The Imagiverse » Arcs » Grand Gaia Chapter 2: The Darkness (canceled)

With the Fallen God Cardes defeated, our heroes draw the attention of a new, or old, enemy. With the Darkness invading Grand Gaia, they must continue their journey across the new world, fending off the eldritch forces of Chaos

55 pieces and 10 characters involved, written by 3 different authors.

2 places involved




As written by: Adam Skelecoot, Specmarine, MartinVole


So begins...

Grand Gaia Chapter 2: The Darkness (canceled)


AgniSetting: Agni


Prologue:
To start, the narrative eye finds itself in near-complete darkness, the only source of light being a lamp on a dark, ornate desk on the far end of the furnished room. It is positioned in a way that does not illuminate it's occupant - who is currently holding a sheet of paper with an appendage that, upon further inspection, resembles a little finger - but reveals the being on the other end. The latter could be described using words like "reptilian", "rat-like" or even "draconic". Not that it had scales of any kind, but it might have done. It instead had a sleek black look to it, as if made of runny black tar. Although vaguely humanoid, it's face was elongated and angular, it's mouth being a zig-zagging overbite over a lower jaw.
The thing behind the desk spoke thusly, "I take it you have news on the Chosen Few's whereabouts?"
"Yes, sir," rasped the reptilian creature, it's yellow eyes gleaming. "We have found a new world to conquer! Our spies have gathered sufficient information of the new land. It is known to the residents as Grand Gaia, stuck in a perpetual war between mortals and gods. Our spies have also learned that the Chosen Few have slain one of these Fallen Gods."
The apparition behind the desk would lean back on it's chair. "Very good, Quoth'thak. Your spies, as ever, never cease to amaze me. They wouldn't have impressed me further by informing you where the heroes are now?"

In a bar within the Agni Empire, situated in the continent Agni, five figures were, for want of a better word, singing in near-harmony with each other, one conducting them with his mug. There was a red-bandana'd skeleton, measuring around seven foot when standing up in full length, with a sword slotted in the back of his ribcage, it's blade expertly etched with runes. Further down was a pale-yellow cuboid figure, who was swaying his mug from side to side. He had a cybernetic right arm. Next to him was a bipedal sea-green duck, who had long ago passed out from a drinking contest with the local beggar. There was an odd stick figure, odd in the fact that, although he was two-dimensional and made of paper, he could traverse the third dimension without folding over. He was quietly leaning over his mug, trying not to make eye contact with the bystanders. Next to him, another skeleton, clothed in a purple bandana, a maroon jacket, a red patterned waistcoat underneath, black trousers and boots that looked like they were taken from an unsuspecting pirate whose clothier went mental with the straps, was apparently stone-cold sober despite the many glasses beside him and was watching his drunken comrades and singing along with them.
"Hey! Ho! To the bottle I go!
To heal my heart and drown my woe!
Rain may fall and wind may blow,
But there still be many miles to go!"
This was the third song they were singing. Between each was a moment of muttering when the three were trying to remember a) what songs people sung in bars and b) the lyrics to said song.
Home...As lively as it can be. For the Hero Vargas this was certainly a nice sight to behold. Despite his friends all scattered across Grand Gaia, the Fallen Gods still a looming threat, it was still good to see something like this. One day things may go back to normal...Still, trusting one of the fallen gods still left an awkward feeling.

With a shrug, Vargas simply relaxed in the bar listening to the sea shanties coming from the Chosen Few that decided to stay here. Not exactly bar music, but it did work. Although singing out at sea would be a far better location for their singing.
"...Sweet is the sound of the pouring rain,
And the stream that falls from hill to plain!
Better than rain or rippling brook...
Is a mug of beer inside this Took!"
The portion of the bar that were still conscious cheered, lifting their near-empty mugs. While a sober man would start to wonder about the nature of the newcomers, a drunk man can put it down to alcoholic hallucination and not bat an eyelid, if he could still blink with one eye.
While the bar was still in jolly uproar, the dapper skeleton would finish his glass of gin, nudge the stick figure next to him, and head outside. The stick figure, who was finding the noise to be a bit too much for him, followed him.
The two would take in the city before them. The Agni Empire, it's golden days ravaged by war, was the first piece of proper civilisation they have seen since they've arrived at Grand Gaia. Most of the new world was either forest or desolate towns torn down years ago by demons or the Fallen Gods. It was a good thing Vargas knew of the Agni Empire, since this was the background from which he rose, otherwise they would have been wandering for days, months, perhaps years. John would reach into his upper pocket and produce a small cigar box, taking one cigar before showing the box to Fancy, who shook his head. Replacing the box, he produced a box of matches, his cigar now placed between his teeth, striking a match on the side of the box and lighting his cigar. His bone-flesh lips, if you could call them lips, would wrap around the lit cigar, smoke billowing from his nose-holes and from his eyes. When he took out the cigar, he finally spoke.
"Miserable city, innit?"
Fancy Pants, junior member of the Chosen Few, would shrug. "Well, it isn't desolate, that's for sure. Best place to relax for us, isn't it?"
The skeleton would consider this, taking another puff from his cigar. "I suppose you're right," he said at last. "A city that has just gone through a war wouldn't come out unscathed, would it? I spectated the Two World Wars on Anti-Earth. Great Britain wasn't the same after those."
"Well, it got better, didn't it?" Fancy always found it fascinating when John talked about the British country in Anti-Earth, home of a thousand small Creators, and therefore the most split and unstable place in the Imagiverse. Being a Victorian, John always saw Britain as the seat of civilisation, the great city that would stand for thousands of years, despite the fact that a pharaoh said the exact same thing thousands of years ago. In a sense, Skelecoots (although people are now adapting the term to Skeletorians, portmanteau of skeletal and Victorian, to best suit the Victorian dead) are stuck in time; their ghost city in the Underworld, of which John was their leader, was a copy of Victorian Britain at the time of the invention of the steam engine. They still believe in Albion.
The Skeletorian would shrug. "I suppose so. Still, that does not change the fact that war leaves scars, and this city is riddled with scars, as far as I'm concerned."
As Vargas sat around, he could still remember the war with the gods like it was yesterday. He remembered his homeland at its peak, and all the people that cheered him on...It was still a horrible feeling to know after he was severely wounded his whole empire collapsed and a few survivors banded together to save everyone else...

The war was bad, and despite how hard he fought he still remembered one event in particular that resulted in his severe injury that left him for dead. It was a fight with someone fighting for the gods...He knew that humans were fighting alongside the gods but she was young...A little younger than him at the time...And he was reluctant to o kill her. In the end he suffered many injuries but he ended up haveing to kill her in the end.

It was a bad feeling...But he reminded himself that if he did not fight so many more people would die. But in the end, he pretty much failed. Still, even if you fall down on the ground you pick yourself up. He still was fighting today along with Selena, maybe he could find the others and unite together to finish what they started! And that's to finish off the rest of the fallen gods.

Of course...How would he explain that they were working with Maxwell? Sooner or later if they do meet up they had to say something about that. Oh well, a nice hearty drink would be good! With a request Vargas received a mug and began to down it.
A moment of silence passed. Jonathan would take another pull from his cigar whilst Fancy turned his gaze towards the sky and whistled a tuneless tune. It was that time between adventures when everything seemed calm, no demons sprouting from the walls, no armies of evil overlords patrolling the city, that left veterans wondering what will happen next. It could be a note delivered by a shady individual who vanishes as quickly as he appears, an odd black cloud in the sky, a distant scream.
For John, it was somewhere in the alleyway in front of him. Near the top of a wall, almost invisible in the dark, one round, yellow eye peered at him before hiding from his gaze. In the dark, he could vaguely make out a shape connected to the eye, gnarled tendrils clinging onto the wall like some vertical-dwelling octopus. Some time before, when he found one hiding in a corner of his dining-cum-meeting room, after bashing at the thing with an extendible cane, he took pains into examining the thing, and learnt, as one would find out about a thing that, before he had known it, was part of his environment for a long time, of a Dark Spy, smaller variant of a Dark Gazer. Like the latter, they were, in essence, eyeballs with tentacles attached to them, except that, unlike their larger cousins, they could not fly. Instead, they survived the paranoid gaze of the watched by scrambling into dark corners, within the leaves of trees, moving like a black land mollusc.
"Hmm."
"What is it, John?" said Fancy.
"Can you see something in that alleyway?"
Fancy would follow his gaze, squinting his line eyes before widening them again. "Oh."
"Looks like they've found us after all."
"It was difficult enough fighting one God, now They've come?"
John would make his way back into the bar, where the remaining Chosen Few, void one, were singing their 6th song.
"Oh you can search far and wide,
You can drink the whole town dry,
But you'll never find a beer so brown-"
"Sober up, you numbskulls. We've got company."
The two would look at him at first with drunken incomprehension, then with the facial equivalent to a groan.
"Wassit now, John?" said Max.
"Well, not much company, but the hint of company. There's a Dark Spy outside in an alleyway, watching us."
This time they audibly groaned, their heads slamming onto the table. Another brief moment of joy dissipated with a single word.
"Nah, they're too drunk to stand up, let alone defend themselves," said Fancy, joining the group. "Still got any of that Klatchian coffee on you, John?"
"No, we needn't go that far," said John. "I do have some Skeletorian tea in a flask, though." In the same way that the undead reasoned that, since they haven't got physical livers any more, that brandy with an alcoholic percentage of 80% was safe, tea with enough caffeine to make the brain jump out of the skull and run twenty laps seemed risk-free for the dead to drink. What they didn't know until later was that they still have livers, just now only corporeal within the spiritual realm, and that the beverage would still give you a hell of a shock. Luckily, Skeletorian tea does not have the same effects of Klatchian coffee of Discworld origins, which is rumoured to be altered by the magical field of the Discworld and sends you past sobriety and out the other side, where the delusions that keep mortals sane are stripped away and they see the world clearly for the first time. After a long period of screaming, the Chosen Few vowed never to drink the stuff again, and preferred John's "sobriety serum" as an alternative.
After a short period of John forcing the drink into the Drunken Few's mouths - and trickling the tea into the recumbent duck's beak, upon which he became a very vertical duck - John gathered the troops. The Chosen Few were back in business.
It was good to enjoy the finer things in life, even though he was a knight he had hoped one day he could lead other knights. Of course...The aftermath of the war left everything destroyed. Very few empires survived, and more monsters filled abandoned villages than people.

Still, he could always look forward to the future. Could he surpass his father? What a silly thought, he would probaly laugh at him and tell him to keep trying though. He wondered where his father was, probaly out there doing what he did best. Helping others, and destroying monsters while on the hunt for the fallen gods.

He was a great father, he always looked up to him as both a knight and as a dad. Old times...If only he was stronger back then maybe none of this would never have happened. He should not depress himself, look forward always! With that he made a toast to the future unaware of what the Chosen few were preparing for.
Many would argue that the Darkness were to the Chosen Few as Captain Hook was to Peter Pan. There has been a long history of confrontation between the Imagiverse's last ditch defence and the Maelstrom's lesser army of demons. It seemed that, wherever the Chosen Few went, the Darkness followed like an unwelcome shadow, seeking to snuff out the band of misfits to no prevail. As every battle has toughened the Chosen Few, the Darkness evolved like a genetic algorithm, it's hivemind building upon itself like a mollusc building it's shell around it.
The hivemind that is the Darkness could be related to a chess set. There are the plentiful, vicious Darklings (the pawns), the tentacled Dark Gazers (the bishops), the large, slug-like Darkling Brutes (the rooks), the mechanical Dark Centurions (the knights) and Evil Hand, on the pinnacle of the demonic pyramid. Many times have the Chosen Few confronted the God's right finger men, who are their demonic doppelgängers; Dark Adam, wielder of Doubt and Lord of Fear, Dark Max, the magmatic warlord of Anger, Mad Jack, the animatronic duke of Insanity and Dark Fancy, the mysterious earl of Despair. Each represent the four elements of the Darkness, as unkillable as the demon hivemind itself.
While the Chosen Few were recovering from the brief hangover that comes with the alcohol resuscitation of Skeletorian tea, many miles away, few wanderers and critters were witnesses of a strange object falling from the sky. When the dirt storm settled, they could agree that it was neither of this world or pleasant to the eye. It resembled a large, black segmented pod made of some unknown metal. It began to separate and shift, grinding along the grass like some unfolding death machine, revealing four metal arms, two on the bottom and two at the top. The arms would reach into the empty centre of the machine and retract, pulling open a hole in the air. What was beyond the hole, no bystander would dare find out. What did come out, though, froze them in place for what seemed like eternity. It was as vague as it was terrifying, a short, black, bipedal animal that got on all fours and sniffed the ground, taking in the strange new environment, before looking up at the unfortunates with yellow eyes. They started to run, but before then it was too late.
As Vargas continued to drink, he soon eventually stopped drinking. “I think this is enough...Because it’s time to return to training! The fallen gods and all those monsters and demons won’t beat themselves up! Yeah, and I’ll find the others around! No more sitting about! Time to get a move on!” The fiery headed and spirited hero suddenly leapt from his chair and exclaimed before marching to the exit of the bar.
The band would watch Vargas positively leap from his chair and leave the bar. Definitely the sort of person who would take himself out to do good. The Chosen Few did it because they didn't have much of a choice.
It always puzzled the speculative sort how the Chosen Few came to be, or why they were Chosen. It seemed to John that the Creators pointed their celestial fingers in a random direction and picked the mortal below it. Each Chosen One were visited by an odd being known only as the Recruiter, who gave them a hearty handshake and welcome to the world of heroism, much to their complete bafflement. Descriptions of the Recruiter differed between the five; Max described him as a Robloxian in a black suit and sunglasses, Jack described him as a Toon dog in yellow trousers, a jacket and was smoking a cigar, Fancy described him as a jodhphured stick figure with a bushy moustache, and the Skelecoot brothers, between the two, described him as a skeletal gentleman in a top hat and the attire of a Victorian lawyer. Ever since the group relayed their descriptions to each other, there has been a fog of fearful mystery surrounding the Recruiter. Alas, they have been Chosen and that meant that if they didn't agree with the position, they could complain to the Creators, a situation that neither of them wanted.
Picking up their belongings, they followed Vargas out of the bar. "Right," said John. "Where's our next destination?"
The portal has grown now. More creatures were crawling out of the dimensional hole and were building on it, dragging a spire outwards, building walls around it, scratching symbols onto the walls that neither of them knew what they do but were told to scratch in anyway. The foothold in Agni was strengthening and the scent of the Chosen Few was the strongest in the mass of buildings miles away, a beacon of glowing yellow in a sea of pale scents.
As Vargas heard some people follow him out, he turned his head back to see who it was. Lo and behold, it was the band of sailors singing their sea shanties. In other words, the Chosen Few done drinking. ”Ah! Done drinking huh? I decided to continue my training! I don’t know where I am going but anywhere is fine for me!” He spoke to them with an energetic grin.

However...He soon noticed the feeling outside. Now he was not that gifted in magic, but after enough battles one learned to know something did not feel right. Now that he though of it, the Chosen Few were just singing the night away and after a few minutes they were ready to leave.

He may not be the brightest, but this for certain he knew. There was danger afoot, and they were already on it. His grin soon dissapeared as he turned around and looked on the horizon. The Fallen gods were making their move again?...
Amidst the bustle of the dark creatures, a small streak shoots through the portal, as a smaller figure is spat out, piggybacking the rift. The figure has slammed onto all fours, silvery light fur, striped tail, and what appears to be black tentacles shooting from the back. It was a raccoon of some sort, somewhat bigger than normal, with four fore-limbs, a strange symbol on its face, an 8 shape on its forehead. Across the maw of the creature was a red handkerchief mask with a black pawprint stain in front. This creature was Skitters, the reanimated pet and independent agent of a shadowy being known as Bashemath. Standing up groggily upon her hind legs, the raccoon, Skitters, observed her surroundings.

Not in Kansas anymore... wait, what the heck is a Kansas? she thought to herself, scratching her cheek some. She then, upon taking in a breath of the air cringes and narrowed her amber eyes. Yech, this place reeks of... ooooof... problems!

Problems was correct, as it became evident now that the shadowy hordes working about establishing some form of fortifications. And she had plunked herself right in the middle of it all.

Ah crap.


Elsewhere, the strange jester, Mal'kdet had gotten plastered, figuratively and... literally, onto the wall no less! The physical humor had been taken, perhaps, a little too far this time. Owru attempted to pry the fool off, but was thwarted by the adhesive quality of the plaster. Looking around, she scans the room with her three blue pool of eyes for any tool or substance to help. It was here that she saw that a good portion of the others were missing. Not only that, but it was clear to both of them that some spacial anomaly had occurred. The plaster bursts open, causing Owru to brace herself reactively.

"OOH, did I actually attract the Oracle here!?" he exclaims excitedly, warping through the ceiling of the place warping space as he does. In the air he puts a hand over his eyes and scans the scene with his little yellow pen-lights of eyes. He then slouches over. "Awwww maaaaan... that ain't his style of architecture... s'posed to be all elegant and shiny, screaming, 'I'm perfect.'"

"Still looks like a problem," Owru says, hand over her eyes as well, floating over Mal.

"Well, heyeaaah, but not exactly the kinda trouble I-, WHEN THE HELL DID YOU GET UP HERE!?" he exclaims flailing his hands around taking on a karate pose. "Also, what's the deal with you? You're an Edger, an outsider like me, why do you bother? The powers that be don't exactly look kindly on our kind."

"Powers that be..?" she asks, a look of concern and confusion on her face.

"You don't know!?" he exclaims, in a tone of utter disbelief. He then stares at her face go into shock, cowering some. Mal scratches the back of his head. "Sorry... I just... you... really don't know, do ya? Beings like us, aren't exactly meant to really... be, y'know? We exist outside the strings of mortal beings, neither gods nor men, and us being around generally triggers the great creators."

"So, I'm... bad..?" she responds, holding up a finger, squinting her eyes.

"No! No no no! Well, not... exaaaactly," he says scratching his head on how to explain this all to such an oblivious being. "We're just different from everyone else, we don't have a world, or belong anywhere, and typically beings like us are dangerous, and me, I'm... admittedly kinda just... cynical and deranged. I'm working on it... But when I look at you, the way you look at things, you have this... love in your eyes, and I just... don't get it. And that darkness inside of you, just feels, sad, scared... lonely. You're no saint, for sure, you've got anger and such in there as well, but... there's this ever-present kindness in how you deal with things and that is just... weird to me."

"W... well, um... I'm... not sure what to say to that, thank you?" she says, blushing slightly and scratching her cheek. "Y'know, you could have just left, your goal here has been thwarted and all..."

"Yeaahhh... it was originally the plan and all, get power, and leave this world, but... well, I dunno, you band of idiots kinda grew on me a little," he responds, shrugging with a chuckle. "Huh, I guess, maybe being part of something is what we long for most. I dunno if hero'n is my gig, I mean, I can certainly see the appeal of it, but sooner or later, it is back to the Edge for us."

"Back... to the Edge? T-to the empty..?" she says, her voice cracking as a fearful look in her eyes, the corners of each giving way to tiny glimmering beads, floating upwards before dispersing into the air.

Mal quietly glances at her. "A-are you... crying..? Damn, w-what is with you!? You're like... a... a... confusing mix of... girls and... kittens... and puppies, and... tshhh, and... agh! It's so... so..!" He exclaims, flailing his hands before poofing out all of a sudden. She freezes in place, glancing around for a moment, confused.

"Mal..?" she says, wiping her eyes. "Mal, I-" before she could continue, another snap was heard, and in a flash something was draped over her, revealed to be a long skirted hooded coat, obscuring her eyes. On the hood was ears, the scheme was gray-and-blue, with the symbol on her etched into it, with an ornate design. The sleeves of it, four of them, ended in broad round covers for her hands, like sleeved gloves, with holes for her fingers. It was specifically fitted to her rather unique form.

Mal poof back. "And cover yourself, will ya!? Just because you are some lizard thing don't mean you're above fashionable wears! And also, Merry Christmas! It'll even adjust to cover big and drippy!" he exclaims, before zipping off towards Vargas and the others.

"Wha..? H-hey wait!" Owru mutters, before following after.
The Chosen Few looked up to the sky. Although there were too many buildings to see outside, they could still deduce the direction of the anomaly that has arrived. To the south, the sky was darkening to a toxic yellow, as if years of industrial gases were being released into the atmosphere. It was a rather cliché sign of approaching evil, but it was a sign. They've found them, and Their presence were polluting the world like a stool in a pool.
"Well, you'll get an excellent opportunity to train yourself in a minute, Vargas," said John, reaching behind his back and pulling out his shotgun. "Have we ever mentioned the Darkness before?"
"They'll be building their foothold there, I bet on it," said Jack.
"Shall we tear it down before it gets too tough?" inquired Adam.
"Should do, otherwise this city's gonna get a nasty shock," said Max.
Years of facing beings beyond the horizon of mortal understanding had sharpened their senses to supernatural extent. As they made their way outside the city, they were possibly the only few who heard the faint buzzing like a locust swarm.
The Dark foothold was now the size of a small fort. Demons were yelling at each other, several were brawling with each other, few were tending to the alien machinations that were slowly growing. Amidst the daemonic bustle, none of them paid attention to the raccoon. Gossip was not a common phenomenon in an alien hivemind, but information on the critter's experimentation oozed across the masses. The thing was one of the hivemind's many salvages of now undone dominations, a near demonic splice of a rodent that could potentially be made into a weapon. A shame that it would slip between it's fingers, or rather, it's many legs.
”An opportunity to warm up more like it. It’s been awhile since I felt this looming sensation. And judging by your guys reaction it’s not the Fallen Gods making their move. Still, if there is a threat that needs to be taken care of ill protect my home and my people as a knight! Whatever comes at us, I’ll burn them with Dandelga!” The fiery headed warrior Vargas exclaimed as he grinned and clenched his fists.

It was clear he was more than fired up for this battle. ”I’m not sure if my fellow companions will be helping us this time around. Last time we saw Selena she said she was going back to her homelands...As for the others I have yet to find a trace of them...Still, we may not give them the best reception. But I’ll greet this evil and show them how this hero of fire greets someone that threatens his people. I’m no king, but I am a knight! So I’ll give them something they are going to remember! Lets do this!” Vargas soon began to march to the south. Head held high, and a grin across his face.
Well, one should never look a gift demon horse in the mouth...

Seeing the distracted creatures, the mutant bandit scurried around the construction sites, slipping behind, and climbing over the equipment, with the sneakiness of a ninja in the night. With a nimbleness higher than the average vermin, she swung and somersaulted, clearing a wall and sliding down it. It was best to remain unseen, or at least, too swift to be captured. There were other, bigger plans, all that hinged upon remaining unhindered.

Something grabbed her attention, however, as she caught sight of silhouettes in the horizon, that caused her eyes to glaze. It took a moment to really... process the very level of absurdity that struck her, had it not been bad enough with the shadowy hordes already. There, her eyes adjusted on what appeared to be, a firy haired human amongst... skeletons... a sea-green duck... a stick doodle person... and a boxy man.

Really!? her mind screamed, squinting one eye near shut, as her S shaped pupils dilated slightly. Distracted, she skidded to a stop, unable to digest this... conundrum, slapping her cheeks a couple times, just to be sure it wasn't some side-effect of the current reanimated state playing on her brain. Still there... perhaps...

"KrEhHhhhh..!" was the only sound that could escape her mouth, sounding more like a growl than words. Gripping her throat with her upper set of limbs. Useless crap vocal cords! Communication thwarted by technicalities, she tried instead to scurry away to try to avoid any encounter instead, but that crack of her throat was likely not going to go unnoticed.
By the time they've reached the foothold, it had grown to the size of a common skyscraper, the spires that made the portal now a mile high. A Darkling, three feet high and had the complexion of an angular lizard, would peek over the wall and let out a short shriek. From this distance, they could make out the eldritch words, "F' nog! F' nog! Fort ahnythor nafl ahmgep!" The chatter within the citadel changed in tone, now mixed with fear and utter hatred.
This was not the centre of their attention, though. What was the centre of their attention was the raccoon. It looked like the Darkness randomly picked up a critter, fitted it with tentacles and grew it to the size of a Darkling. By the looks of it, it didn't expect the Chosen Few. They watched as it let out a screech and ran away.
"Well then," said John, finally, as he turned back to the portal base. "You know the drill, gentlemen. Slay the hordes, dismantle of portal, and get the hell out of there."
Max would walk towards the fort. Since the demons are either very protective of their property or have never heard of doors, the Robloxian focused on a spot on the 10 foot barrier between the Darkness and everything else. He would wind back his mechanical arm, lights flashing along the upper part, and slam his fist into the wall. It showed resistance at first, but after several goes, it might have been a puny brick wall.
They didn't have time for the dust to settle. As soon as the wall fell, they would be swarmed by shrieking Darklings. Although the strength of one Darkling wouldn't terrorise a nursery of children, in thousands they were overwhelming. In the art of war, however, they could be classified as cannon fodder, as the Chosen Few would hold them back, Max letting loose jabs and uppercuts to take out the more formidable creatures, Adam cutting down the wave the demons like a farmer in a wheat field, Jack loading a squirt gun with holy water and letting loose on the horde, Fancy pirouetting through the masses and dismembering the unfortunate few who couldn't think faster than a kid with the IQ of 10, and John, his shotgun loaded with Ordersteel bullets, penetrating the horde with every shot, his pockets spawning a seemingly endless round of ammunition.
Well their enemy was certainly working quick, a massive fort already built. Still, the more enemies inside the bigger the battle. And Vargas was more than ready for a fight...However some sort of growl got his attention and as he looked some sort of creature quickly darted off into the distance. He never heard or saw raccoons before so he had no clue what it was.

Still, his action now returned as Max was about to punch a way into the compound. Drawing Dandelga, The fiery headed warrior readied his blade. Grip tight at the hilt, he got ready as when the hole was made a massive horde of creatures began to swarm them.

Vargas roared as he leapt into the horde causing a large fiery explosion and began to cut down the darklings one by one. It was time for a quick warm up, surely the ones in charge of what appeared to be an invasion would not stand idily by. And he would give them all his fury!
Turning back, bewildered, the group went head-on into combat with the dark horde. A peculiar thing to run to danger instead of from it. Then again, were they even in danger? Standing upon hind legs she looked more intensely, pupils adjusting to the flashes of light, of the mayhem, it seemed... actually effortless in the way they dispatched the beasts. Okay, she thought, strength is what I lack, maybe?

As she pondered this, another figure zips by, nearly toppling the masked varmint. Landing a few feet in front, it was Mal, making a jingle as he gracefully lands on one foot, hand over his brow to look out at the battlefield.

"They already started, in...con...ceivable," Mal mutters, watching the heroes fight the hordes, floating with hands on his hips. "Ehhhhh... buncha small fries by the looks of it. Barely a nibble," he continues, muttering as he waves his right hand in the air, accentuating his dissatisfaction. As he does so, however, he conjures one of his eels to go after the creatures, its jaws snapping.

Seeing this, the raccoon falls backwards. These guys are weird! the raccoon thought slapping her paws down on her legs. Looking left and right, and looking at her arms, she squints one eye. Okay, so kettle, meet pot, but the point stands. The hell are these... people?

"Wait a tick," Mal says abruptly, turning to look at the strange raccoon. Scratching his head he ponders the peculiar creature. She watches him, looking left and right "What do you call an animal with two sets of front paws?" Mal asks, giving a brief pause for delivery. "A forerunner!" There was an awkward silence as he holds out his hands. Skitters stared at him for a while, before furrowing her brow, picking up a rock and with a quick toss, nailing him right in the forehead. "Ow!" Holding out his hand, he sends out a green blast, hitting the creature and sending her rolling backwards. "Stone me, will ya? Why I outta..."

Jerk, she thinks, laying on her back, wounds purely superficial.
"Ah'n'gha ahnah uh'enythh! f' ah'n'gha - AAAGH!" Within the wave of demons, there was a cut-off screech as another creature, seemingly eel-like, picked off several Darklings. The pawns were not spawned with cognitive prowess, but they held the reliable belief that anything that attacked you was your enemy. Be that as it may, their aforementioned stupidity made them attempt to repel the eel-thing, leading to further casualties in the villain's side.
As the Darklings were being slaughtered, wave two was hovering over the walls. Large, yellow eyes fitted into the remains of an octopus were gliding towards the group, their gaze threatening to burn a hole into their heads. Dark Gazers, the eyes of the Darkness, are masters of draining the morale of the enemy, but since the enemy was as bull-headed as a rock and as stiff in resolve, they were carrying random assortments of demonic weaponry on their tendrils - spears, swords, morning-stars, ninja-stars and so on - and were throwing them at the adventurers, hoping to pick them off.
John would look up and grumble as a spear impaled the ground beside him. "Bloody Gazers," he would mutter, aiming his shotgun and firing at the hovering eyeballs in the manner of a rich huntsman firing at pigeons who just shat on his garden table. As was the size of the hovering demons, many got a bullet to the eye and descended erratically to the ground, eye closed and oozing a black ichor, letting out an eldritch screech.
As Vargas continued to cut down the wave of Darkling alongside his allies, ninja stars and all manners of weapons were thrown at him and he repositioned himself before more of those weapons could hit his body. In the air, floating eyeballs with tendrils...There was a problem, how did a warrior with a sword cut down floating eyeballs? Simple. You grow wings and meet up with them!

A pair of fiery wing appeared on the back of Vargas before he took to the skies to swing his sword in an upwards strike slicing one of the ‘Gazers’ in half before his body was covered in flames and came crashing down like a human fireball back down on the ground and slammed into a horde of Darklings.

Vargas was now on fire, both literally and figuratively.
"Gazer? I hardly knew her!" the jester quips, before looking up at the dark gazers. His mouth piece crooks, creating a field to block their projectiles, a hollowed clunk as they hit the eldritch field. "Ahf' ymg' ah llll mgr'luh?" ("What are you looking at?") he says, somewhat disgruntled, gazing directly back at one of them that has begun to stare him down, almost as if a direct criticism of his joke. He then fires off his strange, gooey-like green blasts of energy at it.

The raccoon gets back up and decides, perhaps, with everyone distracted, it is time to just head off. Cowardly, sure, but she was no fighter, just a mutated lifeform that wants to remain just that. Walking back she began to back away, turning to run and...

Whump! She bumps into something! Something... white. Looking up she sees a tall figure, Owru, who is staring out at the battlefield with her blue eyes. The hell is this thing!? her mind screams as she flops over in her rump. Owru looks down, her eyes meet with the little mutant, blinking in sequence. With a brief pause, she gasps, her antennae stand up on ends.

"Oh!" she exclaims, her bottom hands on her chest. Before the raccoon could react, Owru scoops her up and hugs the critter. "Aw~! Can I keep it!?"

Keep it!? I am not a pet you... whatever you are! If I could talk, oh..! She yells in her head a while, helplessly struggling against Owru's grip.

"Eh..? Careful, that thing's carrying something weird in it." Mal comments, waving his hand back at Owru.
"Forward, men!" yelled John, as he gave an assaulting Darkling a Bullet Sandwich. "The portal waits inside!" Pushing through the Darkling hordes like a surfer travelling towards deep water, the Chosen Few would make their way into the foothold.
Compared to the towering spires that now held the portal a mile high, the surrounding area was little to be desired. several odd racks held a selection of weapons for when claws and teeth were not viable weapons against the mortal filth. The waves of demons were weakening, as the invading army took into account that a multitude of Darklings held as much sway to the band of heroes as a meringue holds to a brick wall. That would explain that the Darklings were being replaced by something else. Marching out of the portal, the other side distorted by the distance between Grand Gaia and the Darkness being scrunched up like a sheet of fabric, their metal feet stomping the ground to a martial beat, were the Dark Centurions. 10 ton soldiers of black metal, the mechanical footmen were deployed only when the defending world held an army that could survive a mass of snarling claws and teeth, fitted with weaponry that would take out a skyscraper. Upon identifying the Chosen Few, a threat categorised as "0.01% Of Survival", the Centurions opened fire, bullets peppering their general direction. Adam, John, Fancy and Jack flung themselves in their respectable directions, while Max shielded himself with his cybernetic arm as he advanced, and continued the siege.
Meanwhile, somewhere from within the portal, something glides to a safe spot, a small black cloud that was made of more than evaporated liquid. Info has been received that the Chosen Few were invading the foothold, so one of the top demons were sent to intervene.
Bullets? As much as Vargas rather charge through the hail of lead. His resistance to damage already pretty high, with no healers beside him he would be risking his life on a reckless action. But he was already one hot blooded individual, it took a lot more than bullets to slow this hero down!

Raising his arm and sword to defend against the hail of bullets, the fiery headed warrior let out a roar as he charged forward once again. Letting the bullets hit his armor allowing him to not get a load of bullet wounds before he got close. This felt like old times...Only without an army of Gods, and without the hero five heroes. And without a whole army of men and women behind him.
Leaping in, with dynamic fashion and flair, he lands before the cleared way, arms fanning outwards, head raised high. "Another fine victory for greaaaaat heroes, like us!" he exclaims, his tone blatantly mocking. He then shrugs his arms, before taking notice of a weapon rack, picking up a gun and spinning it around. "What is this... seriously..? Wow, they don't make transdimensional horrors like they used to," Suddenly a hail of bullets fly past him, causing him to drop the weapon, snapping to see the clunking monstrosities after taking cover behind one of the racks, creating a drippy green barrier for cover.

"So, can't help but notice, but these guys seem to hate you guys in particular... what'd you guys do? One of you steal their leader's girlfriend or sumthin'? Hahaa~!" he says, with his characteristically facetious demeanor. "No, seriously, they hate you on even the subatomic scale."

Watching the metal monstrosities, he plants his hand onto the ground, channeling into the earth around one of them, causing the ground to ripple and bounce as if it were made of gelatin, turning the general area into something like a birthday bounce house.

Elsewhere, Owru, still holding the mutant slips in as well, poking one of her upper hands where a mouth would be, looking at the various weapons. Unfortunately, she wasn't quite familiar with weaponry... like at all, nor was she the combat savvy aspect, so her first instinct was the pick up whatever and throw it in the enemy's general direction, causing the critter to cringe.

Did you seriously just drag me-! Wh-what are you doing!? The raccoon's mind screams, she grips her head, scratching in utter frustration, before kicking out of Owru's grip, grabbing up a black grenade, pulling the pin, arming it, and tossing it at the oncoming dark centurions.
Soon, a pile of disposed metal was forming from the casualties. One Centurion had it's arm torn off by Max and was then being hit with it. Jack leapt onto one's back like a gremlin, monkey wrench in one hand, tearing at it's back panel and then jamming the wrench into the opened slot. Before it exploded, the confused machine fired behind it, taking out several of its comrades. Adam's sword, which now glowed like a star and rang like a finger along a celestial wineglass, cut through the metallic soldiers like a knife through a dairy product. Fancy flung across the army, jabbing his pencil into their wired necks and hopping to the other one, a bouncing ball among the overwhelmed horde. John reached into one of his pockets, pulling out some strange contraption vaguely approaching a grenade covered in Tesla-coils and wires, pressed some hidden button and then tossed it towards the masses, a wave of electric energy wiping out a rank of the machines.
The black cloud, hiding behind a stack of crates, had now formed into the shape of a skeleton, albeit one made of soot-black bone. It's eye sockets glowed a devilish yellow, it's digits holding a sword seemingly designed by Dante Alighieri. It would spectate the fight with an air of malevolence, mixed with a feeling that it will soon have to intervene.
Vargas gripped Dandelga in his hands tightly as he had closed the distance and began to hack and slash his way through the mechanical robots into multiple pieces. However he heard an all to familiar voice...A certain jester that had decided to help them on their journey...Well help was putting it loosely. They both had similar interests so he helped them destroy one of the Fallen Gods.

Regardless, another familiar face had entered the fight. Although Vargas focused more on cleaving through the robotic menances with the same effort it took to take out the darklings. He did kill Gods after all, and them sending hordes at him back in the days made him used to fighting numbers far beyond his own. Still...He could not help but feel that things were a little too easy at the moment...He remembered to keep his guard up in case someone of a much higher skill level tried to sneak attack them.
Taking a moment to look at the carnage, then at the others. "What? No one else want to take shots at witty banter, heh? Alrighty then, here goes, ahem looks like these darklings just got left in the dark. Nono, wait... darklings? More like ducklings! Or... hm..." he pauses for a moment, rubbing his chin, pondering for a moment.

A grenade explodes nearby Mal, who freezes up before turning to look at Owru, who shakes her head and waves her upper hands, pointing down with her lower two at the raccoon, who stands with arms crossed, eyes narrowed, motioning out as if trying to say, "can I go now?" With a momentary glare at the critter, Mal continues to ponder.

"You know, serious talk guys, this seems maybe a wee bit too easy..."
"That's quite enough, Centurions." This voice seemed oddly familiar. It had the same inflictions of Adam Skelecoot, but more confident and sharp. This sounded like Adam if he had passed the IQ test and got a job as a middle-class heckler.
The source of the voice appeared from behind his hiding spot. He was almost a physical copy of Adam, except for the bones that were seemingly made of a physical shadow. In one hand, a sword emanated a malevolent aura, contrary to Adam's holy weapon. His glaring eye sockets glowed with a hellish yellow.
"I seriously doubted that you weren't going to be involved in the invasion," said the bony apparition. "Looks like you brought a few Edge-dwellers with you as well. Odd that they would stand against their god's second army. Suppose there'll always be rebels, even in the outer skirts of the Imagiverse."
"Odd to see you alone, Dark Adam," said John. "I thought you were going to face us with your others."
"I was just checking to see what was causing the resistance. Considering the, ah, beacon we put on your heads, I wouldn't imagine that you weren't going to protest on our arrival."
The Skeletorian would give him an inquisitive glare. "Oh, so we're your beacons now?"
"Not now, a long time ago. I think it was when your band first joined together and fought us," said Dark Adam, evidently enjoying the looks of outrage among the Chosen Few. "You thought you were defending these new worlds from us? Guess what; you were our ticket in." On this note, he would flourish his sword in the manner of a sword fighting veteran and disappear. A second later, because many deaths have taught the demon not to gloat in battle, He was appearing and vanishing repeatedly, taking a swipe at a hero and de-materialising before they could react. The skeleton's mode of combat was almost like Fancy's, which was to attack and then run away. It was all the band could do to parry and block his attacks.
Their ticket in?...So now they had otherworldly invaders coming in to try and conquer Grand Gaia is that right? This would not stand by Vargas, despite being one of the six heroes. He would be fighting for all of them in their absence! No matter what, he would fight for his home and the people!

Of course, the Evil Adam decided to use more assassin like tactics and did hit and runs against them. Taking swipes at them before vanishing quickly after each attack. Vargas had no choice but to purely remain of the Defense because trying to attack a foe that was going to quickly vanish would be leaving him open.

He had to think outside the box for this one...
"Rebels?" Mal says, appearing and vanishing in similar fashion to that of his foe. He then cracks out in mad laughter. It was clear he was not going to get much of a hit in, but as long as he could dodge the attacks, it would be at least a stalemate. "Oh, I'm sorry, I was under the impression that order wasn't exactly the strongest trait of my... kind. I do so stand corrected... surely such a fine army is well organized, and it was all planned that they behave as brainless animals." He cackles again, blinking out a few more times to his attacks, now in more mocking poses, such as appearing upside down. "Rebel... nah... I think the term more appropriate is... villain![i] Mal'kdet the Ravenous, scourge of the Edge, criminal... villain. Y'know, each of these orbs? They represent some rather troublesome edge dwellers I've... well, to sound crude, devoured, cruder still, I rather boldly wear their essence as trophies!"

Owru found herself too dodging and avoiding each swing, along with her now "friend" who seemed none too happy to even be here. "I don't even know what I'm rebelling against! I hardly remember the Edge! All I remember was the silence, and that's enough to make me want to stay away!" with this she creates a distorted field around herself.

Skitters frantically flails her four front paws in signals. [i]Look, I'm not with these guys, I swear! Stop trying to eviscerate me!
After several blinks and swings, Dark Adam re-materialises on top of a rampart. "Our organisation runs deeper than you think, Edge-dweller. Our armies answer only to our will, and are more than happy to die for our cause. True, the Darklings were not a challenge for the likes of you, but then again, there's always a chink in a paladin's armor." He would then shadow-jump to another wall. "So you haven't heard the voice of the Black Void from Beyond? Or haven't you mortals devised another term to stray from the Unmaker's name?"
Jonathan would take a few potshots at the daemonic skeleton, who would merely blink away and reappear ironically making the gesture to ward of demons with his middle digit. He would retract it and continue. "Either way, don't think you will evade us so soon. As we speak, more portals are being deployed across Grand Gaia. unless you can materialise to every continent, I doubt you will ward off the invasion. If you weren't already at war with your Gods, I would recommend praying to them very soon."
Now he was standing in front of the portal. "Next time we meet, I think I'll bring along my comrades. The air here will do them good - that is, those who can breath. Die with honour, mortals." On that, he would leap backwards into the portal. A harsh, loud buzzing would be heard as the portal begins to shiver. To those who witnessed it, the portal seemed to contract, yet it seemed to grow bigger, a ghostly image of the tear vibrating in the air, causing considerable pain in the eyes.
"Hah," muttered John. "Takes a few swings at us and then runs away. That's the sort of pompous, egomaniac villains you get nowadays-"
"John, the portals imploding."
"Oh yes. Run, you fools!"
The Chosen Few would bail the foothold, which was now lurching inwards towards the portal, giving the impression of a large steel ball distorting the space several yards around the gateway. The spires would have now fallen inwards, as if the Darkness were retrieving the resources used to develop the foothold.
Portals all across Grand Gaia? So it seems like it’s gonna be a massive war on their hands now...Still, he knew this was bad but not hopeless. Even if he was not sure, the others were all across Grand Gaia probaly fighting their own battles now. Many other great warriors returning to the fight once more...

Wait...The Portal was going to implode? He better run then! Vargas quickly turned around and began to run like a fire was lit under him to get as far away from the Portal as possible. ”You know!...Villans who usually fight for a few seconds appear powerful but in reality they just make it all the better to punch them! But right now! Last one out of here pays for the feast before we all head off to save the world again!” He called out.
"Maybe I just don't like people tellin' me what to do," the jester mutters, before skipping away from the implosion.

The critter takes a moment to process, before flailing arms in the frenzy and running after them. Did you really... REALLY choose now to leave me!?

"Gotta say, you guys, you make some really interestin' enemies," Mal says to the chosen few, while still on the run, each step like a moon jump. "Erm... just to be clear, I really don't have many friends from the Edge. In fact, I mean, believe that, me without friends, eh? Heh..."

You don't say, gee, I wonder why, the raccoon thinks, rolling eyes. Mal glances over at her and glares, then looks at the others.

"I swear that thing is sassin' me," he says somewhat under his breath. He shakes his head, causing a rattling sound. "But anywho, I didn't come here to wage war on the Edge... well... yet... there was a plan to go through first," he continues, pulling out a notepad listing off his plans.

  1. Escape Edge ✓
  2. Find world with powerful beings ✓
  3. Eat some of the nastiest of them (usually jerks are the strongest)
  4. Return to Edge and form Injustice League of Edge-dwellers
  5. Exact revenge
  6. ???
  7. Profit

"Them all comin' heeeeeere, heheh... it kinda musses with things," he says sheepishly, before looking over at Owru. "Hey, Dream Eater, why don't you unleash that dark side and blast them to the void?"

"Um..." she mutters, rubbing her arm nervously and lowering her head. "That side of me is kind of... cold."

"So? Look, they are our people, so you don't have to show mercy," he says, in a rather strange turn of logic. He then looks around. "What? A lot of my people suck, I mean, it is kinda like the law there... to be horrible. Is it wrong to say they deserve no quarter?"
As the Chosen Few travelled several yards away from the now sagging construct, John would turn to his band. "Right, Adam's here, Max's here, Fancy - put yourself out, mate - he's here, Jack . . . Where the hell is he?"
In fact, he had tripped over the collapsed wall and was darting towards them as the foothold suddenly shrunk into the size of a tennis ball and vanished. The pent-up force of the implosion knocks over the band, throws birds out of their flocking formations, and tears any nearby flora out of the ground.
A crowded second passed. One by one, the heroes picked themselves up, dusting off whatever apparel they may have been wearing. They would tear their gaze towards the foothold - correction, where it used to be. A considerably-sized crater marked the Darkness' failed siege on the Agni Empire.
"You know," said Max, "For all they say about evolving, they're still as thick as cow-pat."
"Much like a blob of bacteria, then," said John.
"You didn't tell uth they uthed uth ath a beacon to other worldth!" Jack accused John.
"Listen, I wouldn't have known till now - just because I devote my time researching everything the Imagiverse has to offer, doesn't mean I know everything about everything. To be frank, didn't you think it odd that they always showed up whenever we went to a new world? If I was aware they could even be capable of putting some sort of curse on us, I would have put the pieces together."
"Hey, settle down, you two," said Fancy, getting between the duck and the skeleton. "Haven't we booted them out of every world they chased us in? Don't you think we should be glad we're still here with every world still safe from those guys? Besides, there'll be people across Grand Gaia who could fend off their attacks. Hell, they might even attract the attention of the Fallen Gods."
Jonathan would give Fancy an inquisitive look before looking back up at Jack. "Good point," said John, smiling. "We've handled them many times before. If there's anyone who's an expert on Fighting-Demon-Armies, it's us." He would turn to Vargas. "Well, you've had your time to train. Where's our next stop?"
As Vargas took cover as the portal impoded upon itself, after a few seconds the fiery warrior pulled himself off the ground. What a battle...A massive mob of enemies and then some evil counterpart to the Chosen Few leading them. Well at the very least the evil guys decided to blurt out his plans to the group.

As such, he was going to take full advantage of this knowledge to form a plan...Or at least a path of action...As he did the Chosen Few were fighting among eachother since they were unaware that they had something on them that let their evil counterparts track them. Of course, after a quick realization that there were other people who were used to fighting gods across Grand Gaia or other strong fighters like Kira wandering around. That seemed to stop their argument.

Of course the strange otherworldly beings like Owru and Mal caught his attention and...Was that a giant beast thing with them? He had no clue what raccoons were so that creature was indeed unknown to him. Of course John got his attention as he asked what would be his plan.

”Well, we got a world to defend once again. So our first stop is to gather the other heroes. Let’s head to the Sama kingdom. It’s south of Mistral and Selena should be there. Afterwards we clear out any invaders there then...I guess we just go where the next closest location is. Of course we would need a ship to go there...Or alternatively we could of course enlist Maxwell for aid...Still...It would be really strange to fight with a god for the first time...Her place is north of Mistral But it’s two continents from here. We go through Morgan and arrive at St.Lamia.” Vargas replied.

Two choices: Go to the Sama Kingdom and find Selena. Or head to St.Lamia and hope to ask Maxwell for aid. Both options needed time, to get to Selena they needed to procure a boat since the kingdom had long been devastated so means of warping was out of the equation. Of course, if they went to St. Lamia they could encounter more portals there and destroy them from an extra continent.

He was going to leave it up to a vote.
"Oh we haven't seen Max in a while have we?" Owru asks, her antennae perking up, tapping her fingers together. Sheepishly pointing she waves her hand. "It is her world too that they are trying to terraform, a-and besides... yeah, I think we should go to St. Lamia."

Mal shifts around, his pen light eyes glaring. "I'm... sorry, you guys are friends with one of the gods now? Did I... miss something crucial?"

"I mean, um, not all like Edge Dwellers are bad, just look at us!" she exclaims, giving her best go at a happy expression.

"You do realize we are considered fugitives to the Edge now, villains."

"But bad there is good here! So..."

"No! No! No! That is... wait... no, that's right, more or less... wow, you really were listening..." Mal says, scratching his head. "Well... I'll leave my vote as neutral for now."

I vote I go to bed and be done with all this nonsense... oh right, my vote doesn't matter given I can't talk... whee.
John would rest his bony chin on his fingers in a pose of deep thinking. "Well, I don't suppose Selena would like it much if we dragged her into another trip, though enlisting the assistance of a God would potentially be as safe as an ant asking help from a tiger. Of course, now we've got the whole of the Darkness focusing on Grand Gaia now, we'll need the greatest help we can get. I say we head to St. Lamia." His colleagues, and his brother, would voice their agreement with John, along with the refusal to cross the seas after the Celestial Sea incident. Oh, and the seasickness.
Seas are a common habitat for primal terrors, possibly because after a couple of fathoms, a sailor cannot see shit below the surface. This is possibly why the Chosen Few are normally the first to report that, despite popular belief, Z'irreg, The Undersea Death, was several miles the coast of Manehattan, feeding off the occasional ship. This is likely because of a popular saying among the dead; dead men tell no tales. So the Chosen Few would arrive to their destination, towing a quivering mass of flesh and eyes behind their ship, demanding a reward for their find. The aforementioned incident, however, only involved a hired ship, a crateful of rum, and a conveniently positioned rock. They don't talk about it out of sheer embarrassment, however John often jokes about it in a few of the Skeletorian top-nob parties he attends on account of being the Governor.
It was a rather unanimous decision, From Owru and the Chosen Few they had agreed to head north and find Maxwell. ”It’s settled then, we are heading to St. Lamia and get to Maxwell. Never thought I would be saying that...But things certainly change around here. Alright, let’s begin our journey to save the whole world once again everyone! I’m sure my freinds can handle their respective areas, but it’s up to us to clear out every other place which is to say...A lot of land to cover. But when something threatens the people of Grand Gaia they mess with the wrong people! Onwards!” Vargas the fiery haired warrior raised his sword and cheered before marching north. They had a ways ahead of them.

Oh yeah...He had one question left as he walked. ”So...What’s with the strange critter? Did you guys find a pet while you were at it?” Vargas asked Mal and Owru since they were with them.
Following them, the oddball duo turn to Vargas who actually took notice to them.

"Ehhh... I suggested she leave the thing behind, but... women, what can ya do?" Mal'kdet responds with a shrug. He then shudders and covers his mouth. "They're both stubborn, and omnipotent..."

Owru holds up Skitters who shuts eyes tightly and flails wildly. "You mean this? It's a raccoon." Owru says in an oblivious tone. "You seriously don't have raccoons in your world? "

"Must be wonderful, no rabies or trash strewn everywhere..." Mal comments with a chuckle. Skitters turns to him, her face turning red before hissing and swatting at him, causing him to jump away. "Hey, hey! Jokes aside, that is what your species typically is like! No offense." Huffing, Skitters folds her forelegs, averting her gaze, face still red, and shrugs, as if admitting it is fair. "So, spill, what are ya, some edge-animal hybrid?"

Something like that, she thinks, nodding her head back and forth with a grunt.

"So, what, are you with those losers back there?"

Loudly does the raccoon respond with a rather rude raspberry before casting very arrogant glare to male, emitting a sound almost like sardonic laughter, at the very possibility of the insinuation. Casting a smug glance she chuckles once more, shrugging. Why would I even remotely associate myself with those brainless wonders?! My potential is wasted on simple beasts, and to even be cast in the same light as them is simply... outrageous! She then sighs and holds out her hands presenting herself. One hitch of course is this damn body, it is so... constrained, primitive! I can't even talk properlu, everything I say comes out all... stupid!

"...what did it say?" Mal says, scratching his head.

"She finds the comparison incredibly laughable, that such creatures only hold her back. She's also infuriated by the limitations her body presents for her, like the inability of speech." Owru explains, quite matter-of fact at that. Skitters even stares in awe for a moment. Owru then laughs. "She also likes pie!" Owru finishes, her antennae curling up cheerfully.

I did not say th-! Skitters starts to shout from within her skull, before rubbing her chin with a thoughtful look. Actually, I do like pie...
The Chosen Few and John would once again draw their attention to the raccoon-thing that Owru was carrying. Although it did not seem capable of doing severe damage to their persons, they did not trust the first glance as it is normally completely wrong. However, if it wanted to leave the group, it could have let loose hell on it's captor a long time ago, which it didn't. For the time being, they took this as a good sign. It could not speak, only capable of screeches and some of the most vocal body language they've ever seen on a rodent. It was obviously able to understand the jester, as it made what sounded like the laughter of a honey badger who has long been refused honey. Luckily, Owru appears able to translate the rodent.
"Hey, who doethn't like pie!" said Jack, looking towards his confidants to back him up.
"I don't eat pie," said John bluntly, to Jack's disappointment, before looking to the honey badger, obviously embarrassed at the mere thought of talking to a rodent. "To be honest, if a Darkling came across a stinging needle that stung it, it would take it to it's hive thinking it had brought a potential weapon. They're not primarily hatched for their intelligence, only for terrorising nurseries and the such; the sort of creatures that hide under children's beds at night, that sort of thing. No, they leave the thinking for the higher beings." Like the God of Fear, he thought. Evil Hand, as held back by his name as he was, is at least smart enough to devise more cunning plans other than simply charging into the world thinking it will tremble at the sight of millions of imps that might look adorable in an odd angle.
"They hold you back, do they?" John continued, almost patronisingly. "How much do you think you're capable of, exactly?"
Vargas let out a hearty laugh as Owru said that the creature liked pie. Well despite none of them understanding what the Racoon As Owru put it said, it seemed that she could understand the creature. It was not part of the invaders in the world, and it seemed that the little creature seemed to be a little bit prideful. Other than that it also liked pie.

As the other began to voice their opinions on pie, Vargas decided to do the same. ”I also like pie! A nice thing to eat together with freinds and family.” He laughed as he got close to the raccon creature and looked at it while they all walked. ”Well, it’s good to know those darklings have rather low intelligence. Almost like the monsters in this world...Granted they are driven by eating people over thinking...Wait? What’s a bee?” The fiery headed warrior scratched his head as he reached his other hand out to pet the Racoon creature.

He was curious if Selena would like this creature. She liked slimes...Or maybe it was Lance, he was more akin to nature. Well...At the very least, they could hold their own same as him. War...A heroes duty was never done he supposed.
Skitters shifts over and glares at John, clearly aware of his patronizing tone. With a shrug she lifts her head and scratches her chin, giving a rather smug look, or at least, as much of one possibly to the given form. Oh, I don't know, what is a hybrid of flesh and essence with a rapidly evolving mind capable of? Skitters pokes the side of her head, gesturing to think. I'm pretty well a genius at this point, but you see, a body of my particular... vertical ineptitude and frailty can only go so far. My body has to catch up. She sighs, shrugging. So far I've only been able to grow slightly larger and an extra set of forelimbs, though they are pretty functional, digitally speaking.

"She says, or more... thinks... is some kind of hybrid with an intellect that is developing faster than this body can keep up with, and that she's... a genius with a short and puny body, and that she's only managed to grow slightly bigger and an extra set of paws, and that they work passably as hands," Owru says squinting her eyes and scratching her head, obviously having to paraphrase a lot. Skitters winces at the "puny" comment.

Who are you callin- as she waves her paw fist at Owru, Vargas reaches over and pats her on the head, the creature's entire body seizing up, tensing, eyes shifting over slowly to glare at him. There was a brief pause, making the Edge-dwellers assume she was going to explode again, instead relaxes and rests the upper set of paws on her cheeks, the other set folded, eyes narrowing. This is... acceptable.

"Y'know... This reminds me of a movie with apes ruling the world, just... replace the apes with raccoons." Mal comments.
John would listen to the raccoon, or rather, Owru speaking for the raccoon. The creature was rapidly evolving mentally, however the physical form was lagging behind. That explains it's mind's incompatibility with it's body. Perhaps it will eventually evolve a larynx capable of speech, if it's mind doesn't resort to thinking in binary first.
"Very well," he said. "I could see why the demons were interested enough to have picked you up. You could outwit a Darkling a hundred-fold, although there are things hanging under tree branches that are smarter than them." He would groan as Vargas began to pet the thing, though he was surprised when it didn't bite his hand off. "Of course, it would be interesting to see how your evolution goes. Hells, you might develop telepathy, for all I know."
The band of heroes would look restless at this last comment. They were edgy enough conversing with a near-mute raccoon, let alone a raccoon that could talk into their heads. John, however, had a strange expression, shared by a zoologist who had found a singing marmoset. Being a scientist by calling, John was always on the search for more knowledge on the Imagiverse, the sort of person who would read through the entire Necronomicon and write notes. Being dead and so around the bend he seems sane in a certain angle, he is not susceptible to the mind-melting effects that go hand-and-hand with forbidden knowledge and therefore seeks to gather as much as he could. The potential evolution going beyond mortal levels was just the thing to arouse his interest greatly.
Vargas smiles as he pat the Racoon like creature. Well, so far it did not...Or rather she did not bite his hand in retaliation against the petting. From what he gathered from Owru, it seems it was quite mentally capable, just physically incapable at the moment. But at the moment she was part of this merry band of people saving the world.

The fiery headed warrior gave her a small scratch along the ears before speaking. ”A movie about apes ruling the world?...Actually I have no idea what an ape is either...Anyways, we should be leaving the Agni continent soon, we will take the nearest portal and we should arrive in Mistral once again. Afterwards we make our way north and eventually head to St. Lamia. Let’s hope we revive a much better hospitality than last time...” Vargas nodded as he spoke.

The idea of bracing against stars once again was not what he would like given that the whole world was being invaded...Still, he wondered why he was still petting this Racoon like creature. John mentioned something about telepathy...Well, it would not be the first time he saw creatures developing great power...There was quite a few beasts that had quite the power...Could make for a great ally!
Telepathy? Perhaps... I'm only interested in overcoming myself, the critter thinks silently as they move forward. She folds her claws, draws back her ears, and closes her eyes and allows her mind to fade into pure concentrated thought. Hmmm... why isn't my body adapting..? I have necessity and drive...

"Better hospitality? Hah, what, this Maxwell kick you out before for ruining her favorite tea set?" Mal says with a laugh. "Not that I'd be too surprised, you can be a bit like a... hm... how to say this and make sense..? An ogre in shop full of urns."

"Well, we kinda fought the first time we were there," Owru says, curling her antennae. "Then we got sent on this mission to destroy the bad guys, like Mr. Malice." She stares at the clown for a moment, narrowing her eyes. "Hey, when did you add that purple one to your chain?" she says, pointing to what appears to be a sixth orb seated right under his chin, except it glows with a purple hazy light.

"What? Ha-ha! Ha! What?! Ehem... hey, what can I say? There is only so much someone can do with an off-green color until it gets old." he says, shrugging his arms nonchalantly, brushing off the question. "Not that I'm thaaaat absorbed into fashion... heheheh..!"
"She'd better show some hospitality," said Max. "It's her world we're defending from the Darkness, as clichéd as it is."
"Yes, I've been pondering on that," said John. "It is a direct - or indirect - manifestation of common evil, yes? I wouldn't be amazed if it's apparent bull-headedness and vapidity as a whole was a side-effect of this. After all, the common villain often sports a black cloak and moustache, does he not?"
"As usual, you make a very valid point," said Fancy.
"It keeps us on our toes, at least," said Adam before adding, "that is, those of us who have toes." The Chosen Few, as they considered this hitherto disregarded thought, looked down to their feet. They would look back up at Mal as Owru points out a new addition to the inter-cosmic jester's chain, a sixth orb emitting a vague violet glow. They vaguely recalled a remark Mal had made on the orbs. They represent some rather troublesome edge dwellers I've devoured. They didn't bother to count the orbs beforehand to make sure, but they were certain no other Edge-dwellers apart from the two were present.
"Very well," declared John, dispelling the mist of contemplation surrounding his compadres. "Lead the way, Vargas. There'll be plenty of time to chat along the way."

MistralSetting: Mistral


The return to mistral...

“Yeah...I still find it odd that a God would ask us for assistance. Still, if What Maxwell says is true she could rebuild Grand Gaia...But, that’s enough thinking from me. We are back in Mistral everyone! Brings back memories like the time at that tower...I cut it close there...I can almost remember it like yesterday. Fun times, let’s hope we don’t run into Kira this time around. He won’t be assisting us this time around probaly.” Vargas spoke as they arrived back in the Mistral region.

They had a ways to go to reach St.Lamia, but for now they could start eliminating any hostiles in the area. ”Many places bring back old memories...Still remember old freinds. I remember meeting a fiery woman who used to beat me in battle when I was younger. She ended up giving me a special gift when we became allies against the gods...Agh...I sound like an old man! I still have many years ahead of me!” The fiery headed warrior shook his head to erase the image of an older version of himself.
Special gift? Skitters looks in curiousity at the fiery swordsman.

"Old man? Funny coming from one who still seems quite young," she says with a giggle, squinting her eyes and holding her hands over where her mouth would be. "Then again, I suppose I'm not a good judge for age, as I've forgotten even my own!" she continues, bonking her own head playfully. "Oh! But do go on, I do love a story! Um, and Skitters is curious about that gift."

Skitters, infuriated, flails her paws at Owru. Do that only do that when I want you to! Don't just... blurt out everything I'm thinking! Owru's eyes open wide and her antennae stand up straight, before cowering as if she had been verbally chastised.

"S-sorry..!"
The band of misfits would blink and look around them. That was funny. Weren't they in Agni a moment ago? They put it down to whatever they were drinking on their way to Mistral.
"Oh trust me, lad," John would say to Vargas as he attributed his recollection of his past to old age. "I must be about 70 or 80 years older than you. I've experienced more wars than you could possibly live through. Back in my time of living, we had none of those electric transformers or digital televisions. Although I was only able to live up to the age of 18 due to, er, fraternal difficulties," (as he says so, he would briefly exchange glances with his now deathly silent brother), "I must act as if I was in my 60s."
"I agree," smirked Max. "Sometimes he acts like our grandpa."
"Exactly! I hear other of the deceased claim that death is but a sleep, and, spiritually, this is possibly true. In my opinion, however, it is finally waking up to the world around you. It's amazing how inefficient a bag of grey tissue is for thinking, if you don't mind me saying."
The gang would take in their surroundings yet again. Back in Mistral, where lied the Tower of Maxwell. Last time they were there, it exploded, so they were not sure whether it had been rebuilt or left in it's damaged state. It was about time to find out.
Just hearing the skeletons say they were just near a decade older then him did not help. If he was that young and they were that old...Please don’t let him be reborn as an old man skeleton...He better make his youth last as long as possible!

Speaking off topic now...It seemed Orwu and...Skitters? That was the name of the Racoon beast? Well regardless they were curious about his gift he received. ”Well, I got some time before we arrive to the tower. Well then, I’ll tell you about the gift I received and the story behind it...Rather, I’ll also show you it.” Vargas spoke as he gave a firm nod. After speaking, a pair of red fiery wings appeared on his back.

”When I was much younger and still an inexperienced fighter always training myself...I still consider myself lacking in experience these days...Anyways, When I was young I won many battles back in my days before the war of the gods began. Ever since I was a kid, my father had saved me from a beast and I watched him slay such a massive beast withot any trouble. Ever since then I wanted to be a knight like my father.”

”Anyways, one day I came across a strange swordswoman who challenged me to a duel. For the first time starting out, I had found my match...Or rather an opponent who was more better than me. Our duel was intense, however ultimately I was beaten. After that, I disappeared to undergo intense training by myself to become a wanderer.”

”Well, ever since that day I heard that woman was looking for me for another re-match...Of course we could never do that since the war of the gods happened. After my intense training, I immediantly took to the front lines and began to fight the gods head on. It was a few brutal years of battle, however I found myself in the middle of the God army along with the Gods themselves. I was terribly injured, and I thought I died in battle until I heard a familiar voice. That swordwoman’s voice...She gave me these wings as a gift, and my life returned once more but I never saw or heard from her again.”

”In the end, I encountered an unknown knight...And dueled him since he was after my life. I though I was slain but I was mortally wounded instead...All I know was...These wings and my sword have set my soul ablaze with a passion for battle. I will not forget that swordwoman who bestowed these red hot wings to continue my fight. And that I guess is the story about my gift.” Vargas finished speaking with a final nod and smile.
For all he knows, she probably traded her life for his, Skitters thought, shaking her head. Owru glances back, a bit of a concerned look in her eyes. Still, suppose what my body needs is simply an intense situation like that to really awaken the physical side of my metamorphosis.

"Well, listen to you, sounds almost like you are a fanboy of sorts," Mal comments with a laugh.

"Who knows what the future holds, maybe you'll get the chance to return the favor someday, Owru says, squinting her eyes in an attempt to convey a smile.
They would listen to Vargas' story. When he was getting to grips with combat, a far more experienced swordswoman challenged him to an evidently one-sided duel, which set the young warrior onto training himself further. He fought in the war against the Gods and nearly died if it hadn't been for deus ex machina in the form of the swordswoman granting him the wings of fire and a sword. So that was the gift he mentioned before.
"Very well told, Vargas," said John. "It seems you were chosen on that battlefield as hero material. Any other sod on the battlefield would have been mowed down and that would've been the end of him, but you got a second chance. In a sense, me and Adam were also given a second chance, probably because we were a pair of arrogant aristocrats who did not see the big picture, and, I don't mind telling you this, were unjustly murdered by our fellow brother. Perhaps we were given an opportunity to make a fresh start and, if possible, to kill the bastard whenever we can. You see, there are higher beings that elect the likes of us, so I expect you are grateful."
The Chosen Few had something else on their mind. They knew next time the Darkness were not going to settle their footholds in as a conspicuous location as in Agni. They might emerge in high-climbing forests or even underground where no-one could find them. Although they were certain that, since an army of Darklings couldn't push over a stack of matches, the residents of Grand Gaia could hold off the demons, they also know it was their job to tear down the portals themselves, because as ineffectual as the Army is, they have certain elite demons capable to wiping out entire armies. The Darkness have got contacts with some very powerful entities, some thousands of years old, like a mafia godfather who "knows a guy" called The Butcher. It was only a matter of time.
Vargas smiled brightly as he heard his compatriots speak to him. Orwu giving him a smile and telling him he could repay the favor, and John telling him he was given a chance at Another life. Along with a bit of backstory about him and Adam getting a second life as well. ”All your guys words are going to make me blush! Come on...But I agree, I always look to the future. With this second life I was given I have the gods more of a reason to fear my name! And now I still continue to protect Grand Gaia to this day...And yes, I admire my father. He is still more stronger than me no doubt...But I’m going to live up to a knights expectations.” He gave a firm nod as he continued to walk.

Soon enough, they spotted the tower that had once been destroyed. Restored after Kira destroyed it. It was almost if nothing ever happened in the first place...Pretty amazing to fix the whole area...Still, they had their way to St. Lamia now.
"And here I was worried I'd end up with the bill," the jester jokes with a laugh, looking at the renewed tower.

"Wonder if we'll have to fight through the guards again," Owru says, pondering.

Skitters stares silently. Seriously? You know this person and they don't even bother to turn off security? Ughhh... of course not, silly me! That'd make too much sense! Rolling her eyes she continues towards the tower, sighing.

"Looks like someone's having a bad fur day," Mal quips, following along. Owru follows behind as well looking back to the others.

"Y'know... I... would have figured villains to be more... concerned about us gathering forces..?" She says, curling her antennae into question marks.
"Amazing that Maxwell took the time to rebuild the tower," quipped Fancy.

"Yeah, considering that it has no apparent purpose whatsoever," replied Max.

"I would have guessed that Maxwell could easily rebuild the damn thing," muttered John.

Lo and behold, the tower stood just as it had before the astral jester blew it up in a fit of rage. Hopefully Maxwell would have cut out the demon armies so they could get to her quicker.

John turned to Owru when she mentioned the absence of the Darkness. "I would not think they would be so hasty as to approach a Creator," said John. "Beings of shadow tend to not mix well with those of Order. A Darkling would evaporate if it got within twenty yards of a Creator. No, I bet they're bidding their time." As he said this, he would continue walking towards the tower, tailed by his four amigos.
As the group arrived at the tower, Sadly for them there was monsters and small creatures waiting for them. However there was far less amounts of them. They seemed to be wild monsters making this place their nest, so they were not exactly guards of this tower...More like freeloaders who defended the tower to live in it.

It may even have been safe to assume that most of the creators inside the tower were just wild monsters, the real guard of the tower may have been the mechanical machine that was destroyed. But at the moment, they had a much less fierce fight ahead of them, just a handful of monsters to deal with.

”A quick warm up, But if they are worried of getting close to a creator then it’s safe to assume they may be regrouping to do something about her. Or at the very least work around her...Anyways, once we use that portal on the top we will be in St. Lamia! Very quick to use portals to get around!” The fiery headed warrior nodded as he charged forward at the small groups of monsters scattered around heading for the stairs.