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Pandora Ex Machina

Wilderness

a part of Pandora Ex Machina, by MartinVole.

The untamed lands beyond the walls, yet to be conquered by the Talos, home to the natural fauna of this world, in both its wonders and horror.

MartinVole holds sovereignty over Wilderness, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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Wilderness is a part of Pandora Ex Machina.

There are no Places in Wilderness.

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Overgrown since Talos occupation, this is the land beyond their great walls now. Citizens are typically forbidden by Talos law to go here, warning of its dangers, but it would appear something out there worries even these pristine conquerors. After all, it isn't their home...

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Character Portrait: Viktoriya Character Portrait: Kaenid Alopex Character Portrait: Eskja
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The Wilderness. The last bastion of what used to be, before those extra-dimensional beings just... appeared from elsewhere and started making this world exactly like their own. The civilized parts were the easiest to tame, of course. But the wilds, hah! These miraculous beings did not realise how utterly unprepared they were to even set foot in these untamed lands. It wasn't just Nature stubbornly being Nature, always reminding folk just how fleeting life is.

No, the Aether of this world was a force in it of itself; although one could argue that this is just a derivation of Nature... Still, the old Aether permeated many parts of the Wilderness in many different (and deadly) manners. This particular patch of woods, somewhat close to Solium yet removed from the main throroughfares, was quite odd. The trees were grown in all sorts of weird shapes: trunks at strangely perfect right angles to their roots, twisted sickenly around themselves and their neighbours, effectively barring progress at times, and some were alarming hues of all sorts. Furthermore, a foreboding thunderhead hovered above this bizarre landscape, almost like a guardian of sorts. Closer to ground level, at the heart of the woods, a bank of fog gathered, seeming even at a distance to be impermeable.

Steadily making headway through this melange toward a small clearing well past the fringes of this Aether-touched wood a hooded figure walked. Neither moving stealthily nor announcing her presence, merely moving with confidence and an unapologising air of just... belonging here. Or at least having a reasonable pretense.

Any place that the Talos aren't, that's the place I'd like to be, eh? *rimshot* Oh, wait, I'm just thinking at myself...

With a bit of a start, the Ranger realised she couldn't be certain if she had internalised the outburst, that it was just as likely she did speak aloud. Just as quickly, she dismissed it with an outward shrug as neither here nor there; it would only lend credence her open and non-threatening approach. The traps she had spotted, she sidestepped without springing them, save for one which received a subtle thwack that was like a courtesy knock before letting oneself into a friend's home, unbidden. There was no accounting for the traps she hadn't seen, of course.

There were many uncertainties here (not least the fact she could be dead wrong on all accounts), but the few certainties Kaenid did have were enough. The flora was enough of an interest, for she already knew that was simply a direct manifestation of the wild Aether, not to mention the fauna that might abound. The weather could also be attributed to that, but it didn't feel quite right. Add in the stories the local woodcutters tell about this 'haunted' wood -of sudden winds and sudden lightning when they dared venture close for the exotic wood- and Kaen knew she had to check it out. Something... or someone... could be here, and it seemed they preferred their solitude.

So... Kaenid continued unobtrusively into the clearing, still a respectful distance from the heart of the woods. Lit a small fire using fuel already fallen from the trees. Killed a rabbit or two with a rock (still unthreatening), skinned them, and set them to slow roast over the fire. The smell already causing her stomach to grumble loudly, reminding her she had skipped breakfast this morning. But she would patiently wait, allowing the scent to drift all over. Yes, she would wait, maybe even spend a few days here. The Talos surely wouldn't be far behind Kaen if her intuitions turned out to be right...

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Character Portrait: Viktoriya Character Portrait: Kaenid Alopex Character Portrait: Eskja
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A tall and muscular shadowy shape would drop to the forest floor near Kaenid's fire. The gloom of the night was pierced by the distant rumble of thunder, and the clouds swirled into a deep gray mass.
This creature- no, this person, appeared as a young woman of a strange form. She appeared as some strange cross between a Western Lylange, an Eastern Lylange, and a Human. She wore bits of hide, snug against her body and only covering the essentials for better maneuverability.
Lightning cracked; the sudden flash illuminated a hateful scowl. "This is my forest," said the Windwalker. "Stay out of it."

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Kiara was always a light sleeper, as the door of her room ( it was for of a cage ) opened, she quickly sat up. it was Kyle, the person who always came in to feed her give her a shot and the one who always looked at her and sadly smiled every morning when she asked " will I get out today? " as the normal routine of questions and eating, Kyle was looking at her strange. " today" he announced"you get out!" Kiara perked up, surprised. as Kyle opened the door, Kiara gave him a hug and whispered " thank you." before running into the woods, she glanced back quickly to see him waving, she waved back and kept running.

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Character Portrait: Kiara Abinichia Character Portrait: Viktoriya Character Portrait: Kaenid Alopex Character Portrait: Eskja
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So it didn't really take all that long, after all. This... Lylange... human...? Was rather quite territorial -not that Kaen was surprised nor did she blame her. It was obvious this woman had undergone some terrible experimentation. So maybe this was just a waste of time, after all. But still, Kaenid at least owed her a fair warning.

Even so, she took her time pulling the rabbits off the fire. Profferred one to the other woman before voraciously tearing into her own. Only after she was halfway finished with her rabbit, did she look up and say, with respect, but also a mischievous smirk playing about her muzzle: “It is an honour to meet you, Mistress of the Winds. I am Kaenid. I have heard a tale or two about you...”

A delighted little laugh started to follow this, but was drowned out by a horrendous *crack* coming from the far side of the woods. Then an odd little trill came from the axes at her hips, which also seemed to be giving off a strange dark green aura. More snapping sounds followed, but none quite as fearsome as the first.

“Well, shit... it sounds like some of the rampant Aether is waking up,” Kaenid said, all seriousness now and rising, rabbit forgotten. “I don't know if you're familiar with your roommates or not, but I suggest you stay near me for the time being. These things tend not to want to talk...”

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The Windwalker scoffed. "Please," she said. "I know this forest. I rule it. Nothing would dare attack me here."

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as Kiara kept running, she heard voices near her, she crept toward them, seeing two people bye a fire.

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Character Portrait: Kiara Abinichia Character Portrait: Viktoriya Character Portrait: Kaenid Alopex Character Portrait: Eskja
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Fragments rise and fall in the depth of the mind... incomplete, barely substantial enough for cohesive thought. Faces, places, names, all memories, falling and fading slowly like a snowfall composed of mirror shards, remaining facets of humanity. This is what dreams were for the beast, or what could be considered dreams as she rested, as the mind tries to sort itself out. And there were two names repeated over and over:

Vitaliya... Roksana...

Then suddenly, rudely, there was a stir, something in the air, shaking her from her long nap. Opening her eyes, she awoke to a damp cave, dug out by the flow of water through it. With her mighty claws she pressed against the floor, pushing up her massive form, grumbling as she does, stretching. Taking a moment she taps the side of her head for the comm implant, murmuring something only to receive silence as a response. Her ears draw back, a guttural sound deep in her throat as pieces in her mind fit together, there's no one there anymore, I'm alone.

With a sigh, the creature lowered her front-most limbs, gleaming eyes narrowing, ready to return to her waiting sleep, when something glimmered into her eyes, causing them shoot open again. A green ghostly glow was in the air and water, like foxfire and fireflies in spring. The markings in her body began to react, glowing dimly, energy returning to her tired body. Reaching out she scooped at it with her claws, uttering a small inquiring yelp, before opening her mighty jaws and greedily inhaling it, as if instinctively, the entirety of her body tingling. Pieces of rock dropped onto the top of her head, snapping her from her feeding, her attention snapped upwards, her four big ears pointing erect now as sounds could be heard from the surface. The sound itself now was reverberating throughout the hollow caverns.

Enemies..!

Hurriedly, she scrambled out from her cave, her heavy steps echoing throughout the cave as she made her way to one of its vertical shafts, clawing her way to the surface and pulling her large body out into the dim light of the surface. Her breathing grew shallow as she watched and listened, blue eyes adjusting their pupils to narrow slits. Several several smells she gathered with a whiff, several voices came to her ears, and sounds as if the earth itself were shifting.

Destroy!? her mind screamed, eager for a confirmation her commanders, a confirmation that they will not be able to deliver.

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The Windwalker turned a disapproving eye towards Kaenid. "I believe that I am not most likely to be hurt in this situation, and rather it would be you." Her glower deepened. "Get out of my forest, interloper. I will not ask again." Lightning crashed; thunder rumbled. While it was intended to scare off - or at least intimidate - this strange fox woman, it also would possibly scare off whatever strange being was rumbling around in her woods. Her eyes glowed with a fury almost divine; she was one with the storm. The storm was one with her.

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Character Portrait: Kiara Abinichia Character Portrait: Viktoriya Character Portrait: Kaenid Alopex Character Portrait: Eskja
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Despite all the huster and bluster from the crossbreed, Kaen was focused on what was happening, most of it was drowned out by more foreboding snapping and cracking and creaking anyway. It sounded as if the trees were uprooting themselves from the ground, which was what was happening, actually. Except that these weren't quite trees, but more on that when we see them shortly. Kaenid had come across these things once before (not that that had turned out too well), and knew those harrowing sounds.

No, something else caught her attention by appearing in the middle-ground between themselves in the clearing and the cracking sounds coming closer: a thing that was like a dragon but not a dragon. Contrary to the looming danger, Kaenid burst out laughing, thinking she had stumbled upon a big fluffy dragon with an extra set of forelegs. Definitely not a dragon, for surely if it was a dragon they'd already be toasted or boiled or flayed (if not all of the above) alive by now. Most dragons would happily gobble up this easy meat sitting on the doorstep of their hibernation lair. And it seemed more surprised at seeing them there than anything else.

Kaenid caught a glimpse of something vaguely familiar pulsing like a tattoo on the fluffy dragon's forehead, then all hell seemed to subsequently break loose and the creature became something on the edges of her awareness. All she could tell at the moment was that about half a dozen tree-shaped things came upon the fluffy dragon from the edge of the clearing. At that point, about six more appeared closer to the pair near the fire, coming from behind Eskja.

These things had wooden bodies like trees, their “feet” masses of roots that moved in clumps like several legs, and limbs that swung like massive arms. Several had more than one pair of “arms”, grown in tiers up their trunks. All of them were coated in swathes of thick moss, many of course [comically] sporting thick green beards. The biggest and tallest (therefore oldest) of them sported a crown of thick, writhing green vines. Z'ychuula, crazed Aether beings trapped in trees, had awoken after an apparently long slumber. These guys have definitely been sleeping much longer than this storm witch has been living here, that was sure.

That was all the time Kaenid had before the first Z'ychuula made a long horizontal swipe toward the windmage. Without a moment's hesitation, Kaenid leaped across the fire and literally drop-kicked the woman out of the way, aiming her feet at the hip to minimise injury. Probably unneccesary, but for her it was an attack of oppurtunity. Landing quite painfully on her back, she didn't even wait for the pain, was already latched on the receding arm and climbing. Not fooling around, she quickly reached the head of the shambling tree and began hacking away with both axes, holding on with her legs. It took a bit of chopping, but not overmuch, to reveal the “brain” or “heart” of this thing. It only takes about one good whack to break open this core and release the trapped spirit within to dissipate in the rising sun.

The wind shifted as she rode the falling tree-carcass down to the ground, bringing a scent to her not insensitive nose of somebody else being near. A troubling scent of cages and cloying medicine and... youngness. Kaenid paused only long enough to look in that direction and call: “Stay hidden, little one! We shall handle the Z'ychuula, but if we don't, keep running south until you get to the walls and tell them!”

With that, Kaen was already fending off another attack from the next Z'ychuula, scuttling up its side...

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Character Portrait: Kaenid Alopex Character Portrait: Eskja
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Eskja clambered up, grunting. She already felt a bruise appearing on her hip. Who the hell does this woman think she is?! she thought as she watched Kaenid deftly climb on top of one of the strange tree beings and hack at it. These creatures are not of my forest; I do not recognize them. They must be interlopers, like this annoying fox woman.
Well, if these things were interlopers, she'd do her best to fend them off, even though the woman called for her to get out of there. "Little one"? Exactly how lowly do I seem to her? she mused incredulously as she rose into the air, arms outstretched. Lightning crackled from the dark whirlpool of cloud that appeared above her from the sky, and then Eskja performed one of her weather techniques, one she had learned that was best for fending off a large crowd:
Chain Lightning.
A flash of blinding light accompanied by a shower of sparks and a wave of lightning appeared from the clouds. They rammed through the crowd of tree creatures, burning or killing many of them or, if they were lucky, extremely weakened. She did her best to avoid the fox woman, but did give her a tiny bit of an electric shock as payback for the kick.

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keeps hiding v.v

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Character Portrait: Kiara Abinichia Character Portrait: Viktoriya Character Portrait: Kaenid Alopex Character Portrait: Eskja
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The creature stood pensively as some of the tree creatures surrounded her, her markings glimmering with slowly intensifying light. She was not attacking, still awaiting confirmation, which came only after one of the tree creatures got bold and swung down upon her. As if like a trigger pulled, Viktoriya reacted immediately, her claw swinging out and digging itself into the wooden body, cutting deep into it, bark and splinters of wood sent hurdling through the air. Spinning around rather elegantly for her size, she uses her massive tail to whip the tree creature, cracking into its now compromised form and toppling it into a heap of wood, the aether bleeding out of its riven body. The others became enraged, more than they were, at least, bearing down on her now in force. As big as she was, it was hard for the tree creatures not to land blows, a strike against her face with their long twisted branch arms, and one into her shoulder causing her to recoil back.

This is your last order: Face your enemies, and destroy them! her mind screamed, a final order echoing from long ago, now louder now than ever before. Her blue eyes flared furiously, and flinging her neck around, mouth agape, a thunderous shriek filled the air, drowning out even thunder. Shards and chunks of gnarled wood spray through the air as one of the Z'ychuula's bodies are caved in by an unseen force, flung backwards before Viktoriya lunges forward and onto her hind legs, digging all four of her claws into it, and prying it in half with a loud crack. Tentacle-like roots wrap themselves around her front limbs, trying to hold her. But she twists around to face her captor silently, spinning one arm to intentionally wrap her upper right limb tighter to get a better grip, digging her claws in, and tugging on it with as much force as she could muster. The tree monster's body creaks as it is dragged along by Viktoriya, roots digging into the earth as it tries to hold its ground, her own hind leg claws digging into the ground. With several loud snaps, the roots are torn off the cursed tree, finally giving from the strain, and like a slingshot, the released force sends the tree airborne, flailing against its comrades violently as they are battered with their own kin brutally by the Kaymbdenite monster, one in front bashed through as the other two were pushed along.

Slamming the creature onto the ground, she flips her massive form over onto it, and with clinched claws, begins to pound away at it like some street brawl, pulverizing the tree monster's face to mulch, but splintering her knuckles in the process. The others were still rattled by the swing from earlier, left open to being hit by their brethren's remains as Viktoriya charges into them with it, like a battering ram.

In the chaos, she barely noticed the others, her wild glimmering blue eyes glancing over Eskja and Kaenida as she charged through, contemplating what part they play in this battlefield.

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Character Portrait: Kiara Abinichia Character Portrait: Viktoriya Character Portrait: Kaenid Alopex Character Portrait: Eskja
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Of course the storm witch summoned a storm, when things would have been simpler with an axe or other bladed weapon. These were spirits trapped within trees, destoying their bodies was akin to destroying nature. A little hacking was necessary, sure, but lightning was a bit overkill. They'd have to worry later about the fires that sprang up on the Z'cyhuula that were struck. And of course there were the Talos to be concerned about. They would surely notice the storm and the spike in the Aetheric activity here.

Of course there was also the angry trees still trying to kill her, Kaenid could only see the rest of the situation at the edges of her perception. She could feel all the electrical energy around her, even felt that payback jolt and let it launch her from her current kill to the next Z'ychuula. Which, thanks to the storm mage's storm, happened to be the biggest and baddest one of them left. This one was occcupied with one set of arms beating out the fire that had burst out on its beard, so Kaenid nearly made it to the crown of python-like vines before it even noticed her axes cutting into it.

A surefire way to get a tree demon's attention, also kinda dumb. The vines whipped out and tried to wrap around her, but she chopped those away, which just pissed it off even more. That was when Kaenid heard the shriek from the big fluffeh dragon, drowning out whatever pissed off noises the Z'ychuula was making. It also basically struck her senseless for a moment or two, drilling into her sensitive ears. Which was more than enough time for the big bad to fling her out and away from it.

Tumbling through the air, Kaenid couldn't quite make anything out until she struck the gray-white wall of fur. There was a sickening crack or two coming from her chest, then she began rolling down the fluffy dragon's back, oblivious to everything but the pain.

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Character Portrait: Viktoriya Character Portrait: Kaenid Alopex Character Portrait: Eskja
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Eskja immediately summoned a wall of lightning that repeatedly crashed into the ground between Kaenid and the strange, roaring creature. Hopefully, this would keep the creature at bay for a little while. Just to be sure, she extended it in a thick ring around the creature.
Meanwhile, she flew down and gently picked up Kaenid using wind telekinesis. It appeared from her gentle gruntings as she was lifted that she had broken a rib or two. Well, that's what she got for going in close quarters with so many enemies rather than blasting them from afar.
Eskja quickly evaluated the situation in her mind. A bunch of strange creatures not under her rule were attacking her and this infuriating fox woman. Obviously, she had to vacate the immediate area. Fortunately, she had other hidey-holes otherwhere in the forest.
She flew off, the winds shielding her as they carried her into the distance.