Mobius: A Forum Adventure

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Re: Mobius: A Forum Adventure

Post by TheMightyScroup » Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:29 pm

=-> Ralph: Be the PONY

You are now the PONY.
Image


This was a horrible idea! You are now the pony which has been taking up residence in a stable square in the LONSVILLE BARN. You know that this is indeed the Lonsville Barn which you have lived and munched on food for as long as you can remember. Likely since you had your horse-birth, many months ago.

You continue to chow down on this delightfully delicious and yellow hay. You are a simple pony, one who finds no greater pleasure than consuming fine dried stalks of grass. Truly, this is what life is about. You figure that if all of these silly human farmhands would just calm down and focus on the simple things in life, like eating, they would be better off. Much happier. Bellies full. Yeah!

Especially that girl who just showed up, who you recognize to be none other than your friend GWENYTH, sometimes referred to as GWEN for short. She has fiery human red hair and is usually pretty upbeat, but you've been noticing her here in the barn sulking more often. Again, if the girl would just focus on shoving flaccid grass into her mouth, surely all of her emotional issues and such would be instantly resolved! It works for you.

Well, she seems pretty chipper now. She's chatting it up pretty hard with this mysterious new boy human, with the bandanna and eyewear. You vaguely remember her and a couple of her farmhand associates bringing him in late last night. Usually they only do that with other horses! Is it possible that this human found himself lost and confused out in the rain?! Wow, maybe humans and horses aren't so different after all.

This revelation coming to pass, you quickly turn your attention back to the hay pile. The two seem to be talking.

Image Image

GWEN: *human words*
RALPH: *human words*
GWEN: *human words* GWEN *human words*
RALPH: Oh! *human words* RALPH *human words*
GWEN: *human words* LONSVILLE!
RALPH: *human words*
GWEN: *excited human words!!*
RALPH: *more excited human words!*
GWEN: *human words* horses *human words*
RALPH: *human words* ugly pony *human words*
GWEN: HEY!! *angry human words* pony!!
RALPH: *apologetic human words*
GWEN: Hahaha! *human words*
RALPH: Heh.
GWEN: *human words* horses *excited human words*
RALPH: *surprised human words!*
RALPH: =o

They leave the barn, with Gwen pulling on his arm. You can't help but assume that interactions like that happen all the time with these silly humans!

welp, time to munch on some more grass!

=->
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Re: Mobius: A Forum Adventure

Post by QuarterCirclePunch » Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:12 am

Pony: Get back to the plot
If CERA was the DK Crew, I'd probably be the first member, the leader of the bunch that you know well, and I'd probably be back to kick some tail. - probably me

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Re: Mobius: A Forum Adventure

Post by TheMightyScroup » Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:03 pm

=-> Pony: be the plot

You are still the pony.

Okay no, no you are not the pony! This is beyond silly and the joke overstayed its welcome an entire goddamn post ago.

You're RALPH again, dammitdangit, and just in time to re-live that conversation a few seconds ago in time to understand it!

Image Image

GWEN: Hey there, pardner! Glad to see yer up an' at 'em!
RALPH: Oh, uh...hi! Yeah. Up. Huh. Sorry, I'd like to chat, but I'm looking for my sword!
GWEN: Sword? Well I ain't seen that on ya since we done hauled y'all back to the barn. Name's GWEN, by the way, pardner.
RALPH: Oh! Well...gee, that's....great. Argh. Sorry, I'm RALPH! Don't mean to seem rude, I'm just...freaking out a bit. *sigh*
GWEN: S'alright, pardner. I can leave y'all to be, I guess. Just wanted to see if you were up, an' welcome you officially to LONSVILLE. Home of the best horses in the world, ya see!
RALPH: Aw, gee thanks. And *sigh* nah, you don't have to leave or anything. I'm just a little busted up about losing my sword!.
GWEN: I understand you, fella. It'd be like me losing one of my cherished friends here, I reckon? I do indeed love horses!!
RALPH: Wow yeah, exactly. I'm the same way, but with swords! Swords, man. Like losing my arm or my glasses or something! Swords!!
GWEN: Sheee-oot! Don't gotta tell me twice. Now swords aren't really my thing, kinda boring if you ask me, but I'd be able to chat yer ears off all evenin' 'bout HORSES if you'd let me...Ahh....horses!!
RALPH: Swords aren't boring, you take that back! Maybe horses are boring. Like that weird ugly pony over there!!
GWEN: HEY!! Y'all take that back. That's my pony!!
RALPH: Oh man! I'm sorry. I was just being characteristically over-the-top about things. I guess I'm sort of not over this sword thing...
GWEN: Hahaha! It's alright, pardner. I'll let this one slide on account'a just meetin' you. But you best watch yer mouth about horses, hear me?
RALPH: Heh.
GWEN: Cuz when it comes to horses 'round here, pardner, this town knows 'em and loves 'em. An' me, as blood to the LONSINGTON family, well I knows 'em the most!
RALPH: Whoa! So with a name like that, does that mean you founded the town or whatever?!
RALPH: =o

Gwen suddenly grabs you arm, and horses you around until eventually pulling you through the dirty animal barn and out the door into the midday sun. You are suddenly saddled with the realization of your situation, as well as the herd of horse puns that seem to be galloping through your mind.

Your first thought upon being lead out into the open air is to observe the simple town before you. It seems to be nothing more than barns upon barns, with the occasional cabin intermingled between the stables. The one which you two came from seems to be one of the largest ones here, but certainly no more or less decorated. In fact, the whole village looks a bit rustic, almost as if these people don't really give a darn about aesthetics or frivolities when horses are involved. Indeed, that seems to be the mane--dangit, you mean main attraction. There are horses freaking everywhere! On the streets, in the barns, and even a few peeking out of some windows.

It's a horchestra--urgh, orchestra. of. horses. You're done with this confusing horse wordplay.

RALPH: Wow. Dang. You guys definitely do seem to be all about horses, huh?
GWEN: Yessir! Horses are a part of our daily life 'round here. 'Specially since the fancy-pantses and what-have-its up in the ROYAL CITY seem to be orderin' 'em like hot horsecakes!
RALPH: Huh.
GWEN: C'mon Ralphie, I'm gonna take you to meet my daddy real quick!
GWEN: Er, y'know, to show him yer alright!
RALPH: =o

Your second thought is the ROYAL CITY. In the predicament of losing your sword and the stampede of talking to Gwen, you sort of forgot about what all happened. If it wasn't for that dumb Crimson Wyvern guy, you're sure that you and your pals would be right at the royal gates or whatever right now. You wonder what they're all up to.

GWEN: C'mon, right through here, pardner!

Oh yeah! Third thought. Just as Gwen pulls you past the town billboard and you make out a WANTED poster bearing your now-slightly-less-recognizable visage, you're reminded of the G-PHONE stuffed in your pocket. You could have sword--SWORN (okay, at least that was a sword pun) that you had received a message before you stowed it away, as unlikely as that seems...

GWEN: Alright Ralph, here we are. My daddy's the mayor of this ol' waterin' hole. No pressure or nuthin'. Even though I've never introduced a man to 'im!
GWEN: ERRR!! N-not that I'm paradin' around, or anything like that. Or that yer my man. Nuthin' of that. Haha...
GWEN: *stammering intensifies*

Uh, what?! Well, maybe you can just check the darn phone later. Your friends can hold their horses for a few minutes.

=->
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Re: Mobius: A Forum Adventure

Post by QuarterCirclePunch » Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:44 am

Ralph: Introduce yourself to this chick's dad. Who is probably not a horse.
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Re: Mobius: A Forum Adventure

Post by TheMightyScroup » Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:49 pm

=-> Meet HORSEDAD

GWEN: Dad?
GWEN: DAAAAAD.
GWEN: Daddy!
GWEN: Now where'd y'all get off to...?

Your new lady-friend walks deeper into the house, passing through the rustic, if spacious living room. You politely decide not to follow her, and remain in the entrance way, feet planted firmly on what appears to be a rug embroidered with fancy horses. A look to the wide-open room before you shows even more horse apparel: portraits, fabrics, and all sorts of finery line the walls and shelves. All of this equine swag is catching you a bit off-guard. How could someone be this into horses?

Gwen's echoing voice carries from further into the house. You tap your foot and take a deep breath; this is all sort of nice and exciting, but you've really got to get a move on! Plus, you're pretty sure that you can't maintain a charade of some random sword guy when there are Wanted posters everywhere and soldiers patrolling the countryside. You put your hands in your spacious pirate coat pockets, and your fingers fortuitously brush against the hull of your G-PHONE.

Welp, better now than never. Since the girl is occupied. You see the touch screen flash to life before your eyes as another lady demands your attention.

[RaptureRapier began CONVERSING with LexiconLegerdemain.]

Image Image

LL: Ralph! Hi. It's Lauren!
LL: I know this is crazy, but we were all separated after fighting that Crimson Dragon guy! Right now I am sitting in some Mysterious Ruins somewhere in the mountains. I had to fight a monster, but when don't dorky things like that happen. But, I am fine! So don't worry.
LL: I think Cast gave us all of these phones somehow. He isn't with me, but please tell me if you find him. Also tell me that you are okay when you get this message. Don't even ask me how I'm getting service out here.
LL: I am about to text Chad about this too! It's all so confusing but I think we can meet back up if we communicate.
LL: omg this was so much rambling, I'm sorry. Please get back to me, I'm worried you dork!!

RR: Lauren!!!!! I am so happy to hear from you and that you're okay
RR: Don't worry I'm fine too!

LL: saks ckfdknfkjf fkadjfbcfnakejdbfnsas
LL: magic words magic WORDS!!! mAGIC wORDDSSSSSS1



What the heck?! A response that borderline incoherent from Lauren? You think something's up. Better hammer out a response back to her and see what's OH hey look it's Gwen again!

GWEN: Ralphie! What's that thing you just put in yer pocket?
RALPH: Oh....this thing? I mean--nothing! Don't worry about it.
RALPH: Just some silly garbage thing.
GWEN: Well aright then! Didn't meant o get my butter in yer britches about it.
GWEN: Say, looks like my daddy ain't here.
RAPH: Oh.
GWEN: Do you wanna...you know...
GWEN: *wink*
RALPH: O_O
GWEN: Go look at my horses in the stables?!
RALPH: O-oh. Oh! Yeah, totally. Horses. Let's do it!!
RALPH: Lead the way!

You decide to follow Gwen back outside of her house. Bidding the wooden walls and horse paraphernalia a much-needed farewell. The two of you are now standing outside on the porch. Gwen offers you a smile and starts down the stairs, and you're quick to follow. Soon coming upon the center of town, Gwen seems to be leading you back towards the barn whence you came.
"rrrrrrraaaaaa....
Whoa. What was that noise? It sounded like some sort of low growl! Like a dog, maybe? But bigger?
rrrrrrrrrRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA...


GWEN: Whoa nelly! That there sounds like a...a...

???: YEEHAW! Ride like the winds, Zahhak!
RRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ


Suddenly, you grip onto Gwen for dear life as a lone, rugged figure on what appears to be a navy-blue horse races by in a literal blur. Dust is kicked up right in your faces as the hoofbeats pound on dirt and stone alike, blasting through town.

GWEN: Daddy?!

This sudden motion is quickly followed by another. The two of you look to face a thick row of trees on the border of Lonsville; there is a great crash, and what sounds like heavy breathing. Another roar, too! It's getting louder and louder!

A hulking monster crashes through the woods, rampaging into town. The bear-like blur nearly bowls you and Gwen over, but you pull her aside as the two of you roll to the ground. Its many razor-sharp claws get way too close for comfort. It settles in the center of town, and raises to its hind haunches, letting loose a deafening roar. A strange, green swirl is apparent on its belly.
"RAAAAAAAAAAZOR-BEEEAAAAAARRRRRRR!!!!!


Image

You are ATTACKED by a RAZOR-BEAR!

=->
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Re: Mobius: A Forum Adventure

Post by TheMightyScroup » Sun Sep 15, 2013 10:13 pm

Hmm. Well, this was a fun run. However, I think it's time to draw this tale TO A CLOSE! It is still a story that I would very much like to tell, and perhaps one day I will find the proper medium to express all of my ideas and characters like some tortured, artistic piece of shit. But until then, in great, reCAP fashion, I would like to at least lay out my plans for the entire Adventure. There were to be lots of twists and turns, utilizing all of our Ceran friends and foes (in multiple iterations!), and a bunch of other crap that no one cares about! I did a plot summary like this for my RP in a similar vein, Questure. I think it is a good way to get closure. If not for me, for my dear, sweet, precious (few) readers and friends! So, let's get started.
MOBIUS

BOOK 1: HEROES & HERETICS


:PROLOGUE: THE TERRIFIC TRIO

The day was JANUARY 12th, 2012, and three friends were about to embark on an inter-dimensional journey, the likes of which they could have only fathomed in their wildest dreams. These three friends, who all attended CERA HIGH SCHOOL, were introduced: RALPH WEXFORD, LAUREN RANDALL, and CHAD NORWOOD. Each of them, as well as any other chief protagonist, was based loosely on a member of this Roleplaying Forum. All three were known entities in each others' lives, though from different cliques. They were all friends at one point, but stopped talking to one another approximately 5 years prior due to some sort of "incident" involving a MONSTER.

- Ralph was designated as the chief protagonist, due to his love of swords. He was a member of the Fencing Team, the Cera High Dueling Crabs. Ralph was an easy-going character who drifted whichever way the wind blew him, easily influenced by those around him, but in turn able to influence others through his genuine attitude. Ralph was a huge fan of old-school platformers and JRPGs of all kinds. Each of the main heroes had a primary friend that they associated with, as well as a school faculty member who served as a day-to-day guide/mentor of sorts. Ralph's best pal was BARNEY DANIELS, the school's resident carefree coolkid who loved smoking and skulking about the parking lots. Ralph's mentor was MR.CASPAR, the masked fencing coach. Boisterous and strict, but very fair and disciplined, he taught Ralph in all manner of swordplay and special techniques.

- Lauren was a somewhat high-maintenance "popular girl" with a buzzing social life and love of the Theatre. She was also an excellent student and had a secret love of monster-collecting and micro-managing video games, such as Pokemon and Pikmin. She was the lead in the upcoming school musical, and was well-versed in stage combat and (seemingly fake) magical spells. Her best frenemy, BLAIR MATTHEWS (sometimes referred to as "Blaze"), was her eternal second-banana, but also closest confidant. MADAM MELCHIOR, the theatre director, served as her chronically-inebriated schooltime mentor.

- The final member of the Trio, Chad, was a bit more dour and sarcastic. A known "troublemaker", he had a bad habit of skipping boring classes, leaving school early, and just causing minor disarray. However, Chad also possessed a love of art and life sciences. He enjoyed grand-scale adventure games such as The Legend of Zelda and Metroid Prime. As the least social member of the trio, he did not possess any apparent signature friend. However, a mysterious, borderline-omniscient entity known simply as "NOX" frequently messaged him on the phone, forewarning of things to come. He also seemed to lack a mentor, but spent a great deal of time with the kindly, absentminded PRINCIPAL BALTHASAR.

The three friends were re-united after a MYSTERIOUS STRANGER (first encountered by Chad, then Blair, and finally Barney) siphoned the power from the school. Using some ingenious teenager tactics, the trio made their way to the LAKESIDE GENERATOR, which supplied the entire city with electricity. They entered the building through a hole blown into the side, and stumbled upon the Mysterious Stranger atop a huge machine. This enigmatic structure, known as a MOBIUS GATE, used a great deal of energy to generate a portal that sucked all three of them into a parallel world, and marked the start of their premature journey.


>CHAPTER 1: BE THE HEROES:

Upon arriving in this new world, known as AETHER, the three teens became separated. Ralph awoke in the middle of the mysterious blue-treed ZARA FOREST, and looked for any signs of his missing friends. Guided by a mysterious voice, he soon stumbled upon a large red gem. After fighting off several rambunctious imps, he broke open the crystal and revealed a strange creature known as a VOIDSPRITE, who called himself CASTPHIO (Cast for short). Cast said he was there to aid the HEROES, one of which was Ralph, apparently! He also knew how to track down Ralph's two missing friends.

Lauren awoke in a similar state to Ralph, sans a working memory. Now with temporary amnesia, she donned the identity of the theatre character whose costume she was wearing, known simply as "The Sylph." Lauren walked around the forest for hours before being chased by a hungry spider-monster. It was fortuitously slain by a member of a race of rogues known as ROOKAS, who took in Lauren and tried to aid her in recovering her memories. They spoke of another strange human in the forest, and Lauren knew instinctively this was one of her friends.

This friend, Chad, nearly drowned in a river upon his deposit into Aether. He eventually made it to shore, only to get knocked over a cliff by some pesky bats and break his arm. He was carried off by some imps to a cave in the woods, where they were preparing some sort of dark ritual. He was saved by Lauren, who followed him into the cave and fought off the monsters. Upon dragging Chad out of the cave, Ralph happened upon the due with Cast's aid, and the three went back to the Rooka camp for the night.

Through the Rookas, the Trio learned of a Prophecy that a group of Heroes from both worlds would band together and save the worlds' tandem fate from some imminent disaster. This world, Aether, and the Trio's home world, TERRA (known as Earth for some silly reason!) were somehow intertwined. Searching for new leads on this quest, as well as clues on a way to get home, as well as a means to restore Lauren's memories, they head to a legendary city located nearby: RAZARA.

They arrive in Razara the next day, after having bested a large monster guarding a gateway into the city. Built into a hollowed-out mountain, the city is a large port that touches an Aether ocean, as well as home to what is apparently a WATER GOD. Known as KORZAR, LORD OF WATER, he was recently slain. The Trio listened to tales of the water god from a kindly man named ROZIN and his daughter AZRA. They provide the Heroes with food, and elaborate on the strange Sorceror that somehow managed to slay the Water God, a task previously thought impossible. They fear for his return and pray to Korzar's spirit at the WATER TEMPLE all hours of the day.

Thus, the Trio decides to pay a visit. They visit the Temple and Chad gets his arm magically healed by a doctor at the altar. He also accidentally interrupts a ritual to select the next water god, and the spirit of Korzar consequently selects him as a Vessel and inhabits his body. Chad is taken to a sacred chamber to rest, while Ralph and Lauren continue to explore the city. After re-uniting with Chad, who has gained new powers (as well as a new look!), they head to see a man named GORVO, who is a Spirit Caller, and claims to have the power to restore Lauren's memory.

He puts Lauren into a trance, and she journeys through her own mind to re-discover her identity. Through this process, she also unlocks some long-repressed memories of a childhood in this world. Lauren is adopted (this she knew) and upon awakening, realizes she is actually from Aether (this she did not). Also, she can now use Magic.

The trio, now with new outlooks on their fate, continue trying to piece together a plan to get back home. Rozin suggests they visit the ROYAL CITY. A fabled machine is said to bridge the gap between worlds, and a legendary MACHINIST is said to live in the city. Lauren also decides visiting the Royal Archives may give more information on her mother's whereabouts. The plan is set, and everything seems to be looking up.

However, the city is once again attacked by the mysterious interloper that killed Korzar. Known as ALACIUS, he commands a vast eldritch beast and untold magical skill. He opposes the Heroes, and obliterates half of Razara trying to kill them. Thankfully, the three (+ Cast!) escape through a magical transporter to a swamp outside of the city.


::SUB-CHAPTER 1: A CITY OF BLOOD:

NOX was re-introduced as the narrator for this interlude. He had previously shown up every now and then in the previous chapter, always with his hands at work behind the scenes. It was he who sent Ralph a text message on Chad's lost G-Phone, which coincidentally only started getting a signal when Cast was around. What a mystery!

Barney and Blair take a front seat to the action in this Sub-Chapter. About a month has passed since the Trio was whisked away into another world. Since then, they have been pronounced "missing", and a strange organization known as the BLOOD BRIGADE has taken over the town. They have isolated the city from all external media and help, and for all intents and purposes, the burg no longer exists. Cera High has been transformed into CERA ACADEMY, where the Blood Brigade operates under a strict and needlessly-silly regime.

Barney and Blair have been acting as a small two-man resistance within the school, fighting off Brigade members whenever they overstep their bounds. They frequently cross paths with BYLE and FLEM, two of the higher-ups in the Brigade who work as Enforcers. One day, the two rebellious teens obtain the ability to use MAGIC from a mysterious package delivered by Nox (instructed to open on this very day) and escape from the Academy with the help of Mr. CASPAR through an underground tunnel.

There they are taken to an abandoned subway station which is now functioning as a hideout for adults and kids alike who oppose the Blood Brigade (headed by all 3 of the teachers we got to know in the Prologue!). Barney and Blair are told that their friends are okay, it is their destiny to help the HEROES re-enter this world. Their first task is to recover the WEAPON held at the Blood Brigade Stronghold.

The two set off immediately, and find a tunnel that leads directly to the warehouse. They fight off the two Enforcers, and then come face-to-face with the supposed weapon. A huge crystal resides in a capsule in the center of the room. Byle pushes the Heroes aside and approaches it, but is killed by a trap set by the apparent Leader of the Blood Brigade: KHOLER. Barney and Blair fight him off in a tower overlooking the captured city, eventually succeeding. However, Kholer detonates the place in an attempt to stop them from taking the weapon, but they manage to open the capsule containing said artifact. It is a glowing blue gem, and soon breaks, revealing another VOIDSPRITE named NEOPOLIS (Neo for short). Neo teleports them away just in time as the tower crumbles to the ground.


>>CHAPTER 2: BONDING:

The Trio have escaped the ruins of Razara in one piece, though have once again been separated. Now in the RORA SWAMP, Cast is looking for the Heroes. After nearly being consumed by an illusionary ghoul, Lauren saves him. The two soon find Chad, who had just narrowly defeated similar demons. The illusions somehow took the form of his estranged father, which disconcert him, but the group presses on nonetheless.

After besting some deadly plant monsters, Lauren and Chad are approached by the spirit of an old woman. She leads them to a strange, decrepit old cabin in the swamp, where Ralph was apparently napping. The old woman, AGITHA, admits to being a ghost and also gives Ralph some possessions of her departed son: a cool old military outfit and a ghostly sword.

However, it was too good to be true. After the Trio fell asleep, the cabin went up in flames! After narrowly escaping the fiery tomb, the MYSTERIOUS STRANGER revealed himself as the arsonist. He also stated that he was using his strange powers to control the ghostly woman. Though she truly seemed a pleasant spectre, she was powerless to stand against his control.

The Trio decided to fight off the Stranger, who was essentially an assassin of dubious origins. They were easily outmatched, however, and only gleaned victory when the Stranger fled through a portal, in an attempt to escape the rapidly-spreading fire. They dove in after him, and landed in a new locale...

...Known as the SCORCH DESERT. It was a sandy, arid realm with strange magnetic rocks that floated throughout the area. Chad had been K.O.'d during the battle, but Korzar's spirit assumed control of his body for a time, and talked about the world of Aether and the ways of Gods. Somewhat of a philanderer, Lauren was able to sweet-talk some interesting info out of the "risen" God.

Apparently, there were six RULING GODS of Aether, each presiding over an elemental magic. Korzar, obviously, was Water. Scorch Desert was the domain of IONIUS, WARRIOR OF FLAMES, the Ruling God of Fire. A Domain is the area of Aether that a Ruling God presides over. Gods are not allowed to cross between the Domains without explicit permission, or run the risk of starting a fierce battle with the home god's forces.

The Trio eventually stumbled upon a SCORC, the race of barbarian-like peoples indigenous to the desert. The Trio rouses him and gives him some water. The Scorc introduces himself as GRULLGON and is an archaeologist, even though his people are rarely intuitive enough for the sciences. He is searching for a fabled Temple said to reside in the Scorch Desert known as the BRACER SANCTUARY. It is said to house a fabled treasure and be linked to the Heroes.

Inevitably, after traveling and exchanging stories with Grullgon, the Trio is swept up in a vicious sandstorm. None other than the Bracer Sanctuary emerges from the sandy gales, and the group seeks refuge within its confines. A mysterious temple full of pools of water and--strangely enough--butterflies, the group has to split up to solve puzzles and defeat mysterious robots known as Gate Guardians. Ralph eventually comes to possess the TERRA BRACER, a bracelet that attaches to his arm and allows him to wield magic like his friends.

VAYANDI, GODDESS OF LIGHT, speaks to Ralph in a vision, and tells him of his destiny to wield both Bracers, which will allow him to freely travel between the worlds and awaken as a true hero. The Sanctuary also reveals a strange machine called an ALCHEMIZER.

Using this machine, the Heroes combine various items and ETHER to create completely new tools! Each one upgrades their weapons and equipment, before deciding to call it a night and fall asleep in the safety of the Sanctuary. Upon awakening the next morning, they are greeted to a sandstorm-free desert on the outskirts of DARKSANDS, a centralized Scorc settlement. The Bracer Sanctuary apparently has the ability to move, and cloaks itself in a sandstorm to dissuade intruders.

Another Scorc arrives on the scene, this one much larger and resonating a fiery aura. He claims to be the Vessel for Ionius, the Ruling God of Fire. The Trio decides to go with him to Darksands, which is strangely deserted and has many fires burning throughout the city.

It is quickly apparent that the Trio has been lured into a trap. They confront Ionius's Vessel on the plateau of the FIRE SHRINE, where the MYSTERIOUS STRANGER is revealed to be pulling the strings and manipulating a dead vessel. The Trio fights both him and the possessed Scorc, and divide their fighting abilities to narrowly come out on top: Chad subdues his rival Vessel with help from Korzar, and Ralph is able to sever the Stranger's arm during the battle. The Stranger absconds, revealing a gross blue blood, and the Vessel dies as his influence fades. The Ruling God of Fire is pronounced dead.


:::SUB-CHAPTER 2:

Nox once again segues into the Sub-Chapter, but first we are shown two scenes with an ambiguous timeframe: The Mysterius Stranger, now with a robotic arm, enlists the aid of a draconic hitman known as the CRIMSON WYVERN; and ALACIUS, now located on Terra, summons two succubi, the SANGUINE SISTERS, to act as his new proxies for the Blood Brigade.

The next sub-chapter begins and is roughly divided into two parts. In the first part, we are introduced to an enigmatic new main character known as VICTOR TREBUCHET, and relive the Prologue through his eyes. Though not evil, young Victor is misanthropic and socially-awkward. He was apparently friends with our main Trio five years ago, before they all split under vague circumstances. Victor has the makings of a FOURTH HERO, and his suspicions about the strange goings-on in the school are confirmed when he receives a package from none other than Nox.

Nox instructs him to protect his 3 former friends from the Mysterious Stranger. If Victor does this, Nox promises him "a world of opportunity". Victor tries to do so, but fails in convincing his three friends to stay out of harm's way through a combination of bad luck and poor communication skills. He's furious with his former friends, and harasses/vandalizes their property. Distraught, he is then confronted by the Mysterious Stranger, who tells Victor to shape-up and get his act together. He says not to listen to Nox, and that Victor is destined for "great things" in the future.

Part 2 of the Sub-Chapter once again has us following Barney and Blair, working for the anti-Blood Brigade resistance. Several weeks have passed since the last Sub-Chapter, and the two of them have befriended Neo the Voidsprite. They have also been deemed ACOLYTES, a role designating them to help the Heroes and pave the way for their re-entrance into Terra. Some time a week prior, however, Barney has gone missing. Blair laments the MIA status of her on-again-off-again boyfriend, as well as her status as a side character in the Heroes' grand tale.

However, all is suddenly well when Barney shows back up at the base! Everyone is overwhelmed to see him, and Principal Balthasar sends the two (plus Neo) on a mission to the LAKESIDE RUINS to recover some sort of important machine. They receive food and supplies from Ralph's Mom, EMMA WEXFORD, who is working for the Resistance. Her husband has been sent to toil in the BLOOD MINES, a fate suffered by many of the people of the city. What are they mining, and where are they toiling? Who knows.

The Acolyte gang makes their way to the ruins of the Lakeside Generator, and must quickly fight off several Gate Guardians. However, the enemies prove too strong. A powerful laser blast from the perimeter of the ruins quells the battle, and Victor reveals himself to the Acolytes. Apparently he has been bumming around town, and makes the Ruins his home. The Gate Guardians also obey him, for some unspecified reason.

The Acolytes speak of seeking a machine, and Victor decides to take them down to the underground beneath the Ruins. He reveals an inert ALCHEMIZER, but admits to not having a clue as to what it is. Neo recognizes the device though, and explains its purpose. Since it requires the presence of a Voidsprite to function, Neo activates it and the group alchemizes some sweet new loot.

However, things quickly go sour as none other than KHOLER shows up to crash the party. Now sporting amechanical arm and leg, as well as a cracked mask, he's now simply a lackey to the Sanguine Sisters. Brainwashed and being controlled by the Succubi, he attacks the group with intent to kill (tbh he would probably do this when not brainwashed as well). The party has a tough time subduing him, but eventually restrains the madman and removes his shock-collar. Also, a delicious CHICKEN BURGER prepared by Mrs. Wexford cures his fractured memories.

Kholer decides to team-up with the Acolytes in order to take down the Sanguine Sisters. To earn his new allies' trust, Kholer reveals some information: he and his fellow Enforcers are known as VOIDWALKERS, a mysterious race that can travel between dimensions. He seeks nothing but power, and wants to overthrow the succubi as well as their true leader, an enigmatic Time Sorcerer. Satisfied with his answers, Blair permits Kholer t join their party, and the group devises a plan to infiltrate the Sanguine Sisters' base of operation: the BLACK TOWER.

The crew successfully sneaks into the spooky base, but is at once confronted by the two Sanguine Sisters, ROZE & RANE. They send the party to a dungeon, where Barney, Blair, and Victor witness videos of prisoners being tortured and brainwashed into serving the Blood Brigade. They are then cornered by Rane in a torture chamber, and attempt to fight her off. A deadly wielder of ice techniques, Rane proves to be a strong foe. Just as the tides turn, she controls Barney and has him attack his friends. Apparently, Barney had been captured by the Blood Brigade and brainwashed for a week. Victor, Blair, and Kholer have to now fight Rane and her brainwashed servant. Thankfully, Kholer is able to subdue the succubus in time for Blair to capture Barney. Through a combination of true love and chicken burgers, Barney's mind is healed, and he turns against the succubus once more.

Victor deals a near-fatal blow to Rane, simultaneously unlocking his latent magical potential. Just as she is about to die, however, ALACIUS materializes onto the battlefield through a portal. He instantly stops time, and has the entire party under the heel of his boot. Alacius decides to kill Rane, and absorbs the magical powers he lent her back into his own body. He then further cripples Kholer, ripping off the Voidwalker's remaining arm. Finally, he turns to the Acolytes and instantly freezes them in blue crystals. He once again imprisons Neo as well, but before he can imprison Victor, the dark Hero breaks free of the spell and uses a magical spell to flee. For whatever reason, Alacius does not care to follow him. He teleports away, taking the crystallized prisoners with him, and unfreezes time.

Victor runs as fast as he can, and eventually ends up on the outskirts of town. The Sub-Chapter ends with him sobbing in fear and frustration next to what appears to be his mother's grave.
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Re: Mobius: A Forum Adventure

Post by TheMightyScroup » Mon Jan 12, 2015 9:25 pm

1/12
Though I will not be bringing Mobius back (I know better than to actually think it's that big of a deal!!!!), I thought I'd celebrate its 3 Year Anniversary (ooh!!) by posting more of what would have been/still kind of is in the future the plot.

Okay so!!!


>>>CHAPTER 3: FULL-CIRCLE: (aka finally you can read some new shit!)

The chapter opens up with a brief sujmmary as to what happened after the Mysterious Stranger was fended off. Ralph, Lauren, and Chad decide to stick around and help out the Darksands Scorcs for a few days before moving on. They fin a tunnel beneath the Fire Altar that leads them through the FIRE PASSAGE underneath the desert. After traversing it for almost a week, the party comes upon a door and defeats some fire imps, opening said door.

They step out of the underground into the VERTICO MOUNTAINS a sprawling, breath-taking mountain range that bisects Aether's main continent. It is within the Domain of GALATHEL, THE EARTH SAGE. The Royal City is also said to lie on the other side of the mountains.

After messing around on their new phones (having crafted a bunch from the Alchemizer), the group heads out and seeks a way over the mountains. They come upon a small mountain town called HELENA, and immediately split up to gather information and run errands. They find the town's reception cold, however, as there are Wanted posters bearing their likenesses plastered across town. Apparently the Royal Family has a price on their heads; the Heroes are declared enemies of the Kingdom, and anyone how turns them in will be rewarded handsomely.

Chad gets into an altercation at a store and accidentally alerts everyone to his identity as a Hero. The town calls for aid, which arrives through portals in the form of a trio of ROYAL KNIGHTS. The Heroes attempt to talk their way out of a battle, but when Cast suddenly reveals himself as a Voidsprite, their identity is undisputed. Voidsprites only accompany Heroes, after all.

The three of them each take on a Knight and appear to have the upper hand, learning the match-ups of elemental magicks. However, as soon as the Knights seem to be losing, the three combine their power into a final, devastating attack, and nearly level Helena. Lauren conjures some Wind magic which allows everyone to escape. The Knights return to the Castle, bereft of their quarry. Two shadowy figures, who we recognize as FLEM and KHOLER (but under the guise of Beatles-inspired code-names) arrive on the scene and deduce that the Heroes have fled into the wilderness. Flem gives chase.

The party stops for a breather when they find a seemingly-abandoned camp on an old dirt road. Lauren suggests that they don new outfits to deter suspicion, and each one pilfers a few articles of clothing from the camp in order to create a new look. Cast also takes a new form so as to not be recognizable, now appearing as a stupid-looking earth cat. However, the group is assaulted by the rogues whose campsite they have ransacked. Upon reaching a stalemate, the two rogues introduce themselves as LYN & ECLAIR. They are members of a people known as FEY (and are also probably lesbians???).

The FEY are a race of more magically-prone humanoids. Though not much different from humans, they have had their lands taken and people slaughtered over the years, following the WAR OF TEN-THOUSAND TEARS. This War, fought between humans and fey, nearly destroyed the world. The world. Singular. Soon after, the battle was quelled, and legend says that the two SOVEREIGN GODDESSES who rule over reality, split the world into two in order to cease the needless bloodshed. The two Goddesses are VAYANDI, GODDESS OF LIFE (who we know of) and ISTARI, GODDESS OF CHAOS (who we do not).

Eclair and Lyn claim to hate all humans, but do believe in the Prophesy of the Heroes, and will honor the Trio. They let the gang keep their new outfits and offer up the campsite for the night. Dreams ensue, and the Fey part for elsewhere come morning, but not before offering the Heroes a few valuable hints. One, to cross the Mountains quickly and safely, they will need the help of a VALKYRIE on SKYSTREAK PEAK, a camp at the base of the tallest mountain. Second, once they reach the Royal City, it would do them good to track down the ROGUES' GUILD, an alliance of thieves and rebels who operate independently of the Kingdom, and likely follow the Heroes. They are lead by the KING OF THIEVES.

Upon parting, the Trio heads to Skystreak Peak. After fighting off some small dragon monsters, they arrive at what appears to be a post office. The post office is operated by a single Valkyrie, an all-female race of winged warriors, named Seraphima. She respects the Heroes and offers them passage across the mountains aboard her Roc, a gargantuan bird. It is worth noting that nearly all of the Heroes' allies have been non-humans.

Partway through their flight on the Roc, the great bird is assaulted by a swarm of dragons, lead by none other than the CRIMSON WYVERN, the monstrous hit-man commissioned by the Mysterious Stranger. (The Stranger is obviously in league with our favorite Blood Brigade cronies, btw) The Heroes manage to fight off the Crimson Wyvern, who is immune to magic AND sports many deadly weapons. But as they try to escape the Roc, they are separated by one final attack from C.W. as he blasts them from the sky. Lauren summons some wind magic to save them, but the three once again are split up.

Cast awakes alone, and is quickly captured by a mysterious Hunter known as DEVEN. He thinks Cast is nothing more than a rare talking cat, and seals him inside of a magical monster-catching sphere. Before Cast is completely carried away though, he summons the Heroes' phones and teleports them to each team member.

Chad awakes on the side of a road in a mountainous forest. Not sure what to do, he and Korzar have a brief discussion before he stumbles upon an encampment of performers, known as the TEMPEST TROUPE. A young Fey performer known as CARUSO befriends Chad and treats him to a night of wild partying. Upon waking up, Chad is under the impression that Caruso has romantic sights set upon him, and is unsure how to react. But he has a phone, and receives a text from Lauren saying that she is alright. Meanwhile, Ralph wakes up on a hay pile in a barn. He is greeted by a nice young farm gal named GWEN, who has similar romantic intents. She is the daughter of the Mayor of LONSVILLE, essentially one huge horse ranching settlement at the other end of the mountains. Ralph saves the town from an attacking Razorbear monster, but the entire city is suspicious of his proficiency in swords and magic. He also finds a phone with a message from the resident magical girl. Finally, we find Lauren traversing some decrepit old mountainous ruins, known only as the RUINS OF FATE. She defeats some strange magical orb entities and is confronted by a Fey Spirit known as NOVUS. Novus recognizes Lauren as a Hero and educates her on the various types of magic. The spirit also teaches Lauren about ENCHANTMENTS, which are useful non-battle spells. Lauren then sends out the texts to her friends on her own phone, and attempts to organize a meet-up.

Everything seems to be going swimmingly for each estranged party. Chad strikes up a friendship with Caruso while aiding the Troupe in painting some sets for the play. Their friendship climaxes one night in the form of a kiss, and Chad has a difficult time coming to terms with his feelings. While homosexuality is of no concern in Fey culture, Caruso's parents are not happy about him having feelings for a human. Tensions in the party rise as the Troupe puts on a play and Chad notices the Crimson Wyvern among the many faces in the audience. The hit-man razes the stage mid-production and Chad attempts to fight him off.

Ralph and Gwen also seem to bond over shared obsessions, he with swords and she with horses. Though they never smooch, romantic feelings are implied, but come to a screeching halt as the Mysterious Stranger blows into town and reveals Ralph as a Hero. He instructs the citizens of Lonsville to hand Ralph over to him, and by extension, the Royal Family, who he works under. After much debate, Gwen convinces the town to trust Ralph, as he showed his true colors by fighting off the monster. Enraged, the Mysterious Stranger begins destroying Lonsville.

Lauren is making progress learning Enchantments. She has also unlocked another Alchemizer deep within the ruins, and her magical skill grows as she creates another Orb to channel magic through. However, she meets similar strife as her friends, and is attacked by a single Royal Knight (Emeraldin) wielding elemental powers of all 3 knights. He begins chasing her throughout the ruins, destroying them in his wake.

All three friends must quickly escape their opponents. Chad manages to blind the Crimson Wyvern in one eye and flees into the forest, not before saying goodbye to his friend Caruso (probably more gay smooches). Gwen gives Ralph her horse, ILEX, allowing Ralph to escape as the Mysterious Stranger chases after him. Lauren manages to elude the Knight using an invisibility Enchantment, but he has permanently destroyed the ruins. She slinks off into the mountains and communicates with the other two Heroes.

Suddenly, all 3 receive a text from none other than Nox, who pilots them to a rendezvous point. Just as morning breaks, all 3 convene near a cave located on the edge of the GREAT AETHER FIELD. Seeking shelter and a bit of sleep, they enter the cave and set up camp, only to reveal an interesting sight: within the cave is none other than an aged and unused MOBIUS GATE.


::::SUB-CHAPTER 3: MONSTERS & MISFORTUNES:

The narration comes to a halt as Nox begins arguing with the story's author, TMS. TMS and his Voidsprite, KEYUCHAN (Key for short) play a series of pranks on Nox, causing the enigmatic man to lose his cool. Both narrators argue--TMS claims that Nox is trying to hijack the story, while Nox accuses TMS of leaving out important details and being a nuisance. The two come to an agreement, and present the next Sub-Chapter.

This Sub-Chapter takes place approximately 5 years in the past and is a great deal shorter than the other two. Victor, the de facto main character for this tale, is accompanied by his 3 best friends one summer afternoon. Victor, Ralph, and Lauren have all been friends since they were children. Chad, who has just moved to the city, has quickly assimilated into the gang, much to the chagrin of Victor, who routinely accuses him of hogging all the attention whenever they hang out.

The cute 13-year-old Heroes have a tradition of exploring the vast woods behind Ralph's house. When they were really little, they would often go on "adventures" and pretend to be heroes on an epic fantasy quest. Reminiscing, Ralph says that he would obviously be the Knight! Victor, his best friend, would be the reliable Mage. Lauren wants to be a Witch, but the two other boys say that she would just likely be the Princess that needs rescued! Lauren gets annoyed, and also feels bad that Chad is getting left out. She deems him a Prince, and playfully kisses him on the cheek. This causes both Victor and Ralph to get jealous, though Victor much more vocally so. After a minor argument, the quartet decides to split up and reconvene at their "special spot" deeper in the woods.

It's agreed. Ralph and Victor take the high road, over a hill, while Lauren and Chad take the lower path through the creek. Ralph and Victor joke around about the kiddiness of the quest. Each claims that they would make a better character. Ralph argues that he's the Knight, who is always the most important character and gets the girl at the end. Victor argues that the Mage is the true hero, who always gets the Knight out of trouble and will actually end up with the Princess in his grasp. Things get tense between the two upon both realizing they have crushes on Lauren.

Lauren and Chad meanwhile discuss who they have a crush on. Lauren admits to having an innocent, "no-big-deal" crush on Ralph. When she asks Chad who he likes, the newcomer dodges the question. After some pestering, Lauren finally manages to squeeze out an answer: Chad also has a crush on Ralph, and is obviously quite embarrassed to admit it. Lauren laughs and thinks it isn't too big of a deal, despite the fact that the revelation nearly brings Chad to tears. Lauren calms him down and promises she won't tell anyone just in time for all four of them to meet at the special spot.

Upon arriving, the gang is in sort of a sour mood. They all sit down and sort of space off, before realizing that something isn't quite right around here. Ralph suggests they all leave and head back home, but Victor is curious as to what anomaly is in the air. Suddenly, a great flashing portal rends the ground in the center of the grove. The ground shakes, and trees fall over. A gargantuan shadowy creature with many wings and four awful glowing eyes breaks through the portal and flies off into the sky. Shaken, everyone looks to the horizon as two figures are seen upon the horror's back. One of them falls off in the distance, and the other flies away on the beast.

The portal begins to close, but at the last second, a bunch of Shadelings (li'l imps that Ralph fought in chapter 1) appear and scurry off into the woods. Save for one, who attacks a very frightened group of 13-year-olds. They somehow manage to fight off the awful MONSTER and return back to Ralph's house.

Both Ralph and Victor are curious to know what just happened and attempt to make sense of it. Victor suggests they go off and try to find the larger monster, or maybe the figure that fell into the woods. Lauren is against it, and Chad agrees. She suggests they never speak of this ever again--it seems to have traumatized her. Ralph agrees, seeing how much it has upset Lauren. Victor, frustrated, yells at everyone and rushes back to his house.

We see a bit of Victor's home life; he walks in to a very drunk father, who is passed out in front of a small t.v. in the living room. His little sister, sick with some unspecified disease, is resting in her bed, and he goes to talk to her and tell her about all of the incredible things that happened, in order to cheer both of them up.

A few weeks pass, and the kids are having lunch one day at school. Victor once again tries to bring up the situation (codenamed as "The Monster") but is immediately shut down by Lauren. Frustrated, he yells at her, but then Ralph yells at him. Lauren runs off crying and Chad chases after her to help calm her down. Victor tries to talk to Ralph about the monster one-on-one, but Ralph gets flustered and storms off, leaving Victor to eat lunch alone.

Ralph sees Chad outside of the girls' bathroom waiting for Lauren to recover. He asks if shes okay and Chad says he doesn't know. The two start talking, and Ralph admits to having a crush on li'l Lauren. Chad doesn't know how to react, and says that he also has a crush on Lauren??? Ralph, confused, says that he thought Chad had a crush on him. Mortified and at a loss for words, he just stands there as Lauren emerges from the bathroom. Chad accuses her of telling Ralph, and rushes off. Ralph has no idea what's going on, and just thought it was totally obvious and not a big deal really. Lauren also flees the scene.

As Ralph is left alone in the hallway, he's approached by Victor once again. Victor tries to apologize about things, but also insists on tracking down The Monster. Ralph yells at him, saying that Victor should just drop it, and that the whole thing ruined everyones' lives. There probably never even was a monster!

The four friends drift apart. During their first year of high school, a new group of teens has emerged. Ralph resolves to be more caring and conscientious; no longer the "main character" and dictate what should happen. He takes an interest in fencing, taught by a mysterious new instructor. Lauren puts her more emotional days behind her, and focuses on theatre, socializing, and studying. She thinks that being the Queen Bee will make her invulnerable to things like The Monster situation. Chad has become a complete loner, distrusting of everyone and just biding his time until he can leave school. He is also somewhat depressed. Victor has become even angrier, and more obsessed with pursuing his crazy dreams.

A few days into the school year, Victor approaches Chad in the hallway. He claims that he wants to re-ignite the friendship, and that even though he and Chad were never close, they could always talk. Chad is wary, but goes along with it. They sort of become friends again, hanging out and being weirdo loners. However, it was all a ruse by Victor to start talking about The Monster again. He's completely driven crazy by the obsession, and tells Chad that they have to convince Ralph to help them. Chad wants nothing to do with The Monster, and obviously even less to do with Ralph! Victor pressures him as to why, and Chad accidentally blurts that he's still mad crushin' for Ralph. This is not what Victor's expecting, and the volatile teen bursts. He calls Chad a *bad name relating to gays* and returns to being alone.

Chad, also not exactly the most stable person at the moment, flips out and leaves school of his own accord. He rushes back home and contemplates some serious things, on the border of world-rending depression.

However, during his bleakest moment, he suddenly receives an Instant Message on his computer, from a username he doesn't recognize.

The stranger (who we know to be none other than NOX) talks Chad down from something drastic, and strikes up a friendship with the confused young boy.

~~~~~


Whew.

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Re: Mobius: A Forum Adventure

Post by TheMightyScroup » Wed Jan 21, 2015 9:43 pm

>>>>CHAPTER 4: HEART OF THE KINGDOM

The Heroes have all been re-united, sans their bubbly Voidsprite pal, of course. The Trio now finds themselves walking through the GREAT AETHER FIELDS, a huge expanse of pastures, lowlands, and light forests. At the very center of the field, reportedly, lies the impressive walls of the Royal City.

Travel is slow but steady, allowing the Heroes a bit of a breather and to catch up on their adventures. Ralph talks about how much fun he had in Lonsville and how awesome his new horse is, who is currently walking alongside the Heroes and carrying all of their stuff in satchels. Without access to the Cosmic Locker, Cast's voidey storage space, they've had to travel a bit differently. Ralph is still also without a sword, which bums him out, but both he and Chad (also weaponless) are learning more about Magic from Lauren and honing their skills.

There is a brief flash-wherever to Cast. He is shown waking up in quite the decadent room; diamonds glitter all around, there's a deliciously comfortable bed in the center of everything, and pictures of strange creatures everywhere. He also notices a few other exotic animals snoozing in cages or perches around the room. Now wearing some sort of magic crystal collar which locks his form and prevents teleportation, much like the magic bubble, he pouts in the corner of his glass cage. However, soon a girl enters the room with a fox-like creature following at her heels. Wearing a tiara and a beautiful dress, the girl introduces herself as DOMINIQUE, a Royal Lady.

After just a couple days' worth of mundane travel and fighting off the occasional generic Slime creature, and some Fox-like monsters, the group comes upon the Royal City walls. The city's 8 gates are reportedly heavily guarded. The Trio stows away in a large group of traveling merchants, and overhear that it wasn't always like this--in fact, the security has only been increased since the Queen hired a quartet of strange new advisers. They manage to sneak through the gate anyway, despite not having the appropriate "clearance cards", when Lauren distracts one of the guards by lighting a fire on top of a caravan.

Once inside of the city, the three are immediately overwhelmed by the sheer size and scope of the whole metropolis. They arrive in a large business district and immediately lose track of how many shops and stalls surround them, all offering different products and services. Eventually, the three come upon a nice green park, and take a rest. They gather their thoughts, and turn to what exactly must be accomplished in this city: the goal is to get back to Terra, and Ralph spear-heads the charge. They have to track down this enigmatic MACHINIST and see if he/she really does have a means to breach the worlds. Lauren also reminds them that she wants to visit the Royal Archives, a huge Library chronicling all of Aether's history and peoples, and try to find out about her Mother's whereabouts. Chad states that he doesn't have much of a goal, but knows that it's important to find out about the ROGUE'S GUILD and at least find some friendly faces in the city.

They are approached by a security officer, who chews out Ralph for allowing his horse, Ilex, to munch on city grass and leave her unattended. Not wanting to cause a stir, the three take Ilex to the nearest horse-hitch, which is in front of a simple-looking bar, and decide to head inside.

Immediately, the three saunter up to the bar and are eyed by the mysterious bartender. Sassy and black, she introduces herself as JANICE and offers them up a few drinks. Without money, they decline, but Janice at least gives the three some mugs of water, commenting that they look tired. The Trio chats for a while, all while under Janice's watchful eye. They decide to visit the Archives first, but the barkeep scoffs. She tells them that the Archives has been closed to all but the most prestigious of Royal personnel. They'd need a very, very high-level CLEARANCE CARD to get in. Stumped, they try to think of something else to do. Chad suggests that maybe tracking down this "Rogues' Guild" is the way to go.

But Janice intervenes once again. She says that she's willing to cut a deal with the Trio: she is currently in need of a FOXNITE, an exotic pet that's simply all the rage with the aristocrats. A status symbol made popular by the Queen herself, who is enamored with all things fox-kind. But not just any Foxnite, oh no. Janice has caught wind of a rare SILVER FOXNITE lurking around the city walls after dark. If the Trio manages to snag her the creature, then she has the resources to get them a GOLD CLEARANCE, granting access to a huge wealth of places in the city. Lauren states that they aren't too sure it's a good deal. Janice then casually comments on how she's only asking them since they are so very obviously not from "around here." A glint in her eye means that she suspects they are the Heroes. Her bar doesn't crave that sort of reputation, and she might just have to alert the Royal Guard.

...Since this is basically now a JRPG fetch-quest and blackmail, the group has no choice but to accept! They decide to head off; Ralph asks Janice if he can leave Ilex at her hitch for the day, and the sassy barkeep is okay with it.

The Royal City their oyster, the crew sets out in an attempt to locate a spare Foxnite. They decide to split up and meet back at the bar come nightfall, even though Chad wryly notes splitting up never seems to work well for them. Regardless, each one sets off to a different corner of the city. Chad sets off aimlessly; he asks Korzar for advice, but the water spirit is of no use. Eventually Chad notices that he's in a shittier part of town, but shrugs. His magic could probably fend off any streetwise Aether thug that this city could throw at him. Eventually he stumbles across a tent that claims to be a fortune-telling stall. Curious and with no other leads, he enters the tent just as some sort of shady Ralph lookalike leaves.

Sitting behind the crystal ball table is none other than some strange Chad lookalike. Chad looks his bearded doppelganger over and shrugs. The fortune-teller introduces himself as the great ZEPHRY and offers a reading, for a modest fee. The hero refuses, on the grounds he has no money. Not dissuaded, Zephry hints that Chad is looking for something--something important. Blowing this off as typical "fortune-teller" b.s., Chad is nonetheless suckered in since he has nothing else to do. He reveals a secret bag of Royals, stowed away from his time with the Troupe, and pays the fortune-teller.

Zephry looks into his crystal ball, and some images of clouds spring forth. Prognosticlouds, according to the fortune-teller. Only those with gifted blood can read them. Suddenly, Chad finds this whole process eerily familiar. He gazes deeper into the crystal ball alongside Zephry, and immediately sees flashes of images in the clouds. He sees a familiar face--that of his father--and speaks up. Zephry is overcome with shock that someone else can decipher the clouds and retreats further into his tent. Confused, Chad keeps leering into the crystal ball, and sees a few more images: a strange beaded necklace-thing, a long-forgotten friend, a fox-like creature, and then Lauren's face. AHA! Lauren found the fox, obviously. He leaves immediately, but not before taking his Royals back, claiming Zephry didn't actually do anything. However, as Chad leaves the tent, Zephry warns him of things to come, and that he will be seeing Chad again, very soon. He senses that the two of them share a strange bond of some sort.

Meanwhile, Lauren has become distracted with the bounty of Magic shops and Clothing stores. Though without money, her appetite for fashion and accessories is curbed. Instead, she manages to stumble upon what appears to be an exotic pet store/indoor zoo. Upon entering the shop, she sees many strange creatures, some appearing to be "tamed" versions of monsters they have encountered on the journey. She inquires about Foxnites to the man working the store, a surly, heavily-accented dude named DEVEN. He grumpily shows her to a pen of rambunctious little fox critters that can teleport all around at will. Lauren recognizes them as creatures found in Aether field, and notes the strange barrier around their enclosure that prevents them from escaping. It looks like some sort of Enchantment, but she refrains from asking needless questions. Instead, she simply asks how much they cost; Deven states about five thousand Royals. Lauren nearly has a money aneurysm, but a plan bubbles in her wily little head. She inquires a little more about the Foxnites, and finds out that they are attracted to shiny objects. Deven also accidentally lets slip that he's out hunting a rare one that comes by the city walls at nightfall. Lauren winks, thanks him, and resumes shopping.

She nearly runs into another customer, a young woman in many assorted shrouds and scarves, a Foxnite of her own wrapped around her shoulders. Lauren excuses herself, and cannot help but think the other girl is somehow very, very familiar. The two engage in a brief conversation, whereby the cloaked girl states that she is a frequent patron of this pet store, and recently bought a very strange, but darling, talking cat. Lauren is shocked, positive that she means Cast, and presses the girl for more information. Now suspicious and uncomfortable, the girl quickly excuses herself and hurries from the store, only to vanish in a puff of smoke from her pet's influence. Lauren is confused, but happy that she could find out some useful info. She prepares to meet back up with Ralph and Chad, but not before some...window shopping...

It goes without saying that Lauren and Chad have just come in contact with their strange DREAM SELVES. Throughout the story, whenever the Heroes fell asleep, they would be witness to a dream where someone who looks just like them was living day-to-day in a parallel fashion. DREAM RALPH was a no-nonsense thief, stealing a strange mechanism from a shop and delivering it to none other than the Mysterious Stranger, in exchange for the latter's information on the location of his vanished friend, The Machinist. He then solicits help from another friend, the fortune-teller Zephry, who is also DREAM CHAD. Zephry tells him more information can be sought in some sort of large bastion of knowledge. D.R. assumes that is the Archives, and breaks in one night with the help of a trusty grappling hook. There he digs through books to find some sort of map, only to be interrupted by none other than DREAM LAUREN. This strange girl, who has a Foxnite familiar, introduces herself as Dominique. She is a member of the Royal Family, though not by blood. Dominique often steals away at night with the help of her pet to read some of the books and maps that are strewn about the Archives. Dream Ralph (who we find out is named Jake) absconds back into the night, having found what he was looking for.

Needless to say, these are very mysterious characters! Each one is linked to a Hero through their dreams, and now seems to be living their alternate dream lives within the Royal City.

Anyhoo, back to Ralph!

Our favorite swordsman during his day's travels found himself outside of the GALEFORGE ACADEMY OF SWORD & SORCERY, a huge palace-sized academy for young swordsman and magic-users to train and hone their skills. He witnesses a fierce duel of blade and spell on the perimeter of the grounds; everything proceeds as usual until one of the young combatants cheats and hurls sand at his foe's eyes before brutally disarming him. Ralph jumps into the fray and chews out the offending cheater, only to get brushed off and threatened.

A commotion breaks out, and the HEADMASTER of the school approaches. He breaks up the scuffle, but Ralph keeps his cool. The headmaster, known simply as SIR RASHOU, tells Ralph that he should not meddle in the affairs of the school. Ralph argues his case, pointing out the unchivalrous tactics that the sassy young man was using, and how his own instructor, Mr. Caspar, would never stand for that. Ralph states he will prove that virtuous tactics will prevail in a duel. Rashou, curious that Ralph is apparently a swordsman-in-training as well, questions him as to why he does not have a sword. Ralph awkwardly admits to having lost it (due to the battle atop the roc). Rashou states that he will provide Ralph with a blade, so long as Ralph duels him. Never one to turn down a challenge, Ralph accepts!

The duel takes place inside of a fancy chamber within the school. Ralph is armed, and faces down Rashou. The Headmaster fights for his students' reputation, and Ralph fights for his own ideals. The duel begins! Despite Ralph not having near as much experience as the headmaster, he still manages to hold his own, and Rashou notes that the two share nearly identical fighting styles--stances, specials, everything. Only by using a technique that Ralph has not yet mastered does Rashou disarm the young hero, but not before commending him on a battle well fought.

Rashou offers Ralph a place in the Academy under a special contract for as long as he cares to learn, impressed with his sword skills. Ralph, embarrassed by his defeat and needing to meet back up with his friends, declines. Rashou wishes Ralph well, and allows Ralph to keep the sword.

Ralph departs from the Galeforge Academy and soon meets back up with his friends at the bar. They each exchange stories, before settling on a plan: Lauren suggests they lay a trap and wait for the Silver Foxnite, capture it, and present it to Janice. The boys agree, and they wait a few hours until nightfall has passed. In the veil of darkness, the three friends hide away at a remote corner of the city walls, undetected. Chad stays atop the vantage point and begrudgingly throws his royals down to the field below. The foxnites are indeed attracted to shiny things. Ralph and Lauren drop to the wilds using Lauren's Eolian Winds. She then casts an invisibility enchantment and the two manage to wait for the elusive Silver Foxnite to show up. While they wait, Ralph and Lauren share an undisputedly romantic moment, huddled together in an invisible forcefield hunting monsters in the sunset. Suddenly, Chad yells down to them as he sees the Silver Foxnite approach. Ralph and Lauren prepare themselves to leap upon the creature, but then out of nowhere, DEVEN appears and attempts to nab the rare specimen for himself! He lobs another one of his MONSTER-CATCHING SPHERES at the Foxnite, but it darts out of the way. Lauren breaks her Enchantment, and a chase ensues. Deven recognizes Lauren from his shop, and gets mad at her for ferreting in on his goods. As they all chase the Silver Foxnite, Ralph and Lauren must combat both the rare monster (who is also exceptionally powerful) and Deven, who reveals himself as a master SHADOW THIEF (....and Pet Store Entrepreneur). He uses a lot of wily shadow magic techs to fight off the two Heroes. Eventually, the three manage to corner the Foxnite. Lauren attempts to lure it in with some gold, while Ralph fights off an increasingly-aggressive Deven. Ralph pulls out his Bracer to attack and--surprise--the Silver Foxnite is enamored with his shiny artifact! The two quickly abscond with the Foxnite in tow, and Deven stews in his own defeat.

After wasting the night away, the group presents the barkeep with her new Foxnite the following morning. Janice is overwhelmed with happiness at finally procuring a Foxnite, and instantly fixes a special collar onto the creature, as well as an ornate bow. She thanks the three Heroes for snagging her new pet, and makes good on her end of the bargain--opening up a secret passageway to the city's many underground tunnels, she directs them to a hideaway of the ROGUES' GUILD.

There, they come face-to-face with a gaggle of mysterious thieves, bandits, etc. Janice vouches for the trio and then absconds, her duty done. The thieves, still wary, pry and test each of the Heroes for potential espionage. They eventually out themselves as the Heroes of Fate. The Rogues are slightly convinced, and make good on a Gold Clearance for the Trio. Expecting some sort of weird card or certificate, the Trio is instead presented with an ornate, golden dagger. The rogues state that having this dagger will grant them into all sorts of strange back-alley and black market establishments, as well as free use of the tunnel system. Chad seems to recognize the style of dagger, and then asks to see the King of Thieves, but is told that their mysterious leader would not bother with such a petty exchange.

Lauren asks how they are to get into the ROYAL ARCHIVES. The group is told that since THE QUEEN is visiting elsewhere in her realm so oft of late, the Archives are closed to the general populace until further notice. However, it just so happens that one of the tunnels leads right into the information hold, and the Trio is told to wait until nightfall before they will be granted passage. The group of Rogues disperses, but Deven appears to have been on the fringe of the Guild, listening to the three Heroes.

Before they are forced to depart until nightfall, a lone robed figure approaches the group. A blind prophet of sorts, known as TELETHA, the woman states that Lauren and Chad have properties of those with magical heritage. Their AWAKENINGS unlocked latent powers in their blood, normally only accessible to those of Fey descent. Lauren and Chad ruminate on this for a moment, and then flee the underground.

Janice offers the Trio a room for the day, and they graciously take her up on the offer. The Royal Archives will wait, and sleep is a valuable commodity on this quest. As the Heroes all lie down to slumber, they seem to share an intertwined dream. Each one assumes control of their dream doppleganger, and all three of the dreamy characters begin talking to one another. They all stand in a black, featureless room. The conversation swings around many topics, from fate, to love, to the future, to whatever else. It is apparent that these three know one another. As soon as they make mention of two other Heroes, these two from Aether, the dream fades and all of our Team Terra Heroes wake up!

After having some light lunch at the tavern and discussing a plan of action, the Trio makes their way back to the the UNDERGROUND. The mysterious Teletha meets them and points them down a passage, telling them that it will be a bit of a hurdle--some of the passages have been flooded recently. Apparently, the Queen is quite paranoid of invaders sneaking into the city and routinely flushes the underground network. The Trio makes their way through the catacombs, fighting a few monsters befitting of an underwater dungeon level, and soon ascend up a large shaft into the main floor of the Royal Archives!

The Royal Archives houses an infinite array of books in its labyrinthine corridors. From fiction, to cookbooks, to world history...everything is within their grasp! The trio splits up, with orders to reconvene at a central table as soon as possible. They book around the library, exploring the shelves, asking librarians for help (not really), and eventually snagging a bunch of reading material. Lauren is perusing through the archives of Kingdom citizens, but having no luck in locating her mother's identity. Chad, meanwhile, manages to find a tome on the RULING GODS of Aether. It also has a world atlas, and maps out where each God resides. Ralph has found a sizable stack of books on swords and legends. He is just about to return to the study table when he receives a text from NOX.

The enigmatic man, after being so silent for the last few days, suddenly directs Ralph to one particular book: an encyclopedia of METAPHYSICAL MAGICKS. He shrugs and grabs it too.

The three Heroes meet back up and pour over their stacks of study material. Lauren ferociously speeds through the ROYAL REGISTRAR, but is still no closer to finding any new information. Chad discovered that the SAGE OF EARTH, GALATHEL, actually serves as an adviser to the QUEEN. He wonders what sort of significance this holds. If ALACIUS is truly hunting more Ruling Gods, could he have already infiltrated the City as well? A quick check with Korzar has the God of Water confirm that he indeed feels Galathel's energy in the city, just as strong as ever.

While Ralph is just sort of absently leafing through the book on Metaphysical Magic, he comes across something unique on the TERRA BRACER. Apparently an artifact of great power, it possesses a twin known as the AETHER BRACER, which has been sealed away, according to the book, in "another world". When combined, the power of both Bracers grants the wielder mastery over SPACE, one of the 4 Metaphysical Elements. He brings it up to the group.

Lauren is surprised to hear there are an additional 4 elements. Apparently, her Book of Magic covered no such topics. She asks Ralph to read some more about it, bored of the Registrar. He shrugs and glosses over a few more facts about the SPACE element. A Master of Space will have the power to cross dimensional boundaries and other nifty things like teleportation. He soon realizes that this could be their ticket back to Terra! But, without the Aether Bracer, they can't access such a power. And the Aether Bracer is, presumably, in Terra, mirroring its counterpart.

Chad then jumps in about something he read a little while ago. Apparently the RULING GODS were entrusted with the ability to lend the raw power of their elements to certain artifacts in order to do...something. He goes back to the book, leafs through a few pages, and then announces that the BRACERS are mentioned as one of these artifacts. Everyone is suddenly abuzz with excitement. Ralph asks how many Ruling Gods there are in total; Lauren and Chad immediately respond with SIX. Ralph rolls up his sleeve and presents the Terra Bracer: exactly six runes are present around its surface.

Lauren suggests that they could use these 6 ESSENCES, obtained from the Ruling Gods, to unlock the Bracer's potential, and bypass the necessity for both of the bracelets. Ralph wonders if that could work. If it does, they could use it to get back home. No need to enlist this mysterious "Machinist" guy that everyone forgot about. Suddenly, all 3 receive a message from Nox simultaneously.

"only once" he messages simply.

Ignoring the creep factor of Nox for now, a new plan is set into motion. Lauren takes the book on Metaphysical Elements and decides that they must keep it. Ralph suggests they rent the book, but Lauren has other plans. She casts an Invisibility Enchantment over the book and decides they'll permanently add it to their collection. Though admittedly, without Cast there, it will be hard to hold into all of this stuff. Lauren also tells Chad to commit the locations of the 6 Ruling Gods to memory. He says that Korzar can handle that.

The Earth Sage would logically be first on their list of Gods to visit. If he indeed resides in the ROYAL CASTLE alongside the Queen, it would be a reasonable visit. Ralph just wonders how easily they could get into the Castle. Not only are they Heroes, but they are under the guise of random citizens! Surely the Queen would not permit them an audience.

Suddenly, a voice addresses them from the shadows. Revealing himself to be our good friend JAKOB, the young rogue says that he has been spying on the group ever since they arrived in Janice's Bar. Chad threatens him, and Jakob pulls out a golden dagger. They immediately recognize it as property of the Rogues' Guild, just like theirs. Jakob states that he is only here to offer some advice. Chad and Lauren are hesitant to believe him, but Ralph suddenly realizes that Jakob is his Dream Self! He steps between both Chad and the thief, who are almost ready to fight, and says they should hear Jakob out.

Jakob says that he doesn't have much time, but if they want to get into the Castle, he has sources in the ROGUES' GUILD stating that the Queen will be leaving the Castle on some sort of ambassadorial trip in two weeks' time. Despite this being far-off, the Heroes agree that it's probably their best shot to get inside of the Castle. Lauren asks why Jakob is helping them; he says that someone told him to. He also states that he is a supporter of the HEROES. Before they can press him for more info, Jakob vanishes. Chad says that he's a huge douche, but seems familiar. Lauren agrees on that point. The familiarity, that is.

Now with two weeks to burn, the Heroes wonder what they should do. They go back to the Tavern and decide on a new plan of action. Lauren decides that they can't waste the resource of the Archives, and presumes that she will spend most of the time here in the Library. Ralph decides that if he has time to burn, he would like to return to Galeforge and take Master Rashou up on his offer to be trained. Chad doesn't really know what he'll do, and thinks it's boring to wait around. Janice overhears him at the bar and offers him a job there until the gang figures everything out. He accepts with a shrug. Everyone is excited, but Lauren reminds them that the two weeks isn't all fun and games. It's important to stay sharp, keep an eye out for trouble, all that other stuff. Chad also brings up that they actually need to find a way into the Castle--perhaps a Tunnel?

So yeah, everyone goes about their business for the next two weeks. I honestly wasn't sure how I would be handling this, since it could have been sort of boring, but whatever. Character interaction, am I right or am I right? Probably via the trio telling each other of their daily adventures each night.

Ralph would spend his time at the Galeforce Academy, of course! Rashou readily took him in. Though the Headmaster usually charged an exorbitant fee for his teachings, he gave Ralph special consideration for the two weeks of lessons. In no time at all, the young Hero was gaining incredible skills with the sword. New special attacks, some cool new titles, and a few new friends. He also became rather adept at using DOUBLE SWORDS. It was all pretty great. Upon learning the MEGATON THRUST, one of the most powerful sword specials, he commented that he was nearly at Caspar's level! He was also given permission to wander the halls and all that sort of cliche boarding school stuff. One day, Ralph happened upon a hidden room. It told the story of the Academy's founders: two legendary students who, thousands of years ago, would be deemed HEROES and be involved in the CATACLYSM that split the worlds in two.

...Or that's the how rumor goes. Rashou walks in behind Ralph and begins talking to the curious young Hero. He states that he actually believes the tale, and that the two HEROES surely still exist, in some form or another. Even after all of these years. One of them, chivalrous and a master swordsman, was lost to the ages. Not even his name remains. The other, in command of unstoppable magic, is said to be the first King of Aether, and the Queen's (very) distant Ancestor. In fact, Rashou states, long ago the Galeforge Academy and the Royal Castle were connected. There are still likely passageways leading between the two.

Meanwhile, Lauren's been doing some killer research every day in the Lib. In addition to mapping out the locations of the Ruling Gods in preparation for a cross-world journey, she has also been learning a lot about the Metaphysical Majjyks. The four Metaphysical Elements described are: SPACE, TIME, LIFE, and CHAOS. She has come to hold a great deal of respect for the sole author of the tome: a mysterious KEYELLA. This lone scholar studied the 4 Metaphysical Elements, performed countless trials and experiments, and eventually wrote down all of her findings and compiled it into the book. Lauren is simply in awe of all the work that went into it.

She is particularly fascinated with LIFE magic, which is essentially the combined energy of the 4 main elements: Fire, Water, Earth, and Wind. The book states that mastery over all 4 could cause the user to unlock latent Life potential that lies dormant in his/her body. The book postulates that when the world was split in two, magic became volatile and was at risk of vanishing from the worlds completely. The RULING GODS were created as channels for the elemental magic. Light and Shadow, the remaining elements, were responsible for keeping the forces of CHAOS in check. Lauren isn't too sure what all of this means, but she knows it is important, and likely linked to their new quest.

During all of this, Chad is keeping relatively low-key. Although his new job is nothing too exciting, he enjoys the work, and likes meeting all of the crazy people that call Aether their home. Janice likes him as well, and the two form a good bond. She has given Chad a free room upstairs to use these two weeks, which he has of course shared with Lauren and Ralph nearly every night. It has afforded the Heroes good bonding time, and they reminisce on days past when they were all extremely close friends. What are they now? Friends again, or simply drawn back together by the whims of some crazy fate?

We finally move on to our fourth friend. Poor CAST is still stunted in his cat-form, serving time as DOMINIQUE'S exotic pet. The collar he has been fitted with somehow tampers his powers, and he can't seem to convince the young lady to let him go. However, Cast has managed to find out some key details about his predicament. Dominique, her formal title a Lady, is Royal, and daughter to the Queen. However, Dominique is adopted, and therefore not of royal blood or in line to inherit the throne. That duty is of her brother, TYRATH, a sinister young Prince who has his sights set on complete world domination. She confides with Cast that the Queen adopted her due to her exotic looks, and she has never truly felt like a part of the family or Kingdom. In fact, she feels as if she may be from ANOTHER WORLD entirely. She passes time by collecting exotic pets, and sneaking out of the castle at night to take books from the Library and see her new friend, some sort of roguish young man. Though Cast has grown to understand Dominique and pity her in a sense, he still knows his duty to the Heroes, and vows to escape.

On the final eve of their two weeks' "vacation", the Heroes are gathered in their room and planning with their agendas. The whole city is buzzing about the Queen's absence, which is great, but Lauren still realizes that they need a way to actually get into the Castle and find Galathel. Amid the brainstorming, Ralph suddenly remembers that there are supposed to be secret passageways in Galeforge leading to the Castle. He suggests this, and the other two agree that it's probably the best shot. They decide to put the plan into motion the following night, and get a good night's rest.

Dreams are the typical fare, interspersed with scenes from their dreamy doppelgangers. Ralph sees Jakob in a dark alley, likely waiting to meet someone. A shadow jumps from the wall, and Deven reveals himself. The two are both a part of the Rogues Guild, after all, and begin conversing. It's vague, but Jakob refers to a plan that he's involved in that may get kind of messy. Deven presses him for more info, and he reveals that the Heroes may in danger, and it could all be his fault.

Dominique is seen conversing with Cast and her pet Foxnite. Lauren retains enough lucidity to recognize Cast, and tries to call out to him. Finally, Chad spies Zehry gazing into his crystal ball once again. The "Prognosticlouds" show a series of strange images that Chad doesn't recognize. One of these includes some strange-looking, green-haired dude with engineering goggles.

The plan is set into motion the very next night. The three Heroes head out of the tavern in the middle of the night, and Ralph leads the way to Galeforge. Due to the fact he has access to their facilities at all times, he is able to slip by a fence and sneak through the courtyard from memory. Lifting up a window whose lock he removed a few days prior, the heroes sneak into the school and quietly meander down the halls, avoiding patrolling teachers and late night mischief makers. All the while, Korzar tells Chad that he feels they are being followed.

They eventually make it back to the room where Ralph heard the legend of the Two Heroes. He immediately goes to work looking for a secret door, thinking that this would be the most likely place for it to be. He tells Lauren and Chad to look too, but they are currently looking at all the legendary items and texts on display.

Suddenly (wonder how many times I've started a paragraph like that, huh?), the door to the room shuts behind them. Everyone turns to see that Sir Rashou has entered, armed and dangerous. He suddenly withdraws his sword upon seeing Ralph, but remains suspicious. He asks what Ralph and his friends are doing here. Although Lauren and Chad are prepared to fight and/or lie their way out of the situation, Ralph decides to tell the truth. He tells Rashou that the three of them are HEROES, and are on a quest to get back to Terra, and also possibly save both worlds. In order to do this, they need to get into the Castle.

Rashou immediately understands! Despite being allied with the Queen, for she has always supported the Galeforge Academy, he trusts Ralph. The Royal Family may be calling for the capture and subsequent beheading of the supposed Heroes, but Rashou believes in their quest. He suddenly moves for the Academy Trophy Case, and removes one of the trophies to reveal a hidden switch. The room shakes, and a door on the far side of the room reveals itself, leading down to a dark tunnel. Rashou then relinquishes his sword and gives it to Ralph, wishing the Heroes luck. He tells Ralph to keep his wits about him, and trust his heart among all else, before departing.

The Heroes exchange a few words, and then head into the tunnels. The passageway leads them to a dark underground chamber filled with many valves and tubes of water. It is likely a Sewer Level, and they fight a couple more aquatic-themed enemies before progressing. As they reach the apparent end of the tunnel and prepare to scale a vast spiral staircase, none other than JAKOB appears and tells them he has been tracking them. He apparently needs to get into the Castle and would like to join them on their quest. Though suspicious, Ralph immediately trusts him. Ralph asks Jakob what he is looking for in the Castle, and Jakob simply responds with "answers." Lauren asks him if the Earth Sage indeed resides there, and Jakob confirms. It seems they have a new party member, for the time being.

The party ascends the staircase, and eventually reaches a wooden door. Though it is locked, Jakob quickly picks the lock and they enter a back corridor of the Castle. Guards still seem to be about, but most are either sleeping or easily bypassed. Since the Queen is out, Security is at an all-time low. Jakob comments on how lucky they are; if Queen TYRIA were to catch anyone snooping around, they would instantly be killed. If they were found out to be the Heroes who threatened her Kingdom, their punishment would be tenfold.

Chad asks how that would even be possible, while Lauren inquires as to why the Heroes are blacklisted throughout the Kingdom. Jakob answers both questions: Queen Tyria has recently enlisted a shadowy group of strange men as her personal assistants. She also has meetings with some enigmatic Sorceror, who has provided her with some sort of powerful WEAPON to safeguard in exchange for something. He doesn't know exactly what it has to do with the Heroes, but knows that the price on their heads only went public after she took on these strange, masked ambassadors. This troubles all of the Heroes, but they continue to press on.

Meanwhile, we're back to Cast. He is once again hanging out alongside Dominique and her pets, and has seemingly resigned himself to his fate as a talking cat forever. Little does he know that the Heroes are inside of the Castle, almost within shouting distance. He absently plays with a ball of yarn. Suddenly, Dominique decides to have her two favorite pets play dress-up. Cast is sat next to Cappy, her Foxnite, and the two are given some fancy hats to wear. Dominique also ties a bow around Cappy's neck, but this seems to agitate the creature, and he quickly teleports off of the bed. However, Cast is quick to notice that his hat and bow do not travel with him. They lie uselessly atop the bed. It is now that the Voidsprite has a particularly devious plan creep into his head.

As Dominique hmphs and attempts to find some new pet accessories, Cast quickly lunges at Cappy. The Foxnite has no idea what has hit him, and the two animals go tumbling down on the floor, fighting and clawing each other. Dominique is suddenly in hysterics, and tries to get in-between them, but to no avail. Cappy then breaks free and tries to teleport away, but at the last second, Cast digs his claws into the Foxnite's fluffy tail. He is teleported to the other end of the room alongside Cappy, and is suddenly free from his collar. Shouting in glee, the Voidsprite quickly shifts back into his true form, a bigass butterfly.

Dominique is both in shock and awe. She doesn't know how to react, clutching the collar in her hands. Cast knows that she was just a lonely, misguided girl, and forgives her, but flees her room. Turning intangible, he flits through her door and out into the corridor. He realizes that he senses the Heroes very close by, and rushes off to find them! Don't they know it's dangerous in the Castle?!

The Heroes and Jakob arrive in the abandoned and dark Throne Room. Only a few simple magical glowing light balls in the corners give them any sort of illumination. Ralph asks how close they are to finding the Earth Sage. Jakob says they're here. He backs up a few steps, and leads the Heroes into the middle of the Throne Room. They look around, dumbfounded, before a sinister laugh fills the room.

A magical sphere appears around the three Heroes. Jakob runs backwards as four dark purple portals appear around them. Out of three of them emerge black-clad, masked figures. The fourth reveals himself as none other than the MYSTERIOUS STRANGER, sporting his newly-mechanized arm. The three others, who we know as KHOLER, FLEM, and BYLE, remain still and quiet. The Mysterious Stranger thanks Jakob for leading the Heroes right to him. However could he track them in such a large city without his help? Jakob reluctantly accepts his thanks, but then demands the Stranger hand over his end of the bargain.

The Stranger laughs and taunts Jakob. He states that he never intended to hold up his end of the bargain. He states that THE MACHINIST will never return to the city, and will remain forever in Exile. He never even had the power to fulfill the promise, and Jakob was a sucker for buying it. Furious, Jakob draws a knife. The Stranger laughs again, and uses his Special Attack to trap the rogue in his dastardly BLOOD BONDS.

He then turns to the Heroes, who seem to be trapped in the strange bubble. The Stranger commends them on their last battle, and on eluding him for the better half of a month. He never stopped searching, and was growing rather frustrated. The Crimson Wyvern, his hitman, didn't even phase them. The Stranger comments on "disposing" of the mercenary, and then turns his attention back on the Heroes. He states that their end is near. Using the Queen's resources, and one of the Prince's magical ENCHANTMENTS, they have finally been caught. The Stranger states that his BOSS will soon be around to apprehend them.

Ralph, frustrated at this turn of events, demands to know who the Mysterious Stranger really is. Chuckling, the Stranger finally removes his coat and fedora. He is revealed to be another one of the VOIDWALKERS, and states that his name is BLOOD, the leader of his brothers. They have defected from their master, the Lord of the Void, and now serve someone new--a time-traveling sorceror named ALACIUS. Everyone gasps.

During this monologue, the gang tries to come up with a plan. Lauren recognizes the bubble as a Forcefield Enchantment. She immediately gets to work on a Counter-Enchantment, but it's unclear as to how long that will take. Hopefully they can buy some time. Ralph and Chad are ready to fight, whatever happens.

However, everything comes to a standstill as another figure arrives on the scene. A short, bearded, demented-looking fellow appears in the doorway, two guards flanking him. Blood gasps as PRINCE TYRATH reveals himself, and is giddy with insane joy upon seeing the three Heroes in his throne room. He demands to know what Blood and his Brigade plan on doing with them.

Blood responds that this is none of the Prince's concern, and also why aren't you with your mother right now???. The Prince laughs, and says that he wouldn't dare leave the city with the likes of these weirdos in charge. He was hiding away in one of his many STRONGHOLDS, spying on Blood and his Brothers. Blood demands to know how he pulled this off, but Tyrath ignores him and counter-demands that the Heroes be slaughtered for their crimes against the Kingdom, and readies a spell.

The Trio is in a bit of a bind. Blood states that the Heroes must be captured and presented to his Master first. Tyrath asks why, and Blood simply responds cryptically, that Tyrath would "understand soon" and that his Master is not one to be trifled with, much like the Prince. Confused by this, which angers him further, Tyrath prepares to unleash his spell. As the devastating shadow beam leaves his hands, Lauren disenchants the forcefield, and the trio are able to jump out of harm's way at the last moment.

The resulting blast knocks Jakob free, who promptly makes a quick escape. He mutters an apology to the Heroes before fleeing, but is otherwise out of there. Chad suggests they follow suit, and Lauren reminds them that they need to find Cast and Galathel, or something!!! (Wow, this turned out to be the worst quest ever). Blood orders his cronies to seal the Throne Room. They do, surrounding all exits with Blood Bonds. With no way out, a three way Brawl begins: The Trio vs. Blood vs. Tyrath.

Blood unleashes the full power of his Voidwalker powers, flash-stepping, teleporting, and using Blood Bonds all around the battlefield. He also has utility of his deadly mechanical arm, and there is always the looming threat of him unleashing the menacing DARK METERS. Tyrath meanwhile uses a variety of Shadow Magicks and is an incredibly powerful sorceror. He and Blood seem to focus on one another, which is good for the Trio. They fight in unison, taking stabs at the other two combatants whenever possible. Blood and Tyrath bicker, apparently having a history of distrust. Tyrath knows that they've been manipulating his mother, Queen Tyria. Blood accuses Tyrath of just being a dangerous nobody that will never inherit his pathetic kingdom.

Tyrath's two Royal Guards fall quickly to Ralph and Chad. This turns his attention on the Trio for a moment, but he and Blood cannot seem to keep out of one another's hair. Eventually, the Voidwalker unleashes his Dark Meters, which rend the throne room apart. As the Trio and the Prince attempt to dodge everything, Chad and Lauren decide to look for a way out. Ralph thinks it best to distract Blood, and engages him one-on-one. Meanwhile, Tyrath readies a special technique. His THEOPHANY allows him to absorb the Dark Meters and convert them to more magical energy. Blood, preoccupied with Ralph, orders his cronies to seize all three of the other fighters.

Meanwhile, Cast (who has been flitting through the Castle's corridors) senses a huge welling of magical energy. He's drawn towards it, and phases through the Blood Bonds into the Throne Room. He immediately sees the Heroes, and is overjoyed to be reunited with his friends. Lauren and Chad immediately rush to him, but the other Voidwalkers intervene, and chase down Cast in an attempt to capture the Voidsprite once again.

Prince Tyrath is now hot on the trail of destroying Lauren and Chad. The two seem outmatched by the powered-up Prince. All of his magical skills hit with deadly precision, and he's even capable of firing off his own Dark Meters attacks. Ralph, meanwhile, actually seems to have Blood on the ropes. Using the techniques he picked up at the Galeforge Academy, he is able to slash circles around the dastardly voidwalker. The two flash-step in tandem, and end up crossing paths with the other fight. In the mix, Blood escapes behind a blast of Tyrath's Meters. The Trio focuses, and performs a Trifecta Attack that successfully disarms the Prince, KOing him for the time being.

Cast has been dodging the Voidwalkers in an attempt to reunite once again with the Heroes. Kholer, Byle, and Flem are hot on his tail. Cast accuses them all of being traitors to their shared Master, the Lord of the Void. It is revealed that both Voidsprites and Voidwalkers serve the Lord of Void, but the Voidwalkers defected when their leader (Blood) jumped ship to better waters. Kholer also inadvertently reveals that he has been supplying intel to Prince Tyrath in hopes of usurping Blood as leader of their little Brigade. The Voidwalkers then begin to bicker with each other, and Cast gets away in the confusion!

The Trio then focus all of their energy on subduing Blood. He attempts to fight them all off, but Ralph, Lauren, and Chad's powers have all grown since their last encounter. Lauren and Chad work together and are able to trap Blood inside of a frigid prison while he's busy dueling with Ralph. Instead of outright ridding themselves of him, the Trio attempt to question him--What do the Voidwalkers want? Where is the SAGE OF EARTH? What is the deal with their new Master?

Blood is predictably scant on details; he simply bemoans that their powers are growing stronger, and he is outmatched. Blood decides to tell them that he serves ALACIUS, their time-traveling, sorcerous foe. He has been acting as the fiend's envoy in an attempt to undermine the Heroes' predestined quest to reunite the two worlds. It was started originally many years ago, when he drove Lauren from Aether. This did little to dissuade the Fates from rerouting the Heroes' path. He then pulled them through the Mobius gate years before they were supposed to stumble into Aether in an attempt to sabotage and/or kill them. However, it too obviously failed, and now Alacius wants them all alive for some sort of mysterious PLAN B.

The Trio is furious upon finding out that Blood so blatantly ruined their lives, dragging them into this ridiculous inter-worldly quest. Blood scoffs and tells them that it was simply fate. Any of the thousands of possible timelines all have them crossing the worlds in one way or another. Lauren asks him where Galathel can be found, but Blood refuses to answer. He refuses to knowingly give them the power to cross back over to Terra. They allegedly 'can't cause any trouble' here in Aether. Thankfully, moments later Cast appears, and tells them that he can help them find Galathel. Reunited at last, the Trio decides to put the Castle--and the Royal City--behind them.

Tyrath begins to stir. The Prince is furious at having been bested, and unleashes another spell. His fiery magicks fuse with the Dark Meters that he absorbed and are unleashed in one massive, duedly beam. Lauren manages to whisk them all away using her Eolian Winds, but Blood is seemingly obliterated and the Throne Room begins to collapse.

The gang flees down the halls, not exactly knowing where they should go. The Castle continues to rumble, and Lauren can only assume it's because Tyrath's spells are out of control and going to bring the whole place down. As they run through the endless expanse of castle corridors, they run into Lady Dominique. She has Cappy (The Foxnite) in tow, and asks what's going on. Cast tells her to flee immediately and get out of the city. Confused, but trusting of her once-pet, she does, and has her Foxnite teleport her far away.

Lauren asks Cast where Galathel is. The Voidsprite responds that he actually doesn't know, and just wanted to grind Blood's gears--the two have sort of old enmity between them. They decide that they can all figure it out, but first have to escape the Castle. Cast says he can do that, and has information that they should follow a certain path out of the rumbling Castle. They eventually stumble across Jakob, who tries to apologize for deceiving them (he 'had reasons'). He tells the Trio that he can get them out of the Castle. Of course, the Trio does not want to trust him, especially Ralph. Cast, however, vouches for the Rogue, and tells them that he's the one consigned by Fate to lead them out of the Castle.

They begrudgingly follow Jakob down to the basest levels of the Castle. Magical fissures are appearing even this far underground, it seems. The Castle surely cannot withstand too much more of whatever onslaught the Prince has wrought. Jakob leads them to an underground canal, and they all leave via boat. Chad uses his Water Magicks to propel them more quickly through the subterranean channels. The Heroes are now safe, but reportedly have a long paddle ahead of themselves. Chad agrees to keep charge of the voyage, and Jakob keeps navigating. Ralph and Lauren fall asleep after a time, as does Cast, who returns to his cat form. Chad and Korzar have a conversation, which Jakob accidentally overhears. The Water God wonders why he was able to sense Galathel in the Castle if the Sage was not there. Jakob states that according to rumor, the Queen, her Advisors, the Prince (or any combination thereof) were somehow able to EXTRACT the ESSENCE from the God. Rogues' Guild intel states that something fishy is going on in the EARTH TEMPLE, the Sage's old grounds.

Hours later, everyone is greeted to morning sunlight. The boat has docked on a riverbank far from the streets of the Royal City. A lone caravan stands before them, smoke pouring out of its wooden vents. A horse munches grass and a firepit sits idly next to the large wagon.

Ralph and Lauren wake-up, and disentangle themselves from a cute accidental cuddle sesh. Chad helps Jake tether up the boat, and the gang makes their way up to the camp. Chad demands to know where they are exactly. Jake tells them that they've finally found his old friend, someone who he has been looking for ever since his exile a year ago: THE MACHINIST. Everyone gasps. Ralph asks how Jake knew to take them here, and the young Rogue responds that he knew that the Heroes had to be reunited.

Yep, Aether has its own set of HEROES as well, and the Machinist is one of them, Jake briefly says that he had to use a lot of different sources to track the guy down. It's a long story, but there's no better place to hear it than from the exile himself.

The group walks up to the wooden door of the wagon, and knocks. There's a bunch of clattering and couching from inside, and then someone asks who it is. Jakob responds, and then the door quickly swings open to reveal...

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TheMightyScroup
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Re: Mobius: A Forum Adventure

Post by TheMightyScroup » Sun Jul 05, 2015 11:53 am

::::SUB-CHAPTER 4: THE DYNAMIC DUO:

What happened?! We were just going to see what all the lead-up was about. THE MACHINIST was about to be revealed, right??

Not so fast!

The ever-present and annoying author, TMS, descends in on a majestic winged narwhal to grace us with his presence. He tells us not to get too ahead of ourselves, and that we have to back the hell up a little bit in order to see just how the Aetherean Heroes got to where they are. Yes, they. Plural. As in more than one. More than just that one guy. What was his name again?

...We never got to name him, unfortunately! THE MACHINIST, or what he went by before infamy bestowed on him that monicker, was based on our very own Ace. His placeholder name was MARSHAL MAVID, and this was his story.

~~

Marshal woke up in his room on the 5TH of TRIVARIS, the SIXTEENTH month of the AETHERIAN EONIC CALENDAR. He got out of bed and made note of the eclectic items strewn about his FLAT, all relating to one or more of his INTERESTS. He has an easel with both paints and technical drawing equipment, a desk equipped with all sorts of mechanical contraptions and engineer's tools, a small kitchen nook stocked with a large, broiling teapot, and a game of CHESS set on top of a rustic barrel of ale. It is in mid-game, though Marshal notes that he'd rather not think about the MYSTERIOUS OPPONENT that has been moving pieces around his room whilst he is away. Whoever it is, they just seemed to have got the upper-hand on him.

But oh no, he's late! MASTER JACQUE, his boss at the ACE ENGINEERING SHOPPE, will tear him a new tea-hole if he shows up after the hour again! He hurries to put on his uniform, a green Smith's Suit, some thick gloves, and a pair of rusty red goggles. Marshal quickly hurries to work (but not before grabbing a spot of tea!) and makes his way through the ramparts of the UPPER AEM, a ritzy collection of single-bedroom flats that only the most wealthy of the working-class can afford. Marshal is thankful for his status in the Royal City, even though it comes with a lot of pressure (and the digs are pretty small, but hey whatever, space is a premium in the Queen's City).

He's quickly making up for lost time when suddenly, out of the shadows, comes his old pal JAKOB. The two of them go back, way back. Marshal used to be in an organization called the ROGUE'S GUILD with fellow orphan Jake. While his friend specialized in sneaking and assailing, Marshal was handy with the mechanical aspects of thievery, and was able to craft an array of traps and other useful tools. The two jam about the past, and Jakob talks to Marshal about a new business proposal. Marshal, ever the friendly gentleman, politely declines. He simply must be getting back to work, or Jacque will be quite cross. Jakob experiences a flash of jealousy, mentioning that Marshal never has time for "the old ways" ever since he got picked up out of the streets by that loud-mouth, goody-goody Master.

Finally, Marshal reaches the SHOPPE, seconds shy of the store's opening. Jacque, a large and nearly-deaf old man, scolds his apprentice for being almost late. Marshal apologizes, and preps his work-station in the back. Jacque is an incredible metalsmith of unprecedented genius, but his age is getting the best of him; his hearing is almost shot, and vision isn't far behind. Marshal has taken over most of the day-to-day of crafting and creating, while Jacque uses his know-how to manage the finances and marketing of the Shoppe. Business has never been better since Marshal perfected the CAPTURE SPHERE, which utilizes a MAGI-CHANICAL (Jacque's coined phrase) engine to capture magical creatures in a special neutralizing barrier. They have recently been requested to work on an accessory version, so that people can train their FOXNITES without the critters teleporting around everywhere, as Foxnites are wont to do.

He just has to put the finishing touches on a prototype, and then go through the painstakingly long TESTING process. Unfortunately, he and Jacque are meeting with a special CLIENT today, which seemingly won't give him the free time to finish up the "Pocket" Monster-Capturing Sphere.

BUT WAIT! As Marshal flicks on the lights to the BACK ROOM, he is assailed by one of the BATTLE BOTS that are currently in development. The doofy mechanical golem attacks Marshal on Jacque's orders as another one of his spontaneous training sessions. Marshal is not exactly gifted in combat, physical or magical, but has quite the stash of tools and items to use. His main weapon is the HAMMER, which is mostly used to make things. He throws a few BLINDER BOMBS at the Bot, and then knocks it around with a Hammer. However, the Bot is quick to counter, and quickly gains the upper-hand with a surprising new feature. Put in a corner, Marshal accidentally utilizes one of his SPECIAL POINTS, and erupts in a pulse of

TELEKINESIS !!

The Battle Bot is ripped apart piece-by-piece. Marshal starts panicking--his powers are hidden to all but a select few, and Jacque is not one of them! Psychic abilities are extremely rare for humans--almost unheard of--but not for those of DEMI-FEY blood (that is to say, human and fey ancestry). And as we all know, Demi-Fey are not allowed in the Royal City. N-not that Marshal is one or anything, that would be crazy-talk! It's all just one huge, insane misunderstanding!

He tries to tidy up, maybe put the Bot back together, but it's just not happening. Jacque comes in and grills Marshal as to why his back room is in such a state of ruin! The engineer apologizes, and lies, saying that the Battle Bot had some sort of weird malfunction and just sort of exploded???

Jacque is ticked off, but seems appeased by this explanation. Nonetheless, he demands that Marshal clean up and then go out and run some errands for him. Marshal obliges, quickly cleans up, and is out the door with a list of ERRANDS to run. He travels about the Upper Aem, and has an accidental run-in with a cloaked girl being tailed by a Foxnite. The two talk for a moment; she recognizes him instantly, and fangirls over meeting the inventor of the Monster-Catching Ball. He lets slip that he and Jacque are working on a more portable version, which is an exciting prospect. The girl has to quickly excuse herself, however.

DEVEN overhears this exchange from the shadows, and wonders if he should pay a visit to his associate Jakob, who is pals with this notorious inventor-type. We follow Deven for a moment, as he tracks down Jakob in the latter's hide-out. He stumbles into the young rogue talking with a MYSTERIOUS STRANGER, and also overhears some interesting details. Namely, Jakob will be richly rewarded if he is able to “deploy a SPECIAL ITEM near the Ace Engineering Shoppe. The Stranger vanishes as Deven interrupts, and Jakob seems to contemplate this proposition.

Meanwhile, Marshal is finishing up his shopping at a Tea Store. He has been instructed to pick up some fine tea leaves for Jacque's important meeting. Fine tea to impress fine company, Marshal assumes. As he hand-selects some particular aromatic leaves, he overhears a confrontation between the proprietor of the store and some sort of strangely familiar pink-haired girl. The Manager states that he does not want "her kind" of riff-raff in his store, and demands she leaves. The girl (rather crassly) tries to explain that she was just tryin to buy some bloody tea, but the Manager will have nothing of it.

Marshal, against his better judgment, intervenes, and offers to pay for the girl. She blushes, and tries to hide her face, while the Manager begrudgingly offers the tea at a marked-up price. When all is said and done, Marshal and the Girl are outside of the shop, the engineer with a bag of absurdly-priced, decidedly low-grade tea leaves. He sighs, and asks the girl if he knows her from somewhere...

She refuses to answer, instead fleeing the scene using some Shadow Magicks. It's then that Marshal recognizes her, using her signature stylings...

~~~

We then backpedal to earlier in the day, following a new character. A familiar pink-haired and foul-mouthed young Shadow Thief (slash Assassin slash Ninja slash Beautiful Special Snowflake) named HEXANA MAKIRA.

She is meditating in her HIDE-OUT, which is a thing that most of the Rogues in the ROGUES GUILD have. Some simply rent out flats or other conventional living spaces, but Hexana lives in an abandoned Mausoleum in the LOWER AEM CRYPTYARD. Well, all Mausoleums are pretty abandoned, but this one is hollowed out of all gross tombs and corpses, and it links to the underground system of tunnels utilized by the Rogues Guild.

Various items pertaining to Hexana's interest are strewn messily about her living space. An exotic incense burns in the center of her hide-out, and there are shelves full of eclectic items that she has stolen from her VICTIMS. A strange stew bubbles in the corner, suspended over an open magical flame. Hex loves to garden, and her hide-out is surrounded by a variety of flora. Inside of the mausoleum, she tends to exotic mosses and mushrooms. Hardy things that need to light or sustenance. She can relate! XD

But the time for meditation comes to a close. She has just received a SPIRIT MESSAGE from one of the otherworldly beings that contacts her whenever she zones out. HEXANA reads the message using her THIRD EYE, a manifestation of her PSYCHIC POWERS. As a half-fey, she has psychic abilities, and hers allow her to be privy to messages from the dead, dying, and soon-to-be doomed. She also receives strange visions from what she assumes are the SPIRITS, but it's hard to tell, and they usually don't make a lot of sense.

Her usual spiritual contact, the enigmatic NOX, has just instructed her to do another one of his weird tasks. Though she usually uses her Third Eye to navigate the causes of death of those in the Royal City (and then profit off of their demise by involving herself as a convenient assassin!), Nox's bizarre requests have been a nice change of pace. Hex doesn't fully understand this mysterious spiritual being, or his machinations, but she sure does enjoy fucking with people at his behest!

She leaves her hide-out and quickly navigates through the Lower Aem to get to the Upper Aem. She has been targeting the Upper Aem and its spoiled populace more than ever lately. Whether coincidental or of her own subtle desires, it's hard to say. Dead-Man's-Requests are sort of finicky. So she sneaks into the open window of an Upper Aem flat (which we know belongs to a certain Marshal Mavid!) and moves a single piece on his expensive chess set. Hexana doesn't usually have the patience for chess, but Nox just seems to love it, and is particular festooned with playing this long game with whatever rich nerd lives in this house.

Hexana makes note of this apartment, how orderly and fancy it is. Some real loser must live here, she figures. Decent taste in tea, though. She leafs through the cabinets, but has to flee when she hears someone stir in the bedroom.

Skedaddling onto her next errand for the day, Hex decides to meet up with her fellow psychic. ZEPHRY is a fortune-teller who runs his shop out of a gross little tent in the Lower Aem. She doesn't particularly care for his brand of (phony!) cloud-based predictions, but sometimes it's nice to just be in the company of another psychic. Zephry has some exotic tea prepared, having foresaw her arrival, and the two exchange pleasantries. Hex asks him if he knows anything about the QUEEN, and what she's been up to lately. She certainly is mysterious, withdrawing from the public ever since her foreign new ADVISERS arrived from overseas.

Zephry states that he believes the advisers are leading the Queen astray, down a path of darkness. Hexana responds that she doesn't really care, since the world is doomed anyways. The fortune teller muses on this, and asks Hexana why she thinks the world is at its end. She responds that she has seen visions of Aether being destroyed ever since she was very young. She supposes it comes with the territory of seeing all doomed fates. What she fails to mention is that she has foreseen her own hand in the world's demise, though not even she understands how or under what circumstances. She just knows that she wants any way to escape this nasty fate. Zephry states that he trusts her visions, and that perhaps the Queen's advisers have something to do with it.

Their visit is interrupted as Jakob arrives on the scene. Hexana recognizes the boy from the Rogues' Guild, but the two aren't exactly friendly. She excuses herself (but not before messing with Jakob--telling him that he's going to die soon, etc. etc.), knowing that Zephry would prefer to see a paying customer, and thinks long and hard about what she has seen. Returning to her Hide-Out, Hexana prepares some tea, and then is prompted to meditate. She receives a series of strange visions, in which she is someone else--a girl with blonde hair, a deadly scarf, and she's on some sort of stage. There's another girl there too, with raven hair and yellow eyes...

It's a strange one for sure, and not one that she has ever seen before. Hexana isn't sure if it's a vision of the doomed, or something else entirely. She is then contacted by Nox, who tells her of a new mission. He tells her that this one is more than just a silly chess game; the entire fate of the world could be at stake. She must defuse a BOMB.

She tries to channel an inquiry with the mysterious spirit, but the line goes silent. Hexana contemplates on this, and has a strong inkling that her chess-game foe has the answer that she seeks.

Vanishing in a POOF, she tracks her quarry to the Upper Aem. Perched alongside the home that she routinely invades, she peaks in to see the engineer go about his daily duties. This is the first time she has caught a distinct glimpse of the man that she has been stalking on Nox's behalf; she experiences feelings of nostalgia, and instantly has a flashback to her young childhood in the ROGUES' GUILD.

A young boy, her age, with green hair. He always felt familiar, and yet so distant. At the time, he was a young up-and-comer who had just made a name for himself outside of the Guilds' tendrils. He was bright--a builder. Could do wonders with scrap metal that people brought him. Hexana was always on the sidelines; that is, until several years later, when she honed her PSYCHIC abilities and became a successful assassin. But by then, her friend had gone.

But she couldn't face him now--not like this!

Marshal leaves his house, and she is quick to follow. However, unbeknownst to Hex, she is also being followed. Jakob, our thief friend from earlier, is perched atop of Marshal's apartment, glaring at her. He disappears in a flash, and we follow him for a moment to an unknown location--it appears to be a room in the Royal Castle. The Blood Brigade and their leader are discussing something around a square podium in the dark.

Jakob appears, at the edge of the hall, and walks towards them. He stops for a moment and listens into the conversation. Blood announces that a plan is set in motion, despite their "Old Boss's" intents. The "New Boss" wants the Aether Heroes stopped, so a bomb has been placed outside of The Machinist's shop. Kholer retorts that Prince Tyrath should be en route to rendezvous with the engineers....right on time. Not a second too late, he says. Blood laughs with approval. Flem suddenly speaks up, and points to the corner.

Jakob shivers, and suddenly reveals himself to the room of Voidwalkers. He states that a mysterious girl is following Marshall, a report that is typical of him to make. He has been following Marshal at an arm's length for the past several weeks, acting as another pair of eyes for the Brigade in exchange for information--Jakob could become the new Lord of Thieves at the rate he's accruing valuable info! However, this was the first time he'd been asked to actually DO anything for them, and placed that weird, SPIDERY-LOOKING THING outside of the Shoppe.

Blood curses at the news, but thanks Jakob. He mutters that the Old Boss must be recruiting a new pair of hands to put a stop to their plans. But, "everything is already in motion". He issues Kholer a command to ensure that everything "keeps spinning". Jakob tries to inquire about whatever fate might befall his friend, Marshal, but he is brusquely dismissed by the Brigade.

Back to Hex! She has successfully stalked Marshal to his place of work. There seems to be a lot of activity at this so-called Ace Engineering Shoppe. Only able to spy from outside, she's able to decipher that a member of the Royal Family will be coming by later in order to facilitate some sort of contract with the shop! Wow, the Royal Family?? Really?? Who gives a fuck.

A sudden explosion in the shoppe sends her falling down the cliff-side, but she is quick to recover. Marshal appears to be on the move, so she follows him once again, determined to find some clues about this absurd bomb. The Machinist takes a circuitous route around the Upper Aem, doing a bunch of errands, and eventually comes into a fancy tea shop. Hex follows him inside and watches from a distance. The dude picks out some tea, which she deems to be a good brand. She has another brief flashback in which she and some of the newbies of the Rogues Guild sat around drinking some kind of crudely-brewed tea back in the day...

Distracted, Hex bumps into something and knocks a very valuable-looking pot off of one of the shelves! The clerk of the tea shop immediately accosts her and demands her to pay for it and to leave, and she is easily pulled into the argument. Marshal suddenly appears and offers to pay for whatever she broke. The clerk upcharges him, but he begrudgingly hands over the cash and the two are shoo'd out of the store. Hex is beside herself with embarrassment. As Marshal asks if he knows her from somewhere, she just sheepishly vanishes in a burst of shadow and appears on a rooftop in the distance.

Marshal picks up where he left off, and shrugs off the mysterious girl. Familiar as she seemed, and happy he was to pay for her, he really needs to get back to the Shoppe. The royalty is about to arrive! He skedaddles back to the Shoppe and exchanges pleasantries with Jacque. The loudmouth owner berates him for running late, and tells him to get the place (and himself) ship-shape for the arrival of PRINCE TYRATH.

Marshal gulps, and obliges. He's heard some crazy tales about the Prince of the Royal Kingdom, and knows it's time to get serious. If the Royal Family is commissioning them for something, it had better be good. The back of the Shoppe is full of a bunch of half-finished tools and potential weapons—surely one of these things would draw the Prince's attention! Marshal starts sweeping, organizing, and cleaning up. He puts away a bunch of loose parts, and stacks all the mostly-finished items on display. The BattleBot is still destroyed, but he puts the head out as a display item (it looks pretty cool). Eventually, the place looks fantastic! Bombs, jetpacks, and all sorts of crazy tools are put on display next to the BattleBot head as well as a SPECIAL PROJECT of Marshal's. He sets out a small metal device that looks like a narrow, hollow hexagon. It has several rolls of wire sticking out of it and looks perfectly cool (if completely useless, Marshal notes).

Hexana is hovering about outside the Shoppe. She's trying to commune with Nox, but the spirit is remaining enigmatic and useless, as usual. So she continues snooping about, until the catches wind that the Prince (seriously, who even CARES about that guy??) is on his way. She's tempted to pack up and be on her way, when something emerges from the shadows on the cliff beneath the shop. It's a strange, golem-looking creature with a spherical body and four stunted legs (a Gate Guardian). It's crawling up the side of the cliff, and suddenly wedges itself below the Shoppe. Hexana goes to investigate.

Meanwhile, Marshal and Jacque are all spiffed up for the visit. There's a blare of trumpets in the distance, and a squad of guards flanking a young man emerge in the Upper Aem. Marshal recognizes the dwarfish guy with the fox-like hair as Prince Tyrath. He and Jacque bow, as is customary, and welcome them into the Shoppe. A strange dark figure in a trench-coat and hat is accompanying the Prince (it's Blood). Introductions are made, the Prince is a little shit, but the two store proprietors take it in stride, ever the polite hosts. The Prince also introduces his adviser, who seems to be a man of little words. He and Marshal exchange glances, and the mechanic becomes instantly unnerved.

Tyrath demands to see their wares. Marshal takes him to the display room that he organized from the storage room. The Prince rummages through the gadgetry, commenting every now and then. Everything seems to be “boring” or “pedestrian”. Marshal sweats and asks the Prince what he's interested in, and the Prince replies weaponry. 'The Kingdom is in peril, and only my Mother and I can defend it!' He claims.

None of the weapons seem to catch the Prince's eye. He comments that maybe his advisers were wrong and this Shoppe wasn't worth his time, despite all the cool things they've created for the Royal Militia. Marshal shifts his embarrassment to frustration: he can't ignore the Prince acting like a spoiled little brat! However, before the mechanic can defend himself, Tyrath lights up at the SPECIAL PROJECT. He demands to know what it is, and Marshal explains that it's supposed to be a high-tech transportation portal, but is having some....serious design flaws. He can't channel enough power to make it work!

Tyrath claims that he's seen the device in his DREAMS, and that Marshal needs to build another—this one bigger and actually functional. It will save the Kingdom from an attack that he has foreseen...invaders from another dimension, sword-wielding demons, orb-throwing banshees, etc. Marshal isn't really following that, but seems genuinely interested in building the device. However, sudden rumbling interrupts their business transaction.

The Gate Guardian has implanted itself at the base of the wall, and a timer has appeared on its face. Hexana is growing increasingly-desperate as she attempts to knock the Bomb away with her scythe, with magic, etc. Suddenly contacted by Nox, the spirit tells her that everything is now residing on disabling this explosive. It was placed here by the Queen's advisers as an assassination attempt on both the Prince and one of the AETHER HEROES. Hex tries to question what the fuck a “Hero” even means, but Nox just tells her to focus on disabling the bomb.

A knife is then launched from nowhere, and pins one of Hex's baggy sleeves to the wall. Annoyed by this, she sees the perpetrator: a shadowy masked guy in black clothes and with a bunch of knives (Kholer!). He knows that she's trying to disable the explosive, and engages Hex in combat. She fights using her scythe and several Earth/Shadow spells. Kholer obviously is not anticipating this girl to put up a fight, and seems to be outmatched. He instead tries to goad her into forsaking the bomb to its design. If it blows up, it will annihilate one of the Aetherian Heroes, one of the key players in this whole messy quest. And it will also get rid of a certain meddling Prince...

Hex doesn't know what any of this means, she just knows that she can't let any harm come to that weirdo Engineer. Nox's voice rings in her head once more, that she must stop the bomb at all costs. She asks why, and is only told that it is vital to keeping the fate of this world on track. She continues fighting off Kholer, disarming the knife-wielder, and ruminating on things. Hexana knows the fate of this world: it will eventually be destroyed, and it will all be because of her. If it can be averted, in any way, then maybe...

She blocks one final surprise attack from Kholer, and he states that fine, she won, and she can de-activate the explosive, yadda yadda. Hex approaches the strange bomb creature as the timer steadily ticks down. She could easily dislodge it from the wall using one of her magic attacks and it would tumble out of the city...but...

Kholer senses her hesitation, and uses it to his advantage. He tells her that she is a Hero, and the Heroes are destined to bring about the ends of this world and many more under the guidance of forces they do not understand. He taunts her to just throw the bomb away, since it's an inevitability, and they can't possibly fight the predestined destruction of Aether and its “Twin”. Hex yells at him to shut the hell up, and releases a burst of Earth Magic—knocking Kholer away from her and off the wall. Only several seconds remain on the timer. With one final decision, she grits her teeth and vanishes in a plume of shadowy smoke, allowing the Bomb-Guardian to detonate.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!


An explosion on the cliffside rocks the Ace Engineering Shoppe. The whole structure begins to break apart as gadgets rain from the shelves. Marshal and Prince Tyrath have no idea what is going on; the Prince clutches the SPECIAL PROJECT and attempts to flee from the quickly-exploding establishment, but is K.O.'d by falling debris. Marshal also gets thrown to the ground. Barely aware or able to process what's happening, he releases a last-ditch blast of psychic energy that shields himself (and Prince Tyrath) from the carnage.

He later awakens, shaken but otherwise unharmed, from the rubble. A sole member of Prince Tyrath's guard has survived the explosion, alongside the Mysterious Stranger in the hat. Everyone else, including Marshal's mentor, Jacque, has been killed. Prince Tyrath accuses Marshal of treason and CONSPIRING WITH THE ENEMIES!!! Marshal is nearly apprehended by the single guard, when Blood speaks, a glint in his eye. He informs Prince Tyrath that clearly Marshal saved him from the explosion using his psychic powers as a half-fey. Marshal is ready to deny this, but Prince Tyrath has an immediate change of heart and declares Marshal a hero for saving him. He states that Marshal will now immediately be promoted to the ROYAL MACHINIST, and will reside in the Castle. He is to complete defense projects for the Kingdom, and his resources and rewards will be limitless if he accepts this most-esteemed title.

With Jacque dead, his prized shop in shambles, and his livelihood ruined, Marshal has little choice but to accept. He dutifully accompanies Prince Tyrath's strange entourage to pursue his new career.

Jakob and Hexana have both watched the scene unfold, on rooftops opposite of each other. Both of the Rogues aren't sure what the future holds, but both know that they've made some serious fucking mistakes.

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(Actually longer than I expected it to be!! I think that's mainly because there were so many characters and scenes to describe, when really in "Adventure" or comic form, you'd just see a bunch of pictures that would more or less give you the iea of what was happening. But yeah, irrelevance abounds! Why am I even still writing this stuff???)
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