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Level 2: Might and Magic

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The Imperial army was the best equipped, best trained and singularly most powerful army the world had ever seen.   Imperial Princess Marina frowned.   All of those were true, but This expedition to war was frought with peril.   Conquering the newly established nation on her border would have been a great boon, but a week ago, just one unit, a Magical Sky Knight had attacked her own air forces, and slain them all.  It would be a month to get replacements from the rookeries on the northern coasts, time she didn't have, so they pressed on.   After that, she found why the new nation hadn't expanded into her own.   Unknown to her forces, there were heavy concentrations of shadow and chaos beasts.  Packs of wolves, Tigers, and even  land dragons sapped the strength of her army as they marched, and for a solid week there wasn't a day where there was an attack.   

Worse than that were the large sinkholes making the area virtually impassible.   Only a relatively narrow pass existed to the Nation's border, forcing her to keep her armies in that pass or risk losing even more troops.  There were some who thought it all to be a trap, but the church had destroyed all the Chaos magic users, so there was no chance of that.  

They pushed on, Getting to the border with just over 210 thousand troops, still three times what Nation could muster, and from there she sent forth a messenger, even as her troops formed up in battle lines.  Her forces' morale was the lowest it had been, but with Battle coming against an opponent they could see coming it would reform quickly.  Her mages would bombard the enemy and break their spine at range.  The  antimagic corps would hunt down the enemy mages and make short work of them.

Everything was ready.

Everyone was assembled within the border Fortress to receive the messenger, as in a formal Court.  "Her Majesty, the Imperial Princess Marina commands you to surrender your lands, crest, and people to the Empire, Theo Cornaro, if you wish to live."

Theo shook his head.  "If that is all she has to say, then return to her with this.  "Come and Take them, if you can, but we will never surrender to Tyrants."  The Messenger bristled but bowed curtly and left.

Once he was riding off, he looked to the gathered allies.  "So it begins, my friends, now we see how much our preparations have truly affected them."

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The last week had been... oddly nice for Yuuki. She hadn't been camping in, well, a long time, and sleeping rough after a long day of exercising her powers in cataclysmic eruptions of earth and wood between hours of watching for danger while 'her' squad worked under Daizo's supervision. They were good men, and in the quiet moments after sunset while they ate their rations, talked about their lives. The shrine maiden listened and asked questions and talked a little bit about her own, adjusting for the filter of the science dominated world she came from compared the magic dominated world they lived in. The darkness wasn't an inhibitor to her eyes, and any light could draw fatal attention, so she pulled watch during the darkest hours. 

Apparently, telling stories to pass the time was a thing here, and after the soldiers got over their initial deference after a few days, it was her turn to tell stories, too. Yuuki drew from her treasure trove of Shinto folklore, and, yes, the manga she had once collected to cover her turns. They seemed to like her stories, and perhaps not entirely because of the Gamemaster's... improvements.

That made what was going to happen next so much harder. If her little squad of eleven had so much to live and strive for, what about all the others? So many of them were going to die.

"Daizo and my volunteers planted a few last lines of seeds where you said you wanted the battle to be. Say the word and even less of them will be making it to the fight quickly," she offered from her corner of the room, not sounding happy about this being all she could do to limit that butcher's bill, "Give you more of a chance to end it with less blood. Hopefully. Master Izona taught me a spell for flight, so I can get wherever you need me to be, maybe take down a few leaders?"

Gold eyes looking conflicting, she hugged herself, trying not to think about it all. 

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Vesper, looking a bit pale even for her since conducting her night-time raids, looked at Theo dully. Their preparations. What a nice, clean way to put it. She shook her head and looked away.

"So what's the plan for me? Am I going to try to get to the generals or whatever? I'll have trouble with a lot of soldiers at once, but there's a lot I can do with important people."

There were spells, of course, but her best magic just wore her out too fast. She'd need to keep practicing to build up her tolerance before she could toss spells off as easily as Izona.

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Several hours later, the Nation's army is positioned for the attack, Yuuki and Vesper are at the front.  Theo had met privately with  Vesper, providing identification for the various troop leaders.   If she could take them out it would further serve to demoralize the Imperial army, and she'd be given free reign on how she did this, save for injuring the Princess, or using her chaos magic.   As the army marched forward, the battle began when They had Yuuki trigger her last line of seeds.   

At that same moment, Izona, sitting nearly a kilometer from the border wall, virtually alone save Ryan, smiled.   

Hear my words, you who governs the world of Magic.   By the sacred contract of Legios, I, Izona of Archalia command thee.   Seal the magic of this place, that those who are my foes can cast no spell, nor know the blessings of mana."   A massive magic circle came into being beneath her feet,  easily twenty meters across.  'Now, Ryan, see to it that no one disturbs me, and no one but our allies shall use mana."
 

it began when the first magical shields began to wink out of existence.  The Imperial forces began to panic, as mana failed them, and the Metal knight appeared in the sky, raining death down upon them with veritable impunity.   Arrows filled the sky, along with boulders from catapults, and flaming bombs blasted the landscape, even as the ground revolted beneath them.   The Imperial army was in chaos, but through it all the Princess grit her teeth, and demanded her forces charge.  They'd never call down this sort once they got to the wall, and the gate would never hold against them. 

She still had several aces to play, after all, and the information she'd gotten, well it was interesting, and obviously true.  One person was shutting down there magic, one person, left alone in the care of an otherworlder.  if she could remove them, then she'd break this upstart nation, and not stop until all bowed before her.

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Focus on the small things that are right before turning them into ways to fix what's wrong. Yuuki's mother had taught her that, and it had worked on everything from trying to budget for a new refrigerator to planning a spring festival. This was... bad. So so so soooo bad, but there was one bit of good as the dust began to settle from the explosive birth of new trench and the roar of hundred of men charging forward: Yuuki loved flying, and this past year she had taken any excuse she could while training to 'practice' with the spell.

"Spirits of Earth and Sky; Hear this speaker's yearning cry! Spirits of Water and Fire; Lend me the steam to indulge the most ancient desire! Break the chains of the World's Hold; Let me dance among the cloud's Fold! Order Sign! Flight!" called the shrine maiden from her place just behind the front lines, mana flowing into the gleaming circle of light beneath her feet, green hair blowing up from her own private windstorm. The light pulsed one, two, three times before bursting into a rainbow of bubbles that coalesced into a pair of translucent butterfly wings on Yuuki's back. She paused for a heartbeat, smiling faintly over her shoulder at the magatama-like spots gracing her topmost wings.

The wings weren't real, more of a visual declaration of her magic, but she liked how... light it made her feel, and as a bomb threw Kami knows how many men through the air to injury or death... She was going to need every bit of light she could muster.

The first men of the Imperial Army began hurling themselves down into the trench opposite her position, the soldier's in front of her readying their weapons.

"Ready... Looose!" shouted a Captain whose name she didn't know, and the archers around her did so with the sound of thousand beehives at war. She took that as her signal, too, shooting straight up from the ground trailing light with every flutter of her wings, gaining altitude enough to take in her flank of the battle and be out of ready bow range. Apparently, some of Theo's troops took *her* rise as a good omen, yelling defiance at the approaching enemy. She could only hope that she was worthy of that emotion.

Spoiler

HP: Full EP: 150/170 One Flight spell in effect for the duration of the battle, I think.

 

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Vesper left.

It was easy to do...one small girl, quiet and unassuming, edging around the hustle and bustle of soldiers making ready for war. Yuuki with her wings and spells kept all eyes on her, those who weren't busy with duties. And of course there was just her. Groups were everything in war...an individual, unarmed, meant nothing, and Vesper was alone.

Well. Not really. Not ever really.

She moved out away from the castle before the first ranks of soldiers closed in, though she was still close enough to hear the buzz-whines of arrows from the walls when they fired.

There was a plan at work, kind of, though calling it a 'plan' might be overgenerous. It was far more likely a set of assumptions that would get her killed. But wasn't that really all most plans were?

Vesper knew the layout of the enemy army from the nights she'd bedeviled them. Back then they'd teleported to get past the sentries. This time...well, getting past the sentries would kind of defeat the purpose.

"You there! Stop!"

Right on schedule.

Vesper stopped and turned to face the voice who'd called out. A man wearing Imperial colors with a crossbow in hand. "You're a sentry," she said. "Making sure no one can slip into the, uh...support people and officers and stuff."

He frowned and raised the crossbow to aim down the bolt. "Who are you and what are you doing here?"

"I'm a spy," was her reply. "I'm turning myself in. I surrender for questioning."

The sentry's frown turned from suspicion to confusion. "What?"

Vesper's eyes bored into his...deep and dark. He almost felt he was falling into them; like they were expanding to cover the world, blot out the sun. When she spoke again, all other sounds were silenced in his ears.

"I surrender. Take me to the mages for questioning. I can tell them what's wrong with the magic. You'll be a hero."

Yes. Yes of course.

"Come with me," the sentry said dreamily, lowering the crossbow a bit. He didn't need it; she'd surrendered. "You have to answer the mage's questions."

She put her hands behind her back, crossing her wrists so it would look like she was restrained unless someone paid close attention, and let the sentry lead her towards the enemy camp.

Over her head, a tornado of wrath churned invisibly. Vesper wasn't sure how much the Therion really understood of what was happening, but she knew that in the end it didn't matter. He would do what she told him to, and then fight on in the chaos that would inevitably erupt. She wasn't sure if anyone would have the presence of mind to attack her...it was a huge gamble. Her non-magic powers didn't require incantations or hand waving like this world's spells though, so...Vesper figured there'd be a good chance they wouldn't get that she was behind it. Not at first. Not before it was too late.

Best plan ever.

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Death reigned on the battlefield.  Soldiers from both sides were struck down, though far more from the Empire fell than the new nation's forces.  Above them yuuki was in the air, inspiring the troops.   If Tori had been available it would have been even more crushing to the enemy, but the Banshee was heavily damaged still.  

 

Vesper was brought brought before the head Mages, and found herself there with two of the Infantry division leaders as well.

"So this is the spy?  why not just kill her and be done?" 

"She knows why your magic has failed..."

"So do we, it's why we sent the Black Shadows to handle it.  Soon, they'll end that troublesome witch, and her guardian, and we'll blast this nation to rubble."

The two Infantry leaders looked back to Vesper.  "Well, it sounds like your usefulness, and your luck have run out then."  Both of them drew near to her, even as half a dozen soldiers were blocking her escape.   Clearly, they weren't just planning on her death, she'd be made an example of.

 

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"You're wrong," Vesper said, just to buy time. When they paused suspiciously she went on. "It was Therion. Therion. Therion."

A cold breeze picked up out of nowhere, carrying the smell of charnel. Similarly from nowhere, a shadow fell over the mages. A shadow in the shape of an immense figure in a tattered, flowing cloak, bearing a scythe of black iron.

Even as she summoned the spirit of devastation, Vesper concentrated on defending herself. Dust and grit whirled up around her feet, pulled into a sympathetic orbit as she cloaked herself with telekinetic force.

Meanwhile, the Therion's scythe descended in a vicious sweep, as if reaping grain.

Therion Scythe Attack or Defense: 2d6+8 14 2d6+8 17

The first stroke cleaved through robes and flesh, sending blood flying in a broad arc that sprayed out garishly across the tent and earth. With speed that belied his size, and the size of the weapon, Therion whirled then and brought the scythe down again from the other direction. The three mages were bashed against one another from the force of the strikes, and then...came apart. Their bodies, faces frozen in horror and anguish, collapsed into one another...forming a grotesque slurry of innards, with heads and arms and legs seemingly poking out at random points.

Without touching the ground, without making a sound, the shadowy spirit advanced on the half-dozen soldiers nearest Vesper then, interposing itself between her and them. Its smoky shadow fell over them then, unnaturally chill.

Meanwhile, as Vesper dropped back away from the soldiers, she focused her eyes on the toughest-looking one and assaulted his mind with nightmarish images...a hellish montage of her own imagining, culled from horror movies and boy band footage.

Mind Blast (drain Mind 2, ennervate 5, stun): 2d6+6 18

Maybe it was the sudden danger she found herself in, but her power seemed to explode out of her, crashing into the soldier's mind with almost physical force!

(40 damage, drain Mind 2, drain 25 energy; damage is nonlethal)

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For a second, Yuuki stopped breathing as she took in the sheer breadth and volume of violence on display. This was awful, needed to stop. But armies that outnumbered their foes three to one didn't surrender, not immediately, not with hundreds of thousands of men with fires in their bellies... So she'd have to temper that fire.

She dove over the massed ranks of her flank of the battle, gathering green light in her hands and eyes, letting the pressure build until she picked the point where she'd drive them.

"Bounded Field Blooming!" she called over the cheers of the soldiers, a dark-clad fairy suddenly exploding into a pillar of green light that arced into the ground in all directions. The upturned soil of the trench suddenly rebirthed her titanic trees on either side of her as far she could reach, an effort of will angling them towards the Imperial force. The chaos of the eruption prevented them from forming a perfect wall like before, but hopefully all but the most overarching shots would be slowed, formations disrupted, the promise of more sinkholes when these trees too vanished.

"Sacred Bamboo Ramparts!" The green-haired shrine maiden added, winding her arm back to toss the seed of the protective barrier to encompass the formation of spearmen around her. Creaks and groans of phantom foliage rose in a circle around her. She hovered in the dome of bamboo, bracing for first wave of struggling infantry reached melee range, the violence to become up close and personal.

Spoiler

Plant Control Roll

Technically, can't hurt anyone with it, but it wouldn't do me any favors to have giant trees popping up out of nowhere...

http://orokos.com/roll/729429

2d6+13: 18 [2d6=2, 3] 

 

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Things happened very quickly, as The soldiers backed away in fear after seeing Therion gruesomely slay the Mages, including the heads of two orders.    One of them dropped to the ground without a sound, unconscious from Vesper's psychic assault.  The two Infantry captains weren't so weak-willed and drew swords and attacked, though Therion let nothing through to harm his mistress.   Still the two of them were armored, and both seemed to be capable combatants.

Outside, there was a commotion drawn from the yells of the soldiers within, and Then Giant trees, a veritable forest sprout in the midst of the battlefield.  Dozens were slain by the explosive vegetation spearing through them, or flung into the air only to land roughly.   Some were spared as the trees took attacks that would have slain them, and then the bamboo field rose up, shielding Theo's soldiers, and yet they could still see the carnage of the battlefield.   The soldiers cheered and redoubled their efforts, moving to take advantage of the confusion.   "Forward, while they cannot form ranks,  hit them with everything you have!"  Soldiers charged forward and arrows were loosed again.

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Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. 

She forced herself not think about the bloodshed done by and enabled by her hand so that she could focus on doing and enabling more bloodshed. With a flap of her ephemeral wings, she rose out of the bamboo thicket, already glowing green again, lips flitting through her magic words, reaching out with her thoughts to the foliage she had already claimed as hers. "Bounded! Field! Blooming!" she declared, a wave of green racing ahead of her soldiers and, ironically, caused the titanic forest to shrink back to seeds, taking the ground with it to cries of panic and discord with the partial restoration of the sinkhole under the feet of the Imperial army.

The shrine maiden immediately started gathering green light again, arms pointed straight down, staring directly at the nearest clumps of hostile men as they struggled against the press of Theo's formation and the slope behind. "Surrender. Bounded. Field. Blooming," she intoned, discharging a second wave of light that caused everything green beyond her front ranks to return to their titanic proportions, a sea of towering grass and weeds interspersed with monstrous trees, the earth in explosive, entangling revolt against the Imperials.

Spoiler

Plant Control Twice, once to shrink the foliage, and again to restore it.

First roll http://orokos.com/roll/730302 2d6+13: 19

Second roll http://orokos.com/roll/730303 2d6+13: 24

EP: 110/170

 

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Therion barely paused as new opposition marched forward. The dark metal of his scythe didn't even glint as he twirled it effortlessly around and brought it back for yet more reaping. He slashed to the left, crashing it through two of the guards, then reversed his grip and mowed down the other two on the right.

Therion Scythe Attack or Defense: 2d6+8 15 2d6+8 11

Meanwhile Vesper focused her will on the only soldier left untouched by Therion's attacks...his flaying was almost as comprehensive, but left no mark on him as he collapsed to the ground amidst the bleeding fragments of his fellows, eyes wide with a terror only he could see.

Mind Blast (drain Mind 2, ennervate 5, stun): 2d6+6 13

She put her hands to her temples and closed her eyes for a second, fighting a wave of nausea and fatigue. It was one thing to see Therion working on giant bugs...but these were people. Christ, what was she doing?

That wasn't all the mages, she thought, trying to force herself back on task, We can't stop now or it'll all be for nothing.

"I need to...I need to get clear," Vesper said, clenching and unclenching her fists. "Therion, go out that way." She points to the tentflap. "Let them see you, but not hurt you. First, cut me a hole in the back of the tent though, so I can get out while you're distracting them." After a second she added, "Disappear once they start trying to attack you."

The shadowy presence that nearly filled the tent was silent as always, then with shocking suddenness brought the half-moon of the scythe blade down very close to Vesper...slicing a neat vertical line through the back of the tent. His substance seemed to diffuse then, becoming even less solid than it had been previously...and he glided out through the front of the tent without so much as disturbing the tent flap.

As cries of fear and alarm went up from outside the tent in front, Vesper slipped out the back to find a place to keep her head down. She'd need to find the other mages...but she suspected they'd probably be called to look at this exact spot quite soon.

Stealth (divine intervention): 2d6+5 17

 

 

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More soldiers died as yuuki manipulated the battlefield, either being swallowed by the ground, speared by roots, or entangled then Killed by Theo's soldiers.  The imperial foot soldiers were starting to panic, and the Cavalry unit was already long gone.   Archers rained down arrows, and at least a dozen cam sailing at Yuuki, only for her to be protected by a Wall of wind.  Siluca was there back in in the rear ranks keeping her safe, but with the lines of battle nearing her, Yuuki was in some danger.   

Therion's appearance created even more chaos, though they were quick to dismiss him as illusion, especially once he vanished.   Meanwhile taking a mage's robe from one of the ones she'd simply knocked out, Vesper hastily disquised herself and was able to leave the tent unmolested, simply blending into the chaos.

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Harder. Hit them harder. If she could break them here, convince them they couldn't win no matter their numbers. Magic didn't win battles here, too slow, too limited in duration for the cost in power, but she wasn't using magic not as they knew it, so she must seem a devil or an angel to them. Yuuki bit her lip, trying to bury the sick conflicted feeling, unseeing of the projectiles deflected away from her by the invisible wall of magic. Well, until one bent away literally from in front of her face, and her golden eyes tracked it's new trajectory down and into the neck of an unsuspecting allied spearman.

Down went the man, his corpse trampled almost immediately by those pushing up from behind. Oh no.

She pressed her lips lips together so hard they paled. This was going to stop. If she pressed their front lines hard enough, this princess had to show herself to keep the formation from breaking entirely. Or something

"Bounded. Field. Blooming." came the incantation like a metronome of doom matching beat of her heart as she gleamed like a green sun, unnaturally boosted foliage losing and gaining branches and vines at random like the world's biggest iron maiden.

And again. A second incantation, a second wave of her arms, a second wave of biochaotic death ahead of her own advancing troops. Golden eyes darted around the battlefield she could see, looking for nodes of order, leadership to hit. Anything. Where was the Princess? Break the royal; break the army. It had to work that way. It had to.

Spoiler

EP: 90/170

Die Rolls https://orokos.com/roll/734814

Plant Control Result #1: 20

Plant Control Result #2: 21

     

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Once out of the tent, Vesper made use of her disguise, and the general tumult, to get a little bit of a look around the camp. There were others in the distinctive garb of mages running around, but none of them had the same aura of respect and power as the ones she and the Therion had killed. More importantly, there were just too many soldiers scurrying around now. She and her spirit companion could carve a swath, but they'd be overwhelmed in the end. She'd done what she could.

She made her way towards the edge of the encampment and found an escarpment that she used to break line of sight quickly. Once out of crossbow range, she had Therion pick her up and fly her for a little ways to avoid patrols.

Finally Vesper made it to the spot Izona was maintaining her spell at. Ryan was there, a few fresh bandages on his arm and shoulder, but otherwise all right. The bodies of several assassins had been dragged away and piled up off to the side.

"They sent them before I got there," Vesper said, and Ryan just nodded. She added, "I got the mages who were in charge. I don't think the rest can do anything about this."

"Good news," said Ryan. "Are you okay?"

Vesper took a breath and thought, then shrugged and looked away. "I'm...fine. I'll check on Yuuki before I head in."

Ryan stepped forward and took hold of her arm. "She's okay, Vesper. Go back to the tents. Get some rest. You did your...you did what you had to do. You did good."

She stood still, her face a mask, then pulled her arm away and walked off...towards the tents. There was a report to make. The archmages were dead.

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At the battlefront, the Imperial Army did something it had never done before.  It broke into a disorderly retreat.  Without magic, having already lost many men, and their supplies dwindling.   That Final attack of Yuuki's was enough to break their morale completely. leading them into a rout.   As they retreated Theo's forces made to pursue, only to be called on to return to the castle's defensive preparations.   With the blowing of the horns and roar of the victory, the first battle defeat of the Empire was announced to the world, and the Soldiers looked up at Yuuki happily, as she had been instrumental in this victory.  

Elsewhere Ryan rose at the sound of the horn, and smiled.  "They won, at least the first battle."  He looked to Izona, who was spent from keeping such a massive spell going, and offered her a shoulder as he helped her up, setting out to head for the castle.   He looked to Vesper and smiled  "We all did our parts.  Let's go see how Theo wants to play this from here on out."

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They were running away. Yes. Wait. No. They couldn't run away! She wanted them to run away, but not until she was sure she had gotten the princess or a general or a champion or something to make sure the next time they came back, they'd be talking, not fighting. Eyes flashing wildly over the battle field, Yuuki was as hellbent as her soldiers to pursue in that heartbeat, ready to drop into the formations of troops as the reserves of magic bearing her aloft dwindled towards nothing. She'd... She'd do *something* to make sure this was over, make this stop.

Then the horn sounded and the cheers of those accepting the victory for what it was, taking the wind out of her emotional sails.

The shrine-maiden dropped out of the air with a few flaps of her iridescent wings, touching down in an impromptu circle of respectful distance from the cheering men. She let herself soak up the admiration for a moment, breath hitching in her throat as the chaos in her head met the adrenaline in her blood and muddled everything. Concentration shattering, her wings burst into a small halo of refracting crystal that bathed her in rainbow light, the green-haired beauty pristine and unmarked compared to the soldiers in their mud, blood, and bandages. There was a throbbing pressure in her head, the wild heart of her power beginning to complain at the effort of holding it's grip on the sea of foliage around her. Oh Kami. Anyone lingering in the area when this all reverted... If even one more person... The deflected arrow that claimed the unknown spearman played over her vision again.

"Back! Back! Everyone out of the treeline!" she tried to shout over the cheering, looking for someone with some kind of rank to spread the word as quickly as possible, not certain if she should be leading by example. 

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"So what happens now?" asks Vesper as she, Izona and Ryan head back together. "Did we win? Are they surrendering? Because the trick I used to get in this time won't work again."

"And Izona, you don't look like you can do this again. So if they want to fight more, they'll have spells."

She flings her arms out to her sides in an exasperated gesture.

"I don't really get how this works, okay? We 'won,' I guess, but they still outnumber us or something? What was even the point of all this? Do we just have to keep doing it over and over until there's nothing left?"

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The soldiers quickly retreated, and yuuki released her hold, revealing the carnage beneath.   So many dead soldiers and horses.  They'd be days just stripping the bodies of anything useful.  It was so much to bear for the young priestess, her efforts had turned the tide of battle, and killed thousands.   A small cadre of soldiers formed around her, shielding her from view of the others, and they would do so all the way to the castle, once she was ready to move.

----------------------------------------

Ryan shook his head.  "I don't really know, but I don't think they'll fight it out."   

Izona nodded.  "It will be some time before I can cast such a grand spell again.  We definitely won, as to surrender, that will be decided at the negotiation table, not the battlefield.   They don't have the supplies to keep fighting, and their leadership is in shambles thanks to your effort.   Beaten, leaderless, and low on supplies, with shattered morale, there's no leader who'd taken an army in that state into battle."

"The point was to make continuing militarily far too expensive for them to consider, and we've done that. "

The trip back to the castle was made in silence where they met up with Yuuki, and were shown into Theo's audience hall.   The young lord embraced each of them in turn, thanking them.  "Without your support, we would never have triumphed here.  Please rest tonight, you have more than earned it."

 

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If not for Knight Captain Daizo's gentle prodding, she might have stood there forever, frozen at the sight of the carnage, her carnage. Thousands dead and ground ruined as thoroughly as any World War I battlefield or any other killing ground she'd read about in school. This was... This was... She had meant... But... This was exactly what she was trying to accomplish, right? Scare the hell out of them, break up the fighting ground, make them stop fighting, but even she knew that wasn't possible without killing so so so many of the people they were here to save. There was a saying from somewhere, the shrine maiden didn't remember where, to the effect 'Kill one man, you're a murderer. Kill a hundred, you're a hero. Kill a thousand, you're a king'. Or was that last bit a god..? Nnnngh.

She didn't remember making her way back to the castle amid her impromptu honorguard.

Lord Theo's hug jolted her out of her introspective daze, reflexive smile dropping from her face, smell of sakura petals dying like an entire cheery tree wilted at once. For a heartbeat, she looked as forlorn as she felt. Still, there were the forms of politeness to follow, and the smiling mask came back, still not touching her eyes. "Thank you, My Lord," she offered with a slight bow, "I tried to get the princess for you. To make it easier at negotiations. I... couldn't find her."

'I'm sorry if I ruined everything by killing her, too' was left unspoken, Yuuki beginning to retreat back into her morbid fugue. 

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"Hey, Yuuki," Vesper called. The other girl's funk was rubbing her the wrong way. When Yuuki looked over at her, Vesper went over.

"You know, a lot more people than that would have died if you hadn't been there," she said stiffly. Encouragement wasn't her usual deal, but then again NEEDING encouragement wasn't Yuuki's usual deal. "And not just on their side.  I guess it doesn't feel like it, but you actually saved lives today, okay? So stop moping around."

She wasn't sure how convincing it was. She herself had killed a lot less people, but the experience had still shaken her. That feeling she'd gotten when all those guards had come towards her. The fear that she'd die...and the knowledge that there was nothing she wouldn't do to avoid it. And then turning a monster on them...a force they'd been like helpless children before. They'd never had a chance. Because of her.

But that wasn't how Yuuki was supposed to be. She was the confident one. The cheerful one. If she got all morose, where did that leave Vesper?

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Theo was glad Yuuki had done what she did, and failed to get the princess.   the efforts of the two otherworlders managed to break the back of the Imperial army.   He had already said they would seek no Reparations for the battle, as they'd inflicted far more casualties than they took.   
 

He expected the Imperial Envoy to arrive soon, and It was Ryan who moved to back up Vesper.  "You did what you had to do Yuuki.   I know it was hard, that this was never what you expected.  this is what we have to do sometimes now, and I'll be honest, Vesper's correct you killed alot of them, but you save every one of ours soldiers who is still alive."

 

Just then the doors opened admitting another soldier.  "Lord Cornaro, Another army approaches from the East.  It's the Andvisian Army."   

Theo looked abit concerned, but motioned for the soldier to continue.  "They wish to parley with You and the Empress."

Siluca smiled  "At last, that work you and Tori did bears fruit, Ryan."   Ryan chuckled, and Tori simply remained silent.   The Wyverns and dragons of the Empire were impressive, but The two Elder Black dragons that She and Ryan slew when they attacked the Kingdom and Andvise had earned them alot of good will.   While the creatures were very resistant to damage, and  immune to magic, Ryan's sword, Ascalon ignored their defenses.   The power could be channeled through the Banshee, thanks to the copilot seat, and thus they'd slain them.

Theo nodded.   "Very well, Tell them we expect the Imperial envoy soon, and that once we hammer out a time to meet, we will let them know."

The Kingdom's army was nearly 180 thousand, and they were fresh.   Caught between the two, Theo's forces would be destroyed if they couldn't hammer out a bargain.

 

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Yuuki smiled wanly in return, a tired slump in her shoulders uncharacteristic of her normal serene acceptance of everything.

"Thanks. I... Lord Theo, please send someone to get me from my room when the conference is scheduled. I'm going to rest like you suggested," the shrine maiden offered with a deep bow before turning on one heel, making it out of the room and out of sight in an unsteady straight line of progress. Between the mana drain deep in her gut and grappling the enormity of the body count she was both directly and indirectly responsible for today, all the superhuman stamina in the world could barely keep her on her feet. Kami, please let these Andvisians insist on a meeting tomorrow or the next day. She was done. 

She snorted bitterly, imagining the chiding from her grandaunts at the sight of a Ryougi complaining under the burden of duty.    

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Theo nodded, the only one who would be present were Ryan ad Tori.   In the end, Both the Empire and Kingdom surrendered to Theo, including their crests.  This would effectively make him Emperor.   The corronation would take place in Fontaine, home of the Mage association and Capital of the Empire.

That night, The lord of the Kingdom would propose to the Empress, which she accepted.  Once theo was crowned, the Grand Crest would be formed, and Chaos stripped from the world, Theo planned to Abdicate and place the two of them as his successors.   Ryan smiled at the plan, as it would neatly complete their tasks.  

The next day they prepared to set out, and that night saw it all nearly undone, as a Cabal of mages sought to assasinate All three main noble leaders.   

Ryan  was on hand to stop it, but none of them were prepared for what happened at the stroke of midnight.   The stars of the world began to wink out,  and a crack of blood red light opened in the sky.   dozens of chaosbeasts descended and wreaked havoc amidst the Grand imperial army, but were fought off.
 

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More waves of chaos beasts came through, exhausting the Grand Imperial Army, Even the use of the now 3 Great Crests was only just enough to survive the final waves.

Tori and the Banshee were completely down, unable to continue fighting due to immense damage.   Indeed, Izona, her own magical reserves nearly depleted,  was tending to her in the castle, as Thunder rumbled across the sky.   

What descended from the sky looked like a man with a jet black cape and impeccable attire one might expect of a noble.   When his feet touched the ground, he opened his eyes, and fifteen thousand soldiers died insantly.   His eyes were solid black rimmed with glowing red energy, and he carried a sword in one hand, a wicked looking saber of incredible quality.   With little choice, Yuuki, Ryan, and Vesper were called to battle him, as normal troops perished.

Ryan frowned, as he drew his primary sword, Laevatein, and looked to his comrades.  "This has got to be Chaos itself"

True enough due to learning magic, the pair could feel a sort of connection, Vesper in particular.   Ryan was absolutely right, and a deep rumbling voice answered.   "I will not allow them to create that accursed crest, and you outsiders will not stop me."   black flames wreathed Chaos' left hand,  as he walked toward them, and Ryan scowled.  "He's got no openings at all."

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"Sacred Bamboo Grove Ramparts!" 

Tossing down the glowing seed and engulfing herself and her friends in it's protective circle, Yuuki felt her pulse race. Her thoughts reflected back to the tossed and torn and burned bodies they had passed getting this close, the frantic fear morphing into hope as they hustled towards the violence. Wishing she had learned some kind of messenger spell to warn Master Izona now might be the time. Hoping that her teacher might find a way to piggyback with them. Praying they all survived if this was the time.

She grunted at Ryan's announcement, dismissing inappropriate thoughts about how much like a classic Sailor Moon villain 'Chaos' looked, "We'll see about that."

Energy began to flare off of her like a geyser of light, her words blurring together as Yuuki forced the aria past her lips quick as she could, "North South East West; I Call to the Spirits and Offer the Vessel that is Best. Water Fire Earth Air. My Power to Your Purpose, our Bond Clear. Spirits of Creation, I Ask for Thy Aid! Protect the Balance, Keep it from being Unmade!"

Her feet planted wide, and moon silver ring swinging in arcs that sculpted the coruscating magic into ring upon ring of floating runes, Yuuki's last words, the words that made the array of magic explode into purpose and life like a sudden sunrise were almost unheard, "Order Sign! Incarnate the Kami!" 

Spoiler

Free Action: Forcefield for the party. :)

Main Action: Casting her Keystone Spell with 80 EP invested. http://orokos.com/roll/751615 2d6+8 results in 14. Whew.

HP: 170/170 EP: 90/170 Tag. You're it, Max.

 

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Vesper instinctively recoiled from the aura of raw power rolling off of this man. She had to fight, but how?

Then her eyes focused not on him, but past him. The chaos beasts. He was confident. Maybe he wasn't focused on the creatures, sure that nothing could challenge him. That might give her an opening only she could exploit.

"Therion," she said. "Therion. Therion!"

As the hooded spectre materialized behind Chaos' figure, scythe already starting to pendulum down at him, Vesper immediately reached her hands out and concentrated on the threads of black power that connected him to the multitude of beasts. She'd never be able to control that many, not at one time...but maybe even a few could make a difference.

Rolls

Soul to do something trollsome: 2d6+8 14

Divine Intervention reroll: Soul to do something trollsome: 2d6+8 13

14 it is! To try to wrest control of chaos beasts and send them to attack him!

Therion's attack...
Therion Scythe Attack or Defense (x2): 2d6+8 10 2d6+8 16

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With Yuuki summoning a dozen earth Elementals to her side, The fight was becoming abit more even, as they began to wrestle with the summoned Chaos beasts.  They were fairly equivalent in power, and Vesper still found it quite difficult to try to wrest control of the chaos beasts.

Chaos chuckled at the attempt, though his glowing eyes seemed to take an angered glow.  "How would you like it if I took your pet from you.  All it would take is a simple touch."   

Just as Therion swung down, Chaos used his other hand to bring up his sword, blocking the blow, but the awkwardness of the defense was enough to prevent him from stapping Therion with it, as the spirit backed away slightly.   That flaming hand disgorged a torrent of flame which Ryan intercepted, bisecting the blast with his sword, Laevatein.  The defense left the sword glowing.  "Enhanced Hellfire.  That was always so much fun to deal with."  he grumbled as he swung, and found his own strike parried by the sword.  "Enchanted sword too.   It defends its master."

Chaos sat there looking at him.  "I see you're very observant, and a veteran fighter.  Die."  with that a pillar of red flame engulfed Ryan."  When there was no scream, Chaos sighed.  "i'd hoped for more from him."

The bamboo shielding him was gone now, but he stood unscathed, and smiling.  "Oh you'll get more, not just from me, but from all of us."   Tori  was still busy with the rushed repairs to the banshee, hoping to get it in the air to help handle the chaos beasts.

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"Sacred Bamboo Grove Ramparts!"

Magic words, simple and clean beneath the chaos of the battle and the explosion, marked the birth of a new green starlike seed in Yuuki's hand. Held overhead and tossed to the ground, the old protective growth feel away only to be replaced a new, whole and refreshed defensive barrier. The shrine maiden unfurled her twin whips from their belt loops, charging forward in the wake of the new ghostly growth. She probably couldn't hurt him, but she sure as heck could distract him. nodding respect at the very enthusiastic elementals as they tore into the pack of monsters, she lashed out with her verdant weapons, once, twice. Each swing brought with it a burgeoning, reaching mass that sought to pin Chaos to the earth even as it's mother whip withdrew back into the safety of the forcefield.

 

Spoiler

Action One: (Free Action) Renew Forcefield

Action Two: Attack Chaos http://orokos.com/roll/755119

2d6+7: 17 So 17 to hit with a -2 to his defense roll, with 37 damage and entangle 3 if I connect...

Action Three: Attack Chaos Again http://orokos.com/roll/755120

2d6+7: 15 So 15 to hit with the same mods and stuff. :)

 

 

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Vesper scowled and shook her head at herself. Stealing the creatures was like trying to lift a boulder! He was too strong! She turned the fury of her mind onto the smug, smirking 'god of magic.' Her powers weren't magic of this world...lets see how he dealt with THAT!

Therion spun his scythe around and sliced a quick lop at Chaos' ankles, then reversed his grip to bring that sharp crescent at his chest on the backswing!

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What should have been easily dodged attacks were not, as Chaos was trying to focus on defending against Therion and Ryan.  In a moment of hesitation, he was struck by both of Yuuki's attacks, which bound him in vines, letting both Ryan and Therion strike him, the former hitting four times.   It was impressive, and any lesser foe would have been blown away and sliced to ribbons.   It didn't go that way though.  unleashing a blast of magic in a sphere around him, Chaos blew away the vines binding him, sent Therion and Ryan flying, the latter blasted into a tree which splintered into veritable toothpicks afterwards.  Ryan was coughing up blood, having not been hit that hard in some time..  

"Perhaps I cannot kill you directly with spells, sworddancer, but there's always more than one way to get somebody."  Chaos seemed so utterly smug and self-assured with having blasted away the two primary threats.   It was then that Vesper chose to unleash her unique power, a blast at the very mind of Chaos itself.   She could feel her energy replenish, and Chaos screamed as the shadow creatures faltered momentarily in their battle against the elementals.

 

Therion has 5 hp left, Ryan is badly hurt and both will need an action at least to reenter the battlefield.

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"Lotus! Vale! Dance!"

Green Lightning split the heavens above Yuuki through the tattered bamboo grove, once, twice, thrice, for each shouted word. The light remained afterwards, dancing over her limbs like floating lanterns on waves. She moved with unnatural speed towards Chaos, clad in white-and-green where she once wore black-and-gold. Flowers flooded the ground with every footfall, companion to the crown of cherry blossoms that covered everything from her nose up including her eyes. Her apparent blindness was no handicap, newly-bethorned whips singing in graceful arcs through Chaos' parries like he was standing still.

She wasn't smiling. Her team needed time and she was giving them it, sprinting in a circle around Chaos, every bloom for a half-mile singing warning in her ears, borrowing a piece of her soul for these few previous heartbeats.

 

Spoiler

Activating Last Resort for 80 EP

Attack Number One Auto Hits but.... http://orokos.com/roll/757523 No Crit, so 74 damage with entangle.

Attack Number Two Also Auto Hits but... http://orokos.com/roll/757526 No crit so 74 damage with entangle.

HP 170/170 EP 10/170 One Automatic Dodge on the stack.

 

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