Aurea Cor

Cynosure

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a part of Aurea Cor, by Verix.

[...]

Verix holds sovereignty over Cynosure, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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Cynosure

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Minimap

Cynosure is a part of Aurea Cor.

8 Characters Here

Callidora Develan [1] You will soon learn you have few choices.
Cheneres [1]
Laeliah Wym [1] the technomedic
Licorice [1]
Sirius [1]
Dual [0] The Siege Engine

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sirius

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His room existed in a state of constant organized chaos, cluttered with stacks of books and paper and dirty laundry. Some occupants may have even struggled to find their own feet in the denser areas of clutter, but not Sirius. He was the engineer of this mess and although it looked like a bomb had gone off in his living area, he knew precisely where everything was. If a writing utensil were required, for example, you need only look under the third wreath of papers located near the front left leg of his desk.

The apartment he currently stood in was located in the sector of Sol which he resided over as a Tekhne, the Military Science capital city of Ienathera. He had been relocated here a few years back as part of his induction to the role. An inconvenient distance from the market district, the apartment and its locale hadn't been his first, second, or even third choice.

Besides the mess, the place itself was actually rather exquisite in design; with vaulted ceiings, incredibly ornate pillars, and an entire wall of windows that spanned from the floor to the ceiling and faced westwards to provide a partially obscured view of the sunset. Sirius stood in front of these windows now, gazing out at the horizon. The sun seemed to swell where it sat, which meant that it would be setting and approaching dusk in a few hours.

Later that night was a routine public open forum, and Sirius anxieties regarding the event had begun to stir inside of him now. He wasn't much of a public speaker, and it seemed that lately some of the public grew more and more irritable with him. He didn't belong here and they knew it just as well as he did. He could feel the dread tighten in his chest and begin to snake its tendrils down into his stomach. He focused on his breathing, then perhaps too much on his heart beat. Had he miscounted or had that been arrhythmia? The possibility of irregularity only began to upset him more.

After staring out the window for some time more and internally falling down and climbing back up rabbit holes and feedback loops of intrusive thoughts, Sirius had finally managed to begin to tear his gaze from the horizon when he noticed activity in the street below. Had it been earlier in the day and the streets below more occupied, perhaps this activity would have gone unnoticed.

Perhaps it was only fate that on this evening, Sirius was already at the right mixture of paranoia and oblique line of sight. In the streets below several unmarked vehicles began to nestle in front of his apartment and ground themselves. Now that was certainly strange. The passengers which occupied these vehicles began to routinely empty out of them, and Sirius desperately tried to identify any of the men as alarm bells began to ring in the back of his head. Surely he was just being paranoid? Some of the men pointed up at his window and finally a face he did recognize popped out of the final vehicle.

He wasn't being paranoid at all.

With a final glance down at the street, the recognized man and Sirius made a moment of eye contact before Sirius turned and ran. In his haste to escape, he tripped on the way towards the door and felt the sensation and heat of pain shoot up through his right knee. "Argh! Fucking damn it!" he exclaimed, rubbing at his knee and cursing his lack of time to properly observe it as he stood up and began heading for the door again, albeit this time at a somewhat slower pace. His hand reached for the door panel and fingers flurried at the digital interface that popped up, inputting a code that may as well had become genetic information at this point, as it had become so ingrained in him. The door opened, locked behind him, and Sirius exited his apartment for what unbeknownst to him was his final time.

Once in the hallway, he wasted no time and began to head toward the elevator at the end of it. Pain screamed in his knee and he was pretty sure that it would swell eventually but he ignored it. A few floors below he could hear the commotion as Bond, the concierge of the complex, reacted to all these men pooling in. He sounded angry, was told to be quiet, and then in his protests was silenced with what Sirius could only describe as a sickly sound. Now that they had made it to the lobby, Sirius reasoned that the elevator had ceased to be an option along with the stairs. He briefly considered alternatives of escape until finally, his eyes settled on the window at the end of the hallway. His room was located on the third floor, which meant that if he were to take the window then he would have to surmise some way to escape the thirty foot fall relatively unscathed.

As the sounds of the men drew closer, Sirius ceased his mental calculations and once again broke into a run towards the window at the end of the hall. To dive out of it would mean certain death, his best bet would be to open the window as quickly as possible and drop out feet first. If he tucked his chin in, relaxed his legs, bent them at the knees, and rolled into the landing he would be fine. He got to the window, opened it, and did not hesitate to jump. As he was falling he went through all the steps, tucked the chin, relaxed the legs, bent the knees. Only when he hit the ground and his knee once again let out a cry of pain, the part where he was supposed to roll into it was completely forgotten and instead he crumpled.

He stayed there on the ground in a moment of pure shock, but he had made it and he was alive. The pain in his knee screamed once more and it was joined by the backup singer that was the abrasion he had just received on his arm from the street. Hearing commotion and remembering why he had jumped in the first place, Sirius' feet hit street and he began to run once more. The streets this time of day weren't as crowded as they usually were, and his pursuers had vehicles. His first plan of action was to escape the sprawling, open area around him and instead head into the congested alleyways. He was confident that he could lose them in the more residential areas of Ienathera if he could just make it there. But first, he needed to put distance between them and do it fast. Sirius risked stopping for a moment to look around and behind him and what he saw made him smile.

An older Nightfall IX-55 model hover-bike with electro-magnetic repulsor lift technology was parked in stasis nearby. Not only was it a classic model, but it was also in cherry condition. Sirius' heart simultaneously soared and sank, this was a blessing indeed but it was a shame to steal it and bring potential harm to such a beautiful thing. He made a tiny promise then that he'd make up for it should he ever find out its owner. It was a blessing indeed to come across such an older model, as it enabled Sirius to make quick work of hot wiring it. He would have been able to crack a newer model no problem, but it would have surely taken him longer and time was the ultimate factor here. Offering up a final thanks as the sound of shouting picked up behind him, Sirius flashed a grin back at his pursuers before gunning it. As the group of men behind him shrank in size quickly, Sirius watched them disperse in the rear-view camera, presumably to get in vehicles of their own. He had to be quick.

The closer one got to the marketplace in Ienathera, the more residential the surrounding area became. Extravagant and sprawling buildings gave way to homes that were square and flat and made of brick bleached near white by the sun. Some homes used their own roof as an additional living area and on this particular evening some families of three and four could be seen enjoying the sunset, lounging in their chairs and on their blankets. There was little cover but there was advantage in being among numbers and he could easily lose his pursuers in the maze-like alleyways and passages that branched out from the area. As the streets grew smaller and smaller in width, and became more and more populated by people still on foot and buzzing about to finish their last tasks of the day, it came time for Sirius to abandon the bike. An action done with a heavy heart, as the beauty would surely be stolen again from the area or worse yet - scrapped completely. He gave the bike a parting glance and proceeded deeper into the marketplace.

Once he was confident that he was hidden, Sirius watched and waited. There were many entrances into the marketplace since it had a central location, and so he had placed himself in a location where he could observe the most likely, while the unlikely ones were at his back. He was unsure if they would even follow him here, maybe they had decided to call it off. Just when enough time had passed and Sirius had began to think that he had lost them entirely, Sirius arm was grabbed tightly from behind and he felt something hard press roughly into his spine.

"Move and you get twenty miliamps. You're a smart man, Sirius, I don't have to tell you what that would do."

The man was right, he didn't have to tell Sirius anything. He knew that even a few miliamps of electric current had the potential to cause lethal fibrillation if it were directly through the heart. Considering the zap-stick was currently planted in his spine, however, not only would twenty miliamps cause total loss of muscle control, but it may even completely paralyze his respiratory muscles. Wanting neither to be electrocuted or to asphyxiate, Sirius decided to stay right where he was. The pressure currently digging into his spine seemed to relax a little.

"Good. This thing can go all the way up to two amps, so if you want to keep your heart beating you're going to listen to me carefully and not draw any attention to us. If you do, I blow us and everybody around us to kingdom fucking come, and if you think I'm kidding you can just look down and to your left. But do it fucking slowly, you try anything and it's blast off. Kennit?"

Sirius did as he was told and slowly looked down and to his left, where the man's fist had what appeared to be a detonator tightly gripped in it but not any that he recognized. Sirius considered the possibility that this man might be bluffing and tried not to be sick as fear flashed through his brain and nausea built in his stomach. For the time being, they were a little to the side of the crowd at the marketplace, which had slowly begun to dwindle as the sun now made its way further beneath the horizon. Those still there were too preoccupied with their own tasks to notice the two men, but if he wanted to Sirius could certainly draw their attention. If the man really had explosives on him, then he would be endangering all of these people. Even if it was a bluff Sirius didn't think it was worth risking taking lethal electricity through the back over.

His best bet for now was to remain calm and wait for his moment to overpower his present captor.

"Do you know who I am?"

Sirius nodded. He thought he had recognized him earlier outside his apartment.

The man responded with an irritated growl.

"Then you understand why I'm doin' this."

Sirius nodded again, and this time the man brought the fist holding the alleged detonator down on Sirius' head, leaving a bloom of pain.

"Fucking smart-ass, you think you ken everything", the man paused, looking to see if his assault had garnered any attention. When he saw none, he continued. "- well you don't. You don't understand a thing." The man's voice had taken on a venomous tone.

"Now here's what we're going to do, you and I are going to slip out of here. And once we have, we're going t-", a nearby commotion drew pause. Some members of the crowd had accidentally ran into each other, causing one to drop the groceries they had acquired. Now with wide eyes and almost as if it were in slow motion, Sirius watched a fruit that had been dropped roll in his direction and stop just in front of his feet. Sirius' wide eyed glance then leapt up from the fruit to the person that had dropped it, who was now approaching. The pressure in his back tightened once more.

"Fuck. Do not say a thing, just let them pick up their fruit and we'll move on."

As the person approached Sirius did his best to obscure his previously frightened glance, but the stranger gazed at him and the man behind him with a curiosity still. The closer they got the more fearful he became, and as they bent down to collect what was theirs Sirius was all but screaming at them in his head.

Don't recognize me. Don't recognize me. Don't recognize me.

"Sorry!" The stranger said to them both upon picking up the fruit and quickly turned back to rejoin the crowd. Sirius let out a sigh of relief and relaxed.

"Hey!" The stranger that the other had collided with was calling out in their direction now and Sirius' snapped his attention to him.

"Aren't you Sirius, one of our Tekhnes?" Fuck. The one with the fruit spoke up. "I think you're right!" Fuck. More voices joined. His anxiety whirled. Fuck. The pressure in his back grew immense. Fuck. A crowd began to form around the two men. Fuck. The pressure in his back faded. Fu

White light and heat filled the area and everything ceased.

On this evening there was no such thing as a happy ending.

Endings are heartless.

Ending is just another word for goodbye.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Celeste Alya

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#, as written by Cloud
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Salt hung in the air, a palpable force that clung to every person and object on the swaying deck. It dug under the skin and made its home beneath nails. The only way of escaping the onslaught of waves drenching you in sea water was to take refuge below deck, yet then you had to contend with the rats. Celeste preferred the feel of the salt layering her skin to the smell below, at least above the waves she could watch the horizon and see the stars. It was a relief to see the clear sky above, littered with a rapidly reducing number of celestial pinpricks as dawn approached. The passage had not been the cheapest option - one look at some other, cheaper ships and she had been more than willing to spend gold for board across the oceans - and yet money could not buy complete freedom from the storms that raged or the pests that followed humanity wherever they went.

Nehtve, the storm mage hired to assist in magically calming the seas, stood with arms outstretched at the bow. They had done their best to quell the storms in the ship’s path, but nature was the strongest magic of all. Helping to direct the tired ship into harbour was a much easier job. Celeste could see the ripple of magical waves shifting around Nehtve’s hands, and feel the mirrored movement below as the ship broke through the water. With the help of the captain at the helm, the Dancing Nymph slid between well-guarded towers placed on jutting outcrops of rock and into the arms of the Cordia port.

Cordia glittered coldly in the early morning light, the waters pooling at the city’s base not inviting for a woman who preferred the more tepid temperatures of the Gilded Plains. Yet, wealth flowed freely from Lumen’s capital and that was partly why Celeste was here. Golden eyes drifted across the sprawling city, skipping over the small homes of merchants and crafters to the expansive mansions sitting above the poorer distracts. Though within the same city, the residents were worlds apart. She closed her eyes and called at her magic, a slim hand snaking into her pocket to grasp the item within. An invisible tug, not physical, pulled her eyes back open and Celeste felt her senses tuning into the target her aurea was directing her towards.

Even from this distance the opulence of the mansion was evident. Once the boat docked she would scout out the area, filling in the gaps of her memories from when she had last visited Cordia and putting physical pictures to the flat maps she had studied on her journey here. Finding a path of least resistance within would take time, depending on the defenses, but she would prevail and claim the object she had been hired to find. A smile played upon Celeste’s face, belying the confidence she felt in her ability to pull off the heist.

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“Shit… Shit. Bloody fucking… Curse of the Five.”

Things were not going to plan. As thunder boomed overhead and rain pelted down harshly, Celeste stood with her back pressed against the tower wall. Perceptive eyes flicked across the roofs immediately around her, plotting an escape route in the seconds she was giving herself to rest. She had barely escaped the innards of the mansion, where their trap had been laid. Now the clink of armour and calls of alarm echoed out into the drizzling gloom of night as more guards rushed to search for her. Someone had betrayed her, or set her up, that much was clear. When she took it, the job had appeared to be a simple one. An easily accessible home, minimal guard. Low risk, high reward. Perhaps her greed had blinded her to the betrayal, not seeing the red flags. Hindsight was a brilliant thing and she could only curse her own stupidity. If she escaped unscathed, she would track down the little rat that outed her. If she escaped.

Celeste stepped forward, a small, dark shape darting across the roof. A rumble of thunder high above further muted any momentary thuds from the escaping thief, yet the advantage was short-lived and outweighed heavily by how slick and slippery the increased rainfall was making the tiles. One slid out from beneath Celeste’s feet as she ran along a side roof, and though she managed to catch herself from sliding down the steep incline into the courtyard below, the shattering of the tile onto the cobbled floor drew the attention of personnel.

“Shit.” She swore again under her breath, righting herself and quickly sprinting away. Though agile and quick-footed, even Celeste had to be careful as she jumped across a short gap and landed soundlessly on the peaked roof opposite. Her fingers caught quickly at the roof, steadying herself. Keeping low and moving quickly, Celeste pulled herself up and ran again. Ahead a tall tower blocked her path along the roof, however she did not slow down. Instead, her hand flew up to her chest and cut a quick symbol in the moist air. A faint glow illuminated the tip of her finger, her legs bent at the knee and then she sprung forward and upwards, using the quick spell to clear the multi-floor tower and land on it’s tip. From the new height Celeste glanced downward, tracking a possible path to safety across the vast expanse of roof the mansion possessed.

Balls of twisting green lights began to appear to her left, and Celeste swore again. The magical protections had finally been reactivated. The spell she had cast should have kept them suppressed for longer, but they knew she was coming, so it made sense that they would have counterspells. Those lights sought out interlopers and would track them while within range. As she dropped down to the roofing below, a soundless entity, those lights began to drift towards her. She could spell them away, but it would look just as suspicious for a section to go dark. With a growl, Celeste continued on, hoping to outpace the magic light. They wouldn’t be able to track her easily once she made it into the lower markets.

Movements seen from the corner of her eyes told Celeste guards had joined her above the streets. She put on more speed, ignoring the increased risk of losing her balance on the wet tiles. Another jumping spell saw her leap towards one of the outer walls. Here stone parapets encircled part of the mansion and ran along to join the defensive walls of the Upper district, keeping the wealthy safe from the riff raff of the lower districts. Mostly. Yet, this particular section of wall only divided the wealthy from the violent waves crashing against the sharp cliffs below. Lookouts were placed along this portion too, keeping watch for pirates or floundering ships. Celeste would need to continue around before she could jump down to the more rundown merchant houses and trading squares. Simple enough, except for the fact that several guards were streaming up to the walls.

“Give it up, Celeste. You can’t escape.”

A guard stepped forward, her uniform marking her as someone of importance. Blonde hair framed a face that might have been pretty were it not for the severe expression trained on her target. The sword in her hand did not quiver as she brought it up towards Celeste, the blade mere inches from Celeste’s chest - heaving as she caught her breath.

“Asmariah.” Celeste said, eyes sliding up the sword to the Queen’s guard standing tall before her. There was little emotion in Asmariah’s eyes, and Celeste felt a chill pass through her. She had been close to death before, unavoidable given her line of work, but never had Celeste felt this close. She tried to glance behind herself subtly, over the ridges of the stone wall, attempting to judge whether she could make the dive into the sea below. Magic would be needed. Asmariah saw the movement and the tip of her sword pressed against Celeste, where there had just been the promise of a point was now an uncomfortable pressure.

“Look, if this is about Mertal, we can sort it ou-...” Celeste’s words were cut off as Asmariah shook her head, a cold smile curling onto her face.

“I don’t work for them.”

She saw the guard’s body shift, knew instinctively what was about to happen. Celeste pushed away, feet skidding against the wet stone beneath her, hands flying up in a vain attempt to preserve her life. But it was too late. As icy droplets of water pelted down from above, Celeste felt a fiery heat explode across her chest as Asmariah’s blade pierced the skin. The thief stumbled back, the blade slid out and blood poured from the wound. Blood that would not stop flooding outwards despite her hands desperately clasping to the hole. Celeste’s feet caught on the barrier between walkway and the cliff below and then she was falling. Asmariah’s satisfied expression the last she saw.

Celeste was dead before she hit the waves below. Pain evaporating and only the smell of salt remaining before her consciousness left her doomed body.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Laeliah Wym

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#, as written by mombie
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l a e l i a h x w y m

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t h e x t e c h n o m e d i c
#762c1c || Outfit || location

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Axodyndra, a city nestled in the heart of the Biotechnology sector of Sol that people knew for the the its renown Guild of Surgeons that operated within its heart. The citizens here were the healthiest of all of Sol, and people came from all of her corners to find care here. If one was sick, this was the place to be. It was a place of hope because the talent that resides here is of the kind that benefits the whole. It is a great metropolis lined with hospitals, clinics and more specialized care like prosthetics, cosmetic - if it has to do with the Human body, you will find it here in Axodyndra. The streets bustled daily and it was always lively - day in and day out.

The Guild of Surgeons met here; an apprenticeship academy dedicated to building the next generation of doctors. The heads of this school are the best of the medical geniuses dedicated to perfecting precision technology that would assist them in more tedious operations. It was basically a bunch of nerds in goggles, white coats, legal cadavers, and more - all sitting around discussing their latest research, experimenting, and taking the time out of their busy lives to further academia with lectures and labs for potentials. Laeliah, of course, was one of these professional members and taught a few classes herself. It's Director involved the academic board in more than just biotech, but was also highly sought by other sectors. Laeliah, herself, worked with the Military sector.

Yet, all places have their dark corners, and this city was of no exception. They alleyways at night were treacherous, and the people that you thought you knew to be caring and helpful moonlighted under a rampant black market. Though it is not infamous enough to be known to the outsider, people disappeared here. Axodyndra is well-known for its more than exceptional medical practices, but the allure of selling body parts and cadavers for medical science, concocting insidious stimulants and drugs, finding new ways to alter the human form - and that is only the tip of this iceberg that is majorly concealed beneath the city's perfect image. Travel here by day and you will see the crowds, but at night - well - that is a different and startling discovery all on its own.

But that is neither here nor there at this point and time. Today had been a typical day from morning until the very moment that will come. After awakening, if once could call what she did actual sleep, she bathed, threw on clothes, forewent breakfast, and headed straight out of the one-bedroom place she occupied. Laeliah was a minimal kind of gal, and she only needed one other thing - a place to be busy in. Where she slept was naught but a fleeting moment in the grand scale of her lifespan. It was lived in, messy, likely needed a good dusting, and could hardly be called a decent home.

She was greeted by the cool morning air; the scent of sand infused with the slight hint of medical run-off from various buildings. Heavy boots stomped along the barren ground as she rounded her residential space to the back. The bulkhead door on the ground in the back. After her fingers danced along the keys with a beep-boop-beep, it hissed softly and she pried it open by the handles. This led to the flickering of sterile lights and the eventual illumination of a long and narrow staircase. Once she was at the bottom, she grabbed hold of a white lab coat, threw it on, then placed her goggles over her eyes.

The large space lit up gradually - one row of lights at a time before a pristine laboratory was revealed. It was truly hard to believe that this existed underneath her abysmal living conditions. Some women liked shoes and fancy things, but she loved her lab. It was her life. It was her space. The only space where she could be herself without worrying about everyone else. She spent a considerable amount of time here preparing for Efevretón day year after year. This year would be her time to shine. She just knew it - knew it in her heart.

She had been lent a set of armor tech by a good friend that would typically be worn by Sol's military personnel. Her goal was to reduce the rate of casualties due to a lack of swift response by a combat medic. This was her favorite part of being an inventor. It was a marriage of her father's vision and her mother's dream.

She grabbed a black marker, popped the cap off, and placed it between her lips - ink tip out, of course. She placed herself in front of a glass board that had things scrawled on it that could only be understood by a few people. Lae quirked her jaw from side-to-side, pursed her lips, placed a hand at a hip, and looked very pensive in one of those utterly nerdy extremes. She used another hand to push her goggles up, wiggled her nose, and seemed to have an 'aha' moment.

"The hemosensors still don't activate the tensor fibers of the bodysuit for optimal compression just yet," she said to herself, of course. There was no one else here by her. However, something was listening, and that something inanimate - a recording device. It triggered whenever the lights came on because, even being the perfectionist that she is, sometimes she forgets this part. Recording was the most important aspect of being a scientist and a visionary. She scribbled some things on the board, adjusted a few numbers, and then took another step back to observe. "I'm going to have to rework the math, but I believe we are close."

Satisfied with the thought of more calculations and yet another excuse to hermit away, she capped the writing utensil and set it on a nearby table.

It's very quiet in here. So much so that one could hear a pin drop, even past the gentle whirring of tech. So, when Lae heard a noise above the steps at the door to her lab, she knew something was amiss. "It would seem that my time has come," she said softly, knowingly. A grim knot settled in her stomach. She was too close. Too close to usurping the beloved seats of Tekhne from the family that stole it from her mother many, many years ago. "In the event of my death, of which I am certain is now," she began narrating to the recording device. It was hard to find as it is embedded in the electrical unit of her lab. "- one should look into the second Tekhne of Biotechnology. She knows that I have been getting closer to giving the government of Sol a piece of technology that will make a difference in our military. Her time has come, and she has been spying on me for several weeks."

Then again, who was she talking to? No one was going to notice she was gone.

She stood up, removed her goggles, placed them on the table, and then pressed a button to open up a drawer at her desk. From there she pulls out her rifle and gives it a good ol' tap to power the charging cell. As she did this, the hatch to the lab blew open by some charge and in rushed a gang of men with high-powered zapping devices, blasters of various types, and other very threatening paraphernalia.

"Hello, boys," she greets with that amiable tone. Typically, Lae did not condone unnecessary violence or crazy shoot-outs. However, today was different. This was her life, and if her life was not worth the fight - her technology was. "You really don't have to do this, you know. If you think that all of you are going to get out of here alive, you will be sorely mistaken."

"Listen, Lae, it's nothing personal. This is business," one of the thuggish men sighs as if this was something hard to do. "You can just give us the documents and the tech, and we will be out of your hair. No one has to die."

Give up her life's work? The thought was simply this: I'd feel dead without it anyway.

The laboratory erupted into a cacophony of blaster fire, crashes, bangs, technology dying, lights dimming - screams, yells, grunts. These things that no one would hear after the hatch was closed again. This lasted for only a few short moments that, to the involved person, seemed to last a lifetime.

In the end, there was only quiet darkness. Just when one thought that perhaps there would be this shadowy unknowing, the lights began to flicker to life once more. Blood coated otherwise sterile floors, and there was a lumbering body slumped over a desk. Then another in a heap on the floor. A bit further was a glass board with a splatter of blood on its heavily markered surface. Beneath that was Laeliah, lifeless with her back against it and head lolled forward until her chin was at her chest. She was only kind of missing her face.

The remaining men took everything that she had - documents, tech, and more. Yet, they left the recording device behind unknowingly, and these walls could, in fact, speak. Someone just has to look for it.

Setting

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D U A L || THE SIEGE ENGINE




It was hot. Even in the cover of night, the land of the Empire, and that which surrounded it, was ever so hot. The uniforms donned by those in military service were designed to allow one's body to breath, at the very least, but it was only countered by the weight they had to carry on their backs. Both the weight of the gear they marched with, and weight of the duty they had, the lives they safeguarded. Such is the burden of Dual's merry band of misfits, and tonight was just another mission to accomplish.

Luckily enough, when one travels long enough in the dark, their eyes adjust well enough to make out their surroundings. Or at the very least, Dual was able to. She raised a hand, beckoning those behind her to follow. They were silent, they were quick. They formed up along the wall of a building, huddled together.

"Ruth, Lucius, keep eyes on the streets. Deus, rooftops. The rest on me." She spoke softly, but firmly and to the point. They came here with a task in mind. To the North East of the Empire's borders lay land that belonged to them, though the once currently residing in it proved to not have such same feelings. They were acting as scouts, getting a layout of the land. If possible, sabotaging whatever they could if it meant crippling the enemy. The main force marched a day behind them, she almost felt sorry for the people in this kingdom. They were fighting a losing war, and they didn't even have the brains to realize it.

She took out a lighter, ignited it, and held it over a hand drawn map. The remaining few members of her squad huddled around. "What's the plan, 2nd lieutenant? We could always just start some shit on our own." One spoke aloud, only to quickly receive a swift knock to their head. She blew out the light and stuffed the map back into a pocket. "We could definitely do that. But I'd rather not have you go back home in pieces. I don't think you'd want to leave your wife alone either, Tex."

With soft snickering among the squad, she recalled the others and they grouped up around the corner of the building they hit beside. She peeked around the corner and begun to move forward once more. Yet as they moved to cross the street, the world suddenly lit up in a blinding flash of light. She instinctively raised her shield, luckily so, since right as she did she felt an impact on it and an intense wave of heat spread around her. Quickly she stepped back behind the cover of the building and let her eyes adjust to the sudden flash of brightness. "Fuck! What's going on?"

A voiced behind her asked, after her eyes adjusted she checked the front of her shield to see what hit it. There was a char mark in the front of it. Almost as though it had been struck by a ball of flame. And that was all it took for her to understanding exactly what was happening. Her eyes quickly darted around her, looking at her surroundings in the newly brightened area. "Familiar! Magic users!" There it was, peering from the roof above the building they had just been hiding by was the outline of some dark creature. They had been compromised.

"Hold! Don't panic!" She called, raising her shield once more. They couldn't stay where they were. She spotted another building just across the street. Were there enemies inside it already? Was it even safe? No way to know right now, but it was better than staying out in the open. ""Shields up! Stay low! Follow me!"

She charged to the building, the sounds of various magical projectiles shooting past her, crashing against her shield. She braced as she came to the door of the building and without a second of pause barreled straight through it shield first, and came crashing to the floor. The last one through the door was Tex, but right as she crossed through the door, what seemed like a shard of ice embedded itself into her leg, resulting in a loud scream of pain.

" Seal the doorway! Use anything you can find to block it off!" Dual barked out orders in haste. "We have those medic bags, right? Treat Tex now!"

-----

"Deus, what's our situation?" Dual asked, pulling him aside. It had been only less than a half hour, but for her it felt like ages.

"Tex is fine, she'll probably need a prosthetic if she plans to continue serving, but she'll live. It seems that the enemy are content with waiting us out here, but there's movement through the streets. Doesn't seem like they plan on letting us walk out of here."

She bit her lip. They were prepared for her squad. They knew. She wasn't sure how, but they knew. And they were capable. There's no way they could just wait it out until the rest of their strike force arrived. A dire situation indeed. She paced back and forth, before slamming her fist against the wall. She was The Siege Engine. The face of the Shield-bearers. Her squad was the best of the best. And yet they had their backs against the wall.

She pulled out her lighter and a cigarette, leaning against a wall and trying her best to relax. "You plan on waiting here and dying without fighting, Dual? I'm disappointed." A voice called out to her, though not from within the room, but within her head. She glanced at the shield that leaned against the wall beside her. Shut it, Trebuchet. I'm not bitching out. I'm thinking.

Oh good. That’s the Dual that I know. But you already have an idea of what you should be doing, don’t you? A way for all of them to get out of here."

Oh, she knew. She was well aware of what could be done. She just needed a moment to relax. After all... there would be plenty of things she'd be leaving behind. Yeah, yeah. Shut it already.

She walked over to Tex and knelt beside her. "How're you holding up there, Tex?" She asked, with the other's response being a wry smile gesturing at her bandaged leg. "Nice, so you're doing alright.

Dual slowly took off her hat, and handed it to the injured woman. "Listen. I got a favor to ask, alright? I want you to deliver that hat to someone." Dual smiled sadly as she stared at the hat before continuing."Y'see in back in the Military sector, there's a place called Minos. And on the edge of it is a small little place where you can find a girl named Myst. She's an earnest girl. Wanted to be just like her sister. Give her that hat and tell her this: 'Your sister is gonna be a little late for dinner.'"

With that, she stood back up and approached the barricaded front door. Without turning around she announced. "We are the vanguard! We are the shield-bearers of the Empire! We are the first ones into the fray! If we are to die here, then what falls after us?" She raised her shield, the artifact known as Black Steel. She felt her body tense, sparks of electricity shooting from her body, reflecting in her eyes, jumping between her horns. "That is why, you will not die today. You will not die tomorrow. You will fight and win and fight once more! I'm going out there, I'm buying you time, you lot will be leaving out the back and fleeing the city. Regroup with the main force, and kill every last one of these bastards. This is an order, and it will be followed."

"You're telling us to leave you to die? Are you insane? Surely there's a better option!"

"Didn't you learn manners growing up, Tex? The last one to leave has to turn off the lights."

There was disheartened, but assured sounds of agreement behind her, and then came the sound of shuffling and movement. She counted in her head. One, two, three, four...

You ready, Trebuchet?"

That was well put, Dual. I was right to choose you. Not many people aside from you are this stupid.

And with that, the sparks jumping from her frame grew in intensity. The shield-bearer burst through the makeshift barricade with one last cry of defiance as she felt a searing heat connect with her shield, then her arm, then leg.

"LONG LIVE THE EMPIRE!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Licorice

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Was it possible to vore an entire apple?

Licorice tried it out, leaning against the dusty glass wall of a slum greenhouse. His teeth scraped against the waxy red skin of the fruit, jaw aching as he shoved the apple further into his mouth. Almost. It was almost possible to vore an entire apple. Licorice was tantalizingly close---he got maybe 4/5ths of the way around the circumference before his canines dug deep into crisp flesh.

Saliva and sweet juice began dripping down his jaw, and Licorice realized that it actually hurt to keep his jaws pried open like this. ’Alright then,’ he thought. ’I’ll just bite down real hard.’

The apple cracked, giving his jaw faint relief, but it wasn’t enough. No matter how his muscles strained, it wasn’t enough to crush the hard fruit stuffed into his mouth. Licorice wondered, with vague panic, if the greenhouse workers planned for this to happen. Did they know he’d go in and steal fruit? Did they know how hungry he was, that he’d immediately try to shove whatever food he found into his stomach? Was this a test? An experiment?

Was he going to die like this?

A hot, dry wind blew in from his right, where the desert stretched off into the dimming horizon. To his left stood an oasis. The sands spilled into the streets of Gaolykka, covering the out-of-date agriculture tech in a fine layer of grimy red dust. Trees sprouted high up into the sky with shimmering greenhouse after shimmering greenhouse ballooning up between the thick, twisting trunks. Licorice was an ant among giants, a dirty vagrant huddled on the edge of desolation with an apple stuck in his mouth.

His shackles clinked on his wrists, and the ex-prisoner sucked absently on the leaking juice. Next on the list of things to steal? A knife. A lot of problems went away if you had a knife, apple problems included.

(There were so many knives in the Ward. Knives hidden under bedsheets and sleeves and smiles, sometimes. Licorice had collected maybe five knives at the most, but his sister secreted away over twenty-three at one point. She had the most out of anyone he knew, and she’d brandish them at anyone who came too close to the cell block they called home. Her tongue cut sharper than any of her twenty-three blades, though. She’d verbally eviscerate any stray magic user that wandered over, tearing them apart over bald spots and stutters and stains. ’I wanna be like you, Rampuri,’ Licorice would say. And Rampuri would tell him, ‘Shut the fuck up, candy bitch.’)

”Candy bitch…,” Licorice mumbled around his apple, causing more drool to spill out. Nobody called him candy bitch anymore. It was always bastard, or ex-con, or hey-you-with-the-nice-ass, or worst of all--

“Mister Licorice! Mister Licorice, sir!” A woman’s voice echoed from down the street. He heard the distant thrum of some vehicle, one equipped with hover-tech, which was unnervingly up-to-date for a backwater city like Gaolykka. The only people who had access to hover-tech were government employees, and the only people who called him ‘Mister Licorice’ were rehabilitation agents sent by Social Services.

Her voice resounded through the dusty alley again, “You can’t keep running forever, Mister Licorice! Just let us help you!”

But Licorice was unwilling to be helped. Not only was he already running, but as he took off, three very unfortunate events happened to occur in rapid succession:

xxxx1) His sandals slipped on the fine red sand powdering the walkway.
xxxx2) He choked on a mouthful of saliva and apple juice.

Momentarily unable to breathe, Licorice tumbled onto the pavement. His manacles dug into his wrists. Sunset and sand and glass smeared over his vision as he fell, distantly aware of his own rapid descent while also being helpless to stop it.

Endings can come so suddenly. Sometimes it takes just one fall, just one fuck up, for everything to be snatched up from your hands. People who live clumsily often die just as clumsily.

xxxx3) A rock appeared in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cheneres

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Candle-lit and dust-ridden, the underbelly of Lumen has always been a dangerous place. While bustling with warm commerce as opposed to the eternal winter that blankets the streets above, without laws to enforce the most deprived crimes, the Underworld had been revered as a land ripe with sin. To most, it’s a pathway where one must avoid eye contact at all cost, to some a hunting ground for their next meal. To Cheneres, it was simply known as home.

Weaving through alleys and stalls, Chen was in quite the good mood, though he was also quite late. Bumping through a group of hooded gentlemen, he made sure to get out of shanking range before looking over his shoulder and shouting apologies. While the bosses that run the Underworld have found it in their rotted heart to tolerate Chen and his antics, that didn’t discourage random thugs from gutting him like swine.

“CHEN! I’LL KILL ‘YA!” As he turned back to apologize to the group he ran through prior, he inadvertently caused a burly man to drop a large oak crate. Dodging a bushy right hook, and hopping over the splintered remains, he ran away from his provoked attacker. Chen would buy him a drink later. His name was Bovar, nice fellow, might or might not dine on the ankles of little children.

Ducking into an opening between 2 stalls, he checked if he was still being followed. Keen on not making any more enemies, Chen decided to go about his way at a leisurely pace. The Rêverie wasn’t too far off from here and dying on the way would definitely make it more difficult to meet with his employer.

Most drinking spots in Lumen were warm of interior, temperature matching the chambré and adorned with ornate wood or pretentious furnishings. The Rêverie was..quite different. His nose twitched from the smell of strong cleaning products, undoubtedly used to conceal the scent of spilled martinis and stray vomit. The glimmer of faint lights radiated off the gloomy walls of the establishment. It definitely matched the tasteless look that appealed to surface-dwellers, but the air was caked with a light fog. The ambiance was almost dream-like, useful in veiling the criminal trade that is carried out behind the countertop. Serving exotic drinks in the day and rare information in the night, all business, illegal or otherwise is overseen by a man named Oberon.

“Ay Oberon! What ‘ya got for me?” Tiptoeing over a syrupy stain of past evaporated drink, Cheneres stiffly found a clean spot on the counter to place his elbow before beckoning to his old friend. Luckily, he caught him at a slow time. Acting as a middle man, Oberon directed clients who needed a Badlands expert to Cheneres. Allowing him to avoid the risk of law enforcement, or worse..the family who had razed his life from beginning to now.

“A sight to make eyes sore..what are you doing here, you asshole?” The bearded man grumbled as he cleared glasses with dirtier rags. Animosity filled the air, as an exaggerated surprise formed on the young survivalist’s face.

“If this is about the previous gig, I got them what they wanted with only…minor hiccups.” Cheneres accidentally rested his hand on a puddle of mystery liquid he made such a show to avoid earlier. Wiping his hand on his slacks, he paced the room, almost anticipating having to dodge another punch. The job he was referring to involved 2 low-ranking nobles, brothers that went by the names of Fabien and Cedric Leclère. While their money and reputation commanded the respect of some, they were anything but men. Cedric wanted the skull of a dangerous looking beast to show his trophy wife that he was a certified badass, his brother Fabien also tagging along just because. The job certainly paid well enough, not unlike his other experiences with corrupt nobles. However, he was forced to handle the beast all by himself.

“You fed them some shit and they got food poisoning. I don’t remember mentioning that in the job details.” Oberon placed the glass on the table with a distinct thunk. He threw his rag at Cheneres, prompting a duck from the roguish man.

“What? Just because I said Udeline and Phoenix Thistle tasted good with Wild Boar doesn’t make that my fault. They already seasoned and consumed it before I said that the flavor wasn’t worth what those spices do to your stomach.” He held his hands up, smiling shamelessly like a child who certainly couldn’t do any wrong.

Relenting under Cheneres’ endless optimism, the bearded man eventually smiled himself. “Fuck you.” Lifting the flaps of his pocket, he reached in and pulled out a crumpled note. Placing it on the counter before retracting back to allow Cheneres a peak. “Goes by Gilles, I know how bad you are with memory so the details should be written here..”

Chen awkwardly plucked the paper from the counter-top. Meet on the Maryland dock, near the outskirts of the Badlands. The writing was quite legible, cursive like a noble. Oberon also never had his clients write down information for him..must’ve been the customer’s request. Grinning from ear to ear, Cheneres skipped towards the door. “You’re the man, Big O. Arrange for the ship for me, will ‘ya?”

Though as Cheneres looked back to say goodbye, Oberon already had turned around and started walking to the backroom. The big man always wasn’t one for goodbyes. Waving anyway, Cheneres pushed through the exit door into the frosted air outside.




Waiting for the ship to dock, Cheneres pranced along the planks of the creaky ship. Every wane and groan of the sea vessel had Cheneres hold onto just about anything that was next to him. While Oberon was able to get him to the Badlands whenever he wanted, he always was placed on piece of crap ships that could shatter from a dense breeze, much less a heavy storm. Luckily, the waves were calm and they were close enough to shore to place Cheneres’ mind at relative ease.

The straining of the half-splintered sloop was especially apparent as it came to a stop. Creaking of stringed-together wood danced into the air as the crew attempted to dock the medium-sized vessel. As soon as the sails were up and the ropes pulled the ship to a stop, Cheneres jumped onto the dock at his first opportunity. While having to make this trek for a living, the quality of ships he had been forced to ride on have bestowed upon him a distinct fear of sailing.

Cheneres took a deep breath, the breath quickly transitioning into a brief cough. Being on the island that had been known as the heart of all evil really puts chills down the spine and seasoning in the air. Walking closer to shore, Cheneres felt an odd sensation flow through his body. It couldn’t have been the chills he was referring to earlier..they already got their turn. Rearing his head, he had just enough time to dive out of a purplish blast that had been aimed at him prior. A group of hooded men who had also been transported on the ship spilled onto the dock, prompting the crew to pile onboard and begin the preparations to sail away. Pushing himself up, he didn’t have time to think as he leaped out of the way of another blast. While he wasn’t the most graceful, he was lucky enough to land on his feet and begun sprinting away. Deeper and deeper into the heart of the Badlands.

OH MY GOD OH MY GOD. Was that the damn Favire? Had he been set up? Questions blared loudly in his head as he weaved through the gloomy trees and rocks. The frigid air felt like needles on his skin..but his face? The same smile he always wore hadn’t shrunk away just yet. He had escaped the jaws of death more times than he could count. When he got out of this, it would make a killer story.

Ducking his head from another blast, he pivoted his feet to the side to stop himself from slamming face-first into a large boulder. Looking back as his assailants drew closer in eye-shot, he placed his hand over the boulder. He always hated magic, the usage and the users included. But Cheneres certainly did not have time for a grudge. Placing his hand on the boulder, Cheneres beckoned forth a wave of energy that surged through the large stone..almost as if he was scanning the contents. With a slight swish that scuttled through the air, the Boulder became a violet marble, no larger than a ping-pong ball. Picking up the gem for later use, Cheneres went on his way again, the mages on his tail unfortunately gaining some distance courtesy of the obstacle.

A violent lilac spark burst through the heavy air, grazing Cheneres’ left arm and beckoning forth a hearty cry from the Survivalist. Smiling to dull the pain, Cheneres tossed the purple marble that had been rolling in his hand at the mages. With a snap of his only good hand, the marble expanded back out into its dormant form, a boulder, and dropped in front of the mages’ path. With an opportunity to collect himself, Cheneres dipped behind a boulder of similar size.

Placing his one good hand over the smoldering wound, he fumbled in his pocket for his artifact. Stout berating filled his head as Cheneres brought the pipe to his mouth shakily. Ignoring his rather unhelpful via, he took a deep breath in the mouthpiece before blowing out a thick smog that obscured his own vision.

Outcomes stirred about in the smoke, every path that could ever occur forming from the smog before Cheneres’ eyes seem to gleam at the perfect one. He knew the air around here..and he knew what he was throwing. As the smoke faded out, he placed his hand on the boulder behind him and shrunk it into a shimmering lavender marble before picking it up again.
He knew his previous boulder wouldn’t keep them for long. As the rock exploded behind him, he found himself ducking and weaving through purple lightning bolts that soared from behind him. His fatigue didn’t do him any favors as the blasts begun to graze him on his leg, and other arm. Running like a corpse, Cheneres grinded his teeth as he ignored the pain. Just a few more steps…until..a clearing!

Tumbling onto the frosted grass, Cheneres flung the purple marble into the air. Holding up his arms to defend himself from any stray blasts, the mages didn’t notice the purple marble morphing back into its boulder form overhead. Not allowed any time to react as it crashed down from above and only left a bloody stain in its wake.

Cheneres let out an exasperated sigh. Breathing in the cold air and exhaling the condensation, Cheneres wrapped his wounds with the remains of his jacket. As a hearty grin formed on his face, Cheneres stood up and begun to limp back the way he came.

“This is going to be a hell of a st-..” His mumbled words were cut off by the jaws of a beast clamping over his body. Through his silent celebration, he didn’t notice the monster that had been silently stalking him and his pursuers.

He was lucky the beast’s fangs killed him before he hit the stomach acid.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callidora Develan

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CALLIDORA DEVELAN
the part where she dies



There was a calm about Callidora that surprised even herself.

Her bones did not shake, and her lip did not tremble as the guards posted at her cell dragged her body from the stone bed provided. She was numb. Impervious to the situation at hand, but still utterly devastated at the prospect of her death Callidora knew now more than ever what it meant to die.

Would anyone shout her name? Mourn for the loss of life that had been taken so early? Would anyone even attend the public execution for a girl they barely knew?

Callidora could fantasize it then. A handsome young man whose love superseded any and all expectations carrying her away from the tragedy that was her life. He would swoop in like a hero dressed in black where they would then elope to an island far away from the reach of Lumen. Her life would be saved and she’d fall in love.

Her head ached at the thought. Her dreams were never meant to be for fantasizing, they were only meant to guide the living. A useless talent if Callidora ever thought of one, for it was after all the reason for her demise.

“Pick up your feet, prisoner.”

Aedium, he always had been the worst of the two. Queen and Crown he followed royal decree to the letter. He didn’t cease for his traitorous parents, and Callidora knew he would not stop for her.

“Is that any way to talk to a long time friend, Aedy?”

“You are not a friend, prisoner,” he spat out her name like it was venom, “You are a traitor to Queen and country and you will pay for your crimes.”

A traitor. Is that what she was? What had she done to deserve this?

“You’re being too harsh Aediu—“

“— and I will tell the Queen of your dishonorable actions here Luther if you do not cease talking.”

Luther remained quiet in fear of his head being brought to the pedestal next. Callidora could not blame him as much as she wanted to. He had a child, he had a wife, and he was going to die a horrible death within the next year.

The walk to the execution stand was long and filled with a discerning quiet. The many faces which passed by her were filled with pity and a sense of misplaced anger. A girl whom Callidora knew since she was a child stood behind her friends, shielding her face from Callidora as though it would stop the inevitable. Poor girl.

A bag was placed over her head, and the stench of dried tears and blood permeated every fiber. This was the so-called “death hat” that she had heard so much about before. Although the people who were fitted for it never lived to tell the tale of its terror, Callidora for one could vouch for its reputation.

She was on the verge of crying.

The door opened and Callidora knew that her death place was mere feet away from where she stood. She tried not to think about how many steps it took to get to the top of the stand (50), and she tried not to think about how tall it was (10 feet), but most of all she tried not to hear the voices of men and woman whispering their thoughts (about 40).

Aedium pushed her onto the ground so that her knees hit the wooden board with a thud. He grabbed her by the shoulder and guided her head to the curved slot where it would be separated from the body.

Callidora could not see, but in all honesty, she would not have wanted to. She was afraid of who might be in the crowd, and how her face would contort in terror in death.

“By orders of the Queen of Lumen, for being a co-conspirator in the plan to assassinate her majesty, we sentence you to be executed to atone for your crimes. May your soul pass through hell quietly — for queen and country!”

“For Queen and country!”

The blade came down so quickly Callidora had no time to think before she was dead.




Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Archimedes Drakos

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death was a lonely thing



        Queen Kiara Grimsbane sat on her throne, quietly and surely as she heard the feet and scramble through the halls. Panic was spreading through hollowed and sacred halls, the clanking of armor echoing in her ears. The soldiers would be there soon, and there weren't any riches in the world that could of prepared the Queen for today. Her gown flowed to the floor, hands folded on her lap as her head was held high. Waiting.

        All her guards had left, leaving her to the fate she herself bestowed to none other but her. White hair was tucked into braid, crowing her head, a hand draped over the side of her throne, she had nothing to do but count the minutes before the approaching assassins. Kiara Grimsbane had no choice but to sit here and reflect on her own past, on her own decisions. The friends she left behind, and the ones she'd never get to meet. The lover who died, but the one who desperately wanted her in his arms. Life was cruel like that, but the twisted emotion in her stomach almost made her laugh. Why now, did she wait for the death she always so closely hide from? Kiara was master of the game, of out playing those who mistook her for a fool.

        She should of run while she had the chance.

        To her left, laid a sword carefully crafted in a white sheath, gold like wings extending from the handle of the sword. It had been decided, she thought, that she was to die... but she would take out as many as she could with her. Kiara would go down into history as the woman who fought for her throne. For her country.

        It was a foolish thought.

        When that door came flying open to the throne room, she stood slowly. Her crown of gold and horns perfectly placed, she took hold of her sword, allowing it's sheath to fall to the floor. The pale maiden pointed her sword to her adversaries, though remained silence as the group of assassins filled the room. Four, she counted, three women, one man. This would be easier then expected, though the man made her wary. Eyes full of hate and rage, she could only wonder at what pain must of driven him to this point. To make him neglect his duty to serve her.

        The woman of auburn hair spoke up loud and clear, her sword pointed at the Queen. "We have waited a long day for this moment, Grimsbane. It is a shame someone so beautiful must now fall." She bellowed out. "Make it easy on yourself, you were never a fighter!"

        She wasn't?

        Ruby lipped curled into a smile, simply waiting.

        Always, she was waiting.

        The second woman was a maiden of strawberry blonde, her eyes a dull green. Her hands were shaking, though her adrenaline charged her forward. Her blade raised up, meeting the Queen's as Kiara stared back with a sheer, unimaginable hate burning through them. How dare these people cost her her life!

        She was waiting for the day to wear this crown, and today was her first and godsdamn last? It wasn't fair! She was always waiting! Kiara smashed her foot into the strawberry blonde's knee, making her buckle as her sword swished past, cutting a slit down the dress as a ripping noise echoed through the chamber. The third woman was that of a brunette, and a woman who used daggers.

        The way she maneuvered the weapons was with skill and precision, her agility stunning almost as Kiara stumbled in her heels. She barely knew how to even walk in these blasted things, using her sword to fend off the attacked the best she could. Using her sword defensively, Kiara watched the blade begin to start shifting to a burning red and orange the more it clashed with the daggers, or the strawberry blonde's sword. Why had the auburn haired female or the male attack yet? There wasn't a chance to look over and see why, but she took her moment to have her sword slice through the side of the strawberry blonde's torso smoothing, watching it melt through the armor and flesh, the smell of gore now filling the room as the blood flicked out, pouring onto the floor around them as she collapsed.

        "Calypso!" The man cried, the last of his restraint wearing down as the sound of footsteps echoed louder through the halls. A troop, perhaps? The man charged forward, carelessly with his sword raised high. Blocking the attack easily, Kiara felt the stab of a dagger as she disengaged and quickly stumbled backwards.

        Heavens above, had it just gone into her side? Kiara couldn't even pull out the dagger before another came flying at her. Throwing herself to the floor, on her opposite side, Kiara was getting too weak to even push herself up. Cursing quietly to their god, she took to her feet, both hands back onto her sword.

        Her heels kicked off, she charged forward as the brunette took a step back, slipping on her friends blood as the sword rammed through her throat, sliding out with a sickeningly wet noise as Kiara turned the blade the the boy.

        His stance was piss-poor, and he had clearly never held a blade in his entire pathetic life. So cocky, she thought, to think someone like him could defeat her. She wouldn't go down without taking another with her. Just one more person- but sprinting forward now, covered in blood and the floor around her nearly coated, Kiara found herself sliding.

        Sliding right into his blade.

        The jarring effect was enough for the crown the clatter to the floor, her hair falling around her face to resemble someone else entirely. Kiara watched, watching the boy's brown eyes blow open wide as she angled her sword in protest, shoving it into his chest cavity as a final struggle. As a final 'screw off' to these people. She listened to his choking gag, how his grip on his sword tightened. A blood soaked hand reached up, grabbing the boy finally by the face.

        "You could never outsmart me." Archimedes let out a cruel laugh, the blood smeared boy stumbling backwards, simultaneously pulling out his own sword, and falling from Archimedes' blade. From the action, Archimedes fell to his knees as he grasped the crown he so desperately one day wanted to have, to no effect. "And she knew that."The male gasped out, blood dripping from his lips as he looked to the auburn female, staring in disbelief as she turned her head rapidly to face the incoming troops. Archimedes watched her get cut down like a fool by Hades, and the terror set in.

        He was really going to die.

        This wasn't how he wanted to go out, but as Hades and the Queen's advisers slid in, he felt himself propped up into someone's arm.

        If he wasn't remembered for this sacrifice, there would be hell to pay, in the afterlife and all mediums he could find. Hades was calling out to him, shaking him as his eyes grew heavy. "For... Queen.. and country." He croaked out, gripping Hades' hand before his vision went black. He took the Queen's death as his own, and ruined her favorite dress and all.

        Was it time to come home, Evangeline?