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Artellis

"I'm not throwing away my shot."

0 · 267 views · located in The Tower

a character in “Spire”, as played by Tanman

Description

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❝Sure, I'm a coward. Better that then dead, am I right?❞
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ɗιαƖσgυє cσƖσя: #ec6901 ♙ тнσυgнт cσƖσя #301934

|| All Eyes On You || Smash Into Pieces ||







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{☛ ⒻⓊⓁⓁ ⓃⒶⓂⒺ ☚}
Artellis

{☛ ⓃⒾⒸⓀⓃⒶⓂⒺⓈ ☚}
Art, Arty, Ellis

{☛ ⒶⒼⒺ ☚}
18

{☛ ⒼⒺⓃⒹⒺⓇ ☚}


{☛ ⓈⒺⓍⓊⒶⓁⒾⓉⓎ ☚}
Undisclosed

{☛ ⒻⒶⒸⒺ ⒸⓁⒶⒾⓂ ☚}
Shuusei Kagari || Psycho-Pass




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♙ ❝From back here, I can see any danger well before it gets to me.❞ ♙
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{☛ ⒽⒺⒾⒼⒽⓉ ☚}
161cm / 5'3"

{☛ ⓌⒺⒾⒼⒽⓉ ☚}
65kg / 144lbs

{☛ ⒽⒶⒾⓇ ⒸⓄⓁⓄⓇ ☚}
Tangy Orange

{☛ ⒺⓎⒺ ⒸⓄⓁⓄⓇ ☚}
Dulled Brown

{☛ ⒷⓄⒹⓎ ⓂⒶⓇⓀⒾⓃⒼⓈ ☚}
A couple of small burns on his hands. Miscellaneous scars.


{☛ ⒼⒺⓃⒺⓇⒶⓁ ⒶⓅⓅⒺⒶⓇⒶⓃⒸⒺ☚}

Artellis is a mixture of slight effort and laziness in appearance. His short, fiery orange hair is unkempt and messy, yet he'll take the time to flick it back so it sits right. His outfits are typically neater dress wear, and yet they're crinkled and unbuttoned. Almost at smart casual, but showing just how laid-back he is by giving his look the bare minimum beyond just rolled out of bed. A shorter fellow, despite his stature he's got a toned fitness to his form from his efforts training, providing him plenty of stamina.

Still, he prefers to look unassuming and unimportant. As such, he's fond of blander outfits and designs, keeping things simple with blacks, greys and browns with only the odd splash of colour to his image with a tie or similar. Though his brown eyes can seem a little vacant, they can flash to focus in an instant, especially when he needs to take aim with a weapon. Though his skin is relatively unscathed, he does have a few nasty burns on his hands from mishandling firearms. Speaking of firearms, Artellis will almost never be without one, and constantly tends to either be playing with it, or something else in his hands.

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♙ "I've got your back. So long as nothing gets close to mine." ♙
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{☛ ⓁⒾⓀⒺⓈ ☚}

❥ LIKES Good Food - Artellis hasn't had too much experience with it, but the boy does enjoy cooking and experimenting. He particularly enjoys getting the chance to experience and enjoy something unique and delicious.

❥ LIKES Freedom - Artellis values making his own choices, having his own free time, and essentially being able to do what he wants without having things imposed on him.

❥ LIKES Joking Around - A self-proclaimed comedian, Artellis likes to laugh, and to help others enjoy themselves too. Everyone loves to have fun, and Art enjoys bringing that to the table.

❥ LIKES Relaxing - Though Artellis can be an active fellow, he very much enjoys taking it easy in the moments when he can. Just sitting or lying down somewhere and not having to worry about anything.








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♙ ❝Everyone just needs to relax. We're all friends here, right?❞ ♙
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{☛ ⒹⒾⓈⓁⒾⓀⒺⓈ ☚}

⌦ DISLIKES Obligations - Though he will still follow through with them, Art isn't fond of being tied down or constrained to having to do something.

⌦ DISLIKES Danger - Unafraid to call himself a coward, Artellis would rather not put himself in any sort of vulnerable position if he could help it.

⌦ DISLIKES Complicated Stuff - Not to say that Artellis is unintelligent, he just prefers it when things are simple and easy to understand. Complications and complicated things take too much work to understand and come with all sorts of problems.

⌦ DISLIKES Jerks - Having been bullied and 'made friends' with them to protect himself, he's seen how certain people operate. Art isn't exactly fond of arrogant people that push others around.





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{☛ ⓆⓊⒾⓇⓀⓈ ☚}

RESTLESSNESS- Art isn't good at sitting still when he's not relaxing. He tends to need something in his hands to fiddle with, or else ends up tapping his foot or something similar.
ESCAPE PLAN- Always prepared and perhaps a little on edge, Artellis needs either his back to the wall, or an escape path in sight. Preferably both.
BAD JOKES - In moments of high tension, Arty tends to crack a joke. Likely a poor one, just to divert attention and hopefully relax things.

{☛ ⓌⒺⒶⓀⓃⒺⓈⓈⒺⓈ ☚}

COWARDICE - Fear motivates Artellis's mind a fair bit. He's not afraid to admit that.
DISTRUST - Artellis has issues fully trusting others, coming from a world where such a prospect was almost unheard of. Like his cowardice, he thinks it's completely rational.
OFFENSIVE - At times, Arty's jokes don't hit the mark, and can be seen as sarcastic, cynical or just mean. Such is the price of trying to be a comedian.
AVARICE - Money and security is something that Art seeks, sometimes to his detriment.

{☛ ⓈⓉⓇⒺⓃⒼⓉⒽⓈ ☚}

CRACKSHOT - Through continuous practice, Artellis's aim and reflexes are on point.
DEDICATED - Art is able to focus on a task, and remain motivated; possessing a strong will.
FITNESS - Through his training, Art is fit physically. His stamina is high, and he's gotten quite fast at running away.
CHARISMA - Despite sometimes botching an interaction, Artellis is generally fun to be around, and tends to make a lot of friends with his easygoing, friendly attitude.

{☛ ⒻⒺⒶⓇⓈ ☚}

DEATH - Art does not want to expire. Death is terrifying to him, and so he acts with self-preservation in mind.
BETRAYAL - It's a dog eat dog world, and Artellis is aware of this. He's prepared for being turned on, but that doesn't mean he's not afraid of it.
FALLING BEHIND - Artellis doesn't believe himself to be talented. All his skills come from hard work. Those with talent however, he's not sure he can keep up with them...
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♙ "Give the spotlight to someone with talent. I'll follow from the shadows." ♙
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{☛ ⓅⒺⓇⓈⓄⓃⒶⓁⒾⓉⓎ☚}




















There are many facets to Artellis's personality. A friendly, laidback jokester at heart; in places of comfort he enjoys friendly chatter and jibs where everyone's relaxed and having a laugh. This began as a learned behaviour that helped him survive his upbringing, but now seems to be his natural attitude. Because he doesn't see himself as anything special, he's always happy to poke fun or make a fool of himself to lighten the mood.

Despite his outward happy-go-lucky attitude however, Artellis isn't without his vices. The young man doesn't trust easily after his time in the Garret Slums as a gangster, always cautious of a knife in the back; and ever ready to make an exit if things turn south. At his heart, Arty is a coward; something that he has no shame in admitting and discussing openly. He thinks it to simply be a rational choice, and it's the reason he still finds himself alive today. As such, he'd rather take safe bets rather than risky ones, as the last gamble he took on friend's recommendation didn't exactly go well.

Art has some hang ups around his talents and skills. He's cultivated a sharpshooter's aim and reactions through dedicated training, but he still believes that doesn't match those with natural born talent. He's seen impressive people improve in much faster leaps and bounds, as well as go on to much greater things; those are the really important people. As such, he's much more of a follower then a leader, and can be swayed by stronger personalities who seem more impressive then himself. That said, he can't stand bullying and injustices, and although his cowardice may prevent him from taking action or stepping in, it's not something that sits well with him at all. Perhaps if Art could learn to stand up for his beliefs, he'd be an impressive person. But as it stands, he still has a lot of room to grow and mature through experience.



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♙ ❝I can't tread my own path. So I'll have to follow someone else's.❞ ♙
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{☛ ⓅⓁⒶⒸⒺ ⓄⒻ ⓄⓇⒾⒼⒾⓃ ☚}
Garret Slums

{☛ ⒻⒶⓂⒾⓁⓎ ☚}
With no immediately known family or blood relatives, the closest family Artellis had were his fellow orphans on the street.

{☛ ⒽⒾⓈⓉⓄⓇⓎ ☚}
Growing up was hard without a real family, but Artellis wasn't one to buckle under such pressure. One of many orphans dumped to the slums that was perhaps born of parents lost to the Tower, he grew up on the streets with many others like him. A difficult enough task by itself, made all the harder by the slums 'ruling' group, a sinister gang known as the Grease Shredders. They took in strays and used them as fodder for their crimes, all the while only giving them the minimum necessary to survive. Artellis was one of those strays, bullied and pushed around to perform shady or menial work. Still, he and the other children had a sense of comradery there. The forgotten children looked after their own. If they could build friends and allies... Some of the children working under the Grease Shredders formulated a plan as they slowly grew in age and skill. They'd do a raid of the encampment under cover of night, and kill the leader of the Grease Shredders. If they managed that, they could liberate themselves... Then, they'd be the leaders around the slums. It was a risky plan, but if it paid off...

First however, they all needed to improve their skills. So Artellis trained. He took his punishment in stride, remaining jovial throughout, getting on the good side of the gang leaders. As he became 'one of them' he started getting more freedom. The abuse stopped. He learned basics like reading and writing, but also began training to work as an enforcer. How to handle himself in a fight. How to wield a gun. Initially, he was terrible at it. But through persistence and practice, he improved. With the single-minded goal of changing how shitty his life was, and changing how he and the other stray children were treated. As his skill with a gun improved, and others took more readily to close combat, Art was assigned to a lookout position and guard duties, a welcome relief to fetching 'protection' money. His life had improved immensely, but he still felt sick to his stomach from the actions he had to undertake. And so, when the time came, and the children turned gangsters met to discuss progress; it was decided to make their move.

Artellis was nervous on the night of the plan. He'd always been a scared boy, but this took it to a new level. Too afraid to do the actual deed, he remained the watch and lookout of the group, remaining on the outskirts and keeping an eye out for anything out of the ordinary. Shortly after his friends entered the hideout, things took a turn for the worse. It was a setup. The Grease Shredders either already knew of the plan, or they'd been tipped off. A firefight broke out, but given the orphans were taken by surprise, it was going poorly. During all the screams, panic, blood and death, Artellis's sense of self preservation kicked in. Abandoning his friends and the plan, he fled the scene, hand clenched tight around the firearm that he was still yet to pull the trigger for. That night, everything changed for Art. Returning to the scene later in the night, only blood and bodies remained. Friends and faces he knew, lifeless. He couldn't return to the Grease Shredders after this. And if he stayed in town, they'd find him and kill him.

He needed to find somewhere else to go. He couldn't stay. But where exactly could he go?

...

He'd heard a rumour once. About a different plan some of the other children had. Maybe that was his chance. And so, with a heavy burden in his heart, and one fear overriding the other, Artellis made his way to enter the Tower.





ⒸⓄⓅⓎⓇⒾⒼⒽⓉ: ⓉⒽⒺ_ⓆⓊⒺⒺⓃ



So begins...

Artellis's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sibylle Character Portrait: Artellis
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0.25 INK

#, as written by Tanman
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ɗιαƖσgυє cσƖσя: #ec6901 ♙ тнσυgнт cσƖσя #301934

“...in order to pass, you must stay alive until the end of the hour! The timer begins on the count of three. Good luck!" The voice came seemingly from all around the field, making the ‘rules’ of the first test loud and clear. If it could be called a test.

“That’s it huh? Just don’t die?” Artellis mused to himself as he adjusted to his surroundings. An open field, but one surrounded by tall grass. For the moment, he squatted down on his haunches, remaining low and out of sight as he bit his thumb, thinking. He wasn’t sure what he was expecting with all the rumours about this place, but already he’d caught a glimpse of a whole new world inside here. A place far different to the tight, dank and smog filled slums he’d come from.

“There’s 500 of us. And we just need to survive an hour… Does that mean there’s something dangerous in here hunting us?” With that paranoid thought, Arty glanced down to his right hand, and the weapon he held there. Apprehensively, he began methodically adjusting his grip on the handgun, smoothly feeling over the trigger. If all he had to do was survive, then staying out of trouble would be the best plan. Even though he had cover hiding amongst this tall grass, he hated the idea that he could be approached from any side. He’d have to reposition somewhere that was easier to defend or more out of the way.

Creeping forward through the underbrush, stalking cautiously, the boy swallowed nervously. If he did encounter some sort of monster or danger, what then? Should he take aim and shoot? No, something that loud would just draw all the attention over to him. Perhaps he’d be better off running? He was fast, but who knew what the threats in here were capable of? Not to mention he could easily run into even more trouble if he was hasty. As he made steady progress forward, dirt and flora gave way to hardened rock as Artellis stumbled across a large boulder.

“Damn it, I wish I knew more about what was going on…” He grumbled. Slowly, he shifted himself to creep up the outcropping and peer over the horizon. He needed to get the lay of the land to find a hiding place, and also try and get an idea what was happening to others in the field. Somehow he felt that there’d be others far less cautious then himself, and if he spotted them that might give him insight into what he had to avoid around here. Just as he was thinking that, the sky and air around him erupted with what sounded like an explosion, causing the boy to flinch. What kind of monster could cause something like that? He'd need to find out and then make a point to stay clear.

Peeking over the edge and pressed tight against the rock, it was only when he cleared the top of the stone did he come to spot them as they landed seemingly out of nowhere. A lone figure, cracked the boulder heavily as they made impact, perching in place. “..!...” An uncontrolled noise of surprise escaped his lips, and Artellis quickly sunk back down the rock, covering his mouth to silence himself and trying to remain hidden as he shrunk his form down. Hopefully he’d go unnoticed by the individual. At least until he had a better idea of who they were.

Gritting his teeth, Artemis readied his trigger finger. If this was one of the threats in this field, he’d have to be ready.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Princess Usagi Character Portrait: Therion Character Portrait: Jin Character Portrait: Sibylle Character Portrait: Artellis
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0.25 INK

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ɗιαƖσgυє cσƖσя:#EE3B3B ♙ тнσυgнт cσƖσя #A6D785
"You will have an advantage over all of them, Gigi." Her Mother's words echoed in her mind. The sword passed down to her from her Mother, one of the sacred weapons of the 13 month series. "Use it the way I never got to." Usagi would not reveal her hand yet. As an aether bearer, she had a bit more experience than most, considering the Hak family background. It would be much easier to reveal that card first, since the manipulation of aether was to be expected by all those who entered. Or at least, that was what Usagi believed. "The high ground," she could see a figure scrambling up there, no doubt that was no good, as the perch had already been taken. She was short enough and blonde enough where she would blend into the tall grass if she was still, but should Usagi begin to move, it would give her away to whatever marksmen took aim from the top.

"I need cover," assuming that this was going to be a bloodbath, of course. What was the point of setting out a monster to thin the herd when the entrants here would do it themselves? To her left, Usagi heard a yelp of pain. Technically, if all five hunded survived to the end of the hour, they would all gain entry. No, that was too simple, there were too many greedy ones among the bunch. "Oh, it's just a little girl." Usagi started, turning around. A man that towered above her stood several feet away. his skin was like leather, dark and wrinkled from being in the sun. "Idiot," a much smaller man with green hair and black eyes emerged from behind him. "That's a kid from the Hak family," his smile was adorned with sharp teeth. There was nothing kind about it. Usagi smiled unassumingly, "I suppose you're here to kill me?" She asked, holding her hands behind her.

Chul's, that's what the outliers were called. Strays that belonged to no family or tribe, they had no sense of loyalty either. "Kill her," the little one ordered. The ground shook as the tall one lumbered forth, he was slow, but heavy. A strike from his large fist could mean death in an instant. He barreled towards her, usagi jumping over his fist and running up his arm. "Flowing palm strike!" She hit him across the face, the giant blinded by aether. "I said kill her!" The little one yelled as Usagi jumped off of the giant and rolled in the grass, sweeping a leg underneath the small man. He hit the ground hard, his head hitting a rock with a crack that made the tall one wince. "Daeshim!" The giant cried, turning back towards her. "You killed my friend!"

Usagi took no pleasure in death, nor did she relish in winning. "Leave, or you'll be next," but the Chul did not leave. Instead, it picked up a rock larger than Usagi's entire body and hurled it towards her. She dodged, the rock striking someone in the grass behind her. She could tell by the way it crunched that the Chul had killed someone. It let out a terrible wail, picking up another boulder and hurling it towards her. "Flowing jab!" Usagi dodged beneath the work, using the aether built in her hand to strike the Chul in the leg. It cried out, dancing one foot. "Flowing kick!" Usagi jumped high, striking the Chul beneath the chin. It lurched backwards, the fall as heavy as its body. Usagi needed to move, a fight with something this large was sure to attract others. Or perhaps, it would lure them away. Usagi was not willing to wait to find out. Beside her, a number appeared for a moment in red.

450

Already fifty contestants dead, two by her own hand.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Princess Usagi Character Portrait: Therion Character Portrait: Jin Character Portrait: Sibylle Character Portrait: Artellis
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0.25 INK

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Several meters ahead, Jin paused at witnessing the fall of a massive man taken out by a pale-haired girl. She was formidable in her counter, her style a mix of aether and precise blows. The other had lost the moment he'd opposed her, that was obvious enough. And his company missed the memo, going after her as well. With a giant boulder twice her size and hurled it.

Another behind her--standing too close was struck down.

This fight like the last ended in moments. Three numbers flared crimson beside her marking the remaining players on the field.

That many left huh, they got their work cut out for them. It's unfortunate how many of them won't survive after this. How many won't return to waiting hopeful families-if any. Or—

He withdrew the katana, the Colourless December and swung in an arc behind himself, the tip of the blade stopping short of some kid's throat. His target held what looked to be a hunter's knife. Edged and already tainted in another's blood.

The boy looked no older then thirteen.

"Stand down, don't force my hand."

The boy's dull eyes widened slightly.

A man shot forth from the grass, as though Jin wouldn't sense his approach. It took little effort for Jin to catch and knock out the other with a precisely aimed jab.

The kid took the opening to run in the other direction.

Jin's katana pulsed slightly. It's never done this before. Perhaps it's got something to do with being here of all places. He resheathed the blade and kept moving. No time to worry about it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Princess Usagi Character Portrait: Therion Character Portrait: Jin Character Portrait: Sibylle Character Portrait: Artellis
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0.00 INK

She had always lived her life under a blanket of equal parts arrogance and equal parts confusion. A single blink would reveal that she had transported elsewhere, the simplistic dragon lazily rubbing her own eyes in an effort to dismiss the prospect of a daydream in favor of an actual change in scenery.

Below her was a short individual, no words were spoken between the two as they were already well-acquainted. The voice that guided her. The voice that woke her. Her own strength did not need to be tested and she was promptly teleported to the testing area without a single fuss.

A plain of endless tall grass, a swaying dry thicket. A beating sun, heat adorning the cusps of the winds and flavoring the air with a distinct fever. Her enhanced senses gave her an idea as to where she was despite not even haven opened her eyes yet. Her skin felt sensitive as the blades flowed and scraped her body, her ears now being alerted to a form of direction as the instructions for the test echoed throughout the field. Fortunately, she understood what she would have to do. Though, her definition of staying alive would contrast in the fact that she would exercise almost aggressive tendencies.

Allowing her wings to sprout and grow out, her body begun to shift and undertake draconic properties. Vermillion scales would begun to adorn her skin, growing draconic claws on both arms as the fabric around her woefully unfitting outfit straining and tearing in response. Bending her legs into a crouch, she leapt into the air, leaving a wave of force in her wake.

Floating several hundred meters in the air, she begun to rush her closest opponents. Larger giants or snipers that have taken vantage points, she shrugged off any form of self defense and attacked at blinding speeds. Landing blow after blow that certainly placed her targets well out of commission, she broke her victims bones before rising back into the air.

Noticing a larger concentration of warriors, she scrapped her claws against her draconic scales to rain upon sparks before holding her throat and expelling a wave of Aether from her mouth. The Aether ignited the sparks into deadly explosions that exploded like fireworks., singing the grass and ringing the air for miles. As soon as she had finished her rampage, she landed on a boulder, forming cracks from her descent. Sibylle would've leapt back up to continue culling the numbers, only to notice movement due to her enhanced senses. Normally she would've left the little guy alone, only targeting people that her instincts warned her about..but it seemed a more fickle emotion had the reins at the moment. Fueled by a childlike curiosity, she lept from the boulder onto the plains below and strolled over to where she had thought she heard the noise.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Princess Usagi Character Portrait: Sibylle Character Portrait: Artellis
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.25 INK

#, as written by Tanman
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ɗιαƖσgυє cσƖσя: #ec6901 ♙ тнσυgнт cσƖσя #301934


A few moments of silence passed. No one called out. No sounds of rapid movement in his direction. No sharp pain or scorching blaze to indicate his impending death. It seemed he’d gone unnoticed by that monstrous figure. With a faint sigh of relief, he uncovered his mouth. He didn’t get the chance to get a good look at them between his panic and the silhouette of the sun, but no doubt they were some giant, brutish lizard creature if the tail and wings were anything to go by. Just what had he gotten himself into coming to a place like this? If that was another one of the competitors, it’d be insane for any normal person to attempt a test like this if they had to battle a creature like that.

“Guess my luck is still holding out if I managed to avoid a monster like that…” Art mumbled to himself, relaxing and resting his hands on his knees for only a moment before he felt it. The shift of the air and the shadow that darted over his head. Immediately, his body moved on instinct and twisted into position, firearm drawn and levelled directly towards the figure that landed no more than a few meters from his position with a heavy thud. Dirt and stray strands of grass blew into the air as she landed, another singular beat of her wings sending them scattering about the clearing that led up to the rock as she turned to face him. It seemed she was observing him and his weapon with something akin to curiosity as she took a few steps forward.

“A girl…?” He thought to himself, pausing briefly in shock and surprise. From what he’d seen of her earlier, he’d expected some completely ferocious beast from nightmares. And yet, other than some additional and changed appendages, she looked human. Around his age, even. That thought - if only for a moment - made him hesitate on taking the shot. That, and her casual disregard for the barrel aimed straight at her as she seemed to scowl at him. Steadily, she continued towards him, unflinching. That complete lack of fear… Was she that confident that he wasn’t even a threat to her? Just how powerful was she? Nervousness creeping in as she drew closer, panic eventually settled in as Artellis felt like this might end up being the end of him.

“Stop right there! Don’t come any closer!” Voice shaking a little as he strained to make it louder, Art did his best to sound commanding. Despite his training, he was having trouble stopping his trembling, which really wasn’t helping him maintain a clean bead right at her forehead. Maybe it was the fact she’d practically backed him into a corner? There was no way he could clamber up the rock faster than she could either reach him or toast him to a crisp, and his only other exit path would be trying to sprint right past her. As he glanced in that direction, Art faintly noticing movement behind her. Focusing on it, he identified what looked to be a large black Chul, though it wasn’t exactly looking in this direction. Still, that didn’t mean it couldn’t be used.

Extending his hand out, he pointed to the monster just a bit beyond them and behind her. “Look over there! That’s the… sort… of… opponent you-” Artellis slowly trailed off as the hulking monster made a few strange movements, before it began toppling backward. At the same time as the giant was felled, another figure leapt upwards, visible only for a moment in a shining uppercut before dipping back beneath the tall grass. Like nothing had ever been there in the first place. Lowering his hand, his attention now fully turned back to the girl in front of him. It seemed that she hadn’t even entertained the idea of looking over where he gestured. Still, she’d at least stopped approaching, and was simply staring at him with an expression he wasn’t entirely sure how to read. Well apart from the fact it didn’t seem to be a happy one with a glare like that. Perhaps a hunter observing their prey? The thought brought his fear and nervousness back to the forefront.

“Timeout! We really don’t have to do this! I mean, we just have to survive the hour, right? We both want the same thing, yeah?” Raising his arms up and away and taking his gun off his target, Art was somewhat relieved she didn’t jump him the moment he let his guard down. Seeing as he seemed to have her attention now that he’d started talking, Artellis continued to do so, hoping to at the very least buy himself some time to formulate an escape plan if she wasn’t open to negotiations. “I mean, a cute girl like you shouldn’t waste her time with a guy like me, I’m not even worth the effort! Hahaha!” Throwing in a little flattery, Artellis could only hope for the best that this didn’t backfire. Maybe if he was really lucky, whoever went and took out that Chul would come and save him next...

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The senseless mumble guided her to his location, coupled with him popping out from cover to aim his weapon at her. Her lack of caution was not exactly born from spouts of draconic arrogance, but more-so her own precious naivety. Walking with an aura of the upmost nonchalance, she entertained her own stubborn curiosity, ignoring the man's increasingly louder pleas and cries in favor of a continuous stroll that would seemingly not stop for nothing.

Similar to how he was studying her, Sibylle's intrusive eyes laid focused on him. His outwards appearance didn't scream abnormal, and he certainly didn't move like a trained warrior. Her instincts told her to dig deeper, but her own stubbornness seemed to tell her to dispose of the normie and attend to other matters. Her own seemingly casual bloodlust manifesting as she aimlessly continued her saunter over to the cornered man. Turning a blind eye to the giant-slaying that was occurring behind her, she eventually met the distance until she was well into breathing distance. Bringing her hand up and out, her motions made clear her intention to punch him into a coma.

However, she seemingly stopped in her tracks at the mention of a single word. One ingredient she had plucked out of a sentence of smooth charisma. Human speech was not lost on her, so it was only natural that she clung onto the meaning. A single utterance of the word "girl". Was he referring to her? It certainly was a time of great unfamiliarity. Showcasing her limited spectrum of emotions as it was made apparent that his panicked attempts to compliment her have seemingly broken through and yielded results better than he could have ever imagined.

As quickly as it came, her bloodlust drained as quickly as beckoned. Her previously simple but stoic expression growing soft at the mere mention of a single word. She had never been called a girl, more accustomed to being referred to as a beast or simply an "it". Furthermore, the compliment did well to confuse her, unmoving as she let her simplistic mind work in an effort to process the charmer's words.

At this point, it was unclear how they stood at the moment, up until an unnamed warrior leapt from a top the rock and brought his sword down in an attempt to slice them both clean in two.

Surely, she could move quick to dodge, but it seemed that she wanted to protect the source of flattery for a few moments longer. Leaping into the air, she knocked aside the attack and subsequently the weapon before bringing her claw around the assailants neck. She flew higher before letting go and turning her body, utilizing her strong tail to smash the poor perpetrator back down onto the earth. After the spectacle, she flew back down to meet Art, hovering a few feet in the air and bringing her hand on his head. Here she spoke her first words since her arrival.

"Don't die." Soft, almost monotone, her voice sounded soothing to the ears, a contrast to her almost horrifying abilities. After her display, she flew back into the air, taking a more defensive position as opposed to flying out. While not directly apparent, it seemed that the fickle dragon was interested in protecting him.

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Character Portrait: Princess Usagi Character Portrait: Therion Character Portrait: Jin Character Portrait: Sibylle Character Portrait: Artellis
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Therion checked his pocket again, the number was still slowly ticking down, meaning someone was actively taking out participants. "Well that was quicker than expected." In the distance, something was hovering about in the sky, no doubt one of the people responsible for the rapidly dropping number of contestants. "Speaking of rapidly dropping..." He turned to address the figure that had been following him for the past five minutes, "Have I walked into your ambush yet?"

In response to his question, a spear flew through the space where his head had been just a second earlier. Two more men emerged from the tall grass, wearing matching black jumpsuits; one was wielding a hook and the other had a needle tensely gripped in both hands. "You know that is a one-handed needle, right? And you're stance is all wrong, you have too much weight on your back foot." To the assailants credit, he took Therion's words to heart and adjusted his feet.

Another spear came soaring towards Therion, this one aimed center mass, but clearly the thrower was trying to push him into the other two. In response, Therion dropped prone, frowning slightly, "That's strike two. You won't like what happens if you get three strikes." The man with a hook darted forward, followed only shortly behind by the needle user.

Therion let out a sigh and drew the wand from out of his pocket, the thin silver handle was topped with a small red crystal and the flow of aether around it was slightly off. "Strike three. You're out." Lightning arced off the wand, moving through the path of least aether resistance, which happened to be the air around the hook. The hook's wielder seized up, unable to drop the hook that was now conducting thousands of volts.

With a light roll, Therion grabbed one of the spears that had been intended to impale him, made a quick calculation based on where the spears had landed, and launched it back at his assailant. "Let's see..." Therion's pocket blipped into existence, and just as the spear found its mark, the number of contestants still alive decreased by one.

Fried to a crisp, the man with the hook fell to the ground, unconscious if still alive. The needle user was petrified with fear, which worked just fine for Therion. Rising to his feet, Therion continued down the path he had been on, stopping only to pat the needle user on his back. "You need more practice kid, and you'll never get it associating with creeps like that." The kid's needle clattered to the floor, as Therion made his way to the flying figure in the sky.


As he got closer to the flying figure, it became apparent that she wasn't hunting people down, but rather, she was defensively flying around a certain point. "Which means she's smart enough to not dance to the examiner's whim... Hopefully."

"Hey! Yoohooo!" Frantically waving his arms, Therion did his best to draw the creatures attention. She appeared to be making use of some sort of flight item, and didn't seem to be afraid of being sniped out of the sky, which was fairly promising to find this early in the climb. "Heelloo! My name is Theri, I was wondering if you wanted to be friends?"

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The numbers continued to count down. Usagi remained hidden in the grass, moving away slowly from the Chul. It was within the tall field that she spotted a glint and turned to investigate, her eyes widening. "The Colourless December, here?" Usagi murmured, biting down on her lip. The man wielding it did not look very Princess-y. Could he be a Prince of Cali? Something told Usagi no. Her hands balled into fists, it was the goal of every princess to collect as many of the 13-month series as possible. This was a show of power, so why did this man have it? He was sheathing his sword, having just struck someone down. Usagi stepped over the body, intercepting his path. "You," she eyed the dark-haired man before her.

He was taller than her, everyone was. "That weapon? Where did you get it?" Usagi asked, her eyes narrowed. He had sheathed the blade, but the memory of it stood just behind her eyes. The Colourless December, the sunlight bouncing off of its blade. Behind her, the sound of someone making their way through the grass could be heard. "Let's form an alligence, if just for this battle." Usagi stuck a hand out, hoping not to be betrayed. Alliances were a fickle thing, since they depended on mutual trust, something that for Usagi, was hard to give out. Would he take it? Usagi wasn't sure. Something emerged from the grass behind her, Usagi jabbed her elbow into a stomach, the sound of intense pain coming from the creature. She whirled around, kicking its bent over form into the ground.

Usagi stepped over it gingerly, walking closer to the man. "What's your name?" She asked, tossing her hair over her shoulder. The tall grass began to shift once more, this time, they were surrounded. "What's this? A little girl and a samurai?" It seemed that Usagi was not the only one with the idea to forge an alliance. The test had thirty minutes remaining, the number continued to drop. They were almost at half of what they had begun with. The people confronting them were all different shapes and sizes, with tails and extra appendages. Would aether be enough? She surely hoped so. Usagi did not want to reveal to this man her weapon. What if he was one of those rumored Princess hunters? This test was the perfect setting for murder. Besides... meeting a strange man in a field wasn't exactly the pinnacle of safety.

"Little girl?" Usagi scoffed, "big words coming from an oversized duck." Usagi rolled up her sleeves, not wishing them to get dirty. "What did you say you little brat?" The duck-man quacked, his beak lined with razor sharp teeth. "Quack, quack!" Usagi mocked, biding her time. Let the enemy attack first, it was easiset if they showed their hand immediately. "I'm gonna make you regret ever being born shorty!" He waved a feather-lined arm. Was it a wing? Usagi wasn't sure. Feathers shot out from his skin, slicing up the ground where she had once stood.

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Carefully regarding the half-girl, half… Lizard? No, she had wings. Dragon maybe? Well, watching her closely, Artellis was somewhat relieved when he saw that stern expression break for a moment, kind of like she’d snapped out of a trance. Wait… That worked? He could scarcely believe it. That was a good sign, right? And she was slowly lowering her fist, so maybe..? No sooner than Art thought that, did the girl in front of him immediately return to full alert, her body tensing and fist clenching. In that instant, panic set in Arty as he scrambled to prepare his own weapon. Damn it, if this was how it had to be then-!

In that instant, she leapt upwards, Artellis backing up in preparation for her assault before he saw it. In a spectacle of aerial finesse, the formidable girl dismantled the assault from another warrior, battering away their weapon in a shine of sparks before finishing with a vicious chokehold into submission throw as she slammed him to the ground. Artellis could only grunt in exertion as the earth cracked around the point of impact, a wave of dust blowing against him and the arms he crossed in front of his face to shield himself. And, as he uncovered them to survey the scene, she was there. Hovering mere centimetres from him as she reached down. His initial surprise and fear made him freeze to the spot, but despite the armored claws she had formed moments before, Art was surprised by how gentle the touch was as she squashed down his hair.

"Don't die." She spoke, and with a voice that was surprisingly more compassionate than he expected after the brutality he just witnessed. Mouth left slightly agape, Art could only dumbly respond as she released him. “I’ll uh… Try. Thanks…” Blinking a couple of times in disbelief, Artellis watched as she then took to the sky, flying closed circles nearby and around the rock formation. Maybe she was just staking claim to this as her territory..? As she left, Artellis felt all his stress leave him, and the breath that he’d been unconsciously holding suddenly released. Taking a deep breath, he fell back onto his ass, taking a seat on the ground as he composed himself. And to think, this was just the beginning... The first real test. What chance did he have trying to climb higher compared to someone like her?

Resting on the ground, he calmly watched the girl flying about, somewhat in awe of her strength, composure and... Other things. Well, if he wasn’t going to get to the top, he could only hope that someone nice like her made it. Nice to him at least. Scanning his eyes to the mangled body that had been crushed into the earth, he somehow felt others wouldn’t quite have the same perspective. “Wonder what her name is?” Art asked himself, not really able to ask her anymore as she flew high and out of earshot unless he wanted to shout at her like some idiot.

"Hey! Yoohooo!" As if on queue, the voice came from not too far away, but was clearly trying to draw attention with how loudly he called. Sitting up and dusting himself off, Artellis picked up his weapon and scanned for the source. It didn’t take long, as the guy was wildly gesticulating with his arms. How had a guy like that not been jumped, and yet Artellis had managed to encounter two different assailants despite trying to remain out of sight? Still, it wouldn’t pay to underestimate the fellow. Perhaps he was trying to goad them into a trap?

"Heelloo! My name is Theri, I was wondering if you wanted to be friends?" The boy continued, and it was about at that point that Arty realised he wasn’t being addressed at all. Theri as he called himself, seemed to have his attention fully on the girl flying above him, and though warranted, did sting Art’s pride a little. Still, was Theri being genuine? If he’d witnessed her destruction, maybe he didn’t want to be on her bad side? No, if that was the case, he’d have just steered clear entirely. Maybe he wanted to use her like some sort of bodyguard? Art could certainly see the appeal in that after what had just happened, but for some reason, that didn’t quite sit right with him.

“Damn it, what am I doing…?” Art mumbled to himself as he made his approach. He should be just staying clear and waiting out the timer, but instead he was-

“Yo! Nice to see another friendly face. Theri, right? I’m Artellis.” Giving a salute and wave, Art made a slow approach. If this was an ambush of some kind for that girl, he wanted to scope it out. He owed her that much at least, and he hated having unpaid debts. “But you have to understand, I’m a little skeptical. How can I be assured this isn’t some trick to axe off more of the competition?” Smirking and playing it casual with some confidence, Art attempted to pretend that the conversation was directed at him rather than his flying friend. Hopefully that’d get this guy talking and make him a little easier to read. Even as he awaited a response, Art kept his senses peeled for danger, assessing both the man in front of him, and the surroundings for potential back up. Faintly too, he listened to the movements of the girl above him, as he wasn’t entirely sure how she’d react to this development.

One thing was for certain…

The tall guy in front of him really needed a haircut. Dang those braids were long.

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Continuing to scrap up a rain of bright sparks, a wave and a roar beckoned forth dangerous explosions, further culling the numbers dangerously into the double-digits, though Sibylle controlled her carnage in an effort not to fly too far from the man. In midst of her flight, she turned a deaf ear to the callings of the Ein Sof Prince, despite how outward his attempts were. A mix of obliviousness and simplistic focus lended itself to her arrogance and the dragon continued to fly around the perimeter.

Her eyes caught other noteworthy individuals. Listening to her instincts as they told her of their dangerousness, but her tether to fickly protecting her new found companion preventing her from disposing of them at the moment. Sibylle rubbed her eyes, let out a teary yawn before looking back for Art, noticing him inch ever so close to a man she had never seen before.

She understood not wanting to feel idle, but dragons like her are particularly territorial, and she couldn't help but feel that his safety was her responsibility. Twisting as she flew, her wings flapped with the rumbles of parted air as she darted towards the two. Landing on a knee between both men and cracking the dried dirt where she landed. Her eyes narrowed at the black-haired individual, her perceptive eyes studying his appearance quietly. While he looked unassuming, her instincts beckoned her to stay on guard, Sibylle bringing her hands up in a defensive position as she inched back until she was in arms distance to Art.

Not speaking a single word, she looked at the crackshot over her shoulder. Seeking to speak with her eyes alone, her usual expression gazed towards him expectantly, the fact that she was looking to him for advice on how to proceed made readily apparent. A sense of uncharacteristic unease was made present on her face, the poor dragon clearly not mentally equipped for anything pertaining to conversation.

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"Usagi," she replied, but only after he had given her his name. "Hak," Usagi threw out, not wanting to pull the name card, but figuring it was probably important. It seemed that their temporary allegiance would stand, as their enemies outnumbered them. "Don't you know it's rude to cut into a conversation!" Usagi struck down a normal looking human with an oversized head. They dropped to the gruond, unconscious or dead, she wasn't sure. Her pocket suddenly blinked beside her, the time having reached 00 : 00. "Congratulations to all those who remain! Out of the five hundred, a mere 83 are left! For the next test, please form a group of two to five." Usagi abandoned her fighting stance, turning to look at Jin. What was one more test? She figured.

His reply to her before had been vague, but Usagi would not press the issue, not now at least. She held out her hand, offering a shake, "Since we're the only two remaining in this circle and I have the sense that there are none others close by, perhaps our partnership should withstand for at least the period of the next test?" There were an uneven amount of qualifiers left and since the team sizes could be varied, this meant that there must have been less that passed the first test than they originally calculated. What would the next test be like? Usagi wasn't sure. She wasn't nervous, since this test was exactly what she had been expected. The proctors had culled the majority of them, but even so, Usagi felt 83 passing was a high number. Even less of them would pass the next few trials, or qualify in the preliminaries to climb the Tower.

Their bodies illuminated as they were transported from one stage to the next. A man with pink hair and strange facial markings stood before them, wearing the uniform Seok had greeted them in. "Welcome qualifiers! Congratulations, you have all passed the first test!" His teeth were sharp and his expression, despite his words, held no joy in it. His smile did not quite reach his eyes and it made Usagi shiver. "While the first test was one of brute strength, the next is a head scratcher! I won't say anything more. My name is Eun Jung and you are free to lounge here while waiting for your group's turn." Usagi grabbed Jin's sleeve, locating a bench. "Let's camp there for now," the difference in height between them was comical.

Usagi reached into her backpack, pulling out food. "Here, did you eat anything today?" She asked, offering him a package of salted rice cakes.

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“Oh?” Another man approached Therion, though he looked unassuming and seemed to be even-tempered enough. “Did he not notice the person above? Or am I about to get attacked again?” Making sure to keep his hands visible, Therion slowly approached the new arrival. In his haste to get the winged girl’s attention, Therion hadn’t even considered running into someone else first.

Casting a quick glance skyward, Therion realized he was being ignored by his initial prospect; rather she was milling about in the sky, seemingly without a care in the world. “Why would I spend time and energy to axe off the competition when the Tower was built to do just that ? More im-“ Therion’s eyes widened as he noticed the gun held in the newcomer’s hand for the first time.

Letting out an appreciative whistle, his calm demeanor suddenly evaporated, “That is a very nice piece you've got there. Definitely workshop work.” Therion’s eyes darted up to Artellis’s face, “You don’t look like someone from one of the big families…” His eyes darted back down to the gun, “But that baby can fire at least through the 30th floor. Maybe more…”

The thought muddled around in the man’s head as he tried to extrapolate two from some unknown variable. Five seconds passed before Therion remembered why he had run here. “Anyways! We both heard the same rules, right? We just stay alive for the rest of the hour; worst case scenario we part ways after that.”

For some reason, the winged ”...Scout?” Therion decided that the flying girl had to be a scout, and he had just attracted her attention somehow. For a moment, he was sure that she was going to attempt to subtract them both from the remaining contestants, but she turned her back to Artellis far too readily. The way she had landed was entirely too graceful for comfort; as if the aether wasn’t even there, like a creature swimming through a void.

Therion’s hackles slowly raised, “Did I… just kill myself?” Instinctively he reached for his wand, before deciding it wasn’t worth his time; she was way too fast, her claws would snap his neck in a moment, if Artellis didn't draw a bead first. “F-friend of yours, Artellis?”

“Between the three of us, we could pass this test and the next with ease. Maybe even the whole floor?” Slowly and carefully, he offered his hand to the winged girl in front of him. “I shouldn't have offed those two goons from earlier, they could have at least bought me time...”

His mind couldn't stop racing, there would be no way to run from the two of them,
"I started ogling his gun and let my guard down, I have to try and keep them both talking, o-or disarm him somehow, I-"
PING PONG "Congratulations... Please form a group of two to five."

"W-what?" The pocket reappeared; its timer read that the sixty minute period had elapsed, "There are three thousand and six hundred seconds in an hour. We should have ha-" He had stopped keeping track of the time limit the moment he noticed someone was following him. "He followed me for just over five minutes, and then running into these two..." Therion's brow furrowed deeply, a hand raised to his chin in quiet contemplation, it was unusual for him to lose track of a simple countdown. "I got overexcited; I guess I was never really allowed out of the Workshop before. And now..."


Standing in front of him were two people, one of which was carrying a gun that could easily carry him through the the first thirteen floors, and the other was, was... not human; at least not in the traditional sense. The girl wasn't wearing a flight item, rather she had wings. She also had a tail, and claws, and any number of other monstrous features.

"Well there are three of us here, and if you agree not to try and kill me for the first twenty floors, I know some things that could help you guys out further up." Reaching into his pocket, Therion retrieved and opened a vaccum-sealed piece of beef jerky, offering it to the dragon lady and Artellis.

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As Artellis regarded Theri in front of him, he could tell that the man’s attention was divided, split between caution for him, and the girl flying circles about the area. Honestly, it was a wise move. At the very least, Art would have done the same in his position. Seemingly content that Art and the winged woman weren’t an immediate danger, Theri decided to answer Art’s question with what he could only take as a candid response. “Why would I spend time and energy to axe off the competition when the Tower was built to do just that ? More im-“

Cutting himself short, Theri’s eyes betrayed what caused him to draw pause, Artellis glancing to the piece of weaponry he had rested over his shoulder, before back to the man who was heaping praise on it’s capabilities. A workshop piece? I mean, he’d heard of the workshop, but something like that trickling down to the slums where he’d grown up was unlikely. Then again, he’d plucked it out of the trash from amongst a pile of weapons stolen from dead fools that got shredded by the Greasers. He found it hard to believe that anyone that went that high up the tower could have been taken down by his old gang of thugs, so then how did it end up here? Either Theri was mistaken, or maybe there was more to this weapon then Art realised? Just why had he even been drawn to it in the first place?

Putting those thoughts into the back of his mind, Art wouldn’t let the compliments to his gun throw him off guard. If it was that powerful, it might make him a target. Or Theri might have been trying to get on his good side by over-exaggerating. Still, it wasn’t worth worrying over. Not yet at least. Deciding he’d stayed silent long enough, Artellis butted in shortly after the comment about reaching the 30th floor. “Hah, you think? Maybe this baby’ll end up going further than I can, but until then we’ll see just how far we can go. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get to work for one of those bigshot families I don’t belong to.” Grinning like he’d told a joke, Art continued. ”At any rate, you said you wanted to be friends, right?”

Theri stumbled out his offer, which Artellis had to admit sounded reasonable. For now, there was no reason to fight, and it did seem like this guy came alone. As long as he was cautious, this might end up working out in both their favou- The telltale shadow and rush of wind accompanied the heroic entrance of Art’s first apparent friend in the tower, the ground splintering some more as she struck a defensive pose, guarding him from Theri’s advances. Art wasn’t entirely sure what he’d done to earn her good graces, but he wasn’t complaining. In fact, this looked like it was really starting to work out. As she glanced back to Artellis, wordlessly communicating with just a gaze and a shift of her head. It was surprising to see something resembling discomfort on her face. Why? What exactly did she have to be afraid of?

“F-friend of yours, Artellis?” Stammered Theri, drawing something of a laugh out of Art. Striding forwards, the orange haired lad came up next to the dragoness, patting her a couple of times on the shoulder. “Yup. Easy there dame. As your friend, I think maybe we could learn to show a little more hospitality if someone’s not trying to attack us?” Flashing her a smile and a wink, Art saw no reason not to act jovial and friendly with her. After all, it eased his nerves, and realistically it felt like she could tear him and Theri apart easily, so there was no sense acting guarded around her. Besides, she was clearly trying to protect him.

“Between the three of us, we could pass this test and the next with ease. Maybe even the whole floor?” Theri added, moving up to shake with her. Wanting to ensure that the ‘transaction’ went smoothly, Art moved to be mediator between the two, taking her hand and helping her to shake with Theri, laying his own hand on top. “Well, I don’t know if I’ll be much help, but I see no reason why we can’t work together on this. Ain’t that right…- Oh yeah, I was so busy getting my butt saved by you that I never got your name. Or gave you mine. Name’s Artellis. Braid-boy here is Theri. Oh, and thanks too by the way. I definitely owe you for helping me out back there.” Getting the introductions out of the way, Artellis was about to wait for her response when the announcement came through to declare that the round was over. They were done. One test, out of the way. Taking his hand off the top of Theri and his mystery fan’s shake, Art let out a soft woop of celebration, along with a fist pump.

“Hey, would you look at that? We’re through to the next round. Didn’t even die either.” Giving a pointed look to joke around with the dragon-girl, Art continued. “And we already have a good team for the next round. Well, I’ll try not to slow you two down at least.” Giving them a thumbs up as the teleportation effect began to transport them to the next testing area, Art whistled and gave a mention of thanks as he took some of the jerky Theri had.

“Thanks man. Used to live on this stuff where I come from.” Taking a big bite, and chewing, Art continued to speak even with his mouthful. “Also, I won’t shoot you in the back, and I don’t plan on letting you near mine, so we’re cool. Not that it should matter, right? We’re friends. No need to oversell yourself with some vague notion of secret information.” Waving the jerky around, Art seemed completely casual and in his element as he chatted away. “And just don’t upset our friend here and I’m sure you’ll be safe. Probably.”

As more and more people started filtering in to the room, Artellis took note of the comment about there being a ‘head scratcher’ in the next test. Hopefully he’d be able to help with that. Taking a moment to scan the room to evaluate the remaining 80 besides himself and his newfound friends, Art steered the grounp over to a nearby wall to rest and chat as they discussed their newfound arrangement. ”So, think we should try to find another two to round out our group and increase our odds? Or do we prefer our close knit little team?”

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Usagi finished her rice cake, brushing crumbs off of her lap, wanting to remain presentable. "I have the sense that if we pass this test, we'll be going to the main testing area." Usagi knew a thing or two about the first test, after all, her Mother climbed the Tower. She had warned Usagi what the first floor was like, how ruthless it was. How you could never truly trust anyone, not even those deemed friendly. Even now, Usagi was wary of her new alliance. You never knew who would stab you in the back in order to gain an advantage in The Tower.

Still, allies were important. She surveyed the room, her gaze cautiously neutral. A lot of strong contendors. "It looks like we have our work cut out for us," one by one groups would be called in, but the Proctor, Eun, was giving them a few minutes to rest. There were 80 Regulars remaining, plenty of potential to add allies and possibly make enemies. Usagi spotted a familiar face, one she wished she hadn't. Their gaze met and he grinned, sauntering towards them. It was too late to pretend not to notice, Usagi mentally cursed herself out. "Well, well, if it isn't the pride of the Hak family. How are you Princess?" He gave a mock bow, his eyes a startling blue in contrast to his pale hair. "Hello Ki Hyun," Usagi replied, giving a respectful tilt of the head. "Don't shake his hand," Usagi warned Jin under her breath

"The last time I saw you, you were still fumbling with your sword."

"And the last time I saw you, you were standing over your dead brother's body." Usagi retorted, not moving from her seat. Hyun laughed, "still as sharp as ever." He leaned over and lowered his voice. "Don't get too cushy on that throne of yours, once the tests start, you might find your kingdom will come crumbling down." Usagi smiled, "Well Hyun, I hope you enjoy the taste of dirt, because you'll be eating my dust." Hyun laughed and sauntered away, returning to his group. "I hate that man," Usagi seethed, taking out another rice cake to offer to Jin.

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Character Portrait: Princess Usagi Character Portrait: Therion Character Portrait: Jin Character Portrait: Sibylle Character Portrait: Artellis
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Her curious orbs blinked twice, the simplistic dragon at least having the scattered awareness that her descent resulted in her stumbling upon an ensuing conversation she neither understood nor cared for. Still, the smell of the Ten Families was particularly pungent with their newfound ally. No matter his history, Sibylle felt the need to keep the man at claws length until he had the chance to prove his intentions.

Her body twitched from instinct as Art strode up to pat her shoulder, the next few pats not drumming up nearly the same jerking response. She could not explain why, but she couldn't help but feel at ease around the orange-locked man. Whether it was an beast's caution to a figure most unassuming or her sensing a kind soul or the ability to cultivate one. Whether the case may be, she could feel a spark from him and despite her simplistic nature, she uncharacteristically wished to see it flourish. She couldn't explain this feeling..but nonetheless, she always trusted her instincts. Sibylle took a deep breath as she noticed her studied gaze on Art had persisted for far too long, focusing her attention on Therion for a few sharp moments before finally relaxing her shoulders. As her arms finally fell to her sides, her tough crimson scales begun to dissipate into raining cinders. Shrunken wings, a smaller swaying tail and two large devil-like horns were the remnants of her draconic features as she shifted back to her base form.

"Sibylle." With a soft voice, she answered his call to introductions. As a slave, all she had was her own name, though she had not had much experience remembering it when her lifestyle changed to resemble that of a beast.

Her stoic expression seemed to shift at Artellis' ramblings, cracking a demure smile as soon as he finished. Whether her shift was due to his small joke, or the fact that he was undermining himself was unfortunately unclear, regardless, Sibylle returned his shoulder-tapping gesture from earlier by patting him lightly on the head once more. Her soft..somewhat demeaning pets acting as a silent reassurance in response to him feeling the need to mention that he would try to not "slow them down".

The same couldn't be said about Therion, however. Every moment her gaze met his, her eyes scrutinized into an almost childlike glare. Her mouth forming a pout at the prospect of being forced to ally herself with a Regular that smelled of royalty. Art's words alone were keeping her in line but it was clear that the dragon hated the prince for something that was well outside his control. Still, her now present lack of claws made apparent that her hatred would only manifest in petty glances and loud exaggerated huffs.

At the beck of what seemed like strategic conversation, Sibylle crossed her arms to show her aversion to contributing. However, her expectant glances with the group's sharpshooter explicitly showed that her vote was with him.

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Character Portrait: Princess Usagi Character Portrait: Therion Character Portrait: Jin Character Portrait: Sibylle Character Portrait: Artellis Character Portrait: Moon
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When Moon had been told that she was going to enter the Tower, Moon hadn't been scared. She had traveled very far to enter this competition, to find the human man that had given her, her name. When Moon entered the Tower, that was when she had begun to fear that she may be in over her head. Just over four feet tall, Moon was able to hide in the grass easily. She had positioned herself on her belly, laying flat in the grass to make herself practically invisible. With her bow in one hand and an arrow knocked in the other, Moon waited, taking down anyone who might come too close.

"What do we have here?" She turned, rolling over onto her back and pointing the arrow upwards at the human standing over her. "What a cute little kitten you are, what do they call you?" The human knelt down, not minding the arrow in her face to scratch underneath Moon's chin. "Do not touch Moon!" She rolled over quickly, jumping several feet back. The human laughed, "Oh, you're a fierce little thing. Look, the first test is about to be over. I'm not goint to fight-" the announcement was made. They had both passed the first test. Moon was relieved to hear this information, until the next bit. They had to form a team? Why? "Moon does not need a team," she whispered, her tail flicking angrily.

"Hey," the human turned towards her, grinning. "Let's team up," they stuck out a hand. Moon recalled this in her lessons, the shake. She took the hand with both of her own, sniffing it quickly, then shaking it once. "I assume that's a yes?" Moon nodded, the human did not smell bad. "I'm Li-Seo, you?" The human asked, "Moon is Moon," Moon replied. Li-Seo giggled, "You're adorable." Moon frowned, "No, Moon is Moon." She huffed, crossing her arms. "Lee Song, what happens next?" Moon asked, putting her bow across her body. "Li-Seo and I don't know." Just as she said that they began to glow, Moon squeaking and bumping into Li-Seo.

Suddenly they were in another area, a room full of people. They were to wait here until it was their turn to take the second exam. "Let's find a place to-" but Moon was already making a beeline for one of the large windows. Li-Seo laughed, following her. "Tired," Moon yawned, laying down on the ground in the sun. Li-Seo sat down next to her. "Hungry?" She asked, pointing to one of the vending machines. "Moon has no money," her stomach growled. "I'll pay for it, hang on." Moon's eyes began to drift shut, the sun making her sleepy. When she opened them, it was because a shadow had been cast over her. "Here," Li-Seo offered, holding out a bag of something. Moon took it, ripping the package open with her teeth.

"You sure are cute," Li-Seo reached out as Moon ate small chocolate bites. Moon froze when Li-Seo touched her head, Li-Seo smiling. "One," Moon mumbled, which made Li-Seo grin. "Alright, just one," she scratched behind Moon's ear, Moon practically melting into a puddle.

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Character Portrait: Princess Usagi Character Portrait: Therion Character Portrait: Jin Character Portrait: Sibylle Character Portrait: Artellis Character Portrait: Moon
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#, as written by Sepokku
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Artellis seemed dismissive of the things that Therion knew about the upper floors, but it didn't really matter so long as they could find some sense of camaraderie, which seemed to be going fine so far. The only issue was... "She's giving me that look again!" For some reason it made him want to stick his tongue out at her and blow raspberries. It’s not like she could attack him in between tests, at least not without serious repercussions.

The waiting area was well-lit and the other eighty-three contestants seemed to have come from all over the tower. Certainly they could find another two teammates here, the question was whether or not they should. “Artellis and Sibylle don’t appear to trust or like me much… Two others could be valuable insurance against a knife in the back. Or they could be the knife in the back.” A plaintive frown slowly crossed his face as he scanned the crowd, while leaning against the wall he had been led to.

“Well the next test is supposed to be a head-scratcher, so we won’t necessarily need more manpower. I think our recruitment problem hinges on whether or not we're any good at riddles.” From personal experience, people who enjoyed riddles were more conniving, and therefore more apt for betrayal. Though they didn't seem to have any plans to betray each other, and he could probably crack whatever problem the next test posed, even if they couldn't. "Do I... Trust them?"

The words of a Great Family Head echoed in Therion's head, "Trust, but verify." The pink-hued ears of a beast-lady caught his eye, she was sitting with one other guy, which was perfect. Grabbing Artellis's arm, he pointed over to the pink cat and her human friend. "What about those two?" Without waiting for an answer, he began to all but drag Artellis over to the two while gesturing for Sibylle to follow; he didn't dare try to drag her around.

"Hello! My name is Therion, and this is my team leader, Artellis!" Pushing the orange-haired man forward, Therion gave a wide grin before whispering, "This is the part where you lay on the charm, Arti"

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#, as written by Tanman
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Sibylle, Theri and Artellis; quite the merry band they made. The former didn’t talk too much, but she communicated a fair bit with her body language. For whatever reason, she certainly didn’t seem too fond of Theri, but maybe she’d warm up to him with time. Honestly he couldn’t tell what the difference was between Theri and himself to make Sibylle hold such different dispositions, but it was nice to have her act so warm with him. Doubly so for a cute girl. With her features rescinded, she was much less intimidating; a stark contrast from before. Hard to even imagine her eviscerating her enemies with the way she was pouting and clinging close to him.

Then there was Theri. Significantly harder to read with his body language; and with just as cryptic motivations for associating with him. If he was to be trusted, he just wanted to work together, but Art couldn’t determine if his kindness was just a facade as a means to an end. At the very least, he was incentivised to work with them for the duration they needed to remain as a group. The true test would be what he’d do once the opportunity came to part ways. For now though, it seemed he could be trusted, even if Sibylle didn’t feel the same way. Artellis would have to work to try and mend that divide, at least somewhat if they were to work together. Couldn’t have her glaring at him all the time

“C’mon Sibs, Try some. Stuff’s good!” Art had stopped eating the jerky, waving some in front of Sybille to break her line of sight to Theri and forcing the food into her hands to eat. Giving her a smile, Art looked like he was about to say something else, but instead gave a soft exclamation of surprise as Theri now hooked himself under his arm and started dragging him away from Sibylle’s side. "What about those two?" The boy commented as he pulled Art stumbling along. “H-huh? Hey, hold up!” With only light protesting as he staggered up with Theri, the two came to a stop in front of another pair. Dusting his arm off as he pulled free of Theri, Artellis gave a quick wave and chuckle as his partner began the introductions.

"Hello! My name is Therion, and this is my team leader, Artellis!"" Wait, what? Damn that Therion! Trying to ignore how ruffled he was from being thrown into the spotlight, Artellis briefly contemplated how he’d get his revenge after this scenario was done before quickly and smoothly slipping into chatter with the two potential teammates. “Haha, that’s right. Mind if we get your name, ladies?” Li-Seo, the human woman, and Moon, the cat-girl introduced themselves, the former helping Artellis with some of the legwork by assuming his intent. They certainly didn’t look particularly strong, but they’d made it this far, so that was something. And Li-Seo at least had a decent head on her shoulders if she knew why they were being approached. Hopefully they’d be more of a help then a hindrance if this all worked out, but Artellis couldn’t imagine Moon would be much use for anything with how tiny she was. It almost seemed like she was a little kid, and Art didn’t fancy himself a babysitter.

“Nice to meet you both. You’re absolutely right we’re looking for some teammates for this next task. Many hands make light work as they say, and we’d appreciate all the help we can get.” Giving them his best smile to try and be friendly, he first turned his attention to Li-Seo to try and win her over. “You seem pretty switched on, and we’re no slouch either. Sibylle back there may seem cute and not look too intimidating now, but you should see her when she gets going. Definitely the toughest in the room.” With that endorsement, Art decided not to risk a glance over his shoulder in case Theri and Sibylle’s bickering spoiled it. Instead, he turned his attention to Moon, Artellis squatted down to be at her height. “So, what do you say pretty kitty? Wanna be part of Team Artellis? The name’s still a work in progress.” As Art asked the question with another grin, he reached his hand out to start petting Moon’s head. She was pretty adorable so it was hard to resist. Plus it seemed like that Li-Seo girl got away with giving the cat pats, so why couldn’t he? Besides, she was just a little kid. Should be easy to win her over, right?

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Her glare continued to persist, her sharp eyes unceasingly peering into the soul of her poor recipient until distracted by the movement of a dry piece of steak. She was initially drawn to the smoky scent but the swaying, pendulum like movements of Art's arm captured her attention for an extended period of time, similar to a feline's attention on a cat toy..or more appropriate, a bull's huffing gaze on a dancing crimson rag.

However, her focus broke as he dropped it into her hand. At this point in time, she was seconds away from biting it out of his hand, but this method, at least, was much more civilized (not that Sibylle cared). Focused on the jerky piece, she took a small nimble before gorging it whole. Allowing the smallish portion to snake down her throat without the need to even chew. While she wasn't at all picky with her food, she could at least process that what she had just consumed was traditionally delicious for the brief moments that it waned where her tongue could taste it.

Turning to receive more, these idyllic moments would come to pass, quickly broken as the group wandered their attention to a catgirl and her human companion. She donned a vicious look aimed towards the Ten Families perpetrator before following after the two. Her tail swaying with a slight flick as she walked shortly behind them.

As always, she took a passive role in their conversation, walking past Therion and standing in breathing distance to Art only to turn her head and look over his shoulder. Painted with a perpetual uninterested expression, her glance shifted into a childish glare as she watched Art's hand attempt to pet the smaller looking cat's head.

Perhaps she had been irked by a tinge of jealously.

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”Your companions certainly have an air of strength about them.” Ooo, ouch. Artellis tried not to let that comment sting too much to his pride, even if it was true. Theri and Sibylle certainly seemed to have a much more powerful aura about them, standing out from the crowd. He was just a pretty ordinary kid with a gun. Stll, as the conversation continued further, and it became clear that Li-Seo had somehow been observing them during the test, Art couldn’t help but comment back on his supposed survival prospects. “Oof, you wound me madam. Seems Sibylle’s the only one here with a vote of confidence for me.” Scratching the back of his neck and letting the thinly veiled insults glide off his back, the next comments about Therion made Artellis pause in thought.

“A member of the 10 families? Huh, he didn’t lead in with that, but that might explain the weird feeling I felt...” Thinking about it to himself, Artellis was a little surprised. Somehow he felt most members of the 10 families would introduce themselves with that name and title. Not only that, but surely they would have better plans than teaming up with someone like him? Just what was Therion’s story? With that curiosity in mind, Art wasn’t really paying too much attention when he continued to ramble and then proceeded to pet Moon, missing some vital warning signs. Gosh, she was so soft and fluffy. The sensation was short-lived however, as Li-Seo both warned and saved Art from a vicious mauling as the feline’s mouth chomped and claws swiped at the air. Reflexively, he recoiled back, a bead of sweat rolling down his face at how close he’d come to becoming a scratching post. "Do not pet Moon unless Moon says pets are okay!" Moon declared with a hiss.

“Okay okay! Don’t bite Artellis unless Artellis says… Scratch that, don’t bite me!” Responding in kind to Moon’s demand; Art’s antics seemed to have struck a chord with Li-Seo at least, who voiced her plan to join them. ”Wait… For real?” Artellis blinked, somewhat stunned that his goofing around was what won her over. Or at least, that’s what she said. Letting her negotiate the rest of the way with her partner, he turned back to Theri and Sibylle, flashing them a thumbs up. ”Not bad for the Team Leader, am I right?” Grinning, the sharpshooter felt daggers glaring at him, turning back to see the adorably angry face of Moon. "...but humans will not pet Moon unless Moon says so." The feline was clearly riled, which was easily recognised in her body language. Grinning some, Artellis couldn’t help teasing their newfound friend, at least a little. “What was that? Did you say you wanted me to pet you, Moon?~” Artellis squatted down again, clearly joking as he continued to poke and prod at Moon. Thankfully, not literally, as he kept his hands back and to himself, staying out of striking distance. “But I heard you say so. Moon definitely said ‘Pet Moon’ so…”

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#, as written by Sepokku
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A frown slowly spread across Therion’s face as he listened to Li-Seo’s assessment. He hadn’t expected her to be so knowledgeable in her initial assessment, but so off in the key areas. “Then again, maybe she’s deliberately omitting certain things she knows..?”
It was probably too early for Therion to show all the cards in his hand, but there was probably nothing wrong with challenging Li-Seo's knowledge a bit.

“Actually, the Ten Families have been around so long that bastard bloodlines keep cropping up, and due to the strength that comes with their heritage, quite a few get chosen as Regulars. The real defining characteristic is how many of them keep using their family name upon entering the Inner Tower; doing so is like painting a target on your back if you’re not sponsored by a powerful relative...” Stealing an inquisitive glance to Moon, Therion couldn’t help but wonder if he had chosen wrong when picking their two new teammates.

Artellis and Moon seemed to be hitting it off quick enough, and the two were getting along like a new puppy encroaching on a housecat’s territory. “Does Li-Seo know who he’s teamed up with..?” His eyes lingered on the pink cat’s ears, a clear mark that she wasn’t fully human, “And all Beastmen come from [Data Redacted]”

Therion blinked twice, barely hearing Li-Seo’s acceptance of their proposition. “What the hell..? Back in the Workshop I read about [Data Sealed]” It was on the tip of his tongue, but for some reason, whatever information he was trying to recall stayed stubbornly out of reach. For the first time since arriving in the Tower, he started to wonder what sorts of things had been ‘Forgotten’ since his departure.

Artellis’s excitement knocked him back to reality, the orange-haired leader was enthusiastically giving Sibylle and him a thumbs up. With a distracted chuckle, Therion returned the thumbs-up and went back to staring off into space. “I’ll have to find time to speak with Moon alone, maybe she could help jog my memory…”

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Naturally, the dragon was protective, close to bearing her own fangs in response to the almost hostile reception from the duo. It wouldn't do to start a fight right here and right now, but Sibylle was without the social courtesy to restrain herself if things came to. Fortunately, Art's charm saved him from being bit by the catgirl and the subsequent task of having to restrain Sibylle shortly after.

Quite frankly, Sibylle was naturally out of the loop, she had the scattered awareness to realize that Art has single-handily recruited 2 new faces into their now group of 5, but wasn't exactly informed on the more subtle exchanges and glances. Regardless, she beamed a moderate smile and brought her hands together into a small applause, mirroring the volume of a subtle golf clap but with the actual earnest purpose of congratulating him after he formed a grin and small celebration to the fruits of his labor. Well, this was why he was made leader after all.

Her eyes looked around Art for a deeper look at their new allies. Pushing past the de-facto leader for a few moments, she brought her face into licking distance as she stared intently into the two. First a momentary pause and study at the one named Li-Seo, Sibylle could tell from how she sat and carried herself that she was well-trained and would move well. The Huntress' eyes might rival the Dragon's in perceptiveness.

As for the cat..Sibylle couldn't unfortunately gain much from a glance. Her gaze persisted for tenfold the time she spent looking face to face at Li-Seo, eventually deriving use out of their new-found teammate by raising her demure palm to try to pet her on the hair. It seemed she turned a blind eye to the exchange between Art and Moon and the warning that soon followed from earlier..and it would most likely take more to sway her off her path than just a few huffed words and a pout.

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Character Portrait: Princess Usagi Character Portrait: Therion Character Portrait: Jin Character Portrait: Sibylle Character Portrait: Artellis Character Portrait: Moon
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Li-Seo's smiled remained polite, "My apologies if I have momentarily bruised your pride." Li-Seo's hands remained folded together in front of her, her staff slung across her back. Moon watched all of them carefully, especially Bart, the one that had tried to pet her. Her tail stood up on ends, hissing when he tried to pet her again. "Moon did not give permission!" She snapped, taking a wary step back. She ran to hide behind Li-Seo, not wishing to be touched by Bart. "Moon says no!" The Cat's tail flickered angrily, her ears pointed foward, alert.

"I apologize for Moon's behavior," Li-Seo smiled apologetically "When I initially teamed up with her, I did not realize she was an actual cat." That's right, Moon was not human, she was a cat. She did not abide by human rules, as much as the humans tried to get her to follow them. Li-Seo's smile remained polite as the one called Terry addressed her. "Hmm, perhaps, but it is no more a target than it is a warning." Moon, determining the threat of Bart no longer prevelant, stepped out from behind Li-Seo. Her tail flickered as she looked up into the faces of her new, very tall companions.

The strange girl that had been glaring at her before stepped forward, leaning down. Moon warily, remained in place. Surely, this beast could eat her in one gulp if she wanted to. A hand reached out and before Moon could react, settled in her hair. Her ears and tail stiffened, was this the end? Was this creature going to eat her? Oh, no, no, that felt... nice. Moon rubbed her head against the creature's palm. She didn't smell like a human, no, this one smelled different and if the tail and horns were of any indication, this one was probably not a human either. Moon let out a low purr, "Moon will allow it... for now," her tail waggled back and forth, momentarily enjoying the feeling.

"I'm surprised," Li-Seo laughed, "you didn't even have to bribe her." Someone from across the room cleared their voice, "It looks like you are the final team," he grinned, his smile containing no kindness. "Follow this hallway to the only door, your test will take place through there." Moon looked between the humans, she could tell that Li-Seo was suddenly on edge. "May Cali's guiding light help you navigate this test."

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#, as written by Tanman
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“Aw c’mon Moon, I’m not so bad once you get to know me. Right guys?” Artellis asked for back up from his two compatriots to assist him in his attempts to ease the tension between him and the feline, but Theri seemed lost in his own thoughts, while Sibylle was regarding Li-Seo closely. With that resounding cry of support, Art gave a sigh and pulled back from Moon, deciding to both give her a reprieve and give up on his endeavour to pet her. After all, even if she was a cat previously or something, it was a little weird to pet her like that, right? Even if he’d always wanted a pet to look after, Moon was basically human. Maybe he needed to show her respect, stop being so condescending and-

Art blinked in surprise as Sibylle moved past him and turned her attention to Moon. Then, with nary a complaint nor an attempt to escape from Moon, Sibylle managed to latch a hand on top of the feline and start scratching her, Moon openly accepting her caresses. “What the hell?! This is discrimination! Completely unfair! Sibs, back me up here?” Doing his best to protest being left out, Artellis made a partially mock argument and complaint at his supposed mistreatment. Maybe Moon didn’t like guys? Sexism and misandry perhaps? Acting somewhat like a grumpy child, Artellis snapped out of his act as the call for them to take the test came. Swallowing nervously, as the apparent leader of the group, he strode to the front of the group, crossing an arm across his chest as a form of salute, fist clenched as he turned to face them.

“Alright Team Artellis. Time to show our stuff. I’ll be counting on all of you to give me your best. Let’s get through this test, then we can decide who gets to pet Moon afterwards! Just follow my lead, whatever comes our way, we’ll know what to do.” Giving his best at a pep talk to reduce the tension and psyche them up, he Ignored any protests or jabs at his leadership capabilities, Stalking up to the door, Art held a tense expression on his face as he went inside, though he made sure not to let any of the others see.




“Huh?” Artellis couldn’t help his utterance of confusion as the test was explained to them. Well ‘explained’ was being generous.”What do you mean pick a door? How are we supposed to know which one to choose?” Hoping to get more information then what they’d been provided, Artellis grabbed at his head, messing up his orange locks. This was ridiculous! The room had been dark when they’d entered, then immediately after the door closed behind them and left them in pitch blackness, doors had suddenly formed at the far side of the room in a semi-circular pattern. Red, Green. Red. Green. A repeating pattern like a bad Christmas setup. Then, the figure in the center of the room, clearly the test administrator, had told them to choose a door. Sounded easy enough, until they added the second part:

"Only the right door will allow you inside of the Tower, the others most certainly lead to impending doom."

“Come on, you have to give us more than that!” Artellis demanded, striding forward towards the nearest door, even as he waited for a response. Leaning tight against it, he did his best to listen for any hints or clues as to what might be on the other side, even while he waited for further advice from the tester. Without something to go off of, the odds of them chancing upon the correct door wasn’t exactly in their favour. Damn it, was this thing rigged just to eliminate them and cut down the number that passed? This was known as the culling floor for a reason. “How is this even remotely fair?” Art grumbled, doing his best to resist punching one of the doors in frustration. “And what happens if we don’t pick one?” He turned back to the test administrator, his fears of picking the wrong door leading him to ask the coward’s question.

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Her otherworldly instincts allowed her to dive head first into anything, which included bringing her hand atop the catgirl's floffy head and petting for all she was worth. Furthering her offensive, Sibylle begun to target the girl's ears, rubbing the furry cartilage between her fingers before pressing her luck even further by plucking the girl off of Li-Seo's lap. Wrapping the small figure with her deceptively strong arm, she adjusted and moved her arm to allow Moon a perch to sit upon, all the while continuing her assault on the girl's pinkish hair and ears.

While her approach was admittedly sloppy and somewhat unceremonious, Sibylle provided a moderately comfortable arm balance for the catgirl to rest atop of.

Showcasing her famous glare, now directed towards Art, she turned herself and Moon to face the sharpshooter/de-facto leader. Allowing Moon to provide her thoughts on the "petting" matter and trusting that she'd take a similar position/expression to Sibylle, who was currently gazing into Art's stare with a stern scorn. Her face reverted back to its usual neutral frown as soon as the group silence was broken by the call of the Test, though her hands were relentless in its constant, unceasing petting.

Sibylle followed with Moon in hand, listening to the explanation but not understanding much of it. Instinctively, she turned towards Art for guidance, only to smell a characteristic fear on their leader. Even she could tell that he was thinking himself into a stupor. Strolling up with the upmost nonchalance, she stayed her petting hand and instead rested it on Art's shoulder in an attempt to snap him out of whatever daze he dug himself into and also gain his attention. Tilting her head and showcasing a content smile, she hoped that her display of calm would rub off on him.

Taking a step back afterwards, she brought the hand that graced Art's shoulder over Moon's stomach, resting her chin on the catgirl's head and bringing her poor victim into a snuggle. Whether Moon struggled or not would do little to stray her grasp, a dragon's selfish greed was certainly unwavering with Sibylle fancying herself as an overwhelming example.