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Verg Avesta
November 25th, 2013, 07:28 PM
This thread shall house the time-skip scenes where characters who won the lottery will summon.

In order to start your scene, simply post your opening post for that scene, and I shall deal GM updates like in a regular RP situation.

More information may come. This opening post is just a placeholder so that we can get started quickly.

Blue
December 1st, 2013, 01:16 PM
Alacia Starward
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:45 - Night
Day: April 5th

The night air was crisp and filled with bright moonlight. Lacey was wearing a dark blue hoodie over a t-shirt from a band called 'Counterfeit Noiz' that was mostly blacks and blues as well as plain jeans. Her sneakers made barely any noise moving through the formations of crystal even with the small bounce and skip to her step. She hummed ever so slightly to herself, fingers tapping against her leg to an unheard rhythm.

She was here to test out some theories and possibilities. Her friends were still mostly dealing with the aftermath of the 'Night of Crystal Shards', but had managed to devote some down time to their investigation into the Summoning process. Luthor and Lacey being the ones not involved directly with the night in question had done most of the work. At their meeting three days ago, Luthor had said how he didn't like relying on others and wanted to be the one who led the investigation. He certainly threw himself into the task. Lacey helped where she could and they often contacted Shizuka, Mei and Satoko to fill them in on the progress as well as ask for opinions.

Shizuka and Mei were still recovering while Satoko was busy dealing with the ARES aftermath but collectively they all agreed that the various rumours had more to do with each other than not. So while Luthor had some duties as a Lord to take care of tonight, Lacey had offered to venture into the Crystal City to test out some of the rumours. She didn't think much would come from this which is why she was alone tonight, but she wanted to pull her own weight and not let her friends down.

Honestly she herself didn't think much would happen, hence coming out here alone. It was Luthor and the others who had put these ideas together. Everyone else (especially Satoko) was not exactly happy with the idea of her going out alone at night. She managed to convince them when she pointed out they needed the information and that she would leave at the first sign of trouble as well as calling ARES if anything turned ugly.

She got to a good spot and pulled out the HECATE phone. It was a solid brick of a device that lit up on all sides. It was currently a fairly subdued tint of blue more or less completely masked by the moonlight and light reflected off of the crystals. Lacey checked the time 23:47. She was early. There were so many rumours to pick and work from. They had learned that time was important to some of them. An Aria on the hour. Extending it further, midnight was a logical leap.

She put her phone away and checked her supplies. She had some potions of varying effects in her backpack. In her pocket was a small collection of semi-precious stones to act as other catalysts for some of her witchcraft. Satisfied she walked up to some of the nearby crystals. She couldn't really see anything different in her reflection and gave up trying to spot differences in the warped image after a few minutes.

She checked her phone again. 23:54. She sighed. This waiting was getting to her. She remembered a conversation her brother had with her papa. Her papa had said that "sometimes plans just hit the fan on first contact and there was nothing you could do about it". Lacey wasn't entirely sure why she thought of this now, but the waiting was giving her time to think and the thinking was leading to wariness.

The minutes ticked by as her anxiousness grew. Until she looked down at her phone, took in the artificial light and gulped. 23:59.

Everything looked the same as she walked up to the crystal but something seemed off. She suspected it was the strange sense of anticipation that had filled the air and a growing paranoia. Then she spotted something on the back of her hand. More precisely on the back of the reflection. She looked down at her actual hand. Nothing. Lifting it up to get a better look, it was unmistakeable.


http://i.imgur.com/UguDjyv.png

Her heart thrummed. This... this might be dangerous. Her common sense screamed at her to leave. But then she realized she was also thrilled. This was exciting! Should she leave and tell her friends what happened? Absolutely. But standing there staring at her reflection that was so very wrong, she had to try the one last thing. Her phone already had the number put into it. Staring straight into her reflections eyes, she hit dial and brought the phone up to her ear.

Verg Avesta
December 1st, 2013, 02:50 PM
Location: Crystal City - Moonlight Circle
Time: 00:00 - Night
Day: April 5th

The phone rang once.

It rang twice.

It rang thrice.

Then, an audible click at the other end of the line told that someone had answered that call. A faint breathing could be heard before a very familiar voice let out a low giggle, before finally forming words that were like crystal clear echoes.

"Hello. This is Alacia Starward."

The lips of Lacey had not moved, nor had any sound been made by her. The source of this disturbingly familiar tone was both far away and right in front of her. Like a nightmare, the reflection had spoken up without any indication that real thing had done the same. The blue eyes of the reflection, colored by the hue of prana, stared straight at the young girl. But there was something wrong in them. No, it would have been correct to say that her facial expression, her whole demeanor, was very, very wrong for an existence known as Alacia Starward.

Boundless cruelty. Toxic and unadulterated ruthlessness flowed from those eyes.

"And here you finally are, standing at the precipice of the truth. Tell me, how does it feel?" the reflection asked. "Exhilaration? Excitement? Fear? No... you know perfectly well what you are feeling right now."

The reflection licked its lips like a predator in heat.

"It's longing. It's desire. To be finally able to cast off this awful mask off innocence... ahh~, what a sensation! You are simply trembling from the pleasure! It feels like your whole body is going numb from pleasure--! Aah, ahhh, aaaaaah~!" The reflection was now caressing itself with its free hand, writhing in pleasure it was experiencing. "So good, so gooooood~! Such a pure bliss! You no longer have to play that part of meek fool...!"

The hand of the reflection suddenly slammed against the surface of the crystal, making cracks appear on it like it had been but feeble glass.

"You can finally be free of your inhibitions, right!?" The reflection growled like a beast.

Blue
December 1st, 2013, 09:04 PM
Location: Crystal City - Moonlight Circle
Time: 00:00 - Night
Day: April 5th

Lacey was still thinking about what to tell her friends when she reported back as the phone rang. And then the ringing stopped and she heard a voice.


"Hello. This is Alacia Starward."

All of her previous thoughts ground to a screeching halt. The voice was almost as familiar as her own. It reminded her of hearing recordings of herself. It was familiar yet somewhat alien and not at all unpleasant to Lacey. It was seeing her reflection speak to her that was entirely surreal. Lacey's eyes were locked onto the eyes of her reflection that almost seemed to burn blue. She didn't know if she could look away if she wanted.

The words Wrong Reflection kept repeating in her mind. She wasn't uncomfortable or unfamiliar with her reflection normally, but this thing in front of her...


"And here you finally are, standing at the precipice of the truth. Tell me, how does it feel? Exhilaration? Excitement? Fear? No... you know perfectly well what you are feeling right now."

"I-" Lacey squeaked, unable to form a proper reply. The reflection was right about the fear, exhilaration and excitement. Every muscle in her body was tense. This was far beyond her expectations of tonight and she wasn't sure how to react. But her reflection wasn't done speaking.

The reflection licked its lips like a predator in heat. Again something that just looked and felt wrong.


"It's longing. It's desire. To be finally able to cast off this awful mask off innocence... ahh~, what a sensation! You are simply trembling from the pleasure! It feels like your whole body is going numb from pleasure--! Aah, ahhh, aaaaaah~! So good, so gooooood~! Such a pure bliss! You no longer have to play that part of meek fool...!"

The hands of her reflection roamed her body, as if it needed to feel more and more! Not simply content to stand there.

Was she right? In the heartbeats that followed, Lacey tried to sort out her mind and emotions. To her slight surprise and horror, she realized that she was shaking and shivering. "Her" hand slammed against the crystal, cracking it from the... inside?

She shook her head as her reflection spoke as if to shake off the doubts and clouded thoughts.


"You can finally be free of your inhibitions, right!?"

In a strange reversal of roles the Lacey outside the crystal drew closer, mimicking her other self. Perhaps somewhat unconsciously she placed her palm where her double had placed hers. She leaned in and stared straight into her own prana lit eyes. "You're not wrong" There was a very apparent quaver in her voice as she spoke. She was spooked. She was scared, but if it was herself, she thought she could face it. Something her image had said earlier stuck out in her mind now. Her other self talked about the precipice of truth.

"I am afraid. I am excited." Its as if she was testing the words. Was she just agreeing with everything her image said? Was everything her reflection said true? "I... don't resent being 'the fool' as you put it." But of course she wasn't denying that she did that. "Is it a mask I can cast off though? Is it something that I can just stop?" Lacey honestly didn't think she has been acting, but if her reflection said so... Worse, if her reflection was true!

What then? Was she actually someone completely different who had been lying to herself her entire life? She didn't think so, but here was a chance to find out. She stared long and hard in her own eyes, waiting for her reflection to answer.

Verg Avesta
December 1st, 2013, 09:43 PM
Location: Crystal City - Moonlight Circle
Time: 00:00 - Night
Day: April 5th


"I am afraid. I am excited. I... don't resent being 'the fool' as you put it. Is it a mask I can cast off though? Is it something that I can just stop?"

"Of course it isn't. It has never been! It's always... always... always...! Always, the one trampled upon! The one spat upon! The one left behind! That's why you long it, why you desire, why you crave for it...! For it can never be true!" The reflection screamed with an expression of ecstasy, it's body convulsing in some horrific realm between pleasure and unfathomable anger. "That is why you came here, to fail once more, to fall back on mediocrity and spend your days as a side-note of history, never daring to step onto the toes of others...!"

Something broke. Something shattered. Like a monster crawling out of hell, the insane visage of Lacey pushed its hand through the crystal, disintegrating part of it in the process. It caught hold of Lacey's hand that had been resting against the surface of the crystal, and gripped so hard that it's nails dug deep into her skin. Then, wearing a grin of pure sadism, the reflection drew back its head and swung forward, shattering the rest of the crystal that separated the two...

... and continues straight into the forehead of Lacey-proper.

Having performed a headbutt that sent Lacey flying backwards to the ground, the reflection stepped forth from its transparent prison, where now only a crater of smoke, dust and fragments remained. The reflection threw aside its phone, and allowed both of its hands sweep upon its own skin, letting them slide upon it like it had been the body of its lover. There was no remorse, no sympathy, no kindness in those blue, burning eyes: simple desire without mercy.

This was a creature that would never let anything stand in its way; a beast with no qualms about stepping over others to achieve what it wanted.

As Lacey-proper gathered herself on the ground, the reflection clutched its head, let out a shrilling chuckle and bent over, as if in pain. Sickening sound of flesh ripping could be heard, and once the reflection raised its head, one could see that a third eye, like a dying star burning out, had opened in the middle of its forehead. A robe, more like a cape of a tyrant than anything else, materialized from nothingness and landed on its shoulders. The strange garb was the color of bleached sand, with blue, zigzagging lines running across its hem.

And finally, just like the robe, from thin air, a book appeared and landed on the reflection's hand. It was a twisted, loathsome tome, bound in the skins of countless creatures and with pure hatred floating from every page. The reflection raised its hand, opened the book, and eyed the words written on it.

But the third eye was locked on Lacey herself.

“I think, therefore I am. My thoughts are myself, therefore my existence is me.”




-------------------------------------
Alacia Starward vs. DASEIN: Alacia

Call of thy soul raised a legend
Reflection of victor only in crystals of thy anima
Yes, this is fight or fall
Let this be a battle of the death of thyself
Battle, BEGIN!

Alacia –AGI D- vs. D:Alacia –AGI D-
TURN 1: DASEIN: Alacia
-------------------------------------



Like a demon, the hand of the reflection reached out, straight towards Lacey. Prana roared within the strange existence, and for a moment, the pages of the book in her hand trembled slightly, as if something powerful was driven through them. Then, the hand that was like a talon of a raptor grasped shut, clenching the air like it had been a living creature. Blood dripped from the wounds caused by the nails that dug into their own skin, but the predatory smile never once flinched on the face of the reflection.

Prana was actualized, mystery was executed, and thus did the weight of the world, enough to make the battleground tremble, fall upon Lacey. It was like the burden of becoming Master, gravity increased by the gravitas of her ordeal.

It was the weight of the ruthless desire that the reflection now directed against its original.

Blue
December 1st, 2013, 10:29 PM
Alacia Starward
Location: Crystal City - Moonlight Circle
Time: 00:01 - Night
Day: April 5th
Turn: 2

"Guuaaaah~" Lacey was caught completely off-guard by her reflection's actions. On the flip side, she landed pretty flatly and since she wasn't tensing for the hit she only felt a few aches. Unfortunately it was never that simple. Something akin to instinct and the desire for survive kicked her circuits into life before she even fully realized what was happening.

As she gathered herself and looked up, her reflection - no, her other self? - had warped. It was somewhat strange because where the reflection had been wrong before, this was just different. Imposing. Bigger. Something Lacey never was. Lacey opened her mouth to speak, but was silenced by an unbearable weight. There wasn't even breath in her left to exclaim.

She had been on her hands and knees, staring up at her... self? What happened? Lacey quickly took stock of her situation. Her head ached slightly. Probably from the headbutt. Her body ached slightly from the fall. Her hand hurt a bit more from where the 'claws?' of her other self grabbed her. And on top of it all, something was weighing her down, almost crushing her. She was sprawled out on the ground.

All of that realization happened in an instant and she realized that she was not down or out quite yet. As she looked at her own face twisted in an expression Alacia Starward had never shown in her entire life, she realized what had happened. The decision of what to do was made in the next instant, silently wondering if her other self would give her the time. Instead of focusing on such things, Lacey threw all of her attention into the spell.

Tit for tat. Moving would hurt, but she already knew that so she didn't waste time trying. She called to mind and her aid old, ancient and powerful forces. The very same forces that held her down! What answered was diminished, incomplete from a perfect actualization but hopefully enough. Her double was not constrained to the proper rules, but she was. Her lips mouthed out the spell as quickly as she could. Almost quicker than her mind could process. In response, her nerves and circuits sang and burned.

With a grunt of mental effort, she threw the spell into the world, twining it around her other self.

All of that left her no time to speak, but she wasn't safe to speak until she had some form of defense anyway. Thus she chose to cast her spell instead of talking. Maybe now she had a chance to do something else.

Hubris of Titans
Rank: A (Forgotten)

Quick cast version. Single target. Requires no catalyst. 10 second cast time.
Pins the target down to the ground with extreme pressure. Requires at least B ranks in STR and END to keep moving under the pressure. So long as the target does not attempt to move, it only serves as a capturing spell. Reduces AGI by 2 ranks if the target can withstand the pressure.

Verg Avesta
December 2nd, 2013, 07:27 PM
Location: Crystal City - Moonlight Circle
Time: 00:02 - Night
Day: April 5th
Turn: 3

"Grovel in fear, kneel in meekness, surrender in weakness! That's all I have ever been good for!" The reflection laughed.

As Lacey's spell hit the area covering them, it seemed that momentarily, the battleground had had enough. With the combined forces of the two spells pressing down on it, the ground lurched slightly downwards, as if it was about to break under the huge pressure. Feeling this shift in balance below them, the reflection raised a questioning eyebrow, before smirking condescendingly. With a snap of her fingers, the pages of the book in her hand came alive again. And when they did, two things happened.

The pressure that had been holding down Lacey was momentarily released.

The pressure that had been holding down the reflection seemed to have no longer effect.

Its muscles cracked and grew, its posture straightened, and though it seemed more sluggish than before, it was clear that the oppressing burden was no longer immobilizing the cruel visage. Spreading its hands in a maniacal cackle, it aimed all of its three eyes towards the skies.

"This all that shall happen! This is all that shall ever be!" the reflection roared. "For the sake of others, I will forever be kind, forever be pure! Even my power, I shall achieve only for the sake of others, for them to throw away when they deem that I have lost my purpose!"

The right hand of the reflection was raised high, and somewhere above, thunder was rumbling like a distant drum of war. Clouds were starting to gather in a form of a spiral above them, drill that pierced through the atmosphere for the sake of the ruthless desire of its caster. The words written in the forbidden tome sang with their devilish tone, and prana roared towards the heavens.

All of a sudden, the world was engulfed in a momentary blinding light; following it, only fraction of a second after, was a monstrous roar of lightning. Like a crackling explosion, deafening everything around it.

"So just fall under the hooves of the stampede of destiny. That's all I am good for, anyway."

As the vision of Lacey slowly returned, the scene that was now before was straight out of a nightmare. Her reflection stood there, her robe flapping in the wind like a cloak of a lunatic king, sickening grin without remorse adorning her face. Her hair stood up like it had been a crown of thorns, and the look in her burning blue eyes was that of a maniac. There was nothing in that tyrannical despot of a reflection that reminded of the girl who had given form to it. Just simple, raw desire of power. No, not specifically that.

It was, truly, an incarnation of cruelty.

The hand that had been previously raised was now straightened forward, pointing straight at Lacey. In that talon of a hand now resided the power of the sky's hammers. Lightning cracked and growled around the hand, the high-pitched burning of the thunder resonating from the charged prana. The purple light, destruction in its purest form, was ready to annihilate everything in its path... a path on which Lacey right now was.

"That is the truth, is it not!?" The reflection growled in glee.

And the hand cloaked in thunder started shining with even greater light.


Name: DASEIN: Lacey
Alignment: Truth

STR: D -> B
END: D -> B
AGI: D
CAS: B
PRA: A

Blue
December 2nd, 2013, 10:06 PM
Alacia Starward
Location: Crystal City - Moonlight Circle
Time: 00:02 - Night
Day: April 5th
Turn: 4


"Grovel in fear, kneel in meekness, surrender in weakness! That's all I have ever been good for!"

The reflection laughed and mocked Lacey as she was casting the spell. Once it hit though, the reflection seemed to decide that it was not worth having the two spells interact and cancelled hers.

Lacey gasped as the pressure eased up. She didn't take her eyes off of the reflection as she stood up. She felt battered, but otherwise fine. Her reflection wasn't done though. The caricature of Lacey twisted even further punctuated by the strange sound of muscle growth. The face of the reflection was twisted in maniacal glee. Despite the pressure that she must have been feeling, the reflection was moving without any difficulty.

Lacey had a sudden twinge of fear that this would be the face that looked back out of every mirror for the rest of her life. A cold part of her brain reasoned that 'the rest of her life' may be the next few minutes. She turned her mind to options. What did she know? What could she use? As she was thinking the reflection spoke and acted.


"This all that shall happen! This is all that shall ever be! For the sake of others, I will forever be kind, forever be pure! Even my power, I shall achieve only for the sake of others, for them to throw away when they deem that I have lost my purpose!"

The reflection's hand was raised to the sky which answered the exclamation as a light briefly blinded Lacey. She stumbled back and shielded her eyes from the unexpected flash, cringing at the thunderclap and crackle of electricity. She managed to stay on her feet but was also worried that by the time she could see again it would be too late.


"So just fall under the hooves of the stampede of destiny. That's all I am good for, anyway."

Lacey's sight returned with spots of white. She shook her head instinctively to clear her vision. Her reflection was so far removed from herself that she wouldn't have recognized herself in there if she hadn't witnessed the transformation first-hand. That thought and trying to understand the last two actions of the reflection made Lacey blurt out "You're not me...? Or at least, not just me." As she said it, she was more and more confident in that statement.

The reflection levelled a hand to point straight at Lacey. Lightning wreathed it. Not simple electricity, but lightning. Lacey gulped. She didn't know if she could defend against that. As surreptitiously as possible, she reached into her pocket for one of the stones and held it at the ready.

Her mind organized the flow of prana in her body for a spell. She uttered the word to activate it as her reflection spoke.


"That is the truth, is it not!?"

She felt the muscles in her body tighten and strengthen, reinforced by prana but not going overly taut. The hand pointed at her glowed brighter, but she didn't make a move to dodge. She doubted she could. Instead she spoke "I'm okay with living my life for others!" she almost shouted. Quieter she added "Its a good way to live. There's so much hurt in the world. Why shouldn't we live partly for the sake of others? But that does not make us weak!" She locked eye contact with her reflection.

"I'm not a smart person, so I don't understand a lot about destiny or difficult concepts like that. But at least for now I don't feel I am sacrificing myself for others. If I have power, I want to help others. If you're at all like me, don't you feel the same way?" If the reflection discharged the lightning, could she do anything? Would she survive? She didn't think so. But if she was going to die, she wasn't going to flinch away from it. Her stare at her reflection didn't waver, and she had a very intense look on her face. It almost seemed out of place on her features. The reflection marred Lacey's face with cruelty, but the original was showing a side of her that didn't show up very often - intensity.

Natural Potential
Rank: C (Curse)

Single action when cast on self. Small duration on anyone else. Single target. Increases the body’s natural abilities by raising STR and AGI by 1 rank for 15 turns. This spell requires physical contact.

STR – D -> C
END – D
AGI – D -> C
CAS – B
PRA – A

Prana: 240/400

Verg Avesta
December 3rd, 2013, 11:29 AM
Location: Crystal City - Moonlight Circle
Time: 00:03 - Night
Day: April 5th
Turn: 5


"I'm okay with living my life for others! Its a good way to live. There's so much hurt in the world. Why shouldn't we live partly for the sake of others? But that does not make us weak! I'm not a smart person, so I don't understand a lot about destiny or difficult concepts like that. But at least for now I don't feel I am sacrificing myself for others. If I have power, I want to help others. If you're at all like me, don't you feel the same way?"

"Indeed. Used up and thrown away by others, smiling as I am violated because I simply a so kind... that is who I am," the reflection spoke, and its voice was like a growl of a beast. "A frivolous thing, not needed other than for its purpose. Why, if it came down to it... I would die just so I could be gentle!"

With its final words turning into a monstrous roar, the mad reflection clenched its hand into a fist, and the lightning wreathing it sang. It sang a song of destruction, of annihilation, of utter obliteration that was about to come. Screeching of the crackling energy intensified, and for a moment, the blinding light emitted by the energy shone so brightly that one could see the bones within one's arm.

But all that came to a breaking point.

The trigger had been pulled.

Like a concentrated tidal wave of death, lightning and thunder spiraling into a column of brute force, the spell wrapped around the reflection's arm was shot forward. It became a beam-like projectile, shooting across the battlefield and carving a path into the field of crystals. Both ground and the mockeries of buildings that it touched were disintegrated in an instant, charred by the severity of the spell's power. Blue lines of energy ran on the ground, electrified currents flowing through them.

The earth quaked. The sky screamed. With that single spell, the reflection swallowed up its original in an path of light that destroyed everything.

And what was left behind was simply a half-circular path carved into the ground, smoke rising so thick from the burnt ground that it engulfed the whole scene of destruction. It was a line of black clouds and falling rubble, starting from the reflection and ending over 50 meters away into a particularly large crystal.

"That is the type of incomplete existence I am," the reflection hissed, its mad eyes staring at the spot where Lacey had once stood.


Name: DASEIN: Lacey
Alignment: Truth

STR: B
END: B
AGI: D
CAS: B
PRA: A


Spells

Teshub Bolt
Rank: A
A spell that has only one purpose: destruction. The caster's hand is wreathed in lightning, which can then be released in a single, beam-shaped attack that disintegrated anything standing on its path. The phenomena the destruction is actualized with is a bolt of lightning, and thus this is pure Lightning-element spell. Ultimate annihilation at the cost of all frivolous complexity.

Blue
December 3rd, 2013, 01:05 PM
Alacia Starward
Location: Crystal City - Moonlight Circle
Time: 00:04 - Night
Day: April 5th
Turn: 6


"Indeed. Used up and thrown away by others, smiling as I am violated because I simply a so kind... that is who I am. A frivolous thing, not needed other than for its purpose. Why, if it came down to it... I would die just so I could be gentle!"

The intent behind the words were clear. Even as the reflection spoke, Lacey organized her mind and brought the circuits in her to life once more. She would not be able to dodge this. Not something like lightning. She had to pre-empt the strike. She used the roar of her reflection to time it and prayed that she was right. Her senses recoiled from the destructive burst of power. She uttered the single word of activation as she flung the stone lightly in front of her.

The natural world resists unnatural events. Every aspect of reality likes reality to stay the way it is. On a very fundamental level that she would not be able to describe, Lacey understood this concept. Using this spell, she gives objects the power to reinforce their desire on the world. Using an unnatural spell to allow objects to resist an unnatural force. This was the paradox that she threw at the oncoming destruction.

The tidal wave of death moved at the speed of lightning, but the reflection gave Lacey just enough of an indication of when the spell would be released. The torrent of electrical fury collided with the dispelling field of the stone she had thrown out.

Lacey's focus narrowed into a point. She refused to look away as the two spells collided. Or perhaps she couldn't because everything that was happening now was beyond her ability to react to. Her vision burned electric blue as the beam of lightning scythed right through her defense, into her and through her.

It was so quick and decisive that she didn't even scream until after the bolt had already depleted itself tens of meters behind her. The stone she had used was completely destroyed - used up by the spell and burned out by the onslaught. Even so, there is a lot to be said about acting upon the basest aspects of a spell. While the reflection's beam was not stopped, it was certainly diminished.

As the smoke cleared, even Lacey herself was surprised by the fact that she was still standing, holding her right arm up in the gesture of throwing the stone, palm up to her opponent. As her mind finally caught up to what happened to her, she gasped and clutched her right arm close to her body. Her hair was swept far back from her head and singed at the ends. Her entire body felt like it had been battered the way a baker beats down bread. Her entire right arm however was a different story. Every pain, pressure, heat and cold receptor in it was firing. The muscles ignored any commands from her brain.

But more importantly, she was still standing. She grit her teeth against the pain and sought to organize her mind into a state capable of acting again.


"That is the type of incomplete existence I am"

"Th-that's-" Lacey had to stop and work moisture into her mouth. "That's not entirely true. That's not how it has to be. Kindness is not a weakness. Compassion is not a flaw."

Her arm hurt. But while it hurt more than almost anything she had ever experienced, it was not so bad that she couldn't ignore it. Or maybe she couldn't afford to ignore it. Regardless, she continued speaking as her mind sought to organize itself. "Helping is a privilege! Sometimes... Most times I don't have enough power to help." The smoke was still thick, but Lacey could make out the burning blue eyes of her reflection easily. Her look softened from the intensity it had before and filled with the very same compassion she was talking about. "Maybe I am incomplete. Maybe you are too. Help me? Let me help you!"

She was running out of time. The reflection would act again soon and Lacey needed to recoup some of her strength.

True Nature
Rank: B (Witchcraft)

Can be activated with a single word. Cast upon objects. Basically a dispel that is more powerful the closer the object is to nature. Alacia normally uses it as a dispelling shield. She has a habit of carrying around a small wreath of twisted straw or flowers to use the spell with. Can only nullify really low level or very pure elemental spells with that wreath. Larger objects (like trees or rocks) can nullify most elemental based attacks and weaken magic that touches it in general.
STR – D -> C
END – D
AGI – D -> C
CAS – B
PRA – A

Prana: 160/400

Verg Avesta
December 3rd, 2013, 07:35 PM
Location: Crystal City - Moonlight Circle
Time: 00:05 - Night
Day: April 5th
Turn: 7


"Th-that's... That's not entirely true. That's not how it has to be. Kindness is not a weakness. Compassion is not a flaw. Helping is a privilege! Sometimes... Most times I don't have enough power to help. Maybe I am incomplete. Maybe you are too. Help me? Let me help you!"

Those words of determination, those words of intensity, those words of steadfast resolution... they were shot down by a delirious laughter, one echoing from the mouth of the twisted reflection. The reflection bent back like a marionette that had broken joints, hanging simply from the threads that reached up to the heavens. The blue eyes reflected the moon far above them, enhancing the lunacy that broke their calm surface with violent ripples. Its body, convulsing in the fit of laughter, tensed suddenly up.

"Ah, aaaaaaaaah~!" the reflection moaned, as if reaching a climax.

The body borrowed relaxed, and the reflection hunched forward to look at its original. It was now hunched over like a beast. The breath of it was moist, the look in its eyes was partly clouded, and saliva drooped off the edges of its mouth. The emotions, the ruthless vigor without remorse, had reached the boiling point inside the reflection. Now was the time. Like a chain shattering, the last vestiges of familiarity disappeared form the reflection's face, and it became nothing more than borrowed appearance, housing inside something that, truly, no longer was Lacey.

With her words, the young magus had separated the existence from herself.

The reflection was no longer bound. It was no longer forced to conform itself to the moralities set by its originals. It was no longer required to even act like her, not in the slightest.

Like a hound released after the prey, it now eyed Lacey with its ecstatic eyes.

"Help? Who? You, who cannot even help herself, would try to help someone? Don't make me laugh!" the last sentence was accompanied by a lashing motion from of an arm, creating an arc of lightning that shot across the battlefield with fury. "That pitiful attitude, that pathetic tone, that pointless worry in your eyes...! It is all that what forms your slow-witted self. And it is all that which spells your doom. You will die. You will lose. You will fail. And you have nothing but your stupidity to blame for it."

The cursed book sang, the skies roared, the thunder roamed; lightning came down as arcs that once again wrapped itself around the reflection, this time engulfing her both arms. In the midst of her insane laughter, the power of the storm enveloped to its full potential, bringing forth a wind with it that lifted the fog and sent the debris flying.

Illuminated by the purple light of the crackling energy, the reflection gave a single crushing glare at her original.

"And thus, nothing changed."

Blue
December 3rd, 2013, 10:03 PM
Alacia Starward
Location: Crystal City - Moonlight Circle
Time: 00:06 - Night
Day: April 5th
Turn: 8


"Ah, aaaaaaaaah~!"

What's happening? Lacey wondered to herself. Every reprieve from the reflection twisted her further and further away from the original. Now as Lacey stared at the caricature in front of her, she couldn't see any more of herself in there.

The look in the eyes of her 'reflection' was unnerving to the young girl. Some unspoken rule was now broken and Lacey couldn't help but feel impending death. More so than when the avalanche of lightning had thundered down on her head.

She couldn't afford to stop now. Her circuits came alive once more. She had used a lot of energy and the drain and fatigue was adding up. She had used up so much prana in the span of a few minutes that every nerve in her body felt like it was on fire. She pushed herself to use more. Once more she muttered the words to actualize a mystery almost faster than she could understand it. Exora!

The prana ran free as it released from her only to immediately sink into her right arm. The biting cold, searing heat and stinging pain gave way to a coolness. The spell didn't completely undo the damage, but at the very least she could control the arm again.


"Help? Who? You, who cannot even help herself, would try to help someone? Don't make me laugh! That pitiful attitude, that pathetic tone, that pointless worry in your eyes...! It is all that what forms your slow-witted self. And it is all that which spells your doom. You will die. You will lose. You will fail. And you have nothing but your stupidity to blame for it."

Lacey's heart sank as the crazed caricature of herself laughed, calling down the same spell from before. The beam of certain death that she cheated. But this time, she gripped two of that spell, one in each arm. The smoke and debris from the previous strike was blown away.

And yet Lacey stood firm against it. Even in the face of the glare from her 'double'.


"And thus, nothing changed."

She had no options. She could not run. She was right before when she didn't think she could dodge the spell. There was no way to get out of its range either. She was battered. Even with another dispel, she would not be able to mitigate enough damage let alone stop two of those beams. She palmed a stone from her pocket anyway.

But she wasn't done yet. She didn't want to die here. She wanted to live. And in order to do so, she would have to bet on one small hope. "I... I don't want to die here. I don't think I can stop you from killing me if you wanted." Her voice choked a little and she had to bite back tears of fear at that admission. "But all the same, I want to live. Please, if you're anything like me at all," and she thought back to how mere minutes ago the reflection was an almost perfect copy of herself. "Please help me."

Lament of the Fallen
Rank: D

1 second cast time. Basic healing spell. Heals virtually all physical wounds. Mildly heals internal wounds. If the target was cut open, the spell would heal over the external wound and lightly stitch over the damage done internally. Superficial healing.
STR – D -> C
END – D
AGI – D -> C
CAS – B
PRA – A

Prana: 120/400

Verg Avesta
December 3rd, 2013, 11:00 PM
Location: Crystal City - Moonlight Circle
Time: 00:06 - Night
Day: April 5th
Turn: 9


"I... I don't want to die here. I don't think I can stop you from killing me if you wanted. But all the same, I want to live. Please, if you're anything like me at all. "Please help me."

Nothing but the raging winds and the cracks of thunder answered Lacey's plead. Her eyes, trained right at her reflection, saw no emotion now on the face of the existence. It stood there, arms raised, wrapped in the unearthly energy. Down the ridge of its nose, it looked down, back at Lacey. Like a meeting between a man and a demon, an unholy pact agreed upon that would be only for the door the man... seeing these two, so alike yet so different, face each other would have made anyone gasp in awe.

"................................................"

An utterly oppressing silence, one eventually broken by the reflection itself as it lowered its hands, and took a single step towards Lacey. Then, another. Then, another. Like walking across a floor of glass in a theater, the reflection made its way towards the real Lacey. Eyes hidden beneath the shadows cast by her hair, power still rumbling yet momentarily subsided... it was truly the approach of a predator, one who would either pounce at the slightest hint of fear, or showcase something truly rare:

Compassion.

"................................................"

Finally, it was there. Before Lacey, as Lacey. Two existences which sprung from a single point, two equals who were nothing but exaggerated reflections of each other. After their battle, the time had come for the two of them to finally stood face-to-face once more.

After all...

What would have been...

More appropriate...

For an execution?

A hand, hungering like a raven's talon, swooped forth. It caught hold of a face so fast that its owner could not react. With the blazing brilliance of the lightning still wrapped around it, the reflection's hand moved faster than Lacey could anticipate. Undeniable power. Unquestionable speed. Unlimited force. This was truly the showcase of the creature's independence, as it lifted the girl up from her face, like a monstrous executor of a far-away kingdom.

"... Nothing but someone made to die," the reflection growled. "Never advancing. Never gaining. Never succeeding. Alas, for she was always left behind in the wake of others."

It was a solemn announcement. The reflection, ignoring all of Lacey's attempts at freeing herself, had lifted the girl up with ease. The pressure put on the girl's head must have been tremendous, as the reflection had done so with a single hand. It was like a prince holding up a skull in a play, looking back at someone they had known long ago, but could not barely recognize. Nothing like recognition was in those eyes anymore. Simply contempt of their very existence.

"One meant to die will have only one end left to her," the reflection said, and tightened her crushing grip on the weakly flailing girl. "You understand that much, don't you?"

The madness had ascended to a state of tranquility, at least for the moment. For there was a task left for that madness to perform. Only then was it allowed to take the final step into the unknown territory.

The lightning screamed. The prana roared. The light illuminated the night, momentarily. The hand grasping rapidly weakening Lacey glowed with ever-growing presence, until it was like a single point of light which one could not look upon. The purple tint only served to remind of that power's origin. Whether it was the magus, the reflection, or something else entirely.

That did not matter anymore, however.

After all...

"And thus..."

... It was the end.

"... Nothing changed."

A sound of impact echoed throughout the battlefield, and leaving behind only the silence of a guillotine after the blade had swung down.

Blue
December 4th, 2013, 08:01 PM
Alacia Starward
Location: Crystal City - Moonlight Circle
Time: 00:07 - Night
Day: April 5th
Turn: 10

Lacey's plea was met with silence from the 'reflection'. The spells held in each hand continued to rage, but the reflection itself was silent. After some consideration, it lowered its arms and began walking forward. Its expression was hard to read, but Lacey held out hope for a possible end to this. She was battered and honestly did not know how much more she could take.

Lacey made no move to intercept, unable to properly read the reflection's intentions. It stopped as the two came face to face. Lacey waited for something in her double. There wasn't outright malice at the moment, and the instant that Lacey let her guard down the reflection lashed out with her talon-like hands.


"... Nothing but someone made to die. Never advancing. Never gaining. Never succeeding. Alas, for she was always left behind in the wake of others."

Lacey scrabbled at the hand on her head, but the reflection was stronger and simply lifted the struggling girl off the ground, gripping her by the skull. The angled and twisted hand squeezed down tight and the sharpened tips cut into her flesh. She squirmed and fought, trying to break the grip but she didn't have enough leverage or the sheer strength necessary to do so.


"One meant to die will have only one end left to her. You understand that much, don't you?"

Despite the tremendous strength of her opponent and pressure on her head, Lacey still had a look of defiance on her face. Not like this! her mind screamed as she physically exclaimed trying to fight the pain. She wondered if there was any mercy in her double. She didn't think so. The reflection already knew what it would do. There was no way around it.

The spell that harnessed the destructive force of lightning kicked up once more. Lacey's vision was obscured by the hand that gripped her still, but all the same the proximity of the spell lit up her sight. Lacey's hands stopped fighting and swung down to her sides. She couldn't break the hold. This close with no options, she would be obliterated. The realization of impending death hit the girl harder like a one tonne weight. Death! Her face still scrunched up from pain and effort, she grit her teeth.


"And thus... Nothing changed."

As the spell reached its fever pitch, Lacey put all of her remaining strength into her arm and swung, open palm striking bare skin. All of a sudden, the ground rushed at her as she flailed her arms to buffer her fall. Silence reigned as assessed her injuries. Her head throbbed and she was bleeding from several places. Her body was still battered from before, but she could still fight.

She raised her head to look at her reflection. It had stepped back with an expression etched with anger, malice, cruelty but dominating those emotions was a look of surprise.

"Not like that" Lacey practically spat out the words, voice hoarse from screaming. The ground beneath her crunched as she set her legs under her, ready to spring. "I may not be able to stop you if you really wanted to kill me I think, but I will not go down like that. Not without a fight. If you give me the chance, I will fight with everything I have."

Lacey took stock of her options. She was feeling really drained in terms of prana. She doubted she had more than two spells if that left in her. At least she still had a slight augment to her strength and speed. "You better believe me when I say that if it comes down to you or me, I am always going to choose me first. I am not going to give up until I have nothing left to give. If there are no options left, I can be as ruthless as I need to be. So if you want to take me down, you better be ready to carry through."

She couldn't afford to die here. She had friends who were counting on her. She got in over her head with this whole mess, but there was no way she was going to let it end like this without a fight. Her reflection still stood over her. Was still in a position of power. But the look on Lacey's face said that she would do anything and everything necessary to survive this. In a quieter voice, she added "If it hinges on it... I will kill you if I can."

Verg Avesta
December 4th, 2013, 08:01 PM
Location: Crystal City - Moonlight Circle
Time: 00:07 - Night
Day: April 5th


"If it hinges on it... I will kill you if I can."

The rage, the anger, the fury... all of it dissipated with that single sentence. The roaring display of power quieted down abnormally quickly, whisked off by the dying winds. The clouds stopped their dance above and vaporized, leaving behind nothing but the moon bearing witness to the two combatants. Silence that the battlefield had not seen in quite a while descended, and for one electrified moment, nothing moved. No sound, no killing intent, no threat of impending death.

All of it disappeared when the innocent girl announced her resolve to ruthlessly trample over someone if it meant her survival... her happiness. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCt4aLirnrk)

“………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Tha t’s it.”

Thus spoke the reflection, the possibility, the outcome, the one who broke free.

The reflection straightened its back, and slowly it spread out its hands. The book that it had carried melted away into the night, along with the cape. The source of her power was gone. Flesh etched back to the forehead, and peacefully the third eye, only moments ago filled with fury, closed once more. The hair that had been ravaged by the electrified currents straightened out and with the moonlight that shone upon it, it gained back its silk-like texture. And, most importantly, the twisted facial features eased up and the sneer without mercy was replaced by a quiet, solemn smile.

Along with the dying hostility, so had the reflection once again turned back to resemble its owner.

"That's just it, isn't it?" the reflection whispered. "No matter how kind we want to be... there are times when it is simply not an option."

The reflection took a single step towards Lacey, then another. It put its lithe hands upon her shoulders, and most gently, lifted her up from the ground. Now that the two were finally, once more, face-to-face, it was no longer like looking at a broken mirror. Despite their differences, they were still the same existence. Like twins sharing the same soul, or an image of yourself at the back of your mind. Not once during this night had it been clearer than now.

"We want to show kindness, we want to be merciful, we want to help people... but things shouldn't be done that way. They cannot be done that way. They shouldn't be done that way," the reflection continued her gentle admonishing. "Dreams, happiness, brighter future... no matter where we want to go, the road will still be paved with the hopes and lives of the others. And it this those things that we have to trample to continue further. Not out of malice, not out of selfishness... but out of necessity. We must learn to do things simply because they have to be done for us to continue, no matter what anyone says, no matter how hard anyone cries. In other words... we must learn to be ruthless."

Giving a sight that held within it a deep, unfathomably deep sorrow, the reflection looked Lacey straight in the eyes. There was no blame, no pity, no expectation in them... only love; love that human can only show- for him or herself.

"To save someone who does not want to be saved... we must be ruthless. To survive so we can laugh again with our friends... we must be ruthless. To cling to hope so that we are not crushed by despair... we must be ruthless," the reflection spoke. "It is the horrible truth of this world that we must learn, understand and accept. Not for the sake of our own desires, not for the sake of freedom... but for the sake of living how we want to. Even if we are to devote ourselves to other people, we must do what is necessary to continue that service. You understand this... don't you? I know you do. That look in your eyes, announcing my death... there was no hesitation, no concern for my well-being. You simply wanted yourself to live, and for me to die; just so you could see the faces of your loved ones once more."

Then, out of the blue, the reflection caught Lacey in an embrace. It was like a mother would hold a choice, cradling her head and softly petting her head, as if to calm down the last vestiges of fight within her. It was an embrace so full of warmth that many humans only could dream of one.

“I think, therefore I am. My thoughts are myself, therefore my existence is me. But…”

The reflection whispered gently to Lacey's ear.

“…I am not alone.”

Then, tightening her grip only slightly, the reflection sniffled as if it was holding back tears.

"And I'm sorry. I'm... so, so sorry. But sometimes for the sake of not being alone................. we must be ruthless."

Blue
December 4th, 2013, 08:53 PM
Alacia Starward
Location: Crystal City - Moonlight Circle
Time: 00:08 - Night
Day: April 5th


“………………………………………………………………………………………………………….That’s it.”

Whatever Lacey was expecting as a response, that was not it. She blinked in surprise, but didn't ease the tension in her body. One by one the reflection shed the additions that helped twist the image. The book, the cloak and the eye each faded away in turn. And in the span of moments the reflection was now something that was simply uncanny and all too close to being Lacey without actually being Lacey.


[/COLOR]"That's just it, isn't it? No matter how kind we want to be... there are times when it is simply not an option."

Lacey let herself be helped to her feet by the reflection, still a little unsure about what was going on. The reflection continued speaking.


"We want to show kindness, we want to be merciful, we want to help people... but things shouldn't be done that way. They cannot be done that way. They shouldn't be done that way,. Dreams, happiness, brighter future... no matter where we want to go, the road will still be paved with the hopes and lives of the others. And it this those things that we have to trample to continue further. Not out of malice, not out of selfishness... but out of necessity. We must learn to do things simply because they have to be done for us to continue, no matter what anyone says, no matter how hard anyone cries. In other words... we must learn to be ruthless."

Slowly, Lacey thought she was beginning to understand. She searched the reflection's eyes. Her own eyes. What she saw was... comforting. Love, acceptance, humanity. Everything she was looking for the entire fight.


"To save someone who does not want to be saved... we must be ruthless. To survive so we can laugh again with our friends... we must be ruthless. To cling to hope so that we are not crushed by despair... we must be ruthless. It is the horrible truth of this world that we must learn, understand and accept. Not for the sake of our own desires, not for the sake of freedom... but for the sake of living how we want to. Even if we are to devote ourselves to other people, we must do what is necessary to continue that service. You understand this... don't you? I know you do. That look in your eyes, announcing my death... there was no hesitation, no concern for my well-being. You simply wanted yourself to live, and for me to die; just so you could see the faces of your loved ones once more."

Lacey was still processing what her reflection said, comparing it to what she was thinking and how she felt. Yes it was true that she would do whatever it took if it came down to life or death. She would choose herself and then her friends if they were an option over others. That's what she had told herself before. But before it had been academic. She had never been put in that spot before. Until now.

Caught up in her thoughts, Lacey was taken by surprise as the reflection threw its arms around her. Warm was all Lacey could think and feel for a moment. The scene was a strange contrast with Lacey in her battered and dirtied clothes while the reflection was still more or less pristine. She let the tension flow out of her and into the hug.

If ruthlessness was the lesson here, Lacey would always temper it with warmth and compassion when possible. She would do what needed to be done, but she would not throw away her humanity for it.


“I think, therefore I am. My thoughts are myself, therefore my existence is me. But… I am not alone.” And I'm sorry. I'm... so, so sorry. But sometimes for the sake of not being alone................. we must be ruthless."

The reflection whispered in her ear and sniffled. Lacey came to another realization then. When you balance ruthlessness with kindness, all of the hate and pain that you cause is shared between you and your target. Lacey gripped her reflection tight then. "No. Thank you... thank you for teaching me." Unlike her reflection, she didn't hold back her tears. She cried for the pain that her other self suffered. Silently she shed tears for the reflection that had tried to kill her just a short while ago.

Verg Avesta
December 4th, 2013, 09:17 PM
Location: Crystal City - Moonlight Circle
Time: 00:08 - Night
Day: April 5th

A breeze flowed through the clearing, but unlike its violent predecessor, this was a gentle one. With it, it brought a certain sense of finality and hope. With that wind, like a phantasm vanquished by the rising morning light, the reflection of Lacey began to slowly fade away. Like a group of fireflies startled by something moving through the grass, she slowly started dissipating from her feet. Still, the supporting weight stayed, though there was no leverage for the reflection to still keep cradling its original.

“There is no one that can survive alone in this world. That is why we have friends. That is why we must do anything we can for the sake of those precious friends, no matter how cruel those actions” the disappearing reflection spoke. “That is why we must be ruthless. To obtain that kindness we so desperately yearn for. And as we accumulate our sins, the only way we can atone for them is to show kindness when we can... but only when we can. It is not about ourselves, never has been. It is about the world. It is about life.”

The shoulders of the reflection had already disappeared, but it still lifted Lacey's head gently, and wiped away her tears with her fingers. Then, showing a compassion that could only be found in a girl named Alacia Starward, boundlessly kind, she planted a soft kiss on her forehead. In that moment, a sharp warmth in Lacey's hand informed her of the appearance of her reward: three red marks, pulsating with power. Her Command Spells. Her proof of being a Master.

“It is about the bonds between friends.”

And with the last words of the reflection still echoing in the air, it disappeared completely, Lacey’s body absorbing the energy it released.

“I hope……you will do……better…”

And so, lacey stood alone in the clearing.




-------------------------------------
VICTORY
To Another World!

Alacia Starward
Master Level: 1
SP Earned: 1
AP Earned: 15
Items Acquired: 1

~Command Spells~
Your proof as a Master

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

Suddenly, the direction of the wind changed.

Suddenly, the force of the wind changed.

Suddenly, the fragrance of the wind changed. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_Dc3aLG1Xs)

Like a gust from the ages past, a whirlwind straight out of a storybook, the wind rushed around Lacey with the invigorating atmosphere of legends filling the world around her. Prana soared towards the skies like a fanfare of victory, announcing that a new chosen one had been born on that very moment. It was an inaudible, uplifting tune, enough to fill the heart marred with sorrow with hope unparalleled. The crystals began to shine with deep power, reflecting the light from Lacey's hand.

It was then that it appeared. A figure forming in the middle of the wind, bringing with it the scent of deserts and magic, knowledge so deep that it would shake the world of the young girl now bound to that formidable existence. The crystals came alive, and on their surface, a myriad of characters, symbols and numbers ran like a wildfire.

In that storm of information, once batch of information was clearer than any other.

DOWNLOAD: 100%
SUMMONING COMPLETE
INITIALIZING
SERVANT CASTER

The wind roared. The wind raged. And from inside that wind, cleaving it in two with his mere presence…

A person stepped forward.

And spoke the words…

“—I ask thee. Art thou my Master?”

Dranes
December 8th, 2013, 04:24 PM
Felix Caelum
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:40 - Night
Day: April 8th

The night air was cool in the Crystal City tonight, it might not have been my best idea to bring nothing along but the clothes on my back and my mind. Yet it seemed that the planned had worked out, the only sound in the city was the howling of the wind before dying down again. Even then, if trouble did come up, there was always the backup plan...though hopefully it wouldn't have to come to that. Better to just get this over with quickly before something happened though...

This would be all in vain if I was wrong. The 'hint' that Firo had given me made no sense at first but after putting it together with what I already knew, I did come to one conclusion. It certainly was a 'test of knowledge' as he put it but not in the sense I understood then, now did I pass the test? It was time to find out,

The city itself was already like something from another world in the day but at night it felt even more so, still something like this wasn't going to make me run and even then I'm already in too deep to even think about it. Continuing forward, I arrived at the first step of the test: one of the many crystal pillars that littered the city, in the day I wouldn't think much of it but at night the blue crystal, illuminated by the moonlight, was different just like the rest of the city. My instincts seemingly roared at me as if there was an unseen danger here but at this point I couldn't heed such a warning and so I looked forward at the crystal.

And as I gazed at the pillar, what greeted me was my reflection.

But there was something...wrong to it.

The eyes. Blue like my own but seemingly blazing with prana stared back at me.

This had to be a part of one of those mysteries people were going on about, but other then those eyes, everything else seemed to be in order. The clothes, stance, headphones, everything was a perfect mirror of myself other then the eyes, it was after all just a reflection.

Shrugging to myself and crossing my arms, at the same time a flash of red danced across my reflection before hiding away.

It couldn't be?

As I uncrossed my arms, the red anomaly appeared once more, clearly etched into my right hand. Still unbelieving, I lifted my right hand up up to the crystal as if to dispel any doubt I might still have on what I was seeing. There I saw a symbol, something that I had only heard about the Holy Grail War but a key part of it.

Command Seals. Blazing red in the reflection, elaborate patterns intertwined with one another to roughly form an image, an image of a sword.

9536

Now, the pieces of this puzzle were falling into place, it was time for the next step of this 'ritual'. Fishing my HECATE phone out of my pocket, I stared at it for a moment, considering just what could happen next.
Steeling myself, I slid open the pure black phone, the screen lighting up as I did so. My ever present reflection did the same, slowly the time ticked closer to midnight. Even as my instinct continued to advise me against it, I looked back at my phone.

There would be no second chances if I missed it here, with a few quick taps I was ready the code I had managed to figure out was on screen.

1212333454

As the minutes passed, there was only silence and then as the hour finally arrived, taking a deep breath, I steeled myself for what might happen next.

And then hit dial.

Verg Avesta
December 18th, 2013, 03:43 PM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:46 - Night
Day: April 8th

The phone rang once.

It rang twice.

It rang thrice.

A click echoed in Felix's ears as the call was finally picked up. The sound itself was not loud, but in the silence of the city, it rang as loudly as a gong hit by a gigantic mace. For a moment, nothing but calm breathing could be heard from the other end, perfectly in synchronization with Felix's own breathing. But then, after giving a barely audible sigh, the one who had received the call began talking.

"Hello. This is Felix Caelum."

The lips of the reflection move. It spoke. Unlike Felix, who stayed silent, his reflection clearly and audibly spoke out, though the voice could only be heard in the phone. However, while the movements of the lips were a perfect mimicry of how Felix himself would have acted, there was something clearly wrong, obvious from the first syllable: the voice, while familiar in all aspects to the boy, contained a lying undertone of something else. Something that should not have been there, something that sounded almost unnatural to be coming from Felix's mouth.

It was apathy and scorn, mixed into a blend of indifference to the world around the speaker.

"... Figures. You're here at last. Despite everything, you made it here. Not that it makes any difference, of course. Truth and you never went hand in hand, did they?" the reflection spoke. "Yet, despite everything, you carried your carcass here... congratulations?"

Putting the phone between its shoulder and ear, and tilting its head to the right, the reflection began a slow, almost mocking clap at Felix. While the sound itself did not pass through the crystal surface that separated the two, it could still be heard quietly from the receiver of the phone. Eventually, after a few uninterested claps, the reflection stopped, and furrowed its brow a little bit.

"What, were you expecting something more? A fanfare? Sorry, but that's all you're gonna get. Try being a better person next time, would you?" the reflection lazily pat out those words. "But it's not like it matters, is it? No matter what happens, you know the end result."

The reflection allowed itself to slump forward, letting its forehead bump against the surface of the crystal, leaning against it. Then, it heaved an audible, tired sigh.

"Everything will be back to square one soon enough, right?"

Dranes
December 25th, 2013, 07:07 AM
Felix Caelum
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:50 - Night
Day: April 8th

The phone rang and rang until there an audible click confirmed that someone had picked up on the other end, however the only indication that someone actually was on the other end was what seemed to be breathing as if synchronization with my own. Continuously, I shifted my focus between the crystal and the surroundings, regardless how well this may had been set up I couldn't help but feel that something-

"Hello. This is Felix Caelum."

A voice that sounded like my own yet wasn't suddenly spoke from the phone. No, it would be wrong to simply say it was just that, from the corner of my eye I saw the reflection itself speak, as if having a life of its own. Now all my attention was focused on this 'reflection', if one could even call it that any more. Whatever it was, it had gotten my full attention now, and with that continued on.

"... Figures. You're here at last. Despite everything, you made it here. Not that it makes any difference, of course. Truth and you never went hand in hand, did they?" the reflection spoke. "Yet, despite everything, you carried your carcass here... congratulations?"

'He' continued to speak with a voice so familiar yet foreign and as if done, some words about truth that made no sense as is and such. I could simply stare at the reflection as he continued on talking though apparently not satisfied with that, began to clap, mockingly with a bored look on its face and almost as if trying to be rid of my presence. When there was no indication I'd move on or impressed by the demonstration, with a furrowed brow it addressed me again with the same tone as before.

"What, were you expecting something more? A fanfare? Sorry, but that's all you're gonna get. Try being a better person next time, would you? But it's not like it matters, is it? No matter what happens, you know the end result."

"What are you talking about? Better person? End result?"

Without a bother, the reflection slumped forward without a care and rested his head on the crystal as he continued to look at me. There was no reply to my question, just a silence as I waited for it to speak again. A moment passed before the reflection spoke again, the burning blue eyes staring at me the entire time.

"Everything will be back to square one soon enough, right?"

Again, another line that made no sense...though there was little chance I was going to get an explanation from this talking reflection I had to try again.

"And what is square one? Is it even possible to get back to this 'square one' after moving forwards?"

Verg Avesta
December 28th, 2013, 06:03 PM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:52 - Night
Day: April 8th


"And what is square one? Is it even possible to get back to this 'square one' after moving forwards?"

"You would be the one to know, right...? Because that's always the case. Why even bother starting anything, if it all will be returned to nothing eventually...?"

The reflection spoke with this cynical undertone, self-loathing gleaming in its eyes. With its hand, it caressed the surface of the crystal from the inside, like it had been a weapon in the hands of a serial killer. The lookalike then looked at the original Felix, and for a split second, a surge of murderous aura swept from inside the crystal, washing over the clearing like a flash flood. The caressing hand of the reflection was clenched into a fist, and with a face of only disdain, it drew that hand back and struck the crystal with all of its force.

----- The nigh indestructible material shattered like glass, raining outwards on Felix and forcing him to retreat a few steps.

"That is why there's no point to this either, is there...?" The reflection softly spoke as it stepped out of the crystal. "A contract, a promise, a bond... it will eventually just break. Nothing in this world lasts, right...? It is the law of the universe, to whimper and die out a pitiful, pro-longed, freezing cold death..."

The blazing blue eyes were directed at Felix as the reflection slapped its hand against it's face, dragging it slowly down as if contemplating on the futility of the existence before it; the existence of Felix Caelum. The judgment in those eyes, the penalty of being deemed worthless... it was all too clear. The reflection had given up on everything, to the point of even forsaking its original - In other words, it was preparing for the kill.

"... So, I'll just do you a favor..." The reflection dragged its words like a python in the sun. "... And end it all here."

Something cracked at the back of the neck of the reflection. Blood sprouted in a fountain from the wound created, and covered the reflection's back in an instant. But, just as it started to seem that it was all that was going to happen, another type of liquid began pouring out; it was black and gooey, like slime from the sewers, which slowly started covering the reflection's entire body. It slid against his skin, ignoring his clothes, hiding his true form from the eyes of the boy. Eventually, when the goo had reached the right places, it started hardening, becoming chitin-like armor that ripped apart the clothes as it took its protective form around the reflection.

------- And when that black liquid reached the right hand of the reflection, it begun to form a sword.

It was an instrument of malice, a long and inelegant sword, like an elongated hammer with two edges. It's jagged surface wasn't one meant for slow and quick death, but for agony of a longer time period caused by bleeding dry. It was truly a weapon made for suffering; no matter how one would swing it, it would swing it, a quick coup de grace was impossible: what awaited was only torturous death.

Aiming this weapon at Felix, the reflection once again slapped its face and dragged the hand down, covering his own face with the black liquid, It began to harden, forming a malformed mask on his face. At the same time, the little of the veins that could still be seen gained a pulsating, purple color, no doubt caused by the liquid that had entered the reflection's blood-stream. However, the sensation of burning prana was unmistakable, announcing the usage of a spell by the reflection.

Finally, the reflection was ready: clad in armor of black chitin, dripping black liquid that had the most foul aura and aiming its sword at its original, it directed its killing intent towards Felix.

“I think, therefore I am. My thoughts are myself, therefore my existence is me.”


-------------------------------------
Felix Caelum vs. DASEIN: Felix

Call of thy soul raised a legend
Reflection of victor only in crystals of thy anima
Yes, this is fight or fall
Let this be a battle of the death of thyself
Battle, BEGIN!

Felix –AGI D- vs. D: Felix –AGI C-
TURN 1: DASEIN: Felix
-------------------------------------


Without a sound of warning, the reflection charged forward. It ran like wildfire, covering the short distance between the two of them faster than any normal human should have been able to. Its face showed no expression, not even that of sadistic pleasure. Instead, the only hint of emotion came form the blue eyes that seemed to hold deep disdain for Felix within them; as if the reflection had not found him even worthy of explanation of why things had turned out this way.

Bending its body, the reflection swung back the sword before bringing it down in an overhead slash meant to cleave Felix in half. It was a strange way of fighting, showing no effort at all. The sword simply followed lazily after the reflection's arm's movement, and yet it was used with terrifying power. A strike from this attack would, most definitely mean a gruesome end for the boy.

"... It's all meaningless, in the end...!" the reflection hissed.

Dranes
January 4th, 2014, 05:20 PM
Felix Caelum
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:52 - Night
Day: April 8th
Turn 2

"You would be the one to know, right...? Because that's always the case. Why even bother starting anything, if it all will be returned to nothing eventually...?"

He responded once more, a cynical tone ever and with that silence once more fell between us as the reflection caressed the crystal from the inside. Gazing upwards, I ponder on his words, words that I can scarcely believe are coming from my own reflection. Never beginning anything simply because it would end? What makes someone think like that, let alone someone who is supposed to be me? His vague answers only lead to more questions, questions that are going to be left unanswered with how this is going.

Looking back to the crystal now I begin to open my mouth before I notice it, the reflection now has his eyes locked on me. The feeling of danger washes over me, rising by the second as the reflection finally moves with vigor and draws his fist.

With a sound as if glass shattering, the crystal breaks with one easy strike, on instinct I back away as fast as I can to avoid the falling pieces. The crystal was ruined and from it came the true danger as I saw my reflection walk out from it unscathed, his face contorted with scorn.

"That is why there's no point to this either, is there...? A contract, a promise, a bond... it will eventually just break. Nothing in this world lasts, right...? It is the law of the universe, to whimper and die out a pitiful, pro-longed, freezing cold death..."

Glaring at me as he dragged a hand down his face, those words resonated in the night air. To him, this was all another useless affair that had no reason to exist...thus it shouldn't have surprised me when he uttered those words.


"... So, I'll just do you a favor...and end it all here."

As he spoke, a disgusting sound filled the air and blood poured out of the back of his neck before it was replaced by...something else. Neither the blood or the strange black substance simply fell, instead it covered his body. When it had covered him fully, armored formed, black as the night sky above but what kept my attention was what else had formed, in his right hand he now held a cruel weapon. The weapon had the bare appearance of a sword seemingly, though not one that I had seen before. It was a blade made for a slow death, one that would torment its victim before finally ending them.

A chill ran up my spine as he aimed the mockery of a blade at me, he spoke no words but dragged a hand across his face once more causing his face to be covered in the black goo. It twisted and turned before forming a mask finally, though he spoke no words still, the reflection did not hide what he was doing, veins turning people as he used what I could only think was a spell. Now his attention was upon me, in his chitin armor he was ready.

I realized how much of a fool I was now for not acting sooner, for just what that spell was even if it was visually different...after all this reflection was still me, even now.

“I think, therefore I am. My thoughts are myself, therefore my existence is me.”

With that he begun, a charge at me, dragging the blade behind him lazily. There was no time to think about options, even as he charged already I began weaving my own spell, a quick chant as prana ran through my circuits, a spell so simple in effect and yet exactly what I needed in this time of need. He had crossed not even half the distance between us before it was done, a spell that mirrored the same he had just used. Before it, he would have had no trouble cleaving me in two but now, there was no chance of it.

As I felt my body being strengthened by it, he was upon me but now I was faster. As he swung down, I had already moved to the side but I had not stopped there, I had to keep the gap between us as large as possible if I had any chance to survive this let alone win...somehow.

Managing to put some distance between us, I'm able to catch my breath as I look to the twisted black visage which was only moments ago my twin.

"I don't know why you're saying this but those things aren't pointless, nothing is pointless."

In between catching my breath I speak those words, I don't know why I try but I do, keeping my gaze on him as I continue.

"I'm not going to lie down and just let you kill me. Whatever you might believe, true bonds are not so easily broken and neither am I!"


Felix Caelum

STR: E
AGI : D -> B
END: D
PRA: A
CAS: A

Spells

Facticius Cruor
Rank: C
Enhances the physical attributes of the target by circulating specialized prana the body and it. The bonus itself is either a rank increase to two stat or a double rank increase to one stat.

Lasts 10 turns.

The spell cannot stack with itself.

Verg Avesta
January 6th, 2014, 05:11 PM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:53 - Night
Day: April 8th
Turn 3


"I don't know why you're saying this but those things aren't pointless, nothing is pointless. I'm not going to lie down and just let you kill me. Whatever you might believe, true bonds are not so easily broken and neither am I!"

"... Quit lying to yourself. There is nothing in this world that lasts..." The reflection spoke slowly, elongating every word. "This... is the nature of humanity. The true arche of ourselves."

Swinging it's sword to the side, like an executioner's axe, the reflection splashed forth a whip of the black liquid that oozed from its wound. As it flew towards Felix, the ooze took a shape of a twisted globe, turning and spinning on its own axis. It was like a barely contained tidal wave of sewer liquid, about to splash on the mage... if it truly had been aimed at him. However, despite it's initial trajectory, the spinning of the globe at the center caused it to hit the ground just behind Felix. It splashed upon the ground, staining it like blood of a monster.

In that instant, the ground behind Felix exploded into ice.

Something almost like a small glacier took form, growing rapidly around the boy. It was a near circular in shape, leaving only a small, man-wide chasm in the direction from where the reflection had shot it. The pitch-black ice was so cold that the freezing temperatures caused Felix's skin to go into painful goosebumps, and his clothing to solidify as if they had been dried out completely. The trap of ice rose so high that there was no way out of there, not even jumping with strengthened legs, other than the chasm that led straight to the melee-range of the reflection.

"I want it... yes, I do want it... for everything to be stagnant and non-changing..." the reflection whispered, raising its sword. "But I am an incomplete existence, incapable of such bliss... thus, I only watch everything fall back into nothingness..."

The wicked sword was now in position, and the reflection took a lazy stance that still emanated the dread of death. It was preparing itself. It would only take the reflection a second or two to charge forth, and slaughter Felix in the killbox it had prepared. It was a slaughterhouse made out of black ice, as gruesome as the visage of the entity itself.

"... Myself included!" the reflection hissed, it's eyes flashing with a promise of a painful oblivion.

Name: DASEIN: Felix
Alignment: Truth

STR: C
END: C
AGI: C
CAS: A
PRA: A

Spells

Mors Acceleration
Rank: A
The usage of unearthly liquid to boost one's combat power. The sanctity of the body is sacrificed for the sake of ultimate power. It has the capacity of powering up the user to almost infinite ends, breaking through the restraints of a mortal body. The user is able to freely Rank Up any of his attributes four times as long as he is covered in the black liquid that makes up the earthly coil of this spell.

Boreas Flood
Rank: B
Black ice of shattering, the frigid tidal wave that will freeze anything that stands in its way. If used against a human opponent, it is capable of freezing any opponent solid unless they have both PRA and END attributes of A-rank, or possess external defenses against such an attack. If utilized on the terrain, Boreas Flood is capable of creating walls of sturdy ice that will prevent escape. The shape and size of these walls is decided by the user on the moment of casting, and they are marked by the black liquid that becomes the catalyst for the black, cursed ice to form.

Dranes
January 8th, 2014, 10:56 AM
Felix Caelum
Time: 23:54 - Night
Day: April 8th
Turn 4

As his sword struck the ground, he was unfettered by the fact he missed instead he simply continued on. It didn't matter to him if I died now or in due time, to him I was going to die regardless of how long I struggled, however I had to prove him wrong, I had to keep on going!

"... Quit lying to yourself. There is nothing in this world that lasts...this... is the nature of humanity. The true arche of ourselves."

Even as he spoke those words, he already begun his next attack, black liquid similar to what he wore shot out at me, changing in form to a sphere before striking the floor in front of me. To think he had missed would be a fool's mistake, this was all part of whatever plan he had. As if to reaffirm my thoughts, the next moment something rose behind me, an impassable glacier of black ice that left only one way to go: forwards to the executioner's axe. Just being close to the ice affected me as both my body and clothing reacted to the deathly cold that now surrounded me.

This was bad, very bad.

"I want it... yes, I do want it... for everything to be stagnant and non-changing...but I am an incomplete existence, incapable of such bliss... thus, I only watch everything fall back into nothingness..."

With that he readied his sword, if I did nothing now then I would be run through.

Though even with this terror, my mind still went back to the words he spoke.

Running from the truth, lying to myself.

An impossible world that was stagnant and non-changing, something I want yet can never have, a time of bliss.

He was right. In the end, no matter what I did there would always be an end, no matter what it was. It was simply a natural turn of events for such things to occur, to go against this would be to go against nature itself. The life he spoke of would always be impossible no matter what, the bliss that I had once before will forever be gone but accepting was something that perhaps I could never do. Never reaching out to another and living in the present rather then the pastl, living a hollow life for a simple wish, perhaps that is his and my 'incomplete existence'.

I came here to find a way to go back to those times. Everything else was second to that desire.

But that's not right.

"You are right, inevitably everything will end."

I could only nod with those words, the inevitability of humanity was its mortality.

But there was an answer I still searched for, that I still needed to find.

"Time always moves on, a stagnant and non-changing world is an impossible dream, to hope that nothing will ever change is childish."

Once more prana courses through my body, however this was different then before. Foreign circuits grafted on to me activate as prana courses through it, the treasure of a magus clan that I 'inherited': the Magic Crest. The burning sensation on my right shoulder is now all but gone, I could use the crest now as easy as any other circuit in my body. Though my family was said to be relatively young, the knowledge stored would make another think otherwise, however such pondering was for another time. I had found the spell I needed inside the crest and in moments I had activated it, a spell that I myself would never be able to cast as I am, a spell that would hopefully give me the answers I wanted, no needed. Streaks of white light raced from the circuit into my right hand, soon covering it in the same glow indicating that it was ready, to an outsider it would seem quite simple and unimpressive compared to what another could do.

"I don't know what might have happened to you."

Steeling myself, I raise my right hand...

"But I'm going to find out, one way or another."

...And strike at the ice that is my cage, impacting hard against the frozen surface.

A moment of silence.

And then the sound of the impossible fills the air as the ice begins to crack around the impact, however it does not stop there. The cracks continue on, racing across the surface of the ice, threatening to break the entire wall of death any moment. From those cracks glowed a burning blue, identical in color to the eyes of the reflection, signalling it's coming destruction. The glacier could take no more as more agonizing sounds of its destruction sounded and finally, broke apart, into thousands of icicles that threatened to skewer me and my double.

The icicles would never reach either of us.

In mid flight, they ice already begun evaporating, not into water but its true base component: the prana that was used to cast the spell, what little of the toppled mountain of ice still stood behind me followed in suite as it's form broke apart just like the icicles above. For a moment, our surroundings turned a burning blue like the glacier itself had before returning to the blackness of night. However, that was only the first part of the Crest's spell, not all of the spell had simply vanished, what little was left of the blue prana that once formed the mighty mountain of ice raced to the white light emanating from my hand, being absorbed and stored and even revitalizing me.

And then I was struck by pain.

Formulae filled my head, an influx of information and learning, of knowledge and understanding.

Of what was it that he had used to trap me just minutes ago.

It was now in my possesion: his spell and everything about it: how to use it and how it was accomplished, all of it. However it's origin was not a total unknown to me, its base was something I already knew, something I had used more often then not, it made the process of understanding easier but this was still something unnatural, something that was forcing the body and mind to understand. That was the danger of using 'Aufero', to take another's knowledge as your own, to use it without restraint was to die for your own greed. After all, in a world where knowledge was power, there are no real shortcuts...only imitations of such.

Finally, the pain had subsided however...I had gained something else with this knowledge...

Something...ominous...

Name: Felix Caelum

STR: E
END: D
AGI: D -> B
CAS: A
PRA: A

Spells

Aufero
Rank: A
Taking another's knowledge as your own. This spell is the culmination of the efforts of the Caelum clan and it's ancestors, the actual effect of the spell is as soon as it comes in contact with another it will break the spell down to its base components: prana. This disperses the affected spell in its entirety, leaving nothing of the spell left except for the few traces of prana however that is but one part of the spell. As the prana disperses, a partial amount is also absorbed by the caster magus, restoring a partial amount of prana as it is absorbed (approximately half of the cost of the spell). The final part, and true power, of the spell is in that small amount of time, the prana absorbed is studied by the circuits, teaching the magus the spell in question and allowing him to cast it as it was his own.

It is not uncommon that at times, this spell also brings another effect, that of giving the caster glimpses/parts of the memories of the one who had their spell absorbed.

Other effects are unknown.

Boreas Flood
Rank: B
Black ice of shattering, the frigid tidal wave that will freeze anything that stands in its way. If used against a human opponent, it is capable of freezing any opponent solid unless they have both PRA and END attributes of A-rank, or possess external defenses against such an attack. If utilized on the terrain, Boreas Flood is capable of creating walls of sturdy ice that will prevent escape. The shape and size of these walls is decided by the user on the moment of casting, and they are marked by the black liquid that becomes the catalyst for the black, cursed ice to form.

Perks

Magic Crest
You possess a magic crest that has been passed down to you, the heir of your noble lineage. In it are stored spells researched and perfected by the generations before you. You can store up to 3 spells inside a magic crest. When spells inside magic crest are used, they ignore the CAS rank and are performed instantaneously. Spells inside magic crest also have their prana cost lowered by 10 units.

-Aufero

Verg Avesta
January 12th, 2014, 02:19 AM
Time: 23:54 - Night
Day: April 8th
Turn 5

Black ice shattered.

Formula was integrated.

And along with it, something else, something long buried that should have never seen the light of the day.

Yes, by every meaning of the word, the actions of Felix Caelum could only be described with a single term:

Mistake. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAmdEWqlkjI)

-------------------!

Pain. Unimaginable pain assaulted Felix's mind in a torrent of information that scorched his very sanity. Vision upon vision was piled up into his brain, filling it to the brim and then proceeding to overflow, a tidal wave of knowledge that saturated every fiber of his existence. It was a hellish nightmare seen with waking eyes, moments that did not exist flowing before his eyes with speed that made them impossible to understand. It seemed like an eternity itself was struck against his understanding again and again, vicious blows that held no other meaning than to hurt him. This whirlwind of memories raged inside of him, bringing the boy to his knees and tearing up any defenses his sanity might have set up, leaving the naked existence underneath, the very core of his being, vulnerable to the overpowering assault of what he had absorbed from the reflection.

In just a split of a second, hell fell over Felix Caelum's mind, body and soul.

Glass what shattered.

And in that broken mirror, he saw the eternal dread.


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He saw it all.




The burning sky. The collapsing city. The screams of terror as the paradise was brought down from the heavens. She reached out to for his hand but it was too late. 01001000011001010010000001110011011000010111011100 10000001101000011010010111001100100000010000010110 01000111011001101001011100110110111101110010001000 00011100110110100001101111011101010111010001101001 01101110011001110010000001101111011100100110010001 10010101110010011100110010110000100000011000100111 01010111010000100000011010010111010000100000011101 11011000010111001100100000011101000110111101101111 001000000110110001100001011101000110010100101110 There was nothing they could do anymore. The end of the world had begun, their lives coming to a screeching, shrieking end as the world around the shattered like a crystal. 01010011011101000110000101110100011010010110001100 10110000100000011011110110100000100000011100110110 11110010000001101101011101010110001101101000001000 00011100110111010001100001011101000110100101100011 00101110 He could no longer even see properly. There was nothing they could do anymore. The floor under him disappeared, and he fell. 01010100011010000111001001101111011101010110011101 10100000100000011101000110100001100101001000000110 00010110011101100101011100110010110000100000011101 00011010000111001001101111011101010110011101101000 00100000011101000110100001100101001000000110110101 10010101101101011011110111001001101001011001010111 001100101110 The sky, so vast and red it hurt to look, was quickly growing more distant. He could feel nothing but air underneath him. Wind howled in his ears as he joined the unfortunate ones caught up in the cataclysm. Eyes opened, head turned, and he saw the final moments prepared for him. 01010100011010000110010100100000011001100110000101 11001000101101011011110110011001100110001000000110 11000110000101101110011001000010000001100001011100 00011100000111001001101111011000010110001101101000 01100101011001000010000001110001011101010110100101 10001101101011011011000111100100101100001000000111 00100110100101110011011010010110111001100111001000 00011101010111000000100000011101000110111101110111 01100001011100100110010001110011001000000110100001 1010010110110100101110 And beyond all that, beyond even the death that had taken them all, he saw it.

He saw it.

He saw it all.

He saw the truth.

As screaming Felix Caelum collided with the rapidly approaching ground...

... In his final moment...

... He saw the face of a tearful woman, behind the glass.

50%



It might have lasted only a couple of seconds.

It might have lasted a whole life-time.

Whatever the case, by the time the inferno of information subsided in Felix's head, he was writhing in the ground like a tortured newborn. The knowledge was washed away from his mind like a retreating sea, leaving behind only a fragment of what had run through his brains. The only thing that was clear was the memory of the pain that could not be described in words. A true hell, in every meaning of the word, had momentarily taken a hold of him... but for now, it had retreated.

What it had left behind was a body that only now was starting to gain a conscious control over its actions, and a mind that had been flayed into scars. Felix Caelum was recovering... which was a miracle, all things considered. What he experienced in that span of couple seconds would have destroyed a lesser mind... but he still functioned. He was still sane.

He was still alive.

"..."

And his reflection was still waiting for him, gazing at his form with a raised sword... but now, wearing an expression that was hard to read.

Dranes
January 17th, 2014, 09:53 PM
Felix Caelum
Time: 23:55 - Night
Day: April 8th
Turn 6


There was something else to this all, the realization came too late as pain struck me. Unimaginable pain resonated throughout by being, the formulae had now been replaced with visions, information piled into my mind that I could not process and to it there seemed to be no end in sight. Memories that were not my own played over and over, threatening to break my mind in two as I fell to my knees, all I could hope for now was that this would all end and let me be and yet I knew that such hope was futile as the wave of information once more smashed against my understanding.

And then something much more terrifying struck me.

As the limit of my understanding was breached, a final vision awaited.

The red sky, the city collapsing around me, the end.

I had seen something that I simply could not understand. I had seen something that filled me with dread. I had seen what was the end.

And through this all, I could only scream as my world began to turn to black.

The nightmare finally ends as the last image imprinted on me is of an unknown woman crying. As I strike the ground, all feeling leaves me and there's nothing now but darkness.


50%


I don't know how long how long I had been lying here perhaps a few seconds, perhaps more but regardless of that the pain was finally subsiding. The troves of information and memories were leaving now and despite it all, I was still alive. As I gather my thoughts, I wearily pick myself up from the floor. I was still were I had fallen: in the Crystal City, it was still dark and most importantly...he was still there. No snark comment like before nor was he taking this chance to run me through, now he simply stood with his sword raised and waited for me. I had thought I had an idea how he acts after all that happened but this was different...I don't know what to expect now and my position was no better.

I still retained it though, the spell that I had no right to have, I'd have to make good use of it if he charged but for now I had to recover. I'm still a wreck from what just happened even if my body didn't show it and it would be foolish to provoke him now of all times but...but what I had seen, I needed to know what all that was!

I look at him, still he stood and still he was silent. His face covered by the mask made it hard to read him, but regardless of that I had to ask!

"What...did I see?," Those words leave my mouth, my weariness from the ordeal obvious in my voice, "Everything was falling apart..."

"And there was a woman...she was crying."

Finally I raise my voice, my lack of understanding obviously a part of the reason for it.

"Just what the hell happened, what was all that?!"

Verg Avesta
January 18th, 2014, 11:59 AM
Time: 23:56 - Night
Day: April 8th
Turn 7


"What...did I see? Everything was falling apart... And there was a woman... she was crying. Just what the hell happened, what was all that?!"

"??????????????????failsafe?????trigger????????vari able???calculated?????????cross????" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrAvaWGkQxs)

Perhaps it was Felix's brain still completely able to comprehend the words spoken, or perhaps the reflection's words had truly, for a moment, turned into a static that permeated the brain of anyone who heard them. Nevertheless, only a scarce word or two could be heard from the answer of the black-clad thing in front of the boy, and none of them seemed to be making any sense. It was just like the memory Felix had just seen: full of junk-data, full of impossibilities, full of things that could not be comprehended due to discrepancy between it and the reality of now.

The world flinched. It seemed to jerk back momentarily. The scenery before Felix flashed for a moment, and his brains gave a one last tinge of pain. It was the last remnants of the nightmare leaving his brain, leaving behind only muddled pictures and sounds.

When he once more looked up, the reflection was still standing there. But now, it's sword was aimed at him, and it's hand was spread to the opposite direction.

"The recollection of μ, lost in the sea below. Where it all began." Tone of the reflection was once more cold and full of venom, all spat into direction of the boy before it. "Just like you, unable to grasp at the straws that hold people together, devoid of that power... this is the only end allowed to you. It is the only natural course of events."

The empty hand reaching out behind the reflection grasped the air as if tearing the particles of oxygen. Immediately, flames of black abyss sprouted from that hand, and engulfed the scenery behind the monstrous mirror-image. It was a small sea of flames, rising as tall as some of the crystals, barely hidden by the colossal guardians of the city. The heat coming from the black fire was barely tolerable, and the roaring dance of the conflagration was hard to even look at. It was not as if the fire was too bright, on the contrary: it felt as if looking into the darkness would have sucked out your very soul.

From the extended hand in the middle of these barely contained flames dripped the black liquid, the gasoline used to ignite this hellfire. The stench of sulfur and something far worse filled the air. It was a sickeningly sweet and poisonous smell, one that promised a painful death.

"Powerless creature can only curse his fate," the reflection spoke over the roar of the flames. "For it is because of it's own weakness that such end awaited it. You know this... do you not?"

Slowly, ever so slowly, the reflection started bringing its hand forward. The aim was clear.

----- It was going to destroy Felix with a single spell.

Dranes
January 21st, 2014, 04:10 PM
Felix Caelum
Time: 00:00 - Night
Day: April 8th
Turn 8

"??????????????????failsafe?????trigger????????vari able???calculated?????????cross????" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrAvaWGkQxs)

Words left his mouth but I heard little to nothing but static, an answer that was impossible to discern like the memories I had just experienced...in other words it had been useless to ask such a question in the first place. Though I had thought the influx of information had already left, a sharp pain once more assailed me and with it the world threatened to change once more...but it left as quick as it came, the last of the nightmare gone with it. As I looked back to him, he now had his sword raised right at me while his other hand held out behind him...it seems that whatever period of grace he had given me had ended.

"The recollection of μ, lost in the sea below. Where it all began. Just like you, unable to grasp at the straws that hold people together, devoid of that power... this is the only end allowed to you. It is the only natural course of events."

His voice returns to him, filled with the same contempt and hatred as before and as he spoke, he tore at the air behind him with his open hand. As he ripped at the air itself, from nothing came black flames, flames that quickly grew until they became a sea that eclipsed the horizon behind him and rose as high as the crystals themselves. Even from this distance I could feel the heat emanating from the black fire and with it the stench of sulfur and death. An anonymity that drew in light rather then brightened, flames that could kill me at any moment...only magic like his could do it.

"Powerless creature can only curse his fate, for it is because of it's own weakness that such end awaited it. You know this... do you not?"

As he spoke, he began to move the hand that held the flames at bay. Every second that passed, the flames crept closer and there was no escape from them. The black ice may be able to stop it but there was no guarantee that it would work let alone make it in time. Death was an inevitability, there was nothing I could now, powerless before such a force.

And yet even as the end draws ever closer...all I can think about that final question and what he had said.

That which holds people together.

So that's what I'm missing, huh?

.......

I understand... (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0e9PCWE38A)

After all it's something my family never believed in, that same teaching went down to me...I guess I let it affect me more then I thought, to the point that even others were unnecessary.

But I will not walk down that path, not any more. What I learn here and the people I meet, they're not simply things to throw away when deemed so.

There was only one way to go from here.

If I run now, I would die.

"That weakness is of my family..."

If I faltered now, I would die.

"I accept it, I lived with it and thought it only natural however..."

So all that's left to do is move forward, like I always have.

"There is no reason for me to live like that any more, my life is my own to commit to whatever and whoever I want!"

Standing up to my reflection once more, I had moved forward and challenged him. The heat now was unbearable and there was no telling what he would do next but if I was to die I would die standing.

Verg Avesta
January 21st, 2014, 04:45 PM
Time: 00:00 - Night
Day: April 8th
Turn 9


"That weakness is of my family... I accept it, I lived with it and thought it only natural however... There is no reason for me to live like that any more, my life is my own to commit to whatever and whoever I want!"

Black flames roared, their unstoppable rage tearing the ground around the asunder. The crackling of the destructive darkness was loud, louder than any sound in the area... and still, the words of Felix Caelum rang loud and clear over it. Their power momentarily overpowered the fire of death that threatened to engulf him. Bravely, rebelliously, he shouted against the reflection who had only seen him through tint of scorn so far. The last echo of those words of opposition, thrown against the face of the disfigured enemy, slowly faded into the rumble of the burning prana. For a moment, for a very long moment, nothing than the anger of the flames could be heard.

Then... as if they had been nothing but a mirage...

--------------------- The flames disappeared in a gust of refreshing wind. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqjqkb7-ujg)

“………………………………………………………………………………………………………….That’s it.”

Thus spoke the reflection, the possibility, the outcome, the one who broke free.

Series of clanks and hits could be heard as the chitin around the reflection's body began to fall off. The black liquid, the sinful ooze that had poured from the wound on his neck, evaporated quickly into the night-time air, becoming nothing more than a remnant of a nightmare. The blade started fading out of existence from the tip, shattering into ash that was quickly snatched by the breeze. The weapons and armor, the torture-tools of a vengeful mirage, disappeared into the night as quickly as they had appeared.

"That's just it, isn't it?" the reflection whispered. "There is not a single one in this world who can be alone... and thus, we must be willing to commit to the others we need."

The reflection took two steps towards Felix, his face now changed from the previous disdain it had held. The expression that now crowned that familiar face... was pride. The mirror image was proud of the boy before it. Indeed, it was proud of itself. A warm, gentle pride that can only be held in a heart of a person who knows he has taken a step in the right direction. The reflection reached out to Felix with its hands, and caught hold of those of the boy. Intertwining their fingers together, it kept it's determined eyes focused on Felix.

"It never is easy, not to anyone. Even those who have not grown up as we struggle with it every day. Questions echo in our heads and we do not know the answers. 'How far can we go?' 'How far can we trust?' 'How important are others?' 'Should we just let go, in order to not get hurt?' To bond with people we do not fully know, to cultivate those feelings we have towards other people... it takes time, and it takes determination. It is not an easy route, but it is a route we must walk if we do not want to be alone," the reflection gently lectured Felix. "And what grants us the power to hold on through the most troubled times... is our commitment. Our commitment to the others, to our loved ones, to our desire to see a brighter future...! It is that power that makes us hang on to the shreds of a destroyed friendship because we do not want to be separated from that person. It is that which gives us the strength start repairing a broken bond, no matter if it is a long and arduous journey. It is that... which allows the others to trust us, to have faith in our commitment towards them, that we shall not abandon them... ever."

The reflection suddenly drew Felix closer, and let go of his hands. Instead, he wrapped his arms around the boy, bringing him into a tight, powerful hug. It was like a father keeping a hold of his children after lecturing them, letting them know that they were forgiven nonetheless. There was no trace of the reflection's disdain or anger anymore... only faith in Felix, and deep understanding; understanding which could only stem from the fact that they were, now more than ever, the same existence.

"If we allow ourselves to think of our bonds as expendable, as nothing more than something to be used for personal gain... we will surely loose our way in the darkness. A man with no regard for people he calls 'friends' is not a man at all... just a husk of a being to be pitied, a sad existence that cannot even grieve for himself. It is for that very reason... to not become such an existence... that we have to be ready to commit. For the sake of ourselves! For the sake of others!" there was now clear emotion in the reflection's voice. "But... you've come to understand this already, haven't you? Standing tall, shouting against my face that you would not let our blood dictate your future... You've already found the seed of the power I speak of within you. Thus... do not be afraid to use that seed. Do not be afraid to let it grow into a splendid rose vine that connects you to everyone you meet. After all... it is only when connected to others that the said rose vine blooms."

The grip the reflection had of Felix was tightened, as if a repressed memory deep from within had caused it deep pain. But, there was still a smile on its face. A smile that could not have been warmer.

“I think, therefore I am. My thoughts are myself, therefore my existence is me. But…”

The reflection whispered into Felix's ear.

“…I am not alone.”

Dranes
January 21st, 2014, 05:40 PM
Felix Caelum
Time: 00:00 - Night
Day: April 8th
Turn 10

As the flames raged, it was sure to be my end...

...And then in an instant, the inferno had disappeared.

“………………………………………………………………………………………………………….That’s it.”

As he spoke those words, the armor that encapsulated him began to break apart. The visage of death was disappearing into the wind, the grim sword too began to fade away, it was finally over. He now looked like he did before, a perfect reflection of myself and yet...he looked for the better as well.

"That's just it, isn't it? There is not a single one in this world who can be alone... and thus, we must be willing to commit to the others we need."

That face that was once filled with disdain now looked to me as one filled with pride, as he caught my hand in his I could only nod to the words he spoke. Warm words that I never thought would come from him and yet they did, this was the lesson he wanted to teach me. A lesson that could be taught in no other way, this was what the battle was about, the fighting, the words, everything led to this point. He continued on as I looked to him.

"It never is easy, not to anyone. Even those who have not grown up as we struggle with it every day. Questions echo in our heads and we do not know the answers. 'How far can we go?' 'How far can we trust?' 'How important are others?' 'Should we just let go, in order to not get hurt?' To bond with people we do not fully know, to cultivate those feelings we have towards other people... it takes time, and it takes determination. It is not an easy route, but it is a route we must walk if we do not want to be alone. And what grants us the power to hold on through the most troubled times... is our commitment. Our commitment to the others, to our loved ones, to our desire to see a brighter future...! It is that power that makes us hang on to the shreds of a destroyed friendship because we do not want to be separated from that person. It is that which gives us the strength start repairing a broken bond, no matter if it is a long and arduous journey. It is that... which allows the others to trust us, to have faith in our commitment towards them, that we shall not abandon them... ever."

I understood now, these words of his.

As he drew me in even closer, I was embraced by him in a hug. The reflection that once tried to kill me was now closer to me then any other had been since back then...I guess it was only right after all...he is me.

"If we allow ourselves to think of our bonds as expendable, as nothing more than something to be used for personal gain... we will surely loose our way in the darkness. A man with no regard for people he calls 'friends' is not a man at all... just a husk of a being to be pitied, a sad existence that cannot even grieve for himself. It is for that very reason... to not become such an existence... that we have to be ready to commit. For the sake of ourselves! For the sake of others! But... you've come to understand this already, haven't you? Standing tall, shouting against my face that you would not let our blood dictate your future... You've already found the seed of the power I speak of within you. Thus... do not be afraid to use that seed. Do not be afraid to let it grow into a splendid rose vine that connects you to everyone you meet. After all... it is only when connected to others that the said rose vine blooms."

I could only nod to his words once more as they sank into me, my body still tired from the ordeal and my mind ragged but still I understood. His voice now was filled with emotion instead of the apathetic tone that he had before.

“I think, therefore I am. My thoughts are myself, therefore my existence is me. But…”

“…I am not alone.”

"That's right...and thank you."

Finally those words left my mouth, though this whole ordeal could have led to my death...I was grateful, if it was not for this I would've continued down on that path. Now it was time to live my life rather then be restricted by the old teachings of my younger days.

Verg Avesta
January 21st, 2014, 06:05 PM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 00:01 - Night
Day: April 9th


"That's right...and thank you."

The wind that had began to howl with the defeat of the flames picked up, and slowly, ever so slowly, the form of the reflection started to crumple. Like small flakes of white blossoms, its essence drifted towards the sky, eventually completely disappearing from the sight. It started from its feet, but even though the support of the reflection was gone, it was still standing strong... just like the boy before it. Lifting its still visible hand, the reflection patted Felix on the shoulder, and gave him an approving nod.

“There is no one that can survive alone in this world. That is why we have friends. And to keep those friendships alive, we must be willing to suffer through pain and hardship. After all, we know that there is not a wound too deep to be cured, even if it takes time... even if it takes patience," the reflection spoke. "That is the true value of commitment. The ability to see things through, the strength to be there for our friends even if we ourselves have lost hope, and have none to give to the one who also suffers... it is not about self-sacrifice; it is about supporting one another and being there, even if you are hurt... because we know the one we support would do the same to us. It is not about ourselves, never has been. It is about the world. It is about life."

Gently, with a body that was almost gone, the reflection leaned over to Felix and planted a kiss on top of his forehead. In that instant, a sharp, warm pain ran through the boy's arm. His hand, now glowing with red light, was forming three symbols on it. The symbols of the contract, the mantra of binding... Command Spells. As his reflection disappeared, Felix gained the reward for succeeding in this test laid before him.

“It is about the bonds between friends.”

And with the last words of the reflection still echoing in the air, it disappeared completely, Felix’s body absorbing the energy it released.

“I hope……you will do……better…”

And so, Felix stood alone in the clearing.




-------------------------------------
VICTORY
To Another World!

Felix Caelum
Master Level: 1
SP Earned: 1
AP Earned: 15
Items Acquired: 1

~Command Spells~
Your proof as a Master

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


Suddenly... the atmosphere changed. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0e6Rog9FK9w)

There was no longer a gentle breeze.

There was no longer a tender moonlight.

There was no longer a kind echo of words.

No, what replaced that all was an oppressive aura that seemed to emanate from the crystals themselves. The wind picked up pace and became almost violent, tearing into the ground with a surprising force. Felix, buffeted by the wind, was suddenly surrounded by innumerable runes, numbers and glyphs that ran across the surfaces of the crystals. The speed of the markings was incredible, and none of the was familiar for the boy to recognize. Not only that, but within the harsh and cruel wind, something seemed to be forming. Something strong and something dark; something filled to the brim with hatred.

And from the middle of that monochrome wind, something stepped forward. Responding to the red glow of the Command Spells, something finally materialized and took its first steps in the world. The wind carried the stench of blood and something burning, and something metallic reflected the moonlight with enmity. A boot crushed the rocks in the ground as the figure took a step, and another, approaching Felix with a steady pace.

And, finally, a series of letters glowed on the crystal surfaces, announcing the event that now transpired.

DOWNLOAD: 100%
SUMMONING COMPLETE
INITIALIZING
SERVANT SABER

The wind roared. The wind raged. And from inside that wind, cleaving it in two with his mere presence…

A person stepped forward.

And spoke the words…

“—I ask thee. Art thou my Master?”

Egophobia
January 21st, 2014, 06:26 PM
Fiore Lacere-Ran
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:50 – Night
Day: April 11th

Fiore was already irritated, and the difficult part of the evening had not even begun.

The night was damp and cool from the recent rain, and overhead the sky shone with stars that look entirely too large and bright from the altitude of the floating city. Even the fragile bits of nature on OLYMPUS seemed simulated and fake because of their proximity to the city. It had been more than a week since he had arrived here and it still eluded him; the reason for the city’s existence.

Like the city itself, the Crystal City towered around him, enormous and ostentatious for the sake of being enormous and ostentatious. Regardless of the purpose that the creators of the city had intended, they stood out in the open and generated rumors. People of power had been attracted to the city in the sky because of its grandeur – grandeur acquired simply because other people of power had been attracted for the very same reason.

There was nothing interesting about it – nothing meant for him or any of the others who had just arrived on the floating city. Whoever had created OLYMPUS had gotten what they had wanted in doing so, or had at least set their scheme into motion – for those who came because of the need to appease the mandates of worldly politicking and power struggles, there was nothing for them in the city.

Dead Apostles, when they grow older and most powerful, typically lost the desire to put up false fronts. Having lived so long and met with so many people, the novelty of lying tended to wear thin, and they became accustomed to simply acting however they pleased. It made many of them seem like monsters, antiquated in behavior and unconcerned with the nuances of coexisting with other lifeforms. It made their power structure a constant civil war at worst and a parliament of dragons at best. Malice was open and masked only by a formal tongue and that was why Fiore could appreciate the court etiquette of the Dead Apostles so deeply.

A Dead Apostle may lie to you, but it is because they can, and rarely because they must. Intention is clear.

“Malice is open.”

“What was it that the vampire replied, when you first said that out loud? That it would suit you on a coat of arms?” Cold air stirred to life around him, the aura of a demon swaying in the breeze, and the feminine voice passed through his thoughts and out from between his lips. It had been two days since he had sated his impulse with one of the fruits from Lily’s tree – deliberately so – and the devil had been pacing restlessly in his mind with increasing frequency.

“I was talking about vampires, though, and I believe our family already possesses a coat of arms,” Fiore replied. His voice wasn’t confrontational, but tired and drawn, and he glanced to his phone once more.

11:57

The glowing numbers framed by the square formed from the arms of the girl in the sky and the lady in the lake. In the likeness of the young lady, the woman in the sky possessed an alien beauty, her expression one of joy, fangs glittering dangerously as she laughed. Individuals like her – Dead Apostles and other inhabitants of the Moonlit World, could not possibly exist in a place like this.

Monsters, human and inhuman alike, would not change in a place like this, so long as they continued to exist as they were. The relationships that they had with the world were not dampened by the illusion of metropolitan life, but exaggerated by the collection of all the magical world’s worst deviants into once place.

“Acting as if nothing is wrong in this place and that mundane life is possible while my classmates become murderers and victims alike…as ill-suited as I am for this sort of thing, I do not think I can tolerate such an environment.”

“Mm, were that you were any other host, I would consider that an invitation to go on a murderous rampage.” Laughter returned to the voice as she taunted him rather openly. Fiore had to admit that she had been awfully considerate despite his inability to keep himself at ease since his arrival, and that she had not tried to take advantage of his abstinence from the magical fruit.

He had required her help in discerning the information he had found while digging around in the libraries and academy grounds, and upon the more dire implications, he realized that he would likely need her specializations this night. It would not have been a good idea to suppress her. The sound of a scrap of paper being blown across the ground startled him out of his thoughts, and he flinched as the demon laughed merrily at his surprise – it was unlike him to be so uneasy at night.

Back at the castle, he needed to work partly during the day so that he could be exposed to the sunlight to curb his impulses. The Young Lady had once suggested that he take to sleeping in her solarium, beneath the glass ceiling that she used for astrology, but he had refused her offer. Instead he worked through the afternoon and into the middle of the night, when the Young Lady would inevitable awaken shortly after midnight, having overslept as always and missed the setting of the sun. He was used to being awake at this house, and being tired, but it was unfamiliar not to have the sounds of the maids or of the Young Lady singing at her canvas while absently knocking her paints about and causing a fresh mess for him to clean tomorrow.

Instead the Crystal City was dead and cold, moreso than the living corpses he was familiar with and with the uneasy stillness of water just before a stone falls through it. The nights here left him too much time to think, and that in turn caused him to pace. Distantly, Roselia’s words echoed back to him.


“Why are you really here, though?”


“I have no idea,” he murmured in exasperation, and resisted the urge to glance at his phone so soon after having just done so.

After running into that woman, strange and somber and half-covered in mud, he had returned to his room and stared at the ceiling. The devil had quieted in an unsettling show of consideration and he had been left to his thoughts until sleep finally won out over him, his own weakness with travel a saving grace. It was an excuse to bypass his own non-direction, perhaps, but he wanted to understand more about that woman, and it had given him some semblance of orientation.

“Empathy, not sympathy.”

Offering understanding without the distant sympathy that people would show at any sign of sadness or misfortune, Roselia could understand in some part what it was that troubled him, and that in turn made him curious. He could not understand her in turn – he could barely see past the image of the refined young woman elbow-deep in a bucket of compost. It troubled him.

“She should not have to be like you – that is what you are thinking.”

“If somebody needs to be helped, but out of the pretense of courtesy, nobody helps them unless they are asked, then the only thing to do is meddle in their affairs whether they want it or not.”

“Perhaps you are projecting overmuch.”

“I am arguing with myself in the dead of the night. In public. Do not overanalyze the situation.” The weak tone of humor did not work its way into his voice, but the demon seemed to understand the sentiment, and once again left him to his thoughts.

She was right, to some extent, and they both knew it.

After he had woken up, he had gone to the library and into the city to look for more information on Roselia and her history in the city. He had heard of her reputation within the Clock Tower and of her placement on the Duel Chart – the abominable structured warfare organized between the students and sanctioned by the administration of OLYMPUS – but of her past on the floating city there was nearly nothing of substance. That she was the last remnant of the original generation was something to look into, but his search had yielded three primary leads.

Every Wednesday after school, she disappeared and was unseen until Thursday morning. Considering the position she held and the number of people who had attempted to figure out where she was going, there seemed to be some significance to the mystery.

There was a jewelry box in her room which nobody could identify the contents of. Moreso than the last, there was evidence of many people having tried to solve. That they had not succeeded was obvious, and that he would be able to do anything about that was unlikely to presume, so it was pointless.

Half of the rumors on OLYMPUS seemed to revolve around the phenomena of the Crystal City and the nature of the Duel Chart. Servants, the mightiest souls of humanity, once again walked the earth, and there was no end to the speculation on how to acquire one. Murdering one’s own companions and classmates for the sake of a single wish guaranteed only by promise – participating in organized murder between children sponsored by the staff of OLYMPUS was a repulsive ideal at best, and one he had no desire to live out.

Yet it was too great in scope to simply be a feature of the city; to host something as horrific as the war would be part of the reason for the city’s creation in the first place, or at least its upkeep. It was the participants who acquired power who could shrug off the ignorance strangling the young people of this place.

…and it was a war at which Roselia was at the very top of. She possessed more victories than anyone else; she had defeated more opponents in her short time aboard OLYMPUS than there were current entries on the list, and she was rumored to the sole remaining member of the first wave of students to have arrived.




“It might be the only way to understand her,” the voice had supplied when he had first begun to seriously consider the matter. Her voice was oddly contemplative, and he relaxed, leaning back into his chair. The library was cast in a dim, golden glow from the setting sun, and the cool, sterile environment was the opposite of the warm, cozy feeling he wished for from a library.

”The clues are absolute nonsense,” he murmured, looking at the pages of his notebook and frowning, “I can weed out some tangential rumors here and there, but there is very little cadence between what remains.”

“Think like a magus, the ones who traditionally fight these wars. What do you need to know?” the demon replied, and he could tell that she was looking through their shared eyes, seeing something he had missed.

“Formulae and codices, but there is little here that pertains specifically to magicians. The nature of the city, too, works against them.”

“So think like an alchemist, one who devised a riddle based on the logic systems of science, so that magi are as disadvantaged as everybody else, and cannot recreate the conditions of previous wars.”

Fiore had frowned at this, and the demon laughed as he formed a faint link.

“Now think like a scheming girl, out to use everybody around her, and why even we are here.”

“The ones who gain the contract of a Servant are the ones who become relevant, but the dissemination of information makes the entire population viable candidates for the system at a baseline. That only the talented or influential may be welcomed here further suggest the cultivation of some golden ideal of individual.”

“Like a detective, how could we comprehend these riddles and execute them, being so different and limited in understanding?”

“The information does not need to be consistent, then. It can be a number of nonsensical clues, so long as each one can be reverse-engineered even if you don’t possess particularly relevant skills. Something you could process with the assets available as a student, not just a particular kind of specialization.”

“Like an adult, now, and not in a condescending manner. How can you ensure that all these prodigious candidates, regardless of their circumstances, possess the means to activate the ritual?”

“…the cellular phones they created, which everyone must possess,” he murmured, remembering the incident when an older Dead Apostle who had seemed very uncomfortable with the idea, “…and the assumption that young people can rationalize technology easily, even the magi.”

“Youthful at heart, the elderly of the list are primarily Dead Apostles. Though there are many adults on this floating city, the contest is primarily between children.” Fiore could swear that the demon was closing her eyes and smiling faintly before she spoke again. “The elderly want for things as well, boy. They both died in droves in the days gone by of this conflict, and are inhibited by the nature of the riddle.”

Fiore frowned faintly, looking uneasily at the map of small, circled notes he had drawn out during their internal dialogue.

“If this is right, and even we could piece this much together…it is like the block castle of a child, colorful and asymmetrical, and utter nonsense to the adults around them.”

“Then it fits the situation. Come, we had might as well try it.”



The enormous shape of a crystal towered over him, glittering and translucent in the moonlight. Someone who wanted to sound intelligent might have called it beautiful in an alien way, but Fiore found it ugly. An obvious anomaly in this synthetic city placed where it was simply to breed rumors and spur investigation. The rumors he had found today were more sinister in implication than he would have cared for.

Shining green eyes glittered in the surface of the crystal, and Fiore frowned. The light behind them was unlike his own, which surfaced only when the demon would seize control.

What happened next was unsettling.

The reflection smiled faintly before turning, hands moving to the collar of its jacket. Pushing its hair aside and yanking firmly against the collar, the glowing outline of a rose tattoo became visible, starting at its neck and trailing down to the line of its collar.


9902


“Well now, this is new.”

Fiore did not respond, even as the reflection covered the mark again and turned to face him again, instead pulling his phone from his pocket and hastily typing in the solution to the riddle he had discovered.

1212333454

“Are you ready?”

“Are you?”

Verg Avesta
January 22nd, 2014, 01:20 PM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:59 – Night
Day: April 11th

The phone rang once. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_BuwlPIFWo)

It rang twice.

It rang thrice.

Suddenly a click echoed from the phone, jolting the air and electrifying it with an oddity, an impossibility, a reaction that should not have been plausible. Distant, controlled breathing could be heard from the other end of the now-connected line, one that matched Fiore's own breathing perfectly. The silence that had reigned so far continued without an interruption, but something else was now rising from below its veil. A heavy burden, not unlike a dark suffocating cloak, pressed itself on the boy's shoulders, causing even the night above him seem hostile. One could have called it either an aura of a beast or a atmosphere of a graveyard... whichever the choice, the result was this unnerving, foreboding experience.

Suddenly, the breathing went out of sync. It was a lapse that lasted only for a split-second, but even that was enough to break the illusion of silence..

And then... spoke the voice.

"Hello. This is Fiore Lacere-Ran."

It was a voice so familiar, yet utterly alien simply because of the source. Using the phone as a transmitting medium, the voice had echoed from deep within the crystal, generated by the moving lips of the reflection Fiore saw in that blue surface. The eyes that burnt with prana were locked with his, and while they still mimicked his expression, there was clearly something... off in it. Perhaps it was the fact that this expression was only a conscious choice from the part of the reflection, not a natural occurrence like it was with Fiore.

Using its slender fingers to switch its hold of the phone, the reflection dangled the thing between it's index finger and pinky, as it if had been some worthless bauble. Tilting its head slightly to the side, the reflection let its eyes wander up and down on Fiore's body, taking in the sight of a perfect mirror image that was alive. The unnatural stare, without blinks to interrupt it, continued to roam across the surface of the boy's body, but there was no way to tell just what lay behind those glowing orbs.

Eventually, the reflection heaved a small sigh that was barely audible or visible. The bent posture was straightened, only to be slightly leaned back again. Closing its eyes, the reflection brought the phone back closer to its ear, and spoke aloud with an emotionless tone.

"It seems that you have finally made it here..." the reflection spoke with a hushed, yet strong, tone. "Thus, welcome..."

The eyes of the reflection opened and peered over the bridge of its nose at Fiore. The face that had been impassive so far twisted in an expression that seemed to almost turn the beautiful features of the boy into something hideous... or venomous. It was like staring at the most elegantly red apple with a thick coating of dazzling, poisonous juice running across its surface.

Yes. The look that the reflection gave to Fiore... was of a man staring at something appalling.

"... Unseemly excuse of a person."

Egophobia
January 24th, 2014, 11:35 PM
Fiore Lacere-Ran
Location: Crystal City
Time: 0:00 – Night
Day: April 12th

The living reflection drew out a mirror image of Fiore’s own phone from its pocket, the image of the Young Lady glimmering in the captured moonlight. Holding it as if it were some alien utensil, the figure drew it up to its ear and leaned forward, staring dully at him.

From his own phone, a familiar voice filtered through – the reflection spoke, and then silence.

This was not so impossible, considering the general lack of consistency that existed in the moonlit world – Fiore was certainly one to accept the fact that the supernatural could be irritatingly unpredictable in that fashion. And yet this was an otherworldly thing; he looked back at the facsimile of his own image and felt his eyes flicker and his nose twitch. It was an ugly thing he was looking at; a beautiful object wearing a terrible reflection. Dully, he realized that he had been insulted, too, but the annoyance was already there.

“Oh spectacular, now there are at least three of us – I am certain that this will not quickly become annoying.”

“Admittedly, there are worse-looking avatars of our failings.”

Fiore sighed audibly and shifted, pushing through the increasing desire to let the demon take control in order to review the information he had compiled. Not much was helpful at this stage; the fact that this was supposed to be a reflection of him – only wrong – now seemed much darker in tone than he had expected. He was already near the limit of his ability to resist the demonic surge, and he had needed the voice’s input to get this far – with the way the city seemed to function and the demeanor of the figure before him, he couldn’t say that he wasn’t expecting violence.

“…I would presume you know why I am here, attempting this mess. Why are you here, and how do you play into it?”

Fiore exhaled faintly. The trail of breadcrumbs ended here, and he would not gain anything else by overthinking the information he had already used up. A cold breeze snaked around him, but there was no singsong voice upon it. She seemed to be preoccupied as well – this was different than their usual manner of talking to themselves.

He really was on the brink, because the voice suddenly spoke aloud before he realized it.

“I really must know – do tell us if this is a case of hating others, or hating ourselves?”

Verg Avesta
January 26th, 2014, 12:41 PM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 0:00 – Night
Day: April 12th


“…I would presume you know why I am here, attempting this mess. Why are you here, and how do you play into it?”


“I really must know – do tell us if this is a case of hating others, or hating ourselves?”

The reflection clicked its tongue and rolled its eyes, as if the mere sound of Fiore's voice had been an unwanted sound. Slowly it relaxed its stance and took a few steps forward, ending up right to the surface of the crystal that separated the two parallel existences. Using a single lithe finger, the reflection began drawing squirming shapes to the surface, its eyes staring vacantly ahead like those of a man who had lost all interest. The thing allowed Fiore to speak his piece, not out of generosity, but out of indifference. It seemed as if the words aimed at it were not registered at all.

Finally, after a short moment of silence, the reflection opened its mouth... only to speak with a much different voice.

"Insipid fools, demanding answers to this and that obvious question that ails you," the sing-song voice that clearly belonged to a female answered Fiore. "Have you no intelligence of your own to utilize? Oh, what am I even saying... of course you do not. A selfish rat is always a rat, no matter how well you dress it up."

Letting out a shrill laughter, the reflection suddenly struck the index finger it had been using through the crystal's surface, piercing it like it had been ice. Cracks grew from that spot to every direction like wildfire, twisting the image of the reflection into a more fitting, warped one. That moment of clarity was short-lived, however, as soon the surface of the crystal shattered with a horrible sound. The little sharp pieces, like fragments of glass, rained everywhere, leaving behind only a hollowed-out spot in the crystal.

It was from that spot that the reflection stepped out, now fully in flesh.

"A rapid dog with its chain finally lengthened... yet never cut. You cannot even understand the truth before you, and instead bark and drool and snarl, while yanking that chain further and further. Do tell me, does it feel good to have your illusion of freedom shattered by your betters? I know I do enjoy to see the dreams of lowlifes trampled such," the male voice spoke out, spreading its arms like a maestro of a grand orchestra. "I wonder how pitiful your crying face looks like... for I have never had the need to taste humiliation. 'Tis a rare chance for me, too."

Smiling smugly like a snake in a paradise, the reflection took a step closer to Fiore, bringing forward it's right hand. Its fingers bent back and forth, like it had been caressing Fiore's face from afar with all the arrogance of a sadistic pet-owner.

"But make no mistake, it is nothing personal even if you are as pathetic as you look like," the other voice continued. "After all... what is there in this world that does not deserve our scorn? It is only natural."

Flashing a downright haughty smile, the reflection gave a giggle that conveyed only contempt towards the boy before it.

Egophobia
January 27th, 2014, 06:23 PM
Fiore Lacere-Ran
Location: Crystal City
Time: 0:02 – Night
Day: April 12th


"Insipid fools, demanding answers to this and that obvious question that ails you," the sing-song voice that clearly belonged to a female answered Fiore. "Have you no intelligence of your own to utilize? Oh, what am I even saying... of course you do not. A selfish rat is always a rat, no matter how well you dress it up."

“And that makes four,” the voice replied, an unbidden grin rising to Fiore’s lips.

The reflection let out a peal of wicked laughter, smoldering and sweet like rotting fruit. It was not airy in the way that Fiore was familiar with – a sensation like air overthick with perfume made him feel sick to his stomach, and he frowned. He was in no condition to consider the psychological implications of this living reflection insulting him in an uncomfortably personal way. It had a superior attitude; it either hated everybody or it hated him specifically.

“My, she did not even answer my question, boy. Speaking of failure when we have not even tried for success; weren’t you here to try to change?”

As the voice spoke, it began to gesture against the surface of the crystal; the thin band of material that separated them. Hairline cracks began to spider across the surface, shaking loose bits of the alien material. With a sickening crack, more akin to bone than glass or rock, the crystal exploded outwards, and out stepped the doppleganger.


"A rabid dog with its chain finally lengthened... yet never cut. You cannot even understand the truth before you, and instead bark and drool and snarl, while yanking that chain further and further. Do tell me, does it feel good to have your illusion of freedom shattered by your betters? I know I do enjoy to see the dreams of lowlifes trampled such," the male voice spoke out, spreading its arms like a maestro of a grand orchestra. "I wonder how pitiful your crying face looks like... for I have never had the need to taste humiliation. 'Tis a rare chance for me, too."

“…oh who even talks like that?” Fiore snapped, rubbing at his brow in annoyance. He couldn’t tell if it was the strain of restricting the amount of control afforded to the demonic voice or the sheer irritation of listening to the reflection speak, but he was getting a headache from this whole experience. “I will not presume to understand your situation, much as you seem to misunderstand my own, but experience does not permit arrogance.”


"But make no mistake, it is nothing personal even if you are as pathetic as you look like," the other voice continued. "After all... what is there in this world that does not deserve our scorn? It is only natural."

Fiore glared. Regardless of whether the reflection, which spoke of things Fiore himself had not experienced, hated him or hated the world, it only boiled down to one thing: he had failed. Hating himself for lacking companions and the ability to like them, by extension hating the delayed and transient relationships he could easily find, he had wound up on this floating circus at the behest of the one person who looked out for him – the person whose relationship caused him the most grief. The figure standing before him referenced these points and spat venom at them; the reflection had failed.

“It is almost as if it is the goal of this city to make me into that which I hate,” he snarled, the malice in his tone independent of airy laughter.

Verg Avesta
January 28th, 2014, 03:50 PM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 0:03 – Night
Day: April 12th


“It is almost as if it is the goal of this city to make me into that which I hate.”

These words seemed to finally catch the attention of the reflection, as it's blue-hued eyes slowly turned towards Fiore. Running its hand through its hair, it chuckled under its breath with an odd tone. It was as if the changing tone of its voice was starting to blend, the reverberations of both voices, male and female, coming together and warping into a new one. It only lasted for that single laugh, but it enough was to cement just how unnatural this existence before the boy was.

"Make you...? Oh, what a ludicrous bravado again... sense of self-importance that lies in the heart of one standing proudly alone, cuddling his chain as a means of lulling his mind into a blissful ignorance, not even trying..." the female voice said with an almost sultry tone while caressing its own thigh. "You never did try, did you...? Being strong is more than enough, being lapdog of your lady is more than enough... and change is such a terrible thing, is it not?"

The voice was now dripping with mocking sarcasm as the reflection took a single step closer. The ground crunched under its shoe, as if the weight of that foot had suddenly increased tenfold. There was a twitch in the left eye of the reflection, a signal of a change. That said eye started changing color, as if someone had poured thick, bright, red liquid into it, filling it to the brim. Slowly, slowly, the eye was completely dyed in the crimson, just as the pupil itself took a more slim, beastly form. When the blue hue had been replaced with red clarity, the rest of the liquid seeped out from under its eyeball, creating a single, running line of red that stained its cheek.

"Stagnation is your only option, isolation is your only option, alienation is your only option. When there is no effort, there are no options," the male voice, now growling with underlying tension, continued. "Here, at the top, lies only true perfection, achieved through trampling on the insufferable masses... one which a worthless grunt could never achieve! Aah, yes... the fragrance of the rose of carnage guides our path... the path of a singular being! Path of a constant being. After all... change is such a terrible thing, is it not?"

Wicked smile spread across the face of the reflection, and it raised its hands towards Fiore, as if wanting to cup his chin.

"The question asked was: 'It is almost as if it is the goal of this city to make me into that which I hate.' This is where you are mistaken," the female voice spoke out, but was replaced mid-way by the male one. "There is no 'becoming' anything... for to truly be stagnant... an end is required."

This was when the change began. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TtNiKzQpg4)

There was a horrible cracking sound as the reflection suddenly bent forward. Something disgusting was happening inside its body, and though it let out no moan or scream of pain, it still cradled its head like it had been in the throes of a curse. At the same time, the clothing around his upper body began to disintegrate, eaten from the inside by bluish-green flames that seemed to pour out from the very pores of his skin. Flow of power emanated from the reflection, forcing anyone at the close radius to take an involuntary step backwards. It was the absolute presence of power, an aura of inhuman strength that warped the air with its stench of carnage. A Demonic Aura... but not quite; no, there was something clearly wrong with this manifestation, and it seemed to be only a remnant of Fiore's true power... yet at the same time, something far greater than it.

What followed was an ear-piercing shattering sound as the left side of the reflection's head exploded outwards. A hole the side of a palm had appeared above it's ear, and from the inside sprouted something odd. A single, gigantic horn adorned with jewelry and chains had grown from the head of the mirror image, sharp enough to pierce through a body and long enough to utilize as a melee weapon. It was an abomination, a mark of a true monster.

A flash fire suddenly lit up the air and all of the clothing the reflection wore above its waist disappeared in a cerulean blaze. As the thing stood once again upright, despite the large horn it now sported, the source of the fire was clear. Dozens of spots had appeared all over its body, like runes of an ancient civilization, from where his flesh had been torn open. Inside, a fountain of prana shot out of each one, before bursting into flames half way through. The prana itself was burning as it exited the reflection's body and came in contact with the air, coating the mirror image's body in a veil of bluish-green blaze.

Two hands, now more like claws, were raised towards the skies and the reflection let out a high-pitched laugh.

Then, its eyes focused on Fiore.

“I think, therefore I am. My thoughts are myself, therefore my existence is me.”



-------------------------------------
Fiore Lacere-Ran vs. DASEIN: Fiore

Call of thy soul raised a legend
Reflection of victor only in crystals of thy anima
Yes, this is fight or fall
Let this be a battle of the death of thyself
Battle, BEGIN!

Fiore –AGI A- vs. D: Fiore -AGI A-
Coin Toss: Fiore
TURN 1: Fiore
-------------------------------------

Egophobia
February 1st, 2014, 08:07 PM
Fiore Lacere-Ran
Location: Crystal City
Time: 0:06 – Night
Day: April 12th


"Make you...? Oh, what a ludicrous bravado again... sense of self-importance that lies in the heart of one standing proudly alone, cuddling his chain as a means of lulling his mind into a blissful ignorance, not even trying..." the female voice said with an almost sultry tone while caressing its own thigh. "You never did try, did you...? Being strong is more than enough, being lapdog of your lady is more than enough... and change is such a terrible thing, is it not?"


“Effort to change is the reason that we are here, tenuous as the reason may be.” the voice replied, the tone more blunt than lyrical. There were limitations to the amusement she could derive from the novelty of the situation, and Fiore’s irritation was palpable.

The reflection moved forward, and the ground cracked and groaned, as if under a great weight. A flicker appeared in the figure’s eyes before the bluish eye turned red, the color bleeding out and streaking down its cheek.


"Stagnation is your only option, isolation is your only option, alienation is your only option. When there is no effort, there are no options," the male voice, now growling with underlying tension, continued. "Here, at the top, lies only true perfection, achieved through trampling on the insufferable masses... one which a worthless grunt could never achieve! Aah, yes... the fragrance of the rose of carnage guides our path... the path of a singular being! Path of a constant being. After all... change is such a terrible thing, is it not?"

Wicked smile spread across the face of the reflection, and it raised its hands towards Fiore, as if wanting to cup his chin.

"The question asked was: 'It is almost as if it is the goal of this city to make me into that which I hate.' This is where you are mistaken," the female voice spoke out, but was replaced mid-way by the male one. "There is no 'becoming' anything... for to truly be stagnant... an end is required."

“Fool.”

“Perfection is an unchanging mélange of grey – there is no such thing as beauty of perfection.”

Fiore’s voice was flat and emotionless, and his eyes hardened. It was not that what the reflection was saying was insulting; it was that everything was wrong. There was a special depth to the annoyance inherent in being lectured by an individual who criticized his flaws while embodying the antithesis of the qualities he hated in himself.

“A cautionary tale about what we may become?” the voice supplied, shaking him out of his thoughts.

“I am an overly bitter person, and I am likely to project my own shortcomings. He failed, we haven’t.”

“You seem surprisingly sure of yourself.”

“I am angry.”

The reflection hunched forward, cradling its head as if in agony. Blue-green flames slithered around the figure’s torso, burning away the clothing on its top and sending out a sickening wash of unearthly power. A perverse field of murderous intent like that of a Demonic Aura, but threaded through with something alien and far greater in scope. The flow of wind and whimsy was completely gone from what should have been his characteristic aura.

…that said, that was the least of the differences between the two mirror images.

With a sickening crack, hole exploded in the side of the reflections head, and from the spray of gore emerged a bejeweled horn set above its ear. Covered in jewelry and enchained regalia, it grew asymmetrically from the left side of the reflection’s head; the monstrous token not of one of the Kishu, but of the true demonic kind; the emblem of a devil.

The figure straightened, and a plume of blue-green fire exploded upwards, burning away the remnants of its clothing above the waist and revealing glowing runes in a language that Fiore did not recognize. Wellsprings of prana poured out of each before combusting into a cloud of the twisted fire, and the air around the reflection became hazy in the trunade of fire. Through the wavering air, Fiore could see the reflection’s hands twist and come more to resemble claws than hands.

Finally, it looked back at Fiore.


“I think, therefore I am. My thoughts are myself, therefore my existence is me.”

“I am flawed.”

Fiore let himself go, and the air around him swirled and became cold. A sickly-sweet sensation grew in his chest somewhere between ecstacy and hunger, and he laughed faintly. His voice came out warped and distorted, ending on a feminine note. Sighing faintly, his posture relaxed, and his eyes slammed open.

“Flaws are interesting; imperfection is beautiful, and how we will become better than what we are.” the voice sang, and Fiore’s irises became bands of green light. The cool breeze kicked up into a swirling aura around him, and faint motes of sunlight began to appear in his hair, lending it a bright green glow.

“I do hope you found everything you were looking for, to have become something like that.”

Casually, Fiore hopped forward and flicked out a leg. One polished shoe caught the side of a sharpened fragment of crystal and sent it flying like a bullet at the reflection’s head. Fiore’s leg did not retract – instead it hung forward in the motion of the kick, and he relaxed back onto his support heel, hands in his pockets.

He exhaled slowly, and concentrated on his footing; there was no reason for his reflection not to recognize this familiar form of Savate, hybridized and adapted to fight inhuman opponents. Furious as he was, the voice restrained his aggression – he would not find any satisfaction in rushing in only to get hurt.

DEMONIC SURGE ACTIVE
STR: A -> STR C(S)
END: A -> END C(S)
AGI: A -> AGI C(S)
CAS: -
PRA: C

Master of Martial Arts
Fiore is trained in a hybridized form of martial arts in order to grant him a physical advantage against even other Half-Bloods. STR is permanently increased by one rank.

Verg Avesta
February 5th, 2014, 04:00 PM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 0:06 – Night
Day: April 12th
Turn: 2

The lightning-fast projectile whistled through the air and headed straight towards the face of the reflection, who simply stood there with a bestial smirk on his face. The eyes of the thing, one red and one blue, were mirrored by the gleaming surface of the large crystal shard, like a sapphire and a ruby under the moonlight. Then, with an overhand swing, it brought down it's left claw and smashed it straight to the approaching attack and ripped it apart with a thunderous force. Shattering sound echoed in the clearing as the claws cleaved right through the crystal, destroying it completely before it even hit the reflection.

"So weak," the reflection spoke, it's tone warbling between the male and female. "So very, very weak."

Taking a crouching stance like a hunched beast, it licked its lips and aimed its eyes straight at Fiore. The ground beneath it began rumbling as the demonic energy within the mirror image was released. Veins bulged, teeth grew into fangs and ears sharpened to the point where they like those of an animal. The flames around its body billowed once, as if signaling the attack that was sure to follow.

"Your voice does not reach me... your voice does not even begin to try," the male voice smugly stated, followed by the condescending sound of the female voice. "Those blinded eyes, that narrow field of vision... it will never grant you the end you seek. Only... stagnation!"

The ground beneath the feet of the reflection exploded with force. Incredibly fast pressure wave shot through the clearing, but it was sluggish and slow compared to the beast that had just jumped forward in almost straight horizontal line. The reflection crossed the distance between the two of them faster than one can blink, appearing in Fiore's vision as nothing but a blur of flames and green hair. The arrogant glee on the thing's face was a momentary flash, before it spun around like a pinwheel and slashed downwards with both of its claws.

"And the end for this rose-tinted life!"

The scream of the reflection was terrifying to hear.

While the right claw of the reflection, deadly as it was, was as normal as it had been before, something strange happened with the left claw. The red eye shone momentarily with the color of blood, throwing crimson mirages across the crystal surfaces surrounding them. At the same time, the claw was swung down, it created an arc of rose-colored light from each nail, jagged scars that marred the air before Fiore. The crackling sound, akin to that of glacial ice, was the only warning as the air the claw had cleaved through began to crystallize, like some sort of bad dream. It was clear that whatever was going on with the left arm, it was dangerous.

These two attacks, the normal and the unknown, were swung at Fiore with extreme speeds, threatening to rend his chest open in a span of a single second.


Name: DASEIN: Fiore
Alignment: Truth

DEMONIC SURGE ACTIVE
STR: A -> STR C(S)
END: A -> END C(S)
AGI: A -> AGI A(S)
CAS: -
PRA: ∞ (???)

Demonic Ability
Lelya Talon
Rank: ?
An attack that uses "something" as a catalyst. Will crystallize everything it touches. Burns out a single turn of Demonic Surge when used.

Egophobia
February 9th, 2014, 12:53 AM
Fiore Lacere-Ran
Location: Crystal City
Time: 0:07 – Night
Day: April 12th

It would have too easy to land a hit with the broken piece of crystal, fast and heavy as it was. Like a beast, it raised one hand overhead, talon-like fingers curled downward, and swiped it out of the air. Whatever the crystal was made of, it exploded with an ear-shattering sound, leaving only the crouching form of a predatory beast. Its eyes and ears were bestial now, and its teeth seemed almost pointed – it was talking again but Fiore was not paying attention, and the whispering voice was silence.


"Your voice does not reach me... your voice does not even begin to try," the male voice smugly stated, followed by the condescending sound of the female voice. "Those blinded eyes, that narrow field of vision... it will never grant you the end you seek. Only... stagnation!"

The ground around the reflection seemed to tremble for a fraction of a second before an explosion of force expanded outward, ripping stone and bits of pipe and wiring up and throwing it into the air. At the same time, the hunched figure flickered and vanished, and then it was in front of him. Both of its arms were raised like a bear rearing up on its hind legs, its arms raised overhead. Twisted, familial power crackled and warped the air, encircling one arm in a wreath of murderous power given the form of rose-colored light.


"And the end for this rose-tinted life!"

It was fast.

Those who exist as Dead Apostles are by nature, amongst the most agile intelligent beings in the moonlit world. To the eyes of magi they become blurs of shadow and displaced air, fast enough to weave around bullets and kill a man before he could blink. It was their agility that Fiore was most familiar with; that he was used to fighting against and outpacing.

He was faster than them – much faster.

“Boy, let’s go.” the voice murmured.

His breath misted, and the air became sharp and cold. Pinpricks of ice stabbed at the insides of his lungs as the sounds of the city in the distance suddenly sheared away and the Crystal City become nothing but moonlight and cold and the monster before him. The cold funneled through his body and swept away his frustration and the birdsong – there was the sudden chill that comes when the mountain wind bites hard and deep, or when something sweeps up a draft just outside the corner of one’s vision, and all at once the air exploded outwards around him, and the crack of a sonicboom filled the space where Fiore had just been.

He had shifted to the side, twisting around and bringing one leg up like a whip to catch the arm that was not crackling with power. The impact rattled his bones and elicited a hiss of pain from his lips as force sufficient to crater the surface of the city crashed against him. There was no way to dodge both attacks, and to simply take one in defense would be foolish. The speed of the blow tore the air and sent an explosion of pressure and wind flying around the pair as it connected with an equally-fast strike.

Immobility was the vice possessed by the demon whose speed defied the modern era.

DEMONIC POWER ACTIVE
STR: A -> STR C(S)
END: A
AGI: A -> AGI A(S)
CAS: -
PRA: C

Cold Air: Vector Dancing
Type: Level 3 Demonic Power
Rank: B
An internal mutation, Fiore channels all of his od into his adrenal glands, causing his reaction times and acrobatic powers to skyrocket to relativistic extremes. Vector Dancing allows him to instantly achieve maximum velocity as soon as he begins moving, and that velocity can be spontaneously redirected, allowing him to corner or turn around without losing speed. Mechanically, once activated Fiore boosts his AGI three ranks – this boost can be sustained for up to ten turns, but at the penalty of one rank to his END. Because the mutation is extraordinarily taxing on his body, use of this ability for ten turns of combat will cause enough damage to him to incapacitate him.

Verg Avesta
February 12th, 2014, 12:16 PM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 0:08 – Night
Day: April 12th
Turn: 4

As the two clashed together, the hand striking against the whip-like leg, the force escaping from the crash was enough to buffet the area around them, sending smaller rocks flying like they had been feathers. While Fiore's face turned into a hiss, his opponent retained his ever-present smug grin, as if trying to belittle its original simply through it's expression. Showcasing just how powerful it was, the reflection then continued it's attack by twisting the clashing arm around, catching a hold of Fiore's ankle, and crushing it into a vicious grip.

"All beneath me, all beneath me... or above, it does not matter, does it? In the end, staying apart is only thing that remains an option," the reflection cackled. "That bridge I cannot cross might as well not exist... so why not destroy it!?"

Heaving a shrieking howl, the reflection dug its feet into the ground and turned sharply around, pulling Fiore with all of its insane strength. The world seemed to lose it's gravity momentarily as the boy suddenly found himself flung into the air, like a rag-doll, straight towards the wall of crystals at the other end of the clearing. It was an attack not unlike a cat playing with its prey, full of sadistic glee stepping unto another's persons strength in an attempt to overpower it with the attacker's own. The message was clear: "This power is the only one that matters."

"What are you so afraid of?" the female voice, full of glee, continued. "Is this not the way it should be?"

Casting its hand into the fire that covered its body, the reflection pulled forth a ball of pulsating, blazing prana. Then, in the span of only few seconds, it drew back like a baseball-pitcher, only to send the said ball forth in an attack of pure, concentrated destructive force. The moment the fire left its hand, it turned into a veritable explosion of annihilation, roaring towards the still airborne Fiore. Burning up the ground and the air it touched, the wall of flames approached the boy quickly, threatening to engulf him even before he hit the wall of crystals.

"Is this not the truth?" the reflection hissed with a murderous tone.


Name: DASEIN: Fiore
Alignment: Truth

DEMONIC SURGE ACTIVE
STR: C(S)
END: C(S)
AGI: A(S)
CAS: -
PRA: ∞ (???)

Demonic Ability
Lelya Talon
Rank: ?
An attack that uses "something" as a catalyst. Will crystallize everything it touches. Burns out a single turn of Demonic Surge when used.

Spells

Kresnik Conflagration
Rank: A
All-consuming fire; a moving, repeating explosion of destruction that threatens anyone caught in its sphere of influence. While normally requiring a significant chant to perform, it can be manifested through the usage of an external fire-source powerful enough. Due to the root of its origin, the spell dips into the realm of impossibility from modern humans, and thus, will by-pass partially any innate defense towards magecraft, inflicting half of the original damage if a hit is scored.

Egophobia
February 22nd, 2014, 02:29 AM
Fiore Lacere-Ran
Location: Crystal City
Time: 0:08 – Night
Day: April 12th
Turn: 5

“It caught our leg.”

”Of course it did. I doubt whoever designed this mess intended for us to win via force.”

The pressure on Fiore’s ankle was exponentially more than enough to shatter battlement stones between its fingers; it was only because his body was reinforced to resist the tremendous force of collisions at high speeds that kept the bones in his leg from creaking in the reflection’s grip.


"All beneath me, all beneath me... or above, it does not matter, does it? In the end, staying apart is only thing that remains an option," the reflection cackled. "That bridge I cannot cross might as well not exist... so why not destroy it!?"

Then the world twisted itself into a spiral, and Fiore could feel the air drag around him like a cocoon as he was hurled across the clearing of the Crystal City by the sum power of a body equal to his own. Craning his head back, Fiore saw the image of one of the enormous crystal monoliths speeding towards him at an impossible speed. At the same time, an tremendous surge of prana erupted from where he had been thrown, and heat and light danced across his vision as he twisted about in the air.


"What are you so afraid of?" the female voice, full of glee, continued. "Is this not the way it should be?"

“The fire or the stone, boy, we cannot survive both.”

”I’m going to assume that other-me is not quite so stupid as to try and kill us with conventional magic,” he thought with a grimance, ”The stone, but I will barely be able to think after this.”

There was silence – internally. Around Fiore the wind screamed, but there was a brief, uncharacteristic pause in his mind.

“The riddles are not for me.”

Before Fiore could register the words in his own mind, he felt his body twisting. One leg lashed out and he spun, whipping it around full circle. As he hit the crystal formation and slammed into it, two things happened: a segment of the monolith shattered as he exploded through the side and hit the ground, rolling from the impact; and he let out a shriek of pain as his leg split, blood running down the leg, and he heaved himself to the side before the spell could hit.

It hurt.

It. Hurt.

Iridescent flashes clouded his eyes, and the demon reeled momentarily, clutching her head even as she forced the muscles in Fiore’s arms and legs to push him upright. Pain; Fiore could not handle pain well, and he was tragically unsuited for his role as a result. Pain made it easy for her to take over, with his focus almost completely evaporated, but in that moment of initial shock, the internal scream robbed them both of control.

The fact that he was still talking surprised her.

“Do you expect me to find something suddenly profound in all of this!?” he snapped, spitting blood as an afterthought and clutching at his chest. “I do not say things without a reason, and yet my own reflection is spitting embittered soliloquy at me as if begging for me to understand something, instead of just speaking plainly.”

With a snarl, Fiore brought a hand up to his hair, eyes flashing brightly.

“I am all too aware of my own self-loathing in the most literal of ways, but I do not intend to exist alone with only my thoughts forever. We need to collectively shut up and stop being afraid of getting hurt, or we will get nowhere.”

And then the weight left his words, and the air fluttered again – the demon had returned. There was an internal groan of pain, and white pinpricks stabbed at the demon’s thoughts as Fiore’s influence retreated again.

“I am…surprised.”

”I am afraid to even try and solve my own problems; it took the Young Lady’s sabotage to even get us here,” Fiore said breathlessly to himself. ”…I think that might be what happens if we fail and lose the will to ever try again.”

“Do you think that is the answer?”

”I don’t know,” Fiore groaned. ”Just keep us alive while I try to figure out why we’ve become so damned insufferable.”

The voice broke into airy laughter and settled into a ready pose. Fiore’s awareness had receded just enough, and the pain did not bother her overmuch. It made her angry, and angry was good – the thinking was his trouble, all she needed was the anger.

Verg Avesta
March 17th, 2014, 04:00 PM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 0:08 – Night
Day: April 12th
Turn: 6

Fire painted over the landscape. An explosion of flames washed over the crystal that Fiore had just crashed through, coloring it's blue surface with a hungry red tint. The lustrous blaze seemed to threaten to consume the whole crystal, but only managed to blacken the surface, like smoke taints the glass. The roaring fire persevered still, but it had not hit the Hybrid. Instead, it acted like a beacon in the middle of the area, lighting up the clearing far better than the moon or the stars ever could have.

In that iridescent light, the smugly smiling form of the reflection walked forward, casting its both hands into the blaze that covered its skin. Even the horn on its head seemed to be burning brightly, shooting out fountains of flames with each and every step. The reflection retracted its hands, drawing out a pair of attacks that it could launch at any second. Its eyes were targeting the young man in the distance which it had thrown him. There was only death and unknown anger in the depths of those furious pools, all of it aimed at the person the reflection had originated from.

"Useless... all useless... you fear even the first step. You refuse to take it, because of your own stagnation... you shall only turn to ash and cinder, stubbornly burning yourself out," the reflection spoke mockingly as it walked closer, doom following in its wake. "Thus, accept your mindset and follow it to the bitter end...! Impale yourself on ignorance and let out your cry of death!"

The bleeding eye, the crimson eye, seemed to flash, and prana started gathering into it. The path of vision it had to Fiore, a direct line without anything between the two, seemed to warp. The air itself quivered like it was afraid, and the night distorted in a shape of spiraling cylinder. Whatever was going on with the blood-red eye, it was clear it was another form of attack.

Not only the flames, but now something unknown threatened Fiore, too---!

"Lick your wounds in shadows and wail at your own misery..." the female voice hissed, filled with enigmatic rage. "It is the only pain you'll ever understand...!"

The power within the red eye howled, and finally, started reaching its apex.

Time was running out.

Egophobia
March 25th, 2014, 08:55 PM
Fiore Lacere-Ran
Location: Crystal City
Time: 0:09 – Night
Day: April 12th
Turn: 7

Magical fire leapt and roared through the clearing, melting shards of stone and crystal into brackish slag. Through the haze and conflagration, the living reflection walked lazily, drawing a swirling mass of energy from the flames and into each hand. It spoke again, and prana began to twist through the environment, sweeping along the ground and up into the reflection’s body; a vortex began to form behind one of those glittering eyes, twisting the air between them.

“Boy, I do believe this is beyond my power.”

”It’s fine, just get close to it. Either I’m right and we win, or I’m wrong and we die – whatever the case, I’m tired of listening to our voice.”

Cold air wrapped around Fiore once more as the demon’s power surged, and with a single bound he covered the distance between himself and his reflection in a horizontal leap. Their typical grace faltered as the demon twisted to adjust their flight, landing heavily on their good leg in a crouch. Springing upright, the Half-Blood’s hands found either side of the mirror-image’s head and pulled it forward, knocking their foreheads together. Glittering green eyes bored into the unreadable vortex of hatred and prana belonging to their own reflection.

“What we want more is to be understood, but we cannot expect something for nothing. We have to offer it as well – stop pitying yourself so much that you can only harbor resentment for everyone and everything,” Fiore snapped, his eyes flashing angrily. “I am tired of hating people, and resenting myself for being a hateful person – that is the reason that I am here, and I will not tolerate being paralyzed with doubt before I can even try.”

“My…has it been that long since you tried to understand yourself?”

“Self-loathing makes it difficult to empathize with myself,” Fiore murmured aloud. With a sigh, he relaxed his hold on the reflection’s face and moved his hands down to its shoulders. “…and I will not hear myself of all people insulting the Young Lady. I am…still working out how long I can live in her shadow simply out of gratitude.”

The voice laughed faintly, flippant once again.

“Besides, we are far too arrogant to allow ourselves to become the thing that we hate most.”

Verg Avesta
April 6th, 2014, 02:23 PM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 0:11 – Night
Day: April 12th
Turn: 8


“What we want more is to be understood, but we cannot expect something for nothing. We have to offer it as well – stop pitying yourself so much that you can only harbor resentment for everyone and everything. I am tired of hating people, and resenting myself for being a hateful person – that is the reason that I am here, and I will not tolerate being paralyzed with doubt before I can even try. Self-loathing makes it difficult to empathize with myself …and I will not hear myself of all people insulting the Young Lady. I am…still working out how long I can live in her shadow simply out of gratitude.”

The billowing flames raged around the two, the boy and his reflection, like clouds of pure heat that did not touch them. The blood-red eye stared its original, untainted source. The expression of arrogant rage dominated the face of the reflection as it listened to the Kishu's words, allowing him to speak even though he was close enough for it to destroy. The fierce battle seemed to have come to a momentary halt, into a stalemate that hinged solely on Fiore's words. The bestial opponent, terrifying in its power, had nearly overpowered him while spouting its enigmatic words. Now, however, the reflection stayed silent, solemnly waiting for its original to speak his mind. And when Fiore had finished...

... It let the raging flames fade away into the night. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tZcJJssnKs)

“………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Tha t’s it.”

Thus spoke the reflection, the possibility, the outcome, the one who broke free.

With a shattering sound, the horn that had sprouted from the reflection's head disintegrated, becoming flakes of bone that were swept away by the wind. The flames were silenced, and the flow of blood from its eye stopped. The crimson color faded away, leaving behind only the blue-hued stared that was now filled with something far different from the arrogant anger that it had previously displayed. The beast-like claws retracted, revealing hands that were unmistakably human. Even the oppressive atmosphere, the suffocating sphere of demonic aura around the reflection, was gone like smoke into the skies. The breeze that blew through the clearing had swept everything monstrous away, leaving behind a reflection that was nigh identical when compared to Fiore.

And finally, it opened its mouth.

"That's just it, isn't it?" the reflection whispered. "There is not a single one in this world who can be alone... and thus, we must be willing to reach out for the others, to change ourselves so we can connect to them."

Slowly, the reflection raised its hand and caught gently hold of Fiore's shoulder. Then, without hesitation, it pulled Fiore closer, into its embrace. The reflection was warm, warmer than one could have expected, but it was not because of the residual heat from the flames, or the fact that Fiore had been pulled against its bare chest; no, it was because that embrace was not that of a comrade, a friend or a lover... it was an embrace like that of a parent cradling her child, slowly and gently lulling it to sleep while softly singing of the moon and a little dog. Gentle smile floated on the reflection's face, previously marred by haughtiness, and all the affection in that smile was directed at Fiore.

"Even though we may be individuals, even though we may be born alone in this world... others still exist, no matter what we do. It is those others we use to judge ourselves, to form an image of ourselves, and thus, we need them. Not for any altruistic reason, but simply for us to ascertain ourselves. But, just like we need them... they, too, need us. They may be hurt, they may be in pain, they may be in tears that we cannot see... and if we do not care about those emotions, no matter how insignificant or silly they may seem... we can never truly connect to others. We may be selfish, but in order to grow, we must be benevolent... it is the way this life works," the female voice spoke. "We cannot be prideful. We cannot scoff at their problems and think them beneath us. We cannot turn noses up to the emotions of someone else... because if we do not understand them, how could we care about them? How could we form bonds with them? How could we help each other to grow? Building a bridge between people is a two-way road. We must be willing to change our view, change our priorities, change our morals... in order to see the world how our loved ones see it."

Placing its other hand on top of his head, the reflection gently stroked Fiore's hair, just like a mother would. It was not to patronize him, or to belittle him... it was simply a gesture of kindness, of caring, of... understanding. The knowledge gained through experience could be seen in the eyes of the reflection, and in its smile. That, and earnest desire to help. It was as if the raging beast from before had been just a nightmare, a delusion of the future, and now Fiore had woken up to find the truth sitting beside his bed at night, holding his hand.

"Below others, above others... it does not matter where you stand. To understand others is to take their place, and thus, such categories are meaningless. If we do not understand, and judge others solely by our own standards, we simply trample on their feelings, no, on their life itself. It is not for us to question the choices they make, only to see if we can relate to them. We can try to help them, we can disagree with them, we can try to change them... but to do so without the knowledge of 'why' is the ultimate arrogance. It is to expect that we are the only one in this world that matters, and that road... leads to stagnation," the male voice whispered. "It is a road we should never travel, for in the end lies only ruin... ruin and solitude. Therefore, we must be willing to extend that olive branch. Not just for the sake of others, but for the sake of ourselves, too. But... you understand this, do you not? You know the world-view of the one you see before you, and know these words and their meaning, do you not? Therefore... as difficult as it may be, as frightening as it may be... do not be afraid to understand others. They, too, will try to understand you, and if you happen to meet someone whom you can join your hand together with in such fashion... you will create a bond that cannot be broken."

The reflection, both to itself and to Fiore. It was a firm nod, both reassuring and of acknowledgment. It was a nod that told Fiore he was entrusted with the faith of the reflection, with the understanding it spoke, and with the firm belief that he could do just as it had described.

“I think, therefore I am. My thoughts are myself, therefore my existence is me. But…”

The reflection whispered into Fiore's ear.

“…I am not alone.”

Egophobia
April 6th, 2014, 05:11 PM
Fiore Lacere-Ran
Location: Crystal City
Time: 0:09 – Night
Day: April 12th
Turn: 9

He was right.


“…That’s it.”

The horn and flames were swept away with the sound of shattering glass. Blood and fury and reddish hue evaporated from the mirror-image’s eyes leaving the blue-green of his eyes as distorted by the color of the crystals. The furious aura dissipated and its claws vanished, leaving behind a proper reflection of the boy. And then it spoke – this time without the hate or malice.


"That's just it, isn't it?" the reflection whispered. "There is not a single one in this world who can be alone... and thus, we must be willing to reach out for the others, to change ourselves so we can connect to them."

The figure moved to Fiore and embraced him, reaching back to stroke his hair. Fiore stiffened; it was a strange sensation, and not wholly welcome. Reactively, the demon extended her hand to him in her mind, but he forced himself not to accept her help. Beyond the literal, the metaphysical implications of trying to reactively murder his reflection now of all times. This was something that he wanted – arguably needed – just not from himself. It was a bittersweet feeling. It went on, speaking bits of advice born of experience, and he half-listened.

Perhaps the demon listened in his stead; Fiore’s thoughts instead went to Cassie Minx, Lily Floralis, Roselia McKlennington, and finally the Young Lady. His life was comprised of nothing but terribly vague relationships that lacked any foundation; none of them were entirely pleasant ones, either. These were the relationships that he was curious about, however – the ones he wanted to work towards. Everybody is troubled; everybody is hiding something about themselves. Trying to help each and every person in the world would be self-important and foolish, nor would he be kind to every random person purely to draw more people into his life.

In that respect, he accepted his reflection’s trust.


“I think, therefore I am. My thoughts are myself, therefore my existence is me. But…”

The reflection whispered into Fiore's ear.

“…I am not alone.”

“Rather, we do not have to be, boy.”

“Certainty ill-suits me, so why should certainty of failure?” he said with a sigh, the tension leaving his voice.

Verg Avesta
April 6th, 2014, 06:51 PM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 0:11 – Night
Day: April 12th


“Certainty ill-suits me, so why should certainty of failure?”

"If there is one thing that does not exist in this world... it is certainty," the reflection spoke as it released it's grip on Fiore. "It would be unbecoming to fashion oneself after impossibility, therefore... fashion yourself after what you want to be. And how you want those who you hold dear to see you. Become someone worthy of their trust, and they, too... shall become one for you."

A refreshing night-breeze howled through the clearing, whisking away the last remnants of the battle. With a solemn smile on its face, the reflection took a step backwards, raising its eyes to meet those of its original. The look in them was of someone who had seen too much, of someone who never wanted to see such things again. It was the source of trust he had showed Fiore, the knowledge that with the right knowledge would come the right choices. Changing was never easy, but it was required for one to grow as a person.

“There is no one that can survive alone in this world. That is why we have friends. And to make those friends, we have to understand them. Just like they have to understand us. No one requires you to be a saint, one with empathy towards every living creature. You will disagree, you will despise, you will hate... but at the same time, you will also love. Create those bonds that you value, and strengthen them through mutual understanding," the reflection said. "Value the way your friends view the world, and they shall value your own personal view. Perhaps you can never gain the same perspective, but that is not what it is about. It is about sharing those perspectives, comparing them, and learning from them. Because only by learning, by listening, by understanding, can you truly find those whom to care about and with whom to share a bond of trust. It is not about ourselves, never has been. It is about the world. It is about life."

Gentle gust passed the reflection, and with its arrival did the being start finally fading away. Like a mirage into the desert night, like petals of cherry trees whisked away by the fickle wind, it started disappearing from its toes. Soon the legs had disappeared completely, and the reflection was only held up by its willpower. A sorrowful smile crept to its face, and it nodded once more to its original. That nod was the acknowledgment and the acceptance; with it came the sting in the back of Fiore's neck.

There, the red brand of the Command Spells had appeared.

“It is about the bonds between friends.”

And with the words of the reflection still echoing in the air, it disappeared completely, Fiore’s body absorbing the energy it released.

“I hope……you will do……better…”

The last words uttered by the now-gone reflection were no more than a whisper, and yet, they still made it to Fiore's ears, before whisked away by the wind.

"And please tell Young Lady... that I am sorry... and that I... miss---"

And so, Fiore stood alone in the clearing.




-------------------------------------
VICTORY
To Another World!

Fiore Lacere-Ran
Master Level: 1
SP Earned: 1
AP Earned: 15
Items Acquired: 1

~Command Spells~
Your proof as a Master

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



Suddenly... the atmosphere of the clearing changed. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-xbOua5CyU)

It grew light.

It grew soft.

It grew fickle.

From somewhere, a playful whistle of a different wind could be heard. The smell of fresh grass filled Fiore's nose and it almost fell like leaves of trees were gently shaken by the gust. Laughter of unknown creatures tickled his ears as the swelling surge of prana concentrated into the area before him. Something was forming there, something that was emanating this otherworldly area around it. The appearance of this new presence made the Command Spell at the back of his neck feel warm, as if touched by someone's hand.

And finally, the presence took form. A nimble foot touched the ground, and another. The presence took a definite form, a humanoid form, one that stepped out of the whirlwind of magical energy. It stood up, stretched its back, and entered the world where none like it had previously existed. The giggling of the unknown children grew even merrier, as if they hundreds of ringing bells announcing the appearance of this legend. It was a story, a myth, a history, a record, made into flesh and blood, one that now, once more, walked the earth.

Thus did the crystals, shining brightly, welcome this newcomer with the numerous runes and symbols that eventually took an understandable form.

DOWNLOAD: 100%
SUMMONING COMPLETE
INITIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAA/ERROR!ERROR!ERROR!ERROR!ERROR!
[UNAUTHORIZED ENTRY! UNKNOWN ENTRY! ABORTING PROCESS!]
[REBOOTING, RESTARTING]
[UNABLE TO REBOOT]
[UNABLE TO RESTART *******, ENTRY PREVENTED]
[SOURCE_CONTROL DETAINED, SWITCHING TO EXTERNAL AUTHORIZATION]
[PROGRESS HALTED]






[+PRAY WE BREAK THE PARADOX+]

http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/ff200/Zantsuki/WorldStatic_zpscbea5373.gif






Space stopped.

Time stopped.

World stopped. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88mTG-XDNSg)

The whole reality around Fiore had come to a halt. Wind was stagnant. The light of the moon was more of a physical object than source of illumination. The dust and rubble thrown around by the zephyr were hanging in the air. Even the swirling prana had completely stopped, becoming nothing more than lines and shapes ahead of the boy. The figure suspended inside that vortex was not moving, being now more akin to a plastic mannequin. Even the twinkle of the stars above was gone, instead replaced with a sight that was like white holes poked into a monotone canvas.

No sounds, no movement, no sound. The OLYMPUS, and the world around it, had simply stopped.

Then... a single clap.

And another. And third.

Slow applause, coming from a single source, reached Fiore's ears. The sound had no echo, almost if it came from a single speaker. There was no depth or variation in that sound. It simply was. Unnatural and eerie at the same time, there was no way to discern the direction the sound itself came from. Such was impossible in a halted world.

... Until the source of the applause appeared. (http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/ff200/Zantsuki/Pomegranate2_zps4647a5d0.png)

The creature was humanoid, but definitely not a human. Clad in multiple colors that were glaringly out of match, it slowly skipped into the view from behind a crystal, enigmatic smile adorning its face. Unnatural eyes stared at Fiore from behind thin-rimmed glasses as the creature tilted its head to an unnatural angle, almost reminiscent of an owl. It stopped clapping, suddenly, and caught a hold of something invisible in the air. From nothingness, it drew something that at first seemed like an orb, only to turn out to be a head-piece of a thin cane. The needle-like tip of this cane struck the ground.

Grinning like a harlequin, which the creature looked like, it twisted its body from the elbow onward, raising itself with only one hand into the air. Balancing itself above the cane, with only one hand to support it, the creature never let its eyes off Fiore. Soon it was suspended upside down in the air, with only the balance of the thin shaft of the cane holding it from falling.

In that absurd stance, the creature finally started talking with a sing-song voice that told nothing of its gender.

"Mɥɐʇ ɐ ʇonɔɥᴉuƃ sᴉƃɥʇ ʇɥɐʇ ʍɐs˙ Iʇ sᴉɯdlʎ ɯɐpǝ ʇɥǝ ɹooʇs oɟ ɯʎ ɥǝɐɹʇ sɥᴉʌǝɹ'" the creature spoke. "ɹɐɹǝlʎ po I sǝǝ dǝodlǝ lᴉʞǝ ʎon˙ Iupǝǝp' I sᴉɯdlʎ ɥɐp ʇo ʇɐʞǝ ʇɥᴉs ɔɥɐuɔǝ ʇo ǝxɔɥɐuƃǝ ʇɥonƃɥʇs˙ Iʇ ƃǝʇs ǝʌǝɹ so louǝlʎ ᴉu ɥǝɹǝ' sǝǝ¿"

There was no rhyme or reason to the speech of the creature. Perhaps that was why it grinned to Fiore.

"Hoʍ pᴉp ᴉʇ ɟǝǝl¿ Hoʍ poǝs ᴉʇ ɟǝǝl uoʍ¿ Hoʍ ʍᴉll ᴉʇ ɟǝǝl ᴉu ʇɥǝ ɟnʇnɹǝ¿ Ԁlǝɐsǝ' ǝulᴉƃɥʇǝu ɯǝ' ɟoɹ I ɔɐu uǝʌǝɹ ǝxdǝɹᴉǝuɔǝ ʍɥɐʇ ʎon ɾnsʇ ɥɐʌǝ˙ Iɟ ʎon po' I dɹoɯᴉsǝ ʇɥɐʇ I ʍᴉll ƃᴉʌǝ ɯʎsǝlɟ ɐ ɔɥɐuɔǝ ʇo ɹǝʍɐɹp ʎon˙"

Egophobia
April 6th, 2014, 09:58 PM
Fiore Lacere-Ran
Location: Crystal City
Time: 0:12 – Night
Day: April 12th
Turn: 9

His mirror-image spoke again, and in its eyes sparkled something mournful and knowing. Fiore wondered if that was an expression he had worn before; it was too tired and world-weary, but somehow he could understand its point of origin. The things that he never wanted to deal with, his reflection had seen and outlived. Moreso than its words, the expression spoke volumes of caution, and Fiore heeded that most of all.

And then there was the flicker of power, and Fiore flinched, one hand darting to the back of his neck. In the shape of a twisting rose, the heated markings of the Command Seals formed on his skin. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he groaned about the chosen location.


“It is about the bonds between friends.”

The reflection began to dissipate, its body turning to motes of light that funneled into the command seals. Before it fully vanished, however, its final words hung on the air.


“I hope……you will do……better…”

The last words uttered by the now-gone reflection were no more than a whisper, and yet, they still made it to Fiore's ears, before whisked away by the wind.

"And please tell Young Lady... that I am sorry... and that I... miss---"

In the moment of triumph, Fiore become distracted, and his blood ran cold.

Being tethered to the Young Lady and her influence, forever in her shadow and living as an extension of her – they had both known that sending him to OLYMPUS would challenge their relationship. For Fiore to get what he wanted and find people he could feel close to, his place as her servant would have to be dissolved, and he would need to confront her. He did not mean to betray her, nor to forsake his loyalty to her, though. If anything, she was the closest thing he had to a friend, and at worst, she was family.

Was she supposed to die in the future his reflection spoke of?

At some point, a shaky sigh escaped him. His thoughts flew to the events surrounding his arrival to OLYMPUS; the state of affairs back at the Young Lady’s home.

“Are you thinking again of the Twelfth? Killing him seems unlike you, and it will only bring you trouble.”

“I know,” Fiore murmured, rubbing at his brow.

But his ruminations were caught forth as the ritual to which the command seals were bound manifested. Lights and laughter swirled around him as the shore of a distant island began to materialize in the clearing at the heart of the Crystal City. A roaring wave of prana crashed around him in a vortex, and somewhere within the whirlwind of magical energies, the shape of a human drew forward. One slender foot stepped out, and with it bells and childish laughter and birdsong. Clad in a cloak of otherworldly weaves and the wings of butterflies, etched a thousand-times over with the runes of a forgotten language, a Servant emer-

A overlay swept across Fiore’s vision, and the world froze. His HECATE phone shook in his pocket and he pulled it out to see the ugly reddish scrawl of an error message; the blinking clock was static and immobile, and the light seemed to peel away from the screen and make everything harder to read. Somewhere in his mind, the demon mused that all of the light in the clearing was being pulled away by the moon.

“Someone has interfered.”

Someone was clapping, slowly at first, but more and more quickly. Sound traveled improperly in this frozen space, and the sound seemed to come from some nondescript place that Fiore could not identify. From behind one of the crystal masses, another figure stepped forward. Dainty and androgynous, it was dressed in the mismatched flair of a harlequin performer. Fiore’s eyes were fixed on the pair of horns protruding from its asymmetrical haircut, uncomfortably reminded of the horn his reflection had possessed. Producing a cane from nowhere, it proceeded to balance itself from the cane upside-down like a gymnast.

Then, in broken bits of song, it began to speak. At least, Fiore assumed it was speaking.


"Mɥɐʇ ɐ ʇonɔɥᴉuƃ sᴉƃɥʇ ʇɥɐʇ ʍɐs˙ Iʇ sᴉɯdlʎ ɯɐpǝ ʇɥǝ ɹooʇs oɟ ɯʎ ɥǝɐɹʇ sɥᴉʌǝɹ'" the creature spoke. "ɹɐɹǝlʎ po I sǝǝ dǝodlǝ lᴉʞǝ ʎon˙ Iupǝǝp' I sᴉɯdlʎ ɥɐp ʇo ʇɐʞǝ ʇɥᴉs ɔɥɐuɔǝ ʇo ǝxɔɥɐuƃǝ ʇɥonƃɥʇs˙ Iʇ ƃǝʇs ǝʌǝɹ so louǝlʎ ᴉu ɥǝɹǝ' sǝǝ¿"

“We have to try and understand people, if we want to be understood,” the demon chimed, her voice once again merry and flippant. Fiore frowned. The grinning entity was putting forth an awful lot of effort to try and communicate; it was cheerful, but not mocking, and there was enough intonation for him to realize that there had been a question in there somewhere.


"Hoʍ pᴉp ᴉʇ ɟǝǝl¿ Hoʍ poǝs ᴉʇ ɟǝǝl uoʍ¿ Hoʍ ʍᴉll ᴉʇ ɟǝǝl ᴉu ʇɥǝ ɟnʇnɹǝ¿ Ԁlǝɐsǝ' ǝulᴉƃɥʇǝu ɯǝ' ɟoɹ I ɔɐu uǝʌǝɹ ǝxdǝɹᴉǝuɔǝ ʍɥɐʇ ʎon ɾnsʇ ɥɐʌǝ˙ Iɟ ʎon po' I dɹoɯᴉsǝ ʇɥɐʇ I ʍᴉll ƃᴉʌǝ ɯʎsǝlɟ ɐ ɔɥɐuɔǝ ʇo ɹǝʍɐɹp ʎon˙"

Fiore withdrew from his jacket the notebook he had been carrying around; there was a heavy crease down the side, but somehow the pen had not been snapped in two. There was no way for him to understand in the least what the singsong voice had been saying, but perhaps it had more of a head for two-way communications than him.

I am sorry, but I cannot understand you. You seem curious and chose to appear before me, and the only remarkable thing I have done is attempt to confront myself, so is that what you want to know about?

He tore out the page with these words and moved forward, holding it out to the harlequin.

“It was troubling, in a necessary and unpleasant way,” the demon interjected with its lilting voice, looking the harlequin in the eyes. “To want for comfort, but only experiencing it from a replica of yourself is a bittersweet sensation.”

Verg Avesta
April 7th, 2014, 04:45 PM
Location: H̙̳̱̣̤͕̘̠̥͓̮̦̃͛͊̆͋̈̽̊̓͝͞a̸̪̭̘̫̼̻̲̘̾͒̾ͥ̂̇̏̎ͩͧͬͫ͒̉͟͡ ͖̠͓̯̠̩̩ͅl̐̾͐ͬ͏̸̵̷̜͍̞̟̺̰͉͚̬̰̖̘͕̮͟tͩ͊͋̎ͦ͌̈͊ͨ͏̮͍͍̖̕̕͡ e̵̴̢͚̩͕̤͒ͤ̓̿ͬͧ͟d̛̪͖̦͍̠ͥ͛ͤ̀ͮ̃̉ͯ̓ͣ͛̚̕͝͡ ̶̷ͩͦͦ̎ͯ̒̒̉ͦͩ̄͘͏̘̟͉̬̗̳̟͚̻̜͚̼̬̙̥̠P̴͑ͫ̿ͣ̀͟͠͏̘̣̙̞͕̻̺̥͠ ̮͓̫͓r̛͚͔͉͕̰͕̥̭̼̰̞̜͕ͬͪ̎̎ͯ̒̃̎͆́́̓̕o̴̢͚̱̟͋̃̎ͤͯͦ̄̑͐̎͋͡ ̳͔̤̖͕͙̗̠͉͕͇͍̩͖c̵̸̷̛̫͔̭͙̆̒͂̑̔̽̏̃͛̒ͫ͗ͪ̆͊e̵̺͓̳͂̋ͧ̿͐̕̕ ̳̖̖̼̘̠̥͎̳̦͎͖s̵̼͎̰̗̲͓̤̤̦͉̯̬̜̺ͮ͑̚̚͟s̷̶̺̟̤̽͊͑ͥ̎ͧ̃̅̒̀̕ ̞̱̦̼̫̝̟͉͕̖̬͖
Time: 0:13 – Night
Day: April 12th


“It was troubling, in a necessary and unpleasant way. To want for comfort, but only experiencing it from a replica of yourself is a bittersweet sensation.”

The grin on the face of the harlequin seemed to falter momentarily, and a troubled look appeared in its eyes. It then clicked its tongue, and the expression it showed was that of a polite, reserved frustration.

"I ɐɯ ʇǝɹɹᴉqlʎ soɹɹʎ' lɐp˙ Hoʍǝʌǝɹ' I ɐɯ nuɐqlǝ ʇo nupǝɹsʇɐup ɐuʎʇɥᴉuƃ ʎon sɐʎ'" the reflection spoke. "∀ɟʇǝɹ ɐll' ʎon sǝǝɯ ʇo qǝ sdǝɐʞᴉuƃ ndsᴉpǝ poʍu˙ Iʇ ᴉs ʌǝɹᴉlʎ ɐ ɹnpǝ ʇɥᴉuƃ ʇo po' qnʇ po uoʇ ɟɹǝʇ˙ I ɐɯ ɯɐp' ᴉɟ ɐuʎʇɥᴉuƃ˙ So I sɥɐll lǝʇ ᴉʇ slᴉpǝ˙"

Then, like a clockwork, the head of the harlequin began rotating. Sideways and sideways, like a cog in a machine, it ticked around without any care for bones or cartillage, muscles or flesh. It was like watching movement of a puppet, but at the very least the grin that had returned was now being turned right way up for Fiore. Eventually, after several seconds of silence, the head of the creature hung on an even level with the Kishu, staring him straight in the eyes.

"But the tone of your voice tells enough, I suppose. Rarely does it do any good to face the truth. Or one of the truths? What you can learn from yourself will always be humiliating, in one way or another. Only few can understand what they can gain from it; some don't ever want to! You must agree, lad, that this is a most peculiar peculiarity of humanity," the harlequin said and chuckled at its own words. The sound was like high-pitched growl. "But, forgive me, I have yet to introduce myself: Pompous I am, as you probably already see. And taking things for granted is an utter horror to me. Natural course of action with me is bound to fail. Yet terribly talkative thing thus tattles this tale. So, if a name for myself I have to create, please, please, call me Pomegranate."

The harlequin bowed slightly, an action that seemed even more bizarre as it happened to two directions at once: first according to its upside-down body, second according to its right-side up head. Twinkling mischief in its eyes, the creature then extended its hand, pressing its fingers that held the scepter against its palm one by one. In the end, only the index finger remained, thinning the source of stability the harlequin had even more.

"And for you, this meeting must be odd thing to say the least. Worry not, violence is far from my nature. I am an observer and nothing more, despite my talkativeness being a source many nasty rumors. Oh how they flitter and flutter, skitter and skutter, as if the fact that I talk was a great mystery of some sort! I do fancy myself as a creature of great intelligence, and I'd like to be treated as such," the harlequin prattled on. "But enough about me, and more about you. Since I did call you here, intruding your normal abnormal life, and since I am feeling wickedly kind, could I ask of you a bit of a favor?"

Winking its eye to Fiore, the harlequin laughed.

"Life here gets terribly boring at times, and thus, I have to entertain myself. So, how would you fancy a short and sweet Game of Guess?" the creature asked. "I can assure you, whether you win or lose I shall reward you. None can deny you of your rewards at this point, but on the contrary, I can add to them! A boon upon boon, if you will. So... what say you, lad?"

Egophobia
April 7th, 2014, 10:20 PM
Fiore Lacere-Ran
Location: Halted Process
Time: 0:16 – Night?
Day: April 12th

The harlequin’s face became screwed up in confusion, and another stream of indiscernible noise passed through its lips. Fiore was about to speak again when the colorful body shifted, rolling its shoulders ever so slightly, and then suddenly began twisting its head around like a doorknob. There was no sound of snapping bone or popping cartilage, and there was no way that the harlequin could simply rotate its head through using its neck muscles alone, at least, not without tearing through everything in the process. After a few long and thoroughly disturbing seconds, the harlequin’s head and rotated one-hundred and eighty degrees, and now met Fiore’s eyes evenly.

“Well that’s different.”

And then it spoke again, this time in a fashion be could understand, and called itself a pomegranate. With an omnidirectional bow, the harlequin reoriented its balance with a mischievous grin and began to speak again. Fiore stopped trying to rationalize the time and space of the encounter, and the demon likewise stopped her ruminations of the facts – that being right-side up had “fixed” the harlequin’s speech, or that the time on his HECATE phone had frozen. However, Fiore could not help but be constantly aware of the frozen geyser of prana and magic that had been the Servant summoning; a muted explosion of light and whitewashed color just off to the side.


"Life here gets terribly boring at times, and thus, I have to entertain myself. So, how would you fancy a short and sweet Game of Guess?" the creature asked. "I can assure you, whether you win or lose I shall reward you. None can deny you of your rewards at this point, but on the contrary, I can add to them! A boon upon boon, if you will. So... what say you, lad?"

It was a dubious proposition under normal circumstances, even.

“We accept,” the demon replied with her characteristic cheer.

The pain in his leg was supremely distracting, half of the people he had met on OLYMPUS had seemed reprehensible, the foundations of the city were a mess of lies and conspiracy, and now he had worries for the Young Lady playing on his mind. All things considered, this seemed fairly harmless by comparison, if not par for the course. Besides, the demon herself clamored for a distraction, if she was not to be occupied with defensive thoughts or trying to pick apart their surroundings.

“I suppose I just need to know the rules?” Fiore murmured curiously.

Verg Avesta
April 9th, 2014, 09:46 AM
Location: H̙̳̱̣̤͕̘̠̥͓̮̦̃͛͊̆͋̈̽̊̓͝͞a̸̪̭̘̫̼̾͒̾ͥ̂̇̏̎ͩͧͬͫ͒̉͟͡ ̻̲̘ ͖̠͓̯̠̩̩ͅl̐̾͐ͬ͏̸̵̷̜͍̞̟̺̰͉͚̬̰̖̘͕̮͟tͩ͊͋̎ͦ͌̈͊ͨ͏̕̕͡ ̮͍͍̖ e̵̴̢͚̩͕̤͒ͤ̓̿ͬͧ͟d̛̪͖̦͍̠ͥ͛ͤ̀ͮ̃̉ͯ̓ͣ͛̚̕͝͡ ̶̷ͩͦͦ̎ͯ̒̒̉ͦͩ̄͘͏̘̟͉̬̗̳̟͚̻̜͚̼̬̙̥̠P̴͑ͫ̿ͣ̀͟͠͏̘̣̙̞͠ ͕̻̺̥ ̮͓̫͓r̛͚͔͉͕̰͕̥̭̼̰̞̜͕ͬͪ̎̎ͯ̒̃̎͆́́̓̕o̢͋̃̎ͤͯͦ̄̑͐̎͋͡ ̴͚̱̟ ̳͔̤̖͕͙̗̠͉͕͇͍̩͖c̵̸̷̛̫͔̭͙̆̒͂̑̔̽̏̃͛̒ͫ͗ͪ̆͊e̵͂̋ͧ̿͐̕ ̺͓̳̕ ̳̖̖̼̘̠̥͎̳̦͎͖s̵̼͎̰̗̲͓̤̤̦͉̯̬̜̺ͮ͑̚̚͟s̷̶̽͊͑ͥ̎ͧ̃̅̒̕ ̺̟̤̀ ̞̱̦̼̫̝̟͉͕̖̬͖
Time: 0:13 – Night
Day: April 12th


“I suppose I just need to know the rules?”

The harlequin grinned.

"Oh, they are quite simple. I ask a question, and you answer. Or, perhaps, you could call it the most complicated game of them all? After all, questions are so numerous and not all of them even do have answers. However, be at ease, for I shall ask a question that most certainly has one. It'd be very unsporting of me to simply expect you to know something nobody knows," the creature spoke merrily, yet calmly. "So, if you want to, simply think of me as a creature of myth, of riddles and rumors, that stands in your way because of its own selfishness. That is what most who meet me see me as, after all."

Switching its center of balance, the harlequin allowed its body to rotate to the side. It moved exactly like its head had previously, but to the opposite direction. Like a hand of a clock, the body turned and turned, eventually settling so that the legs were pointing towards the ground; in other words, like how it was supposed to be. Taking a lotus stance on the orb-like headpiece of the cane, the creature allowed its hands to rest on its knees as gazed towards the skies with its other eye, while the other remained at Fiore.

"Well... I suppose that will do. It has been quite a while since I've used this one on anybody. I suppose you are ready? If you aren't, well, that is unfortunate, since I shall start anyhow," the creature chuckled. "Life is not kind enough to wait when we are prepared. And since I am a living creature, should I be any different? Ah, but I digress. Let us begin, then."

The harlequin cleaned its throat, and the eye that had been gazing towards the skies snapped back at Fiore.

"It was born out of chosen people, their need to hide their words. Used through the scarring weapons, truly mightier than swords. If you drink through all its poison, it will quench your thirst. So tell me, tell me, inquiring one, where is last the first?"

Egophobia
April 15th, 2014, 02:05 AM
Fiore Lacere-Ran
Location: Halted Process
Time: 0:11 – Night?
Day: April 12th


"It was born out of chosen people, their need to hide their words. Used through the scarring weapons, truly mightier than swords. If you drink through all its poison, it will quench your thirst. So tell me, tell me, inquiring one, where is last the first?"

Fiore’s expression flickered, and he brought one gloved hand to his face, tilting his head in thought. The riddle smacked of a similar sort of puzzlecraft as the one he had dealt with earlier this evening, but he doubted that the harlequin – Pomegranate, he reminded himself – would give him the luxury of four hours in the library to work it out. He let out a small sigh, and scratched his cheek.

“I take it you are unsatisfied with your solution,” the voice chimed.

In that moment Fiore became exasperated at how he could never tell what both halves of his own mind were thinking at the same time, while she seemed to know him well enough to always guess what he was thinking. It was infuriating sometimes, and it was hard to talk about. Distantly, he could feel her stirring, and was suddenly quite self-aware; she was probably interpreting all of these things as he thought them, too, and he tried to calm his emotions.

“Sorry,” he murmured aloud, his voice subdued.

“Mm,” the voice replied, a nondescript sound of unconcern. “You enjoy irony and symbolism, so I suppose your guess is ‘The Answer’, no?”

“Unfortunately,” Fiore replied aloud, adding, “You do not like it either, correct?” The twisting in his thoughts meant that the voice was mulling over their collective knowledge, parsing something that he must have overlooked.

“The last riddle was more literal than we would have liked, perhaps. We should take as much of this one at face-value as we can. The ‘scarring’ bit speaks of a pen, or rather its predecessors, I would imagine.”

“Alright,” Fiore sighed in consternation, folding his arms across his chest and resting back on one heel, “I suppose if we are to think of ‘chosen people’, I’ve an inclination to suspect the followers of the god of light. They were suppressed quite a lot, too, so perhaps we are looking for another cipher?”

“Mm, one where the ‘last’ and ‘first’ are interchanged, it sounds reasonable enough. I do not suppose you know something of cryptology that I do not?”

“I’m a butler and a gardener, I have had little impetus to research cryptograms prior to today…”

“Oh, then this will baffle you, ” the voice replied lyrically before seizing control. Fiore’s head snapped up and met the harlequin’s eyes, and the singsong voice of the demon greeted it. “Is the solution Atbash? I do hope so, for the sake of being a nuisance.”

Verg Avesta
April 15th, 2014, 07:25 PM
Location: H̙̳̱̣̤͕̘̠̥͓̮̦̃͛͊̆͋̈̽̊̓͝͞a̸̪̭̘̫̼̾͒̾ͥ̂̇̏̎ͩͧͬͫ͒̉͟͡ ̻̲̘ ͖̠͓̯̠̩̩ͅl̐̾͐ͬ͏̸̵̷̜͍̞̟̺̰͉͚̬̰̖̘͕̮͟tͩ͊͋̎ͦ͌̈͊ͨ͏̕̕͡ ̮͍͍̖ e̵̴̢͚̩͕̤͒ͤ̓̿ͬͧ͟d̛̪͖̦͍̠ͥ͛ͤ̀ͮ̃̉ͯ̓ͣ͛̚̕͝͡ ̶̷ͩͦͦ̎ͯ̒̒̉ͦͩ̄͘͏̘̟͉̬̗̳̟͚̻̜͚̼̬̙̥̠P̴͑ͫ̿ͣ̀͟͠͏̘̣̙̞͠ ͕̻̺̥ ̮͓̫͓r̛͚͔͉͕̰͕̥̭̼̰̞̜͕ͬͪ̎̎ͯ̒̃̎͆́́̓̕o̢͋̃̎ͤͯͦ̄̑͐̎͋͡ ̴͚̱̟ ̳͔̤̖͕͙̗̠͉͕͇͍̩͖c̵̸̷̛̫͔̭͙̆̒͂̑̔̽̏̃͛̒ͫ͗ͪ̆͊e̵͂̋ͧ̿͐̕ ̺͓̳̕ ̳̖̖̼̘̠̥͎̳̦͎͖s̵̼͎̰̗̲͓̤̤̦͉̯̬̜̺ͮ͑̚̚͟s̷̶̽͊͑ͥ̎ͧ̃̅̒̕ ̺̟̤̀ ̞̱̦̼̫̝̟͉͕̖̬͖
Time: 0:13 – Night
Day: April 12th


“Is the solution Atbash? I do hope so, for the sake of being a nuisance.”

Pomegranate grinned widely.

"Oh, very good. 'Tis a very good answer. Precise and to the point. Without a shred of imagination of wild goose chase added to it. Chasing gooses is job of dogs, after all. Preferably flying ones. Have you ever seen a flying dog? Or a flight without a dog? Now wouldn't that be the ultimate madness? Oh, but, when I think about it... flight without a dog becomes surprisingly mundane in today's world, does it not? Is this what they call 'madness overcoming itself and becoming mundane?'" the harlequin said and chuckled to itself in a manner that was a bit nerve-grating. "But I digress. Yes, yes, that answer was just that: Atbash. The language used by the Chosen People to hide away their ugly truths. I presume you'll find that answer to be of much use... if you run into right people. They should exist, at least. The right people. Not left people or wrong people. No, I suppose they exist too, but... mm, right people. Just the other day few of them broke that which I govern over, so they should have seen it..."

Pomegranate jumped and performed a back-flip before landing to the ground. With the grin still etched to its face, the creature leaned forward, holding its weight with its cane. The mysterious eyes peered straight into Fiore, and seemed to be looking right through him, into his hidden depths, and even beyond them. They were eyes of a being that knew much more than the boy before it, a being that withheld knowledge that could have caused insanity... or exceptional clarity.

"... the ugly truth, that is," Pomegranate cackled with a hint of cruelty in its sing-sung voice. "That is what I govern over, after all. The truth, in all of its ugliness. You realize it somewhere at the back of your mind, don't you? I halted the truth, thus you perceive me through the said truth. You see past it, having acknowledged the conclusion of that truth, and gaze me with your newborn eyes. Not the truth based on your memories, but the truth based on your records. The unbiased alternates of how you perceive and experience this world. People automatically reject something that does conform to their viewpoint, even if it is unmistakably based upon their true record. But see here, lad, do you really think it is their fault? I don't think there exist a single being in this world that does not fundamentally avoid their faults, because those faults are the weakness from which they can be torn apart. And that is where the ugliness of truth stems from. Not from the fact that it is the truth, but from fact that itis the truth."

Suddenly, even though Pomegranate had not moved an inch from the spot it was in, Fiore found himself face-to-face with the creature. When it raised its face, the boy was so close there were only mere inches between them. The eyes of swirling colors filled his vision, and the breath that had a fragrance of exotic fruits filled his nose. If possible, the grin on the face of the harlequin grew even larger, to the point it twisted its face and made it unmistakably inhuman.

"It's bitter experiences, lad. Seeing what the truth of yourself is, is recognizing parts of yourself that you don't want to face. People cope with their truth by morphing their memories to suit themselves, thus making up their own truth. A form which you are most comfortable with, if you will. However, not accepting that this truth exists often leads to a ruin, both of your self and of your character. In other words, by not experiencing a harsh change for the unbiased better, you are bound to clad yourself deeper into that truth of yours and bring forth your own destruction. Destruction gives birth to a new life, and it, too, will follow the previously set example and bring itself to the same destruction. This creates what we called a cycle of stagnation. To break free from this cycle, you must recognize your own personal truth and strive to break yourself free. Hmm... now, wasn't there a religion that spoke of this?" Pomegranate tilted its head before shrugging slightly. "Ah well, be that as it may, this is just the words of a someone set to guard this ugly truth everyone who wishes for power has to face. You may ignore it if you choose so, but... it was a rather harsh experience, wasn't it? Repeating it isn't something you'd want, is it? Well, I suppose I don't need to say any more about it, then."

Taking a step back, the harlequin twirled around once without even creating wind, before coming to a stop and putting one foot forward. With a graceful bow, it extended its hands forward, offering two objects towards Fiore. These items were resting on top of its now opened palms, like rewards given from conquering its challenge; and that was what they were. By answering the question of the harlequin right, Fiore had been given the right to take these mysterious objects.

One of them was a scroll of paper, wrapped up tightly. It looked like it had been in lot of use. However, a strange feeling of dread seemed to hang around the said scroll.

The other one was a single piece of a jigsaw puzzle: it changed shape the moment one did not look at it, and innumerable colors warped around its surface. However, the numbers etched on to its surface did not change.

"Here, take these. They are you rewards for entertaining me," Pomegranate said. "You have truly deserved them, son of man."

After Fiore had taken the two items, the creature twirled around again, this time taking a hold of its cane at the same time. When it came to a halt, it struck the cane to the ground and looked straight at Fiore.

"We might meet again. We might not. Rarely do those who conquer the crystal once return. However, the air, the sea and the forest still remain. Give my regards if you happen to meet those who govern over them," Pomegranate spoke. "Oh, but before I let you go, there is one question I must ask you."

Rocking from side-to-side, the harlequin began to hum a strange tune. Its eyes never left Fiore, but after a while, it did not seem it was even looking at him. No, the creature was looking at something behind him. Something more than him. Something greater than him. Something more than the sum of its parts. With the grin as wide as its head, the appointed guardian of truth hummed even louder, before opening its mouth and bursting into song.


"Kagome kagome
The bird within the cage
When, oh when, will you come out?
In the night of dawn
The crane and the turtle slipped and fell..
Who's that behind you?"


With a grin, the harlequin then shook its head. It raised its hand slowly, clenching into fist its fingers one-by-one. The kaleidoscopic eyes stared straight through Fiore, ignoring him, and looking into what lied beyond him. Yes, the creature now had a new target of interest, even if its words were still addressing the boy before it.

"You should have asked this already, lad," the harlequin whispered. "Yes, the real question..."

Pomegranate pointed straight behind Fiore. Straight at ***.




"Who's that behind you?"




The world screamed in pain.




http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/ff200/Zantsuki/WorldStatic_zpscbea5373.gif



And returned normal.


Acquired: Enigma Jigsaw Piece 1
A mysterious piece of a jigsaw puzzle. It has been engraved with the numbers: 1-3-5-7-13-14.

Acquired: S-E-A Report #3
A report of unknown origin and author.

Egophobia
April 20th, 2014, 07:23 AM
Fiore Lacere-Ran
Location: Halted Process
Time: 0:16 – Night?
Day: April 12th


"Here, take these. They are your rewards for entertaining me," Pomegranate said. "You have truly deserved them, son of man."

Fiore accepted the tattered scroll and puzzle piece, but did not pay them much heed, and absently tucked them into the inside of his jacket. His thoughts were elsewhere, troubled by how the voice had displayed knowledge that he lacked and that she should not have had on her own, and how now of all times she did not intrude into his own thoughts and insert her own answers. She was not laughing, either, and the lack of motion in this distorted world suddenly made him feel very alone.

He was snapped from his thoughts by the harlequin breaking into song, and the fact that he recognized it disturbed him. It was a children’s song, an unhappy one, and part of a game of which he had never been overly fond. A long time ago, when he had been speaking to the Young Lady, she had sung the same song and mentioned his mother and whatever she had known of his bloodline before their time. Birdcages and blindness – it seemed like the sort of thing the demonic voice would have sung, but she was still silent-

“Son of man, daughter of demons,” the voice snapped without any warning, startling Fiore enough to make him jump. Anger suddenly swelled up in his chest, not at the demon, but spurred on by what she had said, and he could not explain it.


"You should have asked this already, lad," the harlequin whispered. "Yes, the real question… Who's that behind you?”

A static scream filled the void, and time resumed, bringing with it the light and sound and roar of magic that had filled the Crystal City. Fiore stumbled slightly, senses reeling, and either through instinct or the influence of the demon brought an arm up to shield his eyes.

“I am here with you,” The voice said, its tone dour. Cold air swirled about as if it had been there all along, once again accompanying the musical voice. “Put my enmity out of mind, you were successful, and we are being impolite.”

Alien characters in glowing script were etched across the surface of the city, spreading out in helixes from the vortex of power at its core. The well of magical power took the shape of an arch, twisted about itself like ivies bending under the weight of flowers and fruit, and a field of tall, pale grass expanded outwards in every direction. A flash of color caught Fiore’s eye, and he saw the hem of a dress slip behind a tree that was not there, or a bit of some garment as its owner slipped into the ghostly field, and all around him were quiet peals of childish laughter.

The light pouring from the archway exploded outwards, and with it the field became of burst of colors that evaporated into the sky in a single, jubilant cry. The outlines of children flickered in the air like images burned into a screen before they vanished, and the Command Seals on the back of Fiore’s neck pulsated with warmth. The wind carried with it the scent of flowers and fruit and the charged atmosphere of revelry and joy. In the fluttering light that sped up towards the sky and the return of the dim moonlight, a lone figure stood where the archway had stood.

A message glowed in the surfaces of the crystals.

DOWNLOAD: 100%
SUMMONING COMPLETE
INITIALIZING
SERVANT CHANTER

The figure looked up, pink eyes glowing faintly against the night.

“To sadness and glory, I am your Servant and you are my Master. I ask of you, what is your name?”

“Oh dear, in looks and language, he is as bad as you.”

“My name is Fiore. I have never been anyone’s ‘master’, nor do I intend to start, so disagree with me at your own disclosure.”

“If you truly are the soul closest to our own, then we welcome you on this effort to reverse our self-inflicted misfortune.”

“Heaven can keep its sadness and glory – help me tell a more mundane story, would you?”


SCENE END

DB-L
April 20th, 2014, 05:38 PM
Liu Long Mei
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:45 - Night
Day: April 13th

It wasn't supposed to be cold tonight, and yet I still fought back shivers with every step I took in this accursed city. Every ounce of my being did not want to be here, but I knew this had to happen sooner or later. That familiar, sickening sense of dread crept its way up from my stomach as I pressed onward. I looked around at the eerie, crystalline monoliths that composed the aptly named, "Crystal City," and I couldn't help but scowl. After that horrible night of Crystal Shards, I didn't want to have anything to do with this deathtrap they call a city.

And yet, here I am.

There was one simple lesson I learned on that fateful night: I needed power. If I'm going to end my shame and live up to my duty, then I must get stronger, no matter the risk. Even with the failures in my life, I know that there's still a chance to make things right. It's finally time that I start to truly live and fight for the sake of those I care for. I owe at least that much to Mother...

Phew

I paused for a moment to calm my nerves. Within a few practiced breaths, I stopped the shivering in my body. My only consolation was that Lacey quietly proved our theories right just by having Caster at her side. Slowly, but surely, our little Alliance in 1-B is growing in strength. We just might be strong enough one day to prevent a second Night of Crystal Shards. Though I put in my fair share of work, I really have to thank the others for all their help after tonight.

Satoko coordinated our investigations superbly in spite of her daily demands at ARES. She certainly earned every bit of her rank as the Lieutenant Commander. Lacey also proved to be quite resourceful in tracking down rumors in the Demeter Market and even her own Dorm. And despite his attitude problems, among many other things, Luthor surprised me the most in spearheading the investigations. He isn't so bad once he's properly motivated to do something other than sneer at me.

I might have even tried this earlier if it weren't for those incidents with Tatsumi. She probably means well, but she honestly doesn't know her own strength. Thanks to her little ambushes, Dao almost won't listen to me anymore. It's either run or spar. Sure, I could use the practice, but I need to find a more efficient way to train. I'll have to organize some kind of formal meeting time with them. Of course, it won't matter if I don't make it back to the Dorm in time. I hope Dao finds that note I left her. She'll be the only one to know that I came here in case-

!


This is the place. Lost in my absent thoughts, I nearly walked right into one of the crystal pillars in the glass-like labyrinth. In daylight, it would have been as unremarkable as any other fixture here. Well, it's as unremarkable as can be on a city full of supernatural people fighting a supernatural war. The moonlight showed a reflection that put me on edge for some reason. Something just seemed off about what I saw before me. Then again, that's another confirmation that helped me stay. Still, those glowing eyes really creeped me out.

"What?!" There was a sudden flash of red on my reflection in the crystal. I thought it might have been some trick of the moonlight, but it persisted even after I moved around. Within seconds, the red light coalesced on the hand in my reflection. I looked down, but there was nothing that corresponded to what I saw on the crystal. Yes, this is it!

https://i.imgur.com/domerh5.png


A Command Spell. It's all set now. The only thing left is this number. Wasting no time, I looked down to the arm that had my Red Hare phone strapped on and readied the keypad.

1212333454

I took a moment to calm my nerves and return to my practiced breathing rhythm.

And then I hit dial.

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


Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:47 - Night
Day: April 13th

The phone rang once. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miOizLxOD4E)

It rang twice.

It rang thrice.

Finally, a click announced that the line was opened from the other side. No other sound followed it, and the only thing that could be heard was Mei's own breathing. But, slowly, very slowly, the illusion of completely void of sound vanished as the deviation in Mei's breathing made one thing clear: there was another voice on the other end of the line. It had simply been in perfect sync with her own, making it seem that there was only a single source.

It was an eerie moment, two voices separated and neither one of them speaking. Even the moonlight that had shone so beautifully down to the city of crystals was suddenly blocked by the clouds, covering the area, and Mei with it, in darkness.

It was then that the voice on the other end of the line spoke.

"Hello. This is Liu Long Mei."

Flash of light. The clouds dissipated above Mei's head. The sudden silver light ran across the surface of the crystal before her, blinding the sight momentarily. It was only a split second... and yet, it changed everything.

Whereas her reflection had previously been standing just like her, the Mei in the crystal was now deviating from the example of her source. The girl in the reflection had crouched down to the ground, huddling her knees and shaking like a leaf in autumn. She was cradling her own version of Red Hare like it had been a floating piece of debris in the middle of a stormy sea. Her face was buried against her legs, and her hair, disheveled and messy, framed her form like a ragged cloak. The hands, squeezing so hard the knuckles were white, moved ever so slightly, revealed a single tear-stained eye staring at Mei for a moment.

And then... silent sobbing. Almost inaudible sound that echoed from Mei's phone.

"Why... did you... come?" a voice eerily identical to Mei's, yet not more audible than a whisper, spoke. "Why...? Why...? Why did you... have to come...?"

It was like a plea mixed with desperation.

The reflection was nothing like the girl standing before it.

The truth of it had been revealed by the moonlight.

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


Liu Long Mei
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:48 - Night
Day: April 13th

"It cannot be...t-that's-!"

I wanted to run. The voice matching my own was enough to chill me, but what I saw nearly sapped my resolve. From what little I heard, I knew that I needed to steel myself for the fight of my life, but nothing could have prepared me for what was reflected in that ghostly crystal. A dull, sickening feeling began to rise from my gut. My reflection's stare felt like a spell unto itself. Slowly, but steadily, I could feel something unraveling within me. All the horrible feelings from twelve years ago began to surface.

She reminds me too much of myself after that fateful night.

I want to run, but I know how futile that would be.

"No, no more running. This day will come whether I want it or not."

At least I will face it on my on terms.

I paused for a moment to steady my breath and gather my strength for what awaited me.


"I've come to face the truth so that I may honor my promise to the family I still have...and the family I once had."

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

Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:50 - Night
Day: April 13th

A bitter, cynical laugh cut the silent sobbing for a moment that followed after Mei's words. It was as if the words spoken had been the most ridiculous thing the reflection had ever heard. It was in that mordant chuckle that the speaker seemed to make fun of the whole idea behind Mei's reason of arriving to this place, at this time. Same emotions could be momentarily seen crossing the single eye staring at her.

"What... what ridiculous nonsense... honor... aha... hahaha... most worthless of all causes..." the reflection spitefully whispered. "You'd come here because of such blindness... haha... get out...! Get lost... child."

Now the whole reflection seemed to shake in the throes of its bitter laughter, one that seemed to have replaced the previous crying. It was an ugly sight of a human being, or something that at least looked like one, throwing all of its pent-up hatred against someone else in a single display of emotion. The ragged figure that somewhat resembled Mei kept silently chuckling, acid seeping into every sound it let out.

"There is no truth for you here, there never was...!" the reflection suddenly hissed, tears once again streaming from the single visible eye. "After all, how could there... no... there could not...! Just emptiness and memories, just the past... just your chain that tightens around your neck every day. It's there, always... always... the harsh reality that binds you... the taste of iron in your mouth... and what you can never take back..."

Slowly rocking itself back and forth, the reflection was now clutching the phone as hard as it could, and it seemed like it could break the thing at any second. The whole mirror image was like a coiled spring ready to jump, a lighted fuse almost at its end... and the single eye it looked with was solely focused on the girl looking back at it.

And that eye was full of wrath.

"... Because they deserved it."

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Liu Long Mei
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:51 - Night
Day: April 13th


I took a step back before I even realized what I had done. The words from that wretched reflection struck me as if it had actually reached out to attack. Everything in my body screamed at me to run, to reject the horror that confronted me at this very moment. A cold, sinking feeling began to well up from my belly. I was tempted to run.

...because she spoke the truth.

And yet, I somehow stood my ground. I've had more than a decade to run from my past. Nothing will change if I run one more time. Despite the fear that tugged at my mind, my resolve was not broken.

If she is who I think she is, then her truth is not complete.

"You're right. There can be no honor for a failure such as me. I was just a child who refused to grow up, and my family paid the price for it in the end. They died because I was a foolish little girl who couldn't see the consequences of her actions. Emotions ruled in place of reason. However..." I adjusted my stance. What appeared to be a retreating step turned into a bracing posture. "Here is where you're wrong. What I felt and what I should have done were completely different! There were a wicked few, I knew that for certain, but innocent people died along with the wicked! I have no idea why Ben brought me back from the brink of death, but I know he still believes in me. If he could still see some good in me, then I am willing to live on with the weight of these sins."

Verg Avesta
May 12th, 2014, 12:38 PM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:52 - Night
Day: April 13th


"You're right. There can be no honor for a failure such as me. I was just a child who refused to grow up, and my family paid the price for it in the end. They died because I was a foolish little girl who couldn't see the consequences of her actions. Emotions ruled in place of reason. However... Here is where you're wrong. What I felt and what I should have done were completely different! There were a wicked few, I knew that for certain, but innocent people died along with the wicked! I have no idea why Ben brought me back from the brink of death, but I know he still believes in me. If he could still see some good in me, then I am willing to live on with the weight of these sins."

"............................................ No." (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFo97Zg0nOQ)

The reflection's words were like a bitter sword driven through Mei. The hatred inside they glaring at the girl had now reached its peak, and it was past the boiling point. The whole area seemed to rumble, and light cracks appeared on the surface of the crystal storing the mirror image. Gnashing its teeth together, the reflection drew blood by digging its own nails into its own skin.

"Innocent? Don't make me laugh. There was not a single... innocent... soul... amongst them," the reflection hissed and spat. "All of them, usurpers and betrayers, fools and tyrants, sadists and deviants.... yes... hahahaha... that's right, isn't it? You know it... how they all deserved their fate. Those who survived, did only so because of luck... ahahaha... Yes. Every single one of them... should have been painted red."

There was a loud sound of impact as the reflection struck its hands against the surface of the crystal. Like a mad beast, it groveled on the ground, trying to get up. The breathing was ragged, the eyes bloodshot, the tongue hungering for carnage. It was a terrible sight to behold, like an incarnation of slaughter forming from a mirror before Mei.

"They, and so many more, deserved their fate...! They should have... they should have..."

The reflection grasped for air, desperately. The teeth grew into fangs, and the once beautiful, now ruined, hair started growing before Mei's eyes. Like a snake it slithered into the distance, becoming something akin to a tail of a god-beast that trailed behind the reflection. The head of the mirror image jerked upwards, and the single eye of hatred was now burning red, boring a hole through Mei's soul.

"THEY SHOULD HAVE ALL DIED!!!"

The scream of a mad beast echoed in the Crystal City.

With the screech that was unlike anything a human should have been able to produce, the crystal shattered into million fragments. The sheer force of the reflection's voice had destroyed the barrier between it an its original, releasing the monster from its cage. There, it stood on four limbs, like a wounded animal. Golden fur grew all around its body, covering the once milky-white skin. Jutting pieces of debris, both wood and metal, grew from its body as if to make it a mix between a beast and a siege weapon. The fangs in its mouth hungered for flesh, and the claw-like nails continued to grow into monstrous proportions. Bones creaked as they switched they arrangement, becoming more accustomed to moving on four legs.

What stood before Mei now was no longer human; It was a beast-god released from her nightmares, a far cry of the kind girl it was supposedly a reflection of.

“I think, therefore I am. My thoughts are myself, therefore my existence is me.”

It was a growl of something inhumane.


-------------------------------------
Liu Long Mei vs. DASEIN: Mei

Call of thy soul raised a legend
Reflection of victor only in crystals of thy anima
Yes, this is fight or fall
Let this be a battle of the death of thyself
Battle, BEGIN!

Mei –AGI C- vs. D: Mei –AGI A-
TURN 1: DASEIN: Mei
-------------------------------------


The ground beneath the reflection's feed exploded, destroyed by the sheer force of the jump it performed. Like a bullet, it sped towards Mei, the claws in its front legs hungrily reached out for her. The red eye was locked in its original, promising death and carnage with all of the strength the reflection could muster. With it, it bought air of slaughter and blood, sickening taste of copper filling the air. Its mouth was opened wide, revealing the fangs that could have punched through steel. They were aiming for Mei's neck while the claws were about to rip her apart from the waist.

It was an attack of sheer force and malice, one not bound by any technique or skill. Just animal-like instincts and hunger for flesh. Mad monster released, ready to destroy anything set before it.

And the target now was Liu Long Mei.

DB-L
May 27th, 2014, 01:07 AM
Liu Long Mei
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:54 - Night
Day: April 13th




"............................................ No." (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFo97Zg0nOQ)

"Innocent? Don't make me laugh. There was not a single... innocent... soul... amongst them," the reflection hissed and spat. "All of them, usurpers and betrayers, fools and tyrants, sadists and deviants.... yes... hahahaha... that's right, isn't it? You know it... how they all deserved their fate. Those who survived, did only so because of luck... ahahaha... Yes. Every single one of them... should have been painted red."



She is everything that went wrong with me. Every single word coming out of her mouth was like a glimpse into my head during that fateful day. I didn't listen as much as I felt her hateful tirade pouring out of that crystal. All those emotions I once buried have now returned full force. The rage, the obsession, the delirium of that self-righteous attitude...I was so sure of myself back then. Looking back on it, I could see what a nightmare I truly was.

And as if to answer to thoughts, the reflection in the crystal began to deform. Each successive word broke down the facade of the girl she was supposed to represent. In the end, I stared into the eyes of the monster within. She battered the crystal layer like a blood-lusted animal. Each strike resonated with the fury of that fateful night so long ago.

I flexed my knuckles in anticipation for what was to come.



"They, and so many more, deserved their fate...! They should have... they should have..."

"THEY SHOULD HAVE ALL DIED!!!"


I was already in motion before the crystal shattered between us. The blast threw more shrapnel than I thought, but I rolled away low enough to avoid any serious harm. When I got up, the "reflection" no longer resembled anything like a human. The beast within was finally here.




“I think, therefore I am. My thoughts are myself, therefore my existence is me.”



"Who is the child now?" I spat back at the nightmarish creature that charged at me.

Like an uncontrollable lion, it lunged for both my throat and my waist, intending on tearing me apart. I quickly gauged the space behind me. There was enough open space for what I had planned. Prana instantaneously welled up in my hands as I brought my counterattack to bear. Unlike my previous discharges, this one was intentionally left with less control.

There was a brief silence that would have been broken by a crickets if there were any in this city.

The beast was met with a wall-like explosion as I fired a wide blast to stop its teeth and claws. My body was flung backwards from the intentional recoil of my attack as the "reflection" ate a face full of destructive prana. With practiced grace, I twisted and rolled to a relatively safe landing, ready for whatever my opponent had next.


" 'They should have all died'? That's nothing more than the petty grudge of a spoiled princess who shut everyone out! What right did I have to end their lives? Where would it end? I never tried to understand any one of them! I was so obsessed with my own little vengeance that I couldn't even notice the ones who loved me!"



AGI: C
CAS: A
PRA: A

Sorcery Trait: Spiritual Dexterity, False Dragon's Blood – This manifests as unique skills with one's Inner Channels. However, this trait borders on Innate Ability as it tends to vary depending on the user. In the Siu Han Family, this diverse trait ranged from powerful Mystic/Pure Eyes to malleable Magic Circuits that could store unprecedented amounts of prana.

For Mei, this trait manifests in the manipulation and output of her Circuits. She is able to fire jets of destructive prana, mana, or Od from her body depending on her output. These range from breathing hot prana to jet-propelled strikes to firing prana blasts from her limbs. Observers may see these jets as strangely colored lights or Chi, leading to some to say that she “punches fireworks, kicks rainbows, and breaths sunshine and happiness.” Eastern observers have taken to naming this specific Trait as “False Dragon's Blood” after the “Noble Blood” Circuits of the ruling families. Individual projectile or object-charged attacks carry the same cost as a similarly ranked spell.

Prana Blast (Noisy Cricket): B-rank
- A simple B-rank blast of destructive prana with no regard for recoil control, propelling the user back with explosive force.

Verg Avesta
June 16th, 2014, 07:52 PM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:54 - Night
Day: April 13th
Turn: 3


"'They should have all died'? That's nothing more than the petty grudge of a spoiled princess who shut everyone out! What right did I have to end their lives? Where would it end? I never tried to understand any one of them! I was so obsessed with my own little vengeance that I couldn't even notice the ones who loved me!"

The explosion rattled the area, going off like a guided missile and engulfing the spot of discharge into a fountain of dust and rubble. Mei had managed to get away from the blast radius and stop the attack of the reflection in its tracks, but the monster like presence did not fade. Instead, from within the ashen cloud, a red eye, like a marksman's sight aimed straight at the girl's throat, shone with enough light to pierce the darkness. The beast was far from defeated; no, it was only getting started.

"TheRe was NotHing to nOticE! nOBody to cAre abOUt!" the distorted voice of the reflection growled. "WhAt truLy maTtErs is my oWN feelINgs! My REvenge! mY rAGe! WhAT imPoRTance aRE the weaK aNd thE fooLISh!? ThEir lIVes, sNufFed by MY wiLL anD RighT, aRe of NO coNCern tO me!"

The hand, with its muscles bulging and claws tearing the air, swiped through the cloud, creating enough wind pressure to completely destroy the cloak that hid the reflection. Standing on all fours like an animal, it directed its sneering, hateful expression and Mei and bared its teeth. Prana rumbled around the creature like it had been a physical aura, twisting and mangling the air like a school of piranhas. Even the act of taking in magical energy became something twisted in the hands of the reflection, selfishly hoarding the energy to itself like a ravenous monster.

"ThIS liFe is miNE And mIne alOnE! tHE fAtes of otHErS arE liKE dUst In THe wINd! InCONseQueNTIAL anD unABLe to TOuch ME!" the reflection roared, the wood and metal in its body groaning from the strain of the attack prepared. "OnLY thiNG tHAt matterS is... mY deSIreS!"

Jumping into the air with a pounce that covered the distance between the two instantly, the reflection spun around in the air and brought down its hands like they had been hammers thundering upon the dome of sky. Drawing a sinister arc in the air above Mei, the claws of the beast tore through the night, emitting the magical energy like they had been nuclear reactors cut in half. As they ripped apart the veil of common sense, they claws revealed a searing hot, blindingly white world from the beyond, like staring into the heart of the sun itself. It was pure light, so bright it was impossible to look upon without going blind. Gouging with her nails, the reflection dragged this flaring luminosity with it, bringing it down upon Mei.

And as the creature released the attack, it fell down towards the girl with a sound comparable to the rocket boosters of a space shuttle.

A cascade of inextinguishable light approached.


Name: DASEIN: Mei
Alignment: Truth

STR: B
END: B
AGI: A
CAS: C (S)
PRA: C (S)

Perks
Sorcery Trait: Sanbao Destruction
The capacity of forcefully extracting prana from the surroundings, accelerating it within ones body, and then releasing it through the extremities of one's body, ripping apart the physical world momentarily to bring forth attacks of pure magical energy. To an observer, this comes across as emitting searing, pure light from one's extremities, too painful to look at straight. It has been described to make the user look like a pulsar of hellfire, dancing through the battlefield. In that sense, can be likened to a vapor trail of a meteor entering earth's atmosphere or a space rocket leaving the said atmosphere. As this trait is nothing but making magical energy physical and malleable, accelerating it within one's body to extreme heights, and then jettisoning it through one's body, it is, despite it's appearance, a purely physical attack. The physical prana is rammed against the opponent with the kinetic energy equal to small meteor directly hitting the earth's surface, dealing B-rank (S) damage.

DB-L
June 28th, 2014, 06:24 AM
Liu Long Mei
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:55 - Night
Day: April 13th
Turn: 4


The smoke cleared and my foe remained unscathed. Of course it wouldn't be as simple as that.


"TheRe was NotHing to nOticE! nOBody to cAre abOUt! WhAt truLy maTtErs is my oWN feelINgs! My REvenge! mY rAGe! WhAT imPoRTance aRE the weaK aNd thE fooLISh!? ThEir lIVes, sNufFed by MY wiLL anD RighT, aRe of NO coNCern tO me!"

"There was nothing to notice because I never listened in the first place! I never once considered how the others felt, let alone what they truly intended! I deluded myself into thinking that my brothers would handle all the duties of the family so that I would pursue my own selfish interests. Even when that responsibility was thrown upon me, I threw everything away just for a petty vengeance. Everyone depended on me and I couldn't even realize that!"

The air thickened with an unsettling rumble as my enemy drew upon the environment itself for energy. I felt a sickening, prickling sensation surge throughout my body as my mystic channels reacted to the unnatural sight before me. The 'beast' snarled and tore at the air around it, consuming shreds of mana as though it were ripping into the life of the planet itself. It was a suitable sight, I suppose. At least, it was the sight I deserved. The crimes I committed that day weren't so different.

There was a brief pause in the rush of prana. My shadow self strained and prepared to pounce. If it was a true representation of what I was, then the next attack won't be so easy to avoid. I lowered my stance and limbered my legs in anticipation for what was to come. The sparks of prana emanating from my shadowy self resonated with the mental sparks of my internal world as I gathered prana within my body.

"Here it comes."



"ThIS liFe is miNE And mIne alOnE! tHE fAtes of otHErS arE liKE dUst In THe wINd! InCONseQueNTIAL anD unABLe to TOuch ME! OnLY thiNG tHAt matterS is... mY deSIreS!"

"Bright! Too bright!"

I reflexively brought up an arm to shield my eyes as the monster attacked with more force than I could hope to match. However, the sheer mass of the attack and its earlier motions gave me enough time to act. With a quick pivot, I turned away from the meteoric strike and released all the pent-up prana in my back and limbs. The small, but concentrated burst of my own evasive maneuver served as a stark contrast to the sheer violence of the shadow beast's onslaught. A screaming rush of air and prana assaulted my senses as I burned away from the explosion that threatened to consume me.


But it wasn't enough.


"Aaah!"

I let out a small yelp of pain as I felt the overbearing flames bite into my back. Even the backblast from my prana surge was not enough to counterract the explosion's sheer size. Fortunately, the heat had already peaked and faded as I put more distance between me and my foe. After a few more meters, I finally relented and ended my escape with a clumsy roll that sent further pinpricks of pain rolling up my back. A few beads of sweat rolled down my cheek as my disciplined breath briefly broke rhythm from the pain. There was smoke, but luckily no fire. I risked a glance and saw that my upper back was singed almost like Syouko's during her encounter with Luthor. At least that can be healed later.

The beast would likely charge at me again, and I needed every moment to focus on the battle. I grit my teeth and did my best to bear the pain as I raised my hands to prepare for the next attack. Prana came rushing back, coating my whole body in a reactive sheath.

Despite my predicament, I couldn't help but reflect upon my shadow self's words. Her voice seemed to crack as she started to lose articulation with her growing rage. It wasn't too far from the painful truth of that fateful night. I dug deep inside and forced myself to look at not only the monster, but the troubled girl within that nightmarish shell. Nothing could have stopped me from getting that last bit of retribution. No words reached me until it was all over, and all that remained were ashes.

Even so...

"If my desires were the only thing that mattered, then why did I feel so empty in the end? I got what I wanted, and then I wanted nothing more than to die. There was nothing left when I slaughtered all those 'villains.' You said it yourself! Only emptiness was my reward. My own petty desires brought nothing but pain and loss! If only-" I clenched fists as I stared into that beast's rabid eyes. "-if only I had listened. If only I considered how the others felt as I made them suffer for my own mistakes. Even now, I fail to empathize with my own little brother. We grew up together, I and only saw him for his skills. I never thought about how much I burdened him when I threw my obligations upon him. He had every right to resent me, and yet he forgave me. And after all these years, I still can't see his true feelings. It's sad, isn't it? I focused on myself for so long that I barely even know my own brother."


Name: Liu Long Mei

STR: E
END: D -> A
AGI: C -> A
CAS: A
PRA: A
Sorcery Trait: Spiritual Dexterity, False Dragon's Blood – This manifests as unique skills with one's Inner Channels. However, this trait borders on Innate Ability as it tends to vary depending on the user. In the Siu Han Family, this diverse trait ranged from powerful Mystic/Pure Eyes to malleable Magic Circuits that could store unprecedented amounts of prana.

For Mei, this trait manifests in the manipulation and output of her Circuits. She is able to fire jets of destructive prana, mana, or Od from her body depending on her output. These range from breathing hot prana to jet-propelled strikes to firing prana blasts from her limbs. Observers may see these jets as strangely colored lights or Qi, leading to some to say that she “punches fireworks, kicks rainbows, and breaths sunshine and happiness.” Eastern observers have taken to naming this specific Trait as “False Dragon's Blood” after the “Noble Blood” Circuits of the ruling families.

Individual projectile or object-charged attacks carry the same cost as a similarly ranked spell. For 20 units [1/3 the cost of C-rank Spell], a single attribute can be boosted as far as A-rank momentarily. Boosting to A-rank will last for 2 turns, B for 3, C for 4, and so on for a single attribute. And for 30 units [1/2 cost of C-rank Spell], two attributes can be boosted up to A-rank for similar durations.

Verg Avesta
August 6th, 2014, 12:48 PM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:56 - Night
Day: April 13th
Turn: 5


"If my desires were the only thing that mattered, then why did I feel so empty in the end? I got what I wanted, and then I wanted nothing more than to die. There was nothing left when I slaughtered all those 'villains.' You said it yourself! Only emptiness was my reward. My own petty desires brought nothing but pain and loss! If only... if only I had listened. If only I considered how the others felt as I made them suffer for my own mistakes. Even now, I fail to empathize with my own little brother. We grew up together, I and only saw him for his skills. I never thought about how much I burdened him when I threw my obligations upon him. He had every right to resent me, and yet he forgave me. And after all these years, I still can't see his true feelings. It's sad, isn't it? I focused on myself for so long that I barely even know my own brother."

"OTheRs... OHtErsSOtHeRsoTHERsOThErS!" the beast growled with immeasurable spite, spitting out vile words out of pure malice. "MaGGOts! InCOnSeQUENTiAL loW-BreEDS! FOr mySELf, thE ONLy sOul imPOrtAnt... iS my OWn!"

The mad eye flashed bright. Prana screamed like a dying beast of prehistoric age, like a colossus of rock and fur, driven to the point of annihilation. It was such a crude way of utilizing magecraft, it would have sickened any magus who saw or even felt it. But for this creature... for this monster born out of Liu Long Mei's reflection, it was something as natural as breathing.

And that, in itself, was enough to induce primal fear.

Space warped. The ground under Mei groaned as suddenly, the air itself felt as heavy as a mountain placed upon the girl's shoulders. Her body seemed to be anchored on-spot, her flesh and bones suddenly pulling towards the asphalt under her. Steel and concrete cracked under the pressure, indicating that this change was not only happening in Mei, but her immediate surroundings, too. The only thing it did not seem to affect was the laughing mad monster in Mei's vision, the warped reflection filled with morbid rage. Sharp teeth hungrily gnawed the air, and the long tongue whisked back and forth like that of a snake. And all the while, a purple glow, emanating from the sky above the two combatants, seemed to shower Mei with its unearthly aura, binding her to the ground with chains of gravity.

"AS tO whAt CoMEs to yOUr nAiVe cLaimE... a bRoTHER? Was THEre somEThinG liKe ThaT?" the monster continued, tasting the word. Then, rage twisted its horrible visage. "If theRE wAs... HIS FOrgIVENeSS wAS aSHes iN tHE wInd! I neeD No suCh tHIng fRoM piTIfuL noBoDIEs sUCh As hIM! ThE ONly onE thaT maTTeRS is... ME!"

Then, reaching for the stars with its claw, the reflection watched the ascension of... something from the heavens. It was a perfect sphere, purple and black with ever-switching colors, calm and clear on its surface like unblemished metal. But, it still held the aura of a liquid. As it reached the monster, the reflection let out a growl that made the ground shook, and shoved her right hand into the sphere. It slid into the ball of unknown substance like a rock into a tranquil lake, causing nary a ripple. Then, with a beastly snarl, the reflection took a step forward and started dragging the sphere after it. It seemed nigh impossible to move, as if some unimaginable force had been stored within it, but inch by inch, the creature managed to move the sphere.

It was like watching a string of a bow, slowly stretching to its utmost limit. And when that limit would be reached... the fingers would let go, shooting the projectile with air-breaking velocity towards Mei, the target.

"... onLY... ME!" the reflection roared.


Name: DASEIN: Mei
Alignment: Truth

STR: B
END: B
AGI: A
CAS: C (S)
PRA: C (S)

Perks
Sorcery Trait: Sanbao Destruction
The capacity of forcefully extracting prana from the surroundings, accelerating it within ones body, and then releasing it through the extremities of one's body, ripping apart the physical world momentarily to bring forth attacks of pure magical energy. To an observer, this comes across as emitting searing, pure light from one's extremities, too painful to look at straight. It has been described to make the user look like a pulsar of hellfire, dancing through the battlefield. In that sense, can be likened to a vapor trail of a meteor entering earth's atmosphere or a space rocket leaving the said atmosphere. As this trait is nothing but making magical energy physical and malleable, accelerating it within one's body to extreme heights, and then jettisoning it through one's body, it is, despite it's appearance, a purely physical attack. The physical prana is rammed against the opponent with the kinetic energy equal to small meteor directly hitting the earth's surface, dealing B-rank (S) damage.

Spells

Art of Terrene Imprisonment
Rank A
An aura of purple energy, generated by release of prana from the caster's body through magic circuits actualized as flesh. It is projected above the battle ground, and it traps all but the caster into a moving field that detains their movement through increased gravity. The gravity that is standard to planet earth is quadrupled in the field released, stopping any and all movement of human beings. Unremarkable humans are soon killed through extreme case of cerebrovascular accident. Those with powers are not killed, but unless their physical capabilities are counted as above mortals, they will be completely immobilized.

DB-L
August 24th, 2014, 07:22 AM
Liu Long Mei
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:57 - Night
Day: April 13th
Turn: 6




"OTheRs... OHtErsSOtHeRsoTHERsOThErS! MaGGOts! InCOnSeQUENTiAL loW-BreEDS! FOr mySELf, thE ONLy sOul imPOrtAnt... iS my OWn!"



Again, my monstrous reflection threw my words back at me.

It couldn't have been more than a few minutes, but the fight definitely started to wear on me. I need to think of something quick or else-


!

Too heavy!


I fell to my knees as a sudden crushing weight came bearing down on my shoulders. All the bones in my body strained to resist this new unnatural burden. If it weren't for the thick, enveloping cloud of prana wrapping around my body like a buffer, I surely would have suffered some crippling injuries, if not worse. But I needed to act fast, each moment pushed my body closer and closer to its limits. Even my disciplined breathing was strained under this drastic change in gravity. The strange heaviness and the appearance of a purplish light were all I needed to enact my countermeasure.

"T-Two can play at that game!"


"To the pure earth clings a hidden fragrance.
The Jade Rope wheels round and is cut."


The raging currents of prana around my body suddenly turned to a dark indigo shade as my spell took effect. I sprang back to my feet and shrugged my shoulders, feeling the burden being lifted by my gravity-cancelling spell. However, I wasn't out of the frying pan just yet. My feral counterpart was preparing another attack. One even greater than the last. Techni-colored prana surged through my body in harmony with my thoughts.

And yet, I hesitated. Even when I resolved to face the next challenge, something didn't feel right. It was that same haunting, chilling sensation I had when I first entered the city, only stronger. Every time my reflection spoke, that feeling grew. What does this mean? Is there something more to this than mere conflict?





"AS tO whAt CoMEs to yOUr nAiVe cLaimE... a bRoTHER? Was THEre somEThinG liKe ThaT? If theRE wAs... HIS FOrgIVENeSS wAS aSHes iN tHE wInd! I neeD No suCh tHIng fRoM piTIfuL noBoDIEs sUCh As hIM! ThE ONly onE thaT maTTeRS is... ME! ... onLY... ME!"




"...Was that it?"

I froze in place with a realization. The monster was gone. In its place was the same sad little girl who greeted me in that mirror-like crystal. She truly was suffering. That girl was filled with hate, bitterness, and pain. She knew nothing but suffering because I willed it, because I wouldn't let go. No one held a greater grudge against me than myself.

"If it's only me, then I shall be the one to release you from your suffering." I said through clenched teeth. "I don't know if I can truly find absolution, but I'll never find out if I stay like this."

My breathing stuttered for a moment. A slight, yet piercing pain drew my attention downwards. I had my fists balled so tightly that my nails drew blood.

"It's hard letting go, y'know. After all the things I've done, I thought I was an irredeemable mess. You should know how much I longed for death, for a release from my crime." I said as I slowly relaxed all the tense muscles in my body. "But I think it's time to move on. We honor our dead by carrying on with good deeds, not by wallowing in the past. You don't have to go through this pain anymore. As long as we...as I can move on, I'll let this go. I forgive you."

There was no more tension in my body. This petty anger won't hold me back any longer.


Name: Liu Long Mei

STR: E
END: D -> A
AGI: C -> A
CAS: A
PRA: A
Sorcery Trait: Spiritual Dexterity, False Dragon's Blood – This manifests as unique skills with one's Inner Channels. However, this trait borders on Innate Ability as it tends to vary depending on the user. In the Siu Han Family, this diverse trait ranged from powerful Mystic/Pure Eyes to malleable Magic Circuits that could store unprecedented amounts of prana.

For Mei, this trait manifests in the manipulation and output of her Circuits. She is able to fire jets of destructive prana, mana, or Od from her body depending on her output. These range from breathing hot prana to jet-propelled strikes to firing prana blasts from her limbs. Observers may see these jets as strangely colored lights or Qi, leading to some to say that she “punches fireworks, kicks rainbows, and breaths sunshine and happiness.” Eastern observers have taken to naming this specific Trait as “False Dragon's Blood” after the “Noble Blood” Circuits of the ruling families.

Art of Earthly Liberation. Rank- B – A rather tricky, but interesting spell developed by the Siu Han's ancestors in the Shu Han Court. It severs the planet's pull on a given target, meaning that the affected target will float and tumble about as if he/she were in the vacuum of outer space. This spell lasts for 15 turns.

Verg Avesta
August 24th, 2014, 09:23 AM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:58 - Night
Day: April 13th
Turn: 7


"It's hard letting go, y'know. After all the things I've done, I thought I was an irredeemable mess. You should know how much I longed for death, for a release from my crime. But I think it's time to move on. We honor our dead by carrying on with good deeds, not by wallowing in the past. You don't have to go through this pain anymore. As long as we...as I can move on, I'll let this go. I forgive you."

The bow-string was released.

A wind blew through the clearing, and with it, it took all the signs of hostility and boundless rage. It took away the visage of a monster with its breeze, catching the promised death and whisking it into nothingness. It happened fast and it happened unexpectedly. Before the girl battling the monster could even react to it, the wind had taken away everything that had been against her, like it had been only flakes of ash covering a corpse. What was left was a single reflection, a pure reflection of a girl known as Liu Long Mei, charging at its original.

... But, it did not mean that the arrow that was pulled back did not move forward.

After all, the string was released. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vocSZY6ptSU)

"You idiooooooot!!

A fist hit Mei straight in the face. However, this was a fist of a normal girl, without the beastly power behind it. This was a normal punch, one that would only leave a bruise on the cheek it pummeled afterwards. This a punch from a reflection that was back to what it had been before... a simple reflection. A mirror image of Mei, the girl who had come into this city of crystal in search for answers. And in doing so, had found... a truth of a sort. Now, this truth punched her with both intensity and odd kindness, as if mildly hurting Mei had been the only option left.

The punch that connected sent Mei slightly backwards, but before she could fall, the reflection had caught her by the collar of her shirt and pulled her back. After a moment of confusion, Mei found herself staring right into her own eyes, the reflection only mere inches away now. However, the reflection's expression was not mirroring that of Mei. Instead, there was still lingering anger in there... or perhaps it was annoyance, like the anger of a parent who did not want to see her child continue to hurt herself.

"Don't forgive me! Forgive yourself! Do as your understood just now, and act to your words... and forgive yourself already, you dumbass!" the reflection said, its last word being more of a yell than anything else. ""That's just it, isn't it!? There is not a single one in this world who can be alone... and thus, a reprieve is necessary, especially one given by ourselves."

The reflection hoisted Mei even closer, and suddenly the girl found herself in a tight hug. The arms clutching her were those of the reflection, exerting enough power to make it nearly impossible to escape from. However, there was incredibly honesty behind this action, something that could be felt from the amount of strength used. It was, without a doubt, a sincere embrace, like that of a mother embracing her child. There was nothing unnatural or uncanny about it, but to the contrary. Slightly admonishing, slightly annoyed, but all in all, warmer than anything else... that was the true nature of this reflection that now refused to let go of Mei.

"It will be always be there, gnawing at our conscience and hearts. It will never let go of us, like a dragon that's latched on to our body with its vicious, hooked teeth. Whenever we try to do something, we'll doubt ourselves. Whenever we'll try to interact with someone, we'll be afraid of them finding out. Whenever we try to have a good time, we'll remember that day and feel once again miserable. It's a poison that runs through our veins. The mistakes we have done, that have shaped our past, will always be there. They can't be undone. No matter how hard we try, the trail of tears leading up to this day has a starting point, and it is only strengthened by the mistakes we will continue to make in the future," the reflection quietly, yet strongly, spoke. "And that's why, if it refuses to let go of us... we will just have to let go of it. We can't keep on clutching at that day like it was a mirror we use to define ourselves. We must be willing to let it sink to the depths of the ocean, where it can never bother us again. Without reprieve, we will find no peace upon this earth... and if we don't, we are as good as dead. If we allow the ghosts of the past to dictate how we act, we will only be a ghost among the living. A pale reflection with no sense or purpose, unable to truly connect to anyone on this big blue ball! So... so just forgive yourself already! If you don't, what will be left is only a shell of a human, filled with regrets and anger!"

Quietly, the reflection started sliding her hand through Mei's hair, petting her like a parent would pet a child. The eyes of the reflection stared into the night of the Crystal City, into the starry expanse beyond, and the lights of the floating city. There was nostalgia, remembrance and deep sorrow within those blue eyes, as if they had seen there much more than Mei ever could. However, when the reflection finally looked back on the girl it kept gripping on, there was a new emotion in those depths: hope.

"Yeah, I know it sounds selfish. I know it sounds horrible. But you have to let go of the past already. You can't keep blaming yourself because of something that happened, whipping your back in order to remember the pain it caused. That helps no one, least of all yourself. And, if you simply look back at that day as something of a boogeyman that controls how you act... you can never atone for it. No, you will only live in the shadow of that day for the rest of your pitifully short life, crushed by guilt," the reflection continued, looking Mei in the eyes. "That's why... you have to find a reprieve. You have to forgive yourself. You have to accept that what happened was horrible... but not let yourself be burdened by it. Only that way can you move forward, only that way can you head to the future... and, perhaps, find some way to make up to that mistake. It might not be enough... but at least you made an actual effort."

Then, suddenly, the reflection let go of Mei, but only for a short second. Instead, it now gently slapped its hands on her cheeks, massaging them as if she had been a child and forcing her to look up at it. There was a slight smile on its face as it looked back.

"So, don't let that day hold you back anymore. It's alright to trust. It's alright to become close to other people. It's alright to confide in other people. There is nothing wrong with finding someone who you can bare your whole soul to," the reflection spoke. "Everyone carrier's their past mistakes with them. The only difference is that some learn from them, while others let them dictate themselves. Others have found peace, others live in constant pain. And those who are in pain can't connect with others... they cannot find a way to. But now... you can see how. So, don't be afraid to walk that path. It might be hard, it might not always be sunny, but at the very end of the road... it will all have been worth it. Why? Well..."

The reflection smiled and planted a motherly kiss on Mei's forehead. Then, showing some surprising mischievousness, it massaged her cheeks some more, breaking into a beaming grin that was truly happy. In fact, it was such a sincere showcase of happiness that it was hard to believe it came from the creature that had exhibited such rage before.

“I think, therefore I am. My thoughts are myself, therefore my existence is me. But…”

The reflection whispered, tears forming in the corners of its eyes.

“…I am not alone.”

DB-L
August 25th, 2014, 12:55 AM
Liu Long Mei
Location: Crystal City
Time: 23:59 - Night
Day: April 13th
Turn: 8




"You idiooooooot!!


"Oooph!"

My reflection's response certainly caught me off guard. In my relaxed state, I was completely blindsided by her sudden punch. Just as I fell over, she reached out and grabbed me by the collar. I braced myself for whatever punishment came my way, and yet all that greeted me was...me?

The raging beast was gone. In its place was the simple reflection of my own body. Her stern face showed no hatred. Rather, she eerily resembled Uncle on a particularly bad day.



"Don't forgive me! Forgive yourself! Do as you understood just now, and act to your words... and forgive yourself already, you dumbass! That's just it, isn't it!? There is not a single one in this world who can be alone... and thus, a reprieve is necessary, especially one given by ourselves."


"Yeah, I suppose you're right. I've been putting this off for too lo- what?!"

Before I could finish, I was pulled into a tight embrace.



"It will be always be there, gnawing at our conscience and hearts. It will never let go of us, like a dragon that's latched on to our body with its vicious, hooked teeth. Whenever we try to do something, we'll doubt ourselves. Whenever we'll try to interact with someone, we'll be afraid of them finding out. Whenever we try to have a good time, we'll remember that day and feel once again miserable. It's a poison that runs through our veins. The mistakes we have done, that have shaped our past, will always be there. They can't be undone. No matter how hard we try, the trail of tears leading up to this day has a starting point, and it is only strengthened by the mistakes we will continue to make in the future. And that's why, if it refuses to let go of us... we will just have to let go of it. We can't keep on clutching at that day like it was a mirror we use to define ourselves. We must be willing to let it sink to the depths of the ocean, where it can never bother us again. Without reprieve, we will find no peace upon this earth... and if we don't, we are as good as dead. If we allow the ghosts of the past to dictate how we act, we will only be a ghost among the living. A pale reflection with no sense or purpose, unable to truly connect to anyone on this big blue ball! So... so just forgive yourself already! If you don't, what will be left is only a shell of a human, filled with regrets and anger!"



She was right, of course. The answer was so simple in the end, but that didn't make it any easier. I closed my eyes and reflected on her words, trying to take them to heart. I tried to return her hug, but I still hesitated. For the past twelve years, I bore this hate inside me. Even in my dreams, I could see their faces. Some bloody, some burned, all glaring at me. In my mind, I carried vengeful ghosts of the past. I became so accustomed to this burden that it practically became a part of my life. All the pain, the guilt, it had almost defined me. She was right.

Even so, it hurts to let it all go.

"I-...I know. I know! But it's still hard to let go!" I stuttered, choking back tears and finally returning her embrace.




"Yeah, I know it sounds selfish. I know it sounds horrible. But you have to let go of the past already. You can't keep blaming yourself because of something that happened, whipping your back in order to remember the pain it caused. That helps no one, least of all yourself. And, if you simply look back at that day as something of a boogeyman that controls how you act... you can never atone for it. No, you will only live in the shadow of that day for the rest of your pitifully short life, crushed by guilt. That's why... you have to find a reprieve. You have to forgive yourself. You have to accept that what happened was horrible... but not let yourself be burdened by it. Only that way can you move forward, only that way can you head to the future... and, perhaps, find some way to make up to that mistake. It might not be enough... but at least you made an actual effort."



I looked down at my hands and fought back the urge to ball up my fists. The truth was revealed, the path cleared. All I needed was to step forward for once in my life.

Suddenly, I felt her hands on my teary face. She drew my attention upwards again.




"So, don't let that day hold you back anymore. It's alright to trust. It's alright to become close to other people. It's alright to confide in other people. There is nothing wrong with finding someone who you can bare your whole soul to. Everyone carries their past mistakes with them. The only difference is that some learn from them, while others let them dictate themselves. Others have found peace, others live in constant pain. And those who are in pain can't connect with others... they cannot find a way to. But now... you can see how. So, don't be afraid to walk that path. It might be hard, it might not always be sunny, but at the very end of the road... it will all have been worth it. Why? Well..."




"I'll do it then. For you, for the ones we love, and for me. I..." I said as I returned her smile. "I forgive myself."





“I think, therefore I am. My thoughts are myself, therefore my existence is me. But…”


“…I am not alone.”



I looked beyond her for a moment and saw something startling. My brothers, my sister, mother, even father, and everyone else. Their bodies appeared as hale and hearty as they were in life. And for the first time in years, they were all smiling at me, together.


"We never were."

Verg Avesta
September 1st, 2014, 04:38 PM
Location: Crystal City
Time: 0:00 - Night
Day: April 13th

Somewhere far away, wind picked up, and flowed through the clearing. With it, it started taking the reflection with it, flakes of existence removing themselves from it and slowly floating towards the night sky. The reflection glanced at its slowly fading body, let out a soft chuckle, and then put its hands on Mei's shoulders. The eyes, mirror images in every way of those of Mei, stared deep into the girl's soul as the being began to talk.

“There is no one that can survive alone in this world. That is why we have friends. And to truly connect with the people we care about, we cannot allow ourselves to shy away in fear" the reflection spoke. "That is why we need a reprieve. That is why we need to forgive ourselves. So that our shriveled, wounded, scared heart can finally begin to heal, and make contact with the hearts of others. So that it can finally understand, accept and atone for the pain it has caused... and the pain it has felt. You understand, right? It is not about ourselves, never has been. It is about the world. It is about life."

At this point, the reflection's legs were mostly gone, emptiness having taken hold of its lower half. And yet, despite there being no visible source of strength, the reflection held itself, as if still standing. Chuckling, it gently turned Mei around, making her face the other direction. Then, like a father imbuing his child with his remaining strength, the reflection embraced Mei, and brought its head close to hers.

What followed was words whispered softly.

“It is about the bonds between friends.”

Most of the torso of the reflection was gone. However, its hands and everything above shoulders remained. The rest of its body had become white flakes, like the last snow of February, gently falling towards the sky. Using its still visible arms, the reflection slowly covered Mei's field of vision, making its palms cross before her eyes. A second and two passed in awkward silence as the reflection gathered strength. Finally it was able to lean back close to Mei, and opened its mouth.

"And... it is about the truth."

The hands were shifted away, back to Mei's shoulder. Her field of vision returned, the view of the nightly OLYMPUS returning before her. And that field of vision was, gently, guided towards the sky by the reflection. With a slight push to the shoulders, it urged Mei to gaze up to the sky, up the silvery light that had bore witness to her trial till the very end.

And...

What Mei saw...

... Was something that would have shaken any man to the very core.


http://i.imgur.com/0F1rRcJ.png (http://imgur.com/0F1rRcJ)

"It is about that, and what it represents."

Then, just as slowly as before, the reflection crossed its palms before Mei's eyes, blocking her vision. When they were again removed, this time by turning into transparent, milky white flakes that were carried off by the wind, the world had turned to normal. No more was there the dream-like visage high up in the sky. No, everything was back to normal, and how it should be.

With one sole exception.

"Now, then. I guess it is time," the reflection spoke, heaving a little sigh.

There was now nothing more than the head remaining of the mirror image. It looked at Mei with a myriad of mixed emotions in its eyes. Pride, kindness, worry and perhaps a bit of joy, along with countless of others, could be seen from those depths. Smiling one last time, the reflection nodded at Mei in an approving manner, as if giving her final farewell-gift before the eternal exit.

“I hope……you will do……better.”

Everything below the eyes was gone. Still, however, the faint whisper of the reflection's voice could be heard in the wind, in the last seconds before it was completely gone.

"And tell... Ben... I miss...."

Finally, even the voice was gone.

And so, Mei stood alone in the clearing.




-------------------------------------
VICTORY
To Another World!

Liu Long Mei
Master Level: 1
SP Earned: 1
AP Earned: 15
Items Acquired: 1

~Command Spells~
Your proof as a Master

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



Suddenly... air changed course. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ih74Es6RBHU)

Like a gale, rushing through the clearing.

Like a zephyr, entering the area.

Like a whirlwind, buffeting the crystals.

A bitter wind filled the area, bringing with it the odd sound of howling. Salt, steel and bronze all mixed together, along with atmosphere for a far-away land. There was no longer the calming, yet eerie, glow of the crystals to fall upon Mei's shoulders like a cloak. No, this glow was overpowered by the sheer amount of magical energy raging around the girl, akin to a tornado. It gathered, it concentrated, and it started taking form. And when the wind of magic formed a funnel to the skies, the crystals around Mei came to life.

Mysterious runes, unknown numbers, patterns and phrases long-forgotten... all ran on the surface of the blue guardians of the flying city. However, there was a one string of symbols that even Mei could recognize. It was connected to the burning sensation in her skin, marking the brands of command that were now gifted to her. These were the prize given to those who confront their problems head-on, walking towards the future by understanding what they needed instead of waiting for a miracle of life.

These were Command Spells, gifted to those who defeated their Dasein.

And from the middle of that monochrome wind, something stepped forward. Responding to the red glow of the Command Spells, something finally materialized and took its first steps in the world. The wind carried the fragrance of a distant land, and yes spent on the road, miles walked and yet remaining. The sands shifted as the figure took a step forward, approaching Mei with a steady pace.

And, finally, a series of letters glowed on the crystal surfaces, announcing the event that now transpired.

DOWNLOAD: 100%
SUMMONING COMPLETE
INITIALIZING
SERVANT BETRAYER

The wind roared. The wind raged. And from inside that wind, cleaving it in two with his mere presence…

A person stepped forward.

And spoke the words…

“—I ask thee. Art thou my Master?”