PDA

View Full Version : Fate: Sound and Fury



Thanqol
2010-10-26, 06:19 PM
Fate: Stay Night is a visual novel by Type Moon [Link (http://fsn.seorinwastaken.com/archive/) to the excellent LP by Seorin], and despite its many, many flaws it remains a truly excellent piece of writing. It's like a bizarre and awesome World of Darkness / Exalted crossover, and has a premise which is made of win. If you don't know what any of this is, don't worry: Neither do the characters and it will all come out in play.

I will be borrowing the premise of the Holy Grail War (and nothing else) in order to write this story. I'm taking this quite seriously and have several buffer updates prepared. I intend to finish this project. The absolute maximum update gap will be a week, I will aim for a post every d4 days if at all feasible.

In a hat tip to the interactive nature of the source material, there will be voting in this thread. At the end of every update, there will be a decision of some sort. Post your vote, and it will impact the story. Alternatively, if you have a "Third option", give it - super awesome, in character, or logical third options may get priority. (As a side note, "Dead Ends" might occur but I'll try to be sparing with them :P )

In addition, I love feedback. Any that can be given will be appreciated.

1/1: Momentum

I’ve always liked the subway. I still take it, even though I have a car. It’s...
Powerful.

I can feel the surge of lightning flowing through the tunnels. I can hear the distant howling and clattering of the rails. I can feel the wind caused by the force of the trains passing. All this power. All this lightning. All this vicious, unrestrained momentum. It’s incredible.

I hold a newspaper up to cover my face. The downside to taking public transport is, of course, interactions with the public.

I’m starting to regret buying the paper, though. Middle eastern elections rigged. Thousands dead in India, again. Yankees loose by six.
And, of course the section about me.

I close the paper and turn up my headphones. I’ll deal with that later.

I look at myself in the reflection of the plastic window. Lights flash past, making my image seem to flicker. I look like always. Pretty, Asian, wearing headphones. I should dye my hair again. This whole ‘normal girl’ look stopped doing it for me a while ago.

“Excuse me, miss,” says the man next to me, finally getting over his insecurity to ask The Question, “are you Jayden Mavel?”

I turn my head to look at him. Middle aged, balding, suit, tie. Not possessed. I smile, a bit belatedly. He smiles back, looking excited. God knows why. In LA you’re bound to run into a celebrity sometime. Not necessarily on public transport though. Maybe I’m just biased.

“Could I ask you to sign –“ he starts. I’ve already got the pen out, signing his briefcase. “Ah – the name’s Henry. Henry Eiland.” Henry. Done. I sit back in my chair and look out the window. I catch a brief glimpse of the city as the subway emerges momentarily from its tunnel. Gray. Sigh.

Henry sits in that sort of awed expression people get around me, clutching his briefcase. He’s not sure if he should make more conversation or respect my silence. Please, god, respect my silence. I’m about sick to death of answering gossip. I’ll get enough of that when I get in to work.

The train picks up a little speed. I love it. I tune my headphones into the surrounding forces. I can hear the screams of the rails, the rush of the wind, the lightning powering the wheels and the air resisting the momentum. I can hear the click of the tracks as they change. I can hear the rattle of the loose bolt in the rail ahead of the train, anticipate the train shaking jolt before it comes. I feel the rapid settling of the air way behind the train as it recovers from the hurricane that so briefly sliced through it.

I have really good hearing. I’ll explain later.

Here we go. This is my stop. I stand up. Henry bustles a bit trying to get out of my way, apologises for his slowness. I smile at him absently, and step off the train.

From up above, at the exit of the subway station, I hear the pop of a flashbulb. It’s a sound that causes dread.

The Paparazzi.

I should:
- Run
- Fight


Day One:
1/2: The Paparazzi (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9641091&postcount=4)
1/3: The Grind (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9655070&postcount=8)
1/4: Radio Nowhere (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9667570&postcount=13)
1/5: Mercenary (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9680544&postcount=16)

Day Two:
2/1: Spiritual Shopping (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9687804&postcount=17)
2/2: Starbucks (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9708444&postcount=21)
2/3a: Bolt from Blue (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9725919&postcount=27)
2/3b: Bolt from Black (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9726864&postcount=28)
2/4: Sound and Fury (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9748444&postcount=35)

Interlude One: Dream of Fire (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9749056&postcount=37)

Day Three:
3/1: Wake Up With The King (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9753093&postcount=38)
3/2: One Sided (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9765942&postcount=44)
3/3: Bloody Pickpockets (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9795405&postcount=50)

Day Four:
4/1: First Impressions (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9812594&postcount=52)
4/2: Knocked Out, Beaten Up, Upstaged and Shouted At (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9820777&postcount=56)
4/3: Titan's Shadow (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9849433&postcount=60)
4/4: VS LANCER (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9868001&postcount=63)

Interlude Two: Dream of Iron (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9869884&postcount=64)

Day Five:
5/1: Normal (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9890350&postcount=66)
5/2: Best of Saak (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9909731&postcount=70)
5/3: A Close Up Of An Exhaust Pipe (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9935430&postcount=74)

Day Six:
6/1: Missing Something Obvious (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9963033&postcount=75)
6/2: VS RIDER VS ARCHER (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10005477&postcount=80)
6/3: Assassins (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10075495&postcount=84)
6/4: Be Kind, Rewind (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10104616&postcount=87)
6/5: Reconsider (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10129965&postcount=88)
6/6: Totally Planned That (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10137552&postcount=89)
6/7: And By The Way, You're Fired. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10178349&postcount=91)
6/8: VS ASSASSIN (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10203536&postcount=92)
6/9: Before The Fall (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10231822&postcount=93)

Interlude Three: Dream of Stone (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10265392&postcount=94)

Day Seven:
7/1: The Morning Afterwards (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10294885&postcount=95)
7/2: The Trap (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10323388&postcount=96)
7/3: The Archmasters (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10345537&postcount=97)
7/4: The Strategos (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10377952&postcount=98)
7/5: Unstoppable (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10399517&postcount=99)

Interlude Four: Dream of Snow (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10425087&postcount=102)

Day Eight:
8/1: The Only Path (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10437112&postcount=103)
8/2: Momentum II/(Dream Of Blood) (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10437229&postcount=104)
8/3: For France (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10437333&postcount=105)
8/4: Justifications (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10437369&postcount=106)

Epilogue
Epilogue: Priorities (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10437428&postcount=107)

storys done go home

Pathicus
2010-10-26, 11:35 PM
An engaging start to the story...and an odd set of options for our first vote.


I Vote: Fight! Because there's no such thing as bad publicity.

http://i198.photobucket.com/albums/aa203/GippyFel/FirstFightStarting.jpg

Marcivo
2010-10-27, 12:07 AM
I feel a little limited by such a polarized set of options, but I have to agree with Pathicus. FIGHT! Because no one ever leveled up their Charmander by running away.

Thanqol
2010-10-27, 01:23 AM
First day, so bonus update just to get this ball rolling.

1/2: The Paparazzi



I’ll fight. There’s only one way out of this station and it’d look weird to go around. I step out into the light, and am instantly blinded by eight flashbulbs going off simultaniously. I’m momentarily deafened too – my hearing’s a little too good, even with the headphones blocking it.

And then the questions start coming.

“Jayden! Is it true you shot a man in cold blood!?”
“Miss Mavel, can you confirm you are dating another woman?”
“Jayden! Can I get a quote regarding the fashion show!”
“Jayden Mavel, is this the kind of impression you want to set for the children?!”

Urgh.

I try to smile, knowing that it’ll look sickly and fake – but it’s still better than pictures of me scowling dramatically. It’s harder to accuse me of manslaughter while I’m wearing that slightly clueless smile. Not that you’d tell. Correction. It is more comical to underscore a picture of my goofy smile with a caption of MURDERESS OR MANSLAUGHTERESS.

Anyway. As the Press goes this is pretty good. I’m not being accused of any federal crimes, for instance. And it also gives me an idea of what they know. And they’re where I can see them. What you’ve got to watch out for is these people where you can’t see them.

I’m used to it, though. Been bombarded by the Paparazzi ever since mom carried me out of the maternity ward. Scandal of the century. The great and famous Liza Mavel, knocked up by a dodgy doctor who fled the country before I was born. Cops are still looking for him. Mom still hates him. And me, but only because I remind her of him. But that's neither here nor there.

May as well give them something to think about. “Excuse me,” I say aloud. I’m always amazed by how fast this crowd goes silent. Suddenly, they’re all hanging on my every word, microphones in my face. I smile, and use the reflection of one of the cameras to brush my hair back.

“It’s true! I like the atmosphere downtown. People there respect each other’s personal space.”

Questions immediately break out as I push my way forwards. Ha. Like they'd take the hint. “Are you doing drugs?” “Are you selling drugs?” “Are you dating a guy who is doing drugs?” “Are you dating a chick who is doing or selling drugs?” Goddamn it.

I get free, and start walking briskly to work. Not bad, all things considered – after all, I actually did electrocute a guy, vandalize a fountain and bail a chick out of jail for public nudity over the last week.

There’s a reason these guys love me.

I manage to get away from the crowd eventually, but evasion tactics put me a little off my usual path to work. Well, it's not work, really. I just said I'd meet with my agent. Plus he works for me. I should...

1. Go to the meeting. I'm a girl of my word!
2. Have the conversation over the phone, do something more interesting with the spare time.
3. Screw the phone call, it's nice out, I'm going for a walk.

horngeek
2010-10-27, 01:41 AM
I'd say 1.

Promises are important! :smalltongue:

Marcivo
2010-10-27, 02:03 AM
Go to the meeting. Taking a walk would just attract more attention.

Pathicus
2010-10-27, 02:14 AM
It's too early for an update! That said, Jayden should have the conversation over the phone. The agent is probably an *******, and she's got better things to do than sit around in an office.

Thanqol
2010-10-28, 11:41 PM
1/3: The Grind.

... I should go to the meeting. I've already been mobbed once today, so I should stay out of trouble.

LA's kind of an ugly place. Traffic jams, beggars, blocky buildings. There's also moments of weirdness. A guy wearing a red and white toga and carrying a staff, with a huge beard strides down the center of the footpath. He looks like a wizard, or prophet from the old days. Also, crazy. I keep my eyes down and try and avoid him.

I get to the Hollen Building, a slightly rounded skyscraper surrounded by a small park. It's nice in spring, but the dreary winter weather has left it gray, skeletal and unremarkable. It's also got a lot of security.

The interior smells of money. A huge indoor waterfall goes up five stories, and the black marble floor makes every footstep echo. There's a reception desk, but I'm immediately shown past it to the elevator. I close my eyes and focus on the sensation of movement as it silently begins to rise.

It's one of those creepy elevators that is so well designed that it doesn't even feel like you're moving. But extending my senses just a little beyond it's walls I can hear the sounds in the shaft... the shrieking and banging of steel, the whirr of pulleys, the rattles and clanks of the metal. None of it gets through into the shell, but it's comforting to know it's there. That the power is just artfully hidden, not eliminated.

I walk into Derrik Rockwell's office. It's very spacious, very sleek, elegent and chic. I think this is a case of Derrik living beyond his means. He's only a junior partner in the Hollen company, but he dresses his office up like the chief exec's. Maybe they do pay him that much though. Is that where my money is going?

Derrik's fourties, white suit, smarmy smile, tends to overaccentuate his words. Tiny wheeze in his voice most people wouldn't catch but annoys me slightly.

"Jayden!" says Derrik, standing up and walking over to me. I sit down rather quickly to avoid shaking his hand. He's a little too enthusiastic for my tastes.

"Derrik," I say, examining the fruit bowl on his desk. Real. And fresh. I take an apple.

Derrik takes the cue, thankfully, and skips the small talk. "Good sales and spreads of your pop music. Your alternative stuff... not so much."

"Figured," I say, "What have you got for me?"

"A few movie contracts and some concerts. You want in on the Metroid movie or not?"

"Sure, I'll take it,"

"Great," Derrik says, drawing the word out much longer than he has to. "So, we'll tour in December, start filming in Feburary, and release a new album in June. Oh, and there's that charity ball coming up."

"Derrik," I lean forwards, making a face, "Get me out of it?"

"Jayden, your mother will be there, and it'll look weird if you don't go."

"People already think I'm weird."

"Not important people."

"Derrik..."

"Look, just take your lumps and it'll be over before you know it."

Sigh. "Fine. But you owe me."

"That's all I wanted to talk about. Are you sure you don't want some security on your way home?"

"I can take care of myself," I say, standing up and folding my arms.

"You shouldn't have to, is what I'm saying,"

"Goodbye,"

"Jayden -" I walk out before he finishes his sentence.

I don't know why I'm so short with Derrik. Something about him just rubs me wrong. He deals with all the paperwork and contracts and business stuff that I could care less about, and I get on stage and sing for a bit. As far as I'm concerned, that's all we are to each other. Should have had this stupid conversation over the phone.

I get down into the lobby. As I walk, I start thinking. That's most of the year set in stone, right there. Mundane year, at least. And I'm in town. I should...

1. Visit a friend
2. Watch a movie
3. Go home

NyuBomber
2010-10-30, 07:47 PM
2. Watch a movie

Because you haven't seen Avatar enough times yet.

Pathicus
2010-10-31, 01:09 AM
We couldn't have done that meeting over the phone?

It would probably take a peculiar person to befriend Jayden, let's meet that peculiar person. She should visit a friend and bully them into going to the charity ball with her...

Marcivo
2010-10-31, 02:49 AM
Jayden doesn't necessarily seem like the kind of person who has friends, so I have to agree with Pathicus again. Let's meet them, shall we?

Elanorin
2010-10-31, 03:34 AM
Meet a friend

If Jayden goes to see a film she might end up having to watch herself. Nightmare. :smalleek:

Thanqol
2010-10-31, 04:05 AM
1/4: Radio Nowhere


I should go visit a friend. Let’s see.
I could visit Blue? No, he’s crazy. Turbine? No, Turbine scares me. Humphrey? Yeah... yeah Humphrey’s a good guy.

It takes about a minute to get a lock on his phone. I form the signal and start following the trace. He’s relatively close, but I’m thrown off for a little bit because he’s underground. He’s sitting in a subway station, wearing a grey overcoat and a fedora, holding a paper up to cover his face and hide the fact that he’s muttering under his breath. He cuts the perfect image of the Cold War spy waiting on the bench for his contact to show up. He’s not particularly attractive, but he is solidly built and has an air of mystery about him.

He folds his paper and smiles briefly as I sit down next to him. “Confucius . What can I do for you?”

“Hey Humphrey,” Even though he knows my real name, he’s polite enough to use my shadow name. “What are you working on?”

“Boring things. You have a cigarette?” I offer him one and he lights it. “Thanks. What’s up?”

“Just dealt with the mundane stuff.” I say, leaning back a bit. Humphrey stays leaning forward, elbows on his knees, hands folded under his chin. “Say...” Why not? “I got roped into that charity ball. Want to go with?”

“That’s a black tie event? Little out of my league, wouldn’t you say?”

“Are you telling me you can’t afford it?”

“Ah – well, when you put it like that.”

“Done, then. We’ll go at eight.”

Humphrey nods. There’s a faint twitch on his face, like he’s not sure what to do. I take a moment to savour the feeling of knocking him off guard.

“I’ll let you get back to... er –“

“Matter resonance deconceptulization.”

“That.”

“Thanks. See you around, Confucius.”

“Humphrey."

*

I stop at the park before I go home.

The main reason I like this place was that there used to be a broadcast tower here. I had a park bench put in right where it’s centre was, and I like to relax there. I can hear the old structure of the tower. If I listen right. I can hear the ancient creak of the metal, the echoes of the radio signals it poured out. Tinny replays of Yellow Submarine. Cole Porter. Public service broadcasts.

I switch some of the ancient signals around with my mind, sending a brief transmission to no one: Hi. My name is Jayden Mavel, and I’m a Wizard.
Obrimos, actually. Path of the Mighty. I can manipulate Forces – velocity, lightning, fire, radio signals. This stuff comes naturally to me. It’s just what I do. Handy in a fight. I can throw up a force field, make a wall socket explode and electrocute people, or bend light and become invisible. Very cool stuff.
But my real specialization is Sound.

I was always very sensitive to sound. Ever since I was a small kid, I’ve had what’s pretty much been super hearing – I could always hear everything that happened in the house. Music, in particular, always fascinated me. I’ve been wearing headphones ever since I found out they existed. I was into classical music as a kid. Very dorky. Dab hand at a piano. Sung in a choir. Media loved it. I was a child star. Rode mom’s name to an early fortune. No idea what the hell I was doing.

Then, one day, a friend took me along to a metal concert. No ****ing idea what I was getting into. Thought the Beatles were extreme. My mind was literally blown. Something in my soul snapped. I found myself in Heaven – or “the Aether” as mages who haven’t been there call it. **** them, it’s Heaven. Anyway, I went to Heaven and it was made of force. Lightning storms, fire, heat, radiation, you name it. But above all was that all-consuming, soul-shattering noise that made your whole body vibrate. When I came back to reality, I’ve had a connection to that place. That makes me an Obrimos, a Theurgist on the Path of the Mighty.

There are other paths too, for people who go to Hell or wherever, and you know, those people are alright? In their own ways? But if you want a problem fixed instead of scowled at, you want an Obrimos.

Unfortunately, Magic has strings attached. In particular, Reality hates it. Using magic creates a Paradox in the world: something that should not be. Reality likes to fix Paradoxes, violently. Normally these are manageable, but if a human being who doesn’t believe in magic sees me cast a spell – bam. That’s Bad. Mages, for that reason, try to keep their casting on the down low, or hide it with props.

For instance, if I start flying around like a kite, then I’ll get Paradoxed and explode or something. But if I’m in something that looks like a plane – even if it’s not actually functional, so long as they think it’s functional, then I’ll be fine. I’m at a disadvantage because although my Path gets all the cool powers, they’re also the horribly flashy ones. So I’ve got to be really careful.

And there. Just a faint echo, running through the dead broadcast tower. Hello Jayden, this is Radio Nowhere and you're on air...

Radio Nowhere. It's an echo in the radio waves. It's that radio station you tune to by accident, hear your favourite song ever, and then can never find again. It's a little quirk of the world, and one of my favourites.

I stand up and go back towards the subway to go home.

On the train ride back, I...
1. Listen to Radio Nowhere
2. Focus on the other passengers
3. Focus on what's happening outside

Pathicus
2010-11-01, 11:41 PM
Moar Radio Nowhere, nuff said.

Marcivo
2010-11-01, 11:54 PM
Jayden should listen to Radio Nowhere. I'd be lying if I gave any reason other than "because I want to know more."

Thanqol
2010-11-02, 01:54 AM
1/5: Mercenary



On the way home, I listen to more Radio Nowhere. For a significant period, it was random almost static; only my sensitive hearing would be able to pick out that there are actually several songs playing at once. All of a sudden, they cut out to Orson Wells' grim voice as he read aloud,

...intellects that are vast, cool and unsympathetic regarded this earth with envious eyes and slowly, and surely, drew their plans against us.

Immediately this was followed by a chant of In brightest day, in blackest night by a group of high pitched women, which then immediately cut to a long silence. The faint flicker of a page turning echoed through the silence, and a man began to speak in a slow, dreary tone.

"In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and -" static, then a brief blare of a symphony orchestra playing the national anthem of France and then back to an extended period of static.

I thought about this. There have been occasions in the past where Radio Nowhere has given uncannily good advice - it once told me the name and address of a woman who'd keyed my car, for instance. And any radio station that could only be reliably located by use of magic wasn't exactly something to discount. Aliens, Green Lanterns, and the Bible. Got it.

*

I get home. I've got a pretty nice house. Big fence. A large sign out front reads DANGER: HAZARDOUS WIRING. That's one of those props I mentioned to explain to the universe why thieves and overenthusiastic Paparazzi tend to get electrocuted. I don't use all the place, but it's nice to have. Feels very solitary, and I find that comforting.

I check my laptop, and look at my contacts. Blue, he used to be blind but got his eyes fixed by the Government and is therefore probably a sleeper agent or something. He’s a Thyrsus, which means he does healing and shapeshifting and stuff. Maralyne is my favourite public nudist. She’s a Mastigos, on the Path of Scourging, which means she has to do weird masochistic crap to try and boil down her mind to the smallest possible point? Or something? The point is it’s creepy and embarassing to be around. Worhol is an Arcanthus, he’s some rich ivy league kid who graffitis buildings – with magic! Humphrey is a Moros, path of Death, not as emo as the cliche but I know it’s in there somewhere.

That’s my Cabal. A Cabal is basically a bunch of Mages who have each other’s backs. We’re called the Searchlight Society. We’re into history and stuff. Most of the weird garbage about me that gets put in the headlines can be directly attributed to hanging out with this lot.

Let’s see. Maralyne is going to try the sensory deprivation tank again. Blue hasn’t said anything, no doubt because the government chip in his brain precludes human interaction. Worhol’s going on about how the mall’s haunted. Humphrey wants to borrow a book and confirm times for the party. Pretty normal.

Our cabal is, in massive fingerquotes, a “member” of the Free Council. The Free Council is basically a bunch of mages who do stuff instead of hoarding their magic like obsessive packrats. The other factions are the self righteous fascists, kung fu wizard warriors, Packrats Prime and the Men in Black.

Beyond them, I have embarrassingly few contacts. Wizarding takes a lot of time, okay?

I sigh and look out the window – at the exact time the streetlights outside go off. What –

I look outside.

A man is walking down the centre of the road. The lights black out just before they illuminate his face. I can tell from the limited light that he’s wearing a suit, and has messy hair. A few steps behinds him walks a girl. She’s a lot better kept – she’s got a long ponytail, wears a black suit and I can see what I think are sunglasses – as well as something slung across her back, like a rifle.

The word that came to mind wasn’t bodyguard. It was mercenary. Jesus Christ.

I duck back inside, scurry over to the wall and turn off the light. I creep slowly back towards the window, straining my ears to hear any snippet of conversation, but they’re not talking. The guy stops outside my door. My heart almost stops. He looks across at my house, pauses, then shakes his head and starts walking again. I let out a sigh of relief. A second later I berate myself. I'm in my own house, with my own fortifications and wards - why the hell am I so terrified?

I slump back into my seat. I send a group email around saying to watch it, there’s a Mage who’s not concerned about secrecy on the warpath. And then I brush my teeth, clean up, and slump into bed.

Today was... normal. No justice spirits taking over fast food joints. No sky abominations from the Void. And whatever has gone wrong, I’ll fix the hell out of it.

End Day One

Thanqol
2010-11-02, 11:59 PM
2/1: Spiritual Shopping



I sleep with my headphones on. Without them, I start awake every time a gunshot echoes out over LA. Music is so omnipresent to me that I hardly take note of what I'm listening to any more.

I get up and have a shower. Headphones stay on; I had Humphrey waterproof them a while ago (Mages get soaked far more often than you'd think). There aren't any wires or iPods or anything either; they operate on batteries and magic. I towel myself off in front of the mirror. I'm really slender, kind of short, long black hair. I'm only half Korean; my skin's pale with a faint hint of yellow. My nose is a little flat, and my eyes are brown - I think they're my best feature, excepting that they're not quite level with each other.

I dress in blue jeans and a white shirt and jog out the door without eating breakfast. I've got nowhere to be today. I run for almost an hour before I reach the mall. Haunted, eh? May as well give it a look.

The mall is built around a central stage which can be seen from any level. It's currently empty, but they have those children's shows there fairly regularly. Christmas decorations are up, and have been since August. I tune my headphones to pick out magical resonance as I start walking.

There's always a bit. Mages certainly don't have a monopoly on magic, after all - one of the Prime Directives of the Free Council is to watch what Sleepers - that's the word for non-Mages - do to attract magic. In a jewlery shop, I notice that one golden ring has a bit of magic trapped inside it. I buy it, and justify it as being for science. The ATM on the ground floor is infected with a little piece of Pandemonium, which means that it occasionally chews up credit cards. I take a few notes on the back of my left hand to do with the shape of the magic, and then flush it clean. The pet store manager's subconsciously linked to all the animals in his store, which means he knows exactly when to feed them and care for them, and which animals would pair well with which customers.

It's stuff like this that makes being a Mage worthwhile. Knowing that this toaster has too much fire essence and fixing it, saving some poor guy down the road a lifetime of burnt toast. Seeing that that clothes shop is soaked in the misery of the child labor used on it's clothing, which is why it'll go out of business on it's own. Little sparks of magic in the world. Stuff that makes things unique. Stuff that makes stuff balance. Stuff that makes things more real.

I'm not seeing any signs of ghosts here. Just an above average amount of magic in the air. But all this magic is kind of tempting... I should:

- Let it be. It'll enrich the lives of the people who encounter it.
- Drain some for myself. Is burnt toast really that great?

Marcivo
2010-11-03, 07:58 PM
I would not wish burnt toast on anyone, so Jayden should drain some for herself.

Pathicus
2010-11-03, 09:19 PM
Jayden should leave the magic be. Everyone needs some excitement in their lives, the kind of excitement provided by unreliable toasters.

Elanorin
2010-11-06, 03:50 AM
Hmmm tricky.

I would spare the poor guy the burnt toast. But I think Jayden would leave it be and watch what happens.

Leave the magic be

Thanqol
2010-11-06, 04:58 AM
2/2: Starbucks



See, I can say that burnt toast is no great thing and be flippant about it. But that's not just an inconvenience. That's magic.

It's not just that their toast will be burned. It's that they'll declare war on that toaster. They'll name it. They'll talk about it at the water cooler. They'll try to get it fixed. They'll draw anger, emotion, life and power out of their conflict with it and will become a little bit more real in the process. It'll enrich their lives. A little spark of magic.

And when it comes down to it, I want more of that in the world. It makes people more alive. It creates stories and jokes, it shifts you a touch above the terrestrial, it makes life come alive and it makes life fun. If there's one thing that magic is fundamentally incompatible with, it's boredom.

Well. Unless you're a Mysterium and a packrat.

*

I stop in the Starbucks on the second floor. I actually like this place, and come here all the time.

There’s something wrong with their coffee machine. It’s got a bit of ambient mana stuck in it. It shudders and rocks whenever they use it, and uses more power than goes into it. It also heats coffee twice as fast as the average machine. Sometimes I hear it move when no one’s looking – I hear the screws slowly undo themselves and put themselves back in. It craves motion and use, and when it’s not being used, it has to find other things to occupy it’s time.

I’m also on first name terms with the staff (in that they all introduced themselves and asked for signatures the first time I came in). And by this point they’ve gotten over the initial shock of seeing Jayden in their shop, and can start treating me like a normal human being. That one of the cashiers, Paul, is really cute doesn’t exactly hurt matters either.

The other cashier, well...

“Hi Jayden!” said Melanie Cole, smiling brightly. I smile back warily.

Melanie is one of Those People, the people with the Dream. They’re in Hollywood to get the Fame and the Fortune. Melanie seems to take it a step further. She uses more hygiene products than I do by a good margin, looks like she spends more than an hour a day perfecting her hair, and has a smile so white it can blind you if it hits you right. The combined effect can really distract you from the fact that she’s not actually that pretty.

She does all this because, of course, she’s preparing for a role in some commercial shoot or something. And because some celebrity or other does it. She’s so hungry for the spotlight it actually makes me feel a little bad for not appreciating it.

“So, what are you working on these days?” said Melanie as she gave me my coffee.

“I think I might do that Metroid movie,” I replied. The thing I do like about Mel is that she’s got pride – she’s never asked me to use my influence to get her a job somewhere, even though she obviously wants to. She’s determined to make it there herself. “And another few pop songs. No one seemed to like my artsy CD.”

“You mean the one which sounded like a badger being drowned in a steel bucket?” she said bluntly. Ah yes, and she’s also direct.

“Yes. It was an experiment.” In my defense, it sounds a lot better if you can hear the inaudible notes.

“I didn’t like it.”

“Yes, Melanie, I got that from the bathtub comment.”

Melanie gave me what she thought was a haughty glare. “Flat white.”

“Keep the change,” I said. I was impressed as she counted back every last penny of change. And I’d given her a fifty. I didn’t know much about her financial situation, but I could tell that had hurt her to do. My opinion of her went up a little more.

I relaxed, leaning back in my chair and taking in the atmosphere. I listened to the grinding of the coffee machine's bolts, the rhythmic clicking of thousands of feet on the floor. And I heard...

I stopped, snapping my eyes around to the guy in the corner with the coat. He smiled smugly and raised his coffee cup in salute.

I lunged from my chair and started running. I knock over my chair and jump clean over another table. And then I'm out, running at full pelt through the mall.

I have to get somewhere, somewhere Away. I should...

- Run to the Park
- Run to the Subway

Pathicus
2010-11-06, 05:57 AM
Well, with my current knowledge of the setting/"guy" I can't come up with a third option. I can only vote to run to the Park in the hope that there are ducks at the Park. Ducks are awesome.

Marcivo
2010-11-07, 03:23 AM
You know what's also awesome? Magical subway kung-fu fights. If there is a fight, I hope it takes place in a subway. Thus, Jayden should run to the subway.

She also has more power available there, and it's harder to paradox her for killing someone in a subway, if it comes to that.

Elanorin
2010-11-07, 03:35 AM
Run to the park! Because the Subway is underground and all trap-like. It limits the places you can run if he follows you. :smalleek:

The park has more options.

Pathicus
2010-11-08, 11:25 AM
The park has more options...and ducks.

Fixed. :smallcool:

Thanqol
2010-11-08, 08:41 PM
Fixed. :smallcool:

Alleged (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duck_test) ducks.

Thanqol
2010-11-08, 09:35 PM
2/3a: Bolt From Blue



... I run to the park. It's open, there'll be people around, and I can probably run faster than this guy.

I move fast down the street, risking just enough velocity manipulation to be improbable rather than impossible. I move at full pelt through the park, and finally skid to a halt in front of my bench.

As I catch my breath, it strikes me that there are no people around. At all. The entire park is deserted. I can't see the guy, there aren't any power lines or security cameras I can hijack, there's nothing for me to work with...

"What -" I start to say

I hear the gunshot almost as soon as it happens. But that advance warning does nothing for me - I physically can't move my body out of the way fast enough.

The bullet enters just above my right ear and blows my brains out. I don't even feel it. My feet leave the ground for a second as the impact knocks me off my feet, and I hit the ground.

oh



DEAD END


*


Taiga Dojo: Jayden's super power is to manipulate electricity - and there aren't even power lines in an open park! It's the difference between going to the place were she's strongest and the place where she's weakest.

Story will continue from the other route.

Thanqol
2010-11-09, 12:05 AM
2/3b: Bolt from Black



... I run to the Subway. It's where my magic is at it's strongest, and I don't know what I'm up against.

I hurtle down the street, fast enough to turn heads, and take the stairs into the subway five at a time. I skid to a halt just inside the entry.

There's no one there. The entire place is completely deserted.

"Had a feeling you'd come here," came a voice from behind me. The guy is walking down the stairs slowly, silhouetted by the light at his back. I start backing up.

My headphones are screeching. There's a music that surrounds him that's so amazingly loud I didn't even hear it at first. A sort of all powerful, deafening beat of drums and blare of trumpets. He's got so much magic it's sickening. I can't even imagine what I'm up against - even beings of pure magical energy aren't this loud.

He pushes his dark blue coat back, revealing a gleaming silver rifle, which he draws smoothly and primes. He's wearing a white shirt with a diagonal red sash. He's got black hair and stubble, handsome in a statue's way, but looks completely relaxed and unconcerned as he aims the silver gun at me.

"What the hell are you doing!?" I shout as I back up towards the edge of the platform. I don't even want to think about where all the people in the station went.

"It's a war," he said, voice bored, "and if you're too dumb to come armed, then I'd prefer to end it now,"

"What war?!"

"You shall know the Masters by the glyphs that mark their hands," he said, as if quoting.

I stopped. I stared at my hand. At the pen markings I'd made when studying the ATM. "No! No! This is just ink!" I said, holding up my hand in a panic, "I wrote it on myself! I'm not part of your war!"

"If it's ink, rub it off," he said, still advancing.

I frantically rubbed at my hand, backing up, cursing the demented fortune that got me confused for some soldier by a crazy magical thing with a gun.

"Come off, damn it!" I shouted in desperation as the ink stubbornly refused to even smudge.

"Well, this has been fun, but -"

I switched modes instantly. That third rail was a huge source of electricity and there weren't any Sleepers here to Disbelieve it - a gigantic arc of lightning exploded up into the air, briefly connecting with the man.

"- it's time to end this." He finished. He wasn't even scorched. But now he was wearing a silver breastplate over his shirt, under his coat.

I bolted, jumping down onto the tracks and sprinting.

Something blurred to my left, and he jumped down in front of me.

I pulled my pistol and unloaded eight bullets, point blank, into his torso.

Didn't even scratch the armor.

I started to realize how horribly outmatched I was.

"Look, just stop struggling and I'll make this qui - AARGH!!"

I sprayed pepper spray into his eyes. He bent double and started cursing fluently in French.

I ran again. Lightning didn't hurt him, bullets didn't hurt him, and he'd keep coming until I got this bloody damn mark off my hand! I could only think of one way to beat him...

- Summon something even bigger.
- Get this mark off my hand.

Fri
2010-11-09, 01:20 AM
The obvious thing to do is to get rid of that mark.

So I vote for summon something bigger.

And just want to say that this is actually quite interesting.

Thanqol
2010-11-09, 01:24 AM
The obvious thing to do is to get rid of that mark.

So I vote for summon something bigger.

And just want to say that this is actually quite interesting.

Thanks! Finally past exposition/establishment section. And quietly crying about not having more responses :D

Marcivo
2010-11-09, 01:25 AM
WHERE ARE YOUR DUCKS NOW, HUH?

Anyway, if Jayden summons something first, at least as a distraction, perhaps she'll have a better chance of buying enough time to try and get away. Or at least not getting her brains blown out a second time.

Fri
2010-11-09, 01:53 AM
Yes. My problem was, nothing interesting happened for those first few chapters. The setting establishment is interesting enough. Not that it's bad. But these kinds of interactive stories usually is more... actiony. Choices have more interesting or relevant product at the end.

But I see that you've remedied that :p.

Thanqol
2010-11-09, 07:07 AM
Yes. My problem was, nothing interesting happened for those first few chapters. The setting establishment is interesting enough. Not that it's bad. But these kinds of interactive stories usually is more... actiony. Choices have more interesting or relevant product at the end.

But I see that you've remedied that :p.

I had no choice! I have to Establish Normality before I can throw it in the wastebasket!

Nothing but wastebaskets from here on out, though :smallcool:

Pathicus
2010-11-10, 05:16 AM
We need to explore every single dead end. Summon something bigger.

Thanqol
2010-11-12, 02:35 AM
2/4: Sound and Fury



... If something this stupidly magical exists, chances are a wizard made it. If a wizard did something, chances are I can one up it. I am, after all, Jayden Goddamn Mavel.

Let's see just where my limits are.

I ran towards a theatre. I've done some performances there in the past, and it should be closed today, so I'll be away from Sleepers and have a good audio setup. Good acoustics are a bonus. I reach the closed door, pull my lighter from my pocket and focus on the heat. Very hot, very controlled. I melted right through the lock and ran into the open door.

First order of business was usurping the security cameras. Stupidly easy - they've got no defense whatsoever against magic. I sprint through to the concert hall, and then briefly backstage. A leftover electric guitar, and a microphone. I carry them both out to centre stage.

I stand there in utter silence for a moment as I compose myself, catch my breath, and relax my mind.

Breath in.

"Lights,"

It's horribly crude to manipulate electricity this directly, and if even one janitor was hanging around here I'd soon have a pretty nasty paradox on my hands. But that's a risk I'm going to take. I power up the stage lights, causing a series of spotlights to fall down on me, momentarily blinding me. The speakers throughout the theatre begin to hum as I turn them all on, and turn them all up. The microphone picks up my exhalation, making the entire room seem to tremble in anticipation.

I raise my hand high, and bring it down.

I play.

I'm accumulating magic, converting my energy into music and that music into magic. It starts accumulating all around me, sinking into the stage and floorboards, sticking to the lights and speakers. I also twist the sheer volume of sound I'm producing into other sounds - other instruments. First I'm a one-girl rock band. Then I'm an orchestra. I do use magic to do this, but I'm so good at changing sound like this it's a magic-positive reaction. The only limiter here is my own body.

I see in my mind's eye the man in the coat enter the lobby of the theatre, through the eye of a security camera. He moves cautiously, rifle raised, scanning every door. The floor is shaking under him. He seems... confused - he's checking for surprises, even though I'm in the most obvious place I could be in. Maybe he thinks my plan is so bad that it has to be a trap.

Heh.

The room is glowing - the raw mana in the air is shining brighter than the lights. I'm cannibalizing my own physical structure to power this. I'm converting everything - reflexes, muscle, adrenaline - into pure magic. Because although I've got a lot, I still don't have a tenth of what I saw inside my attacker.

He's coming up the stairs. I hear the crunch of the carpet under his soft shoes, even over my own screaming.

I need more time.

I could tap into this mana, use it to slow him down. But that seems like a fool's game - I'd barely be able to make anything larger than the lightning bolt I'd already hit him with.

The door opens.

He steps inside, raises that silver rifle.

I hear his finger make contact with the trigger.

I hear it squeeze.

I hear the explosion.

I hear the rush of air as the bullet screams towards me.

I scream back.

I scream back so loudly that I can't hear anything at all.

I white out.

*

I had the strangest dream I'd ever had.

I dreamed that a giant of iron stood in front of the bullet. I dreamed that it punched through his armor, into his chest and pieced his lung. I dreamed that the giant of iron charged.

He tore through the seats, smashing them aside like tindertwigs rather than jumping over or going around. The man with the gun started to run, and he was fast. But the giant somehow caught him. He swung around a sword like an avalanche, a vast cleaver of iron. The man with the gun dodged it by inches. It went on to shatter a wall. Bricks and fragments of wood exploded everywhere.

The man with the gun turned and ran. He was not terrified, as anyone else would have been, but his face was pale and his eyes were wide. His movements were still controlled, but his entire motive seemed to be to get away from the giant. I could hardly blame him.

I dreamed the giant ran after him, almost on his heels, swinging the sword and forcing the man with the gun to dodge and weave. That not one blow landed was not a sign of the giant's weakness - if that much force were to even clip his opponent, he would die instantly. His opponent had to focus utterly on retreat and defense, and even then the aftershocks of that mighty blade tore his clothing and cut his flesh.

And then the giant stopped, held back by some invisible boundary. The man with the gun took the chance to flee.

The giant turned, and slowly walked back to me.

I dreamed that I was sitting, stupified, on the stage. Blood was pouring from my fingers, staining my clothes. I was bathed in light. He stood in the darkness of the ruined theatre, silhouetted by the spotlights.

I dreamed he spoke.

I dreamed he said, "I am Berserker. Will you accept my oath of loyalty?"

And that was when I knew I was dreaming, for I knew there was no way I could wield power like that.

So, knowing it was a dream, I raised my hand, where the ink was glowing blue and burning into my skin. I decided to go along with this dream, and see where it led.

I said, "I accept your oath, Berserker. Our contract is complete."

*

horngeek
2010-11-12, 03:16 AM
...Beserker?

Oooh, nice.

Also, WoD style mages + F/SN= WIN. :smallbiggrin:

Thanqol
2010-11-12, 07:36 AM
Interlude 1: Dream of Fire



The city burns before me.

Thousands are dying. Their screams fill the air, desperate and horrified before the slice of iron silences them.

Temples are looted. Priests are murdered. Women are raped. Buildings are torn down for the gold in their walls. Blood runs in the streets.

It is a calamity. A disaster. A horror. I am aware of all these things. A great city, a shining jewel is being burned to the ground. Thousands die. More are enslaved. Great works of art and architecture are lost forever.

My men drag a great man before me. He wears a fine robe of violet and ermine. He is soft. Fat. Not a warrior. He still bears his crown. This is not because my men bear him any special respect or awe. Indeed, they laugh with contempt as they throw him at my feet. They only allow him to keep his crown in case I chose to take it for myself.

The qadis looks up at me. He sees a demon. A huge man, on a huge horse, armoured in iron and bearing a terrible sword with beautiful calligraphy, cast in iron as if wrought by the finest pen. He sees a man who has swept aside every army and every obstacle as if it is nothing.

The man's weak heart fills with defiance. He gets to his feet and shouts at me. He tells me I am a monster. He tells me I am a demon. He tells me I am a godless infidel, that I shall burn in Hell for the destruction I have wrought. He shouts and rants at me, blaming me for every ill that has befallen his people.

I remove my helmet. He sees not a demon's face, but the calm face of a man who's conscience is clean.

I speak.

"I am not a man of blood; and God is my witness that in all my wars I have never been the aggressor, and that my enemies have always been the authors of their own calamity."

I have my men release the qadis, and turn away from the burning city. For while the fire rages, and multitudes die, and treasures are shattered, the sin is not mine. I am not an evil man, though many call me so. I am able to watch the world burn and feel at peace, for this is God's will, not mine.

And yet I dream of Fire.

Thanqol
2010-11-12, 09:20 PM
3/1: Wake Up With The King

I open my eyes.

I’m kneeling in a pool of my own blood. My entire body aches. I slept in an unnatural position and my back and knees are killing me. My bones grind like they’re made of stone. My mouth is so dry I feel like if I were to run my tongue along the roof of my mouth both would tear open. The dazzling spotlights, still focused on me, hurt my eyes. My ears pound so loudly I think I’ll go deaf.

And he stands before me. My dream.

He’s a huge man. Two meters tall. Stern Mongolian features, a short beard, deep lines in his face and eyes that seem to blaze. Even looking at him makes me feel like my skin is on fire. He’s the same as the other one – a being of so much condensed, raw magic that it passes the event horizon of what’s even theoretically possible. My headphones stutter on and off, trying and failing to convert this man’s nature into music. They can’t get loud enough, and have almost broken themselves trying.

He wore scale armor made of iron, with shoulder pads covered in green felt and edged with gold. He was dressed like a king, with a crown of iron set with sapphires, and yet gripped a huge iron sword covered in flowing Islamic script and Chinese kanji. And he stood in the darkness, surrounded by the ruined remains of the theatre.

I was soaked in my own blood, had converted almost all of my body’s energy to magic, and blown my pattern clear of stored mana. I groggily switched my headphones around, scanning through radio channels until I found the time. I’d been out for more than a full day, and I barely felt recovered at all.

I look at my hand. There was no mistaking it now. Tiny sparks and motes of light move through the blue lines, clearly magical. It had burned itself deeper into my skin, like a tattoo. As I study it, I can see that there is magic flowing out of me into the mark, and from the mark into the giant. There was also... something flowing back, but it was so pure and powerful that I literally can’t even guess what it was doing. There was magic and there was forces of nature.

Holy ****. I summoned that.

I get to my feet. It’s a long, slow, shaky process, but I manage it. The giant stands silent, watching me, not helping. I get the feeling he’s judging me. Even through the pain and soreness, that triggers a deep feeling of anger and stubbornness. If you’re not going to help me, fine. I don’t need your help.

I stand, and slowly start shuffling down off the stage. The stairs nearly murder me – there’s no guard rail to lean on, so I have to take them agonizingly slowly. But I get down, and walk towards the exit. The giant lifts his sword and wordlessly follows me.

I make my way out of the theatre, leaning heavily on walls where I can. When I get to the lobby, I push off the wall and launch myself into a fast-paced lurching stumble that I hope can get me to something else I can lean on before I collapse. It doesn’t. I fall face forwards, throw my hands out to break the impact but my arms are so weak that it’s hardly any defense. I lie agonized and crippled in the centre of the huge lobby, curled up on a black tile of the chessboard patterned floor.

The giant watches me silently.

I force my shaking limbs to respond. My muscles scream in agony as I push myself up into a sitting position, and then go through the agonizingly complex motion of standing up. I start moving again, slower this time, and emerge into the godawful daylight. Why, why did the one nice day this city’s ever had have to be today?

I start shuffling down the street towards home, followed by the giant. The thought of getting a taxi crossed my mind, but I imagined the giant’s contempt and grit my teeth and forced myself to keep walking forwards. I was not going to look weak in front of him.

In a faraway part of my mind, I knew exactly what his contempt would look like. The calm, detached expression he had worn when he’d looked at the qadis of that burning city.

People on the street turn to stare. I’m mostly used to this, so it took longer than normal to process the idea that they’re looking at me and not the armoured titan behind me. Some people try to offer me help but I give them an irritable wave and an incoherent, slightly aggressive mumble with at least one curse word in it. I’m determined to do this.

Why on earth did I ever think a hilltop property would ever be a good idea?

I take a few steps, stop to catch my breath, grit my teeth and take a few more steps. It’s the ultimate act of stubborn stupidity. Every step of the way I curse myself, curse my pride, and beg myself to stop and take a taxi. And I feel his eyes boring into my back. And I raise my head a little higher and take another step.

It’s late afternoon when I finally reach the top. The sense of relief I feel when I push the door open and stagger inside is absolute. There is no way that I’m climbing the stairs to my bed after that, so I shuffle right over to the couch and collapse on it.

I lie there for a while, too tired to sleep. All I have is the torn up pain of my overtaxed body. I drift for a while, mind not thinking anything. Gradually, I start to remember something – that ring I purchased. I pull it from my pocket and rip all the magic right out of it, without restraint or control. The ring dissolves into worthless dust, but I feel a tiny bit of magic restore my depleted reserves. And right now, I value that tiny comfort more than I do the enormous sticker price of the gold ring.

The giant is standing in the room silently, like a great and terrible statue. Even though I’ve been trying, I can never completely put him out of my mind.

I should...

- Investigate my new friend
- Scour my house for more magic.

Elanorin
2010-11-13, 03:44 PM
Investigate my new friend. Because ignoring a huge muscular man with a sword who just saved your bacon and sworn loyalty to you is plain rude, no matter how big a star you are. :smallamused:

Keep up the awesome, let's find out some more about the Berserker! (But, there should have been ducks. )

Marcivo
2010-11-14, 09:12 PM
Pretty awesome so far.

Anyway, I agree. Jayden should investigate her new friend. It's the obvious choice.

Pathicus
2010-11-14, 10:38 PM
Yeah...this isn't even a choice. She should Investigate her new friend...now post the next update, or I'll do something mildly alarming.

Fri
2010-11-14, 10:59 PM
Woah. Berserker? This is interesting.

Marcivo
2010-11-15, 01:15 AM
Woah. Berserker? This is interesting.

Vote, you so-and-so, or I'll make sure you end up like one-third of those frogs.

Thanqol
2010-11-15, 01:46 AM
3/2: One Sided



"So..."

He looked at me sharply. I immediately felt horribly insignificant. Like I was something he'd scraped off his shoe. Like any attempt at conversation I made would be horribly lame, and he didn't even want to deal with that.

Anger crept in. Who the hell does he think I am?!

I got to my feet slowly. It wasn't so much painful as it was stiff. Like I'd lose my balance and faceplant if I stood wrong. But I got up all the same and walked right up in front of him. It was even more annoying that I had to crane my neck upwards to look him in the face.

He looked down at me. I glared up at him. His eyes were alight with magical power and a focus that made my knees weaker. My headphones were full of static and distortions just from being near him, even though they were not supposed to be picking up magical interference.

I spoke through gritted teeth.

"Hi. I'm Jayden Mavel. Nice to meet you."

He didn't answer, just kept that eternal, silent glare.

"Oi!" I said, shoving him ineffectually in the chest. I almost overbalanced from the attempt. He didn't react. "OI!" I shouted, adding an edge to my voice that made the windows rattle.

I was, I thought, quite justified at being really angry at this point. I'd just climbed up the hill of death without so much as a glimmer of help from this mute beefcake, all the time being looked on like I was something unpleasant. He'd saved my life, yes, but that only got you so far.

I turned around, walked across the room and picked up an old electric guitar. I turned it over so I grasped it with both hands by the neck.

And I ran at him, swinging it around in a full, violent arc.

He ducked it, but the motion was a little clumsy. He obviously hadn't expected that.

"My name is Jayden Mavel!" I shouted, kicking him in the chest "and I'm nineteen years old!" I swung the guitar around in another arc, and he crashed into the wall behind him as he dodged it. He tore through the brick wall as if it was paper, but that didn't deter me. I swung again, guitar passing inches from his neck.

"I was born in Idaho and moved to LA before I was five!" I shouted, giving a straight thrust that he lunged backwards from. He was still trying to get his sword around to defend, but was having serious trouble given the enclosed environment. "My first album was Sweet Caroline when I was eight!" I roared, giving another horizontal blow that clipped the top of his head. It didn't seem to do damage, but it upset his already poor balance and he had to step backwards quickly to regain it.

"I was homeschooled!" I shouted. We were in the kitchen now, and there was more room in here. I stepped forwards, put some force into my feet, and jumped up with a double-handed vertical strike. He rolled to the left with scary agility for someone that big, but that didn't seem to factor into my actions. "I became a Wizard two years ago!" I shouted, causing a power socket to surge and cause a small lightning bolt to flash across the room. It wouldn't stun even a normal human, but it made him blink, which was what I needed to do a two-handed lunge with my guitar that hit him in the gut. "And I'm goddamn good at it!"

I amplified the velocity of my weapon. He flew across the room, crashed into a wall and virtually demolished it. Pots and pans crashed around him, and a fine white dust filled the air.

He got to his feet, and finally brought his sword around in front of him. It seemed to hum in the air. Standing undamaged in that cloud of dust, he looked utterly invincible. My brain finally caught up to my body, and my anger started to drain out - traitorous bastard. It got me into a mess and left me standing in my wrecked kitchen, holding a guitar against a demigod, and feeling very, very, foolish.

I held my ground.

The giant smiled.

"So... er... your turn?" I said, trying to sound confident.

The giant said nothing. But at least he wasn't looking at me like garbage any more. I sighed, and lowered my guitar a little.

"Do you just not speak?" No response. "I am your Master, right?"

There was an actual nod to that. I was taken aback for a second. "Right... of course I'd summon the one thing that doesn't make any sound at all."

Silence.

"Shush. That other guy said there was some sort of war, right?"

Nod.

"And you kicked his ass, right?"

Shrug.

"Oh, a shrug! We're working out an entire language here!"

Silence.

"Shut up. I know you can talk. You're just being petulant. Anyway, are there others like him?"

Nod.

"Yeah... so the obvious solution is to beat them all and win the war, right?"

Nod.

"Good enough. Hand me that frypan, it's got some spare tass."

Silence.

"Yeah, screw you," I grumbled, picking up the pan and draining it myself. I kept spare magic stores around the house in case of times like this. It twisted the pan into unuseable slag, but I was fine with that.

I actually felt much better after wrecking half my house. Maybe this guy's super power was healing through collateral damage or something? Or maybe I was kidding myself and would pay the price in pain in half an hour.

But still. I'd beaten up a terrifying thing-that-should-not-be without taking so much as a single counterattack. That had to count for something.

I'm going to plan to spend the rest of the day resting, and if I really am feeling rested I'll...

- Go Hunting. Try to find these other psychopaths before they find me.
- Go Clubbing. Why bother looking if they'll come right to me?

Pathicus
2010-11-15, 01:57 AM
I turned around, walked across the room and picked up an old electric guitar. I turned it over so I grasped it with both hands by the neck.

And I ran at him, swinging it around in a full, violent arc.

With investigatory skills like that, Jayden would have no trouble hunting down these clowns.

Marcivo
2010-11-15, 02:43 AM
Jayden should go hunting. Now that she seems to have mostly recovered and has a giant Mongolian doomsday engine on her side, it probably wouldn't hurt to get a better feel for what's going on.

Elanorin
2010-11-15, 03:39 AM
He'd saved my life, yes, but that only got you so far.



XD

Wow, owch! I bet roses and chocolate wouldn't even get you the time of day with her!

Anyway, hunt them down! More action!

Thanqol
2010-11-15, 03:43 AM
Wow, owch! I bet roses and chocolate wouldn't even get you the time of day with her!

You kidding? If she ate half the chocolates admirers sent to her, she'd get heart disease.

horngeek
2010-11-18, 11:44 PM
Go hunting, of course! :smalltongue:

Thanqol
2010-11-19, 03:28 AM
3/3: Bloody Pickpockets



I'm not sure where to look. I'm not sure what I'm doing. I'm not sure what is even going on. But I'm going to go break some legs.

"You, with me," I say unnecessarily to my mute friend, and walk outside. I've still got a limp, but the pain seems dulled. I've been thinking about this link for a few hours, and as I walk I focus on the mark on my hand. I'll trust the goliath to spot for me, and I'll work on finding out what's going on here.

I try to remember what Blue taught me about Life magic, but I was barely able to grasp it when he was explaining it to me. But I can tell that there's some sort of Life effect being constantly cast from this point. And yet, it's depleting my stores of mana and channelling them elsewhere. I puzzle it over for a short while before figuring it out.

Ah! The mark is a constant duration Life effect. It takes the mana in my body and uses it to cast some sort of healing spell. But, instead of that mana being expended, it instead flows into the body of my Servant.

That... breaks every law of magic ever, as well as multiple laws of common sense. On the other hand, the effect seems pretty poor. It works very slowly and I can't seem to shut it off, so I'm either going to have to start finding lots of spare Tass or just stop casting spells entirely -

I froze as I heard an explosion and the sound of a brick wall shattering behind me.

I spun around. Berserker had just crashed through a brick wall, the remains of which were standing in... the middle of the road? He was roaring, charging, swinging his iron sword - and there was a flash of white light, tinged with violet, and he was in a cage of huge, reinforced iron bars, too close to swing his sword against. He grabbed the bars and began ripping them apart with his bare hands, but it was taking time.

At the other end of the street, facing Berserker, standing underneath a streetlamp was... no, what? That was - that didn't -

"Paul!?" I said. The Starbucks employee stared down the roaring force of nature.

The brown haired young man raised his hand. White-violet light flashed again.

A concrete wall surrounded the iron cage on all sides.

I stared in shock.

I saw a huge fist punch clean through the concrete wall. Berserker's other hand exploded free as well, and the roaring titan started to pull himself free.

I narrowed my gaze, pulled my handgun, and started running forwards.

Something flashed at my face and I instinctively pulled my arms up to cover myself. Something cut through my arm. I swore, and fired off a shot in the direction I'd thought it had come from.

"Ooh! Nice guess, miss," said a brown skinned, shirtless man stepping out from behind me. He smiled brightly, like a street performer, and held up my wallet. He opened it and showed me the inside.

It was full of bullets.

My expression froze, and, full knowing what was going to happen, I raised my gun slowly until it was aimed at his chest. He kept smiling happily.

My vision blurred suddenly. I felt sick to my stomach. Out of bloody minded persistence, I pulled the trigger. Of course, nothing.

"Son of a -"

He caught me as I fell and my vision darkened. I could hear roaring off in the distance, like it was underwater. As I blacked out, I heard one last comment.

"If it's any consolation, miss, I liked your album."

Fri
2010-11-19, 05:53 AM
I knew we should've just have fun and let them come. But I didn't vote because I thought it won't change the vote outcome anyway. But I should've voted, for the priviledge of smirking and saying "I've told you so"

Thanqol
2010-11-21, 11:12 PM
4/1: First Impressions



I slowly opened my eyes.

"Good morning!" said someone bright and cheerful. I squinted them shut again.

"What the - who the -" I muttered, sitting up. I felt sluggish and hung over. Through my blurred vision I could see a smiling, brown skinned shirtless man waving.

"You're up! I'll go get Master, wait here," he said, and walked out the door.

I fumbled around. I was still dressed, but I didn't have my gun or my mace. I was in a stranger's room. Jesus Christ. I'd been kidnapped!

I quickly got angry, which gave me focus. Idiots didn't know who they were dealing with.

I got to my feet, looking around. There was a window near the bed. I tried it - locked. No problem. I took a few steps back and started running across the room just as the door opened.

I jumped, compacting my body, arms up, diving perfectly through the window. I had the motion perfect, because I'd done it once as a stunt in a movie.

And smacked head first into what felt like solid iron.

I hit the ground gracelessly. My face hurt. My nose was bleeding. And worst of all, I'd done it all in plain view of my kidnapper.

I distantly heard someone saying, "Jesus!", felt a burst of white-purple light against my closed eyes, and then felt myself being turned over and my head tipped back and an ice pack pressed against my bleeding nose.

I get really bad bleeding noses, and get them annoyingly frequently. They're awful. All you can do when you've got one is lie there and feel sorry for yourself. If you speak, you cough on the blood running down your throat. If you try to move, you get blood everywhere. You're stuck there, looking pathetic and feeling pathetic.

This was not the first impression I wanted to make.

My vision cleared up a bit and I could see that it was indeed Paul who was holding the ice pack to my face. He looked genuinely concerned. Some blood had gotten on his nice shirt and I tried to point it out, but wasn't even coordinated enough to point right and just got another pitying look which made me feel even worse.

Paul started talking, "Okay, Jayden, before you jump out any more windows," I cringed, "I'm not actually kidnapping you. I was trying to talk to you, but your Servant charged me. Assassin knocked you out so he didn't kill me, and we both ran, taking you with us."

"Bur" I coughed, spraying a bit of blood and then firmly shut my mouth.

"He's somewhere in the city, looking for you. Assassin reckons he'll be here in about an hour, and then you can make your decision."

I shrugged, hoping that he understood what I was asking without having to articulate it.

"I was going to ask you if you wanted to team up to help win this war, actually."

Welp, that was perfect.

The boy I'd been crushing on had come up to me to ask me out, basically, and I'd sent a demigod to kill him and then faceplanted against a closed window.

I didn't have it in me to turn down his offer, but I had to make a decision on how I'd go about it:

- Try to maintain some dignity
- Enjoy the sympathy

Pathicus
2010-11-22, 12:19 AM
Well if it were me, I'd dial up the melodrama and get some sympathy. But it's not me, it's Jayden. And she's only going to regain and maintain her dignity.

Marcivo
2010-11-22, 01:24 AM
Jayden doesn't seem like the type who would want anyone's sympathy. She's too proud for that. She should try to maintain some dignity.

Fri
2010-11-22, 08:48 AM
I must agree that she looks like someone who'll act cool even when in ouchie state because she know that she's expected to be a cool devil-may-care mage

by the way, I'm still hoping that there'll be ducks for one reason or another one way or another :smallfrown:

Thanqol
2010-11-23, 08:20 AM
4/2: Knocked Out, Beaten Up, Upstaged and Shouted At



Okay. Just because my blood is now caking his window, shirt, as well as myself and I'm drugged, kidnapped and in the same room as what I'm pretty sure is a demigod doesn't mean I can just give up. It just makes me really, really want to give up.

I take the ice pack off him. "Bathroom," I manage to grunt. He points, and I go inside with that horrible head-tilted backwards walk. The blood's starting to slow, but that's when the process starts to get really icky and I start needing to sneeze really badly.

I'm a bloody mess, so I lock the door and start washing my face. Gently - I don't want to brush my nose or even warm it up more than I have to. Just as I'm finishing there's a discreet knock on the door, I hear Paul's voice say "Some clean clothes," and then the sound of him walking away. I wait a few moments, then open the door and grab them.

Yes, I'm aware of the connotations of dressing in a boy's clothes, but I'll take a social gaffe over the slow feel of my clothes clotting any day.

I eventually decide I'm roughly presentable, so I exit the bathroom, and walk down the stairs. I'm surprised. This house is really nice. It's big, made of hard wood, with high ceilings and large cushions on the floor instead of furniture. It's stylish and modern - not at all the dingy backwater apartment I was expecting. How does a Starbucks employee afford this?

He was sitting at a low table. He smiled as I walked down the stairs, and waved his hand. A beautiful ceramic pot filled with steaming hot chocolate appeared with a flash of purple and white.

Okay. That's how he affords this.

I sat down opposite him. The hot chocolate smelled good, and my mouth was painfully dry, but I didn't want to risk anything warm yet. "Can you do cold water?" I asked. Flash, done.

It was the casual nature of his motions which really unsettled me.

You see, Making is hard. By hard I mean 'ten guys in the world can do it, maybe, on a good day'. When I use magic, I'm manipulating stuff that's already there - making lightning jump from a power cable to a person, making sound move louder, wider, faster - doing stuff with stuff that already exists. I couldn't create and throw a fireball at all, no matter how badly I wanted to. I couldn't Make a sound out of raw silence if you gave me a week and a boatload of mana.

And this guy was conjuring complex, compound elements, in beautiful, artistic glasses like it was just the done thing.

It took genuine force of will to refuse to admit I was outmatched. I mostly managed it by reminding myself he needed my help.

"So, Paul - is Paul your real name?"

"Yes. Paul Wagner."

"... right. Tell me about this war or whatever."

"Your Servant didn't tell you?"

"He doesn't talk much." I said bleakly.

"Right. Well, I got this mark on my hand," he raised his left hand. There was a black-flecked symbol, similar to mine, there, "And then when I was working on my art this guy appears," he gestures to the topless brown skinned guy, who was remarkably cheery for how cold it was, "and tells me the story."

"Doing your art?"

"Yeah."

"It didn't... tire you out?"

"No. Why?"

"No reason," I said through my teeth. "So what'd he tell you?"

"He said that seven Mages get chosen by the Holy Grail and given Servants, who fight to the death to determine who is worthy to receive the Holy Grail. A battle royale between seven legendary heroes, summoned from history, and the winning pair will each have a wish granted by the Grail."

"That's the short version," said the shirtless guy. I need to stop thinking of him as shirtless guy.

"What's his name?"

"Assassin. Well, that's his "class". Each of the Servants is actually a hero from somewhere in history - so they keep their names secret because their strengths and weaknesses are tactical assets. Each Servant has a class that's readily obvious, though, and helps define their powers."

"Which would be why I didn't sense him sneaking up on me?"

"Exactly. And why Berserker doesn't talk much."

"The other classes are Saber, Rider, Lancer, Caster and Archer," said Assassin chirpily, then walked over to look out the window.

I took this in, carefully sipping my drink. Holy Grail. Legendary heroes. Wish granting. It wasn't too hard to accept, really - I was a Mage. This just seemed to be on the next step up.

But Paul honestly didn't seem aware of how insane his casual use of Making magic was. I could accept crazy magical events, but I wasn't sure how I'd been living within a hundred miles of a Maker without knowing it.

"Know many other Mages?" I asked casually.

"Er, no. I thought it was just me until Assassin said there were others."

Okay, we'd fallen well off the uncanny precipice here. The upshot was that he probably didn't realize just how puny my magic was compared to his. The downshot was that this raised the possibility there were five other prodigies out there and I was the joke candidate.

"And these hand thingies?"

"Command Spell. You can order your Servant to do three things, even if they would normally refuse that order. They're forced to follow the order no matter what."

"So what happens with this team? Only one person can win, right?"

"Yes..."

"And you're armed with an Assassin, so wouldn't it make sense for you to stab me in the back?"

"You're armed with a Berserker, so wouldn't it make sense to kill Assassin as part of the collateral damage?"

"Touché."

His face grew serious, "I don't know how we'll sort things out if it comes down to the two of us. But I'm serious about this deal. To prove it, I'll use a Command Spell on Assassin."

He stood up, faced Assassin, raised his hand and said, "Assassin, I order you to never attack Jayden unless she attacks us first." The mark flared, part of it faded away to nothing, and Assassin nodded gravely. Paul sat back down.

"Do we have a deal?"

I was speechless. So I nodded. I didn't think I could get much more sure than that.

"Good. Because your Servant is about to knock my house down."

I looked out the window. Berserker had just smashed open the front gate and was storming towards the house with his sword raised. I ran for the door, threw it open, and stood in his path.

"Berserker, stop!" I shouted. He didn't even seem to hear me. His eyes were blazing, his teeth were clenched, he just kept coming. I got the horrible feeling that he was going to cut me down without even seeing me.

I took a step back and shouted again. He broke into a charge.

Nothing for it. I raised my hand, "Berserker, you WILL treat Paul and Assassin as allies!"

Pain. Like my hand was burning right off. Like he was fighting the order, like his sheer, enraged will was being focused laser-sharp into my hand. Smoke actually began wafting from the seal. I bit back the scream, set my feet, and took a painful step forwards.

Part of the mark burned off my hand.

Berserker lowered his sword and stood still, conceding. But he was looking at me with fury and contempt. I flinched back, imagining he was going to spit on me.

I was actually more than a little scared by that. All the weakness and insecurity that had built up over the course of my abduction eroded my confidence when looking at Berserker. I only had two commands left - and then what? Would I be able to stop him at all? Would he kill me in a rage before I had chance to use the command?

In all, as I turned around and went back inside, my confidence was at a pretty abysmal low. Knocked out, beaten up, upstaged and shouted at. I felt like being someone else's sidekick was actually the best possible result of this situation.

I should...

- Try and find out how Paul's magic works
- Talk to Assassin.

Fri
2010-11-23, 09:53 AM
My vote is to find out about paul more, with more embarassing accidental innuendoes

Marcivo
2010-11-23, 07:37 PM
So let's see. This effectively leaves us with...

"Don't harm Jayden unless she harms us," and...

"Treat Paul and Assassin as allies no matter what."

Somehow I don't think this will turn out well for Jayden?


Anyway, she should try to find out how Paul's magic works. Maybe she'll learn something that will help relieve her insecurity.

Pathicus
2010-11-24, 02:14 AM
My initial reaction was to learn more about pauls magic, and accidental innuendoes would be great and all...but I'm going to have to listen to the non-sensical voice in the back of my mind that insists Jayden should talk to Assassin.

Thanqol
2010-11-28, 12:43 AM
4/3: Titan's Shadow



Ultimately, the decision between the legendary hero and the legendary hero's master is a bit of a no brainer.

I sit back down opposite Paul. There are a whole lot of questions, and a whole lot of questions on top of that. But the one I absolutely cannot shake is,

"Why do you work in a coffee shop?"

"What?"

"Seriously. You can make pretty much anything, can't you."

"Yes -"

"Including gold."

"Yes -"

"And you work at a Starbucks."

"Yes, but - look, wouldn't it be... wrong to do that?"

I stare at him blankly.

"I bet you a dollar you didn't buy this house on seven seventy five an hour."

"No, this was my parents."

"Okay," I said, putting my hand over my face, "You have parents who can afford a mansion like this and we come back to the question of why you're working at Starbucks."

Paul looked uncomfortable. "It's not for the money,"

"No?"

"I kind of like it. It keeps me grounded."

"You voluntarily work at a coffee shop despite having theoretically infinite wealth."

"What of it?" Paul said defensively.

I sighed. "Nothing," I said, and felt the silence get awkward. Still, there were a few things I needed to get off my chest.

"You can make anything?"

"Yeah. Complex stuff is harder. Can't do living stuff."

"And you learned how to do this on your own? No... training?" Or being chosen by God personally?

"Yeah."

I'd normally get frustrated at such short, uninformative answers but I was starting to get the impression that he was actually nervous. I could see why - he was talking to Jayden Mavel, who was actually an experienced super-serious wizard from some global network of wizards who knew everything about magic already. As far as he knew, he was the joke candidate here.

I actually didn't feel like disabusing him of this notion just yet. In the event of discovering someone as powerful and unaware as Paul, Mage society said I either had to turn him over to the Guardians of the Veil or take full responsibility for everything he does.

Besides... I could use an "apprentice".

"All right. How about I get Berserker and we go out?"

"Sure," Paul said, relief evident, getting to his feet.

And I went and stood in the shadow of the Titan.


He looked down at me, all iron and muscle. He was huge, and terrifying, and angry. More than his usual anger, he seemed specifically angry at me. Specifically disappointed by me. I looked up at him.

"Berserker."

The room darkened. The walls shook. The air trembled. The glare cut through it all.

"He can be useful. He can help us win the war," I said aloud, feeling compelled to justify myself to the giant.

I felt that will pushing against my eyes, felt pressure on my shoulders, trying to push me down.

"He needs my help! He'll get himself killed in a paradox and then -"

It got more painful. It felt like I was being crushed by his contempt and his anger.

I pushed back, meeting contempt with rage.

"HE IS MINE!" I roared up at Berserker.

The door opened. Paul ran in, and stopped as he saw me shouting at Berserker. The tension in the room was suddenly gone.

"Uh... He won't mind!" I said again, in a quieter voice, trying to misdirect, "I don't see why it would be a problem, uh, getting groceries on the way. Oh hi Paul," I said, and scuttled for the door.

Once out of sight, I took a deep breath. Hell. I was blushing. And I'd just... I had totally done that, hadn't I? That wasn't awkward at all. Let's just pretend that never happened and get in a fight to take our mind off things.

As we started to head out, I spotted a car in the driveway. Mages are really leery about cars - there's so much that another Mage can do to blow them up or make them crash, while still making it look like an accident. I could probably make it a decent fight, but it's still a risk.

- Take the car
- Go for a walk

Fri
2010-11-28, 01:11 AM
Disappointing lack of embarassing innuendoes, but there are another chapters I guess. And my vote now is to have a nice slow, intimate walking.

Elanorin
2010-11-30, 04:33 PM
Go for a walk

I think poor Jayden has had enough nosebleed not to risk taking a death-trap car and risk even more. :smalleek:

Thanqol
2010-11-30, 06:28 PM
4/4: VS LANCER



When it came down to it, I didn't fancy trying to fit Berserker into the car. Would he have to run alongside it like a secret service agent? The image, while amusing, was also a little scary. I didn't mention the car, and neither did Paul. We started walking, going west towards the bay. Assassin and Berserker walked behind us.

They were complete opposites, the thin, wiry and supremely centered and confident Assassin and the tall, muscle bound and constantly seething Berserker. I had briefly wondered if Berserker would have been comfortable talking to another demigod, but what could those two talk about?

On that topic...

"Paul?"

"Yes?" His response was a little too quick. He'd evidently been working himself up to say something, and pounced on someone else making conversation like it was a lifeline.

"When Assassin knocked me out, he said he liked my music. If he's a legendary hero summoned from somewhere in history, how does that work?"

"Oh, that's simple. I accidentally introduced him to the magic of television. I almost had to use a Command Spell to get him to go out on patrol."

I laughed, resisting the urge to look over my shoulder at the Assassin. "So you're not a fan, then?"

"Uh, I am actually. Though I'm not sure what you were thinking with that last one."

"Yeah, I get that a lot. I'll tell you, though. A while ago I screwed up a spell - a pretty big one - and caused a big Paradox. It made me deaf for about a week. And that was a nightmare. I can hardly stand to use human hearing, going without any almost drove me insane. That album was me trying to recreate that feeling. To try and show how horrible absolute silence is."

"Oh. Wow."

"Yeah. I knew it was going to bomb before I released it, but that wasn't the point either. It was actually a magical project. It's like spiking someone's drink. If they listen for long enough, and listen right, they'll be able to hear deeper, impossible things within the music. Things which no instrument can play, things which they aren't hearing with their ears. And they'll start to research, find that it's impossible, find that they're almost alone in the world with this amazing secret that they can't tell anyone and is consuming their lives...

"Which is pretty much exactly how people Awaken to magic."

Paul was listening in awe. As if me doing a bit of Weaving in a recording studio was so much better than being able to effortlessly use Making magic. I appreciated it.

To tell the truth, this was pretty normal stuff for the Free Council. Every human being has the potential to be a Mage. We just try to help them realize it.

"So yeah. I raise my cred with the postmodernists, possibly make a few mages, and sell an ordinary pop album later to recover my losses."

"You do a lot of stuff like that?"

"Well. I mix it up a bit. Dealing with haunted water fountains. Fighting shadowy cultists who worship the secret rulers of the universe. Discovering the ominous secret behind the city's traffic lights."

"There's an ominous secret there?"

"Yeah, they're actually a supercomputer. Long story."

At the time, all those things had sucked. The fountain had almost drowned Worhol, the cultists were holed up inside a hospital, and the traffic lights were monitored by a guy who could give very boring lectures about computer science. But man did they make cool stories right now.

"You never encounter any of this stuff?"

"No... I try not to use my magic around people. I tend to screw it up, badly, when that happens. So I keep it to my studio."

"Ah. Yeah. Tip: As long as they think it's improbable, rather than impossible, you'll be fine."

"Right. So, you know many other Mages?"

"Oh yeah, heaps. There's a whole Concillium in LA. There's Humphrey right there. Hey Humphrey!"

"Hey Jayden!"

"What's with the big black guy? Are you coming out of the closet?"

"Hey, Jayden, shut up," Humphrey said good naturedly. I then heard a low growling behind me and I suddenly came to my senses.

We were walking down a suburban street, no one in sight except Humphrey who'd walked out of a side alley with what looked like an undercover Marine - something about that rigidly straight back was impossible to hide. I knew for a fact that Humphrey didn't live around here, so unless he was going home -

Before I could finish my long and dumb thought process, Berserker roared and jumped past me, blade held high.

"Fine. I see how it is." Humphrey said, pretending to sulk, "Lancer -"

The black guy leapt into the air, and started to glow green. His unremarkable gray clothing stripped away to be replaced by black and green spandex. He raised his right hand, which flashed, and a spear made of green light shot out. It impaled Berserker right through his armor from thirty feet away, and traveled for another thirty feet beyond that.

My jaw was gaping open.

"No way."

"In brightest day..."

"No way."

He swung his arm to the right, pulling the lance along with it, wrenching Berserker along with it to smash into a brick wall.

There was a deafening roar from inside the cloud of dust. Berserker stepped forwards. He was pulling himself forwards on the spear that was impaling him, hand over hand. The fact that he was impaled didn't seem to register.

"... In blackest night..." Lancer - Christ, not Lancer, the Green Goddamn Lantern, said, and swung his arm upwards, throwing Berserker into the air. The spear vanished in an instant, and in it's place a dozen smaller spears appeared, hurtling at Berserker from all angles.

They didn't seem to penetrate, though, and just glanced off Berserker's armor. He was directing his fall towards the Green Goddamn Lantern as best as he was able. But there was another flash, and another extended spear impaled him through the chest. Berserker roared in fury as Lancer swung him into another wall.

I got a chill. Berserker was unstoppable and almost invincible, but he was foolish - he kept charging directly onto Lancer's spear, allowing Lancer to use his full power and keep Berserker at a distance. This fight wasn't going to go well unless I did something.

I tore my eyes off the titanic conflict and rounded on Humphrey. "Goddamn it Humphrey! You got a goddamn DC superhero?"

"Well, I was reading a comic book at the train station and he just kind of appeared."

"Christ! Don't you think this Holy Grail War deserves a little more gravitas?"

"He seems to be doing all right for himself."

"No evil shall escape my sight!" was shouted from behind me, and what sounded like Beserker hitting a car.

"Alright fine," I didn't pull my gun - it was Humphrey, after all - and if nothing else the stuff he could do to deal with a metal firearm made it a liability. I reached up and deliberately turned up the volume on my headphones.

To my fortune, the car Berserker had smashed into behind me exploded, giving me dramatic back lighting and a whole lot of sound to work with. I channeled it, reached up to the power lines...

Nothing.

"Jayden," Humphrey said with a grin, "I shut off the power before I came. I'm not, y'know, dumb." He wasn't pulling his gun either, damn it. Though...

"Yes you are," I said, and emptied the battery of his mobile phone into his leg.

He swore as he went down, and I ran forwards directly at him. I performed the jump kick I'd done for another movie - form practiced and perfect.

It turns out that Humphrey actually knew how to fight, unlike me. He raised his arms to block the kick, and I stumbled and fell on my back.

"Let those who worship evil's might..." Came the shout from behind me, and another crash.

"Sorry, Jayden," Humphrey said, brushing himself and shakily getting to his feet. "Ow! Stunts aren't martial arts. If you're done embarassing yourself, I'd kinda like to watch this fight. It's actually pretty cool."

I turned my head slightly to look. Green Lantern was hovering a foot off the ground above the battered and bloody Berserker who was struggling to get to his feet. Lancer raised his ring above his head, and it flared with pure power.

"Beware my power... GREEN LANTERN'S gurgle gurgle chkkk"

Assassin had just slit his throat.

He jumped back, twirling his twin scimitars and whistling one of my songs. Lancer slumped to his knees, choking on his own blood.

Berserker got to his feet, raised his massive sword, and swung.

The blood hit a window so hard it shook.

"Well ****," said Humphrey. "Isn't that cheating?"

"I maintain," I said getting to my feet, "That summoning a superhero is cheating."

Already Lancer's body was dissolving, and there was a green flare as the Command Seals on Humphrey's hand vanished. "Welp."

"I'm also kind of indignant you didn't try to get me on side," I said, glaring at him.

"I didn't realize it was an option."

"In which case, you should have let me win."

"I didn't realize we were dating."

"Shut up," I stuck my tongue out at him, "Next time you see me I'll be queen of the universe."

"You mean you'll have a reason for being arrogant?"

"If you hurry you can pick up another big black guy before midnight."

"See you around, Jayden."

"You too, Humphrey."

Without further ceremony, Humphrey turned around and walked away. Paul stepped up next to me. "Friend of yours?"

"Thanks for the assist," I said, getting to my feet.

"You said not to use magic around people -"

"Not around sleepers! You can do it near Mages."

"Oh. We did all right though, didn't we?"

"Yeah," I said, smiling despite having been knocked on my butt the second time today, "Yeah. This could work."

Thanqol
2010-11-30, 11:14 PM
Interlude 2: Dream of Iron



The city rises around me.

Beautiful white marble, carved minarets, temples and churches and mosques. My palace is vast and opulent, filled with riches and works of art that steal the breath.

I gaze upon a vase, made of clay so pure and fine that it gleams like diamond. Paintings line the walls, tricks of brush and lighting that shimmer like desert mirages. Song drifts through the corridors, echoing through the arches and hanging in the cool interior air, like a frozen razor.

Holy icons are on display, collected articles of faith. Ancient copies of the Bible and Qur'an, a robe said to be worn by the Buddha. Works of calligraphy line the walls; oaths of fealty submitted by the many vassals to my empire. A great map of coloured tiles paves the floor, showing the vast expanse of my kingdom.

Exotic girls from all across the world wait dutifully, eyes lowered. So many beautiful things. Delicate things. Soft and fragile. The entire palace is made to submit to it's owner's whims, please his senses, and be destroyed in an instant if it ever displeases him.

The art is magnificent. I have elevated many of the painters to high positions and lives of leisure that they may master their craft. I have given the architect leave to design an entire city. I am generous as a man who does not understand wealth is, my only request is that it be used to produce more beautiful and delicate things.

I am at peace amongst these beautiful surroundings.

And yet I dream of Iron.

Fri
2010-12-03, 05:10 PM
That was a rather anticlimatic fight for a holy grail war.

Thanqol
2010-12-03, 07:12 PM
5/1: Normal



I get up early and go downstairs to make breakfast. I almost immediately stop on the grounds that making a boy breakfast has Implications. I then realize that those Implications are kind of what I had in mind. I then check the fridge and find it empty. It's not even switched on. Ah, living with a Maker.

I decide I'm too hungry to wait, so I write a note.

"Berserker?" I call out as I grab Paul's coat. The titan appears besides me. If Humphrey was able to find me, walking around demigod-less sounds like a good way to die. I step out into the chill air and start walking.

I don't actually like this suburb. It's one of those rich and paranoid ones, with all the nice buildings hidden behind high walls and hedges, built to be isolated from each other. It's a depressing feeling. Like you're being excluded. 'course, I'm well familiar with wanting to exclude certain types of people, but it makes ugly scenery. It just feels hostile.

"So... Green Lantern, huh?" I said to Berserker, "He was pretty easy with his identity." I looked up at the silent giant.

He wasn't angry. He actually seemed quite calm. He looked more regal than savage. His arms were folded behind him, his back was straight, his eyes were closed and there was a faint smile on his lips. He looked serene. I wasn't sure what I should do - if I kept talking I might make him angry, but perhaps he was enjoying the company?

I looked away. No, I was going to guess that he was enjoying the silence.

We got to a small coffee shop and I ordered some coffee and muffins (fortunately the cashier was too tired to recognize me). I asked Berserker if he wanted anything, but he shook his head. We walked back in silence.

I then set the table, chose the seat where the morning sunlight would fall across my face (even if this blinded me), and waited.

Half an hour later he finally got up, rubbing his eyes as he came down into the dining room. He stopped in surprise as he saw me sitting calmly, eyes down, in the morning sunlight. I counted slowly back from ten before I flicked my eyes up, smiled and said "Good morning".

It had the desired effect. He blushed, muttered "good morning" back and sat down. We ate in near silence.

I was starting to accept these silent types. It was comforting to just sit and eat, not having to be on guard and making witty conversation. While there was still stuff to ask, and talk about, I felt I could just leave it. We were eating muffins together. Right now, that was enough. It was comfortable. Normal.

We finished eating and washed up. I finally asked, "Want to go out?" He nodded.

This had been... comfortable. Normal, even. Somehow more normal than my daily life. I could stand to have more mornings like this.

I planned to go into town and try to spend the day peacefully. After all, we'd knocked out one Servant on our first night - there were only four left, and we could afford to take a breather.

But there was a problem... Berserker. If we went, say, to a crowded shopping mall and he saw another Master and flipped out, the collateral damage could be huge. Plus Assassin had mentioned last night that Servants are only supposed to fight after dark.

- Bring Berserker
- Leave him behind.

Fri
2010-12-03, 11:51 PM
Knowing things, I wouldn't want to go to the bathroom without bringing my servant.

But the main purpose is more that maybe we'll know more things about Berserker if we hang around with him more.

Pathicus
2010-12-05, 03:58 AM
Going out in public is not remotely stupid or irresponsible...not at all. I'm not sure Jayden has the callous disregard for her fellow man required to bring Beserker. Leaving him behind might be a bad idea, but it's also less breathtakingly dangerous.

Marcivo
2010-12-05, 08:24 PM
Jayden should bring Berserker. I don't think the others will be so considerate, and it beats dying horribly.

Thanqol
2010-12-06, 07:17 PM
5/2: Best Of Saak



Yeah, when it came down to it, it was a choice between maybe people getting hurt and definitely me dying. I took Berserker with me.

We walked to the mall. I originally tried to steer away from the one Paul worked at, not wanting to mix his business with pleasure, but he mentioned this was the only mall for miles and unless I wanted to take the car...

And so, we walked onto the ground floor of the massive, four storey circular atrium. I smiled and looked around. This was a familiar place, and being back in comfortable surroundings put me at ease.

Someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around. A mall security guard was standing over me, with a slack-jawed expression.

"Are you Jayden Mavel, ma'am?" He asked. I sighed. Today?

"Yes I am," I said, and instantly got tackled from the left.

As I fell, I heard a gun go off on the top floor. And just as I was knocked out of the way I heard a deafening explosion - a bullet striking metal. My eyes caught up to my ears - a huge metal wall had appeared from nowhere at the same time Paul had tackled me, and caught a bullet fired from the top floor of the mall.

I hit the ground hard, and covered my head. A wall had appeared from nowhere in full view of several hundred people.

There was a terrible metallic groaning and screeching. The wall began to flay at it's edges, torn apart by a terrible dark shadow. The lights in the mall dimmed, the walls rattled, and a cold wind blew. The wind seemed to tear pieces off the walls and floor and turn them to the consistency of chill mud, swiftly filling the entire mall with a dark, cold rain.

Paradox.

People were running and screaming, but the security guards were coming right at us, pulling their tasers. They all had slack jaws and dull expressions - I saw too late they weren't just idiots, they were mentally dominated.

And walking across the floor behind them was that beautiful woman I had seen with the man in the suit a few days ago. The mercenary. She was wearing an expensive black suit and tie, black leather gloves and black sunglasses. She had a long brown ponytail and was drawing a four foot sword. She broke into a slow run, trailing the sword along the ground, leaving a hail of sparks as she went.

She was beautiful.

"Saber," I heard Assassin breath in awe.

There was a roar, and Berserker charged. He brought his massive iron cleaver around in a huge arc, but she ducked it, rolled between his legs, and stood and slashed into his back. Berserker's armour caught it and he spun around with a blow that would demolish a castle wall. The girl parried it, but the sheer force of impact threw her across the room - and she landed gracefully on the guard rail of the first floor.

I realized that she'd planned for the impact and used it to move herself into a better position.

I had to quickly turn my attention back to more practical matters. There was a guy on the fourth floor with a sniper rifle (my mind guessed this was the guy I'd seen with the girl before, and probably her Master), who was both shooting at us and mind controlling the mall security into attacking us. Paul had already used up our allotment of Paradox, so it was up to me to deal with these suckers - and do it subtly.

I pulled my gun and shot one in the leg. Subtle, Jayden.

I grabbed Paul and ran through the hole that had made in their circle into an electronics store. I heard a crackle of a taser firing behind me and shunted it slightly aside - a narrow miss. I pulled a small bottle from my jacket and began to splash it over stuff as I ran.

The bottle was labelled "Cough Medicine". A more accurate label would be "Napalm". I came prepared.

I touched my lighter to the liquid and dived for cover behind the counter. There were several particularly bright explosions as batteries went off. The mind controlled guards kept coming, holding their tasers ready.

The fire alarms went off. Sprinklers started pouring everywhere.

I stood up, spreading my arms.

All the guards fired at once. I dropped to the floor

Water does not actually conduct electricity like it does in action movies. Fortunately, most people have seen enough action movies to think it does.

Every single one of the guards electrocuted themselves with the arcing electricity of their own taser, and dropped to the ground a few seconds later.

"We've got to get them out of here," I said to Paul, grabbing his hand. An exploding laptop battery emphasised my point.

We started grabbing unconscious guards and dragging them by their feet out of the burning electronics store. It was simply improbable that our burns were relatively minor.

People were still crowding through the exits, but that cold, flensing Paradox rain was still falling, and the earth-shattering battle between Berserker and Saber was going on. And I could see movement on the fourth floor, as a guy in a dark green suit and a sniper rifle runs around for a better shot.

I jump onto the stage at the centre of the mall. I'm an obvious target. The guy brings his rifle around to aim right at me.

I kick the microphone up into the air, catch it, and scream.

The speaker closest to the sniper plays the scream a little louder than the rest. So loud that the speaker shatters, and so loud that the sniper's ears start to bleed.

I keep screaming, eyes closed. Suddenly my connection is cut off. I open my eyes.

Saber is standing right in front of me, her blade just under my chin, where it severed the cord on my microphone.

I'm not able to react before she spins around, roundhouse kicking me in the face, and kicking off into a spectacular jump. She leaps up floor after floor until she's up by her Master, lifts him gently, and runs out of sight.

There is a vast roar from Berserker, infuriated at being denied his fight. He shatters a fountain with a single rage-driven blow.

The Paradox was getting worse. If we stayed it could bring the entire building down. "Paul - we've got to go," I said, pulling myself to my feet, rubbing my enormous black eye and running for the exit. I said, running for the exit. We could chase Saber and her master, but I wasn't willing to risk the mall as collateral damage.

Ironically, we wouldn't have to worry about covering this fight up from the Sleepers. The Paradox was actually the power of their collective Disbelief. They'd make up their own story about what happened. I might, however, be involved.

I could see, "Jayden Mavel heroically pulls men out of burning store" as well as "Jayden Mavel burns down store and attempts to kill mall security". Yeah, there's a reason the Paparazzi love me.

After the Nth attempt on my life in the past few days, I feel like...

- Payback
- Paranoia

Marcivo
2010-12-06, 08:52 PM
Paranoia is for crazy tinfoil-hatted survivalists. It's time for Jayden to get some payback.

Fri
2010-12-07, 03:16 AM
Does Jayden looks like someone who would hide in her closet imagining imaginary murders on her? Payback.

Elanorin
2010-12-07, 02:10 PM
Self-pity does not become Jayden. Besides, that Saber just kicked her to the floor, in the face, right in front of guy-she-crushes-on. If Jayden has even so much as a shred of a backbone she'd get her some major payback.

So there. :smallmad:

Thanqol
2010-12-10, 04:28 AM
5/3: A Close Up Of An Exhaust Pipe



No way was that jerk getting away that easily.

He'd attacked us in a crowded, public place, used mind controlled people, had shot to kill and caused all kinds of collateral damage. Not getting away.

I began to focus, casting my mind out for the tell-tale buzz of a mobile phone or any other piece of consumer electronics I could get a fix on. I also cycled my way through the mall's security cameras. It was very difficult - we were in a mall. But, if I found Saber through this link...

For a moment, I found him.

"Saak," Saber was saying, following close behind him. Her face was set and determined. She really was stunning - it was in a way I wasn't loathe to admit either. It felt like if she looked any less beautiful it would be a blatant lie. It'd be like I'd be the one being cheated. "I can still win."

"No," the man said, straightening and rubbing his bloody ears. "They're on to us," he said, turning and facing the camera.

Something arced through the link. My vision went dark.

"Damn!" I swore. I waved my hand in front of my eyes. Gone. Damn it! Scrying on a mage was always super dangerous, and he'd hit me with one of the traditional counters - scramble my vision so I'm scrying on a dark basement, or directly up or something. I'd have to wait for my own spell to end before I could do anything.

"Jayden?"

"I'm fine!" I snapped at Paul. "I'll just be... blind for twenty minutes or so. Take Berserker, go get the mage - he's near the parking garage, fourth floor."

"I'm not leaving you here blind,"

"I can hear better than I cans see! He's getting away!"

"Assassin, go after them. I'm staying with Jayden."

"Sir."

"Stubborn, bloody -" I said, stepping forwards in anger. To my utter frustration, I stumbled and nearly fell - stop proving him right! Paul caught me and supported me, though, so it wasn't a total loss.

"Berserker, Assassin, go." Paul said, voice with no room for argument. He started to lead me away, despite my feeble protestations.

Bloody mages. Bloody bastard mages. I'd had enough of being knocked around like this, and my life recently seemed to be nothing but. Payback deferred, not denied.

Thanqol
2010-12-14, 01:12 AM
6/1: Missing Something Obvious



I was lead home, brushing off offers to get a taxi (too many questions - and I'll be fine). It was a slow walk, but I had someone to lean on, and it was better than my walk back the other day. By the time we were back at the house, I had enough vision back to see an extremely blurry outline of things. I lay down on bed and waited for the blindness to clear up.

I slept for a while and had a few conversations with Paul, who came by pretty frequently.

"Berserker and Assassin back yet?"

"Yeah - Saber got away. Assassin doesn't know how."

I brooded about this for a while, and then I remembered the name - Saak. I didn't know who that was, but I knew people who might. I started calling around amongst other Mages. It was possible that there was one Maker around here that no one knew about, if he led a secret life as a coffee chump, but a hardcore Mind mage with a sniper rifle? Less likely.

I tried my cabal first; none of them knew anything. Then I tried Euroa, who was a Guardian of the Veil - the magical Men in Black. The Guardians try to keep tabs on mages and prevent Paradoxes. Euroa was a low ranking teenage girl in an area the Guardians didn't have any real influence over. She was a Mastigos, good at telepathy, scrying, teleportation and the like.

"Oh hey, Jayden, what's up?"

"Dude named Saak. Cheap suit, sniper rifle. What you got?"

"Ah. I'll give you this for free because this guy's bad news - he's a Banisher."

"A what?"

"Banisher. They're Mages who hunt other Mages. Some of them 'cause they're crazy or had a bad Awakening, some of them 'cause they're jerks or mercenaries. Saak seems to be the latter - Mastigos, no concern for collateral damage and - that's interesting."

"What?"

"Nothing," Euroa said quickly. "Yeah. Saak. Bad news. He's a hard man to find because he's really good at misdirecting scrying."

"Noticed that. Anything useful you have on him?"

"Uh, not really, just a list of hits he's done. Jesus, he shot down an airliner over Italy a few years back. He is supposed to be religious, Catholic, but I'm not sure if that's any help."

"Alright. Thanks Euroa."

"If I were you, I'd hole up where you are."

"I'll do that. Bye."

I hung up. Well, that wasn't great. Crazy religious fanatic who had no qualms about collateral damage and hunted mages even before he had a demigod assigned to his service.

I waited for Paul to come back. Seeing him took my mind off the whole fanatic thing. I could almost see right again, and it was past midnight on the clock - I'd been out for most of the day.

"By the way... sorry for the disaster today," he said.

"You couldn't have... turned the bullet into air or something?"

"I didn't want to find out."

"Fair enough. You know, I'm still kind of surprised by you."

"Why?"

"You're pretty powerful for a Mage, and still I've somehow never heard of you and you seem pretty sane."

"Uh, thanks?"

"No, really. When you create a Paradox, a whole bunch of things can happen - the weird matter vortex we saw today was just one possible. The other possibility is that it goes off in your brain and makes you crazy somehow."

"Jesus."

"Yeah. Which is why lone Mages who don't get taught the ropes often go crazy and either blow themselves up or become serial killers or Seers or whatever."

"And this happens a lot?"

"No, normally when people Awaken to magic it's a pretty big thing and Mages for miles around can sense it. And you just... didn't?"

"Well, I first used magic when I was about ten."

"Was it a strange and impressive experience? Did you visit a celestial realm and write your name on a Watchtower?"

"Uh, no. I just sort of did it."

"Did what?"

"Created a toy I wanted but my parents wouldn't buy?" Paul said, scratching the back of his head awkwardly, embarrassed.

"This makes no sense." I said, frowning. I briefly considered the possibility he wasn't a Wizard at all and, instead, some sort of manifestation of Matter magic - but that didn't hold up because his Magic looked and felt like Awakened magic. There was something I was missing, some question I'd forgotten to ask...

"Paul?"

"Yes?" Maybe it was that innocent stare that was stopping me from thinking it.

It was on the tip of my tongue.

It was probably nothing, though.

It was probably paranoia.

"Are you -"

And at that moment, a boom echoed out and a cannonball crashed through the window, smashing into the wall behind us in a hail of timber.

I rolled off the bed, pulling Paul down with me. It took a second to realize anything that could punch through a solid wall wouldn't be slowed much by the bed, so I started to run for the door.

But that niggling, incoherent thought still boiled in my mind. I wasn't even sure what I was asking, or thinking. It seemed almost beyond my control. Hesitation could get me killed if we were being attacked. But I had to make a decision.

- Trust Paul.
- Don't trust Paul.

Marcivo
2010-12-18, 06:17 AM
THE PLOT THICKENS.

Obviously, Jayden doesn't have much choice but to trust Paul, at least until she's no longer at risk of having her head turned to paste by a cannonball.

Fri
2010-12-18, 09:39 PM
Eh.. I'm kinda iffy. I don't really trust Paul.

horngeek
2010-12-20, 06:12 AM
Not trusting your allies gets you damm well killed. Trust Paul.

Fri
2010-12-20, 07:16 AM
Trusting mysterious peoples can get you killed too.

Thanqol
2010-12-20, 07:57 AM
6/2: VS RIDER VS ARCHER



Nothing for it. I had my doubts in his story, but whatever his motives were for withholding the truth they were not relevant when there were cannons shooting clean through my window.

Berserker smashed through a wall and stood in the path of a cannonball heading right for me. He recoiled as it smashed into his chest, sending fracture lines through his armor, but he otherwise shrugged it off. He hefted his enormous sword and ran through the door, and Paul and I followed in his wake.

Standing down the street from us was the man who had attacked me on that first day, resplendent in his blue and white clothing and silver breastplate, sitting on the back of a magnificent white charger. Next to him sat a man wearing crude plate armor with what looked like a bucket of corrugated iron on his head, on the back of a brown stallion.

That helmet I knew. I'd seen that movie. Goddamn Ned Goddamn Kelly.

Immediately in front of them were a line of 18th century cannons loading and firing themselves directly into the battered house. Immediately behind them were two girls.

Melanie, the Starbucks wannabe. And Euroa, the black haired nerdy teenager I'd just spoken to.

Immediately I realized the obvious thing I'd been missing.

I had just dialled up a mind reader and had a nice long conversation while thinking clearly about my fight with Saak. Goddamn it! Goddamn Mastigoses!

Berserker was running right into the line of cannons. As was his way, he was attacking the enemy at their strongest point. He was taking shot after shot - and the two mounted heroes were firing as well, Kelly with pistols and coat with that silver rifle. It was an obviously suicidal charge and I began to feel terrified for Berserker's safety. There was no way he could keep up like this.

I turned to Paul to ask him to put up some kind of barrier or something, but he was circling around to the left already. No idea where Assassin was. I had to do something!

I grabbed the power lines - Euroa hadn't had the same foresight as Humphrey - and caused a pair of massive lightning bolts to arc down on the two mounted heroes. I drained everything I could get, damaging the wires in the process. This was a one shot.

There was an enormous CRACK and flash of light, and suddenly Berserker was on top of both of them, ancient sword cleaving through flesh and armour, slaying both of the enemies instantly -

"RIDER!" screamed Euroa, looking in horror at the ruined Kelly.

Melanie set her jaw, grabbed at the air, pulled a golden cord from nowhere and tugged at it -

I turned to Paul to ask him to put up some kind of barrier or something, but he was circling around to the left already. No idea where Assassin was. I had to do something!

I grabbed the power lines - Euroa hadn't had the same foresight as Humphrey - and caused a pair of massive lightning bolts to arc down on the two mounted heroes. I drained everything I could get, damaging the wires in the process. This was a one shot.

"ARCHER! MOVE!" Shouted Melanie.

Both of the horses bounded aside, spectacularly dodging the enormous lightning bolts cracking down between them. A complete miss. How the hell did she -

Berserker caught up with Rider, swinging his sword, but the Australian was ready for it. He ducked under the first blow, urged his horse into a gallop and fired a few shots point blank into Berserker's body as he rode past. Berserker swung around to face, but he jerked as Archer fired a bullet into his back. He swung around, but both heroes were riding around him in a circle, firing into him from both sides. When he lunged at one, it danced back and the other darted close for some more free shots.

This was a disaster. Berserker only needed one strike to end this battle, but he couldn't get it. He could perhaps get one if there weren't other distractions, but the two were wearing him down with a thousand small cuts. His armor was penetrated in several places and he was bleeding freely, roaring in fury as he lashed out. He destroyed several of the cannons in his rage, but they were inaccurate at this close range and weren't helping him close with either of his opponents.

They had the measure of him, and there was no electricity or music left around here to draw on. I set my eyes on the two girls on the other side of the battle. Nothing to engage them with but my fists. Against two mages who had sixty feet to take aim. Yeah.

May as well.

I started running directly at Melanie. I increased my own speed until I was going so fast I wouldn't be able to do anything other than crash directly into her. I put up my arms to shield my face and went for the tackle.

Euroa raised her hands to cast something.

I saw it for a split second before I collided, but Paul stepped up behind her, pulled her head back and cut her throat.

What the -

Crash.

Vote:
- Jesus Christ.
- *Screaming*
- I'm sure there's a perfectly logical explanation for why my partner feels comfortable with slitting the throat of a teenage girl.

Fri
2010-12-21, 02:27 AM
See? See?

Would you still trust him now?

Anyway, anyone want to speculate on who are the legendary heroes? Well, except the ones that's been specifically identified.

Thanqol
2010-12-23, 08:36 PM
Merry Christmas, everyone, and thanks for reading!

Marcivo
2010-12-27, 06:33 AM
Jesus Christ. I think I should be concerned about Paul, but I'm too busy calling hax on Melanie. WHAT A GAME-BREAKER.

Also Merry Christmas, everyone.

Thanqol
2011-01-01, 05:32 AM
Holiday break's over. Hope everyone's had a happy new year :)

6/3: Assassins



Jesus Christ.

I'd just crashed head on into Melanie, but a quick force field had meant that I'd given a lot harder than I'd gotten. But that wasn't the issue - the issue was the cold blooded goddamn murder of a teenage girl.

I stood up, turning my back on Melanie, and faced Paul and Assassin.

"What," I said, gripping my pistol as if it was a viable weapon against either of the two.

There was crashing in the distance - Berserker was still fighting Rider, who was already fading away with the death of his Master. I couldn't see Archer anywhere.

"Assassin," said Paul, nodding coldly. Assassin drew two scimitars, spun them, and started advancing towards me.

"But - but the command spell! I haven't attacked you!" I said, trying to stop my hands from shaking. He had blood all down his shirt -

Paul shrugged, but Assassin stopped where he was. "Come on, she deserves an explanation," he said to Paul, with more than a touch of reproach in his voice.

"As you say," Paul said. "The answer's simple. I'm not actually Assassin's Master."

... clunk. There it was.

How long had I known Paul for? About three weeks? How long had I spent thinking it'd be impossible for a magic user like that to have been living under my nose?

All of the inconsistencies made sense.

"But - but you're a Servant too," I said, pointing at Assassin.

"Yeah," said Assassin, "We're kind of a pair."

... shirtless, brown skinned, scimitars, assassin, stealth, thief? Paired with, oh my god, a guy who can summon anything he wants? That's...

"Jesus Christ," I said in a small voice. I'd seen that movie too.

I looked over at Berserker. He was standing a few feet away, sword covered in blood and lowered. He had his head bowed. Oh no. That oath, that Command Spell. He couldn't help me.

The Assassins came towards me.

There was nothing I could do. The only one who could help me was

- Melanie
- Archer

Elanorin
2011-01-01, 05:54 AM
Melanie!! :smallbiggrin:

Go Melanie! She's a much better ally anyways. :smallwink:

Marcivo
2011-01-02, 02:13 AM
I'm gonna have to go with Melanie, too, especially after that hax she just pulled a minute ago. Better apologize first, though.

Thanqol
2011-01-05, 11:30 PM
6/4: Be Kind, Rewind



"You done fighting with your boyfriend?" Melanie said, sitting up behind me, holding her head.

"I think the fight is just about to start," I said, backing away from Paul.

"Nah. Let's go." Melanie stood up, shakily, "Ow," she said meaningfully, and started slowly walking away.

"You crazy!? He's gonna kill us!" I shouted. Maybe she'd hit the ground harder than I thought.

I felt her grab my collar and start dragging me. I wasn't expecting it, and Mel was actually a lot bigger than me. I was being pulled along by my heels before I knew it. Agonizingly slowly.

"WHAT THE HELL!?" I shouted, "WE'RE GONNA DIE!!"

"Chill," Melanie said, turning a corner and pulling me down an alley. That got my blood up - I thought I had a pretty damn good reason to be not-chill right now!

I managed to struggle free of her grip (with the unintended consequence of me falling on my ass). I got up, but she kept walking casually away. "Hey!" I shouted, but she didn't turn around. I had to run around so I was standing in front of her, which was a kind of ungainly motion no matter how you did it.

She looked down at me. There was a nasty bruise on her face. "You mind? I need an ice pack." She said, sounding tired.

"Has it escaped your goddamn notice that there are a pair of divinely powered ASSASSINS after us!?" I shouted, kind of freaking out just a little bit.

"Are there?" Melanie said, looking over her shoulder.

The alley was empty.

"They... aren't... following... us?"

"Yeah they are," she said, pushing past me, "Just really slowly. You live around here?"

"Not re - how the hell can you be so goddamn calm about this!?!"

Melanie turned around and gave me a glare. It actually stopped me in my tracks. She could actually glare - when she wasn't being super phoney.

"Yeah, Jayden, my friend is dead and I feel like you fractured my skull and your psycho boyfriend is out to kill both of us, and now I've got to walk to a hospital while keeping this spell up. I'm ****in' peachy. Now shut up and walk."

She didn't wait for an answer, and just kept walking. I stood blankly for a moment, raised a finger and opened my mouth to argue, and realized the moment had way gone. And that I'd just been put in place by a wannabe coffee clerk.

I shut up and followed.

Thanqol
2011-01-10, 01:25 AM
6/5: Reconsider



I was sitting in Melanie's living room, watching the TV and eating popcorn. She'd decided that she wasn't going to bother walking to the hospital and could just sleep it off. So she was asleep. It was kind of dirty. I was tired and feeling hollow. But I couldn't bring myself to sleep.

Someone had died.

Not some time-travelling mystic comic-book superhero who'd discorporate back into pure magic. Someone I knew. Had died. And it was my fault. And it had almost happened to me too.

It was 3.50 am and some guy in a suit was selling me dictionaries and I was sitting in a stranger's apartment, a stranger who didn't even like me. Berserker was too big to fit in the door and was standing stiffly outside the building. I was afraid to go down and talk to him. Because I'd feel that contempt again, and this time I wouldn't be able to just get angry and tell myself he was wrong. Because he was right to be angry.

I was a failure. I had Berserker. I'd seen most of the other Servants by now and I *knew* Berserker could absolutely win in a direct fight. Any of them, in a stand up, hands down fight against Berserker would flat lose. Each of them had their ways of trying to make the fight unfair, but I was supposed to do something about that. I'd done the reverse. I'd made it impossible for the strongest Servant to lay a hand on the weakest one.

For what?

A stupid crush and stupid pride. Hadn't even bothered to ask questions about a relentlessly improbable situation because that's how life was supposed to go. I was supposed to win, always, and it'd be easy and I wouldn't have to worry.

And now here I was in my underpants, sitting on a squeaky couch bed, watching infomercials like a slob. While the local coffee clerk was a legitimate magus and had been a lot more competent than me. That was another cut - I'd checked after we'd got back, and it turns out that Mel was a known Mage and it was my fault for not bothering to look her up, or pay any attention to her at all. And she'd saved my life despite me getting her friend killed and had let me sleep in her house.

Because Paul probably knew where my house was.

I might have fallen asleep. At least, I didn't notice time any more. I didn't find any sense of resolve. Or purpose. Or drive.

I just found a great discount on the biggest multi language set of dictionaries on the planet.

Thanqol
2011-01-11, 08:21 AM
6/6: Totally Planned That



It scared me. Some small part of me in the back of my mind was quietly horrified. This is what happens? A girl gets her throat cut and you just watch TV all night?

And drink coffee and look out the window and things are... normal?

We don't cut to the police investigation?

I don't break down on camera and get questioned by the police? There's no media circus? There's no... guilt?

Things just... keep going?

Melanie was sitting across from me, looking down into her cereal. So was I. We weren't speaking. On my end, there was still the deep existential doubt, the guilt, the fear of suddenly being confronted by my own mortality and fallibility. On her end, I didn't know. Bitterness? Anger? I was assuming the worst because I couldn't get anything from her.

There was only one thing I could think of. I had to get even with Assassin. I couldn't take him. Berserker couldn't fight him at all. There was only one way I could think of to make this work, and that way was suicide.

Scry on him. Find his master. Get Berserker to fight Assassin's master while I held off the Assassins.

Didn't matter that I wasn't good at scrying. Didn't matter that a mystical magical Assassin would probably have wards.

I reached into the box of cornflakes and pulled out the little plastic recorder.

I turned up my headphones and put my hand on the cheap radio. Ben Folds was playing. I took a deep breath.

And I slammed my head into the table as hard as I could.

You wanna see what's in my head?

Stars exploded in my eyes. My disoriented mind was blasted into the radio by the arcane connection and a second later I was tumbling head over heels, invisible, carried by the radio waves that ran through LA.

I felt myself getting attenuated already. Every time I passed through a wall I lost a little bit of my coherence. It also hurt. I barely had any control of where I was going, so I was smacking into and bouncing off many walls as the wave swept me along.

I invisibly crashed through Paul's house. Empty, but it was my only starting point. He'd barely left any trace in this place, like a ghost. I'd kind of figured.

A friend of mine explained how Scrying worked once. It wasn't patterns, threads, solid things. It was about contamination. The more time things spent interacting with other things the more they contaminated each other, and the more they left trails. Strong scents could contaminate deeply even if there were just a few seconds contact.

I clumsily made my way through a window. It felt like I was dragging myself through a sieve. I stumbled out into the middle of the street, buffeted by waves of sheer force from all sides. I pulled myself through the police barricade. The police radio chatter was like hurricane gusts, and it was all I could to keep myself moving. Moving up to the body.

I almost lost my focus, and was blown off to the side to smash into an ambulance. I grit my teeth, made myself look, struggled back and reached down to touch the blood with ethereal fingers.

I was knocked off my feet, flung far into the sky, tumbling like a ragdoll through the air. Then I started plunging. It wasn't just falling. There was a weight behind me, like a jet was accelerating into the ground. I think I was screaming.

I smashed into the ground. A cloud of white particles burst off my ethereal form and dissipated. Before I could gather myself I was hurtled down the street by some invisible force, and smashed hard into a house. This wasn't just local interference, this was something screwing with my scry. I was falling apart quickly.

I took refuge in the power lines, discorporating my mind into electricity and flowing along the lines. Resistance aside, I had the scent. My pattern was contaminated by the blood. I knew the direction I had to go.

I was abruptly, violently, yanked out of the power lines and found myself in the third rail of a subway. A subway tram was coming for me fast - being discharged into the engines of a train would shatter the spell, violently. But, thank the stars, the subway station was playing the same radio channel my physical body was listening to. That was an arcane link strong enough for me to wrench myself back into a free-roaming signal.

I emerged from the subway, bouncing off walls and losing more and more mass, and into the city. By now my right arm was gone up to the elbow, I'd left clumps of hair behind me and there were ribs emerging from my chest. It didn't physically hurt, but it was a reflection of how ****ed up my brain was from doing this. I was getting a migraine, memories were scrambling together, and I was getting outright dumber and clumsier the longer this went on. It was hard to focus, and increasingly difficult to remember why I was doing this to myself.

I was close.

I flitted from iPod to iPod, then was hurtled through a wall to the 18th floor of a skyscraper office. I was hurtled from skyscraper to skyscraper, like the spiderman doll of a problem child. I lost more and more mental capacity with each strike. But I could smell the blood. It tainted my entire pattern. The guilt and shame I carried made it spread all throughout me. The only parts of my mind that were undamaged were the parts of it dealing with the guilt - and that was not a good place to be in.

I smashed into the ground, violently hard, at the feet of an old hobo in red and white robes. The man was holding a large cardboard sign with the Ten Commandments written on it and a beard that could only be described as biblical. My ability to read had been shattered by the fall, and I couldn't read the words or numbers outside the building. Things were blurring together, becoming more like what they were rather than what they looked like. I could only claw my way inside.

There was a vast waterfall of blood. Brick walls painted black moved around. Silver and red lines the stairs upwards, a tiny layer of paint over the rough, crude stone surfaces. A misshapen monster wearing the smiling mask of a pretty woman sat behind a desk. I staggered inside.

The dark presence that had hounded me thus far was behind me now. It was close. Coherent. It knew I was here. It was close enough to try and end me for good. Before, it had been trying to cover it's tracks from halfway across the city, but now it was in it's element. And now I risked outright death.

I run up the stairs.

For a moment, I feel it's emotion - panic. I'm way too close to the source. It breaks into a full run behind me, catching up to me in seconds, creating a wealth of blades to end my fragile scry with.

For a moment, I realized this was it. There was no one here to save my ass. There was no one who could do this for me.

Which meant that I had to do this myself.

I gave a deafening scream and grabbed at the raw Force that ran through this place and RIPPED. Things around me exploded. Fire flared everywhere. Lightning poured into and out of me. It was furious, brutal and total.

The black shadow managed to retreat with minor burns but seemed content to wait this one out. I wasn't.

I changed the channel.

Abruptly, the scry was cut.

I was back in Melanie's apartment.

I was bleeding from my head. I could only make the most fumbling gestures. I could barely understand what she was saying, but gathered it was some sort of profanity. My tongue was numb for some reason.

But when the radio said, "This is just in - there's been some sort of terrible explosion in the Hollen Building! Emergency services are moving in -"

I laughed.

It was crude, sloppy, undignified half-barking laughter with a lot of drool and gasping for breath. But it was laughter and that was a grin.

Because that was victory.

Fri
2011-01-12, 03:03 PM
... shirtless, brown skinned, scimitars, assassin, stealth, thief? Paired with, oh my god, a guy who can summon anything he wants? That's...

"Jesus Christ," I said in a small voice. I'd seen that movie too.

I actually still don't know who are they

Thanqol
2011-01-17, 07:07 AM
I won't lie. This is late because I've been writing about My Little Pony. God help me.

6/7: And By The Way, You're Fired.



Police lines, helicopters, road blocks, tactical squads - one didn't blow up a skyscraper in this day and age without getting a disproportional response. No one was hurt - the only thing I'd damaged had been an empty elevator shaft - but the fuzz weren't taking any chances.

I pushed my way through the gawkers. My brain was still on the fritz, and I had extremely poor motor skills, but the towering Berserker parted the crowd with his traditionally furious stare. Melanie followed just behind, completely convinced that I had gone mad. Well I'd show her who was mad!

Hm. My friends did always say I was one lab accident away from being a supervillain.

The sound was great. So much shouting, so many radios, so many cameras and electronics, phone calls and texts. Far from overwhelming me, it empowered me. The more noise the faster I could sort through it. And I was looking for two familiar sets of footsteps, two familiar voices...

I found three.

The Assassins were walking quietly away from the scene, flanking a man in an obnoxiously white suit and a head of fake hair.

I began moving through the crowd and emerged directly in front of him and punched him in the face.

"Derrik," I slurred, standing over him as the flashbulbs went off around me. I turned to nod at the Assassins, "Aladdin. Genie."

Aladdin paused, hands halfway towards where his swords were hidden. Paul, the Genie looked at him sideways. He was in plain view of hundreds of people who were all clamouring for a view of the drugged up Jayden Mavel beating up her agent - good luck using magic here.

Derrik got to his feet, cradling his bruise, but looking incredibly pissed off.

Berserker, looking incredibly ungainly in his oversized black suit and tie, stepped up to my left, with an incredibly stylish Archer stepping up to my right. I grinned and cracked my knuckles.

"Let's give them a show."

The three of us charged the three of them, surrounded by a halo of blinding white light.

Thanqol
2011-01-20, 08:52 PM
6/8: VS ASSASSIN



The trick was, I thought as I got punched in the face, how to escalate this.

Assassin and Paul hadn't pulled swords, and Derrik was trying to hide behind them and look for a way to run. Archer was with me fighting the other Servants, Berserker trying to circle around to attack the Master. But the problem for both sides was that surrounded by witnesses and the FBI we couldn't exactly pull a piece and end it. We likewise wouldn't have long before someone tried to break it up.

How does one kill two Servants with one's bare hands in front of the mass media without getting locked up?

Fortunately, I had a plan.

I swung clumsily at Assassin - my dexterity not precisely recovered. Assassin stepped back and then jumped in with a sharp jab to the throat. Fortunately, Berserker stepped into the path, unfazed by the hit but unable to strike back. Archer had his hands up and circling, dancing from foot to foot, less like a boxer and more like someone practising the dignified art of fisticuffs. Paul was more direct, coming at him with low, harsh uppercuts.

But thing was, no one here was remotely in their element. It was almost comical to watch.

The middle aged agent, the sixty kilo girl, the ranged specialist, two stealth specialists and a guy who couldn't directly attack. No one could play to their strengths, use magic, or escalate or end the brawl.

I kicked at Assassin. He caught the leg easily under his arm and twisted, throwing me to the ground. Archer then hit him in the back of the head with a backfist, pitching him forward on top of me. I raised a knee reflexively and it rammed into his gut. The Servant winced.

Paul dodged around Berserker, slipped a set of brass knuckles he'd subtly conjured onto his hands, and swung a blow that hit Archer in the shoulder. Archer jumped back, seemingly off an instinctive desire to get a position safely off the front lines, remembered himself and then lunged in for a full body tackle. Paul fought him off and kicked him back.

Again, the two Assassins were standing between us and Derrik, and I couldn't see a way around them. I brushed myself down as I stood up and nodded to Berserker.

He picked me up and threw me bodily overhead to crash into Derrik. At the same time, Archer charged both Assassins.

The air went out of me as I hit my former agent, but I'd manipulated the forces involved so he'd taken the worst of it by far. I grabbed his right arm, pulled up his sleeve, revealing the glowing, magical command seals decorating it. I pulled my lighter as fast as I could, hiding the motion from the cameras with my arm, poured the fluid over his arm, and set it alight.

This had better work.

I stood up and backed away as Derrik started realize he was on fire, and started shouting accordingly. I pointed, shouted, "Oh my god, he set himself on fire," and got out of the way as firefighters came through. I pushed my way through the crowd, away from the commotion.

The police would probably want to talk to me later.

That video was going on youtube.

That was one of the dumber things I'd ever done in my life.

But when I looked around, I couldn't see either of the Assassins. They'd just vanished.

I'd beaten them at their own class.

Thanqol
2011-01-25, 08:00 AM
6/9: Before The Fall



Momentum.

Momentum was everything. If you stopped, if you slowed down, if you paused to blink then you'd lose it. If you looked behind you you'd lose the lead. Momentum was victory. When it was against you, it was crushing. But when you had it, you were unstoppable.

And I was unstoppable.

It was so easy to lose the crowd. Tricks of the sound and light and they were looking elsewhere. A trick of gravity and I was running up a wall. A trick of momentum and I was jumping from house to house, going so fast I was almost flying.

I could hear Berserker and Archer running somewhere far behind me, but they couldn't keep up. I was moving like a thunderbolt, moving so fast that the only reason I wasn't getting Paradoxed was that people weren't getting more than a glimpse of me. Even then, it was dangerous. But that didn't stop me. Because if two assassins, broad daylight, and the entire LAPD couldn't stop me none of these rubes was going to.

The momentum was power. The faster I ran, the more power was there. It wasn't the effortless power of Sound, but it was force, and it was mighty.

I jumped off the roof and terminated my momentum. I hovered a foot above the ground, surrounded by boiling air, before my feet gently touched the ground. Melanie Cole had just run out the door of the house, and she was the only one in the street. I smiled, brushed my hands against each other, and started walking towards her.

"A breeze. A blast!" I said, grinning. The grin turned into a laugh. A loud, unfettered laugh. It was forged of relief, triumph and way too much energy. It came to mind that Humphrey once said I was one lab accident away from being a supervillain.

Archer dropped into place besides Melanie, and Berserker appeared behind me a second later.

"So! Where next?" I said, "Who next? Caster and Saber are left, by my count, and I haven't seen any sign of Caster. Where should we start looking?"

Melanie folded her arms. Archer stepped into a slightly more readied stance behind her. "And Archer," she said.

"I could start up another scry, that was actually kind of - What?" I said, losing my train of thought.

"I'm not your ally, Jayden," Melanie said coldly. "I was just helping out till Assassin was gone."

"What?" I said. And for a moment there, I almost lost that momentum.

But I caught it. It stumbled in the back of my brain but I started it moving again. And there was one easy vent for momentum.

"You think you can take me?" I said, disbelieving.

"Yes!" Melanie snapped.

"With Archer?" I said incredulously, "I've beaten him twice, and once without a Servant. And you? You, a two-bit wannabe hack, think you can take me?"

Melanie opened her mouth to snap back but I smashed the words back down her throat, dropping her to her knees gasping for air. Archer's gun was up immediately but I didn't care.

"No, don't speak," I said, my blood up and pounding. "You've made your point clear enough already. I'm going home, and I'm going to bathe, and sleep, and then I'm going to come back here this time tomorrow. I owe you enough to give you the home field advantage. So have your "Archer" wheel out his cannons and gather his army and get all his goddamn garbage together and we'll destroy it a third damn time."

It would have been nice to say that I was hopped up on magic, or getting feedback from Berserker, or was still mentally damaged from the scrying. All these things were true.

But the truth of the matter was that sometimes I was an enormous jerk.

I turned around and stormed off. If she'd decided to betray me before the burns of the last traitor had cleared up she wasn't going to get any mercy either.

Thanqol
2011-01-30, 01:23 AM
Interlude Three: Dream of Stone



Cities of stone rise across the empire. Tall and proud, built by my people and stolen from others. The men of the steppe dwell in stone buildings now, their wandering days at an end.

Roads of stone connect the empire in one great whole. Cut deep into the bones of mountains, flowing with silk and spice. Like a great spider's web, they link city to city and vassal king to vassal king.

Temples of stone rise to the heavens. All faiths are welcome here. Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist. I require the favour of Heaven, all Heaven. This land is vast and holy, and this holy land bends it's knee to me.

Rocks of stone crash through glass windows, collected from the cobbled roads of stone below them. The people raise their voices and resist. Fire glows over the great cities of stone, voices call for freedom, or for different tyrants.

Once more, with the sluggish weight of inevitability, the horde enters the city. Once more the stones drink deep of blood. Once more the fires are quenched, the treasures are taken and the men depart.

But what conquers stone is paper; letters arrive from the distant east, addressing me as a mere vassal, demanding tribute and supplication from this vast and holy empire. And once again, the beast was roused. Millions of men and horses thunder along the roads of stone. Millions of banners are raised, and at the head of this vast and holy army, I ride. The great host marches east.

China, the great Eastern lands, had been crushed by my people once before.

Pride, far more powerful than stone, demanded it be crushed again.

Thanqol
2011-02-03, 12:40 AM
7/1: The Morning Afterwards



At the time, it all felt like a good idea.

The same momentum that would take you to the top could easily fling you off the edge and you wouldn't notice it. But here, in my own house, in my own bed, in safety and security without the pressure of invisible, unstoppable assassins along with a collection of other bloodthirsty demigods, those choices rose up like bile in the back of my throat.

I'd been almost directly responsible for a human being's death.

I'd set a man on fire, in public.

I'd essentially killed Paul.

I'd attacked Melanie in a fit of petulant rage.

I got in the shower, but the hangover continued. I'd used a very dangerous scry despite enormous risk. I'd caused significant property damage and, while I hadn't killed anyone in the process, that was pure luck rather than taking care not to. I'd won, but in the process I'd made a nigh endless series of screwups. I'd brute forced my way through these problems and left a lot of ruin in my wake.

I sat at the table in my bathrobe, eating cereal. I looked up at the silent, stoic figure of the Berserker. His presence was one of silent support. He did not disapprove of my actions. But was that a good thing? Was the approval of a Berserker a good thing?

His dream last night, the dream I'd somehow caught glimpses of. It had felt like the path to ruin. It had felt like a doomed, mad dream by a doomed, mad man. But there had been a current of vast, terrible, unstoppable pride that had run through the core of it.

Destruction and chaos had loomed, he had known that. He had known full well what he had wrought.

And he would have had it no other way.

The Berserker stood in silence. He was to fight another Servant, on the Servant's home turf, a frontal assault without strategy or sanity. And he was completely serene at the prospect.

How had he died?

I looked up at his eyes. His stare bored directly into mine.

Proud.

Thanqol
2011-02-07, 07:25 AM
7/2: The Trap


This brought to mind an old story.

A legendary Chinese general found that an enemy army was about to invade his castle, and his army was elsewhere. He had no defenses. So, he pulled out a table and chair, opened the gate, and sat in plain view out the front of his castle drinking tea.

The enemy army had been so convinced it was a trap that they'd bypassed the castle entirely.

So as Berserker and I stood at one end of the street, facing Archer who was standing unarmed and unarmoured at the other, I was trying to avoid second guessing myself. There were no people around - like in the Subway before, Archer seemed to have the ability to clear the area. Melanie was standing a brief distance behind him.

This was obviously a trap. He knew I knew it was a trap. The train of thought of who knew what could go on forever. But he also knew that I was packing Berserker and going around wasn't in our skillset.

I looked up at Berserker. His eyes were narrowed, his fists were clenched around his huge sword. He was already starting to step forwards. I took a deep breath. Well, the entire idea had been to walk directly into the trap and win anyway.

I stepped forwards as well. Berserker glanced briefly at me and I thought I saw a flicker of a smile as he stepped forwards into a run.

I closed my eyes as I ran after him.

I was waiting for the bullets, or the cannonballs. I was trusting in Berserker and an all too thin force field to protect me. Archer stayed where he was, hands in his pockets.

My heart was pounding. I kept thinking about the bullet entering my skull. I kept thinking about the time magic. I kept thinking about how this could go wrong. But I was running too fast to stop now.

Berserker raised his sword and swung it around. Archer ducked under it. I ripped the power out of the heavy duty battery I'd taken with me and threw it, scorching his leg. Berserker caught him with his free hand, picking him up by the neck and hurtling him into the ground so hard it shattered the asphalt.

As the dust cleared, Archer was lying on his back, coughing up blood. Berserker's sword was held to his neck. Melanie's hands were clasped together.

"What the hell, Archer?" I said. "What's the game?"

Archer spit bloody flem to the side, and looked up at me.

"Miss Mavel," he said, smiling, "When one is outmatched in war, surely you realize the proper response is to acquire reinforcements?"

I didn't shout 'Berserker it's a trap', because duh, but I did shout "Do it now!" Berserker swung his sword up and around and -

"That's quite enough, Tamerlane."

Berserker stumbled, waving his arms off balance, and his leg gave out under him. He collapsed to the ground.

An old woman and the bearded man I'd seen several times before were walking slowly down the street. The old woman was smiling. "So tell me, your Imperial Majesty," she said in a raspy voice, "How did you know?"

Archer grinned, sitting up, "What kind of time traveller wouldn't come back to this moment?"

I tried to help Berserker to his feet, but his left leg was completely crippled. It wouldn't support him at all and I could barely stand with his weight on me. The old people had stopped a short distance away from us.

"Caster," said the old woman, "Destroy both the Servants."

"Yes, Lady Cole," said the bearded man.

Thanqol
2011-02-10, 08:36 AM
7/3: The Archmasters


"Wait. Wait wait wait wait wait," I said, backing up, standing between Berserker and Caster. My head was spinning. "Both servants?"

"Yes," the old woman said calmly.

"But - isn't - she you?" I sputtered, pointing between Melanie and... Lady Cole.

"Yes. And the reason I came back. But His Highness missed on why,"

Lady Cole turned to face Melanie, who was white with shock. "Tell me, dear. What were you going to wish for?"

"I -" She hesitated.

"Say it!" Snapped Lady Cole sharply.

"Fame and fortune!" Blurted Melanie.

"Exactly," said Lady Cole acidly, "What a wretched simpleton I was. Fame and fortune? You had the opportunity to wish for anything and you wished for fame and fortune?"

She took a breath, and gestured to Caster. The old man was holding his staff level, but stopped moving.

"Fame and fortune - you know, several Holy Grail wars ago someone wished for the ultimate weapon, and obtained the Atom Bomb. Before then, someone wished for glory upon his nation and created the British Empire. Another Holy Grail War resulted in the creation of America. America the continent. Making the world round in the process. And you - I - wished for fame and fortune?"

Lady Cole glared daggers at her younger self. "It wasn't worth it. It wasn't worth a second of it, let alone as I began to realize what I could of done. So I came back to do it properly. And believe me when I say that I'm qualified to tell you that you have no business here."

Melanie quavered.

I cocked my gun and put it to the back of Lady Cole's head.

"I'm pretty sure entering the contest twice is cheating."

She smirked, and pulled a golden cord out of thin air -


"Jayden, your mother will be there, and it'll look weird if you don't go."

"People already think I'm weird."

"Not important people."

I shook my head. Something about Derrik. Something about that smirk. He wasn't worried. He didn't care what I did. He wasn't focused on this conversation at all. He was thinking about something else, something different. The old brass lamp on his desk seemed so tacky.

"Look, just take your lumps and it'll be over before you know it."

Sigh. "Fine. But you owe me."

"I don't owe you anything."

"Derrik?"

I felt a sword touch my throat, and slash. It felt kind of like a prickle on the skin. I tried to speak but there was water in my throat and I started coughing.

"Good work, Assassin. Now dispose of the body."

I started...

to...

focus on that golden cord as it's yanked the other way

-

There was a tug of war between Melanie and Lady Cole. They were holding on to opposite ends of the golden line and yanking it back and forth. Things flickered into existence in and around them.

I was unloading my gun, now it was loaded and back against Lady Cole's head, and now it was in my mouth. And now -

“Keep the change,”

"**** you, Jayden,"

The entire Starbucks turned to look as Melanie threw the fifty in my face, then reached for my belt. I wasn't able to move as she picked out my gun, raised it, shot Paul in the head, shot me in the head, shot herself in the -

-

Berserker was on his feet, arms around Caster's neck. Caster's staff transformed into a serpent and bit Berserker's ankle, causing him to collapse again. The warrior tried to haul himself to his feet but a blast of lightning from the sky, also striking his leg, knocking him down again.

"Tamerlame -"

Lady Cole backhanded Melanie in the face

-

It's spring.

The sun is going down peacefully.

The old lady sits on her rocking chair, faint creaks heard from the old wood.

There are children playing in the street.

The sky is streaked with gold. The mountains rise to meet the heavens. It's an arid land, blasted by war, overfarming, and disaster.

It's home.

She's found her way home.

The attendant comes out of the building. He put a finger against her neck, checked his watch and closed her eyes.

-

Archer is armed and armoured in silver, riding at the head of glorious banners of red, white and blue. His musket roars as it fires silver bullets. His sabre glitters as it shatters against a magical shield. His white charger rears dramatically.

Caster rips the earth asunder, but Archer has already moved, falling back, firing over his shoulder as he rides -

A spell goes wrong. A pointless, trivial spell goes horribly wrong. Something horrifying emerges from the Void. With a smiling face it tears Jayden's mind apart and climbs inside. The possessed Mage books a luxury cruise around the Arctic Circle. The liner has four thousand people aboard, more than the Titanic.

Those people, stuck on the same boat as Jayden Mavel, came to wish they had it as easy as those on board the Titanic.

Bodies washed up on every beach around the world.

-

Time is breaking apart. The cord has snapped, and the mages are grabbing different strands and fragments and trying to wrench them out of place. Hundreds of timelines and universes swirl around like golden shards. Melanie and Lady Cole battle in the epicentre as time boils around them.

The impossible is starting to attract the unnatural. The air is getting deathly cold. The sheer amount of magic being hurtled around is weakening the boundaries between the now and a Paradox. Demons, worse than demons, claw at the other side. The Archmasters, the Servants, continue to fight.

A voice from far away echoes through the torn street

"Sancte Michael Archangele," -

I stand, looking out over the cheering crowd.

" -defende nos in proelio; -"

- I stand before the Holy Grail. So many choices for wishes, and so much beauty in the thing itself. I reach out and wish for -

"- contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. -"

"Of course gods are mythological, because nothing that crazy could ever exist. Except for the fact that you can throw lightning. That's perfectly normal. Idiot! Jayden, listen to yourself - YOU ARE A GOD. We are all Gods. Mages are Gods and should be treated as such, and if I hear another word of this Lie that we aren't I might do something... divine."

"- Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur: -"

"Banisher. They're Mages who hunt other Mages. Some of them 'cause they're crazy or had a bad Awakening, some of them 'cause they're jerks or mercenaries. Saak seems to be the latter - Mastigos, no concern for collateral damage and - that's interesting."

"- tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis, -"

"I am not a man of blood; and God is my witness that in all my wars I have never been the aggressor, and that my enemies have always been the authors of their own calamity."

I dream of Fire.

I am at peace amongst these beautiful surroundings.

I dream of Iron.

But what conquers stone is paper; letters arrive from the distant east, addressing me as a mere vassal, demanding tribute and supplication from this vast and holy empire. And once again, the beast was roused. Millions of men and horses thunder along the roads of stone. Millions of banners are raised, and at the head of this vast and holy army, I ride. The great host marches east.

I dream of Stone.

I look at my legacy.

I dream of Blood.

"- satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, -"

"DO YOU REJECT SATAN AND ALL HIS WORKS?"

"- qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo, -"

The little girl has enjoyed this day. She smiles and licks her ice cream. Her mummy is smiling too. Mummy took her down to the park and let her ride any of the rides she wanted, and won a toy tiger which she gave the girl. She's still hugging it. She's never hugged anything as tightly or for as long before. She chews on the nose a bit. A habit.

But she still wants to ask the question.

"Mummy. Where's daddy?"

Mummy stops smiling. She says "Mr. Winston will take you home". She says she looks very pretty and to take care of Mr. Tiger, but her eyes are red and she walks away very quickly after that. She sniffs hard. She's crying.

The little girl is lead away by the kind old butler. But she wants her daddy to come back to her mummy.

"- divina virtute in infernum detrude. -"

"No system can ever know it's own code."

"You wanna see what's in my head?"

"Things pass from the physical into the spiritual and from the spiritual to the physical. Every time this happens, things get stronger."

"ARE YOU READY TO ROCK!?"

"Heirachy fosters the Lie."

"Jayden Mavel."

"Jayden Brackman."

"Jayden -"

"Amen."

The shot rang out.

A perfect stillness ripping through the centre of the temporal chaos.

A perfect silver bullet cutting through every spell and cutting through the skull of Lady Cole.

The light vanishes, but time is still out of joint. I'm on the ground, then in the air, then firing my gun blindly, then standing and facing him directly.

Odon Saak, holding a sniper rifle in one hand, bible in the other, Sabre at his side.

"So perish all mages," said the Banisher.

Thanqol
2011-02-14, 11:49 PM
7/4: The Strategos



The air was still screaming and scratching with the cold void of Paradox; the slightest spell could cause a terrible catastrophe. I was standing next to Berserker who was still slowly, agonizingly trying to stand on a foot that just wouldn't support him. Saak was reloading. Sabre was drawing her sword and walking towards us. Melanie was trying desperately to eradicate the shards of broken time.

Archer smiled and stepped forwards.

He was wearing his armour now, gleaming and glorious, showing no sign he'd been pummelled by Berserker. Sabre seemed taken aback by the fact that he was still walking towards her - the ranged specialist was closing into length of her sword. She stopped entirely when Archer bowed to her.

"Mademoiselle. It truly is an honour," Archer said, looking down, "You are as beautiful as the stories say,"

"... forgive me, but I do not know you," said Sabre haltingly.

"One who succeeded you, dear lady, one who only existed because of you. We serve the same God and the same Country, we are here for the same purpose and we have the same Wish:

"To make France great."

There was a silence.

"Monsieur Archer -"

"Please. Call me Napoleon, Lady Arc."

"Monsieur Napoleon," said Sabre. She straightened a little, she seemed to somehow recognize that name, "what do you propose,"

"We abandon this war, now. We travel to France, now. We use the power we possess as two Servants to overthrow the corrupt sycophants that rule there now and remind the people that to be French is to be victorious. Together, Lady, we could conquer this world. For God. For France."

"Archer what -" Melanie shouted

"Sabre, I command you to -" Saak started shouting, shock evident in his voice.

Archer dived towards Saak, exposing himself completely to Sabre's sword.

Sabre's sword was already raised and coming down, hilt striking Melanie in the temple.

Archer's fist hit Saak's throat, and an upper elbow knocked him to the ground.

The two Servants looked at each other. Archer looked pleased, and Sabre looked both uncomfortable, but slightly relieved.

Oh dear.

Napoleon Bonaparte I of France brushed his hands together brightly. "Do relax, mademoiselle Mavel. As far as I am concerned, this is the end of it."

"What?" I said, completely tensed.

"All part of the plan, my dear. We're leaving, and chances are you will lose control of Berserker before you catch up to us. That, and the presence of a third surviving Servant is a nice guarantee on my intention not to betray Lady Sabre."

And because you're still afraid of Berserker, I thought maliciously. "What about them?" I said, pointing to the unconscious Masters.

"They'll come with us, but we'll keep them unconscious until we're done," said Archer, picking up Saak by the collar. Unconscious, the Banisher seemed like a bag of bones and sharp edges. "Don't worry, though. This will not be so much a revolution or a conquest as a reassertion of the natural order."

The treacherous Servants jumped, vanishing from sight in a blur of movement and taking their Masters with them. I was left on the empty street with the crippled Berserker. The last Master standing.

Hooray.

Thanqol
2011-02-18, 06:02 AM
7/5: Unstoppable



Berserker got to his feet, slowly. I could hear the bones in his legs snap and grind. I wasn't sure what exactly Cole had done to him, but he was overcoming it with sheer grit.

He took a step.

"Berserker, stop," I said.

He took another step.

"You can't fight them like this, Berserker!" I said.

He fixed his eyes on the distance. He didn't hear a word of what I was saying.

"We have to turn back! Go after them later!"

No. No, it wasn't that he didn't hear me. It was that my words were making him angry.

He roared, and lunged forwards, raising his sword over his head. He was so fast, even though he was limping, tearing off down the road. His sword demolished a lamp post and severed a tree in one casual sweep, and his footsteps were tearing the asphalt.

There was no way I could catch him on foot.

I shot out the window to a nearby car, used a touch of magic to quiet the alarm and activate the engine, and floored the pedal.

It was like following a whirlwind.

Berserker was running through traffic along the centre of the road. A car got in his way and he knocked it aside with a causal backhand, smashing it into the side of the road. His great sword barely touched the ground but tore a great line through the road. I was doing fifty miles per hour and only barely keeping pace with him.

"BERSERKER!" I screamed out the window, but if he heard me, he gave no sign.

Spotlights fell from above. Helicopters, focusing their spotlights on Berserker. I could hear sirens wail. Berserker kept running, lowering his shoulder and charging through a red light and knocking all the cars aside. A spinning SUV hurtled through the air towards my window and I barely had the sense of mind to kill it's momentum before I swerved hard to the left and around it. It landed quietly with a 'whump'.

I realized suddenly just how many people could get hurt by this rampage.

"STOP!" I shouted out the window, but Berserker ran faster. He was unstoppable.

There was a wall of flashing red and blue lights ahead of us, a police barricade. Berserker smashed through them like toys. Gunfire ripped out from the helicopters but it impacted uselessly against his skin. I had to duck and throw up another force field as some of the bullets sprayed past me.

Is that...?

Oh no.

LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. The ultra-modern dome rose above the skyline. And rising above it was a jet, just taking off. Berserker's eyes were fixated on that jet.

He stopped suddenly where he was, skidding through concrete as though it was mud. He swept his sword through the air, the aftershocks so powerful that it knocked the helicopters away. He hefted his sword over his shoulder like a javelin.

I hit the brakes as hard as I could, covered my head and screamed at the top of my lungs, "BERSERKER! I ORDER YOU TO STOP!"

Then I crashed.

Marcivo
2011-02-19, 03:30 AM
I remember when this thread was democratic. D:

Anyway, good stuff.

Thanqol
2011-02-20, 07:51 AM
I remember when this thread was democratic. D:

Anyway, good stuff.

Haven't you ever studied Political Science, man? Revolution and Counter-Revolution.

I abolished democracy here, and a few weeks later Egypt became a democracy.

I claim full credit.

Thanqol
2011-02-22, 08:15 AM
Interlude Four: Dream of Snow



There was no glorious charge.

There was no final battle.

There was just brilliant white powder snow raining from the heavens. There were endless, beautiful glittering fields of snow.

No army marched to meet them. No host tried to stop them. All that was in their way was mile after mile of snow and ice.

He was leading a holy army, a sacred army, blessed by the Gods and burning with the fires of vengeance, pride and fury. It was unstoppable, unquenchable.

But Fire can not exist when there is nothing to burn.

Sixty nine heavy years weighted his shoulders.

His leg, broken as a child during an idiotic horse riding accident, still ached and troubled him.

His brow was burning with fever. The fire of revenge needed to burn and, in absence of enemies to fight, was turning on his own body.

Months of riding, the great host passing through snow and ice, along mountains and across rivers. Hundreds of thousands of men, an army to conquer China. They had to dig through five feet of solid ice to even find water. They had to march carrying weapons and armor, along trails that had never known roads. The effort was superhuman.

And they were finally here, on the shore of the Sihon River. They were just over half way to their destination.

The King of Iron was riding tall, proud, unbent. He had been for days. His soldiers took heart from his unflinching figure. It wasn't until a week had passed until an officer approached him and saw that his hands were frozen to his saddle. When they pulled him down and carried him to the doctors, he struggled against them the entire way with limbs crippled by frostbite.

In a tent, in the snow, in the middle of blasted nowhere, in a town that no longer exists, Tamburlaine the Great, Timur, Lord of Iron, heir to the Mongol Horde, died.

Dreams of Fire, Iron, and Stone burned before his eyes, buried under dreams of Snow.

But before his soul left his body, God would show him one last dream.

Thanqol
2011-02-23, 11:43 PM
8/1: The Only Path



"While authorities claim that the destruction visited upon LA last night was the result of an earthquake, many people are telling stories that it was some kind of secret weapon or super soldier..."

Urgh. Kettle's busted. Screw it, I'll just boil it myself. I'll probably burn my hand a bit 'cause I'm too tired to focus right, but I don't care.

Instantly, the water boiled, and a small fire ignited on the wooden benchtop. I poured a glass of cold water on the fire, finished making the coffee and slumped gracelessly down in front of the TV.

"I'm telling you man, it was huge! He just punched the cars right out of his way. By the time I had my phone out he was gone!"

"Police denied all reports of gunfire being heard over the earthquake. And in other news, an unscheduled European Union summit has been called. Leaders refused to comment on the nature of the summit, but expressed optimism about it's potential outcomes. The summit has an important guest speaker at it's helm, but thus far no one has been able to find any details on him -"

I turned the volume up.

"That's right, Sandy, the guest speaker has kept his identity under wraps so far but given the general atmosphere here he's someone well known and respected by every government. We're going to bring you live coverage as this event unfolds."

"Hold on there, Mike, we're just getting this."

A picture came on screen of several dozen government officials in suits. And, unmistakably, Archer at their centre.

I turned the TV off.

The presence behind me straightened.

I looked down at my hand. One Command Spell left.

I briefly remembered the crash, the crack, the huge hands pulling me out.

"I can't take you on the plane. There's no way to get you through security." I said, looking down into my coffee.

Silence.

"But..."

No. I was doing this wrong.

I stood up. I grabbed my vest and my gun and walked out the door. I got in my car and started driving, to a small private airfield. I'd been taking lessons, mostly to study the effects of velocity and speed better. There was no way a light aircraft like mine could fly from LA to Brussels - without magic.

But the point was that I was going to do this. Berserker was following me, and got into the rear seat of the plane when I got there, but even without him I'd be doing this. I wasn't doing this out of concern for what Archer would do to the world, or to win the war, or to get my wish.

I was doing it for pride.

No one crossed me.

Thanqol
2011-02-24, 12:11 AM
8/2: Momentum II/(Dream Of Blood)



Momentum.

Up here, it was all I had. It was all that was keeping me alive.

In a way, it was all I'd ever had.

I wasn't touching the controls. My hands were folded in my lap. I was focused entirely on the speed, the wind, the velocity.

Adjust for wind. Reduce friction. Enhance afterburn.

p=p_0*exp{-GMmh/2kTR^2}=p_0*exp{-h/λ}

I'd run out of fuel hours ago. I was over the Atlantic ocean without support. The tiny commercial plane sailed on through the dark, buffeted by winds and storms.

The inner product of a contravariant vector and a covariant vector is invariant

It was exhausting work. I had to focus. I had to keep focused. Stumbling is death. Momentum is life. Maintaining current speed is insufficient. More speed must be attained. Momentum must build.

The moon was bright overhead, it's light falling on the sea of clouds. Berserker was quiet behind me. It was very, very cold. So much momentum and power and still so cold.

Before I died, God was to give me one last dream.

I cleared away a squall that threatened to blow me off course. There were such powerful winds up here that any of them could knock this fragile, unpowered craft out of the sky.

He showed me my legacy.

ρv^2/2+ ρgz+p=C

An empire that would fold in on itself and collapse.

entropy-increasing wave that causes a transition from supersonic to subsonic flow

A statue. A wasteland. Ruins of stone and sand.

Pressure decreases with increasing flow speed, providing lift

And a line of blood that would flow through history eternally.

A hand touched my face.

"I'm proud of you,"

"Grandfather?"

*

Through wind and storm, they flew. Nothing supported them. But they had six hundred years of history between them.

Six hundred years of history and six hundred years of momentum.

Thanqol
2011-02-24, 12:30 AM
8/3: For France



"Ladies and gentlemen of the European Union, thank you for attending," said the man on the stage, smiling brilliantly for the cameras and the millions of people watching the show live, "I am here to talk to you about Europe."

"Nationalism is so passe," I said to Sabre.

Berserker and I were standing over the unconscious bodies of the security detail. Their radioes had all mysteriously failed and crowds were notoriously slow to catch on to the sounds of violence backstage. Saber was standing, sword drawn, facing us.

"Why would you stop us?" said Saber, face like stone "This is what the world needs."

"It needs the gentle guidance of loving France?" I said, stepping forwards and drawing my pistol, "It needs a single authority figure who can get things done? It needs Liberté, égalité, fraternité to be given to it by a French Emperor?"

"No other nation can."

"Nations are our collective delusions. And I'm not giving up my delusion for yours." I gestured to Berserker.

He stepped forwards, swinging his sword like a thunderbolt, smashing out a wall. Saber jumped back and lunged in to counterattack. I took the chance and ran past, and out onto the stage.

Napoleon turned to face me. He was wearing a beautiful red, blue and white suit, and his face started curling into a mocking smile. He knew he was safe here. "Jay -"

A million live viewers watched as I shot a man six times in the chest.

Thanqol
2011-02-24, 12:37 AM
8/4: Justifications



Archer's body was disintegrating into white light before it even hit the ground. I could feel Saber's shock, and Berserker's relentless capitalization on that shock. I could feel magic swell all around me.

And this was the moment.

This was the choice.

*

Melanie. Paul. Humphrey. Derrik. People I knew. People I had no idea would have it in them to try and kill me.

*

A vision of a cruise ship, lost to the world and sailing on an ocean of blood.

*

A line in the sand, proclaiming the farthest border of an empire of stone.

*

An invincible warrior dying in the snow.

*

A long life of insecurity, betrayal, fear and pride.

*

"I wish for Wisdom."

Thanqol
2011-02-24, 12:52 AM
Epilogue: Priorities



I’ve always liked the subway. I still take it, even though I have a car. It’s...

Peaceful.

I can hear the quiet of the city outside. I can hear the murmur of ten thousand conversations. I can hear the wind through the leaves of the trees, carrying with it a radio signal heavy with music.

I turn to face the man sitting next to me and give him a smile. He smiles back nervously. "Hi," I say. He says "Hi" back, and then,

"You're Jayden Mavel, aren't you?"

"Yes. And you are?"

"Oh! Robert, Robert Kross."

"Nice to meet you, Robert," I said.

People all around were looking at me, but they did that. And Robert cleared his throat and asked the question on everyone's minds:

"Was he really a robot?"

I laughed. After a moment, Robert laughed as well. A few chuckles and smiles went around elsewhere in the carriage.

"I don't know, Rob. But no ID, no name, no family, no fingerprints, no corpse. He wasn't human."

"I, uh," Robert was about to ask more, but I'd had enough of the topic for now. Everyone had seen me shoot a person on live TV but, without a blood splatter, a body, or any indication of who I'd shot, where he'd come from or how he'd managed to call a meeting of the European Union on no notice the prosecution had fallen through - and I'd been quietly thanked by at least one government.

The internet, and alien watching groups, of course went absolutely bonkers over it.

"Anyway, enough about me. What do you do?"

"Oh - I'm a writer. Well, I'm a clerk -"

"It's LA. Everyone's a writer."

"I was wondering - you're here every day, could you take a look at my script?"

"Sure," I smiled as he handed me a red folder.

*

We ended up making the movie. It was all right. It was a fantasy piece with some clever dialogue and an interesting plotline, but some of the child actors really phoned it in. People enjoyed it, it made a decent profit at the box office, and then passed into history to be forgotten.

But what wasn't forgotten so quickly was that it made the dream of one young man from LA come true.

That kind of thing matters.

Thanqol
2011-02-24, 01:03 AM
All right, that's it everybody. I'm done.

Sound and Fury was my first real attempt at writing something full length. I put it up on the internet as a way of making sure I finished it; a psychological trick that forced me to commit until the entire thing was finished. And it worked!

Now, the story is very very first draft-y. That was unavoidable - many times I saw plot holes and failed to foreshadow and messed up a whole bunch of stuff, and one time I wrote myself into an absolute corner and had to depart from my plan for a significant period until I could re-establish control. These things do weaken the story and I'm very aware of them. But I'd committed myself to finishing the story first and going back and doing the editing later.

While writing this I had other ideas, other stories I wanted to start, and endless urges to ditch this already flawed one and start something else that'd be Perfect. But honestly, it was better to complete one story entirely, flaws and all, than have a hundred different openings.

So a big thank you to everyone who read this, and to everyone who commented or voted back in the days when it was a democracy, and thank you to the lurkers. Sound and Fury was fun to write and a great test of my committment and planning processes. I've learned an absolutely huge amount from the process of writing this and I'm looking forwards to writing more in the future.

Forum Explorer
2011-02-24, 04:04 AM
Very cool. Plus it just finished today and I just finished reading it for the first time. :smallbiggrin:

Thanqol
2011-02-24, 04:41 AM
Very cool. Plus it just finished today and I just finished reading it for the first time. :smallbiggrin:

Thanks! Glad you liked it :smallsmile:

Fri
2011-02-24, 05:42 AM
Sorry for the lack of comments for the last few chapters Thanqol. And congratulation for finishing your full length story! It's not something that's to be triffled with!

I haven't actually had the time to read the last few chapter, so I'll give you more praise when I've actually read it.

Thanqol
2011-02-24, 05:51 AM
Sorry for the lack of comments for the last few chapters Thanqol. And congratulation for finishing your full length story! It's not something that's to be triffled with!

I haven't actually had the time to read the last few chapter, so I'll give you more praise when I've actually read it.

Thanks, it's appreciated :smallredface:

Fri
2011-02-24, 06:05 AM
I'm actually really ashamed for my lack of participation. I'm an artisty fellow myself and used to write fanfics my self and I know how important is reader's encouragement, or even readers simply saying that they read your work.