The Odd Writings

Unleash your creative writing skills here.

Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Jan 29, 2021 9:00 am

Misadventures of the Unusuals


Chapter the Twenty-First: The Guardian, the Prize, and the Victory



The dungeon of the Wings of Fate proves to be far more devious than we could have anticipated. Soon, we're dealing with spike traps, pitfalls filed with snakes, spears out every nook and cranny, hallways flooding, jets of flame from the walls, statues that swing at us as we pass by, and all other manner of conceivable traps, and mixtures of the lot. The hallway flooding with snakes was particularly not fun.

“This sucks.” Echo complains, not for the first time, as he shakes a tiny garden snake out of his boot. “Who even sets all these traps? How is this whole thing intact after hundreds of years of neglect? Who feeds these snakes?”
I shrug, giving a noncommittal grunt by way of reply. The why of the traps seems so pointless in comparison to the how. Specifically, the 'how to survive them.' We've made it this far mostly unscathed, but had a few close calls.
“We haven't found any monsters, either.” Hale notes as she stares at her wooden leg, which seems to be slowly regrowing around a cut it had taken earlier.
I nod slowly, thoughtful. “Most dungeons on Prism are filled to the brim with monsters. It's mostly a series of battles from start to finish. Finding one like this that's all traps and puzzles... it's not normal, that's for sure.”
“All the monsters went looking for a different par-TAY!” Galley offers loudly.
“That's stupid.” Hale reflexively shoots down the giant's comment.
You're stupid!” Echo adds, though which one he's talking to eludes me.
I think for a moment, wondering at the odd nature of the dungeon. “No, it makes sense.” I say. “Most of the dungeons out there turn out to be some kind of pre-existing hive of monsters, sometimes that humans stumble into. But this one was intentionally built to protect the Wings of Fate. It was made to lie here, dormant if necessary, for untold lengths of time. Monsters would eventually either die out or leave, but mechanical barriers like the ones we've come against are practically ageless.”
Hale nods, cupping her chin in her hand. “So... Who built this place? And why are the wings so special? What exactly are we even getting into here?”
I sigh, looking around at the dungeon, all aged stone and brick inside. “I don't know. But we've come this far, and there's only one way to find out. Come on, let's get moving.”
“I still want to know who feeds all those snakes...” Echo grumbles.

It takes a while of slogging through traps and puzzles in the depths of the ancient dungeon, but soon we arrive at the threshold to the boss room. A massive pair of doors with heavy, rusted chains running in front of them. Mostly ornamental, as they aren't fastened in to a wall or anything that would actually stop the doors from opening. But, it does look foreboding.
We take another short rest, during which we take stock of our remaining supplies. Since there hasn't been much actual fighting in all our time on Baorfost island, potions and other medical items are good, equipment is in good order, and our personal mana reserves are full.
Hale stretches her wooden leg out to the side, swords in hand. Echo has his wand in one hand and his new grimoire of witchy magic in the other. Galley rests his massive sword on his shoulder, ginning haughtily. I draw my control bars, give an affirmative nod to the rest of the party, and push open the doors.

We walk into a dusty, stale old room filled with darkness. A pair of torches light on either side of us as we enter, then another, and another. Soon, torches are lighting along the walls, slowly forming a wide ring that illuminates the open room.
In the center of the room is what can only be the boss; a proper enemy monster. It looks like a huge, four-armed mummy, legs crossed under it, floating on a chunk of rock a few feet in the air. One pair of arms has it's hands joined in it's lap, while the other pair is held out to the sides. The face of the thing is covered in what looks like ancient burial wrappings that have rotted and began to fall off, although the look to be caved from solid stone. On the boss' back, there's what looks like a large stone wheel, and the portion visible over it's head has an image of a flame.
As the boss sees us, it's teeth form a tight snarl and the one eye freed from the wrappings lights up with a red glow. It lets out a low growl that grows into a roar, and it's upper pair of arms draws a pair of scimitars from it's back.
“Scatter! Try to confuse it and create openings!” I bark, and the party moves to follow my commands. We each run in a different direction, surrounding the boss monster and preparing to attack.
Echo starts the battle off; sending a stream of black fire onto the mummy-statue. The boss doesn't seem to be so much as inconvenienced by the attack, and slowly turns to face Echo.
Once it's back is turned, Galley and my marionette dive in to attack. Galley leaps up and goes for a high slash, while the puppet stays low to attack it from underneath.
Hammer, cleaver and greatsword all meet stone with a resounding clang, but the boss doesn't even flinch. Galley looks back to meet my eyes and shakes his head, and I hiss in irritation. Just like the sandstone golem, this boss is immune to physical attacks.
"Keep your distance; try to figure out it's weakness!" I shout, dismissing my marionette to regain my mobility.
The boss turns to face me now, teeth bared in a hateful snarl, upper arms raised to brandish it's flaming blades. The stone platform it sits on angles toward me, and the boss takes off my way like an arrow from a bow.
As it approaches, I get just a second to look at it. The wheel on it's back and the gem inlaid in it's chest. They must be important. Probably the key to defeating it. But how do I take advantage of them?
I swap my control rods out for my bow, taking aim and snapping off a pair of arrows at the boss. They shatter against the gemstone harmlessly and I have to dive out oft he way to avoid a pair of slashes from it's oversized scimitars.
Hale rushes the boss from behind, leaping up first onto the floating platform, then up to be level with it's head. She unleashes the first in what would be a series of devastating slashes, but with the first strikes her blades stop cold against the stone mummy and her body quivers as the recoil travels up her arms. The boss swats her out of the air with the flat of one of it's swords, sending her rolling across the stone floor, robes smoking slightly.
Immune to physical attacks. The gem must be some kind of target. And the wheel on it's back depicts a flame... The answer is magic, it has to be. It's just a matter of how to use it. Best to start with the obvious and work from there.
I gather my mana and form a fireball in my hand. Just as the boss turns it's attention back to me, I throw it directly into the gem set in the mummy's stone chest. Fire splashes across the boss, and the air shimmers from heat, but it quickly dissipates without so much as a scorch mark to show for it.
Seeming thoroughly unimpressed, the boss takes another pair of swipes at me. I narrowly sidestep the first strike, but the second clips me; catching an armor plate and sending me spinning. I have to beat the flames out of my robe as I try and recover.
Galley runs in to engage to boss, drawing it away from me as I get back to my feet. I seek out Echo on the far side of the room. "It's weak to magic, hit it with everything you've got!" He nods in affirmation and flips through his spell tome. Hopefully, something in his new book will do the trick.
It looks like it's in some kind of elemental mode now, with fire. So if we try the opposite... I focus my mana again, working to create cold his time instead of heat. Ice crystals form in the air around me, orbiting around my arm, and I hold them steady, watching Galley fight the mummy. Turn this way...
Galley displays more agility and nimble movements than one would expect from someone of his size and usual clumsiness. He's an oaf and a moron, but he possesses an abnormal amount of grace to his movements. Maybe he used to dance along with his music. The thought makes me shudder, and I refocus on the battle. He's not attacking the boss directly, knowing it would be futile. Instead, he's holding it's attention against him, deflecting and avoiding it's attacks, using his giant sword almost like a shield. He's doing good, but can't keep it up forever.
Luckily, he doesn't have to. As he steps around the mummy, it exposes the gem to me, and I send the ice shards flying in a streak that collides, one after another, with the gem.
The boss' movements cease, joints locking, jaw going slack for just a moment, as the gem in it's chest glows. With a slow movement and a loud grinding noise, the wheel on it's back turns, and the picture of a flam is replaced with a lightning bolt. The giant scimitars lose their flame, but sparks begin do dance along them as electricity arcs along the blades.
The boss looks up again, gritting it's teeth, emitting a low growl. It floats away from Galley and hovers on a rapid course toward me. It swings again and I duck under it, hair raising as the electrified blades come near me, and run under the stone to get behind it. Hale passes me and leaps to attack the mummy, distracting it while I get away.
I run to Echo, glancing back toward the fighters keeping to boss distracted. "It's a puzzle," I tell him, "the wheel on it's back depicts the elemental type of the magic it's drawing on. We can beat it by drawing on opposing magic of dissimilar natures and combating the weaknesses of each elemental type, reversing it' mana waves and creating a sharp feedback on the arcane spectrum."
Echo stares at me with a confounded and annoyed look. "What are you talking about?"
Right, no formal training. I remind myself. I point at the boss. "See the lightning bolt?" Echo nods. "That means, 'hit it with a rock!'"
I split off from Echo, moving to the opposite end of the room. Galley looks toward us, and I signal for them to start moving the fight this way.
"Hey, leader guy, I don't have any rocks!" I look at Echo, flipping through pages in his spell tome, scanning each one rapidly before moving to the next one. "At least, I don't think. It's hard to tell in here."
I sigh, hanging my head. Stone magic was rare; most mages preferred the simple elements of fire, ice and lightning. Stone magic was less useful overall, so not many people worked with it. I didn't know any spells of that type, But I had been hoping that Echo's tome would have something.
"But... I have this!" Echo shouts, producing a long, slender tube from his bag. It looks like a cylinder used for alchemical combat. "It's labeled 'stone burst' and looks like there's some crystal inside. Will that help?"
"Yes!" I rush over, snatching the cylinder from Echo and examining it. "It's an alchemical explosive. Pull the tab, throw it, and it'll let loose an elemental explosion. Where did you get this?"
"Oh, y'know... From a guy... at a place... For a price..." Echo says, averting his eyes and shifting his feet.
I narrow my eyes at him. "Five finger discount?"
"Maaaaaaybe."
I glance back; Hale has her back turned and looks busy fighting the mummy. I pat Echo on the shoulder. "Good boy." He grins wryly.
Galley and Hale have brought the boss back into the middle of the antechamber, waiting for us to attack it. I gauge the distance, yank out the stopping tab to trigger the alchemical cylinder, then sprint a few steps and throw the thing forward. "Clear out!" I shout.
The two of them look back, see the thing flying toward them, and beat feet to get out of there. The boss looks back and forth to them, then notices the cylinder just as it reaches chest-gem level. And explodes.
The cylinder bursts out with a massive array of stone spikes in all directions, one going directly into the gem set into the mummy's chest. Like before, the boss reeled back, joints seizing up, as the wheel turned again. This time, it depicted a snowflake.
The next stage of the battle progressed quickly; now that we knew the secret to beating it, the boss looked ready to go down easily. Hale and Galley would fight up close and distract the thing while Echo and I wait for openings to blast the gem. While it's in ice mode, Echo hits it with a bolt off black fire, and after that it goes to stone mode, which I counter with a bolt of lightning.
Then the wheel turns to a picture of a tree.
"Well what in Noel's name is that supposed to mean?" Echo cries. "You burn trees, do we use fire again? Or an axe?"
I grin, confident in our victory. "No; according to the elemental table of magic, that tree stands for the element of nature." I  We just have to hit it with eldritch element now."
"Eldritch magic?"
I pat the boy on the back. "Luckily, we have a mage who's just come into a whole tome full of eldritch spells."
Echo looks at me, then at his tome, frowns, and looks back to me. "All right..." He steps forward, staring at his tome, then looking up at the mummy. He raises his wand, aiming at the gem, and mana begins to condense around him. Black smoke forms around his wand, slowly creeping up his arm and covering his torso. I warily step back. Eldritch magic is creepy, and highly illegal where I studied.
Echo lets the magic build for a few more seconds, then thrusts his wand forward. The smoke billows out toward the mummy, on a straight course for the gem.
Then, just before making contact, the smoke spreads out and disperses.
"Um... Echo...?" I say. The boss slowly turns it's head toward the smoke and sees us through the thin veil. It hones in on us like a predator remembering the easy meal it left, and begins floating in our direction.
"It didn't work." The boy says, flipping through his spell tome.
"Yes, very perceptive. I noticed that, too. Got anything else in there?" Galley and Hale are pursuing the boss, but it has a lead and it's moving faster. I summon my marionette.
"Just a second... Um... Yeah." Echo points his wand again, aiming straight for the gemstone. I can feel the mana condensing around the area.
From the tip of his wand, a pair of bats fly out, circle the mummy's head, and then disappear in puffs of smoke.
"Echo, that didn't work either!"
"Look, this is not as easy as it looks!"
"You aren't making it look easy at all!"
"Exactly!"
"Get back!"
The mummy is right on us now; I fling the marionette forward to engage it, deflecting it's attacks and trying, with no success, to force the thing back.
Echo and I scatter in opposite directions just as the boss breaks through, vine-covered scimitars tearing into the wall behind us.
"It's a spell tome, how hard can it be to use?" I shout over the clamor of collapsing rubble.
In response, Echo shoots me a dirty glare and throws the tome at me. I snatch it and look inside, and almost recoil at the sight. The words look to be wriggling around like worms on the page. I can stare at a section and make them hold still for a moment, but all I see in my peripheral vision is more wriggling characters, and soon even the ones I focus on start moving again.
"OK, very hard. Point taken."
Galley and Hale join up with us as we run from the boss, and we take a moment to talk as the mummy removes it's swords from the wall.
"All right, anyone have eldritch magic?" I ask.
"Is fire eldritch?"
"No, Galley, fire is fire."
"Is ice eldritch?"
"Does anyone else have something to say?"
"Neither of you two can do it?"
"Eldritch is a very unconventional magic type, most of us don't practice it much--"
"Hey, don't give me that look, you big moron! You try reading this thing!"
The mummy, by this point, has withdrawn it's blades and is turning to face us.
"I had hoped that Echo's new tome would have some eldritch magic we could use... But it looks like it'll need a more careful study to actually get anything useful."
Hale glares at her brother, then at me. "So you're telling me, we came all the way here, trekked for hours, on foot, through the rain, through a cursed forest, had to negotiate with stuck-up witches and a giant blundering druid, fight a maniac, I lost my leg, we navigated this entire trap-infested dungeon, and now, at the very end of it all, we're going to die because Echo cant just read the witches' spell tome?!"
I gulp, nodding slowly. "That largely sums it up, yeah."
Echo glares at us both for a moment, clenches her fists on her swords, and just stands there, simmering for a moment. The mummy is almost on us now and I'm about to call for a scatter, but I'm interrupted by Hale shouting wordlessly in frustration and rage and charging the mummy.
"Hale, wait!"
"Try not to bleed on everything!"
"Give 'em a par-TAY!"
Ignoring, or perhaps further annoyed by, our assorted comments, Hale rushes forward, blades raised, to engage the boss. We all watch in petrified horror and anticipation as Hale comes into range of the scimitars, ducks under the first one and narrowly deflects the second.
Then leaps out of her body.
One Hale is left standing on the ground, in a crouched position, like an afterimage, while another Hale leaps up into the air at the floating boss. She takes a pair of swipes at the mummy, twists, and then kicks off in the air[/i[ and creates a third Hale.
By this point, as we're staring in utter dumbfoundedness, I realize that her black wooden leg is billowing some kind of smoke, and the afterimages don't have it.
Hale kicks off again with her prosthetic, creating another image of herself above the mummy. She slams her swords down on it's head, then twists backward, kicking off again and avoiding a counterattack from the boss. The fifth [i]-fifth-
Hale flips in the air and ends up with her arms crossed in front of her, swords at either side of her, at chest level with the boss. With an echoing, reverberating shout, she swings her swords across and effectively scissors the gem in the boss' chest.
As the mummy reels backward and the wheel begins to rotate again, the final Hale falls back to the ground, staggers backward, and knocks over the her original self. They both fall to the ground and... somehow, fuse into each other, as the others fade away.
We stare at her for a few more seconds, entirely unsure of what we just saw. Finally, she starts coughing and sputtering and slowly rises to her feet.
"Well, that happened." Echo says, looking past her at the mummy. "What was that all about?"
I shake my head, trying to form a response. It must be the leg; somehow the magic in it has some residual effect on Hale, but I can't even begin to guess at what that means. "I don't even want to think about it. We'll figure it out later."
"All right. So, what's the skull supposed to mean?"
I glance up at the mummy, which now has a skull pictured on the wheel, and it's swords are giving off a dark smoke. "Eldritch mode." I say. "Anyone have nature magic?"
"Like... a druid's magic?" Galley asks.
"That would do it. But anything nature-based should work."
"Does it look like I have anything druidic in here?" Echo asks, hefting his black tome.
"What about your other spellbook?"
"Um... Probably not. I don't know, I never finished it."
"Now would be a good time!"
"I'm gonna be sick..." Hale moans, limping back to us, leaning on one sword like a cane. Galley scoops her up as we all scatter away from the mummy, now recovered and closing the distance to attack.
I summon my marionette and send it in with Galley to fight the mummy as Echo finds his old spell tome in his bag and starts flipping through it. "How do I know if it's nature based?"
"I don't know, it'll have something... natural, in it!"
"What, like dirt? I don't have any dirt in my book!"
"Just shut up and read!"
I don't have any spells of the natural element, either. I'd met druids before, even worked with them, but never learned their magic. I was really starting to regret my lack of diversity.
"Hey, I don't think I have anything in here!"
"I'm gonna die..."
I grit my teeth in frustration. Echo's no more help and Hale took herself out wit some crazy wooden leg magic. I have nothing in my repertoire for dealing with this thing's eldritch for, and Galley...
Where was Galley?
Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping! As if in response, a stream of mana bullet bounce off the mummy, with no effect whatsoever.
Galley has moved back and drawn his pistols, firing one of them into the boss. "Par-TAY!"
That idiot... I pull my marionette away and move back from the mummy, letting it turn to face Galley.
"This is my par-tay. You want nature? EAT TREE!" With the most ridiculous line I've heard in a battle echoing through the chamber, Galley tosses one pistol away and takes the other in both hands, leveling it at the mummy.
The vine-covered gun. The one he broke with the magic seed. That now has the giant's mana pouring into it. "Galley--" My warning shout is interrupted as the giant fires the gun, and a tree erupts from the barrel.
With a sound of strained, stretching wood, an entire tree, thick as Galley himself, shoots out from the gun, growing rapidly like an enormous spear until it slams into the mummy, breaking right through the gem, blowing the wheel off it's back, and then growing limbs and vines around the mummy to constrict it in place.
Dropping it's swords, turning a gleaming red eye toward Galley, the mummy lets out a long, pained moan that echoes throughout the chamber, then it lolls back and begins to crumble away into dust.
Galley holds his gun up as best as he can until the mummy is gone, then finally drops it with a solid thunk.
We all stand in tense, alert silence for several long seconds, watching the disintegrated remains of the boss monster, scanning the room for anything else, some trap or trick of the dungeon. Finally, we let out a collective sigh of relief and relax.
"I... I can't believe we pulled that off." I say.
"It did go better than the last time you pulled us through an ancient dungeon to fight a statue!" Galley exclaims, slapping his knee and letting out a boisterous laugh.
Echo crosses his arms, sneering. "That wasn't fair, not at all! Hale gets some kind of ghost leg cloning power, the oaf get a tree gun, and I get to shoot bats?! There's no justice in the world!"
"Sounds to me like justice finally caught up with you." Hale says, sheathing one sword and supporting herself with the other. Echo turns away haughtily.
A loud grinding sound interrupts us from any more post-combat banter and whining, and we turn to see a large portion of the wall rising up to reveal a dark chamber beyond. I grin, "looks like we found the treasure room."
We file into the dark room, weapons ready, straining our eyes to see in the darkness. Just because we've beat the boss doesn't mean we're ready to trust this place.
A slim beam of light shines down to the floor, from somewhere high above us, illuminating an ornate marble statue of a woman with long hair in a flowing gown, arms outstretched, and in her open hands sits a fine wooden chest with golden fittings and hinges, seemingly untouched by time. We all stand around it in a reverent, yet cautious silence.
After a moment, Hale speaks up. "Hey, the woman in the statue, doesn't she look... Kind of familiar?"
I nod slowly in agreement. Her face, so soft, with a serene expression, the long hair. She looks...
"She looks like Noel." Echo says. "But not quite. Similar, at least."
"Maybe an artist's interpretation?" Galley suggests.
"No, everyone knows what Noel looks like; there's no room for interpretation." I object.
"Well, have you ever, y'know, seen her?" Hale asks.
"Of course not. Nobody has." I stare at the woman in the statue for a moment. "But that's not her."
Finally, Echo's impatience takes over. "Look, enough about the statue, that box what we're here for?"
"No, that's a box. We were sent to get some wings, dummy." Hale replies. "We'll have to open the box to see if it's in there... Bod?"
I shake my head, eyeing the chest. "We shouldn't; not yet. This place is tricky, and I don't want to go opening chests without--"
"I do!" Before we can stop him, Galley seizes the chest, flips the latch up, and throws the lid open.
Inside, dangling from a chain attached to a small hook in the lid, are the Wings of Fate. Small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, but so elegantly, perfectly crafted. Two wings; one black, one white, each strand of every feather carved out with immense care and precision. If not for the faint metallic shine, I could swear they were real.
"Looks like the thing." Echo says.
"Sure does." Agrees Hale,
"Par-tay, 1, creepy ruin, 0."
I slowly take the box from Galley, giving the Wings one more studious look before gently closing the lid. "Mission accomplished. Let's get out of here."
User avatar
Oddood198
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 8:16 am

Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Jan 29, 2021 9:01 am

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter the Twenty-Second: The Return, the Drop, and the Meet


With our prize in hand, we leave the dusty, ancient temple and return to the dark, wet jungles of Baorfost's untamed half. We take a moment to soak in the fresh, damp air and the smell of clean soil and plants, driving away the feeling of age and decay from the dungeon.
Deciding against trekking through the jungle and back to town, and instead initiate a warp and return right away to Dinberthorn in Fyelma.

We're dropped immediately into the crowded city streets, full of merchants, tourists, locals and even more adventurers. We quickly navigate our way free of the crowd, making liberal use of shoulders and elbow to do so, and find a quiet corner to regroup.
"All right, we have the Wings, now what?" Hale asks.
"According to the recruitment notice, we're supposed to drop it off in a certain place..." I dig out my map, scanning it for the spot I've marked. "Here. Looks like a village a ways out from the city. My guess is that someone will meet us there to take the Wings and give us the reward. There's no Skyway nearby, so we'll have to ride; looks like it'll take a few hours."
"Well, let's get going, then. I wanna get paid and get this over with." Echo says gruffly, and I silently agree.
We summon our mounts -except for Echo, who has to retrieve his horse from the stable it's been staying in- and head out. It's only mid-afternoon now, and by my reckoning, we should make it to the village before nightfall. We ride with a silent enthusiasm, ready to, for one, complete a quest and get a real payout.

The village comes into sight just as the sun begins to turn red over the horizon. A gathering of ramshackle wooden structures in the distance, mostly unremarkable. We don't see any people from this distance, but we're sure there's a small community living there. Although, something does seem... off.
"It's too quiet." Hale says, noticing the same thing.
I nod, "We should hear... something. Hammers, people, animals..."
"Where are all the animals?" Echo cuts in. "The pastures are empty."
"Maybe bandits drove them off?" Galley suggests.
"All the herds? Not possible." I say, shaking my head. "They might have evacuated entirely... Come on, let's get a closer look."

We don't see a soul as we move into the village; no workers in the fields, no children playing, no sounds of animals come to us. The houses are all dark inside, but we see no signs of damage; doors are intact, no smashed windows, not even discarded items on the ground give us a clue as to what's going on.
"All right, this is officially spooky." Echo says.
I slide off my horse, tethering it to a lamp post as I slowly advance on foot. "Something's very wrong here." I draw my control bars, and the others dismount behind me.
"It isn't monsters." Hale says.
"Or bandits." Galley adds.
"Maybe... a migration?" Echo says.
"People don't migrate, stupid."
"Don't call me stupid, rocks for brains!"
I hold up a hand to silence the siblings before their bickering calls undue attention to us.
Hale pointedly clears her throat. "So... where was the meeting supposed to take place?"
"The note says to drop the Wings off at a silo on the edge of town." I reply, glancing back at Galley, who has the box in one hand and his un-seeded mana pistol in the other. "Let's go check it out."
We go through the creepy, eerily silent village, alert for any sounds or signs of life. Nothing. The place is utterly empty.
The silo we're meeting at stands a little taller than the other small houses around here; long and low, a simple construction of wood likely made to store grain and other goods. We take up positions by the door and I silently count down before pushing it open. The door swings easily and quietly, and we file into the room after it.
It's too dark to see anything, and before we make any moves, we wait to see if there's any kind of reaction to our entry. Seeing nothing, I whisper, "Galley, you're blocking all the light."
"Oh, sorry." The giant shuffles to the side and lets the light of the setting sun into the silo.
The floor is covered in straw and loose twigs, likely blown in while the door was open, and the walls are stacked with crates and barrels, and a scent of salted meat and fish permeates the entire silo. On the far end of the room, barely within the limits of the light funneling in, we can see a figure slowly walking towards us.
"Who's there?" I bark, holding my up my control bars wardingly.
"Did you bring them?" The man asks, not slowing or stopping his advance.
"Who wants to know?"
"The Wings of Fate. Do. You. Have. Them?"
"For our employer, yes." I say, getting ready to summon my marionette. "For anyone else, not a chance."
"..." The man lets out a sharp breath, still coming closer. He stops just as the sunlight reaches his face, and we can get a good look at him. Dusty clothes, ragged and worn from the road, messy, disheveled hair and an unshaven beard. After a moment, recognition dawns on me; this is Bore, the adventurer I met in Dinberthorn the day I took the notice. His mana pistols are in his hands, and he raises one up level with my chest. "Give them to me."
I narrow my eyes, setting my jaw. "What is this? Are you trying to take the Wings and collect the reward? After we set everything on the line to get them? Not happening."
Bore holds my gaze for a second, then lets out a long, low sigh. "Do you really think that's what this is about?" He asks, "payment for your quest? You really have no idea what's going on, do you?"
"I told you we were all gonna get shot." Echo mutter, and I jab him with my elbow.
"What is this about, if not payment for the quest?" I ask.
"You don't know what the Wings of Fate are..." A soft, melodic voice sounds behind us, and the others whirl around to face the newcomer. I cast a brief glance over my shoulder, already knowing who it is; Fang, the combat bard with Bore. Ornate dress untouched by wear or road, violin and bow in hand. "Or what you've done in bringing them here.
"Maybe you can explain it to us, then." I suggest.
"There's no time for that. Give us the Wings, now." Bore says.
Galley looks back and forth between the two, then down at the chest in his hand. He goes to raise his mana pistol, but in a flash Bore has his second one up and pointed at the giant. Galley pauses, watching the man closely.
"I told you we were all gonna get shot!" Echo hisses.
"Silence." I jab him in the ribs.
"Where are the townsfolk?" Hale asks, one hand slowly reaching for a sword hilt.
"Gone. Safe." Fang says. "We came here and warned them of what was coming, and they took everything and left. They didn't want to be in the middle of it."
"And what is 'it?'" I ask.
Fang looks past us, exchanging a look with Bore, then sighs deeply. "Look, I know how this looks, but I promise you, we are not the enemy here."
"Someone's always the enemy. Who is it? And how are the Wings involved?"
"The Wings," Bore says, "They'll work as a beacon, drawing them all... And then leading them to her."
I turn to Bore, "And who is--"
"Look out!" Fang's cry solicits an array of reactionary sidesteps, dodges and dives. I leap behind a stack of crates just in time to see a small, cylindrical object hit the ground in the middle of the silo.
I barely have time to recognize it. A battle alchemy cylinder. "Uh-oh--"
Fire bursts forth in the middle of the silo, creating a blast of heat that knocks us all back, flames crackling in the air overhead. The dry straw and wooden crates and barrels catch in an instant, and we're suddenly in the middle of a blazing inferno.
I roll over and push myself up to my knees, already focusing my mana into a healing spell to throw out over the party. I look to the door, where men in black robes and white masks, adorned with red lettering, are pouring in. "Well, great."
I use the healing spell to alleviate the pain of my own burns, then send it out to Hale, who was thrown into the corner behind me and is just getting to her feet.
I take quick stock of the situation; Fang and Echo are across the silo, the bard knocking around a pair of cultists with her violin while Echo, trying to decide who to fight is standing back with his wand drawn. Galley is lying in the middle of the floor, currently having a tug-of-war with three robed men trying to take the chest from him, and Bore is sprinting toward them, sword drawn.
"All right, boss guy, who are we fighting?" Hale asks, sweeping her gaze back and forth across the chaotic scene.
I grit my teeth, trying to determine if we can side with anyone here. Fang and Bore, and these cultists, are all trying to get the chest from us, but I don't know why they want it. But as long as we have it, then we're in control of things. I summon my marionette, mana strings whipping out to connect to it. "Everyone."
Hale runs toward the door, blades flashing as the engages the cultists to block off the entryway, and I throw my marionette toward Galley. Bore reaches the downed giant first, kicking away one cultist and slamming his shield into another, but as he turns to grab the chest my marionette body slams him from behind.
Galley delivers a powerful kick to the last cultist, then rises to his feet, raising his mana pistol and moving it back and forth between targets. He slowly starts backing up toward me as Bore gets back to his feet and the cultists regroup.
"Galley!" I bark, and the giant glances to me. "Don't let any of them get that chest!"
The giant grins, nodding the affirmative, then looks back to face the charging combatants now rushing him.
My marionette intercepts two cultists, and Galley downs the other one with his pistol, but Bore charges right through a hail of shots, shield upraised in front of his face, and then dives to the ground, sliding past the giant, slashing at his legs.
Galley drops to one knee with a grunt of pain, and I throw my marionette at Bore, then immediately sever the mana strings and rush in myself. Bore swats aside the limp marionette, but it gives me just enough of an opening to tackle the man to the ground. As I hold him down, I spare a quick look to see how the rest of the melee is going.
Hale has effectively seized control of the door, having downed all the cultists inside and taking advantage of the choke point to keep the rest out. Unfortunately for her, Fang has picked up on our lack of cooperation, and rushes the swordswoman from behind.
"Hale--" Bore jerks his head back and slams it into face, cutting off my warning and forcing me to refocus on him. He gets an arm free and elbows my side once, twice, three times before pushing off the ground and letting himself fall straight backwards, onto poor me.
The wind leaves my lungs with the force of a bellows as I'm crushed underneath the larger man, and I'm stunned as he gets up and looks down at me, sword at my chin. "I told you, we're not the ones you should be fighting. This is bigger than you, bigger than us, and we can't lose this chance."
He stares at me a moment longer, as if contemplating what to do with me, then he looks back and runs off to rejoin the battle.
I rise to my knees, coughing and sputtering. Galley is shooting into the fray, Echo and Hale are barely holding Fang back, but now cultists are flooding into the silo, threatening to overwhelm us through sheer numbers.
The room is filling with smoke now and it's getting even harder to breathe. By now, the whole place is an inferno, and the structure will collapse any minute. We need to get out of here. "Galley!" I call, and the giant seizes firing to look my way. I re-connect my mana strings to my marionette, bringing the puppet to it's feet. "We're getting out of here. Hale and Echo will find a way out and meet us." The giant nods, rising back to his feet with a grimace of pain, and limp toward me.
I look at the burning wall of the silo behind me, old creaky wood now ablaze with fire. My marionette draws it's sledgehammer and I send it smashing through the wall, escaping outside.
About three seconds pass before it's flung back in, breaking through the wall and sailing above us, wooden body cracked and splintered. A second after it, a huge iron hammer comes tearing through the wall, sending broken splinters of wood in all directions, opening the wall up to reveal a massive, armored ogre standing there. The ogre lets out a fierce roar that drowns out all the sounds of combat, and all heads turn to look at the beast.
Silence stretches on for a fraction of a second, as everyone in the silo processes the presence of the giant beast. Then, the area explodes into a flurry of battle even more chaotic than before. Bore and Galley open fire on the armored ogre, Hale breaks free of the melee to charge the beast, Echo unleashes a round of eldritch spells on it, and Fang's clear, cool violin notes cut through the entire thing.
I can feel the magic inside the music taking effect; increasing my perception, slowing the world around me, sharpening everything I look at. I slide my control bars back into my belt and draw my bow, knocking a pair of arrows. I draw, aim, and fire in a single fluid motion, all clear under the sounds of that music.
Ping! Shnnk! One arrow bounces off the ogre's thick iron helm, but the other finds it's way through an eye slit and pierces the monster. It recoils, letting out another deafening roar, and we double down on our flurry of attacks.
The beast covers it's face with an arm, lowers it's head, and charges down into the burning silo after us. I dive to the side to avoid it, an Hale futily slashes at it's legs as it passes by. It barrels right into Galley, and for once the giant is utterly outmatched in brute force and laid out across the ground.
The ogre stands over him for just a moment, ignoring the few pinging shots from me and Bore. It reaches down and, with almost out-of-place care in the massive beast, plucks the chest from Galley, encloses it in it's huge hand, and slowly turns back to the hole it entered through.
Hale dashes in and continues madly hacking at the ogre, looking for a weak spot in it's armor. I switch back to my damaged marionette and do the same, while Echo and Bore pour magical strikes into it. Through the whole barrage, the ogre keeps it's slow, steady pace lumbering out of the silo, ignoring the blows bouncing off of it's armor.
As it reaches the hole and exits the silo, almost as an afterthought, it swings it's huge hammer back for a final swipe, catching Hale and the puppet and ploughing them into and through the wall. And just like that, the burning, damaged structure has had enough and begins to fall all around us.
With no time to see to the others, much less the strength for Galley, me and Bore cease our attacks and make a mad dash for the missing wall, leaping out just in time to avoid the entire building collapsing in a burning heap.
Outside, we see dozens of robes cultists like the others, and two more of the armored ogres. In the middle of the crowd is one cultist who's mask is covered with horns and spike, holding a long, jeweled staff in his hand.
"They're going to teleport out!" Bore hisses, and we both sprint forward to catch the ogre carrying the wings.
The cultists surrounding us move forward, ready to intercept, and the horned one raises his hand, blasting a bolt of lightning that catches us both head-on and throws us back a dozen paces.
I go sliding across the ground, leaving a ditch behind in my wake, but I force myself back up regardless. As much as I can, anyways. All I can manage is to lit myself up on my forearms and see, blearily, just as the horned cultists raises his staff.
And in a flash of light, they vanish. Cultists, ogres, Wings. All gone.


After we've fought the fires as best we can, pulled Galley from the wreckage, and shared a round of potions, we all gather around in the village to discuss just what went so wrong with the final phase of our mission.
"So, someone care to explain what happened in there?" I ask, pointedly glaring at Fang and Bore.
Back to being taciturn now that the moment had passed, Bore shrugs noncommittally. Fang, however, takes the opportunity to step forward and speak. "Well... those guys that showed up, the cultists? They were the ones after the Wings of Fate, the whole time. They put up the notice that got you all interested in hunting for the artifact. They wanted you to bring it to them here, so they could take them. We were... trying to prevent that."
"Those were the same cultists that we fought in Dinberthorn." I point out, and Fang nods.
"They're the ones we've been tracking for... months, now. We've been two steps behind them this whole time. But, that one we captured back there, he told us about this meeting place. The dead drop where they would collect the Wings. We came here to beat them to it, warned the townsfolk, and waited for someone to bring the Wings by. Turned out to be you."
"But what's the point?" Echo cuts in. "Why all this fuss for a little piece of jewelry? They could nick anything worth that much money, why do they want the wings so bad?"
Fang hesitates, glancing at Bore.
"You said..." I say slowly, "that the enemy was someone else. A she. Who? The 'holy mother' they were going on about?"
Bore nods slowly, letting out a low sigh. "Morgianna. The slumbering Goddess of Destruction. The Wings are hers, and her servants intend to return them."
"Morgianna? Never heard of her." Echo says.
"I have. In rumors, and the oldest myths." Galley rumbles, crossing his arms. "Stories say she's behind countless acts of untold destruction. No records remain to prove it, but of course, there's a kernel of truth in every story."
"OK, so some underground cult is trying to awaken an ancient death-god. Nothing new." I say. "That still doesn't answer our question; what do they need the Wings for?"
Fang shrugs. "Honestly, we don't know. All we know is that they play some important pat in the ritual or process or whatever to bring her back. And now they have them."
There's a moment of tense silence as we consider just what that could mean. Finally, Hale speaks up. "So, what do we do about it?"
"Nothing." Bore growls. "Almost a year of tracking and hunting them down, and this meet, this drop, was the best chance we'd ever had. And we blew it. Now we have nothing."
Fang looks at him, distress across her own face as well. She lets out a long breath, rubbing her eyes. "We have... some notes. Resources. things we can look back on, try to find another lead. They have to have some kind of base of operations..." She looks up at us, plastering a light smile on her face. "Oh, but don't worry too much. This is our problem, not yours. You just got caught up in the middle of it. Er, again."
"Don't worry about the ancient death god waking up. Got it." Echo rolls his eyes.
"He's right." I say, propping my arms up on my knees in front of me, staring at the ground. "This isn't our fight; not yet. Fang and Bore have experience with these cultists, they know what they're up against. We just wandered into things. Before we help anyone with their problems, we need to sort out our own." I look at each party member in turn. "Echo, you need to sit down and do some serious studying on that new spell tome. Galley, you need to get your gun fixed. Or figure out how to use a tree-shooting monstrosity. Whichever. And Hale, you need to get that freaky leg thing figured out."
They nod in silent agreement, and I pause, considering my next line of thought. "And I... Have something I need to look into."
"Probably for the best." Bore says. "You're going to need to be ready for whatever comes next."
"It will take some time for the cult to make their next move, no doubt." Fang says, standing up and dusting off her dress. "It's been a pleasure, running into you unusual lot. Till our paths cross again." She gives an elegant bow, then turns away with Bore in tow.

The four of us spend a little while poking around the village, mostly making sure nothing cult-y has been left behind, and once we're satisfied we head out back to Dinberthorn. By this time, darkness has fallen, but we decide it would be best to ride  few hours in the dark than spend the entire night camping out in the open. Especially since we didn't bring our camping gear.
We arrive back at Dinberthorn late into the night and find accommodations at our usual inn. We split up to our separate rooms, Galley and I in one and the siblings in the other, all with the day's events heavy on our thoughts.

In the morning, we meet outside the inn to decide on our next course of action.
"I need to find a way to read this book." Echo says, hefting his heavy tome and flipping pages under his thumb. "The stupid word won't hold still and they give me a headache."
"And I need to find a mage that can diagnose my leg." Says Hale. "I don't want it to... rot... or clone me, or anything, without my permission."
"And I'm going to par-TAY!"
"No, you're going to fix your gun."
"Er, um, right. Fix the gun."
"What about you, boss?" Hale asks. "Got any big plans for yourself?"
I grin wryly. "Plans? Are you kidding? I'm sending all the kids out of the house to be someone else's problem. I plan to take a nice, long nap until the world freezes over."
"He's sending us out to do all the hard work while he slacks off? That's not right." Echo complains.
I shrug. "You decided to... 'acquire' a spell tome. Galley wanted to jam a magic seed in his gun. Hale decided to do her hyena in a trap impersonation--"
"To save you!"
"--and I chose to be a good boy an not cause problems. You reap what you sow."
Echo glowers at me for a moment, then crosses his arms and storms away in a huff. We watch him mount his horse and ride off to the city's Skyway, then hale turns to us. "Well, I would say I'll miss you all, but between being free of Echo's crimes, the giant's disturbances of the peace, and your suicidal missions, I think I'll be fine without you for a while.
I smirk wryly. "Yeah, well, when you realize just how outmatched you are by the world and lost without us, we'll let you join us again... probably."
Hale snorts, then throws her hood up and walks off into the morning crowd of Dinberthorn.
Galley turns to me, grinning. "Ha, children."
I cross my arms and glare at him sternly. "No. Trouble." I warn him, and he sheepishly nods. I sigh, shaking my head at the futility of it, and walk away, leaving him to his own devices.
User avatar
Oddood198
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 8:16 am

Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Jan 29, 2021 9:02 am

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter the Twenty-Third: The Search, the King, and the Snap



It isn't long before I start hearing of strange happenings in the west of Aeilid; rumors of monsters congregating, strange characters seen about. Some claim to have seen a horde of beasts in the wild lands of the continent.
As for me, I've returned to Zid Caina, the small, sleepy village. But instead of visiting with the locals or getting set back into the city, I've made a trek through the forests outside of town. First under heavy woodland canopies, then through high, thick carpets of snow. I follow a long, long road, through a quiet forest, feeling quiet solitude for what feels like the first time in ages. It's almost too quiet, without bickering party members trailing along with me.
Soon I come to an opening in the trees, where someone has painstakingly rebuilt dozens of snowmen all ranks, a small sign with a riddle standing just outside the field of them. I create a small ball of fire in my hand, and the snowmen all shuffle to the sides, creating an aisle for me, and the trees at the end give way to reveal a tunnel deeper into the woods. I nod, satisfied, and continue on.
Night begins to descend over the frozen woods, but I press on, and soon reach the end of the road. A familiar giant stone slab sits at the end, and on top of it sits a familiarly annoying figure; the future-seeing sage who lives alone out here.
He regards me impassively as I come closer, finally turning his nose up, looking almost disdainful. "I expected you here sooner." He says.
"Well, turns out you are no good at seeing the future, then." I retort, crossing my arms and planting my feet in the snow. "Except, you were right about one thing." He raises an eyebrow curiously. "Morgianna, the sleeping goddess. She's waking up, just like you said."
"Ah, that's what this is about." He nods to himself. "Well, I don't suppose you've come here simply to congratulate me on a job well done."
"Hardly. I wanted you to clarify a few things. First, you called her the final of three. Assuming you mean deity's, then she would be counted with Noel. Who's the third one?"
"As I said, the slumbering goddess is the final of three."
"Fine, the second, then."
"You already know of the unnamed one." The sage waves his hand dismissively. "The one who walks the world, who directly acts for Prism. Do not ask me to expound on your own ignorance."
I grit my teeth, suppressing a growl. I hate dealing with sages, visionaries, seers and prophets. The ability to catch glimpses of the future make them an absolute nightmare of arrogance and self-superiority. "All right, fine. What about what you told me? My past days are not past? How is that supposed to make sense?"
The sage regards me dryly. "Our pasts haunts us, all of us. Do you think I wanted to come to a frigid hiding hole far removed from the world? Just the same, you have walked a path that has not yet ended. To think you are free from it already... Hmph, the lofty height of your foolishness is itself amusing."
"But what does it mean?" I press. "Am I being hunted? Sought after? By enemies or allies? Stop speaking in riddles and tell me!"
The sage sneers, turning away. "I haven't time for this waste of breath. Leave me to my work."
I glare sharply at his back, weighing the consequences of throwing a lightning bolt his way. Finally I turn sharply, stalking away from his corner.
"Watch your step." The sage calls after me, a fraction of a second before I kick a rock under the snow and fall face-first into it. "So like you, always rushing blindly ahead." The sage says as I pull myself back up. His back is still to me. "And yet, you always stand. How very amusing."
I give him one last glare, then turn away, whipping out my teleport stone to return me to Zid Caina.

I return to Dinberthorn next, spending some time looking through old records in libraries and talking to historians and church leaders. None of them know much about Morgianna. Mostly, she's a figure shrouded in myth and legend, thought to be made up my some, while others have never heard of her. Goddesses of destruction, apparently, don't leave much behind about themselves.
As days turn to weeks, I find myself more and more frustrated with my search for information. The only ones that seem to know anything are Bore and Fang, and I have no way of getting into contact with the two of them.
And all the while, I hear increasingly worrisome reports about monsters spreading throughout Aeilid.
After only a few weeks have passed, I notice the streets growing emptier and emptier, almost by the day. I don't think much of it at first, until all of Dinberthorn seems like just a bland, run of the mill boring city. With a start, I realize the issue: all the adventurers in the city have disappeared. Every single one. I don't see anyone walking around armed or armored, there are no more displays of magic or music in the street, business in the market square has dropped dramatically. I almost can't believe it; every single adventurer in Dinberthorn has left to fight the growing horde of monsters on the far side of the continent.
As I make that realization, I also notice a flashing out of the corner of my eye. A mailbox, the flap sticking up and blinking to get my attention. Of course, it would appear completely normal to anyone else, but it alters my perception to let me know something is addressed to me.
I open the mailbox and pull out a letter sealed in smooth, cream white paper, with a red wax seal keeping it shut. A large crown standing above a turreted wall. I stare at the mark for just a moment until I realize what it is. The blood drains from my face and I feel like my eyes are about to pop out of my skull.
I have received a letter, addressed to me personally, from the king of Aelid.

"So... the king guy sent a letter? To you?" Echo asks, yet again, on our way up the palace walkway.
"He's not a 'king guy,' he's the king." I correct him. "And yes, he sent me a letter inviting us to the palace for an audience with him."
"But why?" Hale asks, "we're hardly the caliber of people to get invited to visit with royalty. What does he want with us?"
"A par-TAY!"
"I doubt that. But what I DO know is that when King Rounal summons you to appear before him, you appear before him."
It's been just a few hours since I found the letter in the mailbox, and through a series of more letters sent out, a hasty reunion, very quick teleports, and some time spent dressing in our nicest clothes, we're now on our way to the royal palace in Allin Deor, the capital city of all Aelid. 'Nicest clothes' means clean robes and hastily polished armor, except for Galley who, inexplicably, is sporting a three piece suit, the coat of which has tails that are longer than I am tall. Bards.
"Look, I want to know what this is about as much as anyone, just... Everybody, please, please be on your best behaviors. I do NOT want to be embarrassed in front of the king." I plead with them as we ascend the steps to the palace gates.
"Psh, c'mon, who do you think you're talking to?" Echo scoffs, clasping his hands behind his head. "I am the definition of soft-fist-ication."
"You mean sophistication." Hale interjects.
"No I don't. It's because they have soft fists, since... nobles can't punch to save their lives, or something. Right."
"This. This is exactly what I did not want."
The guards at the palace gates stop us, but stand aside when I show them the letter. We're directed through some kind of entry chamber, through a long, lavishly decorated corridor, and then into the throne room proper.
As one would expect, the throne room is about as stately as it could be. Whitewashed marble stone floors, pillars rising to serve as supports for the ceiling, draped with long tapestries and banners. Light reflects from crystal-laden chandeliers hanging down at regular intervals, more than making up for the darkness outside. A long red carpet leads up to a raised podium with an ornately carved throne, upon which sits King Rounal of Aelid.
As we enter, I hear gasps of awe from Hale and Echo, who have probably never seen a place half as opulent as this. Personally, I've seen better, but this is enough to impress the newbies.
"This place is posh." Echo breathes. "I want it."
I snap my fingers to get their attention and motion to follow me, and I lead the way to the raised throne, stopping just shy of the podium steps. I lower myself to a bow, and the others follow suit.
"Greetings, noble adventurers." The king says. For a powerful ruler set in a luxurious chamber like this, he's a surprisingly plain-looking man. Nothing notable about his build; he's actually a little pudgy, certainly not some warrior-king from the stories. He has short brown hair, a thick face, and a double chin trying very, very hard to hide behind a scraggly beard. But alas, not succeeding. "I am King King Rounal, sovereign over all the land of Aeilid. I welcome you to my court."
"King King..." Echo mumbles to himself. "Wait, 'King King?' Your name is King! That's hilarious!"
The King doesn't let it show in his bearing, but I can see a twitch of annoyance in his temples and his lips set themselves in a hard line. I am quite familiar with the expression. "Yes, indeed. It is a infrequently mentioned fact that I was named for the position I would one day hold. However, that is of no consequence to our current--"
"Noooo way! You're not just gonna steer the conversation away! Your name is King! You're King King! Bahahaha!" Echo doubles over, arms wrapped around his gut and shaking with laughter. "Like, when you were named, did the doctors say 'I'm sorry, it's a little early for that?' How could someone let your parents get away with that?!"
King King narrows his eyes, and his fingers go white against the armrests of his throne. "It was not questioned because my parents, as I am now, were the ruling members of the royal family. They, as am I, were above reproach. And because they, as do I, have the power to call punishment to anyone they deem fit, for any reason they deem worthy."
I gulp, sensing that this is going downhill very, very quickly. I nudge Galley, who is stifling his own laughter, but nevertheless reaches down and covers Echo's head in his hand, muffling the brat's laughter.
The King coughs noisily and pointedly. "Now, as for the reason I called you all here..." He pauses, as if waiting for more interruptions. "I have a task to ask of your party. A very important task, that I have reason to believe would greatly benefit the well being of the kingdom as a whole."
"If I may hazard a guess," I say, "does this have something to do with the growing army of monsters in the kingdom?"
King nods. "Yes. The sudden uprising of a horde such as this... It is unprecedented. My scholars and seers have been at a loss to explain it. Monsters, demons, even Firare's... All led by these robed, masked cultists."
I clear my throat, about to speak up with what we know, but the King holds up a hand to stop me.
"Fortunately, a pair of adventurers came forth with information that shed light on this worrisome development." He gestures to one end of the room, where a side door opens and Bore and Fang stroll into the room. Bore, dusty and unkempt as always, clashes something fierce with the room, but pristine Fang couldn't seem more at home.
"Hey hey, fancy meeting you guys here!" Fang exclaims, clapping her hands together. "King King said we'd be getting some reinforcements, I never thought it'd be you again."
"Well, obviously, King King knows how to find top quality help." Galley rumbles.
Echo finally heaves one of Galley's fingers out of the way enough to use his mouth again. "Yeah, good ol' King King, never lets the people down.
"Yes, I've always been a supporter of King King." Fang nods.
I can see King King retreating into himself a little more every time they say his name, and I send him a look of solidarity. Truly, the woes of a mischievous adventuring party are not for the unprepared. I let about a dozen other uses of 'King King' go by before I pointedly clear my throat and quiet the room. "So, your majesty, these two explained the situation to you?"
"Er, yes." The King snaps back to his regal bearing, though his shoulders sag just a tiny bit more. "They told me of the return of this Morgianna. It seems the cult leading this horde is working on her behalf."
"Buuut, there's a catch." Fang says. "From what we can tell, Morgianna herself isn't actually awake yet! As evidenced by the fact that, if she were, we'd probably all be dead already. So we still have a chance!"
"Left to their own devices, I fear this gathering of forces will cause catastrophic damage to our land." King says. "We've dealt with the monster populace by hunting them and keeping them in small pockets, or leaving them to populate dungeons. We never could have prepared for them to join together under a single banner like this."
"So, where do we come in?" I ask. "I don't honestly see what we're supposed to do about this whole thing."
"That's the fun part!" Fang exclaims, then looks at the King eagerly.
"From what these two have told me," the King says, "it may be entirely possible to put a stop to the awakening of the goddess. There may be a way to keep her from waking from her slumber at all."
"That's right! If we arrive at the place where the ritual is being held, we may be able to fight the cultists off, stop the entire thing, and keep Morgianna out of the picture completely! A big angry war goddess is bad, but a bunch of disillusioned cultists and a few beasties is nothing to worry about!"
"But why us?" The room goes silent at Hale's query; everyone slowly looks to her, frowns spread across the room, and even Fang's energy slowly fades. "We're bottom-tier nobodies with no accomplishments or feats to our names. We routinely get slaughtered by the most mundane enemies, we're foiled by the stupidest hurdles, and the only way we ever get anything done is by repeatedly smashing our faces against it until the universe itself takes pity on us and lets us win. Why would you send us to try and stop the resurrection of an ancient, bloodthirsty goddess of war?"
We all look to King King Rounal of Aelid, supreme ruler, sovereign lord of the greatest kingdom in the world; the single most powerful man on the face of Prism. He looks us in the eyes, one by one, nods resignedly to himself and takes a deep breath. So long as I live, I will never forget his response.
"Because there is literally no one else."
Hale hangs her head. Echo barks out a quick laugh. Galley chuckles mirthlessly to himself. I bury me head in my hands.
"All the other adventurers have already gone off to fight the horde." King King continues. "Every one. Every party, every guild and clan, every solo adventurer has gone. I've sent my army, my host of knights... I've sent my advisers off to aid my generals, my servants to help the army. Look around, there's no one but us in this entire palace. Those guards that stopped you on the way in aren't even guards; they're actors. I just hired them to try and dissuade criminals from breaking into my palace, but it's no use because all the criminals already left to fight. There is no one else, anywhere, under my power, in my entire kingdom, across this whole continent, that I can send, but you."
There is a deep, heavy silence in the room. None of us can bring ourselves to respond; Despondent at the weight of what's been said, snarky Echo, boisterous Galley, even extravagant Fang, all are silent. King King is sobbing softly to himself.
"I should have stayed in Feylake." I tell myself. "I should have stayed. I should have become a farmer, or a miner. Live in back-breaking work with no reward, and if I didn't die in a gas explosion or a goblin attack, I would've married a gap-toothed lazy eyed woman and had a snot-nosed son who would cause me nothing but grief and eventually elope with the miller's prize sheep. I could have had a whole life, living in misery and agony, crushed by the weight of the futility of my life and my horrible lot in the world. I would have worked myself into an early grave, disfigured by years of taxing work and painful life. And they never would have remembered old Bod Oam the failureaaaaaAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! All right! We'll do it! We'll fight the cultists, we'll stop the awakening of Morgianna, and while we try, we'll die like heroes and be remembered as fools! We'll do it, because that's what we do! Because no one else is stupid enough! Fang! Bore!"
The pair of adventurers snap to attention, wide-eyed and alert, shocked, like the rest of the room, by my raving.
"Do you two know where to go and how to do this?"
The exchange a look between them and Bore nods sharply.
"Echo!"
"Eep!"
"Can you read your spell tome?"
"Y-yeah, sure can!"
"Galley!"
"Aye aye captain!"
"Are you locked and loaded?"
"I will sow the seeds of victory!"
"Hale!"
"Yeah, boss?"
"Do you have your freaky leg clone thing under control?"
"I have seven me's, awaiting your command."
"King King!"
"Ah! Uh, er, yes?"
"You better have a chest of gold and fourteen heroic titles waiting for us when we get back."
"Um... Of course."
"Good. Now let's go."
I spin on my heel, shoulders squared, jaw locked, eyes straight ahead. The others fall in behind me. Carefree but dependable Galley. Shy but eager Hale. Belligerent but loyal Echo. Flashy and excited Fang. Silent and determined Bore. With anticipation and dread deep in our hearts, we set off to the greatest battle of our lives.
Behind us, King King calls out to me. "You... are a very unusual group of people."
"Yes, yes we are." I say with a grin, a mad gleam in my eye. "Unusuals, move out! We're putting a goddess back to bed."
User avatar
Oddood198
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 8:16 am

Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Jan 29, 2021 9:04 am

Misadventures of the Unusuals


Chapter the Twenty-Fourth: The Arrival, the Reveal, and the Departure



We leave the palace and use the Allin Deor Skyway to warp across the continent. aiming to arrive in Talein, the City of Knights, closest to the area affected by the horde.
We end up on some mountain path in the middle of nowhere.
"All right, great. What's this?" Echo huffs, crossing his arms in annoyance.
"We missed? Do the Skyways dump people in the wrong place?" Hale asks.
"No, they don't." I say. "We should have arrived right in the city, instead of... wherever we are."
"Let's see... forested area down there, looks like the Trihorn mountain range to the south..." Fang stares off in the distance, scanning for landmarks. "Ooh, I can see the Zela constellation!"
"We're on the Naeig mountain path." Bore states, "about a four hour ride away from Talein."
"Well that's not right." I place my hand on the Skyway, trying to initiate  warp again, but... nothing happens. "The Skyway isn't doing anything."
"It got us here, so there's nothing wrong with it." Galley says. "There must be an issue with the receiving portal."
"You think they destroyed the Skyway portal in Talein?" I ask.
"They probably did." Fang says. "If the horde has reached Talein by now, they probably would destroy the Skyway so they don't have adventurers and soldiers teleporting into the middle of them."
"Going by that logic, then that would be... what, a third of the continent without Skyways now?" Hale says.
I nod grimly. No one knows how to create Skyways, and they're the only inexhaustible means of teleportation throughout the continent. If they've been destroyed, they'll never come back.
"Well, that just means we have some walking to do." I look to Fang and Bore. "You know where we're going?" They nod. "And how to get there from here?"
Fang grins. "Leave it to us."
With the two of them leading, we make our way through the winding mountain pass, relying on moonlight to guide us.

Through our hike, we fill each other in on what we've been up to during our weeks-long separation.
Galley talks about all the mechanisms he broke in his gun, but how it now acts as essentially a funnel of nature magic; the giant pours his own mana into the gun, just like a regular mana pistol, and the seed inside it will grow tree, vines, shrubs, anything nature-y, depending on how much mana he uses.
Hale explain that, from what the people she asked could tell, the weirdness of her leg came from the nature and eldritch magic, two powerfully opposing elements, that were used to grow the thing. Apparently, in times of stress, the leg would form miniature breaks in space and time, basically using a mix of time dilation and short-term teleportation to make short-lived copies of herself to attack an enemy. Or maybe they were afterimages. Or illusions. To be honest, no one was quite sure.
Echo said he could use his spell tome. And that was all.
After our discussions lagged and the excitement of being reunited waned, we kept trudging on silently through the path. We gradually noticed a startling lack of animals; birds, lizards, even insects, all the things you would expect to see on a forested trail like this were absent.
"Too quiet." Hale tells me after a while.
"Coming from you, that's doubly worrying."
"We're almost there, now." Fang says, "watch out for scouts; they've probably got a lot of defenses in place."
They lead us off the path soon, veering into the forest, picking our way around gnarled roots and untamed vegetation. We're alert now, watching every shadow and limb for signs of movement, taking our steps carefully so as to avoid stepping in dry leaves or sticks; anything that could make noise to betray our position. A high alert mode in a dead silent forests makes for tension thick enough you could club someone with it.
Finally, Bore holds a hand to stop us, goes off ahead a few dozen yards, then waves for us to slowly follow him. We creep along to join him, and find we're at the edge of the tree line. Below us is a sprawling campsite, full of randomly placed tents and fires, with monsters wandering aimlessly about; goblins, ogres, giant spiders, imps, and everything in between. Looking closely, we can make out white-masked cultists between the monsters. Bore points forward, to a tall, sheer cliff face on the other side of the encampment. "Up there."
"We have to climb that?" Echo asks.
"That's where they're holding the ritual to awaken Morgianna, so yes." Fang answers.
"Can we use our eagles? Surely the air traffic laws are bendable enough." Hale suggests.
I shake my head. "No way; laws aside, we'd be shot down before we were halfway up."
"We have to scale the cliff." Bore says. "But to get there, we need to get through the camp."
"We'll never be able to climb while we fight, and there's too many for us to beat them all." Fang adds, "so we'll need to sneak through."
I peer up at the top of the cliff. Silhouetted in the moonlight, I can see what looks like a wall ringing the entire edge of the cliff, with an archway reminiscent of a door in the middle. "What was this, a castle?"
"Or a temple." Fang shrugs. "For a war goddess, it might be the same thing. From the look of it, the ground was probably level all the way through at some point, but either the ground here sunk or the cliff rose."
I sigh deeply. "And of course, now we have to climb the thing."
"We should go now, before the sun rises." Bore urges, and we all agree.
We inch our way down toward the encampment, staying low to the ground and keeping anythign and everything between us and the series of tents that we can.
"Everyone, stay quiet in there." I order them under my breath as we move. "Hale, just be you. Echo, limit yourself to quiet snark. Galley... be Hale."
"As if one wasn't bad enough." Echo mutters.
"Good, just like that."
We enter the camp itself, moving between tents, tarps, crates, anything we can for cover. Bore or I will dart out first, advancing a few steps out to a new spot, then signal for the rest when it's all clear. We have monsters and cultists wander past us, sometimes getting within inches of our hiding spots, but every time we freeze, hold our breath, and pray to Noel that they leave quietly. And they do. Astoundingly, we move a group of six people, with varying levels of skill, or lack thereof, including a giant, right through into the heart of the enemy.
"Will you quit starting at me?" Echo hisses during one pause as Bore peers out to pick our next cover.
"I'm just looking." Hale says.
"At what? You know what I look like!"
"You cut your hair again, didn't you?"
"Yeah, so what? It was getting long again. It was poking out of my turban, and getting dirty and tangled. So I got it cut off."
"You can not seriously think this is the proper time for this discussion." I interject.
"It's supposed to get long, it's hair! Hale mutters, ignoring me completely. "You're supposed to wash it and comb it to keep it taken care of."
"Ugh, but it's so much easier to just keep it short!"
"I dont-- you... I swear, Echo. This is why everyone always thinks you're a boy!"
"You're bringing that up again! Come on!"
"Echo, listen to your sister." I whisper, peering out over our barrels. "You should take care of your hair instead of just... wait... what?"
"What? See something?" Echo asks.
I lower myself, squinting at him, trying to get a good hard look in the moonlight. "Thinks you're a boy?"
"Well, I'm not!" Echo quietly exclaims, placing his hands on his hips. "I'm a girl, obviously."
I stare at him blankly, then at Hale, who nods, then back at him. His face is usually in some manner of grimace or sneer, but looking now, his features do almost look too soft to be any kind of masuline. I had thought he was just a boy that hadn't properly grown yet, but... looking at him, his eyes were a little too round, his cheekbones a little too smooth. When we first met, his shaggy hair, boyish mannerisms, and abrasive personality made me think he was a boy without a second thought, but... "You're a girl?"
"Duh, you can't tell?"
"No!"
"Well then you're stupid!"
"You don't act anything like a girl!"
"Yes I do!"
"No you-- oh, never mind." I roll my eyes. "How come neither of you ever corrected me?"
Hale shrugs. "I thought you were just messing with her."
"If someone's stupid enough to think I'm a boy, then I can't be bothered to correct them."
I sigh deeply. This just gets better and better. So, Echo's a girl. That's a shock, but not a big deal, and it really has no importance to our current mission.
"What?!" Galley shouts. "You're a girl!? The little guy's a little lady? How could this happen?!" He grabs me by the shoulders, lifts me up, and shakes me like a doll. "It's all wrong! It's all a lie!"
"Galley, knock it-- ohh, no."From my giant-sized vantage point, I can quite clearly see every monster, beast and cultist in the area turning toward us, drawn by the giant's outburst. We're still in the middle of the camp and our cover is blown.
"Run!" I wriggle free of Galley's grip and hit the ground running. The others take off behind me, all pretense of stealth gone. Weapons are drawn, insults are thrown, and we all fall into a dead sprint.
Galley and Bore open fire ahead of us, clearing a path through anything that would try to stop up, and Hale slashes at anything that gets too close. Fang has her violin set on her collar and is alternating between sharp taps on the instrument and quick, high notes with her bow.
The music takes effect, and immediately the world shifts. Time slows, vision sharpens, movements are made without consciously thinking about it. Bore and Galley's shots get less frantic and more controlled, small bursts or single shots that pick off anything directly in our way.
We're making good distance at a more than respectable speed, and we're approaching the edge of the campsite with relatively little resistance, but there's still one problem.
"We need a way up that cliff!" I shout. If we try and scale it with this pack on our tails, we'll be shot down and torn to pieces.
"Anyone bring a ladder?" Fang asks.
"I'm a small enough target; I might not die." Echo says.
"Oh, ooh, I can help!"
"You've helped enough already, Galley!"
"Echo's a witch or something now, right? Shouldn't she have a flying broomstick?"
"Oh, stuff it! You're the ugly hag here, not me. "
"This is not helping!" Bore barks.
"Really, really, I can do it!"
"You're not helping either!"
We're rapidly approaching the cliff face by now, and our only options seem to be to try and scale it with all our might, or turn and fight until we get a chance to beat feet and escape.
"Just gonna throw this out there, I can't play my violin and climb at the same time."
"You're gonna stay while we climb? We'll remember your brave sacrifice."
"I'm not staying, you little rodent!"
"I can do something, really!"
"All right, fine! Galley, whatever you're going to do, just do it and shut up!"
"Haha! Yes!" The giant sprints to the front of the pack, swapping out his standard mana pistol for his nature one.
Galley points his nature gun up at the clifftop, and the weapon begins glowing with mana as he channels it. Flowers sprout from the handle, and a bird flies out the barrel.
I stare at the gun, utterly disappointed. "You've gotta be--"
KROOOSH!
I'm silenced mid-complaint as a huge tree limb bursts forth from the barrel of the gun. Or, maybe it's a vine, or a beanstalk. Whatever it is, it grows outward all the way from Galley gun and slams into the top of the cliff, loosing rubble and clouds of dust to fall down the cliff.
We pause in our sprint for a moment, watching as Galley leaps onto the vine and starts to run up it like an organic bridge. Seeing no other solution, I follow after and shout for the others to do the same.
We run up our vine bridge as projectiles begin to fly by us; arrows, mana bullets, spells, the works. We keep running, and get by mostly unharmed. Hale takes an arrow through her wooden leg but shrugs it off and keeps running.
We reach the top of the vine, cresting the cliff now, spilling out onto solid ground. We're in an overgrown, unused courtyard of some kind, with that stone wall ringing us in. At the far end is the entrance to a tall, solid-looking stone structure.
Behind us, our pursuers are running up the vine, and the closest of them are halfway here already. "We've got company!" I call.
"Ah! I've got this one!" Echo runs forward, black spell tome in one hand, placing her empty one on the massive vine. She reads from the book, chanting in a harsh, guttural language that I'm unfamiliar with, and dark clouds begin to form around her, whisping around the book and her fingers.
The foremost pursuer is a cultist with plate armor over his robes and a pair of horns jutting from his mask. If I had to guess, I'd say he was some kind of commander of the forces below. He's only a dozen steps away from the cliff now.
With a final shout, Echo releases her spell, stepping back and flinging her hand out toward the vine. From the dark cloud, a thick, innumerable swarm of locusts busts out, latching onto the vine. In seconds, the plant turns dark and begins to whither, and the locusts work their way down eating as they go.
With it's upper point of support lost, the dying vine falls down, plunging the commander, fellow cultists, and other enemies all down the cliff.
Echo looks down the side of the cliff,  joined by Hale. "Well, that was effective." The latter says.
I stand by them and look down. Other cultists and monsters are beginning to climb the cliff face after us. cultists are beginning to ascend via the rocks, goblins are bringing tall ladders, ogrea are tossing imps halfway up the cliff, only for them to fall a very long ways to a very abrupt stop.
"Not effective enough." I say. The others join us staring down the cliff.
"I think we can hold them." Bore says, and we look to him. He glances up at Galley. "The two of us. With our mana guns, we should be able to hold them off the cliff for a while.
Galley strokes his beard thoughtfully, looking down at the ascending foes. "Hmm... yes, we may be able to pull it off. It would certainly be fun to try, at least."
"What? Are you crazy? We can't split up now!" Fang cries.
"We have to." Bore replies. "Someone needs to get into the temple and put a stop to the awakening ritual. And we can't do that if we have a group of enemies stabbing us in the back."
"It makes sense." I say, and Fang glares at me. "I didn't say I liked it, but it does make sense. Out of all of us, they have the best ranged combat abilities; they could hold the advance long enough to buy us time to get inside. Even if they get all the way up the cliff, Galley and Bore are both capable close combat fighters, and they have an excellent choke point here at the archway." I nod to Bore, "I think it could work."
"We don't have time to debate this anymore." Bore says, drawing a pistol and firing a shot down the cliff. A cultist falls backward off the cliff, clutching his wounded hand through the plummet. "Me and the giant will stay. The rest of you, go."
I step back, and Hale, Echo and Fang come with me, leaving the two gunners to do their thing. "You'd both better find us once you're done." I say, before leading the other across the courtyard and into the temple.
Galley draws his pistols and stands next to Bore, and they both look down at the writhing mass of foes covering the sheer cliff face.
"I'll take the left side; you take the right." Bore says, taking aim with his guns.
Galley charges his functional pistol and points it down toward the advancing line. "Let's par-tay."

Once we're inside the tunnel, we get jumped by a gang of cultists. A quick and intense scuffle later, we've dealt with the door guards and are making our way deeper into the structure. Torches along the walls light our path, and we follow the only way forward; a long, narrow corridor.
Inside, the temple hardly seems touched by the movement of time. While the outside is dirilect and overgrown, inside the stones are smooth and white, free of dirt and grime. As if the place has been sealed so tightly that not even time itself could enter.
"So, what exactly is the plan in here?" Hale asks as we run down the corridor.
"We find the ritual and... um... break everything and everyone in sight?" I suggest.
"That's about as far as we got, too." Fang says. "If we break everything, then nothing will work right, and it'll all go wrong. Perfect plan, if you ask me."
"I don't know how I keep getting pulled into these things." Echo mutters.
Soon the corridor widens out and leads us into a wide, open chamber. A pure, sterile white dome of a room with almost enough space to build a castle. At the far end, in front of a huge pair of wooden double doors, is a familiar figure with a mana rifle and a giant-sized bayonet.
"This guy again?" Echo groans.
"What's he doing here?" Asks Hale.
"I don't know," I say, stepping forward. "But if he's here, we may as well go home. Calico!"
The man turns around to face us, arms crossed in front of him. He takes a look at us and sighs, hanging his head and dropping his shoulders. "It's you. Again." He shakes his head, a look of disbelief crossing his face. "I can't believe it."
"We're here to stop the ritual to awaken Morgianna." I say. "With you here to help, it should be no problem."
"Do you know what's inside?" Asks Hale. "What kind of defenses, how many of them... are..."
Calico slowly reaches up and takes his weapon by the handle, lowering it to his side and resting a hand on the lever. "Stop."
We stop in our tracks. "Calico, what are you..."
He shakes his head. "I can't let you go further."
"You're... working for Morgianna?" I ask. "You-- do you even know what she's doing? Do you know what's going to happen?! Why are you siding with her?"
He sighs deeply, drawing the lever back on his weapon, and mana funnels in, drawn from the very air to fuel the weapon. "Because it is a Rebirth. And I must."
"So... we have to fight this guy, first?" Fang asks, holding her violin to her collarbone.
I shake my head, gritting my teeth. "We can't." I say. "We can't! If we try to fight him, he'd destroy us." We've seen him knock a dragon down by himself, and use that mana rifle to blow a hole in a stormcloud. My puppet and Hale's blades are no match for him.
Echo steps to the front of the group, clenching and unclenching her fists. "Go." She hisses.
Hale glances at her sister. "Echo...?"
"I'll hold him off." Echo says. "While he's distracted, you all run for the door. Get in there and stop them."
"You can't." I say. "There's no way you can even stall him. Even if you have your spell tome, your magic isn't powerful enough--"
"Did I say I would use my magic?" Echo pulls her turban off, releasing her shaggy blonde hair. She rips the turban into two halves and begins wrapping it around her fists.
I step forward to try and protest, but Hale holds her hand out and stops me. She gives me a quick glance and shakes her head.
Calico slams the bolt shut and raises his gun to rest on his shoulder, effortlessly maneuvering the weapon easily twice his size. "You're not going to back down?"
Echo spits to the side, raising her fists in front of her. "Make me."
Fang looks back and forth between us, Echo, and Calico, then lowers her violin and grins. "I think I'm gonna watch this one."
The air grows thick, almost too much to breathe. No one moves. Echo and Calico's eyes are locked. Hale and I would be fidgeting with anxiety, if not for the crushing weight of the moment.
"Go!" Echo barks, and then she's off like a shot. By the time Hale and I have taken three steps, the girl is already halfway across the massive antechamber.
Calico twirls his mana rifle and catches it in the crook of his elbow, leveling it at the charging Echo. Glowing blue glyphs form in the air in front of his barrel, and he fires with a sound like a thunderclap.
A burst of dust and broken stones flies up from Echo's position, blocking our view of her, but we keep sprinting. Hale runs to one side of the room, and I take the other, hugging the wall as we give Calico wide berth while charging for the doors.
Echo bursts out of the cloud, flying over the ground, fist cocked back for a punch.
Calico raises his gun in front of him, placing one hand on the blade of his bayonette, holding it to block the girl.
"Haaaaaah!" Echo shouts as she takes the swing, slamming her fist into Calico's blade. The metal bends inward with a dent, and Calico takes a staggering step back.
Hale and I run past the combatants, and I look for just long enough to see Calico's eyes almost bulging out of his head as he stares over the blade at Echo. The girl has her teeth gritted, glaring at him as she raises her other fist.
As we shove open one of the huge doors, Calico looks over his shoulder at us, tries to move to intercept us, but Echo throws his off-balance with another strike and he's forced to turn back to her.
Hale and I rush through the doorway, shove the heavy door shut again, and take a deep breath of relief. "Think... think she'll be able to hold him?" I ask.
Hale laughs humorlessly. "Seriously? She's the one you're worried about?"
I shake my head, putting the fight out of my mind. "Anyways, moving on..." I look around us. We seem to have fallen into some kind of alternate dimension.
We're in a vast, endless white expanse. Just, pure whiteness, interrupted only by black and Grey discs spinning through the sky. Below us is a single, large black disc that seems to be acting as a platform, except it's spinning under us and we're not moving.
"I've gotta be honest, I'm really worried." Hale says beside me.
"Yeah, this place is really, really weird." I agree.
"No, not that." I look at her, and she's looking down at her side. "The last time we were alone together, I lost a leg."
"Point." I look forward into the white expanse, across the single disc we're above. There, I see a figure.
Tall, slender and graceful, a woman in a midnight black and smooth hair like a pool of oil faces us, her eyes closed. She has her arms raised behind her head, and look to be fidgeting with something behind her neck. She lowers her arms and holds something by her neck; a small necklace with a pair of sculpted wings. Her eyes open, unleashing a furious white light, like two small suns, and a huge pair of black wings spread forth behind her back.
I inhale sharply and Hale gasps, staring at the dark, transfixing woman. Morgianna has awoken.


Fang watches from the far end of the antechamber in amusement, having switched her violin out for a worn, tattered notebook and a quill pen. She watches the fighters intently, hoping to glean inspiration for her next epic. "Come on, give me a good fight..."
Calico slides his foot across the ground, shifting his weight and throwing the girl behind him. She whirls around and charges him again, but he backpedals quickly and fires several light shots at her. She bats the magic projectiles away with her hands, but it slows her enough for Calico to get some distance between them.
He looks past her, at the doors the other two have escaped through. He sighs sharply, then turns his attention back to the girl. "You should have just turned and left."
"Seriously? After everything we went through to get here? All that's at stake? You want us to turn around and leave?" Echo slams her fists together in front of her. "Not happening."
"What's at stake?" Calico barks a harsh laugh. "You have no idea what's at stake here."
"No, probably not." Echo admits. "To be honest, I really don't care, either. I'm here, you're here, and we're fighting. That's enough for me."
Calico shakes his head in disbelief. "How can you not care? Can you really think so little of what you've become a part of?"
"Look, I can't fight you with magic, so my whole day's ruined. I gotta beat the snot out of you instead, and that's just no fun. I'm already in a bad mood, so you're just going to get hit!"
Echo dashes forward again, ducking under Calico's bayonet and coming up swinging. Calico spins his gun in front of his to deflect the attacks, then switches to the offensive; slamming his blade down at Echo.
The girl sidesteps the first strike, ducks under the second, leaps over the follow-up, and as Calico slices downward, she raises one hand to the side, catching the massive sword and stopping the attack.
Calico's eyes widen as all his strength and momentum falls flat, stopped by this small girl with a single hand. "What are--"
Echo steps forward, throwing her fist forward and punching Calico directly in the stomach. He skids across the ground, slamming into the wall with a crack! He staggers forward, spits to the side, and wipes his mouth with his hand. It comes off with a red streak of blood. Blood. His own blood. How long has it been since I saw my own blood? He wonders, eyes flicking back up to Echo as the girl charges.
Calico thrusts his weapon forward, but Echo lightly hops, landing on the flat side of the massive sword, running up the blade. Calico leans out of the way of her straight jab, drops his weapon, and spins to dodge a second punch, then slams his elbow into the girl's side, sending her into the stone wall.
Calico snatches his gun and retreats several steps, then loads it and aims, waiting for the girl.
Echo peels herself out of the wall, drops to her feet, and grimaces. "This is so stupid." She hisses as Calico fires a blast of magic at her. Echo takes a backhand swipe and knocks the volatile blast away, sending it to the wall behind her.
"Those fist wrappings..." Calico says, watching the girl. "They function as armor strong enough to repel shots from my mana rifle and catch my blade without a scratch."
"It's my turban. I had it enchanted." Echo replies, taking a moment to tighten the strips of cloth around her fists. Road worn, sweat-stained and dirtied, but without a sign of wear from defending her through the fight.
"A turban enchanted to withstand the might of a thousand swords." Calico scoffs. "Do you have some vendetta against helmets?"
Echo glares, dropping her fists back to her sides. "It's important to me."
"A gift?"
"...Yes." Echo looks down at the torn turban. "The only one... I've ever been given."
Calico nods. "To get that level of enchantment... You must have poured every coin you earned into it. It must be from someone important."
"Psh, important?" Echo scoffs, shaking her head. "The guy who gave it to me is a idiotic, good for nothing moron with no social graces, common sense, or ability to be competent in any way. He's an irredeemable chunk of stupid with terrible fashion sense and no backbone." She raises her fists, returning to her fighting stance. "And he's the one who let me become an adventurer. So I'll follow him forever."
And then she's there, inches away from Calico, already throwing her next punch. Calico recoils, leaning out of the way, but he can't move fast enough. In a flash, he raises his weapon to let it take the blow.
Thud! Echo's fist collides with the bayonet, leaving another dent in the massive sword.
Thud! She strikes again, and Calico can feel the metal bending under the weight of each blow.
Calico steps back hastily, working through his disbelief. How could she be so strong? How was he being forced to the defensive?
Echo glares after him for a moment, then takes a deep breath, relaxing for just a moment. Calico can feel the mana in the air gathering toward her, and in a flash, both her fists burst into flame.
Fang grins, scribbling in her notebook. "This is good, this is good!" She exclaims.
Echo runs forward, fists blazing with magic. She ducks under Calico's swing and steps in close. Calico pulls his rifle back to shield him again, placing his hand on the bayonet to brace it.
Clang! As Echo's fist connects with the oversized bayonet, the metal snaps and falls to pieces, severing the blade from the gun. Calico recoils back, backpedallng away from Echo, desperately raising his rifle.
Echo slaps aside his shot, snatching the broken blade from the ground. She spins on her heel, blade gripped tightly in her hand, and hurls it at Calico, sending the massive blade spinning end-over-end at the man.
Calico raises his rifle and shoots the blade, ducking to avoid the shrapnel of the ensuing blast.
Echo is right there, inches away, fist raised. Calico holds her gaze for just a moment, then her blazing hand comes to his face.
And he vanishes.

""All right, so how bad is this?" Hale asks as we stare, unmoving, at Morgianna.
"Well, we're down to a third of our already pitiful forces, alone in some bizarre pocket dimension, and the ancient war goddess we came to stop is fully awake, and is now looking at us." I nod grimly. "I'm going to go with 'very bad.'"
"So, given that, what do you think are the chances she doesn't attack us?"
"Well, um.. She is now glaring, her wings kind of flared up a bit... Oh, she has a sword now, that's a good indicator."
"So... Fight?"
"Well, she's a war goddess. It probably wouldn't end well for us."
"Do you think maybe she's still drowsy?"
"No, I don't."
"Think we can reason with her?"
"Again, no."
"Fight?"
"Fight."
Hale charges forward, sprinting with all her might, swords ready. I summon my marionette and send it out ahead of her. It overtakes her, producing it's hammer, and goes to strike the goddess.
Morgianna regards the puppet with a mix of curiosity and disdain, then swings her long, elegant black sword and slashes it in half. One half goes wide, but the other flies back, slamming into Hale and knocking her flat on her back."
"Fighting was a bad idea." I mutter, rushing up to Hale's side and pulling her to her feet.
Morgianna just stands there, staring at us with her glowing white eyes. She looks very unhappy with us.
"Do you know who I am?" She asks. Her voice is deep and reverberating, filled with power.
"Morgianna, goddess of destruction. You reputation precedes you." I say, holding my control bars readily. Hale, likewise, is on guard but trying not to look overtly hostile.
Morgianna narrows her eyes, peering at us. She looks from me to Hale and back again. "You are here to fight." She says. "To fight those who guard this place, those who awoke me... and myself, if you must."
"Well, we're not too keen on your plans for our world. We must respectably oppose you."
Her eyes narrow even more, and her jaw sets itself in a line. "I am a goddess of this realm. By my will, this world exists, and from my mouth flows unbreakable truths of reality itself. You two will not move yourselves from where you stand."
As she speaks, I realize that, indeed, I won't move. Not that I can't move; I haven't been paralyzed, or chained down, or rendered immobile in any way. But my feet simply will not move no matter how much I will them to. I see Hale struggling likewise.
Morgianna watches us for a moment, then turns and walks away, leaving us to struggle with our own feet. "Your attempts are... admirable. Few have made it this far; I imagine you are great champions of your world. Yet still futile."
I stifle a laugh, and Hale shoots me a dirty look.
"I will not be stopped." Morgianna continues. "You are only half right. I am Morgianna, goddess of destruction... and rebirth." She turns back to look at us, white eyes still leaking light, jaw set tensely. "By my hand, this world will fall; it shall be broken to rubble and burned to ash. And then, from the ashes, a new world shall rise. A stronger one. A better one. A new Prism."
"But what's wrong with our world?" I ask. "Why should it be destroyed? When will you be satisfied with a world?"
"When it can stand against me on it's own, without their help. Then, it shall be complete."
"'Their' help? Who's they?"
Morgianna frowns, and turns away again, pacing away from us. I try to move, to rush her, to run for the door, anything, but I can't move from my spot.
"Now... it shall begin."

Calico's eyes snap open. He's laying on a smooth, flat surface. Above him, wheels turn endlessly in the sky, almost like gears powering a great mechanism.
"Hello, Calico. It's been a while." That soft voice, so soothing, so familiar, filled with an edge of sarcasm and teasing.
"Hey, sis." He grunts, pushing himself up and rising to his feet. Noel stands in front of him, hands behind her back, an insufferable smirk plastered over her face. He glares for a moment, then shakes his head. "Go ahead, get it over with."
Noel stifles a laugh, snickers a bit, then bursts out into peals of laughter, pointing at him mockingly. "You! Hahaha! You got your face smashed in by a four foot nothing little elven girl! Hahahaha! That was the funniest thing I've seen in this era! The look on your face... Hahaha!"
She goes on laughing for a while, doubling over, wrapping her hands around her stomach. Calico watches disdainfully. After a few moments, she regains her composure; wiping tears from her eyes and straightening up. "Oh, oh man... that was too funny, I just... Pfft. Hahaha!"
"Yes, yes, it was quite hilarious." Calico stalks past her, to the edge of the platform, staring out into the endless white void beyond. "I see you've still been entirely too lazy to decorate around here. I've been telling you to for... the last three Rebirths now."
Noel shrugs, coming to join him. "Well, what can I say? I've been busy lately." Calico cocks an eyebrow at her, and she sighs. "All right, well... not really. There hasn't been much for me to do around here but watch."
Calico nods somberly, looking back to the void. A moment of silence passes between them. "Noel... I lost."
"Yeah." Noel's voice in thin and frail, almost shaking.
"In single combat. A fair fight. No tricks, no... nothing. I lost."
Noel sniffs, slowly wiping at her eyes again. "You did."
Calico takes a deep breath, opens his mouth, and shuts it again. The word are hard to say. "They... They don't need us anymore, do they?"
A tiny whimper escapes Noel's throat, and tears begin to stream down her cheeks. "No, brother." Her voice is breaking as she struggles to hold back tears. "No they don't."
Calico gulps past a lump in his own throat. "Then..."
Noel nods. "Before the Rebirth is complete... Yes. It's... finally time."
Calico smiles humorlessly. "Let's be honest. It has been for a long, long time now."

"We have to stop her." I say.
"All right, agreed. But how?" Hale asks. "I can throw a sword at her, but I don't think it'll work."
"No, we need... something. If we can just hit her from behind, while she's unawares, we might have a shot."
"So... we get closer? Only problem is that we can't move."
"I noticed!" I hiss, trying to move my legs again. It's as if they've stopped listening to my brain; they just won't move. Think, Bod. What else do you have? I could try magic, but that would take time to charge a powerful spell, and Morgianna would probably notice. I could try my bow and arrow, but I'd only have one shot, and I don't know if it would be enough to strike a lethal blow. Aside from that, all I have is my control bars and a broken puppet.
What about Hale? All she has is her swords; no magic, mana guns or bow. Even her freaky leg is held down by Morgianna's command.
"We just need to get closer." Hale mutters.
"We can't. Apparently, going against a goddess' command isn't doable for the likes of us."
"There has to be a way. If I can just... Grr, move, stupid feet!"
"What did she say? We aren't allowed to move anymore. Apparently the universe won't allow it."
"She said 'we shall not move ourselves from where we stand' or something like that. So that's it? We're just stuck?"
"Well, unless you've just been pretending,[i] then yes, we're stuck. We're as stuck as puppets without strings."
Puppet... control bars... 'shall not move yourselves'... oh.
"I have an idea." I say.
"Somehow, I feel like it is not a good one."
"It never is. And you're [i]definitely
not going to like it."
"Perfect. What do we do?"
"Well, I have a show to put on." I say, raising my control bars. "And you have a goddess to fight."
Hale stares at me blankly. "What are you-- Wagh!" And then she sprints toward Morgianna.
Hale closes the distance between us and Morgianna in seconds, and as she lunges for the attack, her boot slaps against the ground and the goddess whirls around.
Even wth her eyes wide in surprise, Morgianna moves in an instant; raising her sword up to her side and blocking Hale's attack, then steps back, out of range of her second stroke. "You-- how...?"
Hale swings again, and Morgianna moves her sword with instant, practiced ease and deflects both attacks. Morgianna stares at Hale for a moment, then squints tightly, peering closely at the swordswoman. She looks past her, her sight following nearly invisible threads to my control bars.
Morgianna's eyes focus on me, and I grin devilishly. Then follow-up with Hale's attack.
Hale jerks forward, pulled by my mana strings, swords fanning out in broad strokes in front of her. I control her movement tightly; handling her steps and footwork, but all I need to do is gently nudge her swords in the right direction, and she handles the rest.
The clang of swords, scraping of metal on steel, is almost deafeningly loud and still infinitely quiet in the wide expanse of our battlefield. Such a small thing in this endless void, but the only activity to focus on.
Morgianna easily holds off Hale's assault, now that she's past the initial shock, and begins to turn the battle around, forcing me and Hale on the defensive. Until Hale teleports.
It catches me off guard, it catches Morgianna off guard, but Hale was ready for it. Her form phases to darkness and a second her appears behind Morgianna, swords already going for the goddess.
Morgianna twists around, moving her sword faster than my eye can follow but still only barely blocking the attack. Hale holds the goddess' gaze for a moment, then teleports again, coming at Morgianna from the side.
Morgianna defends from this attack, too, but Hale repeats it again. And again. And again. By this point she's broken free from the control of my mana strings and either has loosed herself from Morgianna's command entirely, or at least her leg of time and space is enough of a loophole on it's own.
At the end of her series of attacks, Hale teleports right in front of Morgianna, coming directly face to face with the goddess. She performs a quick, straight thrust at Morgianna, the blade of her sword coming within a hairsbredth of her opponent's face.
Hale falls back to the ground, dropping to her knees in exhaustion, spent after using her ultimate attack.
Morgianna goes cross-eyed for a moment, staring at her own nose. She reaches a hand up and wipes the tip of it, and draws off the smallest, tiniest pinprick of crimson blood. She stares at the minuscule droplet of blood for a moment, then snarls.
Her wings grow, becoming two massive, dark shadows that blot out the sky and leave us in complete darkness. The only light comes from her eyes, blazing up like suns, illuminating herself and Hale. Morgianna steps forward, teeth bared, a low growl escaping her throat.
"Impudent, arrogant children!" She hisses. "Noel clearly failed in raising you this time; it's a wonder you even lasted long enough for a Rebirth."
Hale tries to stand, but falters, falling back to one knee. Her wooden leg is withered and unsupportive of her weight.
I desperately cast out my mana strings, but can't get a hold of her. The strings almost touch her, then all divert like a funnel toward the leg, and I realize it's drawing in nearby mana to replenish itself. A good preservation mechanism, but for the moment it makes it impossible for me to pull her back.
Morgianna is mere steps away from the defenseless Hale now, her midnight sword wickedly reflecting the glow of her eyes. "I will burn this world;" Morgianna continues, "and from it, create the foundation for a better world, a stronger one. One that knows it's place." She stops in front of Hale, staring down at the swordswoman.
Hale gasps in breaths, trying to move. Sweat drips from her face, and her hands, barely holding a grip on her swords, are shaking. Without my mana strings or her reality bending, she's trapped back under Morgianna's command, unable to move herself.
Morgianna raises her sword overhead, breathing slowly as she watches Hale, The swordswoman looks up and meets her eyes, and the goddess scoffs.
"Be a good child, and feed the new world." Morgianna swings her sword.
"STOP!
A clear, resounding voice cries out, filled in equal measure with authority and desperation. A voice so familiar, so nostalgic, so caring.
Morgianna's sword freezes, Hale's frantic scrabble halts, for a moment time itself seems to stand still.
Then, the darkness is blown away, completely blotted out by radiant, pure light, utterly blinding. I cover my eyes against the harsh explosion of light, and it gradually fades to where I can look again.
And there she is. Between Hale and Morgianna, one hand raised to halt the winged goddess, is Noel.

Long pink hair that sways around her waist, a white dress flowing at her feet, pale, delicate skin like snow. And she stands before Morgianna, unflinching.
Morgianna sets her jaw in a line and grits her teeth. "Noel." She says.
"Hello, sister." Noel replies, lowering her hand and intertwining her fingers behind her back. "It's been a while, sleepyhead."
"What are you doing here? This is a Rebirth, it's my turn!" Morgianna growls, driving her sword into the ground and crossing her arms.
Noel doesn't reply, looking down at hale, then at me. For just a second, I meet her violet gaze, so soft, so warm, so... familiar. Then she turns back and faces Morgianna again. "It's time."
Morgianna recoils as if she had been slapped. Her jaw goes slack, even the light in her eyes dims and fades, leaving pure, white irises. "No." She whispers. "No, it isn't! It's not!" She plants her foot in the ground, shouting now. "You can't! I haven't finished yet, I need to--"
"Oh, give it a rest, Morgi." Calico says, striding up beside Morgianna. Wait, Calico? Where did he come from? I look back, but the door back to the temple is still shut.
"It is." Calico continues, "I know it, Noel knows it. Don't fight us on this one."
Morgianna turns her glare at him. "They're not ready!"
"They are." Noel says. "They built this... almost without me. Calico was defeated in combat." Morgianna gapes at Calico, who shrugs sheepishly, then back to Noel. "They don't need us."
"Ahem." Hale coughs on the ground, clearing her throat. The three of them turn to her. "Can... can I go yet?"
Noel laughs gently, smiling down at the swordswoman. "Yes."
Like a shot from a bow, Hale is on her feet, sprinting back to me. She moves slightly behind me, using me as a makeshift shield. I give her a withering look, then look back to the goddesses and Calico. Seriously, why is he here?
Noel smiles at Morgianna, who fumes at her, and Calico, who returns the smile and gives her a nod.
Noel takes a deep breath, joins her hands in front of her, and looks up into the endless white void. "Hello, people of Prism. This is Noel... and I have an apology to make."


Hale and I stand, unmoving, in the center of the black disc amidst the expansive white world. Noel, Calico and Morgianna stand together before us, and Noel is talking to the sky.
"I... We, have been very selfish." Noel says. "Myself, Calico, and Morgianna. We have been so, so selfish." She takes a deep, shuddering breath and wipes at her eyes before continuing. "Where do I begin... You know us... or, me, as a deity that watches over you. Cares for you. Most of you don't know Calico, or his role, but he is also a protector; a guardian. His place is to fight against the threats that would endanger you all; the ones you can not fight against yourselves."
Hale pulls me back, shrinking behind me. "He's one of them?!" She hisses, incredulous.
"And Morgianna." Here, Noel pauses, placing a hand on the other goddess' arm. "Morgianna also takes care of you all, in her own way." Morgianna glowers, visibly infuriated, but doesn't speak up.
"We... never should have become to you what we have." Noel continues. "We were meant as... teachers, of a sort. We were meant to show you how to survive here, how to grow, and take care of yourselves. And then we were supposed to have moved on. But... we couldn't. We fell in love. With this world, with all of you. We wanted to stay, to watch you, to take a role in your lives." Noel sniffles, wiping away at her eyes again.
"We shouldn't have. We should have left before we became this close to you... it would have been netter, for all of us. It would have taught you all to stand on your own, and spared us this heartbreak. Under our care, you have flourished. But on your own, relying on your own skills, your ingenuity, your own creativity, instead of having us as a crutch... You will flourish!"
"This isn't fair." Morgianna hisses. Calico nudges her and gestures for her to be quiet.
"We're sorry to have robbed you of all the time you could have grown. And we're sorry to have become so involved in your lives that you will miss us." Noel continues. Tears are running down her cheeks now, unchecked, and she brely has her voice in check. "You will forget us, one day, years from now. But until then, please know that we will always be thinking of you. So long as time persists, not a single day will ever pass that you aren't in our thoughts. Until then... please forgive us for hurting you as we have, for holding you back when you should have been set free. Please, think of us as friends. And... remember us."
And it hits me. Memories come flooding back into me. All those years in the woods of Feylake. Leaving for Varen. Fighting Unuhn. And Noel was always by my side. I remember meeting her, living in a treehouse with her, fighting monsters and a demon with her. And I remember standing there, celebrating our victory... and forgetting her. And every time we met; when I fell and had my body remade, every time we spoke there, every time she encouraged me, nudged me in the right direction, spurred me on. I remember Noel.
Noel Looks at me, her piercing violet eyes puffy and overflowing with tears. She looks at Hale, who goes almost lax, swaying on her feet. And noel smiles the saddest smile I've ever seen.
"Goodbye."
Noel, Calico and Morgianna disappear. Where once stood three dieties, is now only empty space.
"Noel..." I whisper. My oldest ally, my closest friend, the one who enabled me to pursue my path. Gone. Forever.
Hale sinks to her knees behind me, sobbing weakly. "She's gone... She's gone!" Had Hale known Noel before, too? Had the goddess made her forget, just like me? How many people across Prism had stories like mine, Noel setting them on the right path and then leaving when they were ready?
Now I'm crying. Hot tears flow down my cheeks, and it's all I can do not to break into sobs.
I don't know how long we sit there, weeping for our lost gods, but finally I pull Hale to her feet. "Come on," I say. "We need to see what things are like outside."
Hale takes a few deep breaths to steady herself, then wipes her eyes, pulls her hood low over her face and nods resolutely. We go toward the double double doors back to the temple and push them open.
We enter back into the antechamber where we left Echo and Fang to fight Calico. When we left, the massive room was just a wide, empty space. Now, the floor is littered with bodies.
Goblins and similar beasts primarily, but there are also ogres, a few golems, giant spiders, rats and snakes. Not to mention the fallen cultists.
Our party is all standing, picking their way through the veritable carpet of downed foes to reach me and Hale.
"Hey, there're our fearless leaders!" Fang calls. "We were wondering if you were gonna show up."
"'leaders?'" Hale mumbles.
I shrug. "Well, you're basically our second-in-command by this point."
She shoots me a glare, clearly none too happy with the thought, and gives me a 'we will talk about this later' kind of a look.
Echo shakes her wrapped fists, flinging blood across the floor. "What took you so long? Did you have a tea party in there or something?"
"It... It's a long story." I say.
"Ran into Noel and her siblings in there, did you?" Fang asks. "We heard the whole goodbye speech. 'Course, by the time she was done, we were up to our eyes in beasty."
"Ha, we scared even the gods away with our ferocious displays of power! Now let everyone know that we are the greatest party on Prism!" Galley shouts, raising his fists triumphantly.
"That's not even remotely... Oh, whatever." I shake my head, not finding enough energy to argue with the giant right now.
"So, Morgianna's gone?" Calico asks.
I nod. "Morgianna, Noel, and..." I look to Echo, now forced to re-evaluate my opinion of the bratty, snot-nosed punk who beat down a god. "And Calico."
"Technically speaking, then, a job well done." Fang grins, crossing her arms and nodding satisfactorily.
I go to answer, pause, think about it, hesitate, then slowly nod. "Technically... Yes. So I guess the next step is to go back to King King and get our reward."

King King, as it turns out, is slightly more skeptical. We explain the situation to him, including, and maybe slightly embellishing our roles in things, which is backed up by his own hearing of Noel's goodbye. It seems that when she said she was speaking to the people of Prism she meant it; everyone who has come by reports hearing her voice as well.
But, the king doesn't seem quite so eager to throw all his money and praises at us. He makes us submit a formal after-action report of our quest and submit it to his personal legal agency, no doubt so they can look for loopholes and fallacies in our agreement to get them out of paying us. They assure us the process is pending review, and tell us to check back in seven to nine years.

Skrrt. Skrrt. Skrrt. Shff. Shff. Shff. Skrrt. Skrrt. Skrrt. Knife, knife, knife, sandpaper, sandpaper, sandpaper, knife, knife knife.
I hold the arm out, rotating it around to get a better look. The grain is getting a little rough and I'm worried about the core of the wood, but at least the outer rings are showing up nicely.
Hale drops down in the sand next to me, dangling her feet out over the ridge of the dune, looking out over the city of Edea. "So, our great leader has turned away from his life of adventuring to take of the noble and valiant art of whittling." She says.
I scoff, pulling the arm back to me and scraping the knife along it. "I have to carve a new marionette before I can get back to the field. Y'know, since my last one got cut in half by a goddess, as you might recall."
Hale smirks, pulling her hood down and drawing her hair up out of her robe to sway in the warm desert breeze. "Well, what do you think is next for our little group?"
I pause, pondering that question. After a moment I set the puppet's arm aside and fold my hands in my lap, thinking. "I don't really know." I admit. "I mean, we fought an evil cult, faced down with two gods, and watched the biggest turning point our world has ever experienced. Where do we go from there?"
Hale nods understandingly. "We've come a long way from flying in circles in the desert and chopping firewood for weeks."
I let out a small chuckle. "Whatever we have in store for us next, it will not involve firewood."
"So you don't actually have any idea for what to do next?"
"Nope, none." I narrow my eyes, squinting suspiciously at her. "Why?"
She shrugs, "Oh, y'know, just a thought I had." She digs through her pocket for a moment, pulling out a crumpled, balled-up sheet of parchment. She hands it to me, her emerald eyes alight with excitement.
I stare at the parchment for a moment, glancing up at her, then reluctantly open it. Inside, it looks like a long, legalistic document explaining some quest or another. I skim through the quest description, but what catches my eyes is the illustration at the bottom, depicting a large, intricate snowflake.
I nod slowly, meeting Hale's gaze, letting out a small grin of my own. "All right, I think we can work with this."


The end.
Last edited by Oddood198 on Fri Jan 29, 2021 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Oddood198
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 8:16 am

Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Jan 29, 2021 9:12 am

And there it is. The grand conclusion of this stupid, half-baked story I came up with as a joke and then let it morph into something... more. I might be tearing up. Anyways, I should write an afterword. That's a thing, right?

Is it nonsensical? Yes. Is the writing high quality? No, it's a labyrinth of typos, poor grammar, missed capitalization, and probably way too many semicolons. The story? The plot? No. It's a mess of lost and forgotten plot threads, barely explained phenomena and reasoning, inconsistent worldbuilding, and foreshadowing that's never delivered on. And, in this case, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanks to all the friends who inspired this and then followed along with it. It's been over six years since the first chapter came out, and admittedly, most of that was in the hiatus of a lazy author. I've been inconsistent, unreliable, and just plain absent. By now I'm sure everybody and their granny gave up hope on seeing the end of this, but there is nothing I hate more than leaving a story unfinished and an audience hanging.

So... yeah. I finished the story. It's done. It's over. Pack it up and go home. I don't know what comes next from here, dunno if the site's gonna wither away and take this story to some kind of internet tomb, but I did my part. Told my story, and my work is done.

And that's the last word. The end. Odd out.
User avatar
Oddood198
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 8:16 am

Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Rusty Claymore » Sun Feb 07, 2021 5:37 pm

I stand witness.
I'd always noticed this thread as permanent backdrop to CAA, so seeing a "The End" caught my attention. I've never been good with serials, but now that it is all here I'll be giving it a read soon. As a procrastinating author-like person myself, your project completion adds another coal to the fire telling me to get back to my own project. Congratulations on you completion!
Proverbs 31:32 "...when she watches anime, she keeps the room well lit and sits at a safe distance."
User avatar
Rusty Claymore
 
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:18 pm
Location: Alaska

Re: The Odd Writings

Postby ClaecElric4God » Mon Mar 08, 2021 10:18 pm

You thought we wouldn't notice, didn't you?
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? -Micah 6:8 KJV
They have shewed thee, O teen, what is good; and what doth the world require of thee, but to fit in, be wealthy, have good looks, and be rebellious? -Peer Pressure 1:1
"I hate milk; it's like drinking vomit." -Edward Elric and me. :fmed:
Image

ClaecElric4God in regards to Wolfsong - You're the coolness scraped off the top of this morning's ice cream, after being pulled out of a beautiful summer day!
User avatar
ClaecElric4God
 
Posts: 2065
Joined: Fri May 11, 2012 9:02 am
Location: By the time you read this, I'll probably be somewhere else...

Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Wed Mar 10, 2021 4:12 pm

Rusty Claymore wrote:I stand witness.
I'd always noticed this thread as permanent backdrop to CAA, so seeing a "The End" caught my attention. I've never been good with serials, but now that it is all here I'll be giving it a read soon. As a procrastinating author-like person myself, your project completion adds another coal to the fire telling me to get back to my own project. Congratulations on you completion!

Hey, thanks. I never really meant to write a serial but... it just happened. And to be honest, it was a lot of fun (when I kept up with it). Hope you enjoy it, and good luck on your own projects!
ClaecElric4God wrote:You thought we wouldn't notice, didn't you?

I mean I literally told you about it when it came out, so... No, thought you'd never catch on.
User avatar
Oddood198
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 8:16 am

Previous

Return to Writing

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 49 guests