unimportant--all would reset in a matter of hours. He huffed with dismissal and gazed out over the boundaried dunes.

 

 

 

But something caught his eye. A shimmering glimmer...like diamonds, more glamorous than a star...? Out of the storm a cloud of dark burst forth, followed by a small brown thing and a small pink thing. He bobbed his head and turned, the crust underfoot falling and snapping.

 

{"Oh...what's this? Something shiny, something rare..."}

 

He kept his place, but he could feel the anticipation. Soon...soon...

===================

 

AND THEN ALEX STEPS IN--

 

 

Alex moved bodily between Ike and the Link, a big smile across her face and dissuading him from looking at the mud splattered up her side. She'd taken a tumble after moving up on the bank buuuuut he prolly wasn't observant enough to pick up on that. The Link had motioned to the crowd, so that meant he obviously didn't have any idea who these folks were! So, Alex being the good Samaritan she was, was socially obligated to make up for Ike's incompetence.

 

"'Eyyyyyy there, Lonk! Now, I know you're not the Lonk I know, and you have ABSOLUTELY NO IDE WHO I AM, but that's what making friends is all about!" She grabbed up his gauntleted hand and gave it a hearty shake, bopping up and down to emphasize.

 

"I'm ALEX! The big guy with the phallic sword who saved you is Ike--he's a cool bro--and the dragon with the twisty wing that 100% was not my fault is Stormcatcher!" She waved her arms all noodle-like at Tyrande, "That there is Tyrande, and she's gracious and also cool and very, very nice! And pretty! And forgiving!" Alex's grin wavered as she internally begged her not to suddenly turn favor after her excitable description. None of that was wrong, so no problem, hopefully...!

 

"And everyone has prematurely decided not to kill each other! Everyone else, this be Link, and while I have no actual background to claim this, I can say without a doubt that he's gonna take up our cause and ALSO decide not to kill anyone!...on our side!" She shifted her weight onto another foot and waved a hand in the air. There was one other...tiny...eensy...detail...

 

"Oh...uh, don't bother actually talking to him. O-or, well, you can talk to him, but he don't say much back. So...Iiiiii~ hope you all like charades!"

=============

 

MIPS listened. He listened close.

 

Something about killing? What was that? To 'kill'? He twitched an ear. They didn't know. They didn't know?

 

"Little rabbit, we don't know anything about your star. But maybe we can work together to find it? We're ALSO looking for stars. But we can get yours back too!"

 

He squinted and squirmed. They were crazy--CRAZY! But if they were so sure, then...then maybe. Maybe they could. Likely not, but maybe.

 

"Oh, really and truly? You could do that? I don't think so, since she took it." Without explaining, he squeaked to the Star Door. This door, she passed here. She had to. He knew it.

 

"My star is in here. She took it, took it from me! She picked me up and flung me like a stuffed animal, and she lay not even a hand on me! She took it! And she fled--to here." He looked upon it sadly, with wonder and with dread. She took it--they were too late. But maybe...

 

MIPS turned and looked to the human-things, the blondie and the scowler.

 

"Go on and go there! What's stopping you? She's there, she's there!"

Edited by Sugar-Free

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Link was confused to say the least, it seemed that at least two of these people knew him. But they didn’t know him? As far as he knew there was only one, him.

 

Maybe they were crazy. The girl, Alex, was definitely missing a couple of screws. Who's to say the rest weren't. His attention followed around the group as Alex introduced all of them. Ike was the first one up. He seemed nice, he did save him and that was enough to make him trust worthy. From the way he was dressed link had the inclination that he was either rich or royalty. But he carried a sword so he must have been skilled.

 

I wonder how good he is.

 

He didn't have long to think on it as Alex went on with her introduction.

 

Alex, in all of her odd excitement at meeting him, seemed ok. A little to overly energetic but that wasn’t a bad thing. If anything she reminded him of Zelda, with her upbeat attitude, he could almost see her in Alex. She didn't dress as plainly as Zelda, but a major difference was Alex carried a book of some kind. Zelda didn't read if she could help it.

 

The one that caught his attention and held it though was the dragon. Stormcatcher was his name, and it went well with his dark scales and lightening pattern that graced his body.

 

I wonder if he’s just a pet or if he’s intelligent and could comprehend words and the such.

 

He had yet to hear him talk and from the look he was giving him he got the impression that he was being leery around him. He couldn’t tell though, if it was directed everyone in the group or just him.

 

"Oh...uh, don't bother actually talking to him. O-or, well, you can talk to him, but he don’t say much back. So...Iiiiii~ hope you all like charades!"

 

Link smiled as he turned back to her, but it did not quite reach his eyes.

 

Great! These people are going to think I’m stupid, and I’m not.

 

Leveling his gave back to Ike he motioned to the surrounding area, confusion slightly lighting his face as his gaze swept around. The land was new to him and he started to fidget a little as paranoia and worry set in.

Hmmmmm

 

He couldn’t help feeling the loss of his Loftwing, he had never, not, known where he was. But when he fell here he hadn’t seen crimson anywhere.

 

Sigh….

 

I don’t have much choice, this people seem to know where they’re going and what’s happening. I’ll stick around for a little while and see where that gets me.

 

These were the people who could help him, and in return he would help them. He just needed to know what was happening first.

 

Conviction and determination set into the plains of his face. Crimson was a somewhat intelligent bird. He would hold out till link found him, whenever that may be.

 

Link motioned from himself to Alex and Ike. He hoped that they would get what he was implying, that they should take him along. Although he figured they probably would take him from Alex’s implications.

Edited by Acornia

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((5 day wait due to slight writers block, sorry!))

 

“I...”

 

Cyil watched silently as Soren's fists clenched, eyes drifting toward the rotting flesh of the monsters. She knew that he would recoil, most did when faced with her form for the first time. Soren was no different, but she could sense another emotion influencing his actions. It was in the small things - the tone of voice he used when he probed her on her abilities, the tension in his body whenever she mentioned her heritage. While she would have previously pinned it down as his unwelcome knowledge of her, she now felt that it could be something else. He had mentioned that he had "experience" with shifters, and his reaction bordered more on fear and anger rather than disgust, both of which pointed to a potential life experience rather than newly obtained knowledge.

 

Still, she would remain on guard until the extent of his knowledge was proven. However, now wasn't the time to focus on speculation and old memories. If she hadn't been afraid of startling him further, she would have urged him to hurry. The monsters were slow, but she would need some space to take off with the added load of a rider on her back. Soren definitely wasn't the only one displeased by the situation, but Cyil put survival over dignity. There is no place for old fears and memories on the battlefield, nor is there room for selfish desires. I hope Soren understands that, no matter his impression of dragons.

 

It came as a relief when Soren finally resigned himself to climbing on her back, albeit none too gently. She remained still for a moment to let him settle down, shifting her weight slightly to balance the added load. As soon as Soren armed himself and found purchase on her scales, he began to offer advice to her on the state of the battlefield. He had said that he was a strategist after all, and advising was what strategists did best.

 

“Try not to get hasty—take a look at the monster’s claws.”

 

She noticed a particularly grotesque version of the monsters they had fought earlier come into view, exposed bones dripping with an unnaturally green liquid. A ripple of disgust ran through her body as the acrid stench drifted towards her, its odor unmistakingly venomous.

 

“I don’t like the looks of that. They could be poisoned, or worse, and if you happen to fall, we’re both done for.”

 

She nodded in understanding, moving into a takeoff stance. Perhaps it wasn't the best idea to attempt carrying a passenger while she was still somewhat injured and half-starving, but there wasn't much she could do about that. At least the rush of a battle helped to dampen the effects of her hunger, if not negate them completely. But before she could take off, Soren pointed to the stairs and exclaimed.

 

“And mind those stairs! I can reach them from here if need be, but if something slips out from under my range, you’ll need to deal with it!”

 

Right on cue, a group of fiery red streaks leapt down the steps. However, their flight was short lived as spears of ice cut through their ranks, pinning their lifeless bodies to the cold stone. The slight chill from Soren's position on her back was enough to notify her of the ice's origin, although she hadn't expected anything else.

 

“We’ll work together culling their ranks up close with your attacks and Bolganone, and I’ll focus on the outliers with Rexcalibur in between. I’m ready when you are.”

 

Bolganone. Rexcalibur. Those tomes were extraordinarily difficult to find in her homeland, although she had heard more than a few Robins mention them. One thing that she knew for certain was that they were powerful and difficult to wield, meant only for experienced mages. Having their power on her side reassured her, although she was somewhat wary of the possibility of them being turned on her. With that thought in her mind, she took a few running steps before taking off, only wobbling slightly at the odd distribution of weight. It was certainly more tiring to stay in the air with a passenger, but she could manage it for a good deal longer.

 

As she rose to a safe height, she began to shoot pressurized jets of water at the monsters, cutting through several in a row. The lesser monsters seemed to recognize the venomous one as some sort of leader as they began to crowd around it, tripping over each other in their haste. In a stroke of dumb brilliance, the dogpile of monsters that ensued created a meat shield of sorts, protecting the large monster from all but the most powerful of attacks. However, the sheer volume of monsters meant that the large monster could no longer move, suspended within a cocoon of rotting flesh. She momentarily debated creating a tidal wave to swamp the group, but she decided that a charge of Bolganone would serve that purpose better.

 

"Soren! Cast Bolganone on that pile of monsters over there! I'll take care of the other monsters while you charge it up!"

 

With that said, she tilted her head to offer Soren a better view of the cluster, surveying the rest of the tower as she went. A few jets took care of another wave of hounds as she pooled the deposited water into a wave, making sure to stay out of Bolganone's range. Fire and water didn't mix well after all, especially not when they were trying to eliminate monsters. The Yato's fire was an exception, but that was only because it was divine fire. When all the water had been gathered, she sent it crashing down in the direction of the entrance. She would be hard pressed to clear enough space for her draconic form to get through, but at least it created an opening in case something happened that required an emergency escape.

 

It was unpleasant to admit, but she and Soren were still at a disadvantage in the air. Granted, it was a lot safer and offered better range, but the monsters seemed to be endless. She would swamp a few here and there, only for more to crawl out of the ground somewhere else. The increased durability of the skeletons didn't help as they continued to rattle to life, pressing onwards after hits which would have taken care of the putrid monsters. Still, she refused to give up. There were only so many skeletons and corpses available in the area, after all. However, she was tiring...

 

There wasn't much choice then. She would have to use her enhanced dragonstone. Mid-transformation stone changes were a bit difficult, but seeing as she wasn't going to find a landing spot anytime soon, she would have to make do. I'm going to regret this later, but what's important right now is ensuring there is a later. If she could have afforded a sigh, she would have done so, but as it was she had a hard enough time finding enough space between jets of water to warn Soren of what she was about to do.

 

"Hold on tight for a second, I'm about to unleash more power. Try to brace yourself, there will likely be a pulse of magic."

 

Immediately after that, she began concentrating on the power of her other Dragonstone. It responded immediately, building up and surrounding her in bright blue glow stronger than that of an ordinary Dragonstone. With the growing power of the enhanced Dragonstone barely held in check, she severed her connection with the Dragonstone she was currently using. The result was a circular shockwave of blue energy as surges of power faded and re-emerged. Her wingbeat faltered slightly as the new energy evened itself out, but it quickly became steady again as the power of her bloodline and Dragonstone washed over her. Changing stones mid-transformation was far from comfortable and more than a bit risky, creating effects not unlike those of being suddenly thrown into a vacuum before being taken out again.

 

The extra energy and strength she received made it worth it in dire situations, although the backlash would weaken her after the battle. For now, she simply concentrated on using her increased power to take out more of the monsters. With the added boost, she could now take out the skeletons in one hit, greatly increasing her efficiency.

Edited by Silverphoenixx

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Ratchet looked over at solar as she began speaking in her strange one word language,

"...Torr. Torra -why I keep Swagger as a move. Torracat tor -then. To repeat this..."

ratchet looked down at the red and black cat in surprise. He understood some of that. Was his translator finally working on this weird language?

 

"Wonder how many we can take out this way...'

It WAS working. thats great! It was getting annoying that he couldn't talk to half the party

Oh wow! I understood you! Keep whatever you're doing to them up. It's working. he said.

 

Ratchet switched to exploive power instead of heat. HisFusion Grenade constructed over his right hand.When the next confused Tox Block that got too close, Ratchet tossed a grenade under the Block as if flipped forward. When the explosive went off, it knocked the block off kilter and it plummeted into the sand.

 

woooo! Great job!" he said turning around to talk to Solar. 'Look out!" Ratchet yelled, lunging forward. while they were focused on the blok, another one had came flipping up behind them. He snagged Solar in his arms and covered her with his body.

 

Darkness. But not the death kind. A crack of light appeared in front of Ratchet's face. it grew wider and wider until he understood what wasgoing on. He sat back with Solar next to him and looked at the block flipping away from them. There was a square hole in the center of the Tox Block. They had gotten lucky. A grenade appeared in his gloved palm and he shot it like a basketball. It sailed through the air and it landed in the hole. A second passed before it went off. The block expanded slightly and a jet of fire and smoke erupted from the seems. the block stopped rolling and made a grunt that sounded a lot like "Uh oh". The block split apart along the seems and folded apart like a paper model. Solar hopped on Ratchet's back and he activated his hoverboots. He shot to the end of the maze and stopped by the pillars.

Edited by padfoot

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Solar hung on again with her claws, sliding off when Ratchet stopped. Her hackles were still up from the incident.

 

"That got a bit crazy there.

 

You can understand me now?"

 

The Torracat had to say it was pleasant having a party member other than Ascension who could directly talk to her. There were times when she liked not being understood... but there were also times when she wished someone else could understand her. Especially without another Pokémon there...

 

---

 

Lightweaver realized she was being left behind. She growled internally before making a mad dash for the maze. Once there, she hissed as a Confused Tox Block nearly rolled over her - only going backwards at the last second, thank the rest of the Eleven - and bolted for the pillars at the end of the maze that she could barely see.

 

Everyone else had beaten her there, and she couldn't help but flatten her ears in annoyance.

 

---

 

Stormcatcher listened to Alex's hasty introductions. He growled softly as she continued to act stupidly cheerful. The Beorc's cheer was something he didn't understand, and something that irritated him.

 

He looked at the newcomer again. "Don't stab me and I won't electrocute you."

 

The dark dragon wasn't sure what Link meant by those gestures, but given Alex's talk, he guessed Link was mute and using those gestures to communicate. He seemed to be motioning at Alex and Ike right now.

 

The dragon eyed Link's sword again. He wasn't going to blindly trust a water or wind user's statement. He'd learned not to trust users of those elements...

 

He glanced back at Alex's tomes, snarling quietly once again.

Edited by Dusky_Flareon

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"I promise you, with this ring, that I will never leave your side."

"I promise you, with this ring, that I will always stand by you."

 

His father had stood nearby as he had lifted her into his arms, kissing her lightly. As usual, Severa hadn't wanted to be the center of attention. The hardest part had been getting her to allow Cordelia to come, but she'd wanted her to be there all along.

She held him tight to herself as he held her in his arms. No one would ever part them again. With Grima dead, surely... they could finally be happy.

He remembered looking at the sun and thinking about their shared freedom - freedom from a time they had been born into, not chosen.

 

Time for another new adventure.

 

----

 

Owain and Severa looked at each other with confusion. Caeldori whinnied.

"She?" he asked, baffled.

"The Princess? She's dead though, I thought." Severa shrugged. "Could be Risen."

"No.. Impossible." Owain shook his head. "No no. This time I think it's something different."

"Hmm... Well, only one way to find out."

Severa marched up to the door, then sighed.

"Oh. It's the girl again. What now-"

Severa immediately flipped out her leg and slammed it fully into the door's front, the power star flaring to life as she touched it.

The door swung open, hitting the walls on the other side with tremendous force. As the door tried to return to a closing posture, Severa snarled.

"We got your star, wretch." she stomped through the door, Owain following close behind. Caeldori slid her way in, her horsey frame taking up most of the small hallway.

Beyond lay a trap door, hooked into the floor rather deliberately but crudely.

"...Well this looks promising." Owain said, rubbing the back of his head.

"Promising annoyance." Severa sighed, rubbing her face.

"Can Caeldori fit through this?" Owain asked, measuring the horse.

"Of course!" Severa said haughtily. "Let her go first."

The horse gave them a very reluctant glance.

"We will follow for sure. I would never put you in danger alone, Cael." Severa promised, patting her horse's side.

The horse stepped over to the trapdoor, put a hoof on it experimentally, and then immediately fell through, her wings closed to her side. A loud whinny accompanied her fall.

"We're good! Let's go!" Owain said, patting Severa's shoulder once before jumping into the trapdoor.

"Ugh! How irritating!" Severa yelled, before she followed him into the blackness below...

Edited by Thaelasan

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Stormcatcher seemed to rattle again as he looked upon the green-garbed boy. After some choice words about stabbing and electrocuting, Ike backed away from Link and started heading the group again.

 

"Well, I guess if you aren't the same one, good to meet you, Link. Try not to take Stormcatcher to heart; we're all in a situation we don't want to be in. You'll have everything explained to you soon enough, but honestly, I'm not up to doing it again." He looked over his shoulder at him.

 

"You'll just have to trust me on this." Ike's eyes flicked forward and found a curious sight: a large, looming blue-grey tower coming up close. He squinted and held a hand over his eyes. Was he going crazy?

 

"Was...that always there?" He'd thought he'd notice a big blue tower the first time, all things considered. Neither he nor Soren had said a word about it, and though it was there, he was doubtful that it didn't appear there within recent history. He didn't know a whole lot about the Smashverse, but it was enough to reason that such a thing was possible. He quickened his pace to a jog, waving the others forward.

 

"Come on! We'll head into the tower, but keep your guard up! I don't know how I feel about all this..."

-----------------

 

It wasn't long until Ike had the party at the looming stone doors of the tower. He looked, but no matter how he strained, it was nearly impossible to find the top of the spire. Why there was a multi-floor stage sitting out in the middle of nowhere both confused and concerned him, but the promise of shelter was too good to pass up.

 

 

"Get your gear together and let's take a look around. I'm just about sick of all this rain."

 

 

He placed his palms on both panels and pushed...

============

 

"Soren! Cast Bolganone on that pile of monsters over there! I'll take care of the other monsters while you charge it up!"

 

 

Another round of water shot out and scoured the hellhounds down to their bones, sending thei pieces flying. Soren took a shallow, stuttered breath--aquamancy, or any form of water-based magic was unheard of in his time. There had been no marked attempts to harness it, and so there were no tomes available to curious mages who might want to dabble in the forgotten branch of Anima. Judging by its power, he could see why, but all magic could destroy. Efficiently, at that. Cyil's control over it was a mystery to him--perhaps it was just a side-affect of her alignment? Different breath weapons in the Dragon laguz family penetrated different weaknesses, so it wasn't unheard of...

 

 

He cast away further inquiry with a lash of his arm, sending the spirits into a mad fury under the ground. When they smelled the putrid odor of a mass grave, they clawed upward and burst forth, climbing the foul mound inside and out and swallowing the throaty peals that followed. When they had made a meal of them, they jumped in great flashy arcs of lava and fell back into the voids they came from, leaving only ashes for scraps. When they retreated, he dropped his arm, feeling the buzz of magic beginning to ebb and fade. Using himself as a conductor for his own magic was no issue; using himself as a conduit for Cyil's was slowly eating him alive. If he dared overshoot, if she gave in even a little and he overestimated his power...

 

He looked at his palm.

 

 

There won't be much of me to work with...

 

 

"Hold on tight for a second, I'm about to unleash more power. Try to brace yourself, there will likely be a pulse of magic."

 

This wasn't possible. Even if they fought for hours more, they alone were not enough to quell this darkness. Even she, who'd seemed so sure of her plan, was beginning to falter, and he knew if she collapsed, that would be the end for them. He leaned forward and roughly bumped the heel of his hand against her--

 

 

"Cyil, this is madn--NNGAH!!"

 

 

A pulse of blue, so powerful he could almost taste the color of it, sent his balance askew and his mind reeling. His vision went to particles of color and his hearing faded for just a second, then pulling back to clarity like being pulled from the depths of a pool. A rush of magic bore down and overcame him, causing him to lurch forward and become sutured to Cyil's neck. It took every fiber of his will to shove his hands under his chest and peel himself away from contact, but the vomit-inducing rush of ethereal waves made him slouch forward regardless. Soren could feel the cool of sweat against his hair. He couldn't take it much longer.

 

 

"Cyil," he breathed, leaning onto his palms to keep himself upright, "I can't keep this up much longer, and neither can you. No matter how strong you think you are, you're likely not immortal, and even a god can be stricken down. We'll have to rethink our strategy." He looked around the room, fixating on the stairs. It wasn't ideal, knowing that there was where the dogs had come from, but from his examinations he'd come to the realization that nothing else had. No corpses, no skeletons...and the dogs were hardly a match for him or Cyil even on their own. If they could get there...

 

 

It's a risky venture. There could be more monsters just out of sight, he reasoned, but anything had to be better than the endless onslaught they were facing now. There was a good chance the monsters would converge upon the entrance and cut them off from any hope of escape, but so long as there was that one glimmer of chance, he would take it.

 

 

"We need to regroup and recover. It's a stretch, but we should head for the next floor while our strength remains. There's no hope of continuing an assault here."

 

 

He pinned a couple more zombies with Rexcalibur, the shards breaking off and smashing a few skeletons beneath them. The only issue with the idea was their focus. If he could get them to stray away...

 

 

 

 

Light streamed in from Soren's peripheral vision. As Cyil continued her onslaught, he poised to strike the forms coming in the door. However, he stopped prepping the spell as soon as he laid eyes on one especially familiar figure.

 

 

"Don't target that group near the door! Make your way toward the stairs as planned; I think out distraction just arrived."

==========

 

 

Opening the door welcomed him to the sickening presence of rotten flesh and burning. That alone was enough to make him recoil, but it was made worse by a rush of tainted water flowing over his boots and onto his pants with a splash. He looked down with bewilderment, his attention snapping forward at the sound of wingbeats and scraping.

 

 

What he saw astounded him.

 

 

Up above, a grey-banded dragon flew, whirls of liquid roiling and flowing with their motions and roars. They seemed to be fending off a horde of humanoid creatures, but he could tell they were no longer amongst the living. Interspersed between were the rickety forms of sun-whitened skeletons, faces grinning and spears and swords held firm in their grasps. This was an entirely new set of enemies, but they'd all fall the same. He withdrew Ragnell from his back and turned to the others, his face set and serious.

 

"I'm heading in. Don't come close until I say so!"

 

Sloshing through the remnant water on the floor, he quickly felled a mass of undead advancing him with a single sweep of the massive blade. Another approached from the side, and he dispatched them too with ease. A few quick steps closer, and he could just barely make out the dragon's features in the eldritch glow. There seemed to be something perched upon its back; a Wyvern Lord of some degree?

 

"Ike! I'm here!"

 

 

His eyes widened with shock.

 

 

"Wh...Soren?! What are you--?!"

 

 

"There's no time for it! Keep the monsters engaged and try to finish them off; neither of us is in the shape to continue. I'll explain everything, provided we survive!"

 

 

He ran the situation through his mind as fast as he could, but Soren was right--this absolutely was not the time for this. After a moment of hesitation, he nodded and turned back to the entrance, throwing one last assurance over his shoulder as he went.

 

 

"Right, we'll cover you then, but don't get in over your heads! I want you both in one piece by the time this is over!"

 

 

Once he was within earshot of the others, he yelled out to them, slashing at a couple red-furred creatures trying at his heels.

 

 

"Alright, everyone, brace yourselves for a fight. Ignore the dragon and their rider, and focus on the ground-bound enemies. Keep your wits about you and watch out for the water and any spells."

 

 

With that, he motioned for them to follow, slinging the sword onto his shoulder and his cape billowing behind him.

 

 

"Ready? Let's move out!"

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As they headed into the tower, something felt wrong. Stormcatcher growled, a deep and rumbling growl.

 

And then he smelled something rotting.

 

"Undead?!" He didn't see any... not yet.

 

The door opened, and the rotting smell got a lot stronger. And now he smelled burning. Tainted water lapped over his feet, and he flinched, hissing. The electrical dragon peered farther into the room.

 

A dragon was flying overhead, something on its back. It was hard to make out, but it looked like another Beorc. The undead here looked like undead Beorc, as well. And there were wingless Hainu undeads - or at least he thought he saw those. The dragon seemed to be mainpulating water. Great. Just great.

 

Ike headed closer, and then seemed to speak with the dragon and the rider. It was fairly quick - then Ike turned to them to tell them to attack only the groundbound enemies.

 

Stormcatcher was barely listening - he was slashing at undead with his mantis claws, a spectral blue glow around him as he absoorbed what lightning magic he could from the air around them. Then he opened his maw as a group of skeletons and rotting creatures rushed him, breathing out a blast of lightning magic that struck the attackers.

 

He whipped around as noise came from behind him - not fast enough, because a undead bit his side. He roared in pain, and his tail smashed into the thing, forcing it off him and pulverising the flesh where the bony spur on his tail had hit.

 

Stormcatcher winced in pain, begore hearing a noise and raising his normal claws, forming a ball of lightning between them. Said ball was launched at the undead that had been trying to sneak up on him. A kick dislodged a Hainu zombie with its teeth in his foot, which then had its head pulverized by a slam of the dark dragon's tail.

 

He roared at another group of zombies before slicing them with his mantis claws and taking a few swipes at approaching zombies. Then he breathed a stream if lightning magic at more zombies, following it up with a lightning magic--coated swipe of his mantis claws.

 

Stormcatcher panted, as the draining magic began to take its toll on him. His moment of weakness allowed for a zombie to attack, and he roared in pain before slashing it.

 

Now it was back to swiping, hoping to build up more magic. He bit down on a Beorc zombie's body before ripping into the thing with his claws, and a sweep of his tail knocked away another couple undead. The spectral blue glow was visible again, but fainter than last time.

 

Stormcatcher hissed as more zombies approached, before hurling another, but smaller, ball of lightning magic at them.

 

"How many of these are there?!" he snarled loudly as more zombies approached, before slashing out. One dodged and bit down on one of his regular arms, and he snapped at the offending creature, ripping rotten flesh off, and smashed his tail into it.

 

Then more pain blossomed on his body, and he swung his tail at his new attackers before letting off a bolt of lightning that fried some undead.

Edited by Dusky_Flareon

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The two of them, Ascension and Spritzee, headed for the billowing light ahead. Just as they crested the exit, they met with dying winds and significantly less sandy air. All over, this seemed to be a much calmer area than where he was, and when he turned for the others, he saw why--it appeared the storm had been centralized over the maze...almost as if on purpose...? He narrowed his eyes, but less it pass for now. Just because these worlds were organized didn't mean there wasn't room for divergence.

 

 

The musical titter of Spritzee brought his attention back, and he responded in thanks in their tongue.

 

 

He was soon met by the forms of Solar, Ratchet, Valerie, and Lightweaver, who seemed to be having quite a bit of issue navigating in comparison. Judging by the look of disdain on her face, she was less than amused by being left behind without much direction. He flipped his ears and bowed.

 

"I'm sorry, Lightweaver. I sometimes forget how easy it is for us smaller creatures to roam on land. Forgive me, if you can find it within yourself." Lightweaver seemed to be relatively amiable, so he felt compelled to treat her with no less respect than the others he'd met before. He was curious, though...did he remember seeing a dragon like her recently? Maybe it was his memory failing him, but...he shook out a paw.

 

 

"So now that we've all gathered here, I want you to turn your direction to the large pyramid over beyond the sand," and he pointed his snout to emphasize.

 

"If I know anything about these worlds, the bigger the landmark, the more likely it contains a star. Now, typically, there's a little jut on the side that should contain a star, but..."

 

He squinted to confirm his fears. Indeed, there was no star up near the point of the pyramid on the platform. Instead, there was a blue shadow--the remnant placeholder. What could that mean? No one should have been through here...

 

 

"It appears someone...or something...had already claimed it. But fret not! There should be a star still left ins--"

 

 

A winged shade caused Ascension to freeze. When it passed, he followed the silhouette against the light-bleached sky, hearing its claws clatter on the tiled checks of the pillar. When his vision adjusted, he braced himself, a growl rising up through his punctured chest.

 

 

 

"Klepto."

==============

 

 

{"Why, hello there, Stars' Chosen.}

 

 

 

The great bird straightened his stance, looming over the bipeds and quadrupeds of the blamed ground below. His expression turned from contempt to a shade of interest, his eyes peering out from deep sockets and inspecting them.

 

The first one that caught his eye was the little pink bird. Though it had exuded a sparkling aura before, it seemed to be an effect of some power instead of being innate. Though it would make a comforting stress ball, it wasn't enough to keep his attention. The star in his clutch made a fair one enough.

 

 

The next was the "Stars' Chosen"...Ascension, he nearly forgot. They didn't know one another other than on a nominal basis, but here he was, right in front of him. A god...wielding a power they like him could only dream of, and those like Bowser would only fritter in futility in search of. The fact that he was travelling with his own merry band to these far outreaches surprised him.

 

 

{What could you possibly be doing...? And untransformed all the while...}

 

 

 

{"It seems you've brought company. What might..."} He motioned out to the furry and fleshy creatures below, "{...these be for? Come to offer me patronage for duty, I hope?"}

Edited by Sugar-Free

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Lightweaver nodded as Ascension offered his apology. It was true, being smaller did make the world easier to navigate, so for creatures so small as these beastfolk, even something her size was still outclassed in agility...

 

The group headed into the Pyramid, where they found nothing and Ascension said the Star had been claimed by someone else. Ugh. Trekking in this desert for longer? But the dragon's face betrayed no sign of her mind for the moment. Lightweaver glanced around, noticing a shadow.

 

Then Ascension snarled the name Klepto. Lightweaver looked up to see a vulture, which addressed them, and she eyed the vulture as he spoke, wondering what he was here for. He was expecting something from Ascension, it seemed... much as Flights occasionally expected things from their deities.

 

And what was he after? Perhaps...

 

Then she noticed - Klepto had a Power Star in his talons. Well, curious.

 

---

 

Solar looked up when Ascension snarled the name Klepto, to see a great bird. The Torracat noticed the bird's gaze as he looked at Spritzee...

 

Something wasn't right here. Klepto had the Power Star, and was expecting something from Ascension. Quite honestly, Solar wasn't all that sure what he wanted, but if he was implying what Solar thought he was implying... she wouldn't say no to some target practise for her status moves.

 

"He's gotta star... and what does he want from us?"

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Link followed closely behind stormcatcher as he made his way in through the doors Ike had opened. The smell of rotting and charred flesh hit his nose, causing a wave of nausea to roll over him.

 

Goddesses, where is that smell coming from?

 

Getting an answer to his question a moment later from stormcatcher.

"Undead?!”

Link gave a confused look at stormcatcher, he had seen a lot of creatures but non quite like these. The source of the smell came from a decaying purple corpse. They where slow and easy to hit, but what they lacked in speed they made for in numbers.

Well, I guess it’s nice to know where the smell is coming from, and it wasn’t the dragon farting

 

Silently link stood there, taking in the scene as it unfolded in front of him. Stormcatcher was breathing blasts of lightening sending bits and pieces of delayed and charred flesh everywhere, ike had taken a spot up head, too far for him to see clearly, but it was apparent that chaos ran rampant. Over head a large grey- white dragon flew by with a small figure setting on it.

 

Hmmmmmmmm

 

Glancing back from the flying dragon to stormcatcher he gave a surprised yelp as a putrid body came toward him.

 

The metallic zing of his sword leaving his sheath echoed around him. A purple corpse lunged at Link ,dancing around it he brought the edge of his blade down. Cleaving into its shoulder he pulled out leaving trails of ooze following the sliver of his blade.

 

Before it touched the ground he moved to the next victim, a skeleton jerked it’s way to him with a rusty sword draw in hand. Pulling his blade up he hit its head he lost his grip on his sword momentarily. As it slide out it turned slightly, so when he regained his hold on it, instead of the desired effect of looping his head off the flat of his blade hit it. The skeletons head when flying as it was punted from its spot on the spine

 

Well that was unexpected.

 

Slicing a few more into bits he was able to stay out of the way of the slow moving creatures.

 

These things are nasty, and its like there’s no end.

 

If the zombie’s and skeleton’s wasn’t enough a new third enemy made its self know.

 

Raising his sword above his head he drought it down with a war cry into the shoulder of a bog like creature. He had seen some odd things in his time but nothing quite like these. Their coat was short and brown with a firey red mane running down its spine.

 

Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

 

Link turned to look down at the perpetrator of a sudden pain in his leg, a sudden lose of balance came when the dog like creature pulled viciously as his leg. Landing hard on his other knee he lunged forward driving his sword into its chest. Giving a low growl it fell to the ground and another one took its place.

 

Managing to Stand on shacky legs he glanced around.

 

“How many of these are there?!" Stormcatcher growled from his spot in the bloody Carnage. He was starting to look a little worse for wear. He had bite marks or cuts and stab wounds littering his body but it was hard to tell with all the bile collecting on him

 

Fighting his way over, he took up a position to the side of him. He was small but if he was here that only left one side for stormcatcher to worry about and hopefully he would return the favor.

 

Tsk

 

Ocean blue eyes stared into the dragons, a curt nod was all he gave as another swarm of monsters came his way

Edited by Acornia

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Cyil could barely hear Soren over the sound of her own blood pounding in her ears and the undead groans, but she managed to catch a few sentences over the confusion. Her head was still swimming from the sudden magic surge, but it was barely more than a faint buzz by now.

 

"Cyil, I can't keep this up much longer, and neither can you. No matter how strong you think you are, you're likely not immortal, and even a god can be stricken down. We'll have to rethink our strategy."

 

She listened to what he had to say, even as she struck down another wave of monsters. It was taxing to keep her efficiency up, and judging by the breathlessness of Soren's voice, he wasn't faring much better.

 

"We need to regroup and recover. It's a stretch, but we should head for the next floor while our strength remains. There's no hope of continuing an assault here."

 

It wasn't the time to debate on strategies, nor did she have the energy to oppose. Even if she did, she saw nothing wrong with the idea, risky as it was. A possible break was better than enduring the onslaught they faced here, no matter how short-lived it might be. Offering Soren a slight nod of affirmation, she reared her head back in preparation for another blast of water. But before she could aim it, a movement near the door drew her eye. The sliver of light that reached through the crack of the door revealed several shadows, their forms indistinguishable. Cautiously, she readied a wave, only to dismiss it at Soren's sudden interjection.

 

"Don't target that group near the door! Make your way toward the stairs as planned; I think out distraction just arrived."

 

There was no time to question his words, so she obeyed blindly. Turning away from the door, she began to focus on clearing a path through the monsters that led to the stairs. As she flew, she overheard a strangely familiar voice, although distance and noise blurred it.

 

"I'm heading in. Don't come close until I say so!"

 

That voice... where had she heard it before? The tournament? No, it was further in the past than that. Could it have been one of the many people she had met through the Dragon's Gate and Astral Planes? Yes, that seemed right, but who? Time had erased the details from her memory, but one thing still stood out about the voice.

 

It reminded her of blue... blue, red, and gold. But not the hero-king, that had been even farther in the past.

 

No, this was...

 

"Ike! I'm here!"

 

"Wh...Soren?! What are you--?!"

 

"There's no time for it! Keep the monsters engaged and try to finish them off; neither of us is in the shape to continue. I'll explain everything, provided we survive!"

 

Suddenly, it made sense. The commander Soren kept referring to - that was Ike, the Radiant Hero. And Soren himself - old conversations in her memory took on a new meaning now that she had met him. Granted, they were probably not the same ones she had met all those years ago, but it brought back feelings of nostalgia. In that time, she had been younger and still surrounded by her army in its peak. She had dueled legends, and witnessed new ones being made in different worlds. And she had learned - things she did not always want to know, but things which she knew anyway. But the one thing that would never change about her was her desire to protect her family and friends, Ike included.

 

With renewed vigor, she blasted hordes of hounds and skeletons alike, clearing a path of carnage to the stairs. She knew that it was near impossible for this Ike to be the same one she had known, but it gave her hope. Hope - she had nearly forgotten that word, one that had been so familiar to her in her youth. It was odd to feel it again, especially since it was so different from the determination she was used to employing nowadays. Still, her memories of the various heroes were a rare gem in the bleak expanse of her past. If those memories didn't bring her hope once again, then it was likely nothing could. Ike was the Radiant Hero after all, and she had witnessed his abilities firsthand. She trusted his ability to handle the situation.

 

By now, she had cleared enough space to attempt a dive at the stairwell. Quickly and carefully, so as to not drop Soren, she boosted herself with a jet of water in the direction of the stairs. She barely touched down in front of the stairwell for a second before leaping up again, shooting over the entire flight of steps. To her relief, the area immediatly in front of her appeared to be clear, allowing her to take a breather. As an extra layer of insurance, she sent a large wave barreling down the stairs to prevent any monsters who tried to follow her. Taking advantage of the slight break in fighting, she began to address Soren on a topic that had been worrying her for a while.

 

"Try not to draw too much on my magic, especially now that I'm using more power. It's not that I can't handle it, but it might corrupt you if you aren't careful. I've never had anyone become corrupted from drawing too much of my magic, but nevertheless the possibility is still there. You should take note of it."

 

Hopefully, he wouldn't ask why, as she didn't have any answers she wanted to provide at the current moment. The explanation would take too much time anyway, and she needed that focus to stay alert for potential threats. For now, the coast was clear, but that could change at any moment.

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Stormcatcher was aware of a presence beside him. He wheeled, ready to drive it off -- only to realize it was that younger Beorc. He didn't attack, but he eyed it, noting that it was slashing at zombies.

 

It happened to be warding the undead away from his side, which the dragon decided he wasn't going to do anything about. Instead, he turned to a noise - and pulverized the oncoming dead creature with his tail, before slashing multiple Beorc zombies with his mantis claws.

 

Then water lapped at his feet. He hissed, before attacking another group of zombies. The spectral blue glow, though faint, reappeared.

 

He stomped the head of a Hainu undead, only for some more to get in close. With a roar, the electrical dragon sent a bolt of lightning magic through most of them. The remaining ones were smashed by his tail.

 

Then he noticed something. Doors. And a clear space. But there were too many undead in his way right now... so he attacked shain, lightning magic flying through the air.

 

Stormcatcher struck out at another group of approaching undead, before a noise behind him caused him to jerk out his tail and hit rotting flesh with the bony protrusions. Then something bit down and he turned to tear it off - but his tail was bleeding somewhat. He was panting from magical drain, but he ignored it, firing off another bolt. For that, he was rewarded with a stab of pain through his body.

 

The dark dragon didn't have time to rest or retreat, because soon another group was on him and the Beorc. He snarled and clawed at their rotting opponents.

Edited by Dusky_Flareon

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