(While he had taken care of some
of his shopping needs, there was a thing or two that were a bit outstanding at the moment for our dark and fiery Twin Blade. Canti said he wouldn't be long, having gone off to see a man about a sound effect. Well, no problem, as the Fire Master had said that any hacker worth his code could figure this one out. Exiting the subterranian training hall, those black eyes of his scanned around and found...well...alot of black. Yeah, this was Ani Sector. You were gonna find alot of darkness-themed places. Hell, there was a bar not far from here called 'The Red Door'.)
Canti: Well, someone around here must like the Stones...
(Of course, this sound effect thing... Should he go to the Bazaar or find someone in town? He didn't know anyone in town, and he didn't wanna linger for too long in the place where he and a bunch of his friends had not only duked it out with Raikiri, but Garaa as well. Perhaps the Bazaar was best in this instance. Canti got a move on. People right now were moving along to a certain rhythm, as nearby there was this club
- loud and crazy - black as midnight, but full of neon lights. Nice, but...like many of the things around Yamiyo...not really his style. Heading for the edge of the sector and for the Chaos Gate, Canti soon found himself in the familiar maze-like structure that was the Yamiyo Bazaar. He began just by looking around to see if anyone seemed to be running a stall that worked on character edits. It's not like that sort of thing was illegal here, so they could afford to advertise. Except...they didn't. And now, he had that music stuck in his head! He approached a fairly sci-fi looking guy for his business, then. He seemed to be like the guy at an anime convention who would sell masks, hats, and other articles.)
"Hiyo! What can I interest you in, guy? You look like you could use some devil horns. Maybe something in a Cyberdemon?"
Canti: Actually, I'm not looking for anything visual. Do you do sound bites? Attach a sound effect to an item when it goes off?
"Sure do! Last week, I made a Wavemaster's staff roar like Unicron when he casted Tier-4 spells off of it. What'd you have in mind?"
Canti: I have this ring that fires heat rays. You ever seen War of the Worlds
"Classic or remake?"
"I think I know what you're after, and I like it! Lemme see that item."
(The vendor has a look at the Vak Ray ring.)
"Hmmm... Non-standard item. Might be a little more complicated. I can do it, but I'll have to charge you extra."
Canti: It's a prototype for something the Fire Master's cooking up for his army.
(That seemed to get his attention, but he still wanted a thousand for it. Canti obliged this and let the man get to work. Soon, the ring was making the right sound
and the Twin Blade could get on with his life. He had another task to take care of. You see, he may have been given a few of those Pure Waters by Raine, but he was gonna need more, perhaps, in this issue. He had to go find some. Cue the wandering montage music!
Canti began to head up one corridor and down another, looking for someone who sold perishable items AND the ones he wanted. Plenty of said items, to be sure, but the right damn things? Hell no! After a while, Canti stopped.)
Canti: Why didn't I bring Shadow?
(Shadow was THERE!! And the Twin Blade had just leapt ten feet into a wall, looking back nervously.)
Canti: Don't you ever
do that, you- When did you even get here?!
Shadow: I was following you. You did not give orders to stay.
(Canti groaned and peeled himself from the wall. This guy was like Dogmeat... Well, may as well use him like Dogmeat. Canti held out a Pure Water and had him examine it, then told him to go find more. The demon dog leapt off to go find something as the Twin Blade calmed down from that major jump-scare. Of course, as it turns out, the Pure Waters were at a vendor's table that he'd passed like three times. Shadow pointed at it like it was plain as day. Still wasn't, but he decided to ask.)
"Yeah, that's a thing I have. Not cheap, though."
Canti: Why not? Aren't they simple dungeon items?
"Yeah, and how many vendors actually sell them in towns? That would be...none. You want some, it's a thousand a pop."
Canti: Alright, alright... Gimme ten, so I don't have to see you for a while.
"Pleasure doing business with you!"
(You don't wanna know what Canti grumbled at him on the way out, and Shadow bumped the man's table as he
left, knocking over a few items. So, we return now to the underground training area in Ani Sector - no incidents occurred on the way back - and this time, Canti told Shadow to stay in the place, instead of following him. Can't have the guy wandering around like that... So, now that he had said what needed to be said and done what needed to be done, there was just one matter left on the table, and it was the big one. Here he was, a Twin Blade of the flame and the darkness, and they were sending him into the most dangerous ice tower in The World... You don't shrug that one off, not one bit. If you don't prepare, you're gonna be avalanched and snow-blind, and then sat on by huskies for good measure. That image aside, we find Canti now looking for master trainer of this black marble paradise, Velvet. The black-clad lady was to be found exiting her office into the main area. She'd been in and out of there ever since they arrived, and presumably long before that.)
Canti: Hey, Velvet. You busy? I need someone to kick my ass.
(This, he said with amusement, but after the initial humor...well, he wasn't exactly joking.)
Canti: Seriously, though, I need to train, whatever it is you can offer me. This tower may be the worst thing I've faced in The World yet. I need to be prepared.
"Always busy, always available. I'll happily kick your ass, but I can't say it'll do much more than prepare you for getting your ass kicked."
(She let off a grin and bid him to follow her to a different room. The main hall was more of a meeting place right now, not exactly somewhere you wanted to sling spells and such. Instead, they were in a smaller room, though it looked roughly the same as the other. The key difference here was that it wasn't open enough for a sustained flight action. Canti was looking this over as Velvet stood opposite him, ready to begin as trainer.)
"What did you have in mind? I'm not sure how much I can prepare you for going up against someone like the seer."
Canti: That's just it. I'm worried that I'm too predictable, readable. Regardless of what this guy's item may do, he may be good at anticipating things as well. This is where I'm going to be my most vulnerable. I need to narrow the margin of error, make it harder to be exploited for my weaknesses. I may be getting by alright as is, but suppose I'm not up to your standard and this guy owns me? Or one of his high-powered minions do? Can't have that happen without saying that I at least did everything I could to prevent that.
"Hmm, well, technique and control I can teach."
(She pulled out both her weapons and
a pair of scrolls, tossing one to him.)
"Cast that thing on yourself. It's a sparring spell I had made up for training. Ever used save states?"
Canti: ...No. But I've heard of them. I'm...thinking Groundhog's Day?
"Something like that. When we cast the spells it'll take an image of where we are, what our health is, and so forth. This particular spell will allow us to fight but will reset if either of us would die, or in my case, if you land a few decent hits. There's a bit more to it, but I don't feel like explaining the details."
(More details weren't necessary. The explanation was near enough to what he thought was going to happen, so he just accepted her explanation and moved on. Canti opened the scroll and...yes, of course
it was labeled 'Deja Vu'. He cast it upon himself and, like the lady said, he was invited to come at her. She actually said "Come at me, bro."
after casting the spell on herself. This was a mistake, because he'd seen this movie before. The guy charging in usually got his ass not only beaten, but done so easily that it was embarassing. Oh well, he'd asked for this. After all, he had NO idea what Velvet could do. For now, he stuck to his base knife skill, drawing his Vampire Blades for now and attacking. Come at her, he did, moving in low to the ground to perform some upper slashes as his opening move! ...which didn't turn out so well. Velvet weaved to the side and, instead of completely dodging it, used one of her blades to send his own attack along while viciously stabbing him in the guy...which of course did even more
damage because he'd been moving at speed. Canti felt the jab, and then suddenly everything changed back! He was standing back at the other side of the room again, as those The Great Will of the Macrocosm had willed the universe to reset, complete with a humorous Ploink!
sound. Okay... That was weird.)
"Too obvious. If you were a heavyblade I'd expect you to be dragging a sword along the ground like some cartoon character. Again."
Canti: I think that's their default stance.
(He was still determined to do this without using his special abilities, because if there was something wrong with his basic attack strategy, there was something wrong with everything
. Canti began again by zig-zagging his way in, then at the last moment to leap up and strike down at her instead, both blades in case she used both of her own. In return, she blocked and heaved, shoving Canti back. No retaliatory strike comes, though. She was just standing in place. Odd...)
"Melzas is a heavyblade himself; I'll try to avoid using too much agility to counter you."
Canti: Good to know, but I should be pushing the envelope.
(The shove made him skid to a halt, then return with a low leap that's made to slash at a leg with one blade and parry overhead slashes with the other. The aftermath would send him into a tumble, but the attempt was worth trying at least once. However, rather than parry at all, Velvet jumped up high and casted a Rue Rom where she was. She landed just outside theradius of the spell, aaand Canti went through it, himself. Dammit! We now pause for station identification and Canti removing icicles from his face, then resume with a sudden side-leap to wall-hike and launch at Velvet with one blade to intercept attack and the other to stab after initial impact. This leads to the trainer swinging her weapons in a big baseball bat swing - like a Heavy Blade - which caught one of his blades and threw him off course for the others. Canti landed and-)
(Starting positions again, the both of them! Velvet must've done it somehow, kinda like resetting Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em fighters.)
"You'd be dead half a dozen times over. Your problem isn't predictability, it's the limited range of options available to you. If all you're going to do is stab me, it doesn't matter what you do; you gotta get close, and there aren't many ways to do that."
Canti: Limited range is definitely a problem, but I'm a Twin Blade so I have to live with that much
. I didn't want to resort to spells and special powers so quickly. Makes me feel like I'm just a cheap bag of tricks. Still, I can't break a Heavy Blade's defense even with a greater
effort, I guess. Shall we take his up a notch, then?
"Are you going to hold back against Melzas? Are you going to hide your tricks until half your party is dead and they have a lower chance of slipping in under his notice? If you're giving anything less than your all against him, I might as well kill you here."
(This seemed to genuinely piss her off. Canti held up his hand defensively on the matter.)
Canti: Hey, whoa, chill. I thought there was something wrong with the general way
I fight, and there are. That's just something I needed to figure out first.
"That said... you can hold back a little here, on the off chance he's somehow watching. He's stronger than I am anyways, it shouldn't take as much to overpower me, right?"
(We're not holding any bets on that. An Elite is an Elite, but they make mistakes too. Someone who trains people for a living makes less. Still, Canti didn't appreciate the attitude on the matter. He understood what she was saying, but the way it was said got under his skin. Well, that's enough of that, then. Canti's hand whipped out and produced a triplet of his launching Demon Spikes, heading right for Velvet. Directly after, he flew to the ceiling and threw down a few more, taking a couple more jumps to the walls to repeat this, before essentially dropping down right at whatever flank presented itself with Terror Cyclone. The point had been to keep her occupied with the spikes - and she did spend time parrying them - in order to get in a hit with the bigger attack, which he did. Velvet was still acting in the nature of a Heavy Blade, and as a Heavy Blade knocked him aside in the middle of his technique with another baseball swing. Now, on this instance, Canti did not
immediately leap back into the fray. He casted Rig Saem and then still
stood his ground and cast MeRai Don. The advantage of taking a couple light armor items instead of medium ones. You get some stronger spells, like a Tier-3 lightning bolt from on high! Velvet avoided this, however, and dashed towards him...the way he had in his opening move?)
Canti: Okay, she's going to do something tricky...
(She wouldn't be doing it, otherwise, not after making special note of the act, earlier on. Canti was on the defensive, but Velvet actually slid past
him and halted suddenly, attempting to stab him in the back. Well, this seemed like a good time to duck low - although he could swear he still felt the tip of the blade along his back as he did - and try to sweep kick and slash at what he hoped to be an off-balance opponent. He definitely made the hit, since-)
(Back to starting positions. Velvet was smiling now, perhaps in approval.)
"I'm guessing you're one of the more active attackers in your group. That's what you need to encourage; relentless assault. I can handle you alone, but you probably expected that. I can handle Nighthand, as much as he likes trying to show off and overpower me. At some point, there are just too many attacks to dodge, too much flying through the air to soak, and too many enemies to keep pinned down. The more you can keep up the assault, and the more you can get your party to join you, the better off you'll be."
(She had one of his spikes in her hand. She casually flicked it at him and he caught it.)
"I like these, by the way. Not many expect a non-spell ranged attack from our class."
Canti: Thanks. I have...no idea where they came from. They just started happening and I took some time to do a little target practice.
(He'd been trying to find a way to put it away, but he could neither return it to his body nor put it in his inventory. Giving up, he let it drop. They usually faded after a little while.)
Canti: So, what you're saying is what I've known along, that it's never so much about what I can do and how well I do it, but who I have on my side at the time.
"Well, sure, but it's always good to do your part. You can never fully rely on the assholes around you, right? Just be aware of what's going on and who else can attack. You might see an opening that you could jump in and do a slash, but what if by doing so, you get in the way of someone else with a more powerful attack? I doubt many on your team are about to shoot through you. Also, you can see if some of your attacks can be used for zoning and positioning rather than direct assault. Those spikes weren't too hard to block, but if you shot, on, three or four times as many of them to keep me pinned down so someone else can attack, that's an equally effective means of using them. Maybe you're not doing the damage, but it doesn't matter so long as damage is done."
Canti: It's a thought. Just as long as nobody else needs to get nearby.
(We can't have our friends becoming pin cushions, after all.)
Canti: I haven't found too many problems in battle chemistry that I've noticed. I can wait for other people to act, but I made myself one of the major frontlines people so that others who aren't impulsive can have their time to plan and react. 'The guy who does stuff' is pretty much who I am.
"I haven't seen your party in action, and you've admittedly made a lot more progress towards dangerous objectives than most people I know ever could have dreamed up. You're obviously doing something right. Back to your original concern, predictability. I think your best bet isn't to try to be unpredictable, but to make predictability not matter. You either make yourself such a pressing concern that your opponent has to react, creating an opening for someone else, or you become so overpowering that even if they see it coming they can't do anything to stop it. I don't know that you can overpower an Elite that way, but then, I didn't know they could really be killed until recently, so there's that."
Canti: I think the latter is more likely. If this guy actually sees half as much as I think he does, we've got problems, but I didn't want to leave myself open to other things. Like...he could be a normal badass in his spare time and that would suck even worse. I hadn't even considered
that he was anything but maybe a Wavemaster 'till I was told otherwise. I thought all prophets had to be the wizened type.
"You might say he wizened up to the weaknesses of a caster class, eh?"
(Wow, you could hear
that facepalm. He might've lost HP over that one...)
Canti: I'm gonna pretend I didn't hear that, and thank you for your help today.
"You might say he wizened up to-"
(She cracked up at this, of course, having done that on purpose. Once she was done, though...)
"No problem. I'm invested in this suicide mission of yours now, so I'd prefer it if you didn't all bite it. Anything else you wanted to bring up?"
(He paused in thought there for a second, then said...)
Canti: Just one thing. Any tips for Shadow? I dunno if you've done any work with pets, but he's a tough guy, himself.
"I have no idea, man. Is he a pet? Who's is the cat, then? All these animals are strange, you don't see them even here in Yamiyo, just hackers that turn themselves into animals for whatever weird reason they have. I could study him and see if I can come up with anything, but I can't guarantee anything helpful before you all leave for the tower."
(The Twin Blade sighed. He'd forgotten about this.)
Canti: Maoh is a player and he can turn into a cat. I dunno why. Shadow is a pet written by someone outside of the game I know. May as well have a look at him, on the off chance you can do something for 'im.
(So, he'd go out and bring Shadow to Velvet's office, and he patiently waited while things were carrying on. Shadow would cooperate well enough with whatever Velvet was doing...provided she didn't try to impair one of his functions.)