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Krul

Blood and Steel

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Several miles north of Phoenix-Vegas Arcology, there were a small group of humanoids, looking to be a mix of human and elf,  trying to make their way toward the arcology following the river, presently numbering about a eighteen, plus about a 3 children, they were in old van being pulled by a pair of animals that looked like horses, except for a pair of rams horns an a group of guards on all sides.  They were fighting off what appeared to be a swarm of giant spiders, huge massive ogres with clubs, and armed lizard men.  

Fighting the attackers were several individuals with clear cybernetic parts, guns and the mark so the Legion of the Dead on them, and another who was clearly a Faery Knight of the Dawn Court with enchanted weapons and armor.  Meanwhile while several inside the van would fire at the swarm moving around them, and someone at the head of the van was calling on some sort of communicator.

“This is rescue unit 5 calling arcology command, we are under attack by multiple hostile, requesting support from any unit."  

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It was a strange world Sigil found herself in.

The Marches of Faerie were in some ways 'close' to the mortal realm, even experiencing a kind of passage of time, albeit erratic and unpredictable. It did not, however, reflect the events that transpired there. Even so, Sigil had wondered in the past why no new Queen of Winter was rising to contest her. Why the reign of Summer was so extended...to the point that the turn of seasons threatened to press on with no new Queen at all.

Now she thought she understood.

The chaos in the mortal world had simply prevented it. The Queens of the Marches were all halfbloods, their ties to both Faerie and Earth binding them to those middle grounds. Born among mortals, they were pulled by their own fate and the seasons' turning across the Mists to the Marches when the time was right. Only here, no girl with the touch of Winter upon her had survived long enough. Or perhaps they had elected to remain on Earth as one of these new quasi-mortal creatures.

When Sigil had left the world, all she'd known was her family's cottage, and the nearby village where farmers met every so often to sell to one another. The countrysides were now riven with crumbling monuments to a time when humankind had built towers the equal of the Whitespire, fortresses that would make Icecrown tremble in envy. Vehicles that drove themselves without beasts, weapons that spat fire and thunder. Human beings had invented magic without magic. And then they'd lost it all.

Sigil could have warned them. Nothing came without cost...and the longer the cost took to become manifest, the weightier it became.

She was in an 'arcology' now...a word that she had come to think meant a 'city in a bottle,' though truthfully it was really just an enclosed city. Like the walled cities of old she'd known, in a way. They looked different, but their purpose was much the same. The name of the arcology was cause for hope...it was one she embraced as a sign she had found the right place. Phoenix. Well, and 'vegas' but that was mortal gobbledygook, surely. A place for humankind to be reborn. Perhaps a place for herself as well.

Her 'apartment,' a fancy word that meant 'house inside a larger building,' was incredible to her eyes. Polished floor and walls. Heatless lamps. Various seemingly magical things powered by lightning in copper braids. Even Faerie would be hard pressed to find something more magical, even if she would have preferred more space. The glamours on the 'television' (a kind of flat panel that showed images and sounds) were entertaining enough, but she preferred more immersive illusions. Then again, having expected peasant huts and cold, dank castles, Sigil had little cause to complain.

The small black object called a 'phone' chimed at her. It was currently nestled in its little home, after having signaled it needed to sleep and recover its power. Sigil liked to think of it as a thing alive, though she understood it was more properly a device of apparently magic properties. It could send and hear voices from a great distance. The chime meant it was hearing one now.

Sigil lifted it from the cradle and with a frown, tapped the spot on its face she'd been instructed to. The face of it, once glossy black, lit up with an array of circles and lines and words. They were confusing, so she focused on the most important one. A green and red oval. The red would reject the voice. The green would activate the link. She pressed the green.

"Hello, is this, uh...Sigil?" asked the voice on the other end.

She nodded, though the 'phone' did not allow them to see one another. "This is she." Her voice was gentle, soft and warm at the moment, with a rich purring brogue.

"This is Jacob Hines, Arcology Command," the voice introduced himself. Sigil frowned slightly. Courtesy was that the speaker introduced themselves first, but the fey of the Dawn Court had carefully explained such niceties were often overlooked among mortalkind, and that it was not a sign of disrespect. "We have a situation outside the city that we could use your help with. A rescue unit en route back has been attacked, and they're requesting immediate assistance. You've indicated you can travel long distances quickly?"

"If the touch of Summer is on the land," she agreed.

There was a pause. "The...what?"

Sigil smiled at the confusion in his voice. "Flowers and all manner of growing things, ripe and mature."

"I, uh, all right. It's on the river several miles outside the city. I can send you coordinates..."

"No. Your numbers, they don't mean anything to me. Can you put a map on my 'phone?' I just need to see where it is, compared to where I am."

"All right. Let me know when you're ready."

Her phone chimed again, a little differently. That was the noise indicating an eeemale had been heard. Similar to the voice link, but it sent writing instead. The Dawn Court ambassador had been most patient in teaching her how to see the eemale writing. And, ah yes...not just writing, but also maps. Magic indeed.

She squinted at the tiny image, figured out that she could move it with her fingertip across the slick front of the phone. A white dot showed the Arcology. A blue one where she was meant to go.

"Very well. I will aid your rescue team."

"All right, you'll coordinate on site with..."

Sigil set the phone down. Mortals did so love to prattle on, in this world and in this time as in any other. She went to the little garden on the deck out the back of her 'apartment,' which had been built on a platform overlooking the Arcology. It was one of many, which diluted some of the joy of the vista, but more importantly it had access to sunlight and water, and the Dawn Court...when furnishing the place...had arranged a large collection of flowers and pretty shrubs in the center.

She went to them and held her hands out. A breeze kicked up, swirling around the flowers, and herself. Petals were torn off and carried around in a vortex that twisted about her. Too many petals...more than there could possibly be. Surely the flowers would be stripped bare...but more came, until Sigil was completely swallowed in a storm of fragrant colors.

The breeze died down and the petals scattered. Sigil, the once-queen of the Fey Marches, was gone.

====

The air around Rescue Team 5 was riven by the sharp, staccato cracks of gunfire, the cries of men injured and dying, and the roaring of giants. Through that came a sudden gale, bearing a twisting line of colorful flecks. They spun and twirled dizzily to the river's edge not far off the road, where leaves from the underbrush there was torn up by the wind and joined the circling petals. Together they formed into a kind of small tornado, or dust devil, only with leaves and flowers instead of dust. From that pillar of churning vegetation stepped a woman.

Pale-skinned and freckled, with brilliant red hair that was wild and whipping in the wind, and clad in a 'tee shirt' and 'jeans' that she'd been assured were quite fashionable for the times. Beautiful, but tinged with an aura of unobtainability, like the memory of a childhood infatuation.

She turned to see the convoy under attack, and began moving purposefully towards it. As she did, lines of light coursed over and around her, drawing breastplate, greaves, helmet in outlines. Despite that seeming insubstantiality though, when a rock was hurled at her by a giant, it shattered to fragments and left her unharmed.

In her hand appeared a sword of flames, which she pointed at the offending giant.

Her voice was not gentle when she spoke now. Now it boomed like the thunder that came just before a summer's downpouring.

"Surrender, Flee, or Die."

A white hot line of fire surged from the end of her sword and struck the ogre who'd struck her with the thrown rock. Immediately the creature was consumed, howling and throwing itself desperately to the ground as it was immolated. All that was left of it in the end was a mound of sticky ashes and a thick plume of greasy, foul-smelling smoke.

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The howl of an engine broke through the gunfire and screams.  The motorcycle looked demonic.  All polished metal with chains and skulls etched carefully across its surface.  Two straight chains, their links welded taught extended downward to grip the axle of the front tire.  The wheels were exploding with fire and the bike left a streak of flames behind it as it rolled down the road, screaming as the engine revved.  A horse skull, polished and metal, rested twixt the handlebars, its eyes were burning flame.

The man upon the bike, his wild hair whipped in the wind, his thick beard and dark eyes paid no mind to the conflict happening around him.  When one drove through giant country and didn't bring weapons to rid oneself of giants... well... you sort ended up getting what you deserved.  Emotionless he cut a wide arc around the battle, his face expressing some dissatisfaction that this skirmish was taking up both available lanes of traffic and that was inconsiderate to other motorists.  He glanced over, seemingly unimpressed with the  flaming pixie raining fire down on an ogre.  Did she just seriously just try to talk to them?  They didn't seem big English speakers to him.  Still though, he had to admit it had flair, and he had a soft spot for that Old Testament shit.

As he passed the center of the small convoy his eyes locked on a dark haired beauty.  Scared, fearing for her life.  She must have been in her mid twenties, busty, beautiful, and positively convinced that these were going to be her last moments on the planet.  He smirked and Ruin squealed out a complaint by launching fire and smoke from its tail pipes and flaring its eyes.  Ruin halted and the man got off his bike, looking like six and a half feet of angry biker with an axe to grind.  Thick leathers and steel-toed boots touched the firmament and the ground seemed to recoil at his steps.  War was a man made concept, it was out of balance with nature and his very existence was antithesis to everything that made the planet thrive.  He walked swiftly towards the battle, tipping a large bottle of whiskey to his lips, swallowing a large measure of its contents in several powerful gulps before he rose his arm and smashed the bottle to the ground.

An ogre noticed his approach and howled a battle cry.  With no fear the man continued walking forward, offering a belch in reply to the mighty war cry.  Down came the massive club that was once a small tree upon the wild wanderer when suddenly and swiftly it stopped.  The man was stood there, arm raised, the club in his hand and held tightly.  He looked at the ogre as the people in the vans watched the newcomer as intently as they watched the fiery summer fae.  Obviously, no mortal had the power to stop an ogre's swing like that.  "I found out this morning someone cancelled my Columbia House subscription.  I'm not getting my twelve CDs this year."

The ogre roared, jerking at his club but unable to free it from the vice-like grip of his opponent.  He finally let go and just thundered his fists on he chest and howled.

"Yeah," he nodded.  "Pretty much my reaction too."

A swift moment later the ogre flew backwards, bowling over rows and rows of lizard men and fellow giants.  The man waded into the fray, speed and power in perfect balance like he was born to every form of conflict.  In flaming streaks from his hands formed the outline of something before it became solid and real.  Five or six pieces of re-bar twisted and braided into the thick metal haft, atop it was nothing more that a giant block poured concrete that looked like it was torn from the earth long ago.  With every swing it rained corpses a split second later.

Surrounded now by scores of enemies he was a buoy of calm in an ocean of misery.  His eyes seemed to glow like red embers as he played testimony to the fact that there was no weapon in the world more powerful than a human soul on fire.  He continued to fight; the body count continued to rise.

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For those not enthralled by the chaos and carnage of the battle, or the stunning redhead wielding  a flaming blade, They would notice that for a moment there was a second sun in the sky, one that was drawing closer with each moment, until finally in a flash of light, corresponding to the slaying of an ogre who found himself suddenly without a head.    A beautiful woman, Golden blonde hair  flowing behind her, an aura of sunlight wreathing her, landed on the ground in another part of the battlefield, her wings which seemed to be of feathered sunlight vanishing, but the aura of light which wreathed her didn't, and two large golden armored gauntlets surrounded her forearms and fists.     

 

The Lizardmen, they'd never heard of such things, and thought only to slay her, drowning her under waves of numbers, moved toward her.  Maia smiled, and drew back her fists, the faint sound of a gun being cocked, missed in the din of battle.   Punching forward she  sent a blast of magical power crashing into the nearest throng  of Lizardmen, blowing off limbs with explosive force, and then another group with the other fist.   Blast after blast crushed more foes,  before some finally drew close enough to engage her from behind.   Dodging spear and clubs and crude blades, she wasn't quite the Avatar of combat as others, but the mighty blows of her fists, feet, and weapons were beyond what a normal mortal could manage.  Smashing and crushing all who stood before her.


Through it all, Maia smiled.  She enjoyed fighting and moved to drive the rest of the Lizardmen away, knowing more from the Arcology were likely enroute.   She was quite thankful that she didn't need to take her true form to fight, as she'd been warned to be careful about who knew it.

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Back in the Arcology hospital, Kamala Kuhn sighed into a table, wrestling between her need for more rest and the pressing urge to get back out of the breakroom and into the seemingly-endless task of mending the hurts of the people here. Four days into the second time she'd stopped here for supplies, she was struck by how *much* of everything they had here compared to the wastelands. So many useful things from Before. So many people. So many people getting hurt. So many getting sick. So many getting mad at not having enough things out of imagined and real need. All she had to do was open her mind's ear to the many deaths around her here in this 'hospital' to start feeling overwhelmed and insignificant.

The blue-haired healer could understand how the other Throne-touched could be sucked into places like this, feel like they had to stay here and be unable to share their gifts with all those scattered through the wastes. Understand, but not condone, not in her heart of hearts. She made a deal with the leaders of this place. One week's work in exchange for a few mules worth of supplies and a volunteer or two to accompany her back out where those really in need of miracles dwelled outside the walls of this pen.

She stopped herself before she let her frustrated thoughts take her any further into the city sheep vs country goats metaphor. They deserved her respect, even the ones who really did seem to have the survival instincts of a panicked sheep.

She looked up from her arms at the 'clock' on the wall, doing math on the fingers of one hand to figure out it was only 22 minutes till her scheduled mass cure of the hospital and another 'shift'. Strange word, 'shift', as if there was a time it wasn't the right time to help people, but then again, given how much there was to do here all the time... A smile quirked at the vague memory of being helped to a couch by Dr. Niven after falling asleep on her feet.

The speaker in the corner of the room squawked to life, "External Triage. External Triage. All personnel be advised we have an incoming External triage. All personnel be..."

That banished her malaise in a burst of purpose, Kamala Kuhn shooting to her feet, grabbing her bag of arcane supplies, and walking as fast as she could for the emergency room in a set of borrowed scrubs.

Spoiler

Medic on stand by barring any fast travel. :)

 

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Tanith didn't like the arcologies. Oh she understood the need for them and that the human race, her race, probably wouldn't have survived without them, but still there was some thing about them that she, deep down inside her soul, didn't like. So she avoided them when she could which was usually always. But not this time.

She had heard about a mission the settlements had put together to to go to the Pheonix Vegas Arc to make some sort of deal to reestablish the electricity lines or something like that. She didnt care about that she wanted to see the Dam. Something that big that had been bulit by man not be Paragon's and not only that but back when technology had been almost at the basics of industraliztion. She wanted to see that, so she signed on as an escort, and that is why she was there when all hell broke loose.

When the alarm sounded she had been on the dam itself a very long way from the action. If she squinted she could just make out what might have been the dust from the chase. One of the Dam workers who had relayed the alert to the damn security had explained as best he knew what was going on, and Tanith had over heard.

“Ain't no way anyone can reach em in time, poor sods are goners. But we need to be alert in case it's a diversion for an attack on the dam.” The technician had said.

Tanith looked around and saw one of the soldier/security guys walking toward her. “Ma'am we have to secure the dam I'm gonna have to ask you to...”

“Let me have that.” Tanith interrupted the man and pointed at the scoped hunting rifle he carried. “I need the scope to see whats down there.”

It wasn't just the woman's looks or even the star she wore on her jacket collar that said she was some sort of law. The guard couldn't tell you why but he found himself un-slinging the rifle and handing it to her anyway. “You might be able to see but that rifle won't reach that far.”

“Let me worry about that.”

Tanith took the rifle, an old browning 30-06 lever action with a 4-12 X 40 scope, she threw the rifle to her shoulder and dialed the scope to max magnification.

“Can ya see anything?”

Tanith ignored the question and sighted in on the dust cloud she could make out the tiny figures even with the scopes magnification they were still small and detail was lacking. Then a dust devil swooped in from nowhere and left a woman with red hair and a sword of fire standing facing the oncoming horde. About the same time a flaming motorcycle skidded to a stop and a huge man casually got off the bike and commenced to battle the raiders.

“Yeah actually I'm seeing a lot of shit” she said as she moved the scope back and forth. The red head was holding her own with that fiery sword and the man was as well although he seemed to be surrounded by a lot more of the bad guys. Tanith kept moving back and forth between the two when she caught sight of a particularly nasty looking orc with what looked like a bazooka. This orc was not in the general melle and as Tanith watched he lifted the rocket launcher and took aim. With a quick shift she followed the line of aim and saw the bike rider who was unaware engaged as he was with ten or twenty other miscreants. “Shit!”

Tanith shifted the rifle back and took the shot, then worked the lever and moved to another long distant target and squeezed the trigger again.

At the scene of the battle Dread was caught up in the battle furor and didn't see the bazooka until the last second. He saw the flame jet from the tube saw the Tip of the round as it cleared the launcher and his eye also saw the bullet hit the rocket and then it was all a ball of fire rising into the sky scattering orc all around.

Sigil turned as another Goblin charged only to see it flung backwards as a bullet from somewhere cut it down.

Up on the dam Tanith worked the rifle slowly, methodically, taking great care picking her targets and sending rounds down range.

“Hey You got more bullets, right?”

Spoiler

took some liberties hope y'all dont mind

 

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Dread swept his arm over his face to shield himself from  the explosion.  His eye were alight with the reflection of the explosion as he smiled wide and raised a fist high.  "Wooo!"

His massive arms reached out and he grappled a lizardman, pulling him close by the nape of his collar like he was shaking it down in an alley.  "Did you see that!?" He  screamed at the poor lizardman who could only cry out in abject fear.  "Hahaha!"  Lizardman screamed loudly, his head bobbing like a bobble head perhaps in some prayer that this maniac would let him go.

He pulled it even closer, they were nose to nose and the jovial mirth left his expression as he said through grinding teeth.  "I live for this shit."  With a sudden motion he punched the creature in the jaw with enough force to break its neck.  It fell limp to the ground while he took a moment to observe the battlefield now that he knew someone had his back.

It wasn't good.  Even with all the assembled powers it was only a matter of time before the creatures realized they couldn't defeat the Paragons... but the convoy was still vulnerable.  These creatures were dumb, but they were driven by a desire to eat and survive, a desire Delgath knew all to well.  When survival was on the line, people and animals would do some pretty scary things to get their grub on.  He made a dash for the convoy.

"The Rider!" one of the passengers shouted.  "The Rider approaches!"  A fear swept over the van as he made his way to it.  Dread's legend was known to these people and they feared that he was finished with one side and was now going to decimate the other.

He saw the look of dread in their faces. As a boy growing up in the wastes he'd worn that look constantly, until he took it as his name.  By naming himself after his weakness he gained control over it and soon, fear was nothing more than a childish phase he'd gone through.  "Put it in neutral!"

Afraid, the driver just shook his 'no'.

Dread's shoulders relaxed and he raised an eyebrow at the man.  "Don't make me come in there," he said with the tone of a scolding parent.

The van was swiftly placed in neutral.

He leapt to the top of the van, not far from the floating pixie.  "We can't hold this line!  These people will die no matter the body count we rack up.  We need to move the vehicle!  Cover me."

He leapt down, thrashing a few monsters who'd congregated near the rear of the vehicle attempting to pry the rear door open.  As skilled as they were there were just too many of them... they needed something bigger than fists and fire.  "Brace yourselves!"  He shouted at those inside the van.  He saw his dark haired beauty once again in the van offered her a smile and a wink.  "Hold on to something!"

Deep down he touched that spark of the divine that separated him from humanity.  With a mighty cry he pushed the back of the van, running as fast as he could.  Since the weight of the van meant very little to him, he could run at a full pace even if it wasn't super speed.  It wasn't just so he could move the van, well, that was part of it, but the van was two tons of steel and framework that made an excellent battering ram.  As everyone hit the deck, he turned their coffin into a siege weapon, dozing over any opposition unfortunate enough to be in front of the vehicle.    Goblins and giant spiders became road kill in moments as he pushed forward.  With the van moved, they could prevent the enemy from surrounding them, they could force the enemy to face them head on.  They could form a line and hold it.  The soldiers kept pace as best they could, providing him with cover fire, trying to help him form a line.

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"Hold on back there!" Sota yelled as the old army truck barreled down the road, the skirmish drawing ever closer as she pushed the engine hard. She had was altered the moment the call for help came in and gathered up some reinforcements and taken a truck while Arcology Command tried to get the aid of the faerie and others. Now the fray was right before them, with the 'wagon' trying to make an escape.

She gave fair warning to those in front of her with several long blasts from the horn and then, at what most would consider to be the last possible moment, she slammed on the breaks, bringing the truck to a screeching halt beside the van-now-wagon, shielding it from one side with the truck. Immediately stone-tipped arrows began to rain down onto the vehicle from a group of lizardmen armed with bows on the ridge, mostly bouncing off the truck, but a few managed to stick here or there. She threw it in reverse and looked to the legionarre sitting beside her. 

"Take the wheel." she commanded as she swung open the door and hopped out. In a near instant, she became the target of the archers, who showed better than average accuracy. Each arrow that arced toward Sota encountered some sort of force field a few inched from her body. Each impact on the normally invisible field cause it shimmer with a hex grid for several inches around the impact before the arrow harmlessly bounced off. The young, blue-haired woman, apparently neither armed nor armored, ran over to the van and the large man pushing it alone.

"Thank you for the help. Let's see if we can get this party moving a bit faster, eh?" she said to Delgath, jogging beside him as she opened one of the rear doors.

"Can any of you drive?" she yelled into the van, catching only surprised and blank stares in response.

"If this van were fixed and, you know, a van, could any of you drive it?" she clarified as her field shimmer, deflecting another arrow.

"I- I can." a man responded as he reloaded a rifle quickly.

"Good. Then take the wheel and get the hell out of here. We'll try to save the animals if we can, but no guarantees." she said with a nod.

"But.. It's just a wagon n-" the man cut himself off, his eyes, along with the others inside, wide with amazement as a ripple of sparkling blue energy emanated from Sota's hand and washed over the van, leaving it fully repaired and restored as it passed. Dents, bare metal, rust and faded pain were replaced with a glossy perfect coat. Word and torn upholstery was new again. Broken glass was replaced. The empty engine compartment now had a new hood on it and a pristine new engine, with all of the gauges appearing once again in the dashboard. Where Delgtah had once been pushing a beaten up, make-shift wagon was now a seemingly brand new van with a mural of some nearly naked warrior woman riding a pegasus through a storm to battle a dragon.

"The tank's full. Get out of here. I brought some backup with me too. We'll mop up." Sota said with a smile and wink, closing the read doors on the van and giving them a few hard pats before the engine came to life, revved, the wheels squealed and the van began speeding away leaving behind a cloud of burnt rubber as two more arrows bounced off of her field.

"Okay. My turn." she quipped as she held her hands out toward the archers, clinched them into fists. The bracelets glowed again, this time sending forth electric blue beams that cut through the sky toward the ridge. Sota slowly moved her hands from side to side, raking the beam across several archers, blow them off the ridge.

 

Spoiler

Anybody who wants a lift out there could simply be on the truck Sota was driving

 

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A gunshot cracked, sending a bullet wreathed in a deathly black aura through a spider's body. A wave of more black radiance cut through more. Gary Norton, head of the Legion of the Dead walked forward as reinforcements of the Legion formed up behind him. Due to the sudden scramble to Sota's van, he hadn't had time to bring along any of the main zombie hordes. "Pick your targets, fire at will."

Then again, it didn't matter as Gary gestured again and the corpses of lizardmen and ogres rose to dumbly tear into their former companions. With all the Throne-bound present this was likely to be overkill. Although the joint force attacking a single caravan seemed just as extreme.

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"Are...are you hitting with those shots?" The tech standing by Tanith asked as he kept switching his gaze from her and the rifle she was firing rapidly and the distant cloud where the battle seemed to be happening at a distance of a couple of miles easily if not further.

"Mostly." Tanith was moving from monster target to monster target when she got one that was sorta clear she squeezed the trigger then moved on not even waiting to see if she hit. The distance was too long and there were two many of them. She passed the scope across the van to Check on the big guy and go the perhaps biggest surprise of the morning so far.

"Well fuck me, that is something you don't see every day."

The van which had been a horse drawn rusted hulk was now a sleek shiny Van like the ones you see in old hot rod magazines you can still find in the wasteland ruins.

With a laugh she continued shooting an dthe technician stood there holding the spare ammo she had asked for but never used.

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Aurea was outside the area claimed by the P-V Arcology, looking at places for possible expansion, two of her Dawn Guard in tow, when she received the alert about the convoy being attacked. Scouting had turned into a tryst under the sun, but fortunately, they had finished when the call came - Aurea already had her white leather pants on and was donning her pale green, diaphanous blouse, just barely opaque enough to preserve modesty, but leaving her slim shoulders and an expanse of spectacular bosom bare. The two Faerie Knights - Cerise, an unusually tall woman with unnatural, dark red hair plaited in a multitude of slim, intricate braids, and Jox, remarkably muscular for a Sidhe, though little taller than Aurea herself - finished buckling on their weapon harnesses.

"Come, friends, we ride," Aurea said, the beat of energetic drums adding a hint of urgency to her impossibly melodious voice and the subtle strains of music that clung to her like a heady perfume. She smiled playfully. "A ride of a different sort."

Her voice rose in a flowing aria and a soft, grey fog, faintly glowing as though struck by morning light began to rise. There were the sounds of muffled hoof beats, and an instant later, three unicorns appeared, rose-gold, silver, and pale blue, Aurea and her entourage of two mounting them on the run.

~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~

As the restored van began to pull ahead of the mob and the defenders formed a line to hold off the pursuit, three mounted figures came into sight on the far side of the river... then continued galloping across it as though it was solid ground. Two more Faerie Knights mounted on unicorns of silver and blue, spears set forward, matching their mounts' fluted horns, flanked another who led them.

Her mount a rose-gold with a golden horn, she was a creature of another sort. Fae and ravishing and sensual beyond compare, the sun seemed to make extra effort to shine on her, her shimmering multicoloured hair flowing behind with the speed of her passage, the song on her lips clear to all. Almost across the river, her voice crescendoed in a fierce cry of exultation and fury.

The power of her voice crumpled giant spiders like tissue paper then slammed into a bluff of rock, cracking it and sheering off the face of the bluff, to crush another orc with a makeshift rocket launcher that had been hidden from view. Then the three members of the Dawn Court were among the creatures.

The knights cut a path with blade and spear, deftly guiding their mounts with knees, never stopping. The woman leading them was armed with nothing more than her voice and presence alone and was more devastating by far. Ogres and lizardmen raised their weapons towards the audacious fae noblewoman and hesitated, their strikes going wide in the face of searing, vibrant, unbearable beauty. Her mellifluous voice of honey and thunder fractured bones and blasted her foes off their feet. Her luminous, violet eyes made ogres and lizardmen quail and some fall to their knees. Two brutes could do nought but serve the wondrous and terrible being before them, turning on their fellows at her graceful gesture and sultry request. Even her coy glances and soft caresses were a subtle weapon, assailing them unnoticed until it was too late..

Aurea and her knights' charge staggered the raiders' advance and after their pass, they wheeled around and joined the line of defenders. Once more, her voice rose in a haunting aria, thin, grey mist congealed from thin air, and more pastel coloured unicorns galloped onto the field to serve as mounts for those still afoot.

"Sorry, I'm late," Aurea said with warm amusement, languorous eyes knowing and mysterious. "But it seems like you all had it in hand."

~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~

Against just one divine being, the gathered forces might have been able to at least make this hard, but with the combined force of more then 1/2  dozen, they were no match for the collective power of this many godlings.   So much power concentrated in one place, that the air seemed to buzz with it, for those who were capable of sensing such things, which every one of the power's present were capable of.   The attacker's began to withdraw, almost as quickly as they appeared, one could of course pursue them, but not while escorting the refugees to safety.  

Of course, the next question might be, what was so important that such a large horde would be willing to attack a group of people in a bus so close to what might well be one of the strongest arcologies on this side of the north american continent.  Perhaps one of the refugees might be able to answer that question, some of them were wounded, but only in minor ways compared to what could have been.    

Meanwhile, perhaps more to the interest of the rescuer's, more then one individual had looks of gratitude, and one of the elders in the group looked around at the gathered powers and spoke up.  "Perhaps, it would be safer for one of you folks to carry the treasure that we have brought."  The middle aged woman withdrew something that was wrapped up, about the size of a human's head and unwrapped the jewel, appearing as  large amber  jewel, but it was also glowing with a golden light and now that you have seen it, you realize at least a good portion of the buzz of power is coming from this jewel.

pgv4.jpg

[NEW SCENE, Effort Committed for the Scene is recovered]

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As the bus sped away he knew the women and children would be safe.  He bear a look of surprise at the bus's transformation, hell, he made weapons appear from gouts of blood and fire and his motorcycle was a rage fueled animal spirit consumed by a desire to decimate all things.  'Weird' was pretty much par for the course in his life.

Still he knew the people would be safe, and while he'd not planned on fighting any battles today, and, truth be told, he generally steered clear of the Arcology weirdos, a battle did indeed take place, and there would be a feast and a celebration of victory and a time to honor the fallen and praise those who stood up to defend their own.  Booze.  Boobs.  Battle.

"God I love being me." he said quietly as soldier cheered and raised their weapons high in victorious celebration.  Several rushed him, praising his prowess and thanking him (and the others, but mostly him by Delgath's standards).

8 hours ago, Krul said:

"Perhaps, it would be safer for one of you folks to carry the treasure that we have brought."  The middle aged woman withdrew something that was wrapped up, about the size of a human's head and unwrapped the jewel, appearing as  large amber  jewel, but it was also glowing with a golden light and now that you have seen it, you realize at least a good portion of the buzz of power is coming from this jewel.

The large savage looked to the other 'Paragons', waving away the gemstone.  "Not my place.  I'm not with the arcology, and I don't fight for baubles.  I will go back with you, celebrate the victory, honor the fallen, claim my prize, and be on my way soon enough."

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This was not Sigil's world, but she knew power when she saw it.

Her armor of fire and light faded, and the blood and ash that had spattered against it dropped to her feet at the ground; having never touched her skin or garb. So too did her sword fade, though it was ever close at hand. The mantle of Queen was all but faded from her, but she was of Summer still.

The fey approached the woman holding the gem, and she leaned over it, peering closely.

"You offer this freely?" she asked, wary of unspoken terms. The lady simply nodded and pushed it forward.

Sigil accepted the gem and cradled it in her hand.

"What do yo know of this, and why were you taking it to the arcology?" she asked.

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On 7/20/2018 at 9:15 PM, 'Dread' Delgath said:

"Not my place.  I'm not with the arcology, and I don't fight for baubles.  I will go back with you, celebrate the victory, honor the fallen, claim my prize, and be on my way soon enough."

"But not too soon, I trust?" Aurea commented, her giggle lyrical with the sound of piano and flute, while the subtle music about her thrummed with the urgent beat of drums and the wild strains of an electric cello. She met the large warrior's eyes and shivered in delight at the carnal needs and desires she found in him. "I'm sure there are many who will wish to celebrate with you. Perhaps you will find something in P-V that will entice you to linger longer than is your want."

The gorgeous nymph patted Dread's arm in passing, not at all put out by the aura of menace and violence he emanated, her touch lengthening into a caress at the impossible strength she felt in the firm muscle. Her white leather-clad hips swayed with inherent sensuality as she walked passed the man who towered over her by a foot and joined her fellow fae.

Aurea gave the huge amber-hued gem a tap with a flawless, opalescent nail, making a ringing tink-tink sound, and giving Sigil an exasperated glance when she instinctively went to pull it away. Aurea turned to the middle-aged woman, giving her a welcoming smile that gave rise to warm feelings had never experienced before towards another woman.

"And if I may add to my companion's inquiry, good woman, where did you come by such a wondrous gift?"

The warm golden light of the jewel and the throb of power spilling from it beat on Aurea, a pleasurable caress that called to her. She began to hum, seeking a register and frequency that resonated with the pulse of power from the jewel, that resonated with the jewel itself.

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Tanith watched the horde retreat throught the scope then watched the antics of the paragon's going on around the weird and rather large jewel. This is trouble she thought as she dropped the rifle from her shoulder. She looked at it and at the small group of men and women the Security team for this section of the wall that had gathered and watched as she took shot after shot after shot at targets miles away. She passed the rifle back to the guy who had given it toher.

"Thanks. Might want to have that looked at by an armorer shoots a little to the left. Whats the quickest way to where they are gonna be coming into the Arc?"

 

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Maia noted the gem with a draconic, almost predatory look before someone else took it.   Sometimes it was hard to resist that particular aspect of her true self.    She could feel power coming from it, but that wasn't why she'd come out here.  She was glad the people were safe and the greatly reduced monster horde was retreating.   She watched them go and smiled, her gauntlets returning to their normal simple bracer form, and She moved over to the redhead where she questioned the survivors about the gem, eager to hear the tale of how they came to possess it.

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"Well," the big guy turned his shoulders, as if to loosen the muscles and stretch away the fray.  "My guess is she got it from the island of dinosaurs.  That's how they're made.  Little amber stones like that.  Saw it in a documentary about a theme park once.  Might be 'Aw-Strahl-Lean', he said, trying to sound out the word Australia from memory with a bit of an Aussie accent.  "It's an uncivilized land, full of monsters, where women roar and the men are thunder."

"Also, might wanna walk while you talk.  Ain't nothing stopping those things from regrouping.  Ruin!" He circled his fingers and whistled loudly.  From the earth his motorcycle rose up like a shark from the ocean.  Like water, the ground gave way and simply 'pushed' the bike up at an angle like it was driving on buried ramp that lead to the surface and with a spurt of flame and a howl misery,  the Rider's 'steed' slowly drove itself to it's master's side.

Several of the caravan guards still present made symbols of warding or gestures to their faiths as the chopper thrummed slowly past them.  The Rider was never was never viewed as an evil 'demigod' but he was certainly not well liked.  Fickle as the winds he was as likely to ruin a settlement as he was to save... they just never knew why and simply viewed him as a harbinger of War and... Ruin.

He mounted the chopper, swinging his leg over the seat and sat back getting comfortable.  The ghastly contraption wailed and revved, spouting gouts of flame from the metallic skull's nostrils.  He smirked and patted the gas tank.  "Next time, Old Friend.  Next time."  He looked to them.  "We should be off, perhaps jib-jab about this at the 'Arc'?"

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"Yeeeah." Sota said as she glanced over at Delgath with a slightly raised eyebrow.

She then held out a hand and thin, blue lines rapidly traced through the air, making an outline of an object, followed by a rapid series of waves of blue energy washing over the wire frame, each passing wave adding more components and wiring until the final wave left behind the outer shell in it's wave, leaving her holding a six-rotor, camera done, the entire process taking just a few few seconds. With a hum the rotors spun to life and she released it, letting the drone fly up high into the air.

"I'll keep an eye on them. Everybody who does not have another means of transportation," she said as she looked over 'Ruin' with a curious eye, "into the truck." Sota finished, motioning to to the truck.

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Gary shrugged at Delgath's display. He had prior experience with the war Throne-bound and understood his idiosyncrasies well enough. Delgath was not malicious, but he had his code that defined his actions. He also suspected the man had a very uneducated childhood. Well, the gem would go into the more expert hands who could determine if it was dangerous. The Legionnaires followed him back into the truck.

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Sigil watched the others with a certain wary respect. The world felt in some ways oddly familiar; full of magic and bristling with individuals of power. The thought brought a smile to her lips. Surely she could get what she needed this way...allies and powers to return and contend for the throne. Octavia had no idea what she was sending Sigil into.

Assuming she survived, of course. No guarantee of that.

The temptation to simply walk the green road back to the arcology tugged at Sigil, but she decided not to indulge. For one, it would take power she might want later. For another, it sent perhaps the wrong message to these others. She wanted them to trust her. Appearing to steal an object of power that they had fought for the safety of wasn't the best way to do that. Steal a handful of honey today, and the bees never let you near them again. Befriend the bees, and have honey for life.

So she went to the 'truck,' the metal carriage, and got inside.

"Well fought, all of you," Sigil said to the others in the truck in her accented English. "I'm rather new to your lands. You may call me Sigil."

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On 7/23/2018 at 2:30 PM, 'Dread' Delgath said:

"We should be off, perhaps jib-jab about this at the 'Arc'?"

"Quite right, sir, quite right," Aurea agreed, dipping her head towards the huge warrior, giving his motorcycle an amused and intrigued smile. "That is a most fearsome steed. Will it allow another astride with yourself? I would like to ride... with you some day, I think. I am known at Aurea."

She did not add her plethora of titles and monikers, but they seemed to whisper on the wind as she whistled, calling back her sunrise-hued mount. The unicorn snorted like a trumpet at the scent of flames and exhaust lingering about Ruin, then knelt to make is easier for his mistress to mount, a half dozen other unicorns doing likewise for those who didn't embark into the truck or restored van. She was bemused that Sigil had decided on taking the truck. Aurea swing herself onto the unicorn's back with thoughtless grace, her leather pants creaking, giving his shoulder a pat.

Pastel-hued or not, if the fey mounts did not possess the straightforward danger of the demonic motorcycle, they did have an air of haughty menace, their spiraled alicorns glinting under the sunlight, their liquid eyes holding a hunter's gleam that promised they'd unfailingly catch their quarry.

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3 hours ago, Aurea said:

"Quite right, sir, quite right," Aurea agreed, dipping her head towards the huge warrior, giving his motorcycle an amused and intrigued smile. "That is a most fearsome steed. Will it allow another astride with yourself? I would like to ride... with you some day, I think. I am known at Aurea."

"Dread Delgath." He replied in his standard deep tones.  He chuckled inwardly, but visibly.  "Sure, y'got the right amount of leather, way too many colors though... holy shit..."

There was no doubt in his mind that she was quite possibly the most gorgeous woman he'd ever set his eyes up, and he'd taken many beautiful women to bed.  If there was one thing he'd learned about beautiful women: they were all crazy.  The prettier, the crazier.  Which stood to reason that Aurea was moon mad and all marbles and conkers.  Ruin revved, spewing a gout of fire and a demonic 'whinnie' of a horse was softly hidden in the grumble.

"Yeah, yeah... I know exactly what not to stick into crazy, thanks."  He patted the gas tank again, gripped the handlebars and with a twist of the throttle Ruin's wheels exploded into brilliant flame and the mount sped off, kicking dirt and rock and fire.  "We ride!"

He sped off to the front of the newly formed 'caravan', without taking the lead on what were possibly the luckiest mortal people in all the wastelands, for the sort of entourage they gained this day was the sort that only the wealthiest kings of the New World could dream of.

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As the various beings gather around the rescued party, the gem in Sigil's hand at first did nothing, then it's glow began to grow stronger, amber light cascading all around, and a wreath of flame flowers wrapped in shadow formed in the middle of the gem, and Sigil herself began to glow like the gem.  A chime filled the air, heard only by those with divine Word who were within the arcology or on it's outskirts, reached out about 10 miles.

 

A moment later, a voice that seemed both sacred and almost like a computer spoke out, like the chime, heard only by those who possessed divine Words, all of the words could be understood by them, but they all were spoken at the same time, everyone heard the same series of words, though not necessarily in the same order.

Multiple Divine Presence's detected.  Pantheon Potential found:  Sequence bEgIN: 

What Do YOU Want?||Who Are YOU?||Why Are YOU Here? ||

DREAM?DESIRE?DELIGHT?  

QUERY?

FORM PANTHEON?  

UNLOCK PATHWAY TO GENESIS SEED?

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Kamala blinked away the voice to find herself leaning against a chair in Patient Treatment Room #4, the nurse dealing with the confused questions of her patient. She had heard only one Voice even vaguely like that in her life, and *that* wasn't a day she was going to forget. her thoughts thundered through her head, rendering her deaf and blind to the other two people in the room. Holy crap. Where did that come from?!?

Surprisingly, one of her Words supplied an answer and a path, a trail of golden fireflies leaping into existence in her mind's eye and leading out the door. Only a few miles away and closing. She pressed her lips into a frown, not knowing what the source was and not caring. Anything to do with one of the Wordbound, let alone more than one if it was talking about people like her when it used that big word 'pan-theon', wasn't something she wanted wandering around in secret. Especially among all these people.

The dusky healer abruptly remembered she had an audience and replaced her frown with a smile, "Oh. I'm sorry. I need to go take care of something. The nurse will make you feel all better."

Kamala didn't waste another word leaving the room with her bag securely over her shoulder, forging her way out of the building on an unconscious intercept course for the jewel.

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"Pantheon?" Sigil asked, startled by the sudden manifestation, but adjusting quickly. "Genesis seed? Explain, jewel. What are you asking?"

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Ruin halted at the head of the caravan as Dread noticed no one seemed quite as anxious as him to leave and move on to better things, like booze, women, stories and women and booze.  The chime seemed to punch him in the ear holes as he winced and stuck in a finger, wiggling it around in a vain attempt at clearing out the noise.  As one may have guessed... it didn't work.

"Uhh," he looked around for the disembodies mechanical voice.  "I'm Dread Delgath... I just said that, like twenty seconds ago... to her."  He pointed at he mounted fae on her unicorn.  "I want, uhh... titties and beer.  Not, like... my own tits, but like, someone with really amazing tits to bring me beer."  He dismounted Ruin and walked towards the gem, wading slowly through people as he did, making room for himself to get closer as the Fae girl spewed a million questions at it.  "All kinds of beer.  And uhh, that last question... wow, that's a uh, doozie.  I mean, why are any of us here, really?  I mean, ain't we been asking ourselves that question since we could ask questions?"

"Why have it explained to you?" He said to Sigil, whom he towered over.  She was majestic and radiant to his primal... dimness.  "If you can't understand it without an explanation, then you certainly won't understand the explanation," he said to her with all the charm and courtesy she expected from a man like him.  "Sure!"  He said a loud to the voice.  "Set us up a Pantheon.  A Genesis Seed sounds like something I could have some fun with."

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Sota's gaze snapped to the jewel as it chimed and spoke. She looked closely at it, leaning forward slightly and bringing her divine perceptions onto the object as the others spoke, for when she touched The Throne she was bestowed with a operational knowledge of any device, known or unknown, and was a master at constructing everything from mundane devices, to items of lesser magics, to artifacts and even blending both technology and magic, to a point of success that had even astonished her (as the other would soon see).

Her eyes slowly widened as she came to realize just what it was in Sigil's hands.

"That's no device, mundane or magical. That thing's alive!" she said as Delgath addressed the jewel, apparently confirming the command...

 

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Brialliant wings of light simply came into being from Maia's back, as everyone seemed to be preparing to return to the Arcology.   She heard Sota's excited exclamation, which made her pause and head over to where she was.  "Is that so surprising in this new age?   I mean it is fantastic in its way, and I'd be interested to know anything discovered about it.  I am somewhat more concerned with what it said, and how that affects those of us here.  Still it's best to be on our way, before they decide it's worth coming back for.  Much as it is an unknown, I do feel it would be safer to conduct any studies of it in the safety of the Arcology as opposed to the open field."  

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Even as Maia and Sota began to speak to one another, their words were overlaped with something else, the glowing increased, spreading to every divine being who heard the bells, each of them glowing in turn.  Followed by a a gong that everyone could hear, divine or not, set a hum in the air that vibrated though every divine individual within range, and slowly each of you began to feel each other and one another's nature, and distance to one another, then everyone is pulled together, a moment later, all divine beings find themselves standing in a circle around the glowing gem at the Arcology entrance, the now floating in the middle between them without anyone touching it.  For a moment, it seems to be part of a wheel of fire within a wheel of fire, then there is an explosion of amber light, and all of you hear the following words inside your minds..

Pantheon Formation Confirmed by War God

BY THE WILL OF THE THRONE

And Choice Freely Made

Let Apotheosis Begin

Genesis Seed Pathway Unlocked & Location Imprinted

Location of Genesis Seed found and locked to Pantheon

Collection of Genesis Seed required

Creation of Divine Realm awaiting Collection of Genesis Seed and dedication of Dominion 

All Pantheon Members Requested to Indicate Dream/Desire/Delight for Divine Realm

Meanwhile, the only Hooters within the arcology suddenly became a shrine to the god Dread Delgath, with the words 'Titties and Beer for the War God' set into the base a large statue of him that appeared on the center of the restaurant.  Delgath  himself could feel a number of new worshipers form those around him that had been rescued as well as some of the inhabitants of his new temple/shrine lifting up a beer in cheers to his name.

Knowledge floods your minds as to what a Genesis seed does and how to use one fill's the mind of everyone present in response to Sigil's question, because of the link between you, as a pantheon you know that you must activate it together due to the invocation of power here.  As a result, a pathway is imprinted into every divinity's mind that leads away from the city and deep into what appears to be a vast underground catacombs that leads to a destination several miles away from the city all underground.

[OCC NOTES: Ok, so much is happening here that I decided that this needed a fairly major info blurb in the post itself, something I don't normally favor, but feel it's necessary here.  So, everyone now gets 3 experience points  and 1 dominion point, which puts you all at level 2, gaining all of the associated benefits, which includes the Word of Apotheosis, though everyone except Delgath can refuse it if you don't want a cult, though you remain part of the pantheon regardless.  PM me in your character sheet with what your spending your gift points on.

All deities who take that word of Apotheosis can all now form cults of believers, feeling their prayers and protecting their souls, if you take the Apothesis word.  About a thousand worshipers are needed to begin gaining dominion, but that shouldn't be too hard for you folks.  Faery Queens and Peak Humans need to discuss this with me if you choose to accept Apotheosis

SPECIAL: Since Delgath is the only one who indicated desires for things, he already has a shrine (it is not yet sanctified, you need to be at level 3 for that), at the local Hooters since that is what he asked for ;), if that's a good thing or not is up to you.  Your cult only has about a dozen semi-committed followers, so It's not yet large enough to collect dominion from, but it's a beginning.

Due to the way this particular artifact was activated, non of you can activate a Genesis Seed by yourself until after you do so collectively as a pantheon, which also grants you enough time to gather dominion for a larger realm then just a small village, you instinctively know how much dominion is needed for the size of each realm.  A divine realm is like Olympus or Asgard, your PC's presently have the information regarding Paradise by Creation & Godbound Within A Paradise imprinted on their minds, if you want more details, check page 222 of the Deluxe version of the book or send me a PM, below is how much dominion is needed to create a Paradise of a particular size.

  • 7 Dominion - Village, a few square miles
  • 14 Dominion - Major city, ten miles squares
  • 28 Dominion -  Province, a thousand square miles
  • 64 Dominion - National size, An entire kingdom (Australia Sized at the Maximum)
  • 112 - Realm - A whole world

If your wondering, nope, future levels won't jump in levels this way, but this is where it was going, congrats to Delgath for leaping in head first, you managed to surprise and amuse me at the same time. ]

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As disorienting as she sudden shift in location was, Kamala's innate awareness of where she was at all times centered her in time to glance around the circle. Some she knew by reputation. Others not at all. Her gaze fixed to the one she had journeyed and fought alongside before, mouth shaping a question, "Maia, what...?"

Then the second wave of Words hit. Words and Power and Knowledge and Change and Growth and a flood of insight that never-the-less kept her on her feet no matter the pressure. Her soul creaked and stretched under the surge, filled to bursting even as invisible hands offered something fleeting and delicate and oh so important. Offered freely and warmly and without even the chance of disappointment if she refused the gift. Parted of her wanted to, angry at the others for triggering this thing here and now when she didn't feel worthy of it. But when would she ever feel worthy of something like this, of actually being able to back up her big words about healing the entire world's hurts? Never. Never in a thousand and one pilgrimages through the wastes, a thousand and one treaties between warring tribes and peoples.

And so, after an eternal heartbeat of hesitation, she nodded ever so slightly and the gift flew out of dusky, familiar hands that were never more than an illusion in her mind and took root in her mind, body, and soul.

"Stars," she told the gem, not daring to breath as she voiced the smallest wish she could think was worthy of this moment, "I want stars like from the Before."  

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Maia looked over at Kamala, the only one she'd call "friend" there and really mean it, and then took note of their surroundings, they were at the city gate, and she still had her wings out.   They quickly vanished, and She too was bathed in the Power of the Words, anda part of her knew Bahamut had gone through such as this, however long ago it was.  She knew she could take it, that she would prove herself worthy on her own, but a teaching that both her mentors drilled into her was that it was not weakness to be among others, That the bonds between others could be a strength unto themself, one that could eclipse even that of others like them, So she knew instinctively that this was something she had to do, that she wanted to do.

"Of course."   She accepted the Power of the Word with those two syllables, and then stated her own desire.  "A Beacon of Hope and Justice."   Perhaps it was cliche, but Justice was  something important to the people and dragons of Dracian, and Hope, well all life needed Hope.   "An inextinguishable light in the darkness of the world."   She didn't know what form her words might take, but she knew they were from her heart, a part of herself.

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"Delgath, what did I tell you about answering talking gems!" Gary snapped. "You remember what happened last time, don't you?" Then the surge hit him. Well, it could have been worse. Given the still unclear nature of the item, and a realm being... created, better to be safe than sorry. "Protection. Well-guarded." Nothing more, and nothing less to be added.

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The battle was concluded, it was time for celebration.  Sure, Genesis seeds and pantheons were all well and good, and worshipers were great too... but, well, who wasn't worshiping him already?  He was tall, cut, good looking, had a regular job and his own transportation... he was amazing and was pretty sure the world knew that.  Bout damn time he had a statue in his honor anyway.

When Gary spoke over the noise Dread's smile grew big and his greeting even larger.  "Haha!  Death!  My fellow Rider, I thought that was you creeping in towards the end there!"  He threw out his arms and gripped Gary in a tight embrace, lifting him off the ground before setting back in place and smacking him a few times on the back.  He waved his hand dismissively at Gary comment about talking gems.  "Bah, are you still hung up on that?  We lived, they didn't.  And the battle was glorious!  Once we get all this Pantaloon stuff cleared up we need to catch up at the celebration.  There will be drinking, and sex, and feasting and sex, and," he paused, looking around as if he had not idea what to add to that (and there were pretty sure he didn't).

"And telling of deeds," came a soft voice from the crowd.  It was the dark haired woman The Rider had set his sights on in the first place; his 'prize'.  Truth be told he saw her in the window of the bus and just thought she was amazingly hot and maybe would get to know her better.  There was just an army of beasts between her and him.  He had no intentions of helping any of these people, let alone claiming his rightful place as a god... he just wanted to impress a hottie and get laid.

"Yes!" Dread bellowed, it seemed he was rarely silent and whispering was a foreign concept to him..  "We'll tell of our deeds," he wrapped an arm around Gary, pulling him in to be partner in the war god's mirth.  "And conquests.  It will be glorious!"

He raised his fist into the air and several of his new 'Delgathians' threw their hands in the air and cheered.

He leaned into Gary, "...and sex."  As if to not leave the sentence punctuated without the proper amount of events, plus sex.

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Aurea shivered in yearning as the melodious hum vibrated through her. She had felt something of its like once before, though at the time, she had not know what it was. It had been when she had first been embraced by Twilight and had freely accepted Desire being graven on her soul. Once more, she accepted what was freely offered without reservation and felt her soul expand to encompass it.

In her mind, she followed the path revealed to them and filled it with her own voice, wordless music, alike to the chiming of the Amber Jewel, though more sensual than the note of artifice the gem had held. Wordless, yet still understood to those who could hear it. Let it be a place where the faithful can find their heart's desire and the beauty of their forms reflect the joy and fulfillment they have brought to others...

The fae goddess looked around the circle of divinities she now shared an unassailable, integral bond with, lavender eyes alight with wonder and curiosity, a soft smile on her succulent lips. Her grin deepened with wistful regret as she watched and listened to the magnificent Dread as he greeted Gary of the Dead Legion and bellowed his desires for the celebration and evening.

Pity that he seemed wary of her, by beautiful women in general, though he clearly didn't mind their company. He was one of the few she could sense that was unabashed by their desires, did not constrain them or fear them. They were so plain on his face and in his eyes, Aurea wondered that all could not read them as easily as she could.

But she was one to rarely press her own wants and desires on those who were reticent, despite how glorious it would be. Besides, she was never lacking for lovers who were more willing or more than willing.

"That sounds like more than a fine evening," Aurea agreed with bright, melodious laughter, then murmured, "especially the last," before raising her voice once more and spreading her arms wide to encompass the newly birthed Pantheon. "Let Liberties be open to all here and their guests until dawn."

She caught Dread's dark-haired companion's eyes for just a moment and gave her wink. For the sheer joy Dread had in being himself, she gifted his companion with a portion of her nature, so she would be unflagging with the virile War God, until the sun rose anew.

Spoiler

Reassigning Influence or spending Effort for a Miracle (whichever is more appropriate) to grant Dread's dark-haired companion a portion of her Desire Word benefits, so that sex will be as restorative as sleep and food, until the break of dawn.

 

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Violated

That's the Word that comes to Tanith's mind. Her head spun with the relocation, she had been climbing a ladder now she was in a circle around a...thing with people she had no clue who they were. She looked across the circle at the large bearded man, the idiot with the flaming motorcycle, who caused this without so much as a please or thank you. The Asshole who fucked us all and took away our freewill.

"You stupid son of a bitch! What the fuck were you thinking?" She screamed at him as information poured into her head unbidden, driving her fury. "That thing and things like it are what caused all of this!" She waves her hand taking in all of them and the surroundings. " Killed billions of people and left the survivors to wish they had died too. Where was this thing when the world was ending ? Why wasn't it here Then, stopping those monsters from coming in the first place.?

What do I want? what do I desire" Tanith is screaming at the gem now "I want you to leave us the fuck alone take all your fucking monsters and shit and get the fuck off our world!"

Tanith fast draws and fires at the gem.

Spoiler

needless to say tanith rejects apotheosis. She will fire and keep firing until stopped. she won't shoot at anyone except the gem...well maybe dread she can make an exception for him

 

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As Tanith made her attack on the gem, there was a moment of silence, then suddenly everything around them became dark and then instead of in front of the arcology the group find themselves in complete darkness, the only light from the gem, and the relentless power that had been there a moment before became dull and quite, no bell tone, but it still has a certain cadence and purity of tone.

We are the Eye of one of the broken Orphanium, the wheels before the THRONE... 
What you desire, unbound goddess, is retribution from those who have damaged your world, which is not US,  for the ones responsible for the damage to you world
Were the hands of mortal man, a price of murder and blood.
When the anchor of your world, Merlin was murdered within his crystal cave
By the hands of Mortals sworn to serve the Unending Night
The Veil between mortal dreams and reality broke, and the barriers were broken
Heaven was shattered, Hell was Broken, and the Mortal Realm torn from it’s bearings, though how that came to be is another matter.
And now only those filled with the Divine power from above can do so, power from the Heaven's that now fills the Pantheon before you but only if you Chose to.
Most Sacred to the THRONE, is not love or faith or hope, though precious these things may be, but CHOICE, We are a Vessel of Choice...
When the Wheel was Broken, This Eye fell to this sphere
When Divine Hand touched and Divine Desire was embraced
Connection was made once more.
If you wish stars, you must forge them to the sky once more, though we can show you the tools
If you wish your realm safe, you must make it so, though we can guide you in the path...

Or not, if that is your DESIRE

Even as these words were spoken, clarifying in the midst of the choices made, stars appeared in the darkness around flickering in and out, before the light faded, leaving only the barely glowing jewel, and them surrounded in darkness.

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Tanith stands gun raised finger tense on the trigger, the bullet ready to fly, but she hesitates.

Slowly the gun lowers and she looks about at those who stand in the circle.

"Then Show me the path and I'll make the choice."

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Sota stood there, her mind afire with this new information as she processed it all. This gem was yet another form of life, seemingly artificial in design, and yet still alive and pulsing with divine power. It was not the first time she had seen such, but it was different than anything she had seen before, and it was offering them the means to build a divine Paradise.together. Sota had always been a little uncomfortable thinking of herself as 'divine' or some sort of god or godling, but here she was, surrounded by others such as herself, all brought together to form a pantheon and a Paradise when they and their faithful could dwell.

It was difficult to deny what she was now.

Still though, the question from the gem caught her somewhat off guard.

"A place of life..." she said, thinking not just of her family and the people of the Arcology that she had worked so hard to protect, but also of IO., "..intellect and understanding. A place of gleaming towers, where one can see that technology can rival any magic, and so both are treated with the care and respect they deserve." 

It may not have been an ideal answer, but Sota was caught off guard by the question and answered as best she could, reasoning that the verbal component was the least important part of the answer to the gem, trusting that it could sense desires, now matter well or poorly verbalized.

Sota heard the exchange between the others, but payed it little mind as she was deep in thought about the significance of what was transpiring. The gunfire certainly roused her back to reality though.

"No!" she yelled, reaching out with her divinity to protect the gem, lessening impacts.

"This thing is what will allow us to FIX the world. To reclaim it, reshape it, and rebuild it anew, if we are all willing to put in the work, together." she explained, looking at all of the others around her.

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Considerably underdressed for the occasion in her hospital scrubs, Kamala's thoughts were riveted by the brief glimpse of a sky full of stars, like hundreds of thousands of tiny lanterns. And they might be able to make them? A smile danced on her lips, waning only mildly as the gunwoman was talked down from her attempt to destroy the gem. She followed the trail leading to their first goal in her mind, comparing it to the familiar golden path laid out by her native gifts. At least two or three companions, maybe even a friend if Maia was game, and the problem wouldn't be getting there, but getting back. 

"We *already* have the path if we're ready to start the journey. Give me two hours, and I'll be right back here ready to go," she volunteered with an easy, eager laugh, deeply cheered by the idea of getting out of this hive as soon as she could get some final instructions to her people and fix up those injured by the battle, "Or you could have your celebration, and we leave first light tomorrow. Dawn and dusk are both good times to start traveling." 

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You DESIRE is answered.

To the children DESTINY shall you go, follow their guidance

Those who remain have chosen the path of the Pantheon

Embrace your Choices

The gem shown bright for a moment, and suddenly they were once more before the gates of the archaeology, minus Tanith, and nothing had changed, but the gem or jewel or eye, or whatever it was, was now cradled in the hands of Sota, now silent and no longer glowing, once more seeming like nothing more then an nonliving object, though now those present knew better.

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