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The Abyssal Paradox

Titan's Fall

3.25 INK

a part of The Abyssal Paradox, by XianEvermor.

March, 2045. A dangerous murderer has struck again.

XianEvermor holds sovereignty over Titan's Fall, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

4,261 readers have been here.


A group effort between the Tinker's Union, Texas state government, and several notable corporations. Titan's Fall is the single largest piece of Tinker-Tech on the planet.
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Titan's Fall

March, 2045. A dangerous murderer has struck again.


Titan's Fall is a part of The Abyssal Paradox.

9 Characters Here

Yue Bayushi [82] Queen of the Damned. The Templar's Silver Fang.
Zolya Erling [80] The painter of magic
Raudd Erling [79] Gambler, stonecarver, mercenary and immortal
Jericho-Jemma Alborn [76] "I will always change. I will never be the same."
Alexander Dalton [72] A kindhearted but stalwart Defender
Temujin [66] Renegade Cyber Ninja
Máire Morgan [55] A knight-errant, of a sort.
Dollar Mason [0] hero for hire
Kiran Kingsley [0] "Trust me . . . I'm a Doctor~"

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton
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[UNDERCITY - The Forges 12:25pm]
[XianEvermor, Fate001 Collaboration]

"The restraints were unnecessary," Yue finally grumbled. She had been silent for the entire trip, or at least since they drove past what sounded like an explosion and a thread of black smoke in the distance. Alex had bound her to the seat with his barriers until she stopped struggling to keep her from leaping out of the vehicle and going to check it out.

The Tumbler rocked gently as it crested a tall ridge and began its decent into the forges via a narrow, but surprisingly well maintained gravel road. The heat was palpable as Titan Tower's massive five kilometer wide glowing orange heat-sink came into view, stretching from the plate ceiling all the way into the unknown depths of the abyss.

She'd managed to keep a neutral expression for the entire trip with her arms folded grumpily. However, she was unable to hide her astonishment as the Forges came into view. The massive crags of pure metal jutting out of the ground crisscrossed over the winding road that led to a black citadel in the distance. Streams of molten rock splintered their way through a forest of steel, gathering into large pools of steam and magma at the foot of the citadel walls. Yue grasped the top rail and stood up in her seat to get a better look, eyes wide and her lips pursed in a small "O" of wonder.

"Sugoi," she whispered under her breath.

Damn straight it was necessary. you wanted to jump out at every far off noise that could be considered danger. Though, he soon found there was no real need to restrain her further after a period of time... and some convincing... also once she caught sight of the Foundry she became significantly less combative. Truthfully he couldn't blame her wonder: It was a feat of engineering that captured the imagination, like seeing the Tower for the first time did. It DID help that the place seemed even more out of place compared to the rest of the undercity.

"Desho?" As The two drove closer the gothic styled architecture became more pronounced. Surprisingly all that dark iron illuminated by molten slag and fire didn't give off a menacing feeling. Probably a good thing too. Anything more Demonic and Yue might start freaking out again.

He mused to himself as they took in the sight. "I swear Forgemaster based the thing off the Archfiend Prison Raid castle. but I guess it would need more skulls and spikes for that." Alex's demeanor became a bit grouchy for a moment. "Damn classic raids. Never could get a decent amount of DPS to do less then two phases."

"Well, it would be true to the lore of the raid, since the castle takes on an appearance based on the inner thoughts and desires of its current master. My group managed to single-phase it once: got the [Slayer of Gods] title, and the [Godspeed Strike] skill as a reward," replied Yue in a distracted tone. "Damn tinkers modeling everything after popular media..." she muttered offhandedly.

Yue was lost in a moment of time as the Tumbler passed beneath a low hanging branch of one of the ferro-crystalline trees, gazing raptly as the light shimmered across it. She was reaching out to brush her fingertips along its surface when...


The world snapped back into real time and she was suddenly squinting at Alex from far too close.

"You play Final Odyssey?" She asked, in a this-is-serious-business tone.

Once they started getting into the "metal trees" Alex started to focus on his route to the front gates more. "Yep, for quite a bit too. Kinda fell off a while back, though. Still remember my gamer-tag. Can't believe I was so on the nose to call myself Tank-Tastic." He didn't seem to be paying attention to the conversation at the time or he would have noticed Yue's reaction to what he thought was a simple fun fact.


"You're 'Tank'... 'Tastic'...?" Yue squinted harder. "But-, then-, you! And then-, YOU! Th-hnnngh!"She spluttered, clearly resisting the urge to get out and flip the whole vehicle. She bit the inside of her lips for a long moment before thumping back into her seat with a huff and folding her arms. She glared daggers out the window for a solid minute while anxiously tapping her feet against the footwell. The tapping escalated in intensity until she finally whipped around and slapped her hands down on the center console.

"The whole guild IMPLODED after you vanished!!" She blurted out finally, punctuating her words by pointing aggressively at him. "I even respecced, but 'Paladin doesn't have the mitigation, and your Vitality is too low!'" huffed Yue, mocking the voice of one of the raid members. She took a deep breath and scowled out the front with her arms folded again, grumpier than before.

Wait . . . Wait.

In an instant Alex's face went through several emotions as he processed what he had just heard. "You can't be her. There's no way. You would have to be the biggest nerd on the planet..."

Yue squinted at him with a deep frown on her face.

"... Know an MMO's lore front to back... Own EVERY single piece of promotional material ever made for it... While also being Titan's Fall's number one hero who's supposedly a stoic badass." Alex looked over to Yue flabbergasted. This can't be real. The universe isn't this fucked up even with powers being a thing.

Time to test it then. "Did my favorite angry kitty ever get that 0.5% epic sword drop?" He couldn't help but feel a bit dazed hearing those words come out of his mouth.

"NO!!" she blurted out involuntarily after an uncomfortably long moment. "No I didn't! Because somebody had to respec to keep the group together, but that only resets your class choice and level, not weapon proficiencies. Barbarians can't use Greatsword, and I didn't have any skill ranks in Shields. The group didn't have any faith that I could hit the perfect parry windows and didn't even try," she grumbled, bristling visibly.

"Angry Kitty." Of course, that's what he would remember...


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Raudd Erling Character Portrait: Zolya Erling
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With the assailant out of the way Zolya dug her book out from the ice and snow cursing as she noticed the torn page. She wasn't going to be able to disable her barrier by normal means it, would have to break it... Safely. However there were more pressing matters she needed to get away from there, there was no way of telling how long her Ouroboros would be away and even if that banishment managed to kill her, immortals don't tend to stay that way. Flipping to an empty page in her book she quickly scribbled some runes, filling in some parts of the page with whatever supporting symbolism she could think off on the spot and after reaching a passable state of quality she poured her mana into the runes which formed a faint line light through the air about 20 feet long straight in the direction of the Stoneworks.

With the directional problem solved contacting her brother to arrange for a pick-up somewhere along the road home, seemed like the next best step, also cluing him in on what she had gathered... Should the worst happen. She grabbed her phone and gave her brother a call.

"Zolya, are you okay? Do you need help, where's that bitch?" Raudd immediately asked the moment he picked up the phone.

"Easy there, I'm fine... Kinda. She dropped me in the Frigid Wastes and I managed to extract some information out of her before kicking her back to... Somewhere by making her teleportation backfire on her."

"Damn, you can do that?"

"Yeah, turns out her power is some kind of dimension slip or something which I can prevent from happening when in process. Anyway go back home and gather a few of the ravens, wolves and a couple deer, I would really like to not have to walk the entire way home. In the meantime I'll give you the information I managed to gather, just in case she can get her pretty immortal ass back here faster than I can get away."

"Immortal you say? That explains why she was so interested in me, and not at all deterred by the idea of an immortal hunting them down.

"At least partially, insanity or lust may play some part as well. But while I would love to continue on this topic not at this time. I somehow managed to get her to cough up a name, one that she feels she needs to kill everyone that hears it. Ouroboros, as in the tail eating serpents from myth. Though she also referred to herself as Loki."

"Tail eating serpent you say? I'm pretty sure she said she wanted to be my Níðhǫggr..." He said before getting cut off by laughter from the other side of the line.

"Ahahahah haha, she did... Hahaha. Hah, I think she might have a thing for being bound, against their will. Níðhǫggr, Loki, Ouroboros, they are all entities that have a link back to binding... And she picked you to do it to her. Hahahaha. If only it wasn't a crazy murderer I would congratulate you on charming into wanting you to tie her up... Maybe I should anyway, you..."

"Well you're safe and I know where to head to come pick you up. Unless you have any more information to add, I'll leave you and your gutter mind to yourselves." After hearing nothing more than his sisters dirty talk and laughter come from the other end of the line he cut the call and sighed thinking that if she had time to think about that stuff she'd just fine even if she had to walk the entire way. Still with the hunt expected to begin any minute, picking her up might be wise.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jericho-Jemma Alborn Character Portrait: Máire Morgan
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[UNDERCITY - The Labyrinth]
[XianEvermor, Druidquest & StorminJericho Collaboration]

"Where to? Beneath lake, we are," snuffled Rat, who had more or less given up on struggling, though... more due exhaustion than lack of drive. "Only way is forward. This goes to the Sizzle-Drip cave. North-turn there... if we survive?" He squeaked.

The tunnel itself was long and narrow, with scantly enough space for two or three men abreast, and as they rushed through, the bioluminescent vines running along the ceiling spotlighted the pair. Back in the cavern, the creature staggered away from the wall, shaking itself off and spattering the ground with thick, oily viscera from the wound which burned vigorously. Its tusked lower mandibles opened and a bundle of fleshy tendrils shot out to grip Maire's ankle.

Máire was flung into the air and sent hurtling across the cavern, her coat billowing past the back of her head. She twisted in the air, swords thrown out toward the creature with a thrust of her hand. Máire closed her hand into a fist, as through gripping invisible wires, and then pulled it back past her shoulder, sending herself hurtling after the silvery blades.

Fleshy tendrils whipped around, narrowly missing the Templar's ankle as she shot up towards the ceiling. The creature lunged to the side, narrowly avoiding the blades as they embedded themselves into the cavern floor. A roiling squelch echoed throughout the chamber as it hunkered down, and then belched a mass of steaming molten slag up at Máire as she closed the distance.

J-3 remained a silent steed for a moment, thinking quietly to itself before speaking up. Their voice was a deep and rumbling thing, surprising for the shape they took.

"Tell me a story. 'Ramble-talk'. You are going to calm if you do so. We will learn where we go, when it comes to it. But we do not progress without the blonde one."
This statement, nearly rambling for J-3, was followed by a duo of pats. Gone was the scorpion's tail, here now was a long furred thing, tipped with a poof! of silky fur.

"Ramble-Talk?" Squeeked Rat nervously. "Story? Um, uh... Oh Gods. Once a time upon, there was Rat... and Rat delivered the packages... and it. Was. Good? Y-yes, yes, the packages must flow," stammered Rat. His voice had calmed somewhat, but there was no hiding the obvious and constant full body shiver of fear. He froze for a long moment, his whiskers twitching a few moments before a dull *Thrum* resonated through the cavern somewhere far ahead.

"Oh no, oh Gods! The north-turn is GONE! Who will deliver the packages now?! Dead! Rat's secret packages won't get delivered, my reputations oh no!" Wailed Rat as he struggled to escape the restraints. He slumped against J-3 after only a few futile moments. "Rat is lost," he whimpered.

Burning. Fire clawing its way into her arm and the side of her head.

Not the first time.

Máire hit the ground and rolled, propping herself upon her knees and elbows. A silver cloud swarmed violently around her, Her ears singing and dead on one side. Squelching across the cavern reminded she didn't have time to sit and recover.

She got shakily to her feet, one eye shut against the searing filth dripping down toward it, and raised her hand past her shoulder. At her beckoning, a great silver blade almost taller than she was appeared, tip pointed at the ground. She took hold of its handle, hefting it up onto her shoulder, baring its weight in one arm.

If this thing wanted to be a dragon, then Máire would play at knighthood.

The creature regarded Máire hungrily, its six gleaming red eyes all blinking individually over its snout as it circled her, shaking its head. Thick blots of intensely burning viscera spattered to the ground in its wake from the wound in its flank. It stamped its feet, suddenly lowering its head as it charged towards her, flames roaring off its skin. At the last second its fanged maw opened, billowing a plume of black smoke as it tried to bite down on her leg.

Máire held her breath as the black cloud hit her, eye stinging against the acrid smoke. The beast was rushing toward her, pounding hard against the floor of the cavern, fast and hard. Not fast enough.

Máire's blade came down like a guillotine, slicing through the side of its skull, between its shoulders, nearly the full way along its spine until it came to rest embedded in the stonework. Silence filled the cavern, the creature's smoke slowly fading as it disseminated through the air. After a long moment, Máire's sword began to disappear as well, trails of silver dust creeping up the blade and back into her arm. When the smoke had cleared enough, she took a breath, soft and silent, as if she'd never been holding it at all.

J-3 stayed silent as Rat rambled, only once blinking as the little... Man? Told his story. Then he began to whine, wail, and bemoan the loss of 'secret messages' or something of the sort.

Oh well. The little creature struggled against the bonds that held it. J-3 turned, after a moment, to simply look at Rat with their multiple eyes. They blinked twice, before shrugging and moving to stand. "If, hrr, you are lost. Then we go back for the blonde."
And off J-3 scurried, nose twitching violently as they sought for the scent of The Blonde one and the beast.

It didn't take them long to retrace their steps, with J-3 moving at a brisk pace and taking no breaks. Their form shifted as they did, slowly sliding from rat to feline, then from feline to vaguely weasel-snake-crab. They still bore many legs with many clawed limbs, though now they were laden with venom. They chose to make it a swift working thing. Rot through flesh, and stop hearts and lungs.

"Blonde one! Are you dead? I can smell you."


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jericho-Jemma Alborn Character Portrait: Máire Morgan
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Lifting her hood back up over her head, Máire pressed one thick-soled boot against the side of the fallen creature, pressing down on it with a portion of her weight. The last of the air squeezed out from its lungs choked the air with the thick stench of gore and sulfuric smoke. "I said I'd be along," she remarked brusquely, stepping back from her kill.

Máire turned and strode swiftly past the two of them, keeping them to her right side. "Did you find the path?" she asked, expecting them to fall in behind or alongside her.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton
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[UNDERCITY - The Forges 12:25pm]
[XianEvermor, Fate0013 Collaboration]

The arguing had been somewhat sporadic by the time the two had finally driven into one of the garage depos That allowed proper access to the Forges. Alex having paused momentarily to answer a call in through the radio and confirm it was them driving in and not some ganger. Shifting from gamer arguing to "customer service" tone then back again without missing a beat. Alex's points that the guild should have survived without him because all of the members were SUPPOSEDLY functioning adults wasn't good enough because HE was the heart of the team from the get go.

They we're somehow still yelling even while parked. The team that had come to greet the two were at a loss as Yue and Alex had to get a few more words in like an old married couple.


"YEAH?? WELL GOOD! GONNA MOVE BACK UPSTAIRS?! OR SHOULD I JUST ASK THE TINKERS TO EXTEND THE NETWORK, HUH?! MAYBE YOU JUST COME OVER SINCE I HAVE A GIANT EMPTY APARTMENT!" She shouted back at him, arms folded. There was an awkward pause between them as they climbed out of the Tumbler and Yue fished her gear out of the back angrily.






"WHERE ARE WE GOING?!" Shouted Yue at one of the people that had come down to greet them. The closest one raised his hands in awkward surrender and backed away nervously while Yue's face began to flush in embarrassment when she'd offered in the heat of the moment.

One of the other men present opened their mouth to respond but paused before shaking their head and motioning for the two to follow. Alex sheepishly went along, also choosing to remain quiet. As the group made its way deeper into the Forge, the hotter the air got. Layers of metal and industrial complex surrounded by constant molten slag and furnaces didn't really leave room for air conditioning. The residents and workers they passed all wore some form of heat protection which didn't reveal that that nearly everyone present was tanned to varying degrees. None seemed all that interested as the two outsiders were brought before a large door that seemed a bit out of place in terms of aesthetics

In fact . . . It looked like a very familiar raid boss door.

Yue's step faltered as she reached the door, and after a moment of hesitation her eyes flicked upward and to the right, half expecting to see the game clock and the connection icon. Experimentally, she reached out with her free hand and tried to open her inventory with a flick of her fingers. A look of discouragement flicked across her face for just a fraction of a second when nothing happened.

Thirty feet tall, massive doors of black iron stood before them, lined in arcane script and array lines tracing an intricate magic circle in the language of the Architects. The obsidian framing around the door cast a mirror sheen around its centerpiece, an intricate lock covered with the face of a demon, mouth agape. She approached the door, an audible gasp of wonder at the near perfect replica of the Demon's Lock, a puzzle which had trumped their group for over a month. Yue reached up and touched the door, running her fingers through the grooves of the inscription.

"Oh... that's misspelled," she muttered, with a note of disappointment.

Alex tried to hide his bafflement at Yue attempting to open a fictional inventory in real life... then failing and suddenly barking out a laugh when she pointed out that the spelling on the door was wrong. "Oh you gotta tell him that at some point while we are inside." Alex banged his bare knuckles on the door with a resounding echo that reverberated down the halls.

Their little entourage decided that was a great time to make themselves scarce. Alex meanwhile simply hummed to himself as the sounds of clattering, clanking, and increasing grouchy-ness grew louder By the second.

"Oh my God, you're so useless," she sighed with a heavy note of exasperation. She pressed her hand to one of the rune words beneath the demon's head, causing it to light up. Yue illuminated a number of other words, and then grabbed the demon's head and rotated the rune plate beneath it. The array shifted on previously imperceptible seams until the illuminated words arranged into a phrase.

"Black is the soul that's led astray," Yue said with a note of smugness as she took a step back. She half expected the Archfiend to be waiting for them on the other side as a deep *Boom!* thrummed through the iron. Yue felt it in her knees as the heavy metal clack of the lock opening echoed across the bridge and hot steam shot out from the door's seams. The demon's head rotated twice, belched a gout of flame and the door began to open with a heavy groan.

When the door finished folding in on itself. what stood in the doorway was a rather bewildered looking old man with gun metal skin dressed like some form of futuristic blacksmith mixed with a greased up mechanic. Alex simply grinned and waved at the man.

"Forgemaster! Good to see you, how are you doing?"

The man regarded Alex for a moment before looking over at the woman that had opened his door for him. "You actually knew how to open it. Good taste kiddo," He said, offering a hand to Yue. "Welcome to the workshop."

"Morë ná ivilissë vanyaran... (imperfect translation), vilissë has incorrect iconography on your door," she replied uneasily as she took the hand... as one does when accepting a cold slimy rag from someone. "Silver Fang. Or just Fang," she said, with obvious discomfort before looking over his shoulder at the chamber beyond.

Forgemaster went more ridged, somehow, for a moment. Taking a slow and deep breath before sighing in a manner that made it apparent that he has in fact has heard this before if not sever so times. Alex let out a snort before being given the evil eye from the old tinker.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Raudd Erling Character Portrait: Zolya Erling
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[UNDERCITY - Stoneworks]

After leading the two stags he was left with to the Stoneworks Raudd dismounted and went looking for a group of wolves to take with him, the ravens well... They would find him.

It took a little time, but after searching a couple of the wolves favorite hang outs Raudd found a few of them hanging around a butcher's shop chewing on bones the butcher had given to them, a treat for them and easy disposal for the butcher. He whistled and watched with some joy as the wolves immediately jumped up and ran at him like the over-sized dogs they were. Of course the only response to such a reaction would be to pet them and play around a bit.

Many pets, tackles and good boi's later the wolves finally calmed down enough for Raudd to get moving again with the wolves in tow. In the meantime a group of ravens had come to figure out why only the masters brother had returned. Giving them the signal to come closer the curious ravens finally came close enough to speak rather than yell. "Zolya's stuck somewhere in the frigid wastes, we have to find her and bring her back. Are you all gonna help me?" No matter how often he did speaking with the ravens was a bit odd, they could clearly understand him, but they never made any attempt to show they could beyond reacting to generic hand signals and calls. The ravens flew up and without wait went in the direction of the frigid wastes. Realizing that he would have to keep up with them Raudd and his pack of wolves ran towards the two stags and after he mounted one of them they whole group went chasing after the ravens.

[UNDERCITY - Frigid Wastes]

A good couple of hours later one of the corvids swooped down meeting up with an exhausted Zolya. It tilted it's head as Zolya slowly walked by the corvid without paying it any attention, the banishment had taken much more out of her than she had initially thought. Her entire body screamed as the mana forcefully slammed into her body like a constant torrent of water trying to equalize the balance between the outside and within. Every step forward a challenge and many more to go before she would reach the edge of the frigid wastes she knew she should have waited, or at least given herself a moment of rest somewhere along the way.

Luckily the raven was a sign that help was nearby. As the distance between Zolya and the raven grew beyond a few feet it decided to fly up once again and flew straight towards something in cawing incessantly. A couple minutes later the sounds of hooves on snow and ice became clearer and she could see the pack moving towards her, and with that sight her legs refused to set another step barely keeping her from collapsing.

"Well damn, you look like you've just ran a marathon. What happened?"

"Hah... Later... For... Hah... Now... Let's... Hah, hah... Let's go... Home..." She said under haggard breathing as her brother pretty much carried her to one of the stags.

"Well then, you'd better rest a bit before we go home. Are you cold?" Raudd asks as he places Zolya against one of the wolves that laid down to form a bit of a back rest.

"Not cold... Shield... Just... Hah... Tired... Body... Aching... Used... Too... Hah... Much... Mana..." She managed to push out of her lungs. All while another wolf comes up to her and puts his head on her lap.

"Okay, you just stay quiet and catch your breath. We got all the time in the world." He said as he sat down next to her. Grabbing a small piece of wood and a carving knife out of his pocket and began carving patterns into the wood while humming a gentle tune.

A half hour later Zolya stirs into motion slowly getting up from her wolven chair and blanket. Raudd immediately puts his carving and knife in his pocket and gets up himself, padding the snow off his coat. "You know it was kinda nice to spend time together like this, you being silent and all." he said with a little cheeky glint in his eyes, as it immediately got a response from his sister in the form of a fist to his shoulder.

"Recovered a little bit?"

"Yeah, a little bit. Good enough to ride."

"Then let's go home." Raudd suggested as the two each mounted one of the stags, riding them back the way Raudd had come.


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Character Portrait: Jericho-Jemma Alborn Character Portrait: Máire Morgan
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[Undercity - The Labyrinth]

"Path?? Oh Gods... Gone, it is," snuffled Rat forlornly, struggling weakly against the restraints holding him to J3's back. "The scurrypath, twist and shift it does. Destination is Northturn, but the way... Rat does not smell the way from here. Find the way, Rat thinks," explained Rat with eerie calmness. Rat stared off into space past both J3 and Maire numbly, shivering in his bonds.

"Ooooh... the Labyrinth has taken us," he muttered over and over.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Máire Morgan
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J-3 took a long moment to think. Their shape had long since grown still, eyes peering in no particular direction. They grunted, abruptly shifting and shaking their head as black ichor and ink rose, swallowed the forefront of their cranium whole, and then faded.

It left no changes, none on the surface at least, as J-3 watched the blonde one begin to leave. “Wait. Do not leave waste behind. I need… Fuel,” They called.

If the blonde one waited, it would have been treated to the awful sight of an eldritch consumption. The skull split along nine lines of separation, flesh and bone crackling and groaning, before ink shot forward as if from a hose.

It spider webbed out then, spreading over the corpse of the knight-slain-beast. Then, pulsing like some horrific intestinal lining, ink sank into flesh, into bone, marrow…
And dissolved it. Pulsing and throbbing the entire way.

It took only fifteen seconds. Before there was no organic trace of the fire-burn-hot beast.

J-3s skull returned to ‘normal’, they turned and began to walk beside ‘The Blonde One’, and spoke.
The Rat-Guide claims the path is northward. Cave in kept us from proceeding. This will cause us to detour. … I am pigeon-fox-goose, sensory. I can feel the north.


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Character Portrait: Jericho-Jemma Alborn Character Portrait: Máire Morgan
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[Undercity - The Labyrinth]

"O-oh, Cat-Kitty is hungry?" Rat asked uncertainly from J-3's back, leaning away from the display as best he could while restrained, but still unable to fully look away.

Besides the entrance in the floor that they made from the floor below, they found themselves in a chamber with two exits: one each East and West. The East tunnel was only traversable for a short distance before it ended in a crevasse that plunged into the darkness to some unknown depth. The path seemed to continue, bending to the South out of sight some 40 feet on the other side.

To the West was the trail blazed by J-3, which winded around to a small chamber that looked like it used to contain a small passageway to the North. The exit appeared to be blocked not by cave-in, but almost as though it were flexed shut by some enormous muscle. The rock was pressed together from either side, leaving but a narrow crack no wider than a couple fingers.

The open passage continued on, opening up onto a narrow beach covered in some kind of spongey black silt. The bio-luminescent vines writhing over the ceiling of the Labyrinth kept them spot-lighted as they emerged into a massive cavern with a slow river running around a bend to the south. Another beach on the opposite side was visible from where they were, and the river continued into the darkness in both directions. So far, there was no sign of pursuit, but the pungent, sour smell of something acidic permeated the air. The moisture dripping generously from the ceiling sizzled and smoked as it occasionally found purchase on an exposed vine or shroom.

"Sizzle-Drip Cavern," Rat whispered, gravely.


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Character Portrait: Jericho-Jemma Alborn Character Portrait: Máire Morgan
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Acid, Máire wondered? She held out her right hand, letting a droplet land on her finger, where it sizzled and stung mildly. No, she realized, eyes tracing a path up toward the top of the cavern. Not acid. Water. Filtering its way down through the plates, until the filth and pollution had turned it corrosive. Sizzle-Drip, indeed.

"We'll go through here," she declared, wiping her finger off on her cloak. "Just keep your heads covered."


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Character Portrait: Jericho-Jemma Alborn Character Portrait: Máire Morgan
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J-3 blinked at the blonde woman, shuffling in place as she tested the circumstances before them.

She apparently came to a decision, proceed onwards! And so J-3 rumbled, ink pulsing and shifting along their flesh as they drew in a torrent of air. The scents of the cavern were… Too much. There was no distinction between the ‘sizzle-drip’ and everything else.

Tough shit.

Four limbs of bone and chitin arose from J-3’s shoulder and hip areas. They flowered out at the ends, reaching towards each other with long strips. Maybe made of bone? Maybe made from keratin? It mattered not; the umbrella was made.

J-3 knelt upon completion, turning their head to look at The Blonde One. “Get on, when you are ready. If you wish. We will follow either way.

They pointed with their snout.
North is that way. Still.


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Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton
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Alex grinned as Forgemaster motioned the two over to a large central worktable. letting out a resigned sigh, the tinker rubbed a hand over his polished bald head. "Alright, my fan made mistakes aside, lets get to business now shall we?" He gave Yue an expecting look while Alex appeared to be focused on something across the room.

"O-oh, right," stammered Yue. She had been focused on the full color engraving of Tolkien's Smaug curling down Forgemaster's metal left arm. The whole room seemed surreal, tinged bright orange with [Creative Intent]. Tables, workstations, and tools of obvious custom make in every corner, and displays of weapons and other tinker-made objects in every open spot. It was a far departure from the sterile utilitarianism of Sairyn's lab...

Yue exhaled a slow breath as she looked around, and then hefted the beat up Silver Fang suit onto the worktable in the center of the room. She winced as the suit's heavily damaged servos groaned to life, unfolding into the open position. A loosely held tungsten plate clattered to the table from somewhere on its torso, eliciting an embarrassed sigh.

"W-well...," she trailed off, her mind racing for an excuse as if she expected to be scolded.

Without any prompting Forgemaster went to work. Various tools being pulled out from his belt and pouches, inspecting the suit in every way he could while muttering to himself. something however made the old tinker go still. After gently putting his tools away, Forgemaster picked up one of the tungsten plates and seemed to inspect it for a few quiet moments before tossing it back on the table with a look that ranged from bewilderment to disgust.

"Tungsten, that pretentious so-called greatest tinker of the modern age used normal tungsten for a speedster’s suit?" He then proceeded to storm off to the other side of the room and fire up his forge proper, causing dozens of equipment and machinery to come to life around him. The man continued to curse and swear the entire time over the original maker of the suit.

"W-well, uh technically I'm um... actually... an enhancer," Yue stammered, quietly as the Forgemaster got to work, though her attention was drifting towards the back of the room where she was tracing Alex's gaze. The suit slumped slightly as she stepped towards the object in the rear of the room that had Alex's attention, her fingers slipping from the suit's boot.

"Speedsters are inherently protected from the physics of their power, and can interact with the world while accelerated without transferring kinetic energy. My abilities are not subject to... limits or safeties. The suit was prototyped with mundane materials since we didn't know how it would interact with my powers...," she trailed off, offering the Tinker a distracted glance as the Forge fired up.

The [Intent] coloring the room seemed concentrated around one of the weapon racks, resonating throughout the room like a whispered song in an empty hallway. Completely enraptured, she found herself walking slowly towards it as everything else in the room seemed to melt away.

With Forgemaster becoming engrossed in his work, all the while still ranting and cursing up a storm, Alex decided it would be best to leave the old man to his work . . . from a safe distance. on the other side of the room. Being mostly heat and fire proof didn't mean he was in the mood to get stray globs of molten metal on his skin. Best to leave that to the man who actually had metal skin.

Keeping an eye on the Tinker, he meandered his way over to where Yue was in his peripheral. It was only after Alex was a comfortable distance away from the metalworking did he take note of what had caught Yue’s attention. He couldn't hold back his grin.

"Caught my eye the first time I came in here too. The sword Titan supposedly never used." The bastard sword on the weapons rack was a sight to behold. gleaming and polished as bright as the day it was crafted. The Sword of Justice was claimed to be a perfect blade able to cut anything. So sharp it would shave electrons off of air particles and cause its edge to crackle with an electrical charge. Alex leaned down to whisper. "You can pick it up if you want. Forgemaster let me try it out a while ago. I was just scared I'd lop off one of my legs on accident."

"Yeah...?" She asked absently as she approached the blade. Alex's words drifted from one side of her head to the other in a fog. The sword had completely captured her attention and, whether bidden by Alex's words or her own impetus, she reached out and touched the hilt of the sword. The [Crimson] welled up out of her skin and wreathed the blade in energy, filling the chamber with a crystal tone and causing Yue to flinch. She glanced over to Alex with a raised eyebrow in a moment of noticeable hesitation before she fully grasped the hilt and flourished the blade off the rack.

Tendrils of lightning chased the sword as she spun away from the wall several steps and flourished into a high guard. The weapon practically thrummed in her hands with a high, heavenly vibrato, a vastly different tone than the heavy bass note of the Brute Stick, or the low tenor of the Templar Greatsword. She was about to comment on it when the crystal note was abruptly drowned out by the shrieking crash of lightning striking the floor at her feet. Yue squeaked a note of surprise and tried to jump away from it, unintentionally flicking the point of the sword, which caused lightning to slough off the blade and leap towards Alex.