The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #571
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    First things first - she puts on her borrowed boots. One cannot go rescuing princesses before putting one's boots on. That was Felorian wisdom at it's most inarguable, and Adila was not about to shame Princess Dandy again by running off without boots on. The time spent putting on her boots also gives her time to remember to thank the witch - a little moment she would have missed if she had just winged off without thinking. Another little lesson, to go alongside the one that told her to walk forwards in that trundling human way rather than trying to run all the way there. She noted with grim humour that she really had just traded one set of restrictions for another.

    So what to think about Princess Eska? She had images, moments, feelings but... Adila didn't think she ever really knew a person until she saw them in motion. Sometimes she wondered if she was unimaginative. Feelings and hunches and instinct never got much purchase in her head - she liked what she could see for herself. What to make of coldness in the abstract? It was why, even now, she still couldn't really bring herself to hate Oberon despite knowing the hurt he'd inflicted on her friends. She felt their pain deeply, of course. But it wasn't the same thing because she hadn't seen it herself.

    But clear thinking cut through the fog of confusion and indecision. Princess Eska was being held together by a new sense of power, overcoming damage with strength. Adila knew better than anyone that could not last. Taking away that strength would destroy the poor girl but she couldn't flinch from it because neither would the strength heal her. Healing came from other places.

    She followed the garnet with determination.
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-09-18 at 09:53 PM.
    Some stories are to tell. Some stories are to keep.

  2. - Top - End - #572
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    And if you freeze time... just... about... here, that's the spot, you can actually pinpoint the moment Alina Cascade's resolve breaks. It's not her fault, really: it's just not a fair thing to ask of a princess freshly back from trying to pull herself back together to confront her trigger all over again. Lady Knifehair is not Oberon, nor does she mistake her for him. But there's enough in that demand to make her recoil, and once she recoils she can't laugh or mock anymore. And once she can't laugh and mock anymore she also can't defend herself, because let's face it the only person here who any sort of clue what to do with a bunch of knives is over there wearing them as decoration.

    Alina takes a step back. Then she takes another one. And then a third. But she hesitates before she starts to properly run. What if she lost them? She has to stay and be a distraction!

    "H-hey no, come on..."

    She pulls her arm across her chest like a little, useless shield. They can't strip her if she blocks them, right? Please, not another makeover. This one's not going to end as well as the last one did, and that was very, um...

    "I-I mean, I'll give it back! I'm not keeping it! I-I just need it for a little longer, is all. P-please, can't we, I mean, couldn't I just do your hair or something, instead?"

  3. - Top - End - #573
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    Kazelia!

    Dragon-herding is a full-time job! If you don’t shepherd her just so, this golden worm will go off and incinerate a butterfly instead of eating you all up. You have to dance dangerously, flirting with disaster by coming just close enough to keep her attention with spell and tell, and then outdistance the shockingly fast dragon before she can eat you just like she ate the kite.

    It’s so focus-consuming that you don’t realize you’ve ended up in a Felorian cranberry bog until your boots fill up with muddy water.

    The dragon seems disinclined to follow you in, hissing nastily at the water, before beginning to set beds of cranberries alight. But you can use this, perhaps, to keep the dragon busy, or send a signal to your allies. Maybe something with modulating the smoke from ten thousand burning cranberries.

    ***

    Adila!

    You’re not alone. This is witchy business, and Madeline troops alongside you with a walking stick and grim determination. It’s fortunate for you that she did: it’s only because she’s with you that you’re kept from walking in useless circles around Feloria. She’s on the secret roads, after all.

    The secret roads, which are already beginning to freeze. When you walk onto the cobblestones, your breath mists in the frigid air, and the chill sets in immediately. Eska is polluting the magic here. There’s even a taste of...

    Of Devilhouse.

    It never really went away. It stayed. And when she took your skin—

    Great. Just great. That’s the last thing you needed, right? A dragon Rider princess with Devil magic. Super. Neato. Fantastic.

    But more than that, even...

    You’d need Kazelia to tell you what else you’re sensing here. But something is very, very wrong. Horribly wrong, even.

    Madeline hikes her bag up higher on her shoulder and squares herself up. She’s barely bigger than Rita, for crying out loud. Are you going to be able to protect her like this, Adila?

    ***

    Theodora von Cheshire!

    “W-we’re gonna be in so much trouble, Diana!”

    It’s no use. Your cautious common sense falls on deaf ears. Sometimes you’re awed by your best friend’s courage, and sometimes, like now, the scales fall off your eyes and you can see her clearly as a dumb-dumb ninny who’s going to get you all killed, or worse, expelled.

    All of you! She’s got practically half of Hyacinth House out in force, witches from all over Hyperborea geared up with their wands and their travel cauldrons and their pointy hats, ready to represent Hecatia and make their faculty sponsor proud. Which she won’t be! This is a terrible idea and you hate being dragged along!! It’s super cold, too, and you had to wear your emergency scarf which is the scratchy one and you could be back at the dorms right now with a bowl of warm cream and a ball of Everyarn!

    “Shh.” Diana holds up one hand, and everybody freezes, except for Sami, who does a completely unnecessary roll and comes up with her wand in the crook of her elbow, like a complete doofus.

    You all listen.

    It’s the sound of someone crying. Sobbing, even. Off the path. Which obviously is the work of a witch-luring Flabberghast who’ll scoop you up in its magic bag and carry you off to eat you all up!! You’ve known deep down all this time that Flabberghasts were totally real and not just a campfire story, no matter what Diana said. And Diana, like a great big dummy, follows. So of course you have to scamper after her, if only so that you’ll be able to tell her family how bravely you tried to save her from the Flabberghast.

    Instead, you come out blinking by the side of a road through some very lonely Aspens, and... oh, no! There are more of those scary Riders tearing at a girl’s clothes while laughing about it and if you all sneak away right now, you might be able to— Diana!!

    The Confoundation Hex flies straight and true, and one of them, with a barbaric bunch of knives in her hair, falls over in a dizzy tangle of limbs. Knives are leveled in a very scary way, but— oh, thank goodness, everybody else followed your heroic charge. The Riders look at the odds, and nearly make it back to their winged horses before going down in a hail of hexes.

    Diana pulls a kerchief out of her pocket and expands it into a coat, which she wraps around the girl, who looks like a great big tearful mess.

    “Are you all right?” Diana’s being so calm! You’re all probably about to get swamped by Rider reinforcements just because you stopped to save a peasant girl, and... and that’s what witches do, you remind yourself. Breathe, Theo. Breathe. Doing the right thing always turns out right in the end.

    “Diana,” you say, your voice trembling with loving concern, “let’s go. We’ll just bring more attention to her if we stay!”

    And that’s when one of the Riders, who wasn’t as taken down by Sami’s hexes as she thought, manages to blow the loudest horn in all of Hyperborea, which Diana quickly throws another kerchief over, stifling it effectively with a Silencing Charm.

    Still. You’re in so much trouble.

    ***

    Rita von Catabas!

    “My Lady, what do you require?”

    Asteria. You’re Asteria. You’re a mean stupid-face who hurts people. You’re snooty and have a stupid laugh. Asteria. Asteria!!

    “When I want your help,” you snarl, one hand raised disdainfully as if you’re about to hit them, and they cringe away because Asteria is the worst person in all of Hyperborea, “I’ll ask for it!” Wait. No. She wouldn’t say that. “No, I’ll tell you, and you’ll obey!”

    “Yes, Princess Asteria,” the two Riders say, falling to one knee and lowering their heads. Perfect. Okay.

    Asteria. You’re Asteria. You stalk and preen and walk like the floor is made of bugs you’re stepping on. You like it when people cry because they’re helpless. You expect to be obeyed whenever you say something. Asteria.

    You almost make it to the edge of the camp. You’re so close! You can feel Jessamine’s anxious energy on the other end of her leash, as she keeps her head downcast and tries to act like a properly cowed captive, and you come so close to being able to help her out of her shoes, into some sensible slippers, and then running for it. It’s so close you can almost taste it.

    And that’s when you get picked up into a bear hug from the side, so fast that it’s only a flicker in your peripherals before those massive steel-clad arms pick you up off the ground in an inescapable vice.

    “Asteria! Oh my gosh, are you doing something new with your hair? I love it!” The noogie, too, is inescapable. “Don’t tell me. Felorian floral conditioner, right?”

    As... Asteria, you’re... oof... Ast—

    There’s a moment of terrible, awful silence, the sound of a bunch of people all taking a breath at once, and Kaja Ironpelt looks down at you quizzically.

    Turns out it’s hard to concentrate on maintaining your disguise when you’ve got a generous faceful of Kaja.

    And then Jessamine punches a Rider and awkwardly pulls her sword out with one gloved hand, the entire camp draws their weapons in response, and— far off— somebody blows a distress horn.

    And in her tent, Asteria Spite kicks the door of her wardrobe furiously.

    You’re in so much trouble.
    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.

  4. - Top - End - #574
    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    Madeline hikes her bag up higher on her shoulder and squares herself up. She’s barely bigger than Rita, for crying out loud. Are you going to be able to protect her like this, Adila?
    If she was a dragon this wouldn't be a negotiation, this would be picking up the human and putting her down somewhere she couldn't get hurt - but Adila was not totally confident in her ability to take Madeline in a fistfight right now. Protect her? She represented fully fifty percent of her power and abilities right now. Maybe more.

    But. Only if.

    "Madeline," said Adila seriously, fully focusing on the girl for the first time. When she gave her attention it was with the undivided focus formed from a lifetime of telepathy; she didn't have any thoughts in her mind right now other than doing the best for this brave, tired girl. "We're walking into the intersection of three, maybe four extremely dangerous types of magic. I'm going in because my friends are counting on me and my heart demands it. But you've got your own friends, your own family, your own home to think about. If you want to come with me I can't stop you - but I won't be able to protect you either, so I need to know that you won't regret this decision. This needs to be something you really believe in, something you believe with all your heart, and it's okay if it isn't. Are you," she swallowed, "a bad enough witch to save the princess?"
    Some stories are to tell. Some stories are to keep.

  5. - Top - End - #575
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    "You're... Diana? Diana Kingfisher? Oh thank goodness, thank goodness, thank goodness. I finally found you!"

    Alina wipes the tears from her eyes for what feels like the hundredth time since coming to Feloria. When she laughs, it's wet and gurgly and still half a sob itself, and it quickly turns into a delicate little hiccough. Her face is relief. Her smile is hope. Her eyes are panic. A chill wind blows through the air, and she shivers and pulls the ker-coat tighter around her slashed and ruined clothes. Those jerks had torn her sleeves off altogether and slashed up blouse and skirt so much she felt like she'd fallen through a Riverball net (the least popular sport ever in Jedad!) and called herself dressed. She'd almost feel more covered if she ripped off what was left. Or she would, if it wasn't for this girl's kindness, her courage, and her coat. Also her magic.

    Magic... oof. There's a lot of feelings welling up in Alina right now that have almost nothing to do with Oberon's request or her recent treatment. She can remember when she got her letter from Hecatia Academy, just a month before the selection ceremony with the River King. She'd never been so confused. Everyone knew that magic came from glass crystals powered by your mother's love and right to rule, what made them think that she had any of this weird, other kind? For that matter, didn't they understand how important it was that she practice? She'd had actual, important things to be practicing for! But Queen Halcyon had insisted she go and tour their campus and Alina, pouting and fussing the whole time, did just as she was told. But oh, what a brat she'd been about it. Every time an instructor would show her an enchanted fountain she'd sneer and say the ones in her castle were much nicer. If they let her peek in on a transmutation class she rolled her eyes and disrupted the entire lesson by asking why a princess would need to turn things into other things.

    On and on it went, until a manticore had gotten loose in the courtyard where she was having lunch and she'd almost gotten stomped flat but for some passing witches a lot like the ones she was kneeling in front of right now. Their hexes and incantations had it tangled up in vines and pacified it with some mist they'd conjured out of the little stream that ran through the flower garden, while she'd sat there being crystalless, lightless, and helpless, having done nothing more useful than screaming for help. And after that? She got it. And she'd skipped the rest of her tour to double back and find all the teachers and students she'd been rude to and apologize. But then she'd gone home, and become Illumina's Princess-Promised just like she'd said she would the whole time. And she's wondered ever since if it had anything to do with that trip and what happened to her on it.

    And now, here she was again, as magicless as she's ever been, being saved by witches. And it was her job to turn their star pupil to the kind of awful task they didn't even dare write about in stories. She flinches with the horn and clings tightly to Diana's hand like she's about to disappear back into wherever she just popped out of, and that would be that and she'd have to learn how to be alone for the rest of her life. No Jessamine. No Mom. She opens her mouth to speak, and for some reason (deeply mysterious and unexplainable) it's Rita's face that flashes through her mind that changes what she's saying before she can even say it.

    "We... you need to go. They're going to think that horn means the dragon's here! You can't be here when they come! None of you can! There's stuff about to happen in this kingdom that you can't afford to find out about the hard way!"

  6. - Top - End - #576
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    Fire and water all mixed together. Burning red cranberries scent the air with the smell of burnt fruit, sickly sweet. This triggers a memory, but not one of Kazelia's distant flashes. No, this is like the moment when they took Illumina.

    You wouldn't have expected fire, from a people of ice assaulting a city of water. But the city was full of defenses and there were gardens mixed with all that crystal and people trying to hold their positions amidst grass. Kazelia had called for it, back then. She had called her huntresses to light torches and charge the line and set the grass and shrubs alight. It had made five Riders into a flanking army as the fire spread sideways through the Illuminan lines. Groups of soldiers who might have focused entirely on Oberon's main force instead found themselves forced to dive into the nearby water and take off their glass helmets to try and throw water onto the spreading flames. If they had all united, if one of their princesses had appeared and organized them, perhaps they could have put it out before it spread, but that did not occur. So instead the defenders broke, lost their focus, and the flames burned half a ring around the city. It had smelled of fragrant flowers and lemon trees burst alight back then before the fire burned itself out trying and failing to jump the city's many rivers.

    So Kazelia remembered the smell of burning citrus, and felt a grim sort of justice at what she was living now, even as she ducked under water to soak herself and surfaced in a clear patch to try and keep the dragon's attention. She used her magic to try and keep the smoke out of her eyes, to keep it focused in pillars and columns going up, a giant smoke signal announcing the presence of a dragon (oddly far away from the sound of the blowing horn) to anyone watching.

    "Why are you doing this?" she shouted at the great gold dragon. "What did he do to you?" And implicit in the words, even from one so small to one so big, is the shared empathy he hurt me too. Kazelia is cloaked in magic, ice crystals trickling from the water forming and melting in the heat, using everything that is inherent to her and still left to her to hold herself so close to the great creature, maddened with rage. It is that moment of stillness, the tiny Rider amidst the fire and water, that helps her feel the dragon's wounded heart and hear the words still left to her. Stop, for a moment. Peace, for a moment.

    [Speak Softy: 6+1+1=8.
    What can she tell us about what Oberon did to her?
    What was she doing (before chasing Kazelia) and what is she going to do next?
    What does she want and how could I help her get it?

    One will be unhelpful or refused.]
    Last edited by Anarion; 2019-09-20 at 03:50 AM.
    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)

  7. - Top - End - #577
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    Adila!

    Madeline frowns in confusion. “Wouldn’t it take a witch who’s very good at witching to save the princess?” Realization dawns. “Oh! You’re asking if... no no no, we don’t do that sort of thing anymore. I wouldn’t even know what to do with a glass dragon.”

    She’s not a wicked witch, silly. Not like Wicked Queen Eupheria.

    What she is, is a witch who’s going to tag along whether you want her to or not. That’s what it means to be a witch. Doing the important things even though you’re scared.

    [...]

    There’s a crossroads. Of course there’s a crossroads. It’s one of the most magical sorts of roads, after all.

    At the center of the crossroads floats a crystal, dark and clouded indigo. Inside it can be seen, faintly, the shape of a brave princess frozen mid-struggle. The crystal is held in place by a brass framework of churning gears and saw-toothed blades, orbiting in a serene and deadly pattern. All about it scurry little brass and gold scarabs, busy little workers covered in frost. A bitter chill emanates from the crystal, and the urge to grow sharp and tangled. Already the woods are choked with brambles all about it.

    Around the crystal’s base is curled a great, sleek black dragon, only partially familiar. Her horns are curling strange, and her eyes are full of falling stars.

    She raises her head with menacing slowness, and then, with horrifying speed and accuracy, spits blue fire at you. Ha! You thought yourself hidden? When it hits you— it’s like you’re moving through jelly, trying to evade it— when it hits you it explodes, knocking Madeline aside and you right off your feet.

    Damage a stat, and then try to get back up anyway.

    ***

    Alina!

    “Oh my stars and whiskers!!”

    You are affectionately headbutted by a cat wearing a pointy hat. For a moment, you might even think it’s Rita, but that’s being ridiculous, they don’t look anything alike.

    “Alina! It’s me, Theodora! Thank goodness you’re here, you can tell Diana how ridiculous she’s being and how we all need to go back to our nice, safe dorms!”

    Theodora hops onto your shoulder and starts purring up a storm, while Diana takes your hand and helps you up to your feet, before leading you back towards the tree line.

    “The Riders and their king are polluting the ley lines,” Diana explains to you, as she leads you onto the cold, thorny secret witch-roads. “We’re going to stop him. Will you help us, your highness?”

    Oh. Oh, boy. Diana remembers you. Maybe even remembers saving you from the manticore. Ooooh this is gonna be fun.

    ***

    Kazelia!

    The dragon looks at you. Really looks at you. And she dumps everything into your head.

    The deluge takes a moment for you
    to process, picking out bits and pieces from raw noise and sensation and fury.

    Her name is Stheno. She is a little older than Adila, maybe, and she is not a nice dragon. She did not deserve what happened to her (the slice of the knife, the sensation of disconnection and loss and being undone) but that does not mean she is your friend. It only took a little push to make her lash out at everyone. If you freed her... she’d lash out at you, too. Out of embarrassment and anger and poor impulse control.

    Before she met you she was lashing out. After she met you she’s going to keep lashing out. She is aware that she’s furious and when she’s furious she breaks things and you’re a thing and you’re moving so stop it stop it stop it. Stupid thing. Stupid! Break!!

    She wants... she wants tribute and flattery and a cute boyfriend and TO CRUSH EVERYTHING and to take very long, very lazy naps and to get everything she wants right away and for nobody to stand up to her ever and to get all the compliments for being the prettiest dragon of all time and nobody to ever ever ever mention the scale scabies on her nose but mostly right now she’s angry and she wants to burn the world down.

    Also right now she really hates the bog and is going to burn everything in it for hate reasons by any means necessary. If you very slowly and carefully remove yourself from the bog you will not be part of the burnination.
    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.

  8. - Top - End - #578
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    "You mean like... poisoning the roots? I... that can't be right, can it? If that's what he's up to, then why would he want--"

    She has to clap a hand over her mouth to stop talking, and hope against hope that Diana and her friends would take it for some kind of horrible realization instead of putting everything together. Her other hand, of course, is planted firmly on Theodora's back from her current perch on Alina's shoulder. Wherever she goes, Alina is the foremost friend she can be to the cats of Askaia. Secretly, it stung a lot when all of the cats kept abandoning her to snuggle next to Adila and get warm. Like surface area and a warmer surface were any substitute for-- ahem.

    Alina Cascade does manage to look like a princess standing there on the witch-road. Despite her condition, despite how she's dressed, despite the cold burning in her chest and the empty space on her head where a shining crown should be, she stands beautiful and straight, if also pensive and thoughtful. She's quiet, as she continues to stand there, watching Diana. Swimming in memories. Fighting a war inside her heart that nobody can see or even guess at. She doesn't cry again. She refuses to cry anymore until this is over.

    "...I should tell you," she says, and every word is a carefully practiced ballet, "That Theodora is right. You should all be safe in your dorms right now, this is incredibly dangerous. Because I have a plan. A stupid, dangerous plan that you're going to hate if I tell it to you. Is it ok if I walk with you for a while here? I think we should compare notes."

  9. - Top - End - #579
    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    [Damaging grace]

    Adila had never actually stood and looked at herself before.

    Partly it was environmental. Jedad embargoed glass imports as part of ongoing trade pettiness against Illumina, making mirrors rare and expensive. Illuminan mirrors were one of the cornerstones of the criminal smuggling trade that fueled Jedad's underworld families - finding a smuggled mirror on a noble lady was a scandalous secret that would raise pointed questions with the Queen r.e. your loyalties. And weren't polished silver and brass mirrors just as effective anyway? The point was if one didn't go looking specifically to see your reflection it was very easy to miss - and there certainly weren't mirrors large enough to show her whole body. On the few occasions she'd glanced at a reflective surface she'd only seen a strange, distorted image of only part of her face and immediately shied away from it. She certainly had no awareness of what she looked like when she moved.

    Her awestruck heart was abruptly distracted by another new revelation. She hadn't had any idea how hot that fire was either. She'd never associated fire with any feelings other than pleasant, cozy warmth before despite knowing what it could do if left unchecked. Evening bells! She hit the ground and rolled according to a drill she'd often overseen but never had to participate in herself.

    That focused her. She might have hurt people accidentally before but never deliberately. Never like this.

    She knew better than try to circle Eska - every part of a dragon was dangerous, wings to tail. She knew better than to outrun those wings, or to hide from those piercing eyes. Princess Dandy had shown her the proper ways to tangle a dragon and she needed those lessons and that courage now.

    She got back up to her feet in full view - not raising her hands, not shaking more than a little, not taking cover. She opened her bag and produced from it not a sword or a net of dragon-catching or a ring of invisibility, but a little teapot and three cups - two small, one large. "Thank you for the fire, Princess Eska," said Princess Adila, kneeling down and filling the kettle with water and hanging it over the burning ruins where she had stood moments before. "Your tea should be ready before too long."
    Some stories are to tell. Some stories are to keep.

  10. - Top - End - #580
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Adila!

    +This is a trick.+ Eska undulates angrily. +I do not know what you think you’re doing, but I’m not going to fall for it.+

    She lifts her head as a brass scarab chitters in her ear. Looks off down to her left. Oh, and you can feel the smugness.

    +But if you two want to stick around, you can watch as I take my father’s prize and crush that crybaby into the dirt.+

    Madeline, meanwhile, is... playing dead. If you manage to keep Eska’s attention fully, she might be able to do something to the crystal. But how on Hyperborea are you supposed to do that?

    ***

    Alina!

    You know we want to hear that plan! Everybody does! Because having a plan is super important when you’re walking a cold magic road that’s being corrupted by Riders.

    It’s not as bad as the Slaugh. But it would be very difficult to be as bad as the Slaugh. And if it got worse...

    Try not to think about that very hard.
    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.

  11. - Top - End - #581
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    +This is a trick.+ Eska undulates angrily. +I do not know what you think you’re doing, but I’m not going to fall for it.+

    She lifts her head as a brass scarab chitters in her ear. Looks off down to her left. Oh, and you can feel the smugness.

    +But if you two want to stick around, you can watch as I take my father’s prize and crush that crybaby into the dirt.+

    Madeline, meanwhile, is... playing dead. If you manage to keep Eska’s attention fully, she might be able to do something to the crystal. But how on Hyperborea are you supposed to do that?
    "It's not a trick," said Adila demurely as the kettle boiled, eyes meeting Eska's steadily - daringly. "It's a game."

    Without looking down she drew out on the scorched dirt a set of numbers: 11+2=1

    "I heard that you are the smartest of the Rider princesses," said Princess Adila, "so you should be able to solve this easily. Unless..." she was careful with the smile. Gentle enough to not be challenging, cute enough to be teasing. "Your new dragon brain isn't as sharp as your old one."

    [Keep her busy: 10]
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-09-21 at 10:15 PM.
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    "I... I think that..."

    Drip drip, drip drip. Drip drip, drip drip. Feeling faded, Alina Cascade? Feeling tired? Feeling a little... not all there? You're not crying, at least. I know you said you wouldn't, and you're not. You can't, of course. Those are not your eyes. Remember how we proved that, you and I? Which is to say, just me? Drip drip, drip drip.

    No no, do not worry your pretty princess head, Alina. This is not the Slaugh. I am not coming. Although, having said that, do you feel that chill? You do not. This is not your skin, these are not your clothes, which by the way you ruined. This isn't like that. It wouldn't matter if it was; consequences are for real people, who don't have dreams about being a little shard on a table and nothing more than that. Drip drip, drip drip.

    Mhm, aha, that's right. You remember now? Your little shard, that bit of you that must exist that forced the rest of you to go crawling around through all this muck and pain? Your love, Alina Cascade? Ugh, how disgusting. Just thinking about it gives me the creeps. But who cares what I think, right? What's one little me next to your precious family? For that matter, what's one little you? Is there a single bit of value to this stupid flower country or its cold, awful witch paths if I told you that crushing them all to powder would bring your sisters and your mother back to you, safe and whole?

    ...Remember, Alina. You love them. You love them. That part of you is real. That's the only part of you that's real. Drip drip, drip drip. So speak up, sweetie. We can't hear you. We want to hear your plan. We want. To hear. Your plan, Alina.

    "...We can't beat Oberon as we are. We need to, to learn more about him, so," Alina's eyes are diamond hard, and free of any tears. If she hadn't clenched her fingers too hard into Theodora's back just a second ago, no one here could even tell how much pain she was in right now just feeling the cold on her scar, "So I'm asking you to offer him your services, Diana. T-to infiltrate his circle and learn more about him. And then after. When we know, when we know... we can. Together we can..."

    Watch. Watch her. Watch her, watch her, watch her! Look at this greedy little princess! Do you see how she has the gall to sound hopeful when she says this next bit? It's disgusting! Who's she even thinking of when she says it?

    "But you're so smart and clever. Do you think there's a better way?"

  13. - Top - End - #583
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    "Is this...how dragons think they're supposed to be?" Kazelia is still in the bog, she can tell Stheno is going to set it on fire. She's got something to say though, and she'd rather get it in ahead of the blast than direct the dragon's attention towards the more flammable parts of the terrain still remaining.

    "I understood Adila was struggling with how she could hurt people, but if this is how every dragon is, then no wonder my people tell all these horror stories. Have you tried talking to people instead of just burning things? It would help a lot with getting every other thing that you want."

    Kazelia ducks under the water before she can get shot, swims beneath a patch of burning cranberries and pulls herself out as she watches Stheno just unleash her rage on the cranberry patch.

    This plan wasn't working and there was still no sign of Eska. It would be better to just let Stheno burn out the rage that's animating her and find a safe place for her to sleep. Kazelia tried to find a nearby tree to watch from. Someplace where she would be hidden, but could still easily get Stheno's attention if she turned her focus to something else, or if Asteria and the huntresses showed up.
    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)

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    Adila!

    +I am the same person!+ Eska slams her fist down on the ground so hard that you briefly go airborne. +My memories are the same! My brain, my mind— I am the same! And of course I know this stupid riddle! It’s in binary... wait, no.+

    She lowers her head, almost staring a hole through the ground as she thinks furiously. She’s focusing so hard on it that she forgets all about the witches.

    Yeah. Witches, plural. Looks like there’s a bunch of them converging here, and... oh, gosh. That’s Alina with them.

    ***

    Alina!

    “Diana, you can’t!” Theodora fluffs up on your shoulder. “What would the Headmistress say if you ran off and joined the Riders?”

    “Our education is composed of two components,” Diana recites. “Both the academic classes and the practical application of what we have learned. However,” she adds, frowning, “I’m not sure why I would be your best option, your highness. I’m not a princess, after all. I’m just a student.”

    “Just a student?” That’s from a willowy Rowani witch, her ice-pale bangs covering her eyes. “Diana, you’re the best witch in the whole school. Everybody knows that.”

    “Alina,” Theodora whines, rubbing her cheeks against yours. “Aliiiiiiiina nooooooooo”

    “Our first priority has to be cleansing the Felorian ley lines,” Diana continues. “Then... then I’ll make up my mind.” Everyone looks to her, you note. Just like everyone back home used to look up to you. If you played on that sense of responsibility, convinced her that her mastery of witchcraft made her the only person who could do this, the Chosen One... she’d walk right into Oberon’s clutches.

    As for what they want... everyone here wants to do the right thing. They want to help people. That’s why they became witches, and that’s why they followed Diana out into a dangerous situation. They’re brave young women. Just like you.

    You end up at a crossroads, and Diana creeps up to the crystal in the center, tapping her wand against it in conjunction with another witch, whispering about its resonance. It looks like... oh no! That’s Adila! And someone who must absolutely be Eska. If she notices what’s going on here...!

    ***

    Kazelia!

    Your old squad’s not too long in arriving. They circle not too far away from Stheno, before setting off several icecrackers in the direction of the Felorian capitol. The snap and hiss of icecrackers going off brings Stheno right up out of the bog and headed back in the direction the Riders want her to be going...

    Unless you have some other scheme in mind?
    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.

  15. - Top - End - #585
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    They're not going to land? Alright, fine. Let's see how they do if they're forced to use up their resources then. Kazelia uses her magic, just subtly to push the icecrackers off their flight path. Just an unexpected gust of wind. But instead of having them go off all together to push Stheno towards the capital, instead they're going off in a wider path, a few in the wrong direction entirely that must have sailed over her head, the rest a bit more to the side than intended. Most of that's going to pull Stheno towards the fields and orchards where people will have a lot of room to see her coming. She might burn some crops, but not the capital and not with a large viewing audience.

    Let's talk about the bigger plan though. Stheno's rampaging and the Riders are goading her, so no amount of convincing or wasting time is going to help (if she were alone, maybe Kazelia could exhaust her for the afternoon, get her into a cave somewhere and make a nap sound more enticing than all that anger, see if she could come up with a good dragon lullaby). But that's of the table. So, the plan now is to disrupt the Riders and Stheno for as long as possible. Either Eska will get here and they can run the whole group into each other like Adila wanted, or the rest of her friends will be free to deal with Eska by themselves while Kazelia keeps everyone else busy. Maybe she can eventually lead them on a chase to somewhere that will give her an advantage even. It could happen.

    Now, let's be clear, Kazelia is practically out of tools for this. She's got her magic. Her bigger magic as a last resort, and her natural agility. Everything else is going to be terrain and trickery.

    Which is why right now she's in a tree misdirecting firecrackers and hoping to get the Riders to come down just a little closer...
    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)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    +I am the same person!+ Eska slams her fist down on the ground so hard that you briefly go airborne. +My memories are the same! My brain, my mind— I am the same! And of course I know this stupid riddle! It’s in binary... wait, no.+

    She lowers her head, almost staring a hole through the ground as she thinks furiously. She’s focusing so hard on it that she forgets all about the witches.

    Yeah. Witches, plural. Looks like there’s a bunch of them converging here, and... oh, gosh. That’s Alina with them.
    Don't gloat. Don't smirk. Don't sneer. Don't trash talk. Don't even look happy. Adila swallowed hard, focusing on how Dandy would do things. Above all she needed to avoid challenging Eska to any sort of contest where she could win. She could only be strong where Eska was weak, and she could only be kind in the face of that weakness.

    She had meant it when she said that this wasn't a trick. It wasn't even a distraction. She glanced and saw Alina and the witches in the distance, but didn't spare them more than that glance - confident but grateful - and returned her full attention immediately to Eska. She'd learned that from Dandy too - there had been times when Dandy had distracted her so that she could commit crimes elsewhere in the Bazaar, but it didn't feel like a deception when she did it. It was just... practical. She wanted to care about Adila and she wanted to do crimes, so she did both at once, and one wasn't a means to accomplish the other.

    So she poured a cup of tea, exactly as Hyperborea had shown her, and served it to Eska without comment as she thought.

    "Your intelligence is really important to you, isn't it?" said Adila without edge. "All these beautiful little clockwork scarabs... you must really enjoy making them, don't you?"

    [Speak Softly: 13

    - What can she tell me about her dreams?
    - What can she tell me about the things that make her happy?
    - What does she want, and how could I help her get it?]
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-09-22 at 06:07 PM.
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    "Diana wait a second! Please just listen to me for one--"

    But if there's one thing Alina knows, it's what a girl with a heart full of courage looks like. And it's this. As it turns out there are at least two things Alina knows, and the second is the difference between a courageous girl and a cowardly one. The students of Hecatia Academy are as brave as you could like, venturing into danger as they are to fix Feloria because it's the right thing to do. And Alina follows, but it's because she's a coward who can't stand to be alone, or to give up on her family just yet. So off she goes. And well, shoot. This is a disaster. Theodora's going to hate her as much as Rita does, Diana's about to noble heart herself into a pancake, and oh by the way, now there is a big scary Eska-dragon just in front of them and this was not part of anybody's plans, thank you very mu--

    ...Rivers, creeks, and waterfalls, is that Adila? Making tea? How is she so, how is she so, how is she so brave?! Oh sweetheart, if this is what a bit of rain dancing does to you, then Alina is so, so sorry. She'll never do it again, she swears! Oh shimmering glass. Oh shining crystal. Oh, wait a second. Speaking of crystal, is that... is that Dandy? Alina swallows, but quietly. Oh so very quietly. Even a mouse would take notes at how little noise she's making right now, despite all her trembling. If Eska turns around for even a second, everything's doomed. Forget convincing Diana to go play spy, she'll be lucky if she still has all of her original limbs. Or any pieces, really. Any of them. After what happened in Askaia, there's no way Eska could look at her right now and not go into a super murder death rage. Especially when she's sporting so much extra murder death power compared to the base model.

    But if there's one thing Alina knows, and I guess this makes three things at this point, it's crystals. You don't get to be a Princess of Illumina and not know a thing or two about the magic of crystals, glass, and gems. And well, shoot. Again. This is a double disaster. A crystal seal like this is incredibly potent, and might even be feeding off of Dandy's emotions. Diana and her friends can whisper ominously about resonances all day, but there's only one way Alina knows to break a crystal like this and pry a princess out of it, and it's... time consuming. Time consuming and very loud. There's singing, you see. When is there ever not singing, where magic is concerned? Alina's run herself out of curse words. If only Illumina had some of those really sharp and dangerous sounding ones like Adila's got.

    Adila. This was her plan, all in all, right? Alina watches her from an unbelievably precarious perch behind Eska, shaking like a leaf but trying desperately not to look as frightened as that implies. Maybe she's even succeeding: there still aren't any tears in her eyes. We're all very proud of you, Alina. Take a bow. Or maybe, just hold your finger up to your lips.

    Because if Alina knows one things, it's what a girl with a heart full of courage looks like, the difference between a courageous girl and a cowardly one, crystals, and what the setup for a good heist looks like. Also ballet. Five things. Shut up!

    Alina is whisper quiet. She's quieter than that, even, you can hear Diana and her friends whispering. The sharpest eared, most quick witted fox in Hyperborea couldn't hear Alina right now. She gestures quietly and simply at Dandy's crystal prison, at herself, at the witches, and down the path. This is difficult, without her lights. Some would even say impossible. But all that practice in Jedad must have counted for something, because got her arms under the least sharp, easiest to hold part and she's lifting with all of her tiny girl strength. Diana catches on just in time, and is there with a levitation charm. Step by step, very slowly at first, Alina guides the witches down the path, carrying the Princess of Feloria with them and out of Eska's... erm, 'care'. She spares one last long glance at Adila, and then she and all the others disappear.

    If Alina's allowed to be selfish right now, she'd like to hope this counts as having faith in her friend. If she can trust Adila's plan to bring Eska and the golden dragon together, she can trust her to handle the rest of that and wipe all of those plans off of the board. That would mean she's doing what she's doing to save Feloria, and maybe that's enough for her not to be a complete monster at the end of this. But if that's not the emotion guiding her heart? Well. Drip drip, drip drip...

    [Get Away: 11. Alina vacates the area quietly and without being seen, taking the pre-allowed number of companions with her. Good luck, Adila]

  18. - Top - End - #588
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    Kazelia!

    Let me just give you an opportunity, here. Seeing as Stheno goes rampaging off in a relatively harmless direction, the Riders (of course) land in a relatively secure position to make a discussion of what to do now and what could have caused that icecracker scatter, and Alina Cascade and half a dozen witches pop out of the trees in such a spot where the Riders haven’t spotted them yet, lugging a great big violet crystal with them.

    What’s your play here? You’ve got the initiative, the brains, the magic, and some decent firepower backing you up now; you know how your old team’s like to react, and you didn’t teach them everything, now did you?

    ***

    Adila!

    +What kind of idiot wouldn’t prize their intelligence?+ Eska drags her claw lazily through the cold dirt, trying to make a hypermathematical diagram to solve the puzzle. +If you’re not smart, you’re worthless. Just a tool to be used by the important people.+

    What an awful thought.

    +I’m important, though. One day, everyone’s going to admit I’m the only one with vision. With ideas. With intelligence. None of the others have what I have. Especially not Kaja.+ Her words drip with barely disguised envy. +Now that I have a body properly suited to my peerless genius, I’ll show her that muscles without brains are nothing. And then... once they all obey me, and admit I’m the best... I’ll have time for more important things.+

    Several of the little scarabs pick up twigs of their own and mimic Eska. One accidentally disrupts Eska’s own diagram, and she— with as much gentleness as she can— flicks it away with one claw.

    +I’ll finally be able to devote more of my time to engineering after everyone else understands they should just do what I tell them to and stop trying to undermine me. I might even be able to build the Void Bathysphere. Or the Transharmonic Crown. There’s so much that I could really achieve if everyone else stopped trying to drag me down and sabotaging my experiments!!+

    She releases an angry gout of blue flame that nearly singes your eyebrows off. Talking about her visions almost made her sound happy there, before she made a hard left turn into rabid paranoia.
    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.

  19. - Top - End - #589
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Adila has to work hard to keep her focus steady, her attention rapt. She can't let herself think about Alina - how scared she is for her, how brave she is to make such a daring theft under the very nose of a dragon, how she felt vaguely dirty at being on the other side of this particular trick, how unbelievably grateful she was for the rescue. She can't think about any of that. This is like hypnosis. She can't be distracted - that would break the spell.

    Instead she has to focus on the pride radiating from Eksa - and the envy, and the bitterness. Ugly, stagnant, festering emotions closed off from the world. She didn't know these feelings, didn't know how to empathise with them properly, and definitely didn't know how to chart a way out of them. They were thick and miserable and rippled through her mind and cloyed her throat. How could she save this person? If she had an enchanted dagger of her own that would cut away those horrible feelings she'd...!

    But she didn't. All she had was tea. She refilled Eska's cup. Stupid tea.

    She took a breath and let her attention turn to the scarabs. She picked up and turned over the little one that had been flicked away, setting it right-side up and giving it back its twig so it could continue its little calculations. "These are adorable," she said, and felt embarrassed about it. "How do they work?"
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-09-23 at 07:08 PM.
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    Considering how freely she’s used it out and about, would you believe that when Kazelia fought in a unit, it was her magic that she most held back? It’s true though! The big stuff was too draining, and the little stuff doesn’t have a huge impact in the chaos of battle. That’s the key here. Kazelia is in a random tree and nobody knows it, but now there’s Alina and an entire cabal of witches, and the Riders don’t know how to react when they can’t trust their senses.

    Kazelia will throw her voice with her magic so that she can speak quietly as if next to Alina and Diana. “Hi, this is Kazelia. There’s a group of Riders up ahead. They landed to try and get the gold dragon to attack the capital, but if they see you, they’ll probably attack. I used to lead them and they’re trained to act quickly when they know what to do. Do you all have any magic that can make some fog, mist, or sudden darkness, maybe mask noise too? I’m nearby, and if we can come upon them unaware, we can capture them quickly. I can distract them if you need a moment for casting.”

    This was a good plan. If they could take the Riders off the board, they’d have a lot of freedom to direct Stheno and deal with Eska. Kazelia did wonder where Asteria was though. It was very unlike her to be absent when the Riders were so close to their big triumph. She would have wanted to gloat and swoop in to save the capital. It certainly made things a lot easier, so she supposed she shouldn’t look a gift pegasus in the mouth.
    Last edited by Anarion; 2019-09-23 at 10:30 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)

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    "I'll... understand if you say no," Alina's voice is horribly sad. This is the last conversation in the world she wants to be having, "But there's nobody else that I can ask."

    She caresses the deep violet crystal where Dandy's face shows, her dainty fingers sliding across the smooth, glassy surface instead of finding warm skin and the comfort its touch brings. She turns and tries to smile, to be reassuring and wise like a princess is supposed to be, but she falters. The strain of acting like she's held together doesn't leave her the energy to pretend she's a good person on top of it. Her arms burn from the effort of carrying that prison-crystal without the help of her lights. Go ahead and add the strain of not letting on how much she misses them to the list of things that are forcing her face into a permanently sad, neutral expression.

    Monster. She's a monster. If she does this, she is awful. Her lights will abandon her and Jessamine and her mother will never want to speak to her again. Dress it up however you want, that won't change. Oh yes, go be a "spy", Diana. Sacrifice yourself and "pretend" to be a pawn for the sake of some greater good. Alina knows she's not doing this to fight Oberon. She already lost that fight years ago. They'll all know. But even still... if she gives up now to keep her conscience clean, her family are the ones who will pay the price. There's no choice. None. All she can do is hope that Ourania picks some gentler punishment for her in the end. Maybe she could be sealed in a crystal like this one. That might not be so bad.

    "You're really talented, you know? Send any princess you can name to the Academy with you and she'd at best be two steps behind you for as long as she was there. Even in Rider camps they mention you by name. I've heard them at it while I was busy dangling from a tree. But if this was just about skill I wouldn't have to lay this at your feet; I could ask Helya or Shazari or someone like them. But you're brave in a way that none of the Princesses can be. It's a... I don't even know how to describe it. But I've seen it in you! There's a fire in your heart that the Riders could never put out. You're kind enough to always want to do the right thing, and smart enough to know the right way to do it. Diana you're... you're far more worthy to wear a crown than I'll ever be. But you're the one who taught me--"

    Alina's head jerks up suddenly as her thoughts are interrupted by a message on the wind. She sighs.

    "We should go. We'll fix Feloria, save Dandy, and after that... it's your decision. I won't push you anymore."

    [Alina, entirely bereft of ways to be useful at this point, is attempting to Reveal the Way to the witches so they can assist Kazelia and maybe not hate her. 2d6+3 = 8 means they'll do it, but only in the way they want to. Or I'm dumb and this is just about getting Diana on board, in which case that thing I said but just for her]

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    Adila!

    +...not many people can understand that,+ Eska concludes, smugly, after a lecture you only partially were able to parse. She littered it with jargon she didn’t explain, and then stopped to condescendingly explain the parts like “when you turn a gear, the gears that are connected to it turn with it.”

    But you were able to gather some of what she was saying. And, really, they’re all the more beautiful for it. She painstakingly creates not only clockwork patterns but the capability to grow beyond those patterns. If->then statements worked in brass and silver cogs, and frameworks to expand beyond them. A little bit of life, breathed into painstaking craftsmanship. If you stripped away the nastiness, you’d be left with a very proud, very clever inventor who could go toe to toe with Hornet, and probably keep her reined in, too.

    Now there’s an argument for somehow redeeming Eska: imagine never having to worry about Hornet Duty again!

    ***

    Kazelia!

    The witches burst forth! The only problem is that Alina has gotten them all psyched up and each and every one of them is sure that she’s got just the spell for the occasion!

    Which means that their spells, when worked in concert, end up creating mood lighting. Mist softens the world, the light becomes dim and sultry, and generally everything has become perfect for a romantic musical number, and also they’re far, far too impetuous to stop and back off.

    The good news, though? The Riders are very distracted. Granted, they’re distracted by Free Witches For Capturing, but you’ve got a clear shot at taking them down before anything bad can happen to these brave young girls.

    ***

    Alina!

    Diana hangs back, letting her classmates (yes, even Theodora) charge forward with their spells. Don’t worry. They’ve totally got this. No reason to worry about them at all.

    “That’s nonsense,” she says, laying her hand on yours. “I’m not a princess. I’m just a witch.” And the way she says it! Both humbly and like being a witch is much more important than princessing. “But... I’ll see what I can do. The Headmistress won’t like it, but I am entitled to make my own decisions. That’s part of being a witch, too.”

    Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that exciting, Alina? Aren’t you happy? Be sure to look properly thankful, and don’t give the game away by gushing over her like she just saved your sister, but don’t be all muted and sad about it, either. Thread that needle! Or she’ll realize something’s fishy and she’ll change her mind and Jessamine will be gone for ever!

    ...also, you should probably go help Kazelia finish off the Riders. She’s definitely got it handled with the help of the other witches, but it’d be nice. And you are nice, aren’t you? You’re a good friend, aren’t you? Good friends help each other out.
    freedom in the flame

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    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.

  23. - Top - End - #593
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    +...not many people can understand that,+ Eska concludes, smugly, after a lecture you only partially were able to parse. She littered it with jargon she didn’t explain, and then stopped to condescendingly explain the parts like “when you turn a gear, the gears that are connected to it turn with it.”

    But you were able to gather some of what she was saying. And, really, they’re all the more beautiful for it. She painstakingly creates not only clockwork patterns but the capability to grow beyond those patterns. If->then statements worked in brass and silver cogs, and frameworks to expand beyond them. A little bit of life, breathed into painstaking craftsmanship. If you stripped away the nastiness, you’d be left with a very proud, very clever inventor who could go toe to toe with Hornet, and probably keep her reined in, too.

    Now there’s an argument for somehow redeeming Eska: imagine never having to worry about Hornet Duty again!
    This is a topic that has Adila's full attention.

    As a good lay Palatine she has heard the intricacies and secrets of the Clock frequently discussed but rarely revealed. The clockmasters speculate, hypothesise, test and argue - how can the Clock know things? How do the intricacies of its logic flow? What language does it speak? This is revelation, even if Eska occasionally needs to use small words in a slow voice for her to keep up. This is like meeting a doctor who specializes in tending to the wings of angels.

    Half of it flows by her, but she doesn't mind. Just listening is enough; feeling the rhythm of words, the shape of secrets, fragments of the hidden order that governs the world. Knowledge is not just for those who have use for it, as the masters say, like happiness, it is its own end. She drinks in the knowledge like a sponge, fascinated and focused, asking questions and serving tea, and the tea will run out long before the questions do.
    Some stories are to tell. Some stories are to keep.

  24. - Top - End - #594
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    [Finish them with courage and with hope: 4, 4, 2 +2=10.]

    For the first time in a while, Kazelia had a clear mind. There were many problems, her shoulder still hurt, she still had no spear, there were many sources of stress to be dealt with in the world. But this was a moment for swiftness and decisive action, and that was a state that Kazelia found natural and pure. She could lose herself in such moments, forget completely about everything else that needed to be done and focus only on the movement.

    The tree rustled lightly, as though a bird had suddenly alighted from it, and the earth kicked up gladly as Kazelia sailed forward, as though Feloria itself were glad to propel her in this moment. This wasn't exactly natural cover, but it was dim and the huntresses were all focused on the witches and not on Kazelia.

    She struck at Kalia first. She was the one who might have disrupted the Witches' spells, but she was never the quickest to act. Kazelia caught her mid-spell with a blast of ice and frigid wind before Kazelia even reached the group properly. She was rewarded with Kalia's eyes going wide as tea saucers filled with fields of stars, and then Kalia went flying from where the Riders had alighted, hurling into the still flaming cranberry bog below the little rise that led to the forest where the witches were coming from.

    Then Kazelia was among them, her outline fuzzy and blurred with smoke, mist, and a whirl of lights from myriad spells. She flung herself full body into one of the other Riders, grabbing hold of her arm and lifting her off her feet with the momentum of her rush, turning all that moment into a full body throw that sent her flailing off the cliff and into the cranberry bog as well.

    She dodged retribution by ducking behind one of the now abandoned Pegasi, and, was that Alina leaping like a gymnast through the middle of the remaining Riders and preventing them from focusing? No time to think, Kazelia leapt onto the Pegaus' back, whipped the reins, and charged it straight towards the remaining riders, bowling them over as Kazelia jumped off the side of the mount and grabbed one of the remaining Riders with a kick to the stomach. As the poor huntress doubled over, Kazelia grabbed her arm and shoved her off the cliff as well, joining the cadre of mountless Riders flung into a smoking, burning swamp that smelled of acrid citrus.

    And somehow that was all of them. Alina had been moving through them as well, and the Witches had all charged the little hill, and now there were no more Riders left on it. One wonders what it looked like from Alina's perspective.

    Kazelia let out a breath and came back to herself. There were a lot of questions, and if the Riders were driven off that meant she could seize one of these Pegasi and start to do something about Stheno without being disrupted. Maybe the witches and Alina could help too? And the...giant crystal...with Dandy in it? Oh void, what was happening?!
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
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    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  25. - Top - End - #595
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    Come on Alina, smile. You can do this, you do it all the time. Just picture a happy memory with Je... ok try your mom... um... Rita? Oh sunlight streaming through a waterfall, someone else! Someone else!

    ...It's forced. It's awkward. It's fake. It costs her more than she can ever remember a smile taking her, but she does manage it. Not wide and teary and overflowing with emotion like her world's just come back together a little bit, but not so tiny that you could mistake it for a smirk or an insult either. At least, she hopes. Alina has long since lost the ability to tell when something feels awkward when she does it if that means it's as horrifying and ugly as she thinks it is or if it's all in her head. Most of the time people tell her how beautiful and charming she's been right after the thought crosses her head, but Diana's not about to throw her that bone.

    Still, when she follows up with the "Thank you"? That's genuine. From the heart, even if it is an awful thing to say to someone in Diana's position as the person who's putting her there. Still, better not to hesitate anymore or nobody's going to buy that she's actually in this to stop Riders. A-also Kazelia might get in over her head by herself. Th-that's important too.

    Alina runs. It feels good to run: she's doing something with her body again and the joy of pure motion helps her forget for a few seconds that anything is wrong. It's good and normal to be fighting alongside her friends. It feels nice to not be desperately chasing anyone, knowing you're about to fail and be left alone because you're a ninny and a jerk. The first step or two feels clunky, but after that she's swift and smooth as she was taught by the river deer that were her instructors.

    Alina fights. She's always saying that she's weak and helpless, but give her an opening as fine as this one and is that really true? Here she is with no lights to shield or arm her. No grappling hook to pull her high or swing from. No dragonfire to make her mighty and wrap her arms in warm red ribbons. Not even any throwing knives, which she's long since discarded for being a poorly understood fashion accessory. But her movement is enough. Her body is enough. She takes the hill moments after Kazelia lands the first strike, long before the huntresses can do a thing to harm the Hecatian students she so clumsily rallied to action.

    She is not, of course, a master of unarmed combat. Her arms and legs aren't some sort of mechanical wonders that would mitigate her low weight and slender frame. But she has all the grace asked of a Princess of Illumina, and the will to turn it into something dangerous. Against an unprepared foe, that's plenty. Her first move is a cartwheel into a handspring that sends her flying onto a pegasus-mounted fighter, knocking them both to the ground and startling the poor horse right into the sky. She rolls lightly onto her feet, not caring enough to check if her coat-kerchief as followed along with her. Then she's off and running again, tumbling, spinning, and whirling until her foot comes crashing against another Rider's knees and knocking that mighty warrior to the ground so hard she rolls right off the hill and winds up in a cranberry bog. There, that feels good too.

    Compared to Kazelia and probably also Diana, Alina doesn't accomplish very much in this fight. She's a flashy distraction whose running starts and leaps take a long time to set up in between successful attacks and even then it usually takes help from a witch or everybody's best friend, gravity, to actually be-bog the next Rider and put them out of the picture long enough to do the harder stuff that comes next. She pours all of her negative emotions, all of the sadness, fear, frustration, and just plain ick into this one positive thing that she can do to help her friends, and it turns her into a dervish that proves how a sufficiently determined but otherwise ordinary girl can be more than the match of trained and fearsome warriors who've come fully armed and ready to hurt things. For a few minutes, anyway. She comes out of a double-twisting double flip into a headscissors toss just in time to see Kazelia dropping the very last of them off the cliff and into that acrid bog. The smell of burning cranberries is victory.

    She heaves with exhaustion, leaning on her thighs and taking deep, decidedly indelicate breaths to make her lungs stop burning. That was hard. That was really, super hard. Please don't ask her to do it again.

    "Are you... ok?" she asks as quickly as she may, "I can... free Dandy... from that prison. Know... the process. Easy. Adila's... on the secret paths. With Eska. Dunno. How long. She can manage. Get the dragon there. Please. I'll catch up. With Dandy. I promise..."

  26. - Top - End - #596
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    Eska!

    This is suspiciously nice. Of course, that means you need to keep your eyes open for the inevitable trap. Nobody ever offers... friendship... without strings attached. Maybe she's trying to figure out how to make your scarabs so that she can even the gap between your capabilities. Or maybe she's attempting to gauge the level of your correspondence with the goblin princess. Bah. You'll figure it out soon enough. Once you crack this blasted riddle. Which will crack. You can crack anything. Crack, circumvent, close, consume, or crash. You are unstoppable and unstumpable. This is just a hiccup. That's all.

    Or, perhaps...

    Perhaps she's finally accepting her rightful place. As the inferior specimen, as someone who didn't value this peerless body when it was properly in her possession. Ah, how excellent! Yes, she knows her place! She will make a fantastic lab assistant when you crack Hobling Keep.

    +This has been entertaining,+ you think at her, wrapping your tail around her (what a lovely appendage, this tail) and squeezing to establish your dominance. Dominance. Yes. Perhaps once you have made the hidden paths of the witches part of your father's kingdom, he will understand that you are the dominant princess and that Azora should be made your subordinate. Ten thousand years of draconic rule under her father's aegis! Yes, it's all coming together. +And because you are entertaining, I am going to keep you.+

    A thrill runs through you. Yes. She is yours. Everything should be yours. Everything you see. Especially gold, and scientific masterpieces, and people who you actually find entertaining. Welcome to the hoard, Adila.

    +Unless you would prefer to be of no further use to me?+ You open your mouth and let the blue fires spark oh-so-ticklishly in the back of your throat.

    ***

    Kazelia!

    Kalia comes up covered in exploded cranberries and bog mud, and draws her sword. It makes the comforting keening sound that all swords should. She advances upon the witches like a thunderstorm, her breastplate covered in frost scoring, and she's wading through the shallows when the cat witch claps her paws together and shouts a word of power.

    The cranberry bushes spring to action, wrapping roots around Kalia's legs and yanking them right out from under her. The startled screams of the other Riders indicate that they, too, are finding themselves under attack by the foliage. They won't be escaping the bog any time soon. Well done, Theodora!

    Then half a dozen wands point at you and you realize, oh, right. I'm the Rider in the room. Just because I was fighting alongside them doesn't mean they're going to assume that I'm friendly. But before they can fire off their hexes and charms, and before you can do much more than lift your hands in a peaceful gesture, Diana intervenes.

    "Princess Kazelia," she says, offering her hand. "It's good to see you again. We're here to help, any way we can." And that's when Alina pants out her directions to you: get that rampaging golden dragon onto the secret paths.

    Good thing Diana's here to help, right?

    ***

    Asteria!

    "It's time."

    Kaja looks at you with that puzzled placidity. If she were just a little sharper, she'd be such a wonderful soldier! As it stood, she was only useful for busywork like babysitting two very unlucky princesses. How much fun you'll have with them later! Yes. Fun. Father promised to return the Iluminan brat, so you won't be able to break her properly, but the kitty? Ohoho. You'll make her apologize for the audacity of resisting the rule of her superiors.

    At length.

    "Are you sure?" Uuuuugh. That's Kaja for you. Always with the stupid questions. This is how your inferiors learn to question authority: by seeing it modeled by a princess. Useless! "I mean, we still haven't heard back from the people you sent out to check on the scouts you also sent out, and that's just asking for an ambush, right? What if they're being attacked by trees just outside our line of sight or something?"

    "Trees." Your eyebrow twitches. Keep it together, Asteria. Demonstrate to everyone how under control you are. A princess must control herself. You are a very, very good princess. You are the superior princess. Soon, Father will see that. And then Azora will be just another asset for you to control, just like everything else under Father's dominion. Not that you anticipate having to punish Azora for insubordination.

    And that brings one's attention right back to the incoherently begging cat. Mmh. Business before pleasure, Asteria. For once. You indulged yourself too much trying to break the Iluminan with her darkest fears of maid service and outdoor exercise. Father expects results!

    "Yeah! Like, before you say anything, the trees actually did attack us while we were in the jungle kingdom. They're surprisingly fast, turns out, and--"

    You snap your fingers and Kaja falls silent. You can feel your heart trying to slam its way right out of your chest. Why won't anyone in these stupid, anarchic "kingdoms" do what they're expected to? It's chaos! And so messy. Once you're in charge, this place will be one huge ornamental garden.

    "The princesses are attempting to disrupt my mission. They send saboteurs. They disrupt my lines of communication. They will do anything to stop me from mounting that dragon's head on Father's wall. Well," you say, with a very sensible chuckle that is in no way an unhinged cackle, no matter how much the traitor princesses flinch away from it, "I will not allow them!! To take my glory from me!! And that," you say, with a crack of your laser whip, "is why you are going to stay here and stop any more rescue attempts. And I am going to go bring down a dragon in front of all of this worthless kingdom!"

    "All right," Kaja says, of course understanding her place in the pecking order. "Good luck, Asty!" She proceeds to torment the cat with one of her ridiculous hugs as you march out of the tent, head held high, heart soaring. Everybody is going to obey you once you bring down a dragon. A real dragon! The nightmare of all Riders! As nothing before the lances of Asteria Spite!!!

    ***

    Alina!

    Right. Yes. Singing.

    You can do that! You've totally got time! The Riders are all tangled up in that cranberry bog, you've got the help of the brave Theodora von Cheshire, and you've got a pure heart!

    ...right?

    That's part of the ceremony, after all. A pure heart. A heart that's all clouded over with despair or, oh, guilt? That'll just make things worse. Might make subfractal crystals. Nobody wants those!

    So better get that pure heart cracking, honey! Or... you could always cheat a little. Steal a little bit of pure heart. But where would you find a pure heart around here? A pure heart full of worry for her best friend in the whole wide world, maybe? A pure heart, which could have its energy tapped just a liiiiiittle bit by a sneaky bit of magic?

    But that would be... well, underhanded, at the very least. And an admission to anyone with the eyes to see it that you don't trust your own heart right now. And it'd make poor lil' Theodora all woozy and exhausted to have her heart's purity tapped without prep for it! Just a terrible idea. Forget I even said anything. Use your own pure heart! That's much better. Go right ahead.
    freedom in the flame

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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.

  27. - Top - End - #597
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Eska!

    This is suspiciously nice. Of course, that means you need to keep your eyes open for the inevitable trap. Nobody ever offers... friendship... without strings attached. Maybe she's trying to figure out how to make your scarabs so that she can even the gap between your capabilities. Or maybe she's attempting to gauge the level of your correspondence with the goblin princess. Bah. You'll figure it out soon enough. Once you crack this blasted riddle. Which will crack. You can crack anything. Crack, circumvent, close, consume, or crash. You are unstoppable and unstumpable. This is just a hiccup. That's all.

    Or, perhaps...

    Perhaps she's finally accepting her rightful place. As the inferior specimen, as someone who didn't value this peerless body when it was properly in her possession. Ah, how excellent! Yes, she knows her place! She will make a fantastic lab assistant when you crack Hobling Keep.

    +This has been entertaining,+ you think at her, wrapping your tail around her (what a lovely appendage, this tail) and squeezing to establish your dominance. Dominance. Yes. Perhaps once you have made the hidden paths of the witches part of your father's kingdom, he will understand that you are the dominant princess and that Azora should be made your subordinate. Ten thousand years of draconic rule under her father's aegis! Yes, it's all coming together. +And because you are entertaining, I am going to keep you.+

    A thrill runs through you. Yes. She is yours. Everything should be yours. Everything you see. Especially gold, and scientific masterpieces, and people who you actually find entertaining. Welcome to the hoard, Adila.

    +Unless you would prefer to be of no further use to me?+ You open your mouth and let the blue fires spark oh-so-ticklishly in the back of your throat.
    O-okay, tail utility theories confirmed.

    It's hard to keep hold of herself. Eska isn't just wrapping her body with her tail, isn't just deciding when she gets to breathe, isn't just deciding if she's going to survive. She's in her head too. She's thinking Eska's thoughts - lulled with tales of clockwork and dreams of kingdom. A little place in the world and the future has been carved out for her, and would that be so bad? It's a place that fits her as she is and she could freeze this moment of warmth against the snow. A comfortable thaw. A place without danger -

    The thought crackled to life in her head. There is still a pride there that demands more. More than a lukewarm, lazy declaration - more than this fake dragon who hasn't even solved her riddle and dares to think to claim her!? Who does Eska think she is to be defeated so easily? How does she dare to claim mastery of her when even in her most wild fantasies she cannot imagine life without Greymane's boot upon her neck?

    Adila's eyes filled with fire, hotter than that which filled Eska's mouth. "Of course, I cannot resist you Princess Eska, and if you wish to keep me that is within your power," said Adila. "But I fear I will grow bored in your presence - as you have grown bored while enslaved to your lessers. You are stronger than I, but that interests me little as I know it could be taken away at any time. You know more than I, but that interests me little as it would only be a matter of time before you have told me all you know. But my heart burns hotter. My ambition is greater. Your dreams are beautiful, but they do not go far enough. I would not be satisfied under the talon of one who aspires no higher than to be the first among slaves."
    Some stories are to tell. Some stories are to keep.

  28. - Top - End - #598
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    Kazelia took Alina's advice straight away. They had a plan, remember? There was totally a plan, it was even kind of working. They'd disabled a bunch of the Riders. Okay, actually, Kazelia doesn't instantly take Alina's advice. First, she goes over to Theodora von Cheshire, bows formally to her and takes her paw, which she gives a light kiss. "Thank you, Theordora, you are a most powerful witch indeed" she says, to make up for her rudeness earlier.

    Then! Then she gets on with the dragon attention grabbing. Really though, this is the easy part, especially now that she knows where Eska is (it's the way that the witches and Alina came from, gosh it was easier when you knew stuff like that). And double especially after she had just seen the Riders at work. Kazelia simply grabs a handful of witches, whoever is willing to jump up and follow her, and directs them to make a bunch of loud bangs next to Stheno in the direction they want her to go, while making sure that they themselves are not in line with that route. Directing a dragon into another dragon couldn't be easier.

    Kazelia will follow behind Stheno at a safe distance. She wants the dragon to run into Eska, but she figures there's still going to need to be some follow up to get Adila her skin back.
    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)

  29. - Top - End - #599
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    And then there were two. Three. Two and a half? Alina takes a deep breath and lets it out in a long, shuddering sigh that can't help but betray how tired she is and starts the distressingly long walk back to Dandy's crystal prison. She places a hand on it and runs her fingers all up and down the edges like she's testing for a way in. She places the palm of her other hand flat against the surface, closes her eyes, and...

    She can't. She can't possibly do this. Her heart is the darkest swirling stormy cloud she could ever imagine a heart being. Her shining heart with its unbreakable cornerstone is smothered in all kinds of awfulness: fear, guilt, doubt, and a loneliness that ought not belong to her, to name just a few of the murky colors darkening her rainbow. Is it ok if she cries now? She knows she promised she wouldn't anymore, but she also only just promised she'd rescue Dandy by herself so if she's about to break one, what's one more? What's... one... more?

    "Hey Theodora? Do you think you could come here for a moment?"

    It's not fair. It's probably not even right. But one look at the frightened Askaian witch tells Alina there's nothing else that she can do.

    "I'm really sorry." she says softly.

    And she pulls her old friend into a hug and sits down on the ground with her, leaning up against the crystal. No, it wasn't fair or right. Theodora wasn't a replacement for Rita, and only the biggest jerk would try to turn her into that. Alina was a lot of things, but at least she hadn't fallen that far. And saving Dandy was important, but it could wait just a little bit longer, too. So she sits there and holds Theodora close and softly strokes her hair (or her fur, if she prefers). She hums softly for a bit, an old lullaby she can't remember the words to anymore, but it doesn't matter.

    "I didn't do what you asked me to at all. And you do deserve to be back in your dorm, safe and warm and away from all this. Nobody has the right to ask you to do any more, least of all me. But... you've become a pretty amazing witch, you know? When you get done with your lessons you're gonna do so many amazing things that I'll never hold a candle to. That's why I'm going to keep you safe, ok? I can't promise very much, but I'll do that much even if it costs me everything I have left."

    Which is not a lot, it must be said. But neither is it nothing. So Alina starts to sing. And the song is beautiful, even if it contains no words. Crystals sing the song of the universe, which is too much for one princess or a dozen working together to put to lyrics, but a crystal hardly cares. What makes the song difficult is finding the right set of notes to resonate with the crystal you're singing to, and keeping your heart pure enough to be able to sing the song of opening. A pure heart invites others into itself where a clouded one will always try to push those same things away. Alina's heart is clouded; she can't change that. That's why she doesn't seek the notes to open right away, but the notes to scourge.

    The crystal hears her clear, high voice, and it glimmers deep violet in response. Alina's body burns all over. The pain creeps up her arms and over her chest into her lungs, it nestles down deep inside her stomach and it fills her with a feeling like needles are growing inside her and filling her until she almost doesn't have room to breathe anymore. But she never stops singing, so clearly and with so much heart that Theodora can hardly be blamed for thinking every part of this is as it should be. Alina's heart is not pure. That's why she makes this sacrifice and lets the crystal grow inside her for a moment to use its heart instead. She has no idea how long it takes. All she knows is that it hurts, and that she has to try a little harder, for a little longer. Just a little longer. A little longer. A little longer and then...

    A crack. And then two. A third, this one large and running all the way through the core. Alina's voice finally shows its strain and she reaches for the highest note she can reach. The crystal pulses dimly, and then it crumbles. There we go. That's... that's how a real princess does it. She manages a tiny little smile... and then she slumps over onto the ground.

  30. - Top - End - #600
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    Kazelia!

    The trick, of course, is getting her onto the secret witch-roads. It’s the sort of thing you need a professional for. And that’s why it’s the greatest witch in all of Hecatia University that leads her, most daringly, from the front. Or, well, several of her. She’s playing a very dangerous game with illusions, just to make sure that Stheno follows her in.

    The trick is going to be getting her out again once they’re both on the witch road together, and I think— I think she trusts you, Princess Kazelia. To help her get out from right in front of Stheno.

    Luckily, you’re very good at getting people. Comes as part and parcel of being first of the King’s lancers, right?

    So it shouldn’t be any problem for you to Overcome that danger on her behalf.

    ***

    Adila!

    The good news is that Eska dumps you on the ground. Yay, not constricted by tail anymore! The bad news is that she does this so she can flatten you a few times with said tail, driving you face-first into the hard-packed soil like a hammer driving a nail into wood.

    +I will teach you what slavery really is.+ Menace. Oof. There’s no way she’d be as nasty a captor as Asteria, but the mental projection has undertones of... experiments. And lightning magic. +You will regret your impudence, you feeble little worm. Just like you will always regret throwing away your skin.+

    Go ahead and Damage a stat.

    ***

    Alina!

    The altar shatters on the tiles with a distressing noise of finality. Dark tendrils root through the space beneath, blindly groping about for a treasure beyond price.

    “How disappointing,” Oberon says. Beside him shivers a handsome young man with dark indigo hair, wearing some flattering robes. He’s really rocking the Royal Academy look, like your childhood tutors.

    “I’m sure it’s here,” he says, with a frantic edge to his voice. “All the historical evidence points to Eupheria being Iluminan. So of course her tomb would be... here. It has to be!”

    “It would be fortunate for you.” Oberon turns. He is staring at you, now. The terror is muted but absolute; the stars of his eyes stab right through you. When he speaks, it is like dragon-speech, his black heart to yours. “And am I to believe that you have my witch?”

    You nod, helpless to do anything else.

    “Good. I will be there presently.” He releases you, lets you fall to the tiles which offer no sensation when you press your palms against them. “As for you,” he continues, out loud, “if it turns out that the Caduceus is not here, then Azora will deal with you.”

    And with that, he turns with a flourish of his cloak and fades into shadow, leaving the young man pale and trembling as Azora tears open the graves of the condemned queens, shattering stone without glass.

    [...]

    There is a cat sitting on your face. It is the great defect of Askaian national character to believe that this is an appreciated show of affection and concern.

    “Is she going to be okay, Dandy?” Yes, you could say, if not for the ice in your veins and also the mouthful of fur.

    Except no.

    Except he’s coming for Diana.

    Right now.

    It’ll take him time! You have time! But that’s a rational thought. And there is ice weighing down your veins. How could you have thought to defy him? He is coming.

    (That is despair speaking. But I think despair has your tongue in thrall.)
    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.

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