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  1. - Top - End - #751
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Anarion's Avatar

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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Once they're out of the room, Kazelia tries to catch her breath and take stock of Rita, and Kyouko. She'd seen Alina fling Cassian across the room and into that mural (what was it with goblins and cogs anyway?) so that part of the plan hadn't really worked. But they'd pulled Rita out from Oberon's clutches, so hopefully Alina would be appreciate that part at least.

    Kazelia let out a sigh. Hopefully. She'd probably have to explain later about how they weren't just kidnapping Alina's girlfriend. "So uh...you okay, Rita? My dad can be a bit...much." She's trying not to suggest hypnosis in front of Kyouko, but she's looking at Rita questioningly to make sure everything is okay.

    "And uh, Kyouko, why did we duck out? What's your plan for the maze here? Did you want to capture Esmeralda?"
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  2. - Top - End - #752
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Thanqol's Avatar

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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    KazeliaBot tilts her head quizzically. “I am here because I am undergoing evaluation of my Defense of Restricted Areas Protocols. I am not yet complete. Once I am complete, I will bring law and order to the lawless Bazaar once and for all.”

    Lawless? Excuse you? The Bazaar is full of law and order.

    “And then,” she adds, softly, “I will bring law and order to all of Hyperborea.” Dun dun dun! Seriously, that was the most ominous way to say that. Like cartoonishly ominous.
    +Oh Kazelia!+ Princess Adila swept up the KazeliaBot into a hug. +I'm so happy to hear that! I'm so glad you've decided to stay with me at the Bazaar after all this is over - you'll stay at my place, of course? I've got plenty of room, you can stay as long as you'd like! I'll lend you a copy of the Operations Manual but I don't imagine there'll be any problem with you taking the oath and - yes! Kazeliadila road trip! All across Hyperborea again, bringing justice - but this time, it's not personal! Aaah! I'm so happy! Come on! Let's find Princess Hornet together!+

    Princess Adila, still carrying the robot happily, did a quick check over the lab and, if that turned up empty, it was out into the corridors again.
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  3. - Top - End - #753
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Alina!

    There is a shocked and horrified silence, broken only by the pained groan of Cassian, and then the horrified whimper as he collapses onto the buffet table. Silverware goes flying everywhere. And then there’s more silence as literally everyone stares at you.

    Well, almost everyone. You know who’s not here? Kazelia. Adila. Helya. Tashanna. Not even Rita. You are alone under the judging gazes of your peers, unable to explain yourself or ask for help.

    Then the clap echoes through the shocked dance hall. Of course. There’s nothing Oberon likes more than the opportunity to mock you, and you in particular.

    “I’m sure you have all heard Alina Cascade’s wild stories,” he sneers. “How I am some ravening tyrant. How I am some unprecedented new threat. How I am everything that is wrong with the world. True, yes, I did take Ilumina... but you must understand that I was settling matters between the two of us. She is a vicious, insatiable creature who finds me and my family personally repulsive, and will stop at nothing to hurt us.”

    “I did find it odd that she was taking loss with such ill grace,” the Queen of the Konkon murmurs. “But she was always so competitive...”

    “That she could have fallen so low...”

    “I actually like those starry eyes...”

    “Here, Cassiewassie, let me use my healing magic...”

    “Down with the Cascades!”

    And as Hyperborea turns against you...

    Oberon turns to you, and the stars in his right eye are suddenly, for a moment, extinguished. Then they flicker back into life. It takes you a moment to understand, as Princess Gale picks you up and hoists you under her arm like a sack of potatoes. He’s winking at you.

    Whatever’s going on here... he doesn’t need everyone to like him. He’s just enjoying hurting you.

    ...he’s doing something else here. Something more than trying to secure alliances against you. Something that’s making him smile dismissively as you’re carried off to the dungeons to cool your heels.

    And all you can do is inaudibly beg them not to trust him.

    ***

    Princess Gale!

    This is so like Alina. She is most unchivalrous! You’re definitely not just jealous, no, not at all. Just because she’s pretty and graceful and clever and... look, you’re not jealous. Besides, who’s better-looking now? Between the two of you, you are the one who didn’t throw a tantrum and toss a hot guy across the room. Like, honestly, Alina? You have no taste.

    Which is what you’re thinking when someone pulls you into a deep, deep kiss. One that makes you feel all... fuzzy... and tingly...

    And... and...

    ***

    Alina! Again!

    Gale goes out like a light, and you’re kept from hitting the floor by a shapely, well-muscled thigh. W-wow. Wow.

    “Now, Princess Cascade,” Esmeralda Blackscarf says, smirking, “I don’t think I can get much of a ransom for you... so let’s see about getting you out of those nasty ribbons, hmmm?”

    What’s even the use? Your friends are scattered, Oberon just made you look like a vicious monster in front of everyone you were trying to impress, and he’s doing something here...

    Maybe he already has taken Kazelia prisoner. Or found some way to capture Adila. He’s going to take everything away from you.

    ...but doesn’t that make you want to fight him more? He has to be stopped.

    So what’s the new plan, Alina? Because you can’t let the evening be ruined like that.

    ***

    Kazelia!

    Rita shakes her head, curls all abounce. “I... I think I’m okay,” she says, pale-cheeked and shaky, still being tugged along.

    Here’s the problem with trying to catch your breath: Kyouko is full of energy. You’re bounding up stairs two at a time to keep up with her, down a hall of mirrors and—

    Into a bunch of horrifying bronze automatons with scissor pincer fingers and ticking clock parts and swishy little black dresses.

    “This is not part of the plaaaaaaan!!” Kyouko hits the brakes so hard both you and Rita crash into her and hit the ground in a heap, while the automatons surround you, tilting their heads and hissing.

    oh thaw and spring melt what are these things??

    ***

    Adila!

    You do not run into Princess Hornet, unfortunately! Kazelia’s complaining about “directives being broken” and “you must wait for law enforcement to arrive” but you’re bounding along all happy and powerful and you hit the dance floor like a bunch of fireworks.

    All eyes are on you, and on Kazelia riding on your shoulders. There are gasps of admiration! And—

    Oh. Hey. It’s. It’s Oberon.

    How do you feel, right there next to the man who nearly killed you in Feloria?
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  4. - Top - End - #754
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Anarion's Avatar

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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Oh for goodness sake. Kazelia manages to avoid anything painful in the fall (Kyouko plus Rita makes for a very fluffy landing, actually). "Uh...hello there. Who or what are you?" Kazelia asks tentatively. Maybe if these automotons had some kind of mechanical minds they'd be able to understand Kazelia and not just attack them for trespassing. Or...maybe they were part of the show tonight? They were supposed to be able to go in the maze right? Did the no violence rule extend to the maze? Or to robots?

    Kazelia had many questions, but the most pressing right now was how to make the terrifying but sharply dressed scorpions automota not attack them. So...uh, hi?

    [Rolled look closely, got a 2. Asking "what is going on here. What do my sense tell me?" We'll find out the hard way.]
    Last edited by Anarion; 2019-11-10 at 08:18 PM.
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  5. - Top - End - #755
    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    You do not run into Princess Hornet, unfortunately! Kazelia’s complaining about “directives being broken” and “you must wait for law enforcement to arrive” but you’re bounding along all happy and powerful and you hit the dance floor like a bunch of fireworks.

    All eyes are on you, and on Kazelia riding on your shoulders. There are gasps of admiration! And—

    Oh. Hey. It’s. It’s Oberon.

    How do you feel, right there next to the man who nearly killed you in Feloria?
    Again that goblin lighting technician was the best version of herself. Adila was slammed with a full spotlight and was totally aware of every eye on her. Especially his.

    She took a breath.

    Having someone rip your heart out through your mouth was not the sort of thing one easily forgot. It wasn't the sort of thing someone easily got over. It was, if Adila was being perfectly honest, the most traumatic thing that had ever happened to her. That wasn't a person she saw standing across the hall from her. It was that icy, skeletal smoke-borne monster that she was powerless before. She hadn't understood. Up until then it had all just been another job to her. She'd felt for Alina and Kazelia but she hadn't got it. She was ashamed that she'd assumed that they were fragile and just needed to be protected... when it had come to it, she'd been just as weak.

    She wasn't any more ready. She wasn't any more prepared than she had been. She couldn't play to the heart like she had with Eska. She couldn't overwhelm him like she had with Stheno. She didn't have an answer to that cruel strength.

    But she had something else.

    She put Kazelia aside at a safe distance. +Watch my back,+ she said, thoughts shaking with nerves, stage fright, but held together with an actor's confidence.

    And then she finally breathed out.

    Dragonfire poured from her. It wrapped her. It engulfed the lines of her dress, the sleekness of her ribbons. All that work and dedication went up in multicoloured flames...

    Multicoloured flames...?

    Adila stepped forwards as a smile as fierce as the fire crossed her face.

    This was the final secret of her dress. Every inch of it had been soaked in precise patterns of expensive alchemical compounds that would burn for an extended period in a variety of vivid colours. At first it was the inverse of the warmer colours she had wrapped herself in earlier - magnificent violet and sky-blue flames, run through with swirls of green fire that caught and ignited along the orange paint, wrapping around her burning eyes like a mask. As she stepped forwards into the spotlight, amidst the princesses, she wore fire. Then she opened her wings to their full extent and the fire ran up the inside, cresting through burgundy, red, orange, yellow. She was the colours of Illumina, a living rainbow of alchemical fire.

    She wasn't any stronger or faster or braver than she had been the last time she'd fought Oberon. But she was more beautiful. That would have to be enough.

    She extended one claw to Oberon, eyes unblinking through the fire, inviting him to the dance. Her heart was not with him, though. It was with all the princesses of the Crystal Gala.
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-11-12 at 04:02 PM.
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  6. - Top - End - #756
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Something that Esmeralda Blackscarf doesn't get enough credit for among the princesses of Hyperborea is that she's actually secretly incredible with people. Specifically when it came to pushing their buttons: not just how, but also when to do it to prod somebody toward a particular reaction. Her quips are always, or at least often, precisely calibrated to trigger just the result she wants from someone, and while nobody ever seems to give her credit for this, a lot of that time what she wants is generally pretty good for her target. Her reputation is churlish, the trickster, the Princess who declared war on the world. But, between you and me? She's an amazing hugger.

    Not that she's got any hugs for Alina Cascade right now, but you can see all her talents on display in the way she chooses to free the erstwhile Princess of Illumina. Snip! Snip! Snip! She's playful with how she cuts the ribbons, taking some out here and some out over there, and always making sure the little dance does precious little to actually and properly free Alina. Maybe that's just because she doesn't want to hurt that pretty, pretty dress? But then there would be no reason to leave her arms tied up until the very end, or to sneak unnecessary peeks under her skirt (or to grin quite so cheekily after doing so!), and certainly not to leave the bindings around Alina's mouth to the absolute last. See? She's a jerk. Everybody knows she's a jerk. Let her play her games with Kyouko or whoever was unlucky enough to wind up in her cross hairs, just keep her away from the rest of them.

    But the thing of it is, by the time she's free, Alina's given herself over so fully to muffled, indignant squeaking and foot stamping and general frustration that she's completely forgotten to feel defeated about the events that wound her up here in the first place. So yes, she hops up, she stamps her foot, she gets as good and up in Esmeralda's face as she can without making a stepladder, but she also doesn't give up.

    "...Finally!" she says, as if acting like this whole thing was part of a plan would be enough to cover up the many many weird feelings bubbling inside her heart, "Now I can get around this place freely. Or, well, freely as anybody can get through these stupid mazes. Come on, there's no more time to waste. Oberon wants something from the Keep, and I'm going to find out what it is. Then I'm gonna expose him in front of everybody."

    She flashes a playful smile at Esmeralda. That's as good a thank you is as likely to pass between them. She's not alone. She's not alone! Oh Ourania, thank you, she's not alone.

  7. - Top - End - #757
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Kazelia!

    So, you might be wondering to yourself what is going on here. Well, don’t you worry! The Practical Dance Partners are here to help you dance! You are herded, with pokings and proddings, out to the third floor terrace where a certain devil and dragon were dancing earlier. There is quite a lot of exposed machinery here, and a single misstep could have dire consequences.

    Dance, Kazelia. Dance for your life! And don’t worry about getting bored and stopping: the Practical Dance Bots would rather see you perish than give up on learning the Jedadi Waltz!

    So you’d better learn fast.

    ***

    Adila!

    For a moment, Oberon shifts his weight back. Fire is a very bold choice, and we all know how the Riders feel about heat and fire and the thaw. But only for a moment.

    “Everyone,” he says, with an unnecessary flourish, “clear the dance floor, please. Princess Adila and I will need room.”

    And he changes his shape.

    You’ve seen him do this once before, in Feloria. But anyone can turn themselves into a terrible smoke storm of cold leeching hands. Well, maybe not, but— it’s magic. It’s an explosion of fury. It makes sense. But here, now, it hits you that Oberon can take whatever shape he pleases in the whole wide world. You’re just lucky that he has been too busy to follow you, sabotage you, take the forms of people you trust and love.

    Of course, he is larger than you. His scales are dull black, his starry eyes peering out from under thick ridges, the shadow of his wings falling over you and muting your glorious colors. He moves with the terrible, wicked grace of a cat, smoke curling from his nostrils.

    +Shall we, my dear?+

    And that, as fate would have it, is when Iron Star reappears on the dance floor, looking very frustrated; and that is when a second Kazelia shows up on the terrace where you were dancing.

    Dance like everybody is watching, Adila. Because they are. Show them how dragons dance, if you have any clue. And try not to be intimidated by suddenly no longer being the largest person in the room. Because the truth is?

    You look petite in comparison to the great black wyrm Oberon has become.

    ***

    Alina!

    You are a fool, Alina Cascade. The labyrinth you go so blithely into is designed to be confounding, confusing, and full of secrets. You could search all day and all night and all day again and still never find out exactly what Oberon is up to here, because you don’t know the right places to look.

    Which is why it’s a stroke of luck when you find the robot.

    It’s been stepped on, poor thing, its entire back half crushed flat. But it is soldiering on, dragging itself by its front pincers inch by inch, its internal mechanisms making grinding noises. By all internal logic, it shouldn’t even be working; it must have multiple clockwork systems inside that shell.

    And it’s leaking a trail of oil, one which leads you down. Down into the dungeons, full of terribly inventive goblin restraints that you probably should not stare at too long lest you start blushing furiously in front of Esmeralda, and down beneath them.

    Down into the lowest part of the tower.

    And it is here you find Princess Hornet, dangling from an exposed pipe, trussed up inelegantly with frilly sashes. When she sees you, she starts squirming and shaking her head, and she actually looks... worried?

    Oh no.

    “Tch.” The devil princess comes into view from behind one of the tower’s mammoth support pillars, built into the very bedrock of Hyperborea. She’s wearing the frilliest dress ever conceived by Hyperborean fashion, black and white and lace all over, and a darling little hat tied to one horn. Behind her serene mask, her eyes glint dangerously. “More rats. I thought you were supposed to be kept busy.”

    “I’m only one princess,” comes a familiar voice from behind you. Esmeralda wheels around, drawing an emergency cutlass as... the same devil princess emerges from the spiral staircase you just descended. “And I have had my hands full with your cousin. She is so persistent!”

    “Iron Star...” The tone of voice reveals nothing.

    “Anyway. Hello, Alina!” Devil Princess 2 waves cheerfully. “Fancy seeing you again! Let me give you some advice: drop to your knees and put your hands on your head, and this won’t have to get messy! We’ll just lock you up in the dungeon and you can wait for your first-class trip back home to start!” She puts one finger against her chin, playfully. “Which brings me back to business, actually. Start the countdown, would you, Black Serpent? It’s time.

    “Good.” And then Princess Black Serpent Scorns Heaven’s Light crosses the space between you and her in the blink of an eye and executes a leg sweep that sends both you and Esmeralda spinning head over heels.

    Hornet would likely explain to you (if she didn’t have a mouthful of lacy kerchiefs) that the amount of magical grounding down here neutralizes the Crystal Gala’s charms against fighting, and that you really really need to go back upstairs right now where she can’t hurt you. But the stairs have a very smug and very familiar princess on them, and also you have just splatted upside-down against one of the support pillars.

    Ready to dance, Alina? To dance for every princess above who booed you for being mean to Cassiewassie? Because whatever “first-class trip back home” means, it can’t be good.

    Spoiler: Black Serpent Scorns Heaven’s Light
    Show
    PRINCESS BLACK SERPENT SCORNS HEAVEN'S LIGHT

    Aspiring Grandmother. Damage this stat to perform an impossible feat of might as a Hard Cut.
    Black Whirlwind Prana. Black Serpent is Dangerous. This stat must be damaged twice.
    To The Horizon! Anyone she damages goes flying away.

    SURPRISE it's an ambitious Devil Princess who's teamed up with the Riders, plot twist! Five foot nothing, carries around a black parasol and wears black ribbons on her horns, very much into gothic lolita fashion, can block sword blows with her pinky finger.
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  8. - Top - End - #758
    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    For a moment, Oberon shifts his weight back. Fire is a very bold choice, and we all know how the Riders feel about heat and fire and the thaw. But only for a moment.

    “Everyone,” he says, with an unnecessary flourish, “clear the dance floor, please. Princess Adila and I will need room.”

    And he changes his shape.

    You’ve seen him do this once before, in Feloria. But anyone can turn themselves into a terrible smoke storm of cold leeching hands. Well, maybe not, but— it’s magic. It’s an explosion of fury. It makes sense. But here, now, it hits you that Oberon can take whatever shape he pleases in the whole wide world. You’re just lucky that he has been too busy to follow you, sabotage you, take the forms of people you trust and love.

    Of course, he is larger than you. His scales are dull black, his starry eyes peering out from under thick ridges, the shadow of his wings falling over you and muting your glorious colors. He moves with the terrible, wicked grace of a cat, smoke curling from his nostrils.

    +Shall we, my dear?+

    And that, as fate would have it, is when Iron Star reappears on the dance floor, looking very frustrated; and that is when a second Kazelia shows up on the terrace where you were dancing.

    Dance like everybody is watching, Adila. Because they are. Show them how dragons dance, if you have any clue. And try not to be intimidated by suddenly no longer being the largest person in the room. Because the truth is?

    You look petite in comparison to the great black wyrm Oberon has become.
    Dragons are actually very easy to scare. They're invincible and powerful and dangerous and live forever - all things that do not leave one well prepared for being outmatched. The traditional dragon response to encountering something larger and scarier than them is to run away, spend a hundred years growing larger, and then come back. Contesting an elder dragon for territory or wealth isn't brave - it's insane. Princess Adila felt fear when looking at the Snake Husband in Jedad, but even that was nothing like the surge of panic she feels when confronting something that is her but more powerful in every way. Coming back in a hundred years seems like an awfully good idea...

    But Adila is a unique dragon. She's scared of other things too! And right now she's so relieved that she doesn't have to worry about holding back or hurting bystanders that it completely overwhelms her instinctive terror. So she steps in - if not without fear with enough confused emotions to be able to convincingly fake bravery.

    And she doesn't lose track of why she's here.

    There's no win in contesting Oberon. She can't hurt him, can't beat him. He has no heart to break. He's not her audience. Her attention is fixed entirely, utterly upon the princesses in the audience. She needs to win hearts - make them want to support her so they'll support Alina in reclaiming her home. Pages of preparation - dance steps, princess dynamics and romantic preferences, meticulous diagrams of dance and relationship alike. The embarrassment of Brill reading through her notebook, and the heated arguments afterwards as they hammered out minor points of dance choreography and how local windspeed in the Hobling hall would affect her fire dress. She is ready for this dance. Oberon wasn't in the picture when she planned it. She doesn't need to adjust for him now. This would be so much harder if he was human size!

    Her dance is a miracle of fire, like a burning paper plane caught in a whirlwind. She is drawn in and whirled about powerlessly, and then she elides away on the zephyrs of motion to whisper in the ear of the blushing Princess Ayai and set the flowers she holds alight with sparkling violet-pink fire. She's drawn back into the dance but it's Princess Monoi she's making eye contact with across the hall. Though Oberon has changed shape, her fire still discomforts him, so he wheels her away and she effortlessly sweeps up the stone-skinned Princess Calcite into a spinning embrace. They twirl just long enough to heat through the phosphorescence in her skin, making her whole body glow with a rosy blush, before being aggressively yanked away, back into the heart of the hurricane leaving a trail of telepathic giggling.

    She's refusing to let this dance be about him.

    She bets he hates that.

    [Marking Blessing of Glory to force Oberon to listen to me with Talk Sense*. Marking Brill's Master Plan as the price to act against him as a threat to the world.
    10-1 = 9 on Talk Sense with Grace. I am marking one Precious use of my Dragon's Hoard to represent how pretty my dress is instead of giving him a favour. I'm specifically looking to impress/dazzle/trick Oberon into being a big meanie jerk very publicly in front of all these lovely princesses.

    *: I think I'm already positioned to make the roll against Oberon, so if this is overkill then please convert any overkill into additional crushes.]
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-11-12 at 07:15 PM.
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  9. - Top - End - #759
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    "I like your dress."

    Alina attempts a smile as she slides comically down the support pillar she can't entirely remember hitting. That's it, Alina, stay in control. Don't think about how much Princess Black Serpent has always kind of terrified you, don't think about how half your lights are rains-know-where right now around the arm of your girlfriend. She slides, keeps smiling, and as soon as her shoulder hits the ground, she smoothly rolls back onto her feet and spring forward and start again the dance that nobody would acknowledge or thank her for.

    Only, it's not a dance that she joins. It's a whirlwind: the little moment it takes her to find her feet is enough for Esmeralda's emergency cutlass to snap in half between two of Black Serpent's fingers, and Alina's forced to spin away instead and conjure a pair of swords out of light. She tosses one over, and as a pair they go right back in. It's easier two on one, though it would be easier still if this were happening with one of her friends to help instead. Esmeralda's fighting style is hard but flashy, and she likes the feint as much as Alina does. Brilliant footwork steps on graceful toes, and trailing slashes accidentally clash with overhead lunges before either light-blade meets its proper target. But in between the missteps and frankly uncouth language completely unsuited to a gala such as this, they're more than enough to put the devil-princess on the defensive.

    For a moment, anyway. This isn't a job for uncoordinated princesses trapped in an improv session at half power. When Alina bumps into Princess Hornet and pauses for half a second to make sure she's ok, it's all the opening she needed to give up to get her sword broken and smashed all the way back into the bottom of the staircase. She manages to turn herself in mid-flight to land on her feet this time, but her eyes flash in horror when she hears the ripping sound of samite catching on the metal step. The laughter behind her is awful.

    There's a flash of light. Alina summons her ribbon and wraps it around Ninian without even turning to check her aim. She plants her left foot on the floor, and her body glows red with little ribbons that fill her with strength rather than constrict her. But just before she's able to throw another of Oberon's children into something dangerous, she hears it.

    "Lina, stop! Please!!"

    Her blood freezes all at once. Her head turns, just a little, just to see, and her eyes go wide in horror. She's not holding Ninian at all.

    She's got Rita.

    She knows it's a trick, knows she needs to commit, but she's so startled the ribbon falls right out of her hands. It drops the floor without a sound and winds itself obediently into a small coil where it drops. She stares into the beautiful face of Rita von Catabas, and it's a knife to her heart when that face splits into an ugly, toothy smile that should never ever be there.

    "Haha! Oh, you're so easy, Alina. Just drop the 'A' and oops! You go all soft and squirmy. Tell me again, which one of you is supposed to be the kitten? Well, nevermind! I think that's about enough fun for one day, don't you! Ooh! Unless you wanna see what it looks like when princesses get kicked through a ceiling?" Ninian giggles, still wearing Rita's face.

    Alina turns again, and knows she's lost. Black Serpent Scorns Heaven's Light looms over Esmeralda with one foot on her chest and the shattered fragments of violet sword light scattered all about her. Princess Hornet wriggles and mmphs desperately, still hanging in the air and less than an arm's length away from the fighting. Alina lowers her head. Then she raises her arms. And finally, she sinks down to her knees, wincing when she sees the tear in her beautiful skirt.

    "Ok," she says, "You win. I give up, you caught me. Just... don't hurt them."

    [there was a roll here, but it was a 2]
    Last edited by PhoeKun; 2019-11-13 at 08:24 PM.

  10. - Top - End - #760
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Kazelia is swept up by one of the dance bots, her feet skirting the edge of the terrace with its exposed gears and distinct lack of quality safety rails. Kazelia had enough time to wonder which one out of Adila and Iron Star had done the majority of the smashing here, and settled on them splitting it fairly evenly. Then she was into a spin, and she decided that this was an excellent time to miss a step and use her weight to send the dance bot hurtling down three stories to the floor below. It was an honest mistake after all, they could hardly expect her to learn that quickly.

    Rita and Kyouko aren't far behind, each of them receiving their own goblin dance partner. Honestly, from what little Kazelia had gleaned about the goblins of the keep, having an entire horde of dangerous dance robots was probably their version of trying to be good hosts: nobody would be without a deadly dance partner no matter how big the party wandering this part of the maze. But that did mean it took more work to deal with them. Kazelia danced her next partner right over the edge too, and then the next one she gently leaned the other way and let it slam into the two bots that were somehow both trying to dance with Rita at the same time, each of them holding one of her hands and keeping her suspended a foot in the air.

    Kyouko seemed to be entirely enjoying herself, and while Kazelia was dealing with her few bots and Rita's, the fox princess had been darting from one partner to the next, jumping about the fray and leaving each with a little calligraphy prayer strip stuck to its forehead. When she saw that Kazelia and Rita were out of dance partners, she simply said "ah, all done already!" and clapped her hands, at which point smoke and sparks erupted from the heads of all the bots she had marked and they collapsed where they stood.

    [I'm using some stat or other from Kyouko with bound in service to quickly finish the robots, I think with blood since we're wrecking them. 3+3+1=7, so they're at least damaged and perhaps done if they just didn't have much going for them.]
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  11. - Top - End - #761
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Adila!

    It’s the laughter that does him in, in the end. Because there are all sorts of things that Oberon doesn’t like at all, but being laughed at? That’s the sort of thing that makes him feel stabby. Just ask Alina.

    Speaking of Alina, you almost— almost!!— manage to get him worked up so bad that he smacks you and gets wrapped up like a giant dragon burrito. That would have been fantastic, wouldn’t it? Victory over Oberon because he got worked up at a pretty princess ball.

    Instead, he simply snorts dark fire from his nostrils and scorches the tiles. +How dare you all,+ he thinks, and here’s another trap: he’s not used to the rules of dragons here at all. +How dare you! Have you learned nothing from Alina?+

    And everyone—

    everyone, including the light technician who is on the top of her game, including Kazelia and Rita and Kyouko celebrating their super awesome victory over the bots they have dropped all over the punch bowl—

    feels the wicked steel of Oberon’s sword, how terrified Alina was in that moment, and how satisfied Oberon was. How much it delighted him to hurt her, to make her sob in pain and fear for her life, all broadcasted for everyone in the room with the telepathy of a dragon. Perhaps if he’d practiced all his life, like you have, he wouldn’t have been so carelessly open.

    There is dead silence. You could hear a pin drop. What you do hear is Cassiewassie’s little groan as he is pushed away by the queens who were doting on him, and Kyouko’s mother dropping her wine glass. It shatters, and then there is dead, dead silence.

    You can justify a whole lot of things. You can’t have something like that crammed into your brain and ignore that Oberon is something much, much worse than any fox.

    ***

    Kazelia!

    Between you and me? I think it is time for a dramatic speech. You could even rappel down one of Kyouko’s sashes and denounce your father properly.

    This is your moment, should you choose to accept it!

    Also, there is a kitten clinging to your arm, should you want to bring her along on said dramatic rappel.

    ***

    Ninian!

    Oh cold snap this was too easy. Once again, Alina Cascade folds like a house of cheap cards. And she doesn’t have her nasty sister here to beat you up, or that archer princess who shot you full of arrows. What she does have? A big ol’ crush on a wimpy little catgirl, which you are going to use against her until she starts crying with those new, shiny, will-be-difficult-to-replicate-but-you’re-up-for-the-challenge eyes.

    There was a bit of logistical difficulty. You need Alina Cascade in the tower. Dad would be furious if you left her behind. But if you march her and the pirate upstairs, suddenly you’re missing your leverage, and they can walk away from you safe in the knowledge that you’ll trip the anti-fighting wards if you try anything. Which is why, instead, you’re having Alina tie up her friend, and then you’ll tie her up looking like her perfect, precious little girlfriend, and you’ll have the devil carry them upstairs to squirm helplessly in the dungeons.

    You’ve even got a present for Alina from them! That’s right, she has to wear the Kitty Ears of Shame. That really brings the whole outfit together. Too bad you don’t have a kitty mouth scarf... yet. Once you’re all back home, you’ll have time to arrange lots of yummy humiliation for Alina. You could destroy her like nobody else good, and that’s why Father will let you be in charge of her torture.

    “You won’t get away with this,” she says, cinching the knots between the pirate’s wrists, and you roll your little kitty eyes. That is so cliche. “Whatever stupid plan you have is doomed to fail.”

    “Stupid?” You puff up, indignant. This was your master performance, after all. You’re the one fooling everyone, hiding in plain sight, the one who snuck into the party as a goblin waitress and then swapped places with the devil! “I think you mean brilliant. When else are we going to find half the princesses in Hyperborea in one place?” You rub up against her, purring, and she makes a disgusted face. Perfect. “We play with all of you, and then, at the perfect moment... I get to do the big reveal!”

    You spin around, transforming into the devil. “Assembled queens and princesses! You are all cordially invited to join us for the afterparty,” you say, in her sibilant whisper.

    “I am very good at throwing things,” the devil says, running her white lace gloves through the goblin princess’s hair.

    “And don’t worry. We’ll have some help with the landing. The big bad Roc itself~” Oh. That was a stab in the dark, but the way she stiffens? The sudden fear in those emerald eyes? Delicious.

    “Hyperborea will fall to its knees bereft of all its queens and princesses,” you say, flick and swishing back into the catgirl. “Our armies will face no resistance taking over the kingdoms, and once they are isolated, it’s only a matter of time before Jedad, Feloria and Rowan kneel. Besides, we have Helya and Tashanna pinned down in the Rowani mountains, so they’ll most likely be joining you soon, Lina~.”

    You drape your fuzzy little hands over hers and help her pull the scarf taut over the pirate’s lips, your cheek pressing against hers.

    “Game over,” you purr, before nibbling on her ear. Oh, she is going so red!

    Every day with her is going to be a treat.
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  12. - Top - End - #762
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    PhoeKun's Avatar

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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Stop it. Stop looking like her. Stop putting your hands everywhere. Stop smiling with her face. Stop it. Stop it!

    "DON'T TOUCH ME!"

    Alina roughly shoves her would-be captor away from her with terrifying strength and force. Her expression is, for a moment, unhinged. This quickly morphs to terror, and she shrinks backwards as far as she can go, shaking her head and whimpering something about how sorry she is with her back pressed flat against the wall. It's not enough; she's immediately got Black Serpent's arm pressed up against her throat and she squeaks in utter terror.

    "Now now now," chirps Ninian, skipping over to gloat (safely behind her bodyguard) with Rita's lovely kitty face, "Let's not damage the goods too much. Daddy wants her in one piece so he can watch her break properly! But one more slip up, Lina dearest... and that's it for your friends. He doesn't care about them."

    Alina sits there, hyperventilating, stuck in her own imagination and looking like she'd like nothing better than to pass out. Her eyes flicker over to Hornet, and down to the freshly gagged Esmeralda, who's glaring mutinously at her. She manages to nod.

    "Great! Now sit still while we get you ready!"

    "...It's still a stupid plan." Alina says while resolutely staring at a spot on the floor five inches in front of her, pulling her hands behind her back for easier tying.

    "It is not! We're capturing all the leaders of Hyperborea at once! What part of this is a dumb plan?"

    Alina winces as the ropes pull taut, rather unnecessarily, around her chest just underneath her breasts. She makes the effort to shoot an affronted look at her now-very-real captor, only to blush and flinch when she sees her girlfriend's face staring back at her. She settles for sticking her tongue out as her rebellion instead.

    "It is. It's stupid. You don't even need to be here; everybody loves your father, and especially your brother. They were invited! What's even the point of having you around? Are you supposed to spot for Princess Black Serpent while she does all the work? You're, like, twelve steps removed from being useful in every plan. Remember Jedad? Let's face it, your father only folded you into his plan to keep you out of the way."

    "That's not the plan at all you stupid little--" Ninian rears as if to slap Alina, and then suddenly pulls up short. She laughs a little kitty laugh, and licks her little kitty lips while smiling with all of her sharp little kitty teeth, "Ohoho, I see what your game is. You want me riled up so I'll mess up the big delivery! Well you know what, dearest? I think we'll move on to your gag right now!"

    Oh no. Oh no, don't do this. Alina squirms without meaning to. It's awful and humiliating beyond reason to have her girlfriend grab her by the jaw and force her mouth open. To pack her cheeks with lacy kerchiefs so that her mouth was far too full of fabric to be of any more use, and then to tie a fresh one over her face. She moans pitifully, then shoots a look of pure disgust. Ninian purrs seductively and smiles an evil, twisted little smile. Stop it, stop it please.

    The name of the game turns out to be full-on shibari ties. Most of these ropes are placed not to restrain her, but to maximize her humiliation. But the ties around her wrists, ankles, and just above her knees are plenty to keep her from doing much of use. Ninian takes her time with the rest, pausing to stroke an arm here, sneak a little squeeze in there, delighting in all the disgusted expressions flashing across Alina's face while she flops over on the floor, helpless and stupid and defeated.

    This is how she springs her trap. She's backed everybody in the room up well behind the still-glittering shards of what had been her light swords. Someday, somebody would actually study Illuminan magic, and maybe then they'd stop underestimating her. Until then, she'd be maybe the only person in the whole world who really understood what her little lights could do. Ninian's too busy torturing her prey, running her fingers through Alina's hair just behind the Kitty Ears of Shame and delighting in the muffled squeaks this produced to think to turn around, and Black Serpent Scorns Heaven's Light is is too busy trying to look bored and disaffected to bother. So nobody's watching while the fragments leap into the air and start swirling together.

    It takes longer than it should. Too hard to concentrate. Too hard to... stop petting her, for water's sake! To hard to work the complicated spells. Her heart pounds inside her chest with fear she'll be discovered or give herself away. But nothing goes on. Nininan goes on teasing, Black Serpent goes on being Too Cool. Ez and Hornet go on being too gagged to say anything even if they were inclined to. A small scroll of violet light rolls itself up and falls soundlessly to the floor. A glowing indigo weasel picks it up in its adorable weasel mouth and, with the briefest of looks back at its master, goes scampering in total silence up the stairs.

    Run, run, run! Maze dangerous, confusing. But Master knew way! Master knew, so Little Light know too! Run, run! Find friend! Give message! Save Master! Run, run! No stop, hop over smashy robot stuffs!

    Somewhere in the middle of Oberon's big and highly accidental reveal, the deep bluish light-weasel finds its way through the hallway and scampers all the way up Rita to perch on her shoulder. It's warm and comforting and, surprisingly, a little heavy. Then it spots Kazelia, and insistently jabs the note into her hand. Take! Take, darn you! The little glowing piece of 'paper' unfurls, and the orange armband on Rita's wrist suddenly surges in response, as highly contrasting letters shine in new light and incredibly flowery cursive script across the page.

    "Gala's a trap. Ninian here with Devil Princess. Their plan's to throw the whole tower onto the Roc and kidnap all Hyperborean power structure at once. Anti-fighting wards still in effect. Have Hornet, Esmeralda hostage.

    <3,
    Alina

    PS
    They also have me, I guess


    The note turns in the air slowly and deliberately, as if trying to make sure everyone assembled could read it, and then it fades away into nothing. The light weasel presses its face into Rita's neck.
    Last edited by PhoeKun; 2019-11-14 at 05:57 PM.

  13. - Top - End - #763
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    dramatic speech.
    Kazelia looks at the little lights, reads the message on their delivery. Smiles. That a girl, that's how you fight. That's how we stop him. They'll need to stage a daring rescue, but that will go better with more friends to help, now won't it?

    Kazelia and Kyouko descend to the floor together, Rita holding onto Kazelia as they make their way down. The descent is deliberate and it is determined. Kazelia looks somber, the weight of Oberon's realization and Alina's note mixing together. "Now you all see" she says quietly, as people watch her let go of the sash and the room hangs with such stillness that the fluttering of the sash and Kazelia's voice are the only sounds. The sound of the light shifting comes on and the technician, bless her heart, gives Kazelia a spotlight.

    She looks to the gathered queens first. "You can feel the way he wants to hurt people. Really hurt you, not like a regular battle or even a regular grab for power and territory." Kazelia shakes her head. "I realized what was really happening after a few years of fighting, when I saw the flowers of Illumina frozen on a warm spring day. Oberon is hurting the world. The very heart of Hyperborea. He can't just be another king with princesses fighting in the normal way because the longer he stays here, the more he breaks the very world."

    Then she looks to the gathered princesses, in all shapes and sizes, passing her gaze around the room. "He always deceives, my father. He doesn't want to play by this world's rules. He wants to make you, each and every one of you, his possessions. You won't be free, you won't be able to do anything except what he wants. He tried to freeze Helya's heart and turn her into a Rider like my sisters, and like I was before I met Ourania. If you wait long enough he'll freeze each of yours in turn and break any that don't perform as he'd like."

    Kazelia lets out a sigh and looks around the room. To the queens, the princesses, and in particular to all the princesses that had watched Alina's dance and hadn't listened to her before. "My father won't even accept the rules of this grand ball! Even now my sister Ninian used her shapeshifting to sneak into the building and is partnering with one of the devil princesses. They've taken Alina and Esmeralda hostage, they've even taken Hornet hostage, their own host! And now they're going to throw the entire tower onto the back of the Roc and try to capture everyone here all at once.

    Being Oberon's prisoner isn't like being taunted by the Jedadi or tied up by the Konkons or the pirates. It's cold. It's so, so cold. It's the cold of knowing that you cannot move, cannot scream, cannot feel as my father delights in the pain he's caused you." There is a moment, an instant where Kazelia remembers the pain and she looks distant. Rita takes her hand then, like she had back in the snowy fields of Askaia. The little princess who had shown her such kindness and held her even when she was made of ice. She was a good friend and Alina had picked the perfect girlfriend. The thought was so full of joy.

    "This is why I fight! This is why Adila, Alina, Rita all of them are fighting him! Help us." Kazelia sweeps the room with her gaze slowly, the fire of determination burning behind her eyes for all to see, and even Oberon does not make her flinch in this moment. "Help us save the gala today. Help us in our fight tomorrow! Ready your people, your magic, and your wits and help us protect Hyperborea from Oberon's corruption and its people from his cruelty!"

    Deep breath. A look at the gathering. Had they heard her? Did they finally understand the fight?
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  14. - Top - End - #764
    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    The coloured compounds burned away first, the fire fading to a more plain silver-white burning gown - more her colour, letting the silver light of her own heart show through. Adila had colour-coded the phases of her dress' fire so that she'd know exactly how much time she had before she had to get her emergency costume change ready. After the initial prismatic spectacle had burned away she was still daring, captivating, but no longer so absolutely the centre of attention. It was well timed because she would not have wanted to distract from Kazelia in this moment.

    Princess Kazelia looked... right. She was skilled in using words like this. Words that explained, compelled, struck at the heart like flint to tinder. Watch speeches tended to be cryptic grunts, quotations of the relevant section of the Operations Manual or just a bulletin posted up by the well informing people of the new patrol patterns. The Clocksmiths flowed along established patterns of debate, intricate but rehearsed. Even the speeches of the Jedadi princesses tended to be more like quippy performances for their close friends. Adila hadn't really had a chance to hear a charismatic leader speak to a crowd before and her heart soared to hear it.

    Wait hold up Kazelia

    Did you say that they were going to throw the tower

    Go back to that bit Kazelia I kind of need details is everyone okay is Princess Hornet okay oh no oh no
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-11-15 at 02:03 AM.
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  15. - Top - End - #765
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Rita!

    They also have me...

    Your heart hurts. Your chest is tight and cold and oh, oh, Alina. You didn’t deserve this. You only wanted to help him and he hurt you so much. Your vision is dark and focused on those words. Somewhere, you are squeezing the hand of your dear friend, but it is a reflex, a loving instinct.

    They also have me...

    You’re running. Thank you, Alina, for the open skirt. Any princess’s dress should be practical for a dance, for a swordfight, and for a daring rooftop escape! It’d almost be like pulling a heist back in Jedad, except for the fact that your heart hurts and your thoughts are on a loop: if you hurt Alina if you hurt Alina if you hurt Alina gonna hurt you gonna hurt you if you hurt Alina gonna use my CLAWS if you hurt Alina don’t you dare hurt Alina...

    You follow the weasel, down stairways, through spiraling passageways, desperate to get there before it’s too late, not knowing what being too late will mean—

    And then you turn a corner and there she is, running up to you. “Rita,” she gasps, her hair disheveled, her face lighting up as she sees you, her skirt torn and her shoulder hurt and—

    her eyes are wrong.

    Your fist clenches tight, and instead of embracing her, you belt her across the face as hard as your little kitten arms can manage. She staggers back, one hand flying to her face, gasping in shock.

    “What... R-Rita...??”

    “You’re not my Alina,” you hiss, and then corkscrew up into a flying kick in the sort of way only a cat princess can. Your shin takes her in the tummy, knocking all the wind out of Ninian. She curls up in a little ball.

    You kick her again, once, just for good measure. She wheezes and shoots you a hateful look, the kind you were so scared of seeing.

    Then the weasel chirps and you turn on your heel. Maybe you’re already too late. Maybe Ninian was distracting you while something horrible happened to Alina and you’ll never see her again and it’s your fault for letting Oberon touch you and—

    You skid to a halt down in the dungeons. There, behind bars, lie three defeated princesses in a heap. Hornet’s flopping around like a yummy beached fish (this is no time to think with your stomach, Rita!!) and Esmeralda is on the floor furiously arching her back and trying to bust free, and on top of her, her skirt hiked up and ropes criss-crossing all over her and her cheeks bulging under tearful emerald eyes is your girlfriend.

    You turn into a cat and leap between the bars, and then back into a girl so you can wrap your arms around her and bury your face in her neck and breathe in and she still smells like your Lina, your Lina, she’s safe and you won’t let anything happen to her.

    You impulsively kiss her right on her stifled lips, and then start working the scarf down. “Are you all right? Did she hurt you?” Gosh that is a lot of lace poking out from between her perfect lips.

    And that’s when the whole tower shakes.

    ***

    Kazelia!

    For a moment, there’s absolute dead silence again. For a moment, your heart sinks into the floor. And then Kyouko floats down next to you, using a ludicrously tiny parasol as her air resistance. She folds the parasol, tucks it into her sleeve, and then clings possessively to you. “We won’t let Oberon take our home,” she says. And that’s all the push that’s needed.

    Suddenly, you’re not standing alone. Not at all. You stand in the midst of the princesses of Hyperborea and you belong. You belong as much as Kyouko does, and Nemie of the Mermaids, and Natasha, and—

    Thud.

    That would be Iron Star dropping from eight floors up, making a small crater, and then brushing herself off casually. She stands with you, too.

    And so too do their mothers, each and every one formerly a princess. From the tall, stately queen of Sirenea to the compact, growling queen of Askaia; from the noble queen of Alvonia to, yes, the queen of the goblins, her bovine tail twitching in agitation.

    “You are not welcome here any more,” Nemie says, pointing one clawed, accusatory finger at Oberon.

    “Your opinion no longer matters,” your father says, dwindling down into his own shape again. Perhaps now he is less suave, less put-together; his cheeks are properly gaunt again, his beard more unkempt. “None of you can lay a finger on me here. And none of you can pass me to find that irritating little Iluminan.”

    And that is where he is wrong. Because as he’s been talking, the whole time, the queen of the goblins has been tap-tap-tapping away with both hands on a magical tablet the size of her head, held by two mechanical arms that were cleverly disguised as part of her corset. Information flies by in a dizzying array of runes; you are a skilled enough witch that you can tell she is manipulating the spells and wards laid around the property, but barely more than that. How is she able to work at those speeds??

    Finally, she hits [LET IT BE SO] and folds the tablet into a tight square. “I am afraid that it is presently considered a security violation to be under 200 hobkelvins in internal body temperature.”

    And that is when Cassian is wrapped up into a tight, whimpering little ball, and ribbons lash around your father, just like they lashed around Alina, pulling at his arms and winding round and round his legs, curling tantalizingly about his chest.

    You could be forgiven for thinking that this might be the end. That you’ve won. That your father has finally been too arrogant, and that you have caught him in a trap as neatly as he meant to catch you.

    Then your father melts into smoke, just like he did in Feloria, and the ribbons uselessly constrict into tight knots. Lightning billows forth from him, and sudden torrential rain, and a dozen hands groping towards you all.

    Click goes the tablet unfolding. Whoosh goes the paneling on the wall to your backs. Whuuuuuuum goes the Wind rune. And whooooooooooooosh goes the wind.

    For a moment, the princesses might have found themselves blown away by the sudden gale, just as Oberon finds himself scrabbling and digging gouges in the floor, but unmistakably forced from the room. But you take Kyouko’s hand with your left, and you take Nemie’s with your right, and quick as a wink Kyouko holds Queen Felicia’s hand, and Nemie holds Natasha’s hand, and then everyone is holding on to everyone, even onto Adila, and there you are in the middle of all of them, digging your heels in until the goblin queen manages to deactivate the runes, slamming the doors on the far side of the room shut remotely to keep your father out.

    “Everyone,” she says, “please follow me in an orderly fashion to the escape tunnel.”

    And that’s when the whole tower shakes.

    ***

    Princess Black Serpent!

    It takes you ten heartbeats to have broken every support pillar in half with your Cleave Argossa In Two Technique. You raise one dainty hand, and the tower falls on top of it, and for a moment you almost doubt enough to be crushed underneath it. Almost.

    But you are strong. You are the rightful ruler of Devilhome. And no one— no one— will stop you from taking what is yours.

    You sink underneath it, to one knee, both hands on the tower’s base, and then, in one glorious continuous ascending motion, you heave it upwards so hard that it will scrape the sky before it falls back down to earth.

    Now only remains the fun part: fighting your way out of Hobling Keep.

    Oberon has been very specific about how little he cares about collateral damage. And you have wanted— ever since you were a child—

    You have wanted to remind these weak surface dwellers why they should be afraid of the creators of this world.
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  16. - Top - End - #766
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    "Rrrt'hh!"

    There's not even a second where she considers that this might be another trick. That's the magic of love, you see. The way she runs into the room so completely heedless of her skirt, the skidding stop so she doesn't smack into the bars. That little look of surprise that creeps onto her face through the fierce determination that's so obviously guiding every step she's taken for the last several minutes. Her graceful leap and flawless transformation to and from a cat, and obviously also the kiss she can't help but plant on Alina's scarf covered lips. It's all so authentically Rita that not even the most skillful shape shifter in Hyperborea could hope to replicate it all. You can't hope to notice all the tiny little tics and tells without a lifetime of looking at someone and (it turns out) secretly adoring them. Alina smiles even through her gag.

    And then clever kitty fingers are working the lacy stuffing out of her mouth and hoo, wow, it is nice to have space in there again. She leans her neck in close to Rita's, because that's the closest thing she can manage to returning her girlfriend's embrace. Thank goodness the plan had worked; it was so much more of a gamble than she'd really like to admit.

    "Are you ok?" she asks, as if she's not the one tied up in a dungeon, "I knew you'd come. I--"

    The tower shakes violently, and there's a horrible lurching sense of momentum. Well... water lilies. No more time to savor the moment. The yellow band on Rita's arm pulses softly and a moment later, the little light-weasel is holding a small knife in its mouth. It hops down off her shoulders onto Alina's back and carefully drags the blade across the ropes holding her arms together. The heat of it does the cutting, so there's no need to apply pressure, and off they pop with a quick snap-snap-snap! Alina, not missing a beat, possessively wraps one arm around Rita and uses her other to give her little buddy a tiny high five before taking the knife from it. Snap-snap-snap! There's her knees. Snap-snap! And that'll be the ankles. In a flash of brilliant blue light, the rest of the humiliating ropes fall away from her in pieces. Sheesh. Twice in one day? Well... Galas are the place to indulge a little, aren't they?

    Her weasel scampers about her legs, then turns and leaps straight at Hornet. As it flies through the air it curls into a little ball and morphs into a lance of bluish-purple light and frees her in an instant. The bolt compresses into a tiny ball and zoops straight back to Alina's arm where it glows inside her crystal again. She grins and stands, completely forgetting she's still wearing the Kitty Ears of Shame, and molds a glowing orange key into her hand as she reaches past the bars.

    "Just gimme a minute to... hold on... it's always so tricky to get the pins and... aha!"

    Click. Freedom! Alina wraps her arms around Rita and kisses her fully, even despite the pressure of the moment, because otherwise the pressure would come burbling out through her chest and nobody wants to see that, do they? She parts, reluctantly, and with a little "let's go!" wave, starts bounding from the room.

    "Mmmrph!"

    Alina turns around with a little 'oopsie!' look on her face. Esmeralda glares right back at her with all the fury you'd expect from a gallivanting pirate princess.

    "Oh, sorry!" she says, not even the tiniest bit sorry, "Forgot you were there!"

    No she didn't. Nobody is fooled by this. Literally nobody. She grins.

    "Weeeelllll... I guess I'm not going to fetch that high a bounty on you right now, so let's just go ahead and get you out of those."

    Pew, pew! Twin beams of light, one orange and one blue, go streaking across the room and slash through Esmeralda's restraints so precisely that they manage to only cause tasteful battle damage to her saucy little outfit. Enhances the look, really. Who's not gonna want her now? And I mean on that note are you still down for that threes--

    "Lina we need to go!!"

    Oh. Right. Back to the running.

  17. - Top - End - #767
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    Kazelia had a moment to feel relief and then, hesitantly, triumph! Hobling Keep had driven off Oberon. It wasn't his ultimate, final defeat, but this place showed the sort of power that Hyperborea held when it united. A wave of tension released from back and shoulders Kazelia hadn't even known she'd been holding and she let out a calming breath. They'd done it!

    Then the tower started to shake, even as they were going for the orderly evacuation and oh void, this was bad, this was really bad! Shiva would have been outside where Kazelia had landed before meeting Kyouko, so if she was lucky the Pegasus was already with them or at least rushing to catch up when she saw the tower go up. Kazelia rushed to the window to see how bad things were, holding on to one of the supports in case the tower took a sudden spin in midair. Perhaps there was some way they could hold things together, or at least rescue everyone and give the Keep time for repairs.
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
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    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  18. - Top - End - #768
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Princess Adila takes wing. She soars right through the window, directly over Princess Kazelia's head. In a moment she's outside, keeping pace with the tower externally.

    Her first priority is to catch anyone falling from the sides. In a moment like this people are going to fall and she is the only one in place to catch them. She really hopes that she won't have to catch more than two because then she'll have to snuff her fire dress early to make room. After she's rescued anyone who needs it she keeps pace with the tower from the outside - flying alongside it on swift wings, trying to get the big picture of what's going on here. They've been thrown, sure - but what are they being thrown at?

    She's also looking out for Princess Hornet. Guilt is clenching her heart - Hornet got kidnapped on a mission Adila sent her on, and that means that anything that happens to her is on Adila. She also needs to clarify exactly what section of the tower they're on and calculate its defences - it's a mistake to assume in any situation involving Hobling Keep that Hobling Keep isn't the most dangerous part of that situation.

    (Adila is actually extremely surprised at how quickly she is reacting. It's all just training and honed reflexes, of course... but uh. She can't remember the exact page of the Operations Manual that gave her a protocol for how a dragon should handle a devil-based assault on Hobling Keep.)

    [Look closely: 7
    - What is going on here? What do my senses tell me?
    - Tell me about the tower's defences. How could they hurt me? How could it help me?
    - Tell me about Princess Hornet? What are they doing? What will they do next?]
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  19. - Top - End - #769
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    Kazelia!

    It’s worse than you thought.

    All you can see through the window is swirling black smoke and lightning sparking, striking against itself. You’ve pushed your father outside, but now he intends to keep you inside. You hear the far-off screech of some immeasurably vast bird; you are running out of time, and fast.

    “Everyone,” a mechanical voice says behind you, “do not panic. Watch Regulations state that civilians are to be reassured during life-threatening scenarios. I will not inform you of how many of you are likely to die in the next fifteen minutes in order to maintain calm.”

    That voice seems strangely familiar...

    You turn and behold yourself, immortalized in brass, attempting to stop everyone from panicking. This is not going as planned, because every princess has a different escape plan. Nemie is arguing that if they fill a bath tub with water, she can use it to get to the ground safely. Iron Star is rolling up her sleeves and looking out the window, trying to decide how to fight a storm. And Adila’s dived out the window, so hurray!

    ***

    Adila!

    Being outside is a very, very bad idea right now, for the simple reason that Oberon is also outside, in the form of a howling, furious storm. Wind batters at you from every side, rain slapping you in the face, and it’s only some quick maneuvers that keep you from being grabbed by more of those smoky hands, let alone hit by lightning right in the snout. Sorry about your dress, which has been very thoroughly extinguished.

    However, you did manage to save Princess Natasha from tumbling out to her doom! She clings to your neck as you try to get your bearings. There! Another window!

    You clamber inside, right in front of Alina and Friends: Rita, Esmeralda, and yes, Hornet, who immediately wraps her arms around your leg.

    “I found Iron Star’s sister!” She sounds so excited! Positively overflowing with happiness. “Turns out she was underneath the tower the whole time, friend!”

    So, let’s talk defenses a moment. The Labyrinth Tower doesn’t have many external defenses. It’s designed to be resistant to invasion and infiltration, not to keep out angry storms. That said, if you got Hornet and her mother working on the same project, they could almost certainly whip up some gadget or device to solve any problem you have.

    The big question, then, is whether they would have enough time to complete their work before you land in Ilumina.

    Also, more smoky hands are trying to get in through the window you just came through. That’s probably bad.
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  20. - Top - End - #770
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    There is a lot happening. Too many things. Too much panic in the air, too many authority figures, too many people looking to make decisions, too much to co-ordinate. Everyone is alright for now but she needs to filter - needs to think.

    So Princess Adila takes Princess Hornet by the hand, spins her, and pulls her into the dance she promised.

    +Princess Hornet,+ Adila thinks, and she can think clearly like this. Dancing naturally involves blocking out all of the outside world. It reduces a fifty-way conversation to a one on one and besides, damn it, she came here to dance. +We need your help.+ Her muscles are tense. There's the stress of the situation, the threat of having to fight that storm again - the risk taken by talking to Princess Hornet. +You need to work together with your mother to keep Oberon out and help us land safely.+ She has to be so careful. This isn't Iron Star or Oberon who she can run power through and know that they can take it. This is like juggling a dragon egg - so fragile, but it could turn into something terrible if left untended. +Our lives are in your hands.+ Would that she had another option. Nevertheless.

    +I am your shield,+ she thought, sweeping away to fall into a full-body bow. +What are your orders?+
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  21. - Top - End - #771
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Alina watches the raging storm through the window with her eyes wide in pure terror. She's linked to this monster, maybe forever, and has been since that moment she'd found him slumped over on the side of the road. Every one of those dozens of horrible, grasping hands reaching through the window after Adila sent another pulse of searing cold pain along the length of her scar. She sucks in her breath through sharp, pained hisses despite every effort on her part to try and radiate calm and composure in front of her friends. She can't do it. Instead, her bravery takes the form of a death grip on her girlfriend's hand and waist. She stands firm against his wrath, so mark the trembling of her legs as the cost of her efforts today.

    It's a very old fear she's feeling right now. The last time she'd seen this, she'd been looking at him and thinking about him the way a crystal would. Her heart and mind had been the Song, which saw through to the truth of Oberon while missing entirely the truth of Alina Cascade. Because of course he'd try and be a storm. She felt stupid not realizing it sooner. He was the same sort of monster as the Roc, the kind that had once felt slighted and thereafter dedicated themselves forevermore to paying back that humiliation. If it was about stopping her from getting in his way, then he was a man of infinite shapes and weapons. He didn't need to be a storm. He was a storm because she loved the rain, because like the horrible bird she was currently in the middle of being thrown on top of, he wanted her to hear the rolling of the thunder and feel a jolt of terror instead of excitement. He would never let it go. He couldn't let it go.

    But she could. She squeezes Rita's hand.

    Her eyes flash with defiance as she reaches out her hand toward the windows. One by one the panes flash with different colored lights that shine through the hallway like brilliant stained glass displays on the most beautiful day of summer. Smoky hands recoil from the light as Alina trembles a little from the strain of maintaining her spell against such a horrible opponent. Adila's dancing, even now, and it puts a smile on Alina's face just to watch it. This is it! This is love! The power of her heart is strong enough to keep away the cold!

    "Please, get together with everyone and get a real plan to get us out of this! I'll catch up, ok?"

    [10 to Keep Oberon Busy. Marking my Wall spell as the price for going against the Overlord]

  22. - Top - End - #772
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Well. Kazelia pulls away from the windows now filling with rainbows. That was really something, wasn't it, at least for a moment. There's another Kazelia all in brass too, some sort of goblin invention. She supposed she ought to feel complimented by that, but at the moment we're just noping out of that problem entirely. Let it do its own thing.

    Instead, Kazelia is sizing up the situation. Adila dancing, with Hornet. The goblin lighting technician making them the center of attention even now, and Alina holding Oberon at bay as the tower flew. What was the goal here then? Escape? Protect the people, get out of the tower or survive the tower falling and get away from the Roc. Make a safe escape route.

    Alright then. The key thing then was to get everyone to stop trying to do twenty different things that were all going to run counter to each other and let someone take the lead. That someone was Adila working with Hornet. She had that. So, Kazelia went briefly and joined the band and she sang along with the dance. What, nobody was going to stop her right now, and there's many a story of the music continuing until the last moment even outside of a place like Hyperborea.

    The song for the dance is a wordless song full of clear, bold notes in a rising crescendo. And as the sound echoes through the hall and everyone focuses on the dance, their hearts are connected and for a moment or so there is no discord among them.
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  23. - Top - End - #773
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Adila!

    “You are not my shield.” Hornet stands there in a state of dishevelment, hair a mess, purple eyes flat and impenetrable. It’s not just the goggles that make her hard to read; she’s just hard to read, period. She stands there, helpless and dangerous and informing you, bluntly, that you are incorrect. “You are my buddy. And buddies stick together.”

    ...that can’t be a veiled callback to when you used her to pursue a lead so you had time to dance with someone you’re really into, right? Like, just tonight, which led to her being helpless at the hands of a dangerous renegade princess, right? Like, surely not. Hornet is not that subtle. But you have to wonder, right?

    She marches up to you, takes one of your claws in her petite little hand, and walks up the stairs without any hesitation. You’re going to follow. You have to follow. You are her Buddy. You are her Friend. It’s Official.

    And then she drops down on all threes and begins to scamper, her cow’s tail bouncing side to side as she zooms up the stairs, and you would have to be heartless to pull your claw out of her hand. I mean, the alternative is clumsily using three limbs to follow her at her top speed (which, while she is tiny, is High) and almost certainly stumbling out in front of everybody in a state of clumsy disarray along with a half-naked goblin princess. It’s not salacious, necessarily, but your dignity is going to take a hit.

    ***

    Alina!

    Esmeralda follows the dragon and the goblin with a hearty laugh, pausing only to remind you: “at the end of the night, the Rider is still mine.” Good to see you haven’t lost sight of the important things here, Blackscarf!

    There is, however, a distinct lack of Rita following her up those stairs. And, instead, there is a sun-bronzed hand in yours, narrow fingers wrapped tightly around your hand.

    “I am not leaving you,” Rita says, anguished. “Not again. Not ever again.”

    ...she had to find out you were in trouble from the light weasel. If you’d been kept with Black Serpent, or if Oberon had come to collect you in person instead of dallying with princesses... you would have been held by the Riders, again, leaving her behind to feel helpless, again. There is fire in her eyes as the lights around her arm shine bright.

    And then the sound of clapping.

    “You’re soooo disgusting,” Ninian drawls in your voice. “Both of you. Desperate to feel wanted, to feel loved, despite how neither of you deserve it.” She looms large in your peripheral, showing her teeth in what is technically a smile. “Face it. You’re perfect for each other, because you’re the most worthless princesses in this entire world— and that is a hard title to achieve, so, bravo!”

    Rita growls, and Ninian... leans in and gives her a possessive little smooch on the cheek. “Go ahead, wildcat,” she says, her voice dripping malice. “I want you to hit me again. Go ahead.”

    You are high enough in the tower that the wards are definitely still working, you realize. Ninian is trying to goad Rita into attacking her. And from the way she’s trying to pull out of your grasp, Rita is falling for it hook, line and sinker. It’s your choice whether you want to let Rita go or try to rein her in, fighting both her writhing attempts to get free and pummel Ninian, and Oberon’s hands slamming against the window.

    ***

    Kazelia!

    It’s a duet, actually! Because here’s Kyouko, singing along. She doesn’t know the tune, but that’s all right. She’s very good at improvising and picking up on where you’re going.

    KazeliaBot goes silent, watching you with those unreadable starry eyes. Princesses and queens hold each other and listen, and hum along, fear bleeding away. Cassian mmmphs and tries to get your attention, but don’t worry, Cassiewassie, you’ll be coming along with the rest of the princesses.

    No matter what your father does, no matter how he tries to ruin everything... you will always be there to fight back.

    Take a Bond with Kyouko, if you please, and know that the princesses will follow your lead on any plan to escape.
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  24. - Top - End - #774
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    "Rita! Rita, don't!"

    Alina's hand stays firmly locked with her girlfriend's, and now she's really in trouble. She pulls back as hard as she dares, but every bit of slack she gives for fear of hurting Rita is another inch closer she gets to clawing Ninian's face off and dooming the pair of them. She shoots the Rider princess a fierce and defiant look, but her heart is already wavering with fear. Behind her, the windows begin to dim a little, and the storm that is Oberon Greymane lashes against them with terrible, thunderous power.

    "Alina let me go!"

    "I can't! If you strike then the wards will--"

    "I! Don't! Care!" Rita thrashes desperately as Alina wraps her up with both hands now, "I'm gonna kill her!"

    Her foot slips, just for a second, and by itself that's almost enough to lose her grip entirely. Rita slashes wildly at the air, and as Alina watches that stupidly smug expression plastered on Ninian's face she can't exactly say she doesn't understand the temptation. A blue window dims enough that a hand punches through it with a sound like a thunderclap, but trapped all in a hallway, and she shrieks. She's trembling, and it's hard, so hard, to keep holding both of these problems back at once. Her lights strain right along with her, flaring back up strong again and then quivering with each hammer blow struck against them. But they hold. Brave little lights, they hold.

    And as if in response to that bravery, Alina's fire burns hot against her chest. It spreads out across her entire body until her touch feels like a summer's day and then suddenly, holding back Rita is easy. Lifting her into the air is easy. Rita goes limp in her arms.

    "Please, Lina," she says while choking back tears, "I can't stand it. I saw, I saw, I saw you on that day! In my mind, I saw him hurt you! And you looked so scared and you didn't deserve that and you don't deserve this and I need to..."

    "You need to stay with me."

    Alina lowers Rita back to the ground and holds her as gently as an Askaian breeze. Rita sniffles, but there's no more struggle to get free, to make Ninian pay. For a moment, Alina could swear she saw the smug look drop from the shapeshifter's face. She turns away from that sight and buries her face in Rita's hair, right by her ear.

    "I need you, Rita. I love you. I love you in the morning when I wake up, and I love you in the evening when I go to sleep. I love your face, and I love your laugh, and I love the way you run and dance. I love you, Rita. You're my strength. You're my guide. You are my light."

    Every whisper pulls them closer. Alina, finally heedless of the storm, slides her hand all the way up Rita's body to touch her adorable kitty chin and guide her lips to where they belong. And when they meet, it's true magic. The shattered blue window snaps instantly back together and severs a trio of smoky hands, and she has no eyes for even that. A rainbow in six parts shines brighter than the noon sun to see this sight. She turns her body to open space, and Rita slides right into it. Their arms wrap around each other, at the neck and on the small of their backs, their fingers curling around each other's hair and holding deep. Holding forever. They dance, which is to say they sway. They sway, which is to say they fall into one another. They fall into one another, which is to say they kiss. Breath comes in bold and deep through their noses because their mouths are too busy with each other. Lips brush lips, and where they slide off they move until they touch again and it starts the magic all anew.

    Alina lifts her other hand to join the first at Rita's head. She holds either side of her, keeping her safe, keeping her warm, and watches with her emerald eyes smiling with the gentlest, most adoring light of all. She smiles. Their fingers find each other again and grasp each other tight, and the 'clink' of their bracelets slipping together is like the final lock on the door keeping Oberon out of the tower. And when they turn to see it, they turn together. And when they stand defiantly, they stand together. And it doesn't matter what Ninian has to say about who they are or what they are, because they have the panes of light to watch together, which have become so bright and full they block out the sight of Oberon out entirely. Only the quietest of rumbling remains to remind them that he's there at all.

    [Reveal the Way: 15]

  25. - Top - End - #775
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    “You are not my shield.” Hornet stands there in a state of dishevelment, hair a mess, purple eyes flat and impenetrable. It’s not just the goggles that make her hard to read; she’s just hard to read, period. She stands there, helpless and dangerous and informing you, bluntly, that you are incorrect. “You are my buddy. And buddies stick together.”

    ...that can’t be a veiled callback to when you used her to pursue a lead so you had time to dance with someone you’re really into, right? Like, just tonight, which led to her being helpless at the hands of a dangerous renegade princess, right? Like, surely not. Hornet is not that subtle. But you have to wonder, right?

    She marches up to you, takes one of your claws in her petite little hand, and walks up the stairs without any hesitation. You’re going to follow. You have to follow. You are her Buddy. You are her Friend. It’s Official.

    And then she drops down on all threes and begins to scamper, her cow’s tail bouncing side to side as she zooms up the stairs, and you would have to be heartless to pull your claw out of her hand. I mean, the alternative is clumsily using three limbs to follow her at her top speed (which, while she is tiny, is High) and almost certainly stumbling out in front of everybody in a state of clumsy disarray along with a half-naked goblin princess. It’s not salacious, necessarily, but your dignity is going to take a hit.
    Princess Adila has well and truly lost her grip on the situation at this point. She can't read Princess Hornet, can't effectively predict her actions, and can't quite shake the feeling that that she is messing up because of that. So the scrambled dragon follows closely behind, doing her level best to keep the majority of her limbs underneath her and neither step on anything or set anything on fire.
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  26. - Top - End - #776
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Kazelia can feel her heart swell as Kyouko joins her and the hall full of queens and princesses listens. When the duet finishes, she gladly lets herself fall into the fox girls arms, despite being the much taller one. "That was lovely" she says quietly for Kyouko, heedless of everyone watching. And for a moment at least, the hall is still. Something must be happening downstairs because the rainbow walls thicken and drown out Oberon's howling entirely.

    She can't lose the moment. "Alright everyone. We've got a goblin tower full of technology and robots" (don't look at the weird Kazelia robot, it's just a distraction, just don't look at it) "We need to get everyone out of here safely. I think this is a good time to let our hosts take the lead in engineering a solution."

    She looks to the goblin queen, even as there is an unusual sound of scrabbling claws coming up the corridor.
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  27. - Top - End - #777
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Sorceress-Doctor Mace, Head of Research (HKU), Chief Engineer-General (HK Region), Queen of Goblinkind, Best Mommy!

    There’s your precious little Hornet! She’s ended up wiggling out of her dress, but you were quite clear in your pre-ball power lunch: only take your dress off if it is important. Clearly, she made the correct call, given the events happening. You are so proud of her.

    You open your arms and Hornet bounds into them, giving you a full-body hug and purring into your shoulder. Your pneumatic leggings brace and steady you, allowing you to focus on holding your precious Hornet close.

    “Hornet, dear,” you say, running one hand down her hair soothingly. “I would like to use your laboratories with you. Is that all right?” Nod, nod. “Let’s make something that will help us get back down to the ground.”

    She taps you on the shoulder three times: the “let’s say what we’re thinking at the same time” tap. One, two, three: “Rocket boosters,” you say, together.

    It makes sense! You need something that can arrest the tower’s significant velocity and then bring you down to the ground in a location of your choosing. A pyromantic multi-sequence booster rocket should do nicely.

    Out of consideration for your guests, you add: “...and a very big parachute.”

    “Let’s go to the mechanical lab,” Hornet says. “With my Buddy!”

    You are so proud of Princess Adila. Having a princess friend means the world to your Hornet. You open your mouth to formally invite her along—

    And that’s when the tower is turned on its side.

    ***

    Alina!

    The Roc is the biggest thing in the whole wide world. Maybe, and this is a secret— maybe it can change its size. Maybe sometimes it is the size of a house, and sometimes it is the size of the sky; but right now it is the size of a mountain, and its claws go all the way around the tower as if it were a fish an eagle were plucking forth from the water.

    On its back? Ha! You will be carried in its talons, the lot of you, and you will be helpless to escape. Your lights shimmer and crack beneath the weight of its iron talons.

    The tricky thing about a stairwell being turned on its side is that there is no place to make a proper landing. You hit the central pillar hard, Ninian screeching and scrabbling and falling away from you as you cling desperately to Rita until the shaking stops.

    Then the enchanted lamps lighting the way flare up to painful brilliance before they explode, leaving the tower in the dark. Your eyes gleam, ever so slightly, in the dark, and in their light Rita’s shine just as green.

    And she is holding you close, her hand on the back of your head, murmuring the mantra of It’s Okay, I’m Here, because she remembers the nightmares you had back when you were a kid, the times Mommy had to change your sheets, the times you woke up whimpering because the Roc got you.

    It’s here, Alina. And it has got you.

    ***

    Kazelia!

    You don’t hit the far wall, and the reason for it is this: if you had been looking outside, if you were a bird watching this fast-moving stormcloud going against the wind, you would have seen a small, swift shape shoot into the cloud with a glimmer of light, even as the shadow of the Roc fell over the storm and the beat of its gargantuan wings blew you away.

    You do not hit the floor. Shiva catches you first.

    Then the lights blow, and you feel it, as a very talented witch: the magical weight of the Roc is drowning everything else. If you tried calling upon magic of wind and storm, you might find it overwhelmingly powerful; any other spells would find themselves running wild or exploding in your face. And not just you; every magically talented princess and queen here is now a walking bomb, liable to explode themselves and everyone around them with any spell more simple than Baby’s First Cantrip.

    And that’s when the bindings around Cassian explode into confetti with a pop, leading to more screaming in the sudden dark. He’ll be on his feet and scrambling for a hiding place in a moment, if you know him at all!

    And that’s when KazeliaBot calmly marches down the floor-turned-wall, her feet hissing with each step, her circuits glowing dangerously— she must be keeping herself from blowing out through sheer robotic willpower— and picks up Hornet and Queen Mace.

    She holds them up to you and Shiva, the diamond flecks of her stars reflecting the fire within your sea-green eyes.

    And she nods, steam hissing from the vents in her neck. No words need be spoken. You are the Kazelia who has to save the day. She is not. She understands.

    ***

    Adila!

    That... is a very big bird.

    Iron Star’s arms are wrapped around your neck, and she does most of the work of lifting you back up onto your feet. She’s breathing like she just had a quick warm-up before proper exercise.

    “Whatever the goblins cook up,” she says, her voice sepulchral in its depth, “it won’t mean dirt if that bird doesn’t let go.” She looks to you, and a flash of Oberon’s lightning shows you... well, her mask. No way to tell if she’s giving you a resolute look.

    “You and me. Let’s ride.” Is... is she suggesting... she wants to ride on your back?? I mean, it does make sense, she doesn’t have wings, and while she could do a bunch of Good Jumps, one misstep or contact with the Roc’s wings and she’d have a very long and painful fall. (Though she’s one of the most likely to survive a fall like that in one piece.) She’s already uncoiling a length of iron rope to lash herself to your back, and it’s up to you whether this is happening or not!
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  28. - Top - End - #778
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Thanqol's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    There is a lot to unpack right here and it is not helping that she's still stalling out on being lifted off the ground and set on her feet like it's nothing and by the neck no less and it's so spooky it makes her heart flutter in fear but even though there's nothing but danger it's being used out of either kindness or indifferent control and she isn't sure which one sends more chills through her wings -

    But she starts to hesitate nevertheless. Hornet is dangerous, but Iron Star is a whole different category of dangerous and - and not only should she not take her eyes off Hornet she probably shouldn't go along with Iron Star's plan because it's so dangerous and Oberon's out there and hasn't she thought this through at all and oh is she staring into your eyes below that mask, no, the smart play is to secure the inventors, rescue bystanders and prevent collateral damage -

    Don't be stupid, Adila. Her spine stiffens in response to the deeply instilled sense of military discipline. This is war. You not only have the ability to take a critical enemy asset out of the game but to secure an alliance with a Devil. Principles of Strategy: Align the strong. Destroy the enemy.

    It felt like she'd been pushed from the least expected direction. One of the Operations Manual's secret passages had opened up in her head and instead of counselling caution and discipline like it always had, like she'd always resorted to when she needed to talk herself out of doing something dangerous, it wanted her to strike. And with her centre of moral gravity abruptly shifting underneath her there was nothing articulate enough to stand between her and her heart's craving to do just that. To brave that storm and that rider and that rope and save/destroy like only she could and only Iron Star saw...

    Oh no. It was happening.

    +I'll - we'll - defend you from the roc,+ she thought to Princess Hornet and Queen Mace, though the thought was blurry behind all the confused and crashing emotions running through her. She felt like she should object somehow but didn't have the vocabulary or intelligence to figure out how or why. +Focus on landing this thing safely.+

    She fixed her eyes out the window, on the storm. This time it held no terror for her. She was in her true body, wings and strength and eyes that could cut clean through the dark. She wasn't wandering alone - she was defending her friends, and testing her strength against terrible monsters who meant her harm. She was to be fighting alongside the most terrifyingly attractive creature to climb from the Underworld and the laws that underpinned her life and logic were calling for blood and victory.

    Everything pushed her forwards. Everything told her now was the time to be her most terrifying self. She spread her wings and flew.

    The cold was powerless against a fire this bright.

    [Unleashing my true strength: damaging Blood, gaining Burning and Dangerous, do not roll with Despair when rolling Blood or Courage, can damage a stat to use Dragon Magic spells]
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  29. - Top - End - #779
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Anarion's Avatar

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    Mar 2009
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    San Francisco
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Kazelia reaches out a hand and helps the two goblins onto Shiva's back, the light shimmering from her dress providing dim illumination for them to see by. Then she looks at the robot modeled after her, that she had been regarding as nothing but another in the line of weird goblin inventions. She really looks at it, even as lines of glowing orange circuitry streak through its brass skin and steam hisses dangerously from its joints. Kazelia gives KazeliaBot a salute as she puts pressure into Shiva's flanks to urge the Pegasus into the air. Job well done.

    "Your majesties" she says, deferring to the queen and the princess as joint hosts. "I'm going to get you to your lab now so you can make that that rocket booster and its accompanying parachute. I hope that you can help guide us through the maze very quickly." Kazelia holds out a hand and begins to summon the cold north wind that is still hers to command. And it comes. Oh how it comes roaring towards her, fluttering the ball gown on either sides of her legs like its caught in a jetstream. It is like the force of a titan, a vast and powerful north wind that surges with the howling of the void and the powerful magic of the Roc. With it, she urges Shiva forward and unleashes its fury to propel them. The pegasus zips up through the main hall in a flash, Crystal Wings shimmering with reflected lightning and they are suddenly in the maze.

    No time to wait or slow down, she looks to the goblins to shout out directions and lets a combination of instinct, impetus, and magical brute force ensure that nothing stops them on their route.

    [Kazelia is getting the queen and Hornet to their lab very quickly, and rolling to overcome any obstacles that might impede her. 6+2+1=9. So it's either a temporary solution or pay a price for the 10+ result. I'm not sure which is more appropriate, but if I have to pay a price, it will be a use of that spell of safe travels that's in Kazelia's staff.]
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  30. - Top - End - #780
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    PhoeKun's Avatar

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    Nov 2005
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    Up in the mountains
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    The cold drops of rain stung as they whipped across her tiny face. Her ears were full of the roar of winds that tore at her clothing, ripped her blanket out of her hands, and twisted her this way and that. Everywhere she looked it was nothing but the deep dark and the cold of the rain. Her heart pounded in her chest between each flash of white-hot lightning and the accompanying thunderclap that drowned out even the wind. She was shrieking non-stop, she was sure of it, but she couldn't hear herself at all over the noise. The storm filled her. It lived inside her. It pushed and ripped and stung and it hurt more than anything was allowed to hurt.

    She didn't need to see the Roc to know that it was there. The dark shape that ate all of her eyesight, like a storm bird but bigger than anything she'd dared to imagine, shadowy and indistinct feathers bigger than she was. It tore through the sky just to get to her, blacker than black and bigger than big and with two points of baleful red light so bright they hurt to look at, which must have been its eyes, that bore into her and saw straight through her heart and knew, knew, knew that she had been a bad girl.

    She tried to tell it she didn't know what she'd done wrong. She tried to tell it she was sorry. She tried to beg it not to hurt her, but it was no use, no use at all, because she had no voice in the storm. It hated her, specifically her, and now it was here to get her and she couldn't even run away because no matter how much she kicked her legs there was no ground to run on and not enough water to swim in. No matter what she tried or how hard she cried, she just fell and fell and fell and tumbled oh-so-gracelessly through the hateful storm until she could finally see the talons that ended in points sharper than swords larger than even her Mommy, and they were reaching right out to grab her and they were gonna get her and--

    "Mommy! Mommy help me!"

    Little Lina shot up in her bed. Outside, the thunderstorm roared and for once she had no thoughts about sneaking off into it to play. In the dark, everything looked evil and twisted and unfamiliar. This wasn't her real bed. She wasn't in her real room. She was in Summerveil after a night full of story time and the sudden peal of thunder made her cry so hard she didn't know if she would ever stop. She wanted the rain to go away. She wanted to be home. She wanted to hug something. But when she reached across her little bed for Mr. Stormy she saw the dark look in his eyes and for the first time realized how much he wanted to hurt her just like the Roc did. Because she was a bad girl. She threw him away from her and his little plush storm bird body flew clear across the room and thudded majestically against her door. She shrieked, just the way she had in the storm, because you just can't be this scared and not make a noise like that, even if it was just gonna get eaten by the storm. It was coming for her, it was it was, and all she could do is scream and that's when her door burst open and Alexis Whitefoam, bravest and bestest knight in Illumina, came dashing through the hallway lights to her side.

    "What's wrong, little princess?"

    "It's... g-g-g-g-gonna... g-get..."

    It was no use. She was crying so hard there wasn't any room for words. She reached out and clung desperately to Lexi's chest and felt those big, strong arms wrap around her and lift her soft-as-you-please out of her blankets, and long, pretty legs carry her down, down, down the stairs away from the storm. A curious little kitten poked her head out of the door as they passed and padded quietly after them with a mixture of puzzlement and concern on her face. Lexi's smooth strides carried the trembling Lina straight to the place she most wanted to be: the lounge where Mommy was sitting on a comfy looking armchair looking over some paperwork by the light of her Gold. Mommy's light was a special one; none of her helpers or any of the court magicians had anything even close to like it. As they stepped into its hazy warmth, Lina relaxed a tiny bit, though she was still hiccoughing uncontrollably.

    "Bad dreams, Little Light?"

    "...U-uhuh..."

    Mommy's hands reached out and took her. One on the small of her back, one stroking her messy lavender curls, all sense of important Queen work forgotten. They sat and they sat, with Lina flinching at every new roll of thunder outside. Shh, shh, shh she went, and gestured with her eyes for Rita to hop up and join them. Soft hands, soft purrs, soft light all work their magic and work Lina back down to where she could talk about her dream.

    "Breath, Little Light, breathe. In and out now, nice and slow. Remember, a princess must always be beautiful. Isn't that right?"

    She nodded. And she breathed.

    "Good girl. I promise you Alina, you are safe. The Roc will not come for you. And we'll put Mr. Stormy in time-out until he learns not to try and scare you. You are safe, Little Light, as long as you do not lose your shine. Do you need to sleep with me tonight?"

    Alina shook her head.

    "Oh, are you my big, brave girl?"

    Nod, nod. Mommy's lips felt so warm and soft on her forehead.

    "I knew you were. Alexis, will you please alert the staff to warm a glass of honeyed milk? With a pinch of cinnamon, if they do not mind. A little warming spice to chase away this cold, angry storm."

    "At once, Your Majesty."

    "Oh, and when you're finished, please post an appropriate guard inside my daughter's bedroom door. I believe Sparkles would be perfect."

    "That's... the unicorn, Your Majesty."

    "Who better to guard the purity of a little princesses' sleep?"


    ***

    There are no unicorns to guard her here. Mommy's Gold is gone. Alina trembles in Rita's arms and does not move or make any sound above a whimper.

    But she is safe. She is held. She does not lose her shine.

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