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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:21 pm 
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Master of Games
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Location: ...Tracking...please wait...
In the hideout, or what passed for one these days, Sheena sighed as she watched over Nall. The blademaster’s character was laced with flashing patches of static, strobing and pulsing as he healed. Nall had some very robust mechanisms inside his data to repair himself, but the damage done to him was worse every time, and every time they struggled to combat the damage and restore what bits of his data they could. Sheena hadn’t been lying when she said he was more code than man. Even if they got out of this mess, even if they obtained each of the Twilight Items and used them to push Twilight away, to restore all of their minds to their bodies, would it even work for Nall? His mind was so used to being in that body that a normal human body, atrophied after years of being stuck in a coma, might not even be recognizable.

Yet she smiled, even as a tear rolled down her cheek. Nall would put a hand on her shoulder and tell her not to worry, tell her that everything would be fine. Even if he couldn’t be restored, that wouldn’t stop him. Even if he knew, flat out, that nothing he did could save himself, he would still fight. He would combat the injustice of the Elites, and their power over the game and the world it connected to. He would push and push even beyond his own limits, for the sake of everyone infected with the virus.

Even if most of those infected were his fault. Perhaps, especially because of that.

A footstep behind her brought her mind back to reality, as Demorian slowly walked to the edge of the bed and sat, watching Nall’s recuperation with a studied and familiar eye.

“How is he?”

“Better.” She could almost tell where the static patches were fading, where the healing was taking place. Not fast enough, but as fast as they could go. If they weren’t careful, Nall’s mind would be erased as his body was restored. He would be full, whole, as powerful as ever, but a hollow shell.

“Things are moving faster than I had expected.” Demorian said, his eyes on Sheena more then Nall now.

“How so?”

“The Fire Master agreed to a meeting. And… I have a key.”

Sheena’s eyes widened. A key? So soon? It was nothing short of a miracle that one was ready now. Granted the rest would take time, but it was possible they wouldn’t need them.

“Where is everyone?” Sheena asked.

“They were chasing down a figure from the past. They’ve won, but not subtly.”

Sheena sighed. So it went. Nothing this group ever did was subtle. It almost made the Elites look like paragons of finesse.

“Call them in. We need to get moving.” Demorian nodded and rose, to do as he was told. It seemed that Sheena was beginning to trust him once again.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

The chime of the flashmail woke Nighthand with a jolt, and he sat upright quickly. Blood rushing from his head and the disorientation of what woke him hit at once, and he cradled his head in his hand.

A glance around showed him the hideout was nearly empty. Where had everyone gone?

No matter. He opened the flashmail that woke him.

Flashmail
To: The Party
From: Demorian
RE: Developments


Sorry about ditching you guys, but from what I can tell you handled it well enough. I hope you got the closure you wanted.

There have been developments. Everyone should return to the hideout as soon as possible. I don’t want to discuss them over Flashmail.

End Flashmail

Nighthand glanced over to Demorian and waved. “Hiya. I’m up.” Demorian nodded and offered a smile.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Once the group was gathered, Demorian started his speech.

“Once again, sorry about leaving you guys out there. I would have come if there was a threat you couldn’t handle, but you guys are pretty powerful. You had it under control. Mostly.” With that he glanced at Dien.

“Anyway. Two things happened to draw me away from you at that critical juncture. We have paths open to use now.” He reached into his belt-coat and pulled out two objects. He held up the first; a folded piece of paper with a waxy seal, marked with a stylized flame that seemed to flicker as the paper’s angle changed.

“This paper is an invitation. Our meeting with the Fire Master has been approved. All we have to do is present this at his castle and we’ll be shown in.” He paused, looking at each person in turn.

“Do nothing rash, if we go. If the Master is attacked, even if we all survive, word will get around. We won’t be allowed to meet with any other Master, should we try, and even our earthen hospitality may disappear. More so than almost any other, the Fire Master has garnered the political respect of the city. We have to play it safe and slow.” He set the letter down on a side table and held up the other object for all to see.

The second object was a small key, no longer than a finger, and looked to be made of wood. Small twigs served as tines to turn the tumblers in whatever mechanism the key was designed to open.

“This is a key. It took a very long time to develop. Now, you’re all aware by now that the towers of the Elites are open to challengers. This is because the challenges that await inside are so insidious, so dangerous, that the Elites have no need to worry about intruders reaching them.

“This key will grant us passage through one of the towers. Despite its appearance, it will work on any tower. We would still have to pass the challenges inside, though the key will make some of them easier. The biggest function is once we reach the top; this key will bypass the final most dangerous obstacles and bring us to the sanctum of the Elite who resides in the tower we choose.

“The catch is, we only have one attempt. Once we use the key, it’s gone. Once we leave the tower, any benefit it granted us is gone. It also will not work on the Master’s Tower; I still don’t know how to access that.”

He paused, letting this all sink in.

“So. Make your decisions; do we meet with the Fire Master, or do we assault one of the tower?”

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 9:18 pm 
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Ikkitousen
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Location: Walking the line of madness
Takua had sat down on the bed that he'd woken up in the first time. From what he had been told, it seemed to have been, more or less, claimed by him anyhow. Well, that was fine, he was still technically blind, although not practically. Now, he was familiarizing himself with all of the people in the room. He hadn't really had time when he was in the prison, but at least now he could take a good look at them all. On one level, he was checking them out to see which of them was most likely to betray him in some way, and in another he was memorizing their appearances so he knew whose vision he was stealing.

He was, however, listening to what Demorian had to say. Dien hadn't exactly impressed him earlier. The entire lack of finesse, and the considerable suspicion that he had for what really happened when Dien met Suraisu had firmly entrenched the Blademaster as a person to be watched. Of course, he didn't know the man that well...but still. There was so much even someone who wasn't paranoid and hallucinating could take, and from the sounds of it, more than a few people had hit that point. Thankfully, Canti had had a bright idea earlier and saved both of their asses from a metal version that had tried to tentacle rape them, and not gently either. Fortunately, with the power of 4-Kids and their censoring of all violence, they were able to disarm the beast. Oh, wait, that wasn't how it went. Takua chuckled. Some jokes just didn't seem to get old, and 4-Kids was a joke unto itself. How could someone be afraid of a gun if they'd taken it away because it was 'too violent'?

Ah well. Momentary humor aside, that man deserved watching. Which was odd, because he'd saved Takua's vision by paying the cost for his healing. So he deserved a second chance then? Well...maybe. Sure, that seemed logical, but after what he had seen earlier in the day...speaking of days, how long had they been here? How long had he been trapped in The World? Time seemed to lose its coherency here, he couldn't tell how many days it had been. Had it even been a day? Fuck, he could really lose his sanity in this place.

One other advantage of stealing someone's vision, nobody would know if he was looking at them. Oh, sure, the person on the other end might feel like they were being watched...which reminded him that he needed to send a general flashmail to them about that. Or just bring it up. Either one would work, and it might soothe some people's fears.

Demorian was still talking though, outlining the places that they could go to. Takua hesitated when he opened it up for discussion and a vote. On one hand, having the support of the Fire Master could be an excellent thing when they went to attack one of the Elites, and they might learn a lot. On the other hand...he was someone who worked for the people they were trying to kill, had taken the time to climb the political system here, and presumably had their ear. He really couldn't trust the man not to just back stab them. Perhaps going to kill an Elite, now, and then going to meet him after the Elites knew of their escape. At least, he assumed they would know once one of their number died. That might not actually be true.

Of course, the man would likely be mad if they didn't go to him first and then bumped off one of the people higher up on the chain. So each way had its own detractions. He was leaning towards just charging in, but caution told him that that wasn't a good idea either. If they didn't have support, the fallout could claim them all. So was it really a better idea to talk to this guy? So he spoke up, throwing his rather paranoid but, still just, opinion out to the floor after getting himself orientated toward Demorian. "What's to stop the Fire Master from just turning us over to the Elites if we go?  He does work for them after all."

"Hmm..."  Demorian was silent for a while, thinking about what Takua had said. "Nothing, really.  Though it depends on whether or not he knows our faces.  The Freedom Fighters vary so much over time, it's only specific faces, like Sheena and Nall and Raine, who are constantly flagged.  They haven't seen me in ages, and the only other one here who might be flagged is Nighthand."

Not exactly something that was sparking any more confidence in going to see this guy. So...what exactly were they doing? They sure as hell weren't going to get any support then, just a fact finding thing? That didn't really seem that...smart. Good lord, what the hell were they really doing here? "Okay...so we're going as who, exactly?  If we can't be the Freedom Fighters, we're just some group that bases in Yamiyo?"

"Presumably.  There are so many groups, though, that a name means little.  They probably won't even ask."

So...the one thing that they had on their side was that the Master didn't actually know who they were, so they weren't their rather criminally wanted selves. "Gotcha.  So we're going to find out what information that we can and see what develops?"

"What we say, what our purpose is, is up to you all."

Well shit. That all made things a lot easier on him. Which was, of course, when he felt a pair of arms slither around his neck and Ondine whispered in his ear. “You do realize that if we go to the tower, and they capture our images somehow, we can't really meet with the Fire Master or any others around the city after that. So, ideally, we could go to the Fire Master, leave, and then assault the tower. An hour or two isn't going to make that much of a difference, right?”

Takua grimaced lightly. She just had to bring that part up. It annoyed him that she just had to be the voice of conscience...which, of course, limited how paranoid he could be. Which was a horrendously good thing. Damn her. He got the impression that she was laughing at his train of thought, to which he shook a mental fist at her. 'Yes, but I still can't see the rewards if we go. I can only see the risk. Plus, we have a couple very...voltile people in this group. So far, we haven't exactly been diplomatic. I seriously doubt that's going to change in the next few minutes. Plus, I could fuck up negotiations if I hallucinate something, so I couldn't reliably be a part of it.'

So he spoke up. “Alright. Then my vote is for the Tower, unless someone can give a good reason why they want to go to the Master, then I might change my mind.”

_________________
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 10:30 pm 
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Ikkitousen
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Kid…? Kid!

Lidded eyes fluttered, but they didn’t open. A soft groan was heard, but there was nothing more.

Idiot, he’s not woken up by now… maybe he’s dead or something.

The reply was patient. If he was dead, we’d be deleted by now, remember?

He groaned again. His head hurt. Why did his head hurt? That was a mystery. This time, a black-gloved hand reached up. The boy’s fingers lightly brushed at his temples, the ache more of a throbbing dullness than an actual stabbing would. It was like a moderate headache, but not exactly that either. It was strange. He felt disjointed, confused, his mind blank for a moment. Where was he right now, who was talking to him right now? Who the hell was he?

Fragments started to come back. Memories of him going through somewhere called the Bazaar surfaced. Something about an AI, the word Libra suddenly came to mind. Then it all hit him at once, and he blinked, his head finally coming back together straight. Baron. He was Baron, Twin Blade, and trapped in The World. That last bit had a bit of depression mixed in with it, but he quashed it down, finally coming around. He had been going to a doctor of sorts to see if he could help Libra, who had been hurt somehow. And then he had agreed to… to… something, and blacked out. Now he was here. And where here was, well… he’d figure that out shortly.

Slowly, Baron rubbed at his aching head, brushing strands of his black hair out of his face. Somehow, the binding on his ponytail had come undone, and he found himself retying it without thinking about it. His hands jerked to a stop suddenly; he had never actually done anything like that before. Before, it was just character data, and whenever it was reloaded his hair was all ready. Yet now, the first time he had tied it up since he had been trapped within The World, it had been almost reflexive, automatic. Something about that scared him; that was not something he had ever done before; how much of this was him, and how much of this was the game? It was so… unnatural.

This isn’t the time for this, boy! You can go freak out about your hair later, right now let’s figure out what’s going on here.

Oh right. There was the whole matter of where he was right now. Baron looked around, his eyes still slightly unfocused as he tried to get a bearing on his surroundings. He wasn’t in the bazaar anymore; that was for sure. In fact, he didn’t seem to be in a city anymore. The Twin Blade’s silver gaze went back and forth across a field of brilliant flowers, the colors bright and vibrant. Now that was definitely odd; why the hell were there flowers, let alone bright and beautiful ones, in the Yamiyo server? If anything, it was creepy; anything serene in an artificial server made by hackers and controlled by the Elites was disturbing in its own way.

Shaking his head to try and remove the disconcerting feeling, the Twin Blade continued looking around. He turned, and to his left he noted a shape in the distance. It was fairly solid shape, extending almost like a wall; maybe that was the outer wall to Luchairt Cradh. Figuring his best option would be to head towards it, and maybe follow the wall around towards a gate, Baron shook his head and started towards it. It didn’t seem too far distant, but it was far enough that he couldn’t exactly make it out to be a wall. But it was wall-like enough, that was all he needed to serve as a landmark. Hopefully it was his ticket back to getting into the Root Town again, where he could rejoin the others. Then he needed to sleep, or whatever he would do here while he was comatose in The World. Baron figured that it was close enough to call it sleep.

Striding towards the wall, Baron felt the flowers brushing at his heels and lower legs. They were higher than one would imagine in a regular, picturesque field. Then again, the picturesque was hardly realistic. Maybe a regular field of flowers was above ankle-deep, like this one. Who knew? The Twin Blade couldn’t really remember doing anything like that, so it was no surprise that he was clueless.

Suddenly, a grip on his leg surprised Baron, and the Twin Blade stumbled. His left leg couldn’t come off of the ground, and he felt something tighten around it as it crept further up. He looked down to see a thick, tendril-covered vine wrapping its way up the limb, holding him firmly despite his best efforts. Grimacing, the boy pulled one of his blades free to hack it off, but the vines suddenly shot up. His left arm was bound to his body, preventing him from moving it in the slightest. The vines slowly started to progress along his body, reaching to completely bind him and drag him to the ground.

He wasn’t about to let that happen though. Using his free arm, he drew a weapon and slashed at the vines holding his other arm. They parted fairly readily, but as he was busy cutting himself free, the Twin Blade paused. He had heard something; laughter. Who could be out here laughing? It was probably whoever was trying to tie him up with those vines; whether it was a hacker or a Yamiyo server monster wasn’t his concern. Right now he had to get himself free from his bindings and then he could deal with whatever it was.

A Juk Rom exploded around him, and Baron winced at the thorns and sharp-edged branches slicing tiny lacerations all over his skin. The Twin Blade couldn’t really do much except shield his face with his free arm, and even then a small cut was opened up on one cheek. At least it was only a level one spell rather than a more powerful one. And it had the benefit of slicing off the last of the vines on his arm, freeing both hands for use now. The tendrils started creeping up again, but Baron kept them back with his newly-freed hand. In the meantime, his other hand was thrust out towards the source of the giggling, and a Vak Don rained down on the bushes.

Brush caught fire, the flames immediately leaping up. The heat was immediate for Baron, but it wasn’t as strong as he had hoped, merely lighting the bushes without doing much else. The flames vanished shortly as the bushes dissolved into ashes, not even starting to spread. The giggles only continued from other directions, and another Juk Rom came to tear up Baron’s skin. The stinging injuries all over his body served more as an irritation, and it was obvious that the normally level-headed boy was started to get angry. He had been lost every which way and turned around in the city itself, he had gone to a loony doctor for information and help only to end up unconscious, and now he was in what was supposed to be a nice field of flowers and perhaps a reprieve but instead was getting torn apart by thorn tornados and unseen giggles!

In an instant, three spells of differing origins crashed down in a rough triangular shape around the Twin Blade. An Ani Don, all darkness-enshrouded skulls, rained down to his left, near one of the more recent giggles. The bushes in that area were flattened and the flowers crushed, leaving just a patch of darkened greenery. Lightning cracked down where the first bout of laughter had been, leaving scorched and blackened spots where the greenery had been previously incinerated. The Rai Don was quickly followed by a Vak variant like the one from before, and another small fire broke out behind him. Slowly the magical aura started to fade from the Twin Blade’s body, and after a quick check at his SP to make sure that he was within tolerable limits, he refocused on freeing himself from the vines.

While he removed the rest of the vines, namely the last few on his leg, Baron noticed something. The giggling had stopped, and suddenly. Did that mean he had hit them? His first spell had to have been on target, but that hadn’t done anything. Yet these last few spells had taken things out? That was certainly odd. Well, it wasn’t a concern for now; getting himself free was the first thing he had to worry about, and getting back to the city was the next. The plants and their insane giggling were not high on his list of priorities.

A scream broke out from nearby, and Baron jumped in surprise. The upside to that was that his leg was wrenched free of the last few tendrils. The downside? Well, the pull threw off his balance and he landed hard on his shoulder in the grasses. Immediately he pushed himself up, lest more vines rise up and bind him like before. The screams got louder, but they didn’t sound terrified. If anything, it was a amused yet scandalized sound. The Twin Blade jumped every time a new one went off, each from a different direction, and wondered what the hell he had just ended up in. Rather than sticking around to find out, he headed for the wall again, immediately dashing in the direction where he had seen the shape next. The screams continued around and behind him, but so long as he kept moving they were never in front.

Ow, damn… my ears are going to be ringing for hours…

Finally, the screams faded behind him into more giggles, and then even that sound was swallowed up by the distance. Baron shook his head, still rubbing at his ears. He may as well have shoved his head in a tornado siren; his skull would probably ache less! Still, at least he was out of range of the flower creatures, whatever they were. His feet were now scraping across dust and dirt again, and never before had he been so happy to find barren and lifeless land. Now he just had to get to that wall in the distance, follow it to one of the Root Town’s gates, and then rejoin the others. It wouldn’t be hard to find them; after all, the base was in the Elemental District… right?

Baron paused in his walk. Er… where was the base again? He thought it was in the Elemental District, but now he couldn’t remember. His head was still a bit fuzzy from the blackout, and he hadn’t really memorized where he was in Luchairt Cradh at the time. Well, a quick Flashmail would fix that when he was back in the city. For now, he just wanted to get back to it before he worried about the next step. When he got into the city, he could stop jumping at monsters and random alterations of the environment… and start jumping at the thought of hackers again. Lovely change of scenery, that.

The trek continued without event, fortunately, and Baron wasn’t assaulted or attacked in any way. The wall came closer by the minute, and in about a quarter hour he was finally at its base. However, what he found there wasn’t exactly what he expected. Sure, it was a wall… but it was all of six feet wide, despite that it stretched nearly twenty times that upwards. That wasn’t much of a town wall, unless the place had been seriously compressed or something. Plus, the big smirk painted across it really didn’t give it that sort of image. Baron stared at the splashed-on eyes with a look that bordered on real anger, but after a moment he just pressed one palm to his face and sighed. Back to square one, it seemed.

Striding around the wall, Baron went to look for another point of reference. His eyes scanned the horizon, looking for anything that could give him a direction to go in. To either side, all he saw was more empty plains. Behind him was that stupid field again, with the hidden giggles and the vines that wanted to pull his feet out from beneath him. The Twin Blade knew that he didn’t want to go back there; after his last encounter, he wasn’t going to make his way back unless he had a Wavemaster in tow that was more than eager to make use of some high-level Vak spells. Until then, he was perfectly content with staying away.

Finally, off in the distance just beyond the edge of the horizon the wall blocked, Baron realized he could see something tall. Several somethings; it seemed almost like spires poking out of the ground, surrounding a larger one. For some reason that sight clicked in the Twin Blade’s head though he couldn’t imagine why. It wasn’t exactly familiar to him, and yet at the same time there was something about those spires that told him they were important. Some little bit of information someone had mentioned somewhere, perhaps. But it didn’t seem pressing at the moment. He had to get back to Luchairt Cradh first, figure out what was going on, and then he could worry about it.

Then it clicked. Actually, those towers were very pressing; the last he recalled, the Root Town was a hollow circle with a center area devoted to the towers of the various Elites that ran the Yamiyo server. Those hackers, the ones that were helping to spread the virus that trapped people within The World, resided there. The ones who had put him into a coma, especially that woman… what had her name been? Baron pressed a palm to his head. His memory was slipping lately, it seemed. It was almost like holes had been bored into it at points…

Ugh! Focus, Baron! Go wander mentally once you’re safe…

That thought alone stopped him in his tracks. Safe? Where was it ever safe in a world run by hackers who could drag a person’s consciousness into his character data? A world where he could die, away from people, and never have a chance at being resurrected? If he died here, it was as good as over. There was no place safe now, there was no time for his mental wanderings. No, he had to focus on getting back to the others. Though it was never completely safe, he’d feel a bit more secure around companions. Yes, that decided it. Baron wanted to get back to his fellow comatose players, those who were trapped in The World with him. He’d decide what to do then.

For now, he headed towards the towers.

As he strode towards the spires in the distance, Baron drifted back into thought. He was alert as ever, but at the same time his mind was drawn away from the trudge. He had been putting off a lot of decisions lately, for “when he was safe” or “when he had a chance to rest”. Neither of these things had, or would, occur while he was comatose in The World. There would be no safety for the hunted, no rest for the weary. Instead, he had to think as he went, figure things out on the move. That was all he could do.

So many decisions… the Zodiac, for example, what do I do about that? I’m comatose, and hunting them would be more dangerous than ever…

Much as we’re in a lose-lose situation, we can’t really help you on that, kid.

Baron gave a wry look at the air, though it was directed towards the Gemini. Without thinking about it, he started to speak aloud, his voice sounding empty, hollow in the silence around him. The sudden break in the hushed stillness caused him to jump, and he ended up keeping his conversation mental only.

I wasn’t asking, actually. I sometimes forget you guys are up there in my head; makes it kinda hard to get some thinking done, huh?

But even so, think he did. The AIs he had absorbed could easily pick up on his thoughts, being a part of him. Libra had been the best at it, since he had given up his data willingly and been closest to Baron. But right now, he was silent, the only ally that the Twin Blade had on his side. The Gemini were hardly for their captor’s success; if they were going to be deleted no matter what the cost, then they weren’t going to help him out. More likely they would attempt to hinder him, so as to extend their pseudo-life. They knew as well as he did that when all of the data was gathered together, the self-destruct program that Libra had installed into his own data would go off, destroying the entire Zodiac in one fell swoop.

However, Baron’s hunt to capture the Zodiac had been delayed when he and the rest of the Eventide Crescendo had been attacked by Xenobia (that was the name!) and subsequently comatosed. The Twin Blade shivered; even though he had accepted that fact, hearing it never was pleasant. It was like a little part of his mind struggled to remain innocent, to combat the knowledge that his real body was wasting away somewhere in the real world. He couldn’t deny it anymore, though; just the feeling of the scratches on his body from his encounter in the field of flowers. With another shiver he cast a Repth spell, the coolness flowing over his body still almost a shocking feeling, like plunging into a river headfirst. It wasn’t anything more than a momentary distraction if he wasn’t focused somewhere, but again it was that feeling that reminded him he was really there, in the game.

And it was no longer a game.

As Baron made his way towards the towers, he noticed that there were two shapes slightly to the side as he approached. Silver eyes narrowed as he glanced over, wondering if he should just pass it by. He mentally filed his thoughts regarding the Zodiac aside, noting that he hadn’t even started on a decision again. Oh well; the immediate present was more important than the distant future. For now he drew his weapons, the Fishskin that he was so fond of, and kept them at ready in the event that whatever was there attacked him.

The figure that Baron approached was certainly menacing. Twenty feet tall, he was a giant compared to the Twin Blade who didn’t even clear six feet. Well, he was a giant compared to most if not all humans. Baron couldn’t be sure if it was a monster or what, but he suspected it was hostile, and approached carefully. The thing was standing in front of a Symbol, one of the floating flames that gave a random buff if it was activated. The Twin Blade was curious; why would a monster be guarding a Symbol? Either this was just some random placement that the Yamiyo server was more than happy to produce, or the Symbol was something special. Curiosity gave way to intrigue, and so Baron steeled himself. He could just grab the symbol and run; it was easy as that.

Running towards the Symbol in a dash of speed, Baron didn’t even see the club come crashing down. He was fortunate that it didn’t hit him; in fact, it was about three feet in front of him, a nonlethal shot that was more meant to be a deterrent to progress rather than an attack. Baron blinked, sliding to an abrupt stop; what was going on? The giant could have pulped him with the precision that strike had come down, but had chosen not to actually hit him. Instead he was blocking the way, as if expecting a payment or something. Maybe he was?

“Ah ah ah…! If you want my Symbol, first you must answer my riddle.”

…Really? Baron stared at the giant, giving him a look torn between disbelief and confusion. Had he really just been thrown into the clichéd in-game event where he had to solve a riddle for a prize? But the giant seemed serious; there wasn’t anything on his face besides the overbearing smirk that said he was in charge here. The same smirk was painted across his chest, almost like the mark back on the wall he had encountered; maybe the two were tied together somehow? Either way, Baron was getting more and more curious about this Symbol, so he decided to go with it. It couldn’t hurt, right? Best to ask some questions first though.

“Alright, alright… I take it you’re going to kill me if I’m wrong, huh?”

The giant blinked in surprise. “Why would I do that? You just can’t have my Symbol.”

Again Baron paused; a totally benevolent monster in a server created by hackers and those above them, who could drag a person into The World and then imprison them? What were the odds? Yet here it was, a monster that had no intention of killing him, at least not to his knowledge. All he had to do was answer a riddle. He could always just walk away; it was only a Symbol. But at the same time, he was getting more and more curious. Maybe there was something particular about it that made it worth guarding?

“…I really need to stop making assumptions. Because The World likes to prove that I’m wrong…” He murmured to himself softly, before addressing the giant. “So, what’s the riddle then?”

“That’s it! What is my riddle?”

With the number of times he was stunned or confused, Baron was surprised he didn’t just get an award for the most clueless person in The World. “…You don’t know what your riddle is? Wouldn’t the riddle be to ask what the riddle is then…? Seems like a paradox to me.”

“Incorrect!” Baron groaned, and glared at the smirk given him. “Did you want my Symbol or not? You’ll have to try harder than that.”

The Twin Blade sighed, rubbing at his temple. He couldn’t help but fire off another sarcastic quip. “Can I buy a hint?”

“Nope.”

Alright, the time for tact was over. Baron put his hands on his hips, one palm resting on the hilt of his blades to make the threat of his weapons visible. “And… what are the odds that I’d be dead if I attacked you?” He said this completely casually, trying to bluff. It was a stupid reason, but Baron really wanted to know what was in that Symbol now. So now he was going to try and threaten a giant three times his height with a dagger that was perhaps the length of the thing’s fingernail. Oh yeah, he had a great bargaining position.

Surprisingly though, the giant was actually taken aback. “Why would you attack me? Seriously man, that’s just not cool.”

‘That’s not cool?’ Man, what is up with this guy…

Baron tried to keep up his cool expression. It seemed the giant was easy to rattle, but at the same time Baron didn’t want to push him too far, so he backed off. “Oh, I never said I would. It was a curiosity. You don’t attack me, I don’t attack you, I live, you don’t pulp me. Simple, right?”

“I guess. Even so, that’s a hell of a thing to ask.”

“Well, it's a friendly curiosity. So, what's your riddle?” Friendly curiosity, his foot! It had been a threat, but hardly an effective one. Instead, he tried subtlety and slipped in the question at the end of his statement, hoping to get the giant to trip up and give the answer without realizing.

“Aha! So you know my riddle, do you? But I asked you first; what’s my riddle?”

Damn it all, this guy just couldn’t be simple-minded, could he? Oh well, it looked like it was time to play along. Normally Baron would have had the sense to just turn and walk away; this Symbol wasn’t really worth it and he had somewhere to be. However, he was also increasingly stubborn and getting frustrated with the giant. No, he was going to play this stupid game and be done with it, just to satisfy his curiosity, and nothing short of an Elite attacking him would pull him away from this spot!

“I don’t know; I was hoping you actually knew your riddle. But if you don’t, how the heck am I supposed to? Last I checked answers don’t magically rain from the sky.”

The giant shook his head, almost seeming sad, and now Baron was confused. “So you don’t... oh well. I was hoping someone would have by now. I guess the Symbol isn’t enough enticement.”

Baron frowned, scratching at his neck uncomfortably. Now he felt awkward. “And how do you know if someone has your riddle? If you don’t know it, that is.”

“That’s what I was told.”

“By who?”

“I don’t know. Someone. It came to me in my dreams!”

Baron stared, raising an eyebrow. Did he really just say that? The old cliché “It came to me in my dreams” that everyone seemed to follow without the slightest bit of questioning? “It came to you in a dream… and you took that at face value?”

“Hey man. I’m not the one agonizing over a penny buff symbol. Or the one that doesn’t know a simple riddle. Okay well, I am, but so are you!”

Touché. Baron rolled his eyes, but tried to think of a solution anyway. If the giant was looking for an answer without a riddle, perhaps he could reply with a riddle without an answer. It was odd logic, but he figured that it was worth a try. Any alternative to get him out of here would be useful. “Well no, you’ve just got me curious. But if you don’t know what the riddle is, I can probably give you a near impossible one for you to give people headaches.”

“Hell, why not?”

A random riddle that had been mentioned to him in a class before surfaced, and Baron chuckled, amused. It sounded like a mad joke, and to be honest he couldn’t really think of an answer anyway. Well, not a ‘right’ answer, just several possibilities that couldn’t be right. It would probably be enough; at least, Baron hoped so. “Alright. Try this one: Why’s a raven like a writing desk?”

“Hm… why is it?”

Baron grinned, perking an eyebrow. “That's the riddle without an answer; if you can find someone to answer that you may well have the answer to the universe right there.”

The giant didn’t seemed displeased, and Baron almost swore at that. He was starting to get annoyed! “Aw, shucks. I gotta have an answer, else it’s not a good challenge, now is it?”

Baron fumbled for an answer; it was almost acceptable, he just had to figure out a good reply so that the giant would be satisfied. Then he could take the symbol and go, and make a mental note to never, ever deviate from the path again. Ever. “U-um… the answer is subjective.” That was something. Maybe he could keep grasping at that. “There could be many answers, but you determine which one you think is right.”

Apparently that was satisfactory, and the giant smirked. “Very well then, the Symbol is yours!”

Baron went to give a flourish and a bow—he was a prideful person at times, and this was really when he showed it—but the giant was already gone. With a huff, the Twin Blade took the Symbol, wishing he had at least got to soak up the minor, inconsequential victory a little longer. Unfortunately, he had to be on his way, so he grabbed the Symbol without thinking about it, his mind back on the mission at hand. He had to get back, and he really couldn’t afford to be sidetracked like that again! It had been a silly mistake, and fortunately for him it was a non-fatal one. But he might not get that lucky in the future.

A glance at his status menu told Baron he received an Ap Do from the Symbol. Well, how was that for convenience? Speed to make up for time lost. The Twin Blade could have used a Speed Charm for a similar effect, but he didn’t want to waste any items; after all, he didn’t plan on making another trip to the Bazaar! If he ended up in the outside of the Root Town again, he was going to scream. No, he was going straight to the base and joining up with the rest of the Freedom Fighters!

Speaking of which, Baron sent off a Flashmail to Takua. Of all of the Freedom Fighters, the Wavemaster was one of his closest allies, and the person he could trust the most. He didn’t know many of the others, nor was he sure he wanted to; they were used to this battle, resigned to it. Baron knew they fought it, but at the same time… how did he not know they had accepted their fate? That they weren’t putting their all behind it after being trapped for so long? It was those questions, those suspicions, that put a barrier between them. He wanted out, and he wanted it sooner than later.

Quote:
To: Takua
From: Baron
Subject: Lost

Er... this might sound odd, but somehow I wound up outside the city after being conked on the head or something. So I may be a bit finding my way back to you guys. If you could keep me updated via Flashmail, that'd be great. And also, reminder on where the base is? I kinda forgot...


Sending it off, Baron shook his head at how foolish he sounded. He had gotten lost, like some child, and needed someone to guide him back. Fortunately Takua seemed understanding, and quickly provided a succinct answer to guide him back to the others. It came with an obvious warning, but nonetheless it was one he appreciated. They couldn’t announce that they were Freedom Fighters; after all, that would just have the Elites on them in seconds, all of them at once, and Baron knew that they wouldn’t survive it. No, he would keep his mouth shut, and probably ask where the party was a bit more subtly.

Along with Takua’s reply, he offered to have someone bring him to the base. Baron automatically declined; odds were, they’d send out a single person, and if that someone got lost as well that wouldn’t do any good. He could find his way back, after all. Unlike most guys, he didn’t have a problem asking for directions. So he quickly replied, though he ended up showing more sarcasm than necessary, still a bit shaken by his encounter outside of Luchairt Cradh.

Quote:
To: Takua
From: Baron
Subject: Re: Re: Lost

Sure, if you wanna risk the evil field of giggling flowers. No, don't ask. I'll find my way back to you guys, just let me know if you make a move and I'm not there.


The reply was pretty quick this time, and Baron looked over the information he got. It seemed that they were getting ready to make a move, and were given two options. The choices were clear; either they break into one of the towers that belong to the Elites, or take a talk with the Fire Master. Baron was more for the second; if they could sway the Fire Master to their side that was a point in their favor. That would get them a foothold in the power struggle here. But at the same time, if diplomacy went badly, then they could just attack a tower. Either way, they stood to gain either way, or to lose either way. There was no definite way to tell.

A few more messages were sent between the two of them, and in the end Takua promised to keep him updated. That was all Baron needed, so he closed his Flashmails and just continued his run towards the Root Town. Soon he’d be in Luchairt Cradh, and then he could rejoin the others. The walls of the city loomed closer; he’d be back in action soon.

_________________
Character Information
Baron | Level 47 Twin Blade [100/1000 EXP] | 891 HP / 265 SP
Weapon: Fishskin
Armor: Emperor's Crown/Bone Armor/Thunder Gloves/Ninja Anklet
Accessories/Books: Ethereal Angel Wings, Silver Grunty
Skills: Thunder Coil, Gale of Swords
Spells: Merrows, GiRai Don, BiVak Rom, GiGan Zot, Rai Don, Ani Don, Duk Lei
GP: 750 (As of 8/2/15)
Wishlist: Nny Scales, Lucky Shoes, Saint Cross, Greave Sticker, Pet EX-Levels/Spheres(!)


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 10:05 am 
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Ikkitousen
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Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2007 11:04 pm
Posts: 122
Location: Liminality
I hope you got the closure you wanted.

The sentence in Demorian's flashmail continued to bother the snowy haired Archer as she waited patiently for the meeting to begin. As seemed to be the usual for the fifteen year old girl, her young face held a troubled expression and her tawny eyes clouded over in deep thought as she rested her chin in the palm of her hand. Everything seemed to be growing more and more complicated, more convoluted and with connections, webs being tangled and twisted the longer she stayed with the Freedom Fighters. Her brow furrowed in thought. How... had traveling with a group of people trapped as she herself was managed to help her in the long run?

Power. The ability to... bond or something like that with AI so that she could bring them with her into battle and keep a different kind of council, and enough strength to hold her own in battle without being a terrible strain on someone else in a party.

Her brow furrowed as the complicated thoughts weighed themselves heavily on her heart and mind. It was an accumulation of incidents that had brought her to this troubled crossroad, as well as the undercurrent of reprimand in Demorian-san's flashmail. Suiraisu was most certainly dead; though if it were permanent within both worlds or just in this one remained to be seen, and would have to wait until the day she could get into contact with someone on the outside to do some research on the matter.

If not end up doing it herself when she awoke from the coma.

Quite the heavy thoughts on your mind, youngling. A rich voice filled with warm curiosity suddenly broke through as the sun blessed woman suddenly took a seat beside her in a chime of gem studded gold jewelry and silk fabric. Sekai herself blinked once, twice and again as she studied the much taller Twin Blade.

December, as she was called, was the newest addition to the... group, joining Kira in being tied to her in a way she couldn't explain very well. Her jade colored eyes were always filled with a secret kind of amusement and the young teenager had yet to see anyone or anything provoke her ire. The two cutlasses that hung in jeweled scabbards on her hips were currently absent, stored away for later use as the sandalwood scented woman gave her a gentle pinch on the cheek with blood colored nails. “Does that act of revenge still bother you?”

Sekai sighed. Leave it to an assassin to point out exactly what was on her mind, though she had a feeling it'd been pretty clear from the very beginning... once Dien-san had made up his mind and word came through that his behavior became... strange, to say the least. As a result, the fifteen year old girl stared at the slim, calloused hands, not recognizing the lines that criss-crossed on her palms before she finally found some kind of answer. “Yes,” the snowy haired Archer replied finally, glancing up with troubled eyes at the patient, curious woman. “It does bother me... and only me, it seems.” Frustration lay unveiled, thick and disgusted within the girl's voice as she shook her head and ran one of her hands through her hair, messing it up as she frowned severely at no one in particular.

“I understand the desire for revenge,” Sekai started after a long moment of silence. I lost my temper back in the Juka Cathedral and sought revenge on behalf of an entire AI race who'd been needlessly tortured and slaughtered.” She shuddered suddenly at the memory, face paling as the smell and sight of the bodies haunted her, as did the unclean feeling that still insisted on clinging to her heart. It'd been the very first time she'd knowingly attacked a fellow human being knowing full well that she may very well cause him to die in both worlds.

It'd been the first time she'd genuinely wished for someone to die.

At the sound of December politely to catch her attention, Sekai snapped back, out of her thoughts and continued with an apologetic thought sent towards the older woman. “When we did kill him, with the help from.... I don't want to assume but, it felt like it was Krake-sama's presence,” She began to stumble over her words, trying hastily not to assume that the god in “The World” who ruled over the Wood element had taken notice of that battle and had stepped in out of anger at the desecration of one of its sacred territories. “There was such a terribly... empty feeling left behind. I should have felt happy, relieved that he wouldn't trouble anyone- human or AI alike- anymore.”

“But you didn't, I take it.” The deep, melodic voice of the tall, tanned woman stated as she folded her arms over her chest. “Hm, first kills are always the most difficult, it'll be easier as the body count rises.” Her tone was inappropriately light hearted and meant to reassure the girl she now served. December's confident, knowing expression quickly dropped to puzzled at the horrified look on her young charge's face. Distress was loud and clear, making the heart within her chest skip beats like a rabbit fleeing from a snarling pursuer as she tried to figure out why the link was broadcasting that intensely.

As she was about to reach for the wide eyed, pale faced girl-child, Kira swept into the corner of the room in a whisper of deep, smokey sky colored silk and soft black leather with an intense fury burning in her vivid amber eyes. Barely restrained loathing was sent in the form of a searing glare at the confused Twin Blade as she bit out a hardly less than caustic reply out in Sekai's stead. “Hard to believe I was once as tactless as you; just by looking at her, you should know that she's about as far from the killing kind as they come.” A nasty smile appeared on her lips as the jade eyes darkened in the beginning signs of anger roused by the insults. “But then again, I've been her guardian for quite a bit longer than you. You'll learn, eventually.” There was nothing sincere about that statement, filled with condescending and smug superiority, Kira flaunting her seniority and deeper bond and understanding with the girl in front of one who'd claimed to be more powerful than both of them at their current state.

December had prided herself on not rising to any bait that people threw at her to catch her ire during the time she'd spent as a freelance assassin; now contracted, she didn't believe she had to put up with the bullshit of a spoiled little runaway princess trying to undermine her authority and duty as the girl's bodyguard. Jade eyes glittered in a dangerous way as she opened her mouth to reply and was suddenly blocked from her target by the small but solid body of the very girl they were speaking of.

Don't.” Her voice came out a bit sharper than she'd intended, but she'd done a rather unkind thing and read the thoughts going through the assassin's head. There was no way she was going to allow that to be said, not when Kira was still so... touchy about the subject as it was, it was still a wound that hadn't healed. Tawny eyes flicked over towards the temperamental AI, softening slightly despite her frustration with the two women's inability to get along with one another. She thought Kira looked beautiful in the strapless, nearly-backless gown with its... ahh, rather leg emphasizing slits rising hip level to give her ample freedom to move on the battlefield.

It was just too damn bad that she was still getting used to the fact that there was a festering shadow where high, brilliantly crackling light used to be in Kira's energy.

Taking a deep breath as she heard Demorian-san begin speaking as the Freedom Fighters gathered around, Sekai gave a fierce look to the both of them and tried her best as the one who had to house both of them to lay down the law. “For the love of the gods that we all hold dear, behave, both of you; if you start fighting, I'll make you both stay here and pray for each other while I go by myself into wherever we're headed next.” Satisfied with her simple but hopefully effective threat, the forest green clad archer whirled around and stormed towards the meeting, privately seething from a combination of painful memories, of careless disregard for lives- human and AI alike- and just a generally bad mood caused by a lot of stress and a complete loss of direction in this chaotic life she now led.

She didn't hear December's comment to Kira, but she felt the surge of fierce, hot rage and hurt that filled her stomach with viciously burning coals and vehemently blocked the both of them from reaching her through the link. She didn't want to hear or feel either of them right now; being alone was a good thing while she tried to figure out how to not rip the heads off of anyone she was about to talk to... or in general.

Sekai frowned as she listened to Demorian-san's proposal and their options. If they met with the Fire Master, someone was going to screw it up. Again. Diplomatic missions never fared well with this group, this latest event with the vengeful slaying of Suraisu only proving her point further as she quietly listened to Takua make his opinion known on the matter and Demorian's response to a few of his questions only confirmed what she'd immediately suspected.

This was being made their problem, again, and they were the ones who would have to make the plan work or screw it up beyond measure and eventually get most of them killed while Sheena-san, Raine-san, Nall-san and Demorian-san got themselves away- likely injured, but away regardless. She frowned after a moment's consideration. As a matter of fact, add in Nighthand-san to that group as well. The five of them have enough power and experience to get out when things first start getting stupid and messy in order to survive. Frustration stoked the flames of anger higher. Oh how she wanted to damn the rest of the Freedom Fighters at that moment; she wouldn't be able to just up and abandon them in the middle of a battle in order to save her own skin.

She'd stay until she was killed. Probably permanently in that case.

Sekai, for the first time in her life, questioned her loyalty and stubborn refusal to leave anyone she'd traveled with behind... and found no answer that made any kind of sense. Irritated and cranky, the usually sweet Archer finally let some of it out in the form of a rather uncharacteristically sharp tone of voice. “I disagree.” Her arms were folded, pressed slightly against her stomach as her tawny eyes reflected her highly agitated emotional state. “Leading a strike on one of the Towers is bound to just end with us killed and back at square one; possibly with one of the Elites or someone loyal to them on to us.” A bitter looking smile appeared for a moment. “I mean no true disrespect, but there are only five people who would come out of that encounter with even the slightest chance of staying alive. The rest of us don't have enough experience or strength to make it through one of those Towers- not with how badly we screwed something that was supposed to be simple up.”

To give what was probably the youngest member of the Freedom Fighters some credit, she didn't name any names or even look at any one person in the group at the mentioning of the botched attempt at contacting Suraisu.

“We need more people; that's what it boils down to. If we're going to take down a Tower and the Elite belonging to it? We need to be stronger, more experienced and, most of all, we need help.” Sekai had never made any mistake in letting those who would even remotely listen that she preferred the diplomatic route whenever possible. The failed attempt with Devil-san, Angel-san and now Suraisu-san was grating on her nerves in a particularly spectacular way. Her chin set in a somewhat stubborn way, irritation flashing in her eyes as she paused for a breath and shook her head.

“I personally want to try speaking with the Fire Master; especially if he does have as much political clout as he's said to have. He has the ability to make things easier for us to gain the strength and experience we need in order to be even remotely capable of handling the first two or three dozen floors of a Tower if we actually behave and remember our humanity, not to mention the manners that were supposed to have been taught to us from a young age,” A bit of sarcasm slipped through at the end of that, showing that she didn't actually have a whole lot of faith in the diplomatic capabilities of her fellow fighters. “Or he can do the exact opposite and make it near impossible for us to so much as find a place to hide, much less even approach one of the Towers in hopes of using the key.”

She fell silent, color high in her cheeks from the anger simmering in her blood as the young woman tried to find a way to recollect her thoughts and keep what she'd said from sounding like one long tangent. “We did something similar to a meeting with a Master when it came to... bargaining with Demorian-san, not terribly long ago, as a matter of fact.” Sekai spoke again, the heat beginning to cool from her voice as ideas finally breached the wall they'd been stuck behind. “I say we meet the Fire Master- after we sufficiently practice enough scenarios with Demorian-san... and maybe Sheena-san or Nighthand-san playing the role of the Fire Master to get a good feel for how this can potentially go... if either three of them are willing to play that role, of course.”

Finished and her opinion out in the open, Sekai retreated a little bit and took a space slightly away from everyone else against the wall. Despite getting some of it out of her system, she still didn't feel any better about herself, her place and future with the Freedom Fighters... or about anyone else in the group as well.

_________________
Image

Name: Sekai
Level: 54
EXP: 0000/1000
Class: Archer
Clan: Army of Darkness
HP: 835
SP: 347

Currently Equipped:

Einherjar: Kira, December, Zorya

Head: Bat Earrings (Ola Repth 40, Rip Maen 40)
Body: Saint Cross (Rue Zot 10, RaJuk Zot 30)
Arm: Protect Ring (Ap Vorma 15, MeJuk Kruz 20)
Leg: Ninja Anklet (BiVak Rom 20, GiGan Zot 30)
Add-Ons: Forestlore, Wood Magic (permanently raised Wood Offense/Defense by +3 total)

Wishlist: Levels, Summon: Wood, Archer Weapons, Light Armor


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 5:58 am 
Offline
Ikkitousen
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Joined: Sat Dec 27, 2008 2:50 am
Posts: 114
What had happened at the pit was unexplainable and frankly had caused much confusion. How could there have been two Suraisu’s? And, why when they were put together (or would it be thrown together) did they attach? Canti’s reaction to the whole thing didn’t help her in anyway to understand what had just happened either. It only confirmed that things obviously didn’t go as planned (of course when do they ever do lately) and he was pissed about it. Leaving him alone was probably best so Talal turned and began to walk back to what for the moment was home.

Thoughts had been weighing heavily on the girls mind since they had escaped the prison in regard to the abilities that all the Freedom Fighters seemed to have. After her talk with Nighthand up on the roof, some things began to make sense but others still eluded a proper answer. The lonely walk back would be good if only for a chance to think. Takua had already changed but she could not be certain it was an ability beginning to form. She didn’t know what had transpired while they were gone. Certainly she was glad that in some round about way he could see again but it still left the poor girl confused. The Twin Blade wove her way back through the various sectors and gates, all the while constantly hearing conversations as she went. Her thoughts and eavesdropping were interrupted by a flashmail from Demorian requesting everyone to return. Well that wouldn’t be too hard since she had just passed through the last gate and was currently back in the Gan sector.

Taking her place within the hideout, she sat and waited which Demorian wasted no time in beginning the discussion as soon as everyone was present. He was giving the group basically two options to our next mission as it were. Neither of which sounded very plausible or winnable for that matter. Takua was first to speak up. His reasoning made sense to her. Then Sekai spoke but didn’t really ask and questions but rather she reminded those of the group that would remember about prior negotiation tactics that had apparently worked. She made some very good points regarding the group’s size and strength which didn’t make Talal’s feeling of being inconsequential at the moment any better. The Twin Blade however, could not argue the Archer’s logic. Not that it would change anything but the opportunity to get some clarity couldn’t hurt. She spoke up a bit hesitantly not liking to be the center of attention as well as her current inferiority complex clamping down on her.

”If we choose to attack a Tower, has it been decided on which Tower?”

”Nope. Obviously we wouldn’t attack the towers whose elites have been defeated, but that’s about it.”

Obviously. Do I seriously look that clueless? Wait. Don’t answer that. Oh man, now I’m talking to myself. Juuuussst great!

”So if the group attacked a Tower, we would be initially seen as a typical group of challengers?”

”Probably. It’s rare, but it happens often enough that the Elites, if they’re home, don’t look too closely. The key won’t be a shining beacon until we’re too high up for them to stop us. Heck, if they come to us, that just saves us the trouble of more climbing.”

Okay so that didn’t really help any either. This guy really liked to speak in code in order to say absolutely nothing.
”I see. So the key will eventually set off an alarm that the group is cheating thereby alerting the Elite? I was somewhat hoping it would allow for a more silent approach once we reach the top.” She gave a kind of hopeful with a little innocence thrown in smile.

She thought for a minute and contemplated what all of Demorian’s special code talk really meant. Since no one else had spoken up yet she decided just to screw trying to look smart and state her peace. ”Okay, what of this Fire Master. I know we want to find out about Klive but do we honestly believe he would tell us the truth of his condition? I mean, he doesn’t know us from anyone else really. Unless we tip our hand a little, we have no bargaining power for that type of information or his possible alliance for that matter. Am I missing something?”

She glanced at Sekai at the end feeling that the small Archer would probably have something to say but it was Demorian who smiled and then spoke.

”Nope, sounds like you’ve got a handle on it. We’ll have to play a rather delicate game of give and take.”

Great. Diplomacy was not a game she was good at nor was trying to hold a poker face. They’d be better off to leave her out of the negotiation party. The young girl hadn’t learned the fine art of not losing her temper when things weren’t going her way. Not for lack of trying mind you. At least she was able to control her mouth and usually invoked silence on herself to keep her out of trouble. So far it had worked.

”I guess my vote is for the Fire Master if only because I agree with Sekai that not all of us have the strength or special abilities that the rest of you have and might prove to be more of a burden than a help for those that do.”

With that she backed herself up against the nearest shadow filled wall to hear out the rest of the group.

_________________
Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Walk beside me that we may be as one.
***************************************
Talal
Image
Level 39 (0/1000 EXP) Twin Blade

Weapons/Armor: Mukuro (Swirling Dark, Dark Dance), Ice Hunter Cap (Repth), Wristbands (Juk Rom), Fishing Gloves (Rue Kruz), Wyrm Hide (Gan Don), Snow Panther (Ap Vorv)

Wish List: Scrolls, Tarot Cards, and Armor higher than level 30.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 8:48 pm 
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Exalted Player

Joined: Sat May 13, 2006 3:58 pm
Posts: 288
Location: In da' plains of hell, natch.
(Nobody in Raio Sector had bothered him coming on the way back, fortunately. If they had, and it had not been one of the team, you can forget things like restraint or caring. He would've just lashed out in demonic rage, stronger and more capably than he had at Angel by far. What was the point if he couldn't finally bring closure to the situation that brought him here? What a waste! All that work... A personal intoning of 'Mission Failed' echoed in his head. He just didn't want to be bothered right now, by anyone. So, of course, Demorian's FM comes in and- You know what? Not now. People watched him and Shadow heading back towards Gan on foot, their voices low as they were giving him looks and talking to their pals. No doubt, it was about the incident with Suraisu's berserker watchdog, if that's what it had been. Since he'd clearly beaten the crap out of it with Takua's help - no one else but Talal had been around and Dien had been out - they must've figured he beat whatever it was that caused the havoc. Canti was not satisfied. He'd found the humanity inside of him not to want revenge, and now he gets blindsided by Mr. Logical, who suddenly decides that vengeance is all. Dien... How could he screw this up on him? It was like a betrayal. No explanation was good enough for this.)

Canti: Goddamn Dien... Not only does he ruin everything, but he had to force me into a Big Damn Heroes moment and that put the final nail in the coffin. Who knows what'll happen with that bugged carcass? I should never have let him in on this...

(He returned to the Gan Sector hideout without incident, where he was about to confront Demorian...but two things kept him from doing such. The first was Shadow. Much as Canti was irritated about the former Puppetmaster abandoning him when he was in severe need, it wasn't worth Reyome's guard dog trying to maul him over it. He told Shadow to sit and behave. Kind of ironic that this big canine was called Shadow. Players of Final Fantasy 6 might remember an assassin called Shadow who employed a loyal guard dog. In any case, the demon dog went and rested or whatever. The second reason Canti didn't confront was that Demorian was in the process of explaining himself as new stuff had been outlined. Apparently, he shared Canti's current opinion that Dien was a sack of flaming idiocy right now too, which sat well with the Twin Blade. Now then...it seemed that - among other things - their meeting with the Fire Master was open and available. So, that little piece of work had finally come to fruition. As he suspected, violence would be frowned upon massively in there. Good thing he and Raquar didn't pick a fight with those guards on their little visit. As for the Fire Master's respect, well...we already knew he was a political junkie.)

Canti: Okay...and the other?

(The other thing was a small key that looked decidedly fragile. No wonder they get used up in games so easily! They make 'em out of wood! No, that wasn't really the case. This one, however, really WAS a one-use item, and a very special one. It would let them into any Elite Tower, except for the Master one, unchallange. Of course, they have the chance just to walk into any one of 'em, but this was like a little 'bypass security' command. It wasn't one that would last forever, even doing its job, but it was certainly one hell of a boon, as would be explained. Now, there was just the slight problem of who to handle first. That was the hitch, wasn't it? But in Canti's mind, the situation was like this... They had two very important things to consider. The whole Fire Master thing was to get at Klive. The tower key could be used on ANY of those things, regardless of influence. His opinion: Play the fire card first.)

Canti: I say that we go for the Fire Master ploy, and save our rare key thing for a rainy day or last resort. We know that Klive isn't in good shape. No matter what they say on the street, we know he should be in a worse condition from the hit he took when the Vegas Vindicator blasted him. They used that thing on Nall to get his equipment and look what happened! If we want to get at him in any sort of bad condition, then we gotta get the in as soon as possible. The key is for times when things go south. That's my thought, anyway.

(Honestly, he wasn't sure anymore how it was all to come together. This was also according to something he'd been scheming, to use the Fire Master to see Klive or even to use him against Klive if he was ambitious enough. He'd discussed it with others, like Sheena and Demorian. It seemed to make so much sense before. Had he been so high on beating Tritoch that he'd he thought he could do anything? So much for the power of positive thinking. It'd all blown up in his face. What if it happened again? If they headed for the Fire Master - and it looked like they might - and he exploded on them, it was his fault again! Even still, there was one thing running through his mind during this discussion. They would get at Klive and his artifact, and they would have to keep it from the Fire Master. He remembered what he said before to Nighthand. Even if he had to equip it himself. That alone was a great danger, once you consider that lab incident. Once Canti had been done talking, he also headed over to a quiet wall to hold it up. He collapsed into a sitting position soon after, still looking pretty awful from the earlier mission. Talal stepped closer to sit beside him.)

"Anything I can do that would brighten the look on your face?"

(She noticed the inherent dark look of his face, especially the eyes, and realized this probably wasn't the best choice of words. She spoke a little softer then, backpeddling.)

"I mean....nevermind, you know what I mean."

(In response, Canti groaned and lowered his head, clearly having gone from incredible rage to some range of misery. This was technically an improvement. We're not sure what stage of coping exactly he was on, or if he was doing them in order, but he was moving along.)

Canti: It's so hard to remember I'm just some kid from Boston. I thought I had all the answers and everything handled... Talal, where did I go wrong? It all seemed to easy before...

"Thinking you have all the answers I would say was where it started to go wrong. No one can possibly know everything regardless of how hard they try. But, it hasn't really gone wrong, you've just taken the scenic route instead."

(He looked at her, appearing somewhat skeptical of her appraisal of the situation.)

Canti: In what fashion? Dien pulled a Face Heel Turn and I've no idea if I helped the guy I was looking for, harmed him, or just killed some hacked creations.

(She appeared to think about this, her gaze fixing on Nall for the moment.)

"If you were just one person doing everything and had complete control over the situation then yes, you could say you did something wrong. When you have to rely on a group, you can't take all of the responsibility. You followed your leads and found for every intent and purpose...Suraisu. Now, I'm not sure what happened that caused your Suraisu to end up at the fight pit, but it was obvious that negotiations didn't go well. You did what you had to do, I am certain of that. You also had no control over Dien and his actions and couldn't possibly be in two places at once. Unfortunately, there will never be any way to tell what exactly you did or didn't do for Suraisu."

(Which was precisely part of the problem. Canti had had time enough to give a damn about Demorian's brief Flash Mail from before now. That mention of closure... No, he did not have his closure, and he never will! It was completely hopeless now, even if he killed every Elite himself BARE HANDED! Because it was never about putting an axe in his skull, but burying the hatchet in the right and decent way. The Twin Blade sighed.)

Canti: I just wanted to make peace, tell 'im I didn't blame him. Instead, I found a berserker and Dien found...I dunno. Shadow said they were both him, his code. I feel like The World just Rick Rolled me or something. Maybe I couldn't have done better, but I use to depend on Dien because he was brilliant. He's changed, Talal. I don't think I can trust him after this.

"I'm sorry that you weren't able to get the closure you were looking for with Suraisu. As for Dien, I don't really know him that well yet, but I can say that I don't currently trust him. His movement earlier to me said he was not acting in the best interest of the group. However, I won't completely condemn him yet as I've seen many strange things in my short time in The World. And since I was the only one close and still did not have eyes on him at all times, there is no telling if some other force is behind his actions, but it's definately something we need to find out."

Canti: I think I know where to start. He's always harping on about this AI in his head. You know, that's happening to alot of uss around here? At least there's a real person in mine.

(Okay, not technically, but you get the idea. This was starting to put him in a slightly better mood. Talking it out seemed to help, in any case. It was inevitable with Talal's good cheer.)

"That sounds like a great place to start. I suppose I'm lucky. So far, the only one in here is me."

Canti: I like having contact from the outside. I mean, consider Shadow. I'm startin' to like him, and he was her idea.

"Shadow is amazing and kinda cute even for a shadowy demon dog...but I think I'll still keep my distance."

(One can't even begin to guess how the Bogie would react to all this, possibly because he was a thinking animal AI thing. Ah well. It could be worse.)

Canti: Ah, come on. I ordered him not to bite. Still...this put things in perspective. Why is it that when I do the crazy impulsive things that everything turns out alright and everything planned is made of suck?

(She laughed.)

"I would say that planned things tend to have a desired outcome so with that comes expectations. With the crazy impulsive stuff, you're simply hoping for a positive outcome and will take whatever you can get...no expectations to get you down when they are not achieved."

Canti: What worries me is that that makes sense. You see why I hate ever being a leader EVER?

"Trust me! I can see it. However, one can always lead by example even if that example is being a free spirited Kamikaze."

(By the by, not to break the fourth wall or anything, but we sorta' just referenced the sort of reason why ANY version of Canti hates being the leader. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle. GIJOE!! Anyway, Talal's remark of being a kamikaze made the Twin Blade facepalm, going "Oh no...". He suddenly hid himself in his wings.)

Canti: I forgot my bandanna!

(You know, the kind that kamikaze pilots used? Yeah. In any case, with a shout of "Oh no, you don't!", Talal attempted to pull open his wings. Upon doing so, she said...)

"No wing hiding allowed, besides....I promise not to tell anyone you forgot your bandanna."

(This last part was both a joke and spoken barely above a whisper. However, as she was there holding Canti's black raven wings open, he entered Deadpan Snarker mode for a moment.)

Canti: Don't you ever knock?

(Wide eyes struck the young girls face as if she'd just committed a felony and got caught red handed.)

"I...I..."

(She paused...)

"How careless of me."

(...and then closed his wings up and knocked. Canti's index finger rose up from behind the wings to make an announcement.)

Canti: You know I was kidding, right?

(He moved his wings out of the way, then thought of something.)

Canti: Say, Talal... What're you going to do once you're out? I know what I'll do. Probably swear off this game.

"I would have to say that I would back you up on that one. And now that I think about it, the first thing I would do is go find the largest black demony dog I could find and keep it very close."

(She smiled as he laughed at this.)

Canti: I'll let Shadow know you said that.

"You do that."

Canti: Ah well, at least we'll have an edge on this fire caper. If that plays out well, we might get Klive's stuff.

"Yes, I hope it goes well. It's worth a try and if successful, gets us all one step closer to the outside."

Canti: Yeah...

(He began to lean back, and he was oddly thinking about...what would happen if he had Klive's artifact. He could probably explode the other Elites. Even if the team were exposed in Yamiyo, something like that could keep the bads out of their hair. Canti got an especially-fiendish look on his face from this.)

Canti: Heh heh heh heh...

OOC: Just one important thing to note here. I will never Rick Roll anyone, for anything, ever. That is all.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:41 am 
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Ikkitousen
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“I'm just saying, I did tell you it was the better choice.”

The sheer amount of glee in her voice was sickening, and the Wavemaster scowled in Ondine's general direction. Of course, she had to brag that everyone was agreeing with her and not him. Oh, sure, he saw how this all went down. Right when he thought he actually had a good view on the situation, given how screwed up that view was, everyone disagreed with him. Was he really just that paranoid? No duh, said a voice at the back of his head (besides the ones that were his constant companions) before pointing out that just because he wouldn't be of use, and even be a significant detraction, didn't mean that it wasn't the better way to go.

'Well gee, thank you for that enlightening opinion. Is there anything else that you want to berate me for today?'

The voice in his ear abruptly changed from playful and childish to something much more serious, the other side to Ondine's personality. From protector and mentor to childish immaturity at the flip of a switch. Frankly, even though it had only been recently that she had shown up (how many days ago had it been?) it seemed like he'd already gotten so much of that switch it had started to annoy him. Or was that just another sign of his schizophrenia, to drive him away? Well, not that he could get away from her. She was him, or another side to him, a seperate personality. Good luck getting away from that.

“Well, for all of that talk that you did the other night, or day, with your little Archer buddy and her two guardians, you haven't actually followed up on that. Given that you think she's actually, you know, got a good head on her shoulders and might see something you don't, get off your ass and work those weak Wavemaster muscles.”

Well shit, she actually had a good point. Who would have thought that Ondine might have a head on her shoulders as well? Maybe he should listen to her advice in the future. Heh. 'Maybe'. If he didn't, she might just rip his head off, or take over his body for a long while.

Takua frowned, and then hopped up and off the bed that he'd sat on before walking, with just the slightest trace of awkwardness, over to where Sekai was leaning against the wall. Someone, he didn't know whom, was looking over at her. Was that Kira or December? Probably. He hoped that either one of them wouldn't mind the intrusion into their senses, and the accompanying feeling of them being watched. Hmm. He should probably try and work on dampening that down somehow...although, how exactly, he didn't know. Twilight had control over that, apart from picking the target, he didn't even know the fuck this worked.

He paused and considered the archer through the eyes of others. Two of them seemed to be keeping a good eye on her, best to consider them to be her bodyguards. She clearly wasn't happy right now, a tense look to her eyes and face. How was she react to him approaching? So far, he'd been the only person to pick the Tower, and she'd...well, more or less hoisted the flag for the Master. Plus, she'd seemed rather pissed just a minute before. He really wished that he could be confident in his abilities to talk to anyone right now, but with the words and tone twisting to where the original meaning was lost, he was afraid of what he might do. Still...she had raised good points. Good enough that he felt he needed to talk to her, understand what she wanted to do, before switching his opinion or not.

There wasn't anything around to sit on, or lean against, and he felt awkward just standing there, so he squated down in front of her and looked up. Steadying himself against the sudden shifting gravity, he spoke quietly. “Sekai. Do you have anything in particular that you want to talk to the Fire Master about? Or are you going to play it by ear?”

She looked straight down almost instantly, taking a few seconds before she spoke. She seemed tired, so very stressed...and the voice in his ears was much angrier than he would have thought. Oh, right, hallucinations. Or was it not? That was the problem, make him doubt his own communication... "What more can I do but play it by ear?" It took a moment, but then he got the other tone in her voice. Bitterness. And a lot of it to boot. If his eyes had been open, they might have widened slightly as he revised his opinion of the Archer. Just as human as everyone else, that was for sure. "I've started to wonder if I'm in more danger here than striking out on my own lately; no one can keep to a plan or strategy in this group."

He frowned...and then nodded, just slightly, before sighing.  As expected, but he could hardly blame her for that "I just wonder, because I can't see what we could talk to the Fire Master about."  He offered a crooked smile that seemed to hold just a trace amount of venom, of bitterness, lent to his words.  "Then again, we won't know until we get there, and I'm hardly a voice of reason anymore."  Then something she said seemed to finally hit him.  There was a pause...  "Well...what keeps you here, then?  Why stay?"

The expression on her face didn't change as, for a moment, she glanced in his direction and responded simply. "I don't know. Maybe it's because I'll get to see everyone snap out of a coma one of these days and see them back to bodies that will eventually recover with time." There seemed to be a hostile undercurrent to her words, a mix between wistfulness and jealousy. It seemed to be particularly strong at the end of that sentence. Surely Sekai couldn't spit that out with such venom? But...he didn't know her real life situation. So much that he needed to learn.

Still, he was naturally suspicious of what she had said. It seemed too good. No one could be that pure, that innocent, especially in this world. He knew that she had a reputation, hell he had seen it himself, but still...that type of reason didn't hold too much weight for him. Oh, right. Judgment. Maybe it did make some sort of sense? But not to him, not now. "That's...incredibly altruistic of you, but you'd hardly be able to see them do that if it was happening to you at the same time."  His eyes would have narrowed, and he took a look over towards where he thought Kira was. Sekai's lover was in The World. What motivation did she have to return to a world where she couldn't feel that woman's skin next to her own, couldn't enjoy...whatever it was that they did. Hopefully his skin didn't color too much at that.

"Besides, no offense, but I'd have thought you would want to stay here, next to Kira.  Perhaps I'm just...blind, but going comatose seems to be something that would be a benefit for you in some ways.  But I don't know your real self, maybe you have something you want to go back to?"  He didn't say it like he believed it, and his face gave away his hesitancy speaking about this.  He didn't know her that well, and here he was making assumptions about what she wanted.  Or perhaps that was just the paranoid voice looking for a spy that would want to betray them to stay in this world. Certainly, the nice woman in front of him would make a perfect cover.

What he got was something else entirely. Her entire face seemed to shift, menacing shadows in her eyes as they narrowed. Was she glaring at him? What was that venom that he heard in her voice? "What matters is getting everyone back where they belong; and if the Firemaster can help take out an Elite or two, fine by me. We'll find a way to have him help us and be one step closer to breaking everyone out of their comas."

He froze.  Every instinct screamed at him, and he backed down fast. It looked like the little archer had some deeply wired mines, and that signature 'click' from the movies had just sounded under his feet.  Maybe he could ask Kira so that he didn't trip something he wasn't meant to?  Only...well, maybe...neither way sounded smart.  "I can agree with that."  He turned, speaking up so that everyone could hear him. 

"Changed my mind, someone gave me a good argument.  Let's hit up the Fire Master and see what he's got to say." 

He turned back...and the look on his face seemed to cave in slightly. He spoke quietly again. "I say that, but I can't see how I'll be useful.  I can't trust my ears here, let alone with him.  You've got my support but...I think I'll have to sit this one out.  Better not to fuck up diplomacy more than we screwed it up just a little bit ago."

There was another tiny, momentary glimpse into what he assumed was what Sekai was actually feeling right now. She looked...tired, so very tired that he just wanted to hold her. And knew that she likely didn't want to be held at all, because that was a sign of weakness. Still, it lasted but a moment and at a distance too before that look was shuttered away. Back into a face that he couldn't pick apart or identify all of the emotions in. "Who says any of us are useful for more than fodder these days?" She asked softly, eyes gazing towards the group consisting of Demorian and Nighthand before dropping again. "I'm stepping outside for a while, let me know what the plans are and I'll come back to join the group."

He nodded lightly, shuffling that topic off into his mind for another day's talking, maybe when they weren't in the hideout with everyone else.  "We can hope, right?  Or is that denied to us too?"  He shook his head, hardly believing that something like that had come from his mouth.  This had all hit harder than he'd thought it had or would.  Foolish.  "Okay.  Lemme know if I can do anything else." Hope. In this world, with his condition. He waited for a moment, for her to step outside, and then laughed once, harsh. Bitterly. He could barely hold on to the scrap of hope that he might get better one day, might overcome this before it killed him. What hope did he have left for getting out of this world in one piece? Intact. With a whole mind.

What hubris.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 4:30 am 
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Demorian was mentally tallying the votes as the conversations proceeded. He would accompany the group with whatever decision they made; over the years, he and Nall and Raine and Sheena had all discovered that democracy worked the best in the group. More than once, the Freedom Fighters had split apart when leadership had been imposed, and that only led to setbacks, and drawbacks, and more often than not... well. Most of the current Freedom Fighters had been victims of Nall's recruitment drives. Unfortunately, sometimes the cure was almost as bad as the disease.

Takua was a vote for the tower immediately, whichever one they happened to choose. He saw the Fire Master as a waste of time. Sekai, meanwhile, had ages and failures behind her thoughts when she expressed them. Demorian knew what she was thinking, more or less, and knew that she meant it when she said they wouldn't survive a tower assault if it went badly. He knew the five she mentioned, though at this stage, two -- Raine and Nall -- wouldn't be joining them on the assault. Raine because she still resided outside of Yamiyo, and Nall because his body was still repairing itself. He was better, yes, but not ready to fight. Sekai, essentially, wanted to visit the Master and hope that his clout would see them through, despite what tactical mishaps they may make along the way.

Talal agreed with Sekai, he noted; the meeting with the Fire Master was more likely to be fruitful and less likely to be deadly should it come down to it. The group had killed Elites before, though never had they fought through one of the Towers to do it. The Fire Master, should it come down to a fight, would be easier; presumably. Canti agreed as well. If nothing else, Presumably Klive was going to be in a similar shape to Nall. The gun that hit Klive did damage beyond just hit point loss; it wrecked through code almost on par with a data drain from an admin. Nall was in worse shape because he was always in worse shape; his code was a wreck already and the gun was the proverbial final straw this time.

By the end of the debate, Takua even had changed his mind, and the destination was set.

"Alright, folks. Looks like we're off to see the Fire Master. Now, I'll lay out a few ground rules based on what I know of the man." Demorian paused and looked at each player in turn, one after the other.

"First and foremost; the Vak Master is the ruler of everything in the Vak Sector. He answers only to the Elites. He is in personal touch with Klive more than any other, but he could notify any of the Elites of our presence if he so decided. As such, we must be cautious. If we let him know who we are without being absolutely certain, it could spell our end." Again he paused, letting them absorb that.

"Secondly, he will be guarded, and guarded heavily. Beyond that, he is a powerful hacker in his own right. The Vak Master got to where he is today by cunning ruthlessness and effective brutality. His enemies were either killed or discredited so completely as to become laughing stocks. This is both good and bad for us. He's not as powerful as an Elite, directly. His power is limited, but his knowledge and his cunning allow him to outsmart most anyone. That's why he rules not by battle, as the Raio Master does, but by political clout." Another pause. "So there will be no attempts to threaten him. They won't work. While we certainly could possibly defeat him and escape alive, it would more likely bring the Vak Sector up in arms against us rather than devolve it into chaos."

"Thirdly, no one has been known to successfully bribe the man. That means one of two things; either he does not accept bribes, or he keeps them so well hidden that no one can find out. We'll have to tread carefully."

"All of this combines into a very delicate social situation. We're visiting him, ostensibly, to discuss the well-being of Klive and the state of the Sector in the event of some disruption in the power scale. True enough. As far as I know, he is not aware of our affiliation with the Freedom Fighters. Our goal is to feel him out, and see if he is willing to help support a coup against Klive. If he is, we draw him in and gain his aid. We can promise anything short of giving him the Twilight Item Klive holds; that we cannot leave in hacker hands. If he isn't, we make a tactful retreat." He stood and moved for the doorway.

"Sheena and Nall will stay here. Nighthand will come with us, as will any who wish to come. Any of you who feel you aren't up to this task, feel free to stay behind. I'd rather enter with a lower number than with someone who cannot control themselves. Any further questions and discussion will have to happen on the way; we need to get moving."

With that, Demorian set off from the 'hideout' with Nighthand in tow, the dark Heavyblade barely seeming to be paying attention. It was up to the rest to decide whether they would follow or not.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:58 pm 
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Ikkitousen
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Diplomacy? Please. You’re anything but diplomatic, and you’re more likely to end up being fried by the Fire Master. Don’t even bother going along with your group unless you want to kill them.

Baron groaned inwardly at the Gemini speaking. He had just passed through the gates of Luchairt Cradh and got a Flashmail from Takua keeping him current on the situation at hand. It seemed that rather than choose a direct attack, the Freedom Fighters would be making a more cautious move and try talking before any sort of rash action. The Twin Blade couldn’t blame them; after all, they had only Demorian’s knowledge to get them through this, and he had a sneaking suspicion that even the man who seemed to know everything would be drawing a blank here. Prisons and such were one thing; higher-ups in the power system were another. Of course, this was just a guess. Baron didn’t know Demorian very well, after all.

I don’t plan on speaking where not necessary… at best the rest can handle things and I won’t need to say anything. But I may be able to provide bargaining leverage, depending. I need to wait and see what develops first.

And what sort of leverage do you have, Baron? I don’t see anything a powerful hacker like the Fire Master would want from you.

Baron smiled. Though there was nothing immediately apparent, he was good at thinking originally when it was needed, and could probably come up with something on the fly. It was true that right now, he had nothing that someone as powerful as the Fire Master could use. However, depending on the man’s personality and overall actions, something could become apparent to the Twin Blade. That was what Baron was counting on; that he could find a weakness to exploit in their favor. That was his specialty in the group; he wasn’t a skilled fighter, nor did he have those strange powers that everyone else possessed, but he could think his way through situations.

For now, though, he had to go meet up with the others. Originally he had been planning to go back to the base in the Gan Sector, but Takua had mentioned that they were ready to leave now. Baron figured it would probably be best to meet them en route, but to be sure he sent a Flashmail to Demorian. Based on her previous actions, the Twin Blade doubted that Sheena would be leaving Nall while he was still… well, damaged was the best word, since Baron didn’t really know what had happened. All he knew was that the two were never far apart. Either way, it put Demorian as the leader for now, since he had the greatest knowledge of this server and the various divisions within it.

A quick reply told Baron what he needed to know; he was to meet the others at the Vak Sector’s castle. Included along with that was a set of instructions that Baron scanned through quickly. It was really just some general precautions regarding their meeting with the Fire Master. Don’t let him know that they were Freedom Fighters—that one was obvious enough, since he was one of the higher-ups in the group they were fighting against. Being told not to threaten the man was just as obvious, though Baron had to admit the reasoning for it was a lot more sound than his own of “we’d get fried and served up for the rest of the Vak Sector to enjoy”. The man was sly, cunning, and manipulating. If the Twin Blade were a bit more sardonic, he’d have told Demorian that he would get along well with the man. After all, he had been quite the puppetmaster, according to the others.

The last bit was the part that struck a negative chord with Baron, though. The Fire Master had never been successfully bribed? Once more, some latent sarcasm in the back of his mind made the boy wonder if people had really just been that bad, but he knew better. The residents of the server were hackers and others like them, and would have more to offer than any other section of The World. If they couldn’t find something that the Fire Master desired then his own luck wouldn’t be much better. It wasn’t that it didn’t make sense; the man had to be a powerful hacker in his own right and could probably provide for himself anything he desired.

That last bit bothered Baron, though; as much as it was rational that bribery could be impossible on the Fire Master, he had a hunch that there wasn’t a man alive who didn’t want something. There was no guarantee that the Twin Blade had any such thing himself, however. In fact, it was almost the opposite. That didn’t mean that anyone else wouldn’t know, however. Baron decided that his run to the castle would have to be delayed slightly; if he could find any sort of information to help the others out, it was worth being left behind. He had to make sure that they were as prepared as possible. In order to gather information, though, he needed to get some first. To find a place to begin his search, the Twin Blade sent a quick Flashmail to Demorian for information.

Quote:
To: Demorian
From: Baron
Subject: Information

I’m probably going to be a bit late joining you guys, and if I can’t make it into the castle or whatever because I’m not with you, that’s understandable. But I figured we might want to get a bit more information on the Fire Master; anything we can use for leverage to get on his good side is a plus, if he’s really willing to go along with a coup. So I’m going to snoop around a bit. I need a bit of information to get started though. First off, where do you think the most tension against the Fire Master would be? I’m going to go there and hope that maybe I can get something on the man. That would be my first place to check. If things bottom out there, is there anywhere you’d recommend me asking around? Just let me know.


Demorian’s response came quickly, and was unsurprisingly informative. The man seemed to have information on everything!

Quote:
From: Demorian
To: Baron
Subject: Re: Information

Your best bets would be either the bazaar for general information gathering, or, surprisingly, the Raio sector. The Raio master rules by violence and battle, and his followers tend to scoff at the Vakz master and his politicing. Be careful, however. I'm certain the fire master has spies seeded in every sector, so don't spread word of a coup in the works.


Baron analyzed what was given to him, trying to figure out where to start. He had learned firsthand that you could find just about anything in the Bazaar, for the right price. After all, he had found information on the Zodiac, something few if any people knew about, from an AI doctor. However, the price wasn’t always something you wanted to pay. Baron had been knocked out and left outside of the Root Town, probably to die. He wasn’t sure the price that had been paid; after all, he had all of his items intact, his GP was accounted for, and he didn’t feel any different.

However, the news on the Raio sector was certainly interesting. Baron hadn’t known that there were such differences between the two; he would have put his bet on the Ruem sector having more of a reason to dislike those in Vak, simply by the elemental opposition. Still, it gave him a place to start, and a base to gather information with. Mentally running through the information he had, the Twin Blade started to form a plan even as he headed for the Chaos Gate that would take him to the Elemental District. The glowing blue gate quickly transported him to his destination, and in moments he was standing in the plaza that sat between the different elemental sectors.

Heading for the Raio sector immediately, Baron tried to figure out where he’d start looking for information. A pub or bar would be best; drinks tended to loosen lips, and besides which both places tended to be a good place to pick up information from those who had it. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be as easy as that. Immediately upon entering the Raio sector, the Twin Blade was at a loss. Everything was made of a metal of some sort, whether it was the roads or the buildings. The later had spikes covering surface that wasn’t used to support a door or window, and the sides of the pathways were the same. It was creepy, in its own way.

Baron strode between the buildings with their protruding points, already wondering what he had gotten himself into. The Twin Blade couldn’t make head or tail of the different establishments, unsure of where to go. He decided to take the first building he came to, one that seemed pretty bustling. There was a sign over one of the main doorways, lit up by electric-blue flashing lights from inside. The building was called “The Crucible Haunt”; that certainly seemed like a good place to start. There were plenty of people after all. Baron couldn’t tell what kind of business it was, though, and just prayed he wasn’t walking into a difficult situation.

It wasn’t just a difficult situation as he slid past the doors, devoid of bouncers or any type of security; it was worse. The place was a techno rave of sorts, a throbbing mix of bad music and worse dancing. Baron winced at the loud, pulsating sounds, but made his way along one of the walls anyway. So it wasn’t really a bar, but it was still a good place to gather information. There were plenty of people, and among them there was a chance that he’d find a bit of information on the Fire Master. The rave music and the blinding, flashing lights were going to make concentration hard, but he could deal with it for the sake of helping the Freedom Fighters.

At least, he hoped so.

People were mostly gathered in clumps inside the building, dancing or chatting. There were a few loners along the wall, and Baron approached the one nearest him. He wasn’t sure it was the best idea based on the guy’s appearance, but he had to start somewhere. That didn’t mean he liked having to deal with someone who looked like he had walked into an electric fence a half-dozen times in the last twenty minutes. The Twin Blade sidled up beside him, leaning against the wall and trying to look as nonchalant as possible.

”Hey there, got a minute?”

The man hardly tilted his head in Baron’s direction, looking rather short of energy for someone from the Raio district. Maybe the Twin Blade was making assumptions, but he figured that a district that was focused on the element of lightning would have a bit more energy. “…Eh.”

So much for that. Slipping into a quickly-designed role, Baron leaned against the wall, acting a bit exasperated. “I'm new in town, but I've kind of wandered around a bit. Just got back from the Vak sector.”

He waited to see if there was a response. The man’s already half-closed eyes narrowed further; clearly Baron’s words had rung a chord with him. However, that didn’t help; if he was a spy for the Fire Master he’d give that look in suspicion. If he were just another Raio citizen that look could be an expression of contempt. The Twin Blade had to keep his questions subtle; if he mentioned even the slightest hint of the coup that they had planned, and it was a spy? He was toast, and not necessarily figuratively. So far the man seemed to just be rolling his eyes; maybe it was safe. Still wouldn’t hurt to be cautious, though.

“Yeah... really boring there. All talk of politics and whatnot.”

Once more Baron waited for a response. This time, the man actually seemed to visibly roll his eyes, though still with as little effort as possible. However, this eyeroll seemed more disparaging, as if he had a dislike for the subject. In fact, his words proved it. “Pricks… boring.”

Well, maybe that was an indication that he wasn’t a spy, but that didn’t mean Baron could tread any less lightly. He kept up his act. “Yeah...” Baron shook his head. “Funny thing, though, is a rumor I heard. Their leader, some master or something, is supposedly unbribeable, yet he's the most political. What an oxymoron, huh? An unbribeable politician! Those guys are made for corruption, huh?” He elbowed the other guy, trying to force a laugh.

The man didn’t react or shift in the slightest, and Baron felt uncomfortable. He may as well have elbowed the wall for all of the reaction he got. The man spoke quietly in return though, and the Twin Blade only caught fragments of what he had to say. “Sure…” There was a bit that Baron didn’t catch. “…saw a pig fly once…”

Baron had heard that expression before: “When pigs fly.” It was a statement saying that something was impossible in a roundabout way. That meant that the man had some information contrary to the “rumor” Baron had about the Fire Master being unbribeable. The Twin Blade considered a plan of getting the man to talk, and cautiously continued as best as he could. He couldn’t outright say that he was looking for a way to bribe the Fire Master, after all.

“Hm? You know something I don't about him? I may be new but you look like you don't leave this sector much.”

The man quirked his lips in the failed beginnings of a smile, almost nodding. Baron was astounded at the display of energy shown there. Unfortunately, the following speech didn’t show as much enthusiasm. “Rumors.” For some reason, though, that word suggested plenty to him, like how there were rumors about people vanishing because of failed bribes, and that the Fire Master could be bribed. He wasn’t sure how he had gotten it all from that one word, but nonetheless the information was no in his head. Eyes narrowed, the Twin Blade considered his new information. He was leaning back towards the man potentially being a spy for some reason.

“ I don't know where you're getting your information... I've been all over the Vak Sector today and I haven't heard the slightest bit of information to that effect. What sort of rumors do you mean?”

There was a halfhearted attempt to begin shaking his head, but Baron could get more from it again than he should have been able to. He wondered if this man was hacking the information into his head or something. All he got was that the man didn’t want to speak in public and that he had no intention of leaving his spot. Baron would have been more surprised if the man did move. He did, however, get a feeling to visit an individual, with explicit instructions on how to get there… definitely hacked into him. Oh well, information was information. Baron wasn’t sure how far he could trust it, but it wasn’t like he had much more of a choice. He clapped a hand on the man’s shoulder in thanks, turning to leave and follow the instructions given.

What he didn’t see as he left was that his “informant” was grinning widely.

A few minutes later, Baron arrived at the house indicated, a tiny, torn-up shack between two shops that seemed to specialize in Rai-based weaponry. The Twin Blade wondered if any of the ones offered were rare. He was tempted to check, but he had other business right now. He could stop by later, to see what was offered. For now, he decided to go up to the shack, the one that his directions indicated was where he could find an individual named Ericanusonian-Vanakut (What kind of name was that anyway? Well, he had seen stranger in The World). Knocking quickly, he waited for someone to answer the door.

Nothing happened. Baron waited a few minutes, wondering if he hadn’t been heard, and reached to knock again. Just as he was about to, though, a weary, slow voice echoed from the confines of the house, asking him to come in. The Twin Blade let himself in, pushing open the door gingerly. He expected the ill-kept wood to collapse at a touch! Inside, the place didn’t show any improvement; the building was completely empty aside from a cold, dark fireplace, an enormous axe leaning against the wall, and a large armchair.

The last was occupied by the owner of the house, or at least that was who Baron presumed it was. An older man, who looked to be over a century old if not older, looked up at him weakly, his eyes hollow and dim. He was bald and looked as if he hadn’t eaten in weeks; the Twin Blade could probably point out every bone in the man’s body by sight, if he was so inclined. Giving a polite smile to the older gentleman, Baron approached slowly, cautiously. Things weren’t always as they appeared.

“Um... hello. I'm looking for Eric... something... it was a really long name. Am I in the right place?”

The man hardly gave a nod in reply, as if it pained him to move in the slightest. Baron winced, hoping he wasn’t in the wrong place, despite the guy’s confirmation; how could this feeble old man help him? I was talking with another guy in the-“ He paused to remember the name of the club- “The Crucible Haunt. We were talking about the Fire Master. He mentioned you while we were laughing about some joke or another... something about unbribeable politicians, haha.”

Baron hoped he had seeded enough hints in that little speech; he didn’t want to outright say that he was looking for something that could be used to bribe the Fire Master. After all, anyone could be an informant, even this old man. He just prayed he didn’t misstep and get himself caught.

Another awkward silence came over the two, and Baron shifted back and forth, wondering what was going on. Was he not going to get a response? The ping of a Flashmail distracted him suddenly, and he looked to see who it was from. Surprisingly, it was from the old man! Well, Flashmail was probably easier to use for communication, with someone so old he could barely move. Baron scanned it over quickly, eyes narrowing.

“I tried to bribe him. He rejected it, and then when I started to complain later, he caught me. I was a heavy axe. I was one of the best fighters in the arena. Now look at me. He did this to me. I'm only seventeen!”

Seventeen? Baron’s eyes widened in surprise. How could this guy only be seventeen? He looked ancient, over a hundred easily! But at the same time, this was the Fire Master they were talking about. This guy was an elite hacker, not the best but pretty damn close to it. The Twin Blade felt a sickening twist in his stomach; if he got caught, what would be done to him? He fought back his sudden, panicking fear, and gave Eric a nod, swallowing softly. He had to go through with this, for the Freedom Fighters, and for himself. He had to get free.

“I'm sorry to hear that happened... If I might ask, what did you offer him? And for that matter, why? I thought the Rai District wanted nothing to do with the Fire Master...”

Another flashmail came soon enough. “I wanted more power, to fight and defeat Rikirion. I offered him all the GP I had, all the items I had, and all the rares I had except the ones I was using.”

And this was a hacker; he could have insane amounts of GP, items, rares, all hacked in or illegally earned with ease. If none of that could be used to bribe the Fire Master, then what? Once more, information was what he needed. “Was it not enough? Or was there something else that he wanted?”

Eric actually spoke his time, though Baron wished he hadn’t. The man’s voice was worse than nails on a chalkboard, it was so raspy. “He doesn't care! Maybe you can bribe him, but good luck finding a cause.”

Baron nodded again; it was clear that he wasn’t going to get anything more here regarding Eric’s bribe attempt. “Alright... thanks for the information. Is there anything else you can tell me about him, or any suggestions you can make? I don't know if I'll ever need a favor from him, but if I do I want to be careful.”

The man shook his head. “Nothing you don’t already know.”

Baron gave one last inclination of his head before exiting, leaving Eric to his solitude. That the Fire Master would do such a thing worried him, and he relayed all of the information he had gotten to Demorian via a quick Flashmail. It may not be anything immediately significant, but knowing him, the man would be able to find some hidden clue in all of that. Baron wasn’t sure there was anything to find, though. It meant it was time for him to hit the bazaar, and maybe find something a bit more definitive there.

As he was leaving the Raio sector, though, and heading for the Chaos Gate to take him to the Bazaar District, Baron got a Flashmail reply from Demorian telling him to go back to the Vak Castle, since they were almost there and ready to go in. Swearing softly to himself, Baron almost considered disobeying; even if he couldn’t be part of the negotiations, the Twin Blade wanted to make sure that the others were prepared. But at the same time, there was something in the tone of Demorian’s Flashmail that insisted he come. Shaking his head, the Twin Blade headed for the Vak sector, and immediately to the castle.

Baron soon caught up to the group, his eyes flickering back and forth between those who were present. Canti and Talal, both Twin Blades; the former he barely knew, and had only just met with the Freedom Fighters, while the other was a familiar friend. Takua, the guy he relied on almost as much as anyone else in The World since it had gone downhill starting at the Juk Prison, was a bit of relief for Baron. Another was Sekai, and Baron felt some small comfort that he at least had all of his familiar companions there with him. Hell, he would have been satisfied if Kira had been the only familiar face there, despite her wanting to kick his ass ten out of ten times.

Three Twin Blades, a Wavemaster, an Archer, and a Blademaster… this was going to be a very interesting negotiation indeed.

Yeah… we’re doomed.

Oh shut up already…

_________________
Character Information
Baron | Level 47 Twin Blade [100/1000 EXP] | 891 HP / 265 SP
Weapon: Fishskin
Armor: Emperor's Crown/Bone Armor/Thunder Gloves/Ninja Anklet
Accessories/Books: Ethereal Angel Wings, Silver Grunty
Skills: Thunder Coil, Gale of Swords
Spells: Merrows, GiRai Don, BiVak Rom, GiGan Zot, Rai Don, Ani Don, Duk Lei
GP: 750 (As of 8/2/15)
Wishlist: Nny Scales, Lucky Shoes, Saint Cross, Greave Sticker, Pet EX-Levels/Spheres(!)


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:45 am 
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Ikkitousen
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Joined: Sat Dec 27, 2008 2:50 am
Posts: 114
After Canti joined her along the wall, she couldn’t help but attempt to bring up his spirits somehow. She had begun playing this game for fun and it was…for a short time. Once she started learning the true and horrific underside of The World, it lost the fun aspect and became more of an actual mission, especially once she joined the Eventide Crescendo. No one smiled much anymore and it was killing her inside. Sure, the situation was far from great, but if all they concentrated on was the serious side of things, how would any of them be able to return home and lead any kind of a normal life? At least they would have being in a coma as an excuse to their new social behavior but after awhile excuses wouldn’t work.

From his questions Talal could tell he was struggling on the inside. He liked what he had in The World, his abilities, flying and of course now he had Shadow by his side thanks to what sounded like a really good and close friend he had on the outside. He was fortunate to have someone like that and Talal was admittedly a little jealous. But getting out of The World was weighing heavy on her fellow Twin Blade’s mind. She did her best to answer him and finally got a laugh out of him too, which made her happy. Main goal accomplished, she thought to herself.

He caught her off guard though when he asked what she would do when she got out. Getting out hadn’t truly been on her mind even if she referred to it on occasion. It was more of just another goal to achieve and one that felt was far from happening. She side swiped the question with some humor as she typically did when she wasn’t sure what to say. What did she have to go back to? By now, she no longer had her apartment and who knows what happened to her belongings. Would her family have stepped in and put everything in storage? Did they even know what had happened to her? There was no way to know and no reason to cause herself stress trying to figure it out. It was just easier to forget the real world existed now that she knew she wasn’t going to die from not being found. Time was hard to figure but her gut feeling told her she would have been dead by now if Takua’s message hadn’t gotten through to his friend.

Eyes closed and deep in thought, Talal’s mind wanderings were interrupted when she heard Takua and Sekai. The conversation didn’t sound like one that they wanted everyone to overhear so she just assumed that they had moved across the room, but still shouldn’t they be whispering? At first, the conversation felt like the ones she used to have with Takua where one would be asking all the questions and getting few or coded responses from the other.

I wonder how he feels being on the receiving end this time?

Sekai wasn’t being too positive, considering she had apparently just convinced the Wavemaster to change his vote, and some of the things she was saying were almost hurtful. The young Twin Blade was confused, her brow now furrowed. She had always looked up to Sekai and now all of a sudden the Archer couldn’t trust anyone to follow through and they were all nothing but fodder? The Archer left and although she hadn’t really spoken with the Wavemaster in quite awhile about anything significant, she needed to know what was up. As she began opening her eyes and turning her head in the direction of her two friends, she spoke in a low voice.

”What was all…that…about?”

The last couple of words came out slowly and disconnected from the rest of the question when she realized that Takua was still on the other side of the room. Canti of course didn’t have a clue why she was blurting questions out loud and out of the blue.

"What do you mean?"

She turned her head slowly, still confused, looking at Canti and then back at Takua and then back at the Twin Blade again, stumbling over her words a bit. "Didn't...didn't you hear Takua and Sekai... just now? I could have sworn..." The look on her face told it all. She was so confused and considering all the magical and unusual things she had been through lately, she was still thinking way too logically at the moment to have any hope of figuring out what just happened. Canti blinked in such a way that thanks to her confused state, Talal couldn’t figure out if he didn’t believe her or was just surprised she wasn’t referring to something else. What that something else was of course was anybody’s guess.

"No...because ever since I was infected, I haven't been able to boot up any text logs."

"Right, text logs." She thought for a moment, her brow still furrowed. "I'm sorry, I just...unless it was my imagination, I heard their whole conversation as if they were standing right here next to us. But, that's impossible from over here."

"What'd they say?"

Oops. She had to be careful. If she did hear them somehow, she was sure the conversation was not meant to be repeated. "They were discussing options mostly, which is why Takua changed his vote. She just seemed irritated hence why she has since left the building and I was hoping Takua could explain a bit further. He's known her longer than I have."

Way to recover from your blunder Talal. Canti probably already thinks you’re a nut case. Way to confirm it.

"Sekai? Irritated? I guess he really does know her better."

Talal laughed slightly. "Uh, yeah. She has her moments just like the rest of us. She just tends to be better at keeping them under wraps."

"Strangely enough, I kinda' saw one, but it was more about taking a stand about our trying to kill a certain enemy. Long story. Anyway, how'd you overhear it? I figure Shadow having a better chance than either of us."

"I would too! I don't know how I heard it. It's not like I was trying to. I was off in my own little world at the time to be honest." She paused. Did she dare? She was about ready to use a word that didn't come easily...trust. "Canti, I feel I can trust you so here goes...I've actually been experiencing a lot of little things lately and was just writing them off to the weirdness of being here. Now though, I think I'm basically having issues with my hearing but not in a bad way. It's like I can hear better and I don't know why. I was almost getting ready to consider myself paranoid. And since I'm just being honest here, do you mind asking Shadow if he did hear them? You know, just so I can confirm whether I'm going crazy or not?" She half smiled feeling like a completely insane babbling idiot at the moment.
Canti seemed to consider her request for a moment and then…

"Alright, let's try this. Shadow?" The large black dog’s head perked up, looking their way. "Did you hear Sekai and Takua talking?"

“And I have the text logs.”

"You...what? How'd you- Nevermind. I know how. Would you play it back, then?" Shadow’s ears lowered at Canti’s request. ”What?”

” I'm not a voice recorder... I can just read it...”

Canti turned back around to Talal. "Okay, he heard 'em. And I guess he could...dictate if you like?"

Her eyes grew big for a moment in disbelief before she settled back down. "Uh, no that won't be necessary. Besides, I'm sure that if they wanted all of us to hear their...debate, they would have spoken loud enough for everyone." She pondered for a bit and then bowed to Shadow. "Thank you Shadow. At least I know I'm not imagining things." She turned back to Canti. "And thank you as well." She smiled.

Demorian was done talking and the group started to shuffle. Something that Demorian had said though sparked a thought that made her happy that it was going to completely change the subject. She needed some time to think things over. "Canti? Demorian said that the Fire Master is a powerful hacker. I don't want to get your friend involved but it seems as though she already knows a lot about our situation and is a fairly powerful hacker herself." She points at Shadow. "Do you think there is anything she could do to help us, maybe on the intel end of things?"

"My friend is...on the outside, looking in. She's using me, and now Shadow, for intel, because she's an investigator who's only in here as a ghost. And she made Shadow because she couldn't ghost into this server. I dunno. What'd you have in mind? I'm not Rey, so I don't know the extent of her tricks."

"Oh....I see. I don't have hacking skills so I don't know how hackers do what they do. It just always seems there are back doors and things that they can access and find things out that others can't. I thought perhaps she would be able to get that kind of access. We had someone like that in the Eventide Crescendo until his position was compromised." She got quiet and began back pedaling. "Nevermind, it's better she doesn't get involved. It was a bad idea. Better to keep her safe."

Canti smirked at this. ” She ghosts so it's impossible to infect her. No player, no target. It's just that she decided to focus her efforts on me because I'm in the Freedom Fighters and I actually saw her in the dungeon she'd been investigating.”

Talal smiled, feeling once again like a complete idiot that she didn’t put two and two together quick enough. "Ah. Well, still, better to keep her on the safe side as long as it's an option. I must say, that's pretty smart thinking though about ghosting in like that." They were getting left behind. The group, or at least those that were going, had already left. "Umm, we should probably catch up."

"Uhhh, yeah. Let's."

((OOC: YAY! For character and hack development.))

_________________
Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Walk beside me that we may be as one.
***************************************
Talal
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Level 39 (0/1000 EXP) Twin Blade

Weapons/Armor: Mukuro (Swirling Dark, Dark Dance), Ice Hunter Cap (Repth), Wristbands (Juk Rom), Fishing Gloves (Rue Kruz), Wyrm Hide (Gan Don), Snow Panther (Ap Vorv)

Wish List: Scrolls, Tarot Cards, and Armor higher than level 30.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:48 am 
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Ikkitousen
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Joined: Sat Dec 27, 2008 12:19 am
Posts: 114
Location: Walking the line of madness
It wasn't so long after Takua had changed his vote that everything seemed to get decided. Demorian informed them of what their objectives were, and then asked that anyone who couldn't control themselves stay behind, or at least out of the way. That sounded like it was a golden invitation for Takua to step out and stay away from delicate diplomatic negotiations without a whole lot of wriggle room. Hallucinating the wrong thing there would be...

Quickly creating two seperate flashmails to Sekai and Baron, he sent them off. Now they would both know where they needed to go if they wanted to meet up with the rest of the group. Takua, on the other hand, would go somewhere else. Perhaps the Bazaar? Maybe the Ruem or Raio sector...either one of those sounded like a good idea. Those places would give him places to think, the Bazaar might be able to show him some interesting items or supplies. Just...not to the Fire Master. He could feel his fear and paranoia jumping just thinking about it. So when everyone else was preparing to leave and going out the door, he took off flying with an Ap Do. Up and over the rooftops of the Gan Sector. Ruem Wings really were convenient, weren't they? Of course, that he had to make do with the briefest glances of people looking up at him, or from far away, was not convenient. He wondered, briefly, if they marked him as thinking of himself of the Rue element. Not that that was wrong.

Flying on the border of the Rue and Gan sector, the Wavemaster took a glance toward the Raio sector. Or, well, tried to. There was another flyer that was moving in that direction that he was jacking off of. He frowned, wondering why the hell that was the one belonging to Rai. It didn't look like anything that he equated with the element. Heck, it looked like a bad steampunk and thrasher's dream. Maybe not a place that he wanted to go to. Did he want to venture back into the Bazaar or take a walk into the Ruem sector? The Bazaar hadn't been that pleasant for him, but he had found a bunch of interesting items there for purchase. A place where you could buy anything...

A minute or two later, and he was at the Chaos Gate. Moving through the menu while blind and unable to see the actual menu itself was kind of annoying, but intuitive. He thought about where he wanted to go, made a decision, and he supposed that Twilight worked out the rest of it. Which was why he was now in the Bazaar, having at least a hundred sources for his eyes all around him, looking at him. Staring at him. Surely there was someone that watched for prisoner escapees here, someone who would recognize him and call the Elites down on them...

He started walking away, ignoring the whispers that he could hear. Hallucinations or reality? He didn't know, he hoped it was the former, but paranoia was another thing entirely. What if someone really had recognized him? Then he was dead, and would probably be tortured. Deciding it would be easier if he didn't have to worry about hitting anyone, he pumped his ice wings once, twice, three times. Getting lift off, Takua soared above the head of the crowd surrounding the Chaos Gate and up and away, toward some side street, or maybe atop a building. Perha-

Ping.

Quote:
To: Takua, Kira, December
Sender: Nefertari

Your companion and charge is having a marvelous time; please come and get her before she bleeds all over the merchandise. I have no spare coin for a Healer and my talents infinitely lie elsewhere; though I can handsomely reward her for her services rendered today. We're that odd looking tent with a black, gold and lapis ankh as a door. Please come in and clean her up.


What the...fuck? Panic and curiosity were a strange mix. Who was this Nefertari? Other than someone who was likely in the Bazaar. What had Sekai done? There was no other reason for the other two to be included in the message but for that. She needed a healer. Was she close to dying? She wasn't in a party, she could die. A moment later, and Takua was using every person whose vision was available to him in a row. Flick. Flick. Flickflickflickflickflickflickfli-.

There. 'Odd looking'. What a perfect way to put it. Then it was time to backtrack, using each person to see the one before them, until Takua knew where he was in relation to the tent. And then he was flying as quickly as he could in that direction, shooting a quick flashmail to Kira...

--------

'I could have sworn that I'd said that I wasn't going to come here.'

“You could have sworn a lot of things. At least they haven't gone in yet. Now keep quiet inside, keep an eye on Sekai and your other friends, and you'll be fine. Just don't do negotiations if you don't want to.”

Somehow, he was back with the rest of the group. After he'd insisted to himself that he wouldn't be back here. Sighing, he turned his head over to Sekai. He couldn't really look at her right now, so he couldn't keep an eye on her that way. He could, however, keep an eye and an ear open to listen. Just so long as it wasn't his eyes. Now, it was time to see what they could do when they turned their mind to diplomacy, now wasn't it?

_________________
Takua - Lvl 57 Wavemaster
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Wishlist: Levels, Stun Rod, Hag's Wand, Ex-Level, Ex-Spheres, and Heh Heh Heh, Myth: Demiurge, FL Fukuoka


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:45 pm 
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Master of Games
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Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2003 9:23 pm
Posts: 1260
Location: ...Tracking...please wait...
Slowly, the group converged from their various shopping trips and mini adventures, arriving bit by bit at the Vak Castle. The structure looked much the same as it ever did, but that made it no less imposing, knowing that within minutes they would be face to face with the Vak Master. A man who somehow managed to rule an entire sector of hackers via politics and power. A man who was arguably the most powerful person in that sector of the city. Soon they would meet this man, and see what he had to offer them, or what they had to offer him.

The castle was very imposing. From their vantage outside, all they could see was a curtain of fire. The fire was holographic, giving off no heat, but even fake fire looks impressive when it was a hundred feet tall and encircled a square mile.

When the group, or what few of them deigned to show up, had gathered, Demorian led the way into the Castle Plaza. Fearlessly he walked through the holographic fire, a full ten feet before it broke, and led them all out into the plaza.

The plaza itself was akin to a parking lot, paved in long-ago cracked and broken asphalt. The black volcanic rock was riddled with cracks that glowed with a red heat. Though the ground was only slightly warm, the effect was impressive. Stretching into the distance, it ended only at the sheer rise of the castle.

The castle itself was one of the largest towers in the city, not counting the central towers of course. It was the shape of a forearm capped with a fist, thrust into the air. The forearm was studded with the occasional tall window, offering a stunning view of the plaza and the surrounding wall of flame. Of course, aside from the very top windows, none would be able to see the rest of the city. It was safe to say that the Vak Master's office would be on the top floor, what appeared to be right at the base of the wrist.

As they crossed the broken magma expanse, a figure appeared in the doorway of the tower. As they drew close, details could be made out. It was a man, tall and thin, dressed like an ornate butler, save for his costume being red and gold rather than the traditional black and white. When they were mere yards away, the butler bowed, and Demorian drew to a halt. Nighthand stopped beside him, wings folded, apparently at ease.

"Welcome to the Vak Castle, Orian. The Master is waiting for you in his office. If you would follow me?"

The guards that some members of the group had encountered previously were nowhere to be seen. The butler led the way through a grand entry hall, to a long spiral staircase that likely followed the entire outside edge of the arm, the entire way up. It certainly felt like a long distance to travel, a dozen stories at least, with landings every floor. Each landing had a single door, some open, some closed. The open ones generally led to wide open floors, devoid of players. If meetings were taking place, they were doing so behind closed doors.

At the promised top floor, a large and ornate door stood open, leading to a relatively small antechamber. At the end of the antechamber was yet another large door, this one closed. The butler gestured to wait, and knocked lightly on the door before sliding it open. "They're here, sir."

Abruptly, the butler was shoved back, and a tall well-built man in red lacquered armor flashed with gold and white shoved his way back into the antechamber. He glared at the group, where Demorian and Nighthand looked back impassively. Nighthand, of course, would have taken it to a fight given half the chance, but Demorian didn't give him the option.

"Hello." he said, his voice neutral. "We're here to see the Master."

"I know you are, fool. Why else would you be here? Not that we need anything you have to of-" He was cut off by a sharp voice from behind him. He froze, his face stony, then he turned. "He will see you now."

The door slid fully out of the way, the bodyguard moved to just inside, while the butler retreated down the staircase.

The man seated inside, behind a large red-wood desk in a high-backed red-leather chair, was dressed in flowing red robes of state. He certainly didn't look like a fighter. His body was thin and wiry, his hair short and a deep copper color. His skin was tanned, and his eyes were a visible blue that caught the eye's attention, almost forcing eye contact. His gaze, though, was cold and calculating, almost ruthless. To match those eyes in a gaze would be to find oneself the lesser being.

"Greetings. I am the Fire Master. I believe you are Orian, and your companions, yes? Very well, have a seat." He gestured to several low benches, padded enough to be comfortable, but lacking the backs that would let one lounge. Demorian sat, Nighthand opted to stand ready. "Or not, if you prefer. Tell me, what do you have to discuss?"

Demorian was silent, for a moment. If anyone else wished to speak first, this was their chance.

_________________
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:32 pm 
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Exalted Player

Joined: Sat May 13, 2006 3:58 pm
Posts: 288
Location: In da' plains of hell, natch.
(It all started with Talal suddenly speaking out without provocation at something that Sekai was talking about with Takua. Canti hadn't been privy to this exchange because, ha ha ha, it was happening across the room. He and Talal had just been holding up a section of the hide-out wall, taking a break, when she spoke and utterly confused our winged Twin Blade. She had heard everything that was said, though. Interesting... And even more so was that it sounded like Sekai was really irritated, which was a little out of character. Not to say that the Archer was incapable, but Canti seemed to recall her being polite and worried about things alot. And even her outbursts were nothing farther out than a Determinator speech. Something rang false or out of place there. Or perhaps, he just didn't know Sekai that well. Anything was possible...which brings us to the fact that Talal had just demonstrated an ability to hear that was possibly better than Shadow's, assuming his being a dog translated in that respect in The World. She told him that she'd been experiencing some oddities lately, things involving hearing especially. After describing them, Canti figured there was only one explanation for this, though he didn't put it to words.)

Canti: This could be a sign of the Twilight Virus making its debut in power central. Hmmm... Let's play a hunch.

(Figuring this was something he could put to the test, he asked the oversized canine, Shadow, if he could hear the conversations in the room, like between Sekai and Takua. Turns out, he was a little too skilled, being able to read the text logs as well. No direct recording, though. It turns out that, through the virtue of Shadow's built-in latent detection powers, we do have confirmation of a power. He hoped it would come in useful for her. After dealing with that, the group started to get moving and that's when the two of them began discussing Reyome. The curious thing about Rey was that she did things to moniter all of this and keep an eye on him...yet she'd been rather quiet lately. Canti didn't actually know the full extent of her capabilities, really. For all he knew, she worked for CC Corp and that writing a creature like the Zuul-dog lumbering beside him was easy as pie. After he and Talal were done talking, she went to catch the others up and he asked Shadow to tell him what the text logs said. It was kind of weird, since Shadow sounded like Unicron, to hear their words from his mouth. Still, when that was done, it made him all the more curious. That, and...)

Canti: You've been rather quiet lately, Rey.

I've been taking this place in, using Shadow as a proxy server node.

Canti: You...huh? English, please. I no speaking the Japanese.

Alright. Have you ever seen Ghost in the Shell?

Canti: Only a hundred times.

Well, consider the way I dive into The World as is. Since I walk in through the net directly instead of by character, that's why I go through it as a ghost. I have no real body to speak of. However, the translation software and machinery I'm using for these dives gives back a latent impression that some people can pick up if they're perceptive. That's what led me to you.

Canti: Okay, and the anime reference?

If a server was locked, I could find any number of back doors to get through, like using the mailing system or any other subtle entry-points that have to remain in operation. My ghost breaks down the barriers and walks through, much like the show. This server is more than locked, though. It's completely wiped off the map with the data-equivalent of a minefield and arttillery practice field. Complete suicide, if you're trying to hack and slash your way in. Once Shadow saw it and used your trail to detect and follow you via the Chaos Gate, it was like slipping past the barriers by sending a signal through a simple land-line.

Canti: So, The dog's little phone system is a sneaky hacker trick?

In case he found you somewhere that a normal player or a ghost couldn't attend, he would beam out a signal that I'm waiting for, then we bridge a gap and viola. Now then, what's on your mind?

Canti: Heh, well I was going to ask if you could be doing more, but damn.

Little man, I'm doing more than you can imagine. When my boss hears about this, he will flip and triple-lutz. Just keep Shadow in good condition, okay? He's the anchor.

Canti: You got it.

(And that was that. Shit... She doesn't fool around. As they came upon the Fire Master's castle - second time around for Canti - the Twin Blade just considered what could happen. This entire server was a relatively-small and benign machine somewhere. If the plug were suddenly pulled...no more Yamiyo. Scary thought. But then...she wouldn't do it while they're here. In the meantime, they had the problem of the Fire Master, and how they would deal with him. The place was as he remembered it, with a harmless fiery area around it that you could just walk through. Once inside, they were met by a butler who was here to escort them to their meeting. The Butler referred to Demorian as simply 'Orian'. A pseudonym? Could be. They headed up the spiral stairs - again, the same ones he and Raquar had gone up before - and were soon delivered to a waiting room. At this time, a person pushing himself into the room who was not the Fire Master. You could tell because he was too much of a brutish asshole to be the one. Once the real one cut him off, it was a matter of entering the big room, bodyguard watching them like hawks. Yes, an entire flock of hawks. The Fire Master embodied his chosen element. You could see that he was a volcano, but the kind that is yet to erupt and will destroy Pompeii without warning or mercy. By contrast, his bodyguard would loudly rumble and blow steam in a very obvious way, giving those who were his opponents plenty of warning that he was ready to blow. If you asked Canti what sort of volcano he was, he'd tell you he wasn't any kind. Just an ass-kicker.)

"Greetings. I am the Fire Master. I believe you are Orian, and your companions, yes? Very well, have a seat."

(Canti did not. It wasn't that he didn't tr- Check that. He didn't trust him. And the Fire Master? He probably didn't trust them, or anyone. Not fully. It seemed wiser not too.)

"Or not, if you prefer. Tell me, what do you have to discuss?"

(Nobody said a blessed thing, at first. Furthermore, nobody said a Brian Blessed thing either, which was actually a good thing in this case, as his voice would've shattered the cosmos. But given that the Twin Blade couldn't stand the silence anymore, he decided to make with the words. Remember, this plan had been his at the start of it. Wouldn't feel right if he didn't have an active role in it.)

Canti: Alright, sure. Let's start with Klive. I understand that you've been in meeting with him recently. Is his condition really improving? Because if something was wrong, you know how people would react. Someone once said that without the center, everything falls into disarray. If I were a betting man, I'd say that you're concerned in one way or another over the Fire Elite's health, and that the campaign is a smokescreen to keep the peace.

"He's... improving. Slowly. Given time, he will heal. It's my job that people understand that he's healing."

(He wasn't ready to admit much else yet.)

Canti: But the devil is in the details or you'd be able to stomp rumors flat without fail. Your job... You run things here. This land is your land. But how do you feel about things here? I bet Klive is a tough customer to the best of 'em, and he's your boss.

"You're right. He's tough. But he also doesn't much care to run the sector himself. He has other concerns."

(Yeah, like burninating Freedom Fighters, we're sure.)

Canti: So, I guess that means you keep out of each other's hair?

"Somewhat. If a problem reaches his ears, then we have trouble. I make sure that doesn't happen."

Canti: So, the running of this place would be technically better off without his presence, say. If I'm reading you right...then the situations that he learns about probably end up messy, and exactly the way you don't want them, correct?

(Carefully, Canti was trying to root out the ire between the Master and the Elite. If there was anything to work with to get on his side and against Klive, he wanted to find it. The Fire Master stared at him for a long moment, then laughed.)

"Oh no. Klive and I have quite the understanding. I know that he could be a much worse boss, and he knows that he could do much worse in me."

(Crap. There isn't soaring contention between the two, and he may not have a desire for power and status. One last try...)

Canti: Has he been irrational lately, from his sudden health switch or otherwise?

"Weak, and angry, but not irrational. Never irrational. He merely rages that he cannot continue his plans."

(Crap, crap, and double-crap. It was starting to look like they couldn't count him ally to the cause. Canti decided to let someone else have the conch for now.)

OOC: That's everyone's cue to post and stuff, alright? I stuck MY neck out. Time to commit, dammit.

_________________
I'll have a doozy of a sig later, I swear. It'll reflect ".hack//CODE" an' everything.

Hey look! A profile! It's got items and stats and things! Cool! If it isn't fully up to date, it will be, so don't worry 'bout it.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:11 am 
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Ikkitousen
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Joined: Sat Dec 27, 2008 2:50 am
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Talal’s conversation with Canti was both stressful and a breath of relief all at the same time. It was good to know there was one more person added to her very short list of trusted people. The young girl held up her hand, her fingers counting as she ticked off a list of people in her head while she walked through the back streets of Yamiyo toward the nearest gate. Eyebrows furrowed when she reached the end of her list…Canti made five. That wasn’t very many people considering it included both those in The World and in real life too!

Not thinking she was that far behind the group, it still hadn’t surprised her that they had all literally vanished into the streets, including Canti who had left with her. No one likes to arrive to the party late so she quickened the pace of her feet to try and match the ramblings in her head about what just happened and what it all meant. There was really only one answer that made any sense in a world that didn’t seem to have many limits on the unnatural. The young Twin Blade was becoming more like the others with an ability all her own.

Super hearing wasn’t exactly what she was hoping for since it didn’t pack much of a punch in terms of fighting. Maybe it was just the first part of things to come and she was to become some sort of modern day bionic woman with super strength and speed to boot. Okay, maybe just the speed would work. She was a Twin Blade after all. Imagine, not having to worry about buying any more speed charms except to have on hand for the others. That would be nice. The whole thing was kind of funny since it had started off in typical Talal style….confusing, but now that she had figured out what was going on, the dark haired fighter found herself literally skipping like a young school girl to the gate. Not exactly the best thing to do in the Yamiyo server or at least according to all the voices she was hearing. Okay, that was going to get annoying if she couldn’t get a handle on controlling it. Hearing everyone talking all the time would probably start driving her insane, not to mention she liked her quiet time.

Ditching a couple of big and burlies down an alley way, Talal quickly made her way to the Vak sector castle and joined the others hoping they wouldn’t notice the smile on her face before she had a chance to compose herself. Of course the humongous wall of fire that Demorian just non-chalantly stepped into would take a smile off anyone’s face, except for maybe Canti. The courtyard of the castle…had character and the shape of the castle was….interesting. Obvious signs of small man with a big ego as far as she was concerned.

The group was greeted by one of those creepy monotone butler types that were always showing up unexpectedly with a tray of appetizers or drinks. Somehow she didn’t think this guy was going to be toting a nice shiny silver tray with goodies on it. They were led up a never ending staircase, thankfully with walls on both sides since it rimmed the outer wall of the castle, and finally emerged into small room. The guard that arrived through the far door was all about making his presence and toughness known. However, the Fire Master was the exact opposite showing very little emotion of any kind.

Demorian sat but the young girl chose to stand. Sitting wasn’t cohesive with the unsheathing of her blades if things went south. Canti also stood and chose to take the floor first after a very awkward silence. She could tell that he was trying to crack through the tough outer exterior and get the Fire Master to confirm there was contention between the blue eyed man and Klive. The Fire Master however appeared to be very practiced at remaining unaffected and keeping whatever he knew confidential. In the end he gave up one small clue that the group needed, as long as it was true and that was that Klive was indeed very weak at the moment. Canti gave up the floor and there was another short pause, the girl supposed that everyone was making sure that the dark Twin Blade didn’t have any further inquiries. She found the Fire Master’s response to the last one rather interesting and decided to simply continue the conversation in a respectful yet inquiring minds want to know kind of tone.

”Obviously he feels you are a capable person or he would not trust you with running his sector, so why does he not ask you to do the tasks that could continue his plan? Isn’t that what second in command types do?”

The wiry looking man behind the desk though for a moment before answering. ”Many of his tasks require him to leave the server. I have to stay here, and rule visibly.”

Well that was certainly an interesting notion. Wasn’t it the job of the King or in this case Elite to rule visibly while the right hand man did all the running around and dirty work? There had to be more to the story.

”Not a very good system if your most trusted right hand can’t leave his post. It’s rather backwards from a typical chain of command structure which would lead one to think that you are just one of a few right hands.”

”Perhaps, perhaps. Either way… we’re not exactly wanted elsewhere, are we? The Admins tend to frown on our presence in the normal servers. Klive is powerful enough to avoid issue.”

Okay, that was just weird… his use of our and we. Was he speaking of himself and Klive or was he hinting that he knew who we were or at least what we were? She had to play it like the former and it possibly was her chance to continue where Canti left off with a slight twist added. If there really was no current contention between them, maybe she could create some. It was at least worth a try. Her eyebrow raised and a slight grin crossed her lips while she spoke as if she was on an even ground of hierarchy as the Fire Master.

”Perhaps you say? So there are others. So Klive must not trust you as much as you think. What better way to keep an eye on someone but to put them in a position of power that limits their movement? Other than the view, I wouldn’t enjoy being a prisoner in my own home… so to speak.”

All of a sudden she picked up on the barely audible growling from the bodyguard/bouncer which warned her of his approach. Okay, the whole hearing thing was starting to look pretty decent. He definitely wasn’t shy about the tone in his voice.

”Wait just a goddamn minute. Who the hell do you think you’re talking to?”

Down little doggy, play nice.

The bouncer looked like he wanted to pounce on her. She crossed her arms low across her waist placing her hands softly on the slits in her sash that held her hidden blades. The girl was not about to be bullied and would show the big bad dog who was holding his leash if that’s what it came too! Lucky for him, the Fire Master raised a hand, stalling him in place. A brief shake of his head and the bodyguard gave Talal a glare before returning to his post by the door. Talal relaxed her arms once more and respectfully bowed to the Fire Master.

”I did not mean any disrespect, just simply pointing out what appears to be the obvious, at least to myself. Would you deny that such a position, as grand and important as it is, doesn’t make you feel trapped on occasion?”

”Oh, perhaps on occasion. I have my methods, though, and this place suits me.”

Well, she at least stirred something in someone, but unfortunately it was not the right someone. Maybe someone else could find a way to break through. She smiled and bowed once more to the Fire Master and waited to hear what, if anything, the others had to say.

_________________
Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Walk beside me that we may be as one.
***************************************
Talal
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Level 39 (0/1000 EXP) Twin Blade

Weapons/Armor: Mukuro (Swirling Dark, Dark Dance), Ice Hunter Cap (Repth), Wristbands (Juk Rom), Fishing Gloves (Rue Kruz), Wyrm Hide (Gan Don), Snow Panther (Ap Vorv)

Wish List: Scrolls, Tarot Cards, and Armor higher than level 30.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:29 pm 
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Ikkitousen
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Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 10:21 pm
Posts: 111
Baron quietly mulled over the information he had acquired before rejoining the others, his silver eyes on the ground before him. He didn’t speak, merely looked thoughtful as he walked beside the others. He was sure each was thinking on their own plans involving the Fire Master; how would they approach him? What would they ask? It was best that the majority of them stay silent unless prompted; speech from too many voices was hardly diplomatic, and there was much to be read in that sort of action. Desperation in their brief audience, for example, if they had so many people trying to run so many ideas at him at once for the short time they had. Baron was willing to bet that the words between the two parties were nothing but cover today; as a politician, the Fire Master would be looking at everything beneath and between the words, all of the hidden meanings and thoughts that could be gleaned, whether they were fact or a fiction created in paranoia.

Baron could see eye-to-eye with the man, in a sense; there were so many little details beneath the surface that many took at a glance. However, as a politician the Fire Master had to see beyond that, had to see through the elaborate game that even the most unassuming speech could create. Anything could have a hidden meaning. For example, as a pleasantry the Twin Blade might have asked the Fire Master how he rose to power, what it was like; that could be taken as an attempt to repeat the same process and overtake the position, by analyzing how it had been done previously. Granted, that was a bit more paranoia than anything, but politicians seemed to see everything in a web; the slightest touch to any of the strands would send vibrations down the entire thing, and they read the movements in their own way.

So the question was simple; how did they approach the Fire Master? Who would speak? What would they say? All of these things would make a huge difference. If they had more time beforehand, the Twin Blade would have discussed this with the rest of the Freedom Fighters. Naturally he wanted Demorian to speak primarily; the Blademaster had been quite the puppetmaster, so he had heard. Of course he would be able to twist words around just as subtly and easily as any other politician, so he would be their primary speaker. However, that didn’t mean he had to go first; placement in a conversation was just as important. Letting someone else speak first in order for Demorian—or “Orion” as apparently his given name was in this situation—to pick out and twist words would probably be smarter.

And this was why Baron hated politics; far too much maneuvering for his tastes.

That’s surprising; by the way you think one would assume you were actually pretty good at it.

That wasn’t any real comfort to Baron; he absolutely hated politics despite having a fair grasp about them. In essence, the whole system was one big game of maneuvering for advantage below the surface while the words atop were weak reflections of it. Things could be twisted and misconstrued in a conversation while the true nature was that things were being redirected to put the manipulator at an advantage. Lies could be told, twisting in a thousand different ways to ensnare even the most alert individual, or the plain truth could be given in a way to make it disbelieved. All of it was for the sake of maneuvering, for power, for appearance. As long as you put yourself on top in the most favorable light possible, you had temporarily won the game that never seemed to end.

Well, it looked like the Freedom Fighters were playing it ad lib here; without much time to plan in advance, they would each be forming their own plans.

They were allowed in quickly, a surprise in itself; Baron had expected something a little more secure. Of course, it probably wasn’t needed, given the man they were seeing. The wall of fire was a bit intimidating, and the Twin Blade swallowed nervously as he followed the others into it. That fire looked very much real; Baron wondered if the Fire Master was able to make it so in the event of intruders. He also didn’t want to find out. After all, they had been invited, and if anyone were to step out of bounds too early, before they found some sort of upper hand, they might find their guest pass turned into manacles. That or dead—Baron didn’t want to consider that option either. Dead was actual death in this mansion; as a powerful hacker and Klive’s second-in-command, deletion was probably a wave of the Fire Master’s hand away.

The butler that awaited them at the door was a surprise, for some reason; the Fire Master was a man of power, but the whole idea of a butler was refreshingly cliché in an environment where very little could be expected. Baron let it go though, refusing to let something as simple as that throw him off. It was weird though, finding even the slightest sense of normalcy in the world that he had been thrust into. He probably would have been more stunned if the man was in black-and-white, and it was probably only the fact that he was dressed in the Fire Master’s colors that kept the Twin Blade’s head on straight. Baron grimaced, wishing he didn’t let himself get put off-guard so easily.

The entry hall didn’t merit much interest for Baron, nor did the long spiraling staircase up to the top floor. These were cliché castle elements as well, but these sorts of things were to be expected. Admittedly, the Twin Blade thought a few floating fireballs for light, or walls made of magma, or anything else along those lines would have been more appropriate, but he wasn’t going to make comments on the decorations. Instead he was running questions through his mind, trying to figure out what the best approach for now. The others had their plans in motion, but he had nothing. It was all guesswork, all going off of the top of his head. He hadn’t gathered enough information to work with.

If I may…

Baron gave a start, but he didn’t show it visibly. He knew three voices in his head… he didn’t need a fourth! But after a moment, he remembered a name: Higure. Memory flooded back, to the encounter in his mind, a brief experience that had been walled off for some reason until he had spoken again. That added another tactic that the Twin Blade could employ; he remembered the wolf saying that he could slip into the shadows of another person’s mind. Now would be as good a time as any to test that, and if they could gleam a little extra information from their conversation with the Fire Master.

Feel free. Just don’t get detected.

You underestimate me…

With that, there was a slight emptiness, if one could describe it as that, and Baron knew that the wolf had gone. Frowning softly to himself before straightening his expression, the Twin Blade instead focused on following the butler up towards the top floor, stopping at the final landing. The doorway leading to the Fire Master’s office was large and ornate, imposingly so, but Baron didn’t let himself be impressed by it; it was merely a big doorway. No, the man behind it was what he should worry about. He could feel a slight nervousness welling up inside of him, and he fought to keep his expression cool and his posture calm; showing weakness was probably the worst thing they could do right now.

Admittedly that failed when the big bruiser decided to shove the butler out of the way. Baron gave a nervous swallow at the size of the guy, wondering for a brief moment if he was the Fire Master. That thought was quickly disabused though, at the next statement. Clearly this was a bodyguard for the man, and likely an overprotective one judging by the way he acted. The Twin Blade disliked that sort; he was likely to flare up at the slightest word and a bad reaction from him could cause their audience with the Fire Master to end abruptly, with one or several of them tossed out the front door in the best scenario. At worst, drastic actions might be taken and an “accident” might occur.

Once they were allowed inside, Baron took a moment to look around the office. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary though; it actually looked like an official’s office. If he wasn’t so intimidated about where they were right now, this would have merited comment that this had nothing to do with the whole “Fire Master” theme that the outside of the castle had portrayed. As it was, he kept his mouth shut and simply followed his group to the desk located on the other end of the room. Behind it sat a single man, unimposing and calm. When he took his eyes off of his documents though, Baron knew for a fact that this had to be the Fire Master. Those eyes—cold, hard, and calculating—suggested that he could be nothing else.

So this was the man that they were going up against mentally, trying to win him over to the thought of a coup against Klive. Baron could see that the only gain here would be to remove one of the Elites that had trapped them here; however, he didn’t see how that would help their comatose status at all. If anything, the Twin Blade wanted to free the people trapped in the game, and then just pull the plug. It would be problem solved, nothing else. Maybe defeating the Elites was a way of buying time until they found a solution to their imprisonment, a way of delaying their plans—what did they have planned, anyway? World domination, the usual evil villains thing?—for the time being.

Well, why they were doing it wasn’t a concern right this moment. Baron knew that these people had to be stopped somehow, anyway. It was one less hacker to drag people into The World for real, though honestly the Twin Blade expected it to be filled right back up by the Fire Master when they were done. Were they really accomplishing anything here? Time would have to tell. He’d talk to Sheena about it later, or Demorian; both of them understood the situation far better than he did, and could probably explain it as such.

Baron found himself lounging against one of the walls, since the benches didn’t look particularly comfortable. He got a look or two, but he brushed them aside; for now it was best to keep a competent appearance rather than one that suggested there was dissent in the group. He kept quiet as Canti talked, though he listened carefully to the man’s words, as well as watched the Fire Master’s expression carefully. The latter was a futile effort; the man might as well have been made of stone. Higure was giving him much the same. The man was protected against outside reading, probably due to hackers who could do that sort of thing. The wolf promised to keep trying and went silent again while Baron continued to search for an opening.

The thing was that all they wanted was to discuss the coup with the Fire Master. Baron was sure the man knew of it, mostly due to Demorian setting up this audience, but he couldn’t be as sure about the bodyguard. If the man was simply a loyalist rather than a member of the conspiracy, he might run to Klive if he heard. That would spell disaster for the rest of them, something they could not afford. Instead, they had to be rid of the bodyguard, finding an excuse for him to leave the room. Maybe one of them could cause trouble and get him to take them out? No, likely they’d all get thrown out, or that one person would be in some serious trouble. They couldn’t just ask the Fire Master to send him out either… they’d have to wait and see what developed.

Canti’s plan seemed to be finding a weakness in the relationship between Klive and the Fire Master, something to exploit and drive a wedge between them. That didn’t particularly work, as the man fended off every verbal assault without any effort whatsoever. Baron continued to watch closely nonetheless; anything could trigger that key change of expression or phrase that he could use to turn this around for them. Talal’s attack wasn’t much better, a shift from the cordial conversation that Canti had held to something more forward and blunt. Yet she kept a balance between respectful and not, keeping on the fence so as not to draw unneeded attention. Baron smiled softly at that.

I’ve found something!

Baron tried his hardest not to start, and managed to keep his face mostly calm. What did you find?

Nothing much, merely a brief twitch in his defenses… it seems he has some relation to a coup. Don’t know if it’s ours, or another, but it’s there. Maybe this isn’t as hopeless as you thought.

Baron was about to reply when he saw the bodyguard moving forward towards Talal. He hastily tried to remember what she had said to tick him off, and one of the Gemini supplied it helpfully. What she had said was near to an insult without being one, yet the Fire Master didn’t seem perturbed. His lackey though… now there was an opening he could exploit. Baron waited for Talal to finish, jumping on her last response just as the Fire Master finished his reply.

"On occasion? How often do you get a chance to leave this place? How often do you get to use the power you've gathered to this point? Are you a leader, or merely an administrator to follow behind in Klive's footsteps?" He made no excuse for his words, no claim to avoid disrespect. Instead he intentionally tried to draw some emotion, to see if Higure picked anything up. That, and he wanted to rile up the bodyguard a bit more.

"I don't need to leave to show my power in the Sector. Should the need arise, I have my ways."

"You don't need to leave... but that doesn't mean you don't want to. There is a fine line between the two, sir." The last bit was said with a slightly mocking tone of authoritative respect. He quickly waved it off though, providing no opening. "But it's as you say, you can show your power without leaving. I'm certain that a faceless, unknown administrator is probably more effective anyway. They don't know any limitations to your strength, if you have any, and all they know is what you can do. Effective enough, I suppose."

The bodyguard was really mad now, incoherent as he stomped up to the Twin Blade. The Fire Master hadn’t sent him out yet though, or stopped him. Baron knew what was going to come shortly, and braced himself even as he spoke the next words without the slightest show of hesitation. Rather than showing any sort of worry (though he was quaking inside), the Twin Blade merely glanced back over at the Fire Master, giving him a bored expression. He didn’t even give the muscled bodyguard a look. "Excuse me, muscles, but I'm sure your Master can handle himself. If he felt I was insulting him enough, or if I was far enough out of line, I'm sure I'd not be standing here. You probably shouldn't keep walking back and forth like this; you'll wear a tread in the floor."

And here it came. Baron didn’t have to feign being surprised by the blow; he was too busy reeling as the man’s fist connected with his face. The Twin Blade was sent sprawling, grimacing at the injury. The Fire Master actually seemed amused, the first show of real expression yet. Who knew he had a sense of humor? Baron didn’t like it, though; it needed less beating up and more slapstick. Rubbing at his sore cheek, the Twin Blade sat up, idly wiggling his teeth with his tongue and wondering if any of them were loose. He could have sworn he felt one or two like that, and wondered if a Health Drink covered his dental plan. "Ouch. Well I guess I deserved that one... though you do act a bit too hastily. Guess you're the brute strength to the Fire Master's keen mind and political sense?"

The bruiser came again, and Baron visibly flinched this time; he had only expected one hit, not another! But the blow never came, and the Twin Blade looked over to the Fire Master, who had demanded that the man cease. The boy glanced first at the Fire Master, then at the bodyguard, and back to the Fire Master. There was a heavy pause between the two of them for a moment, and tension was there; Baron was sure that the muscled strongman was ready to tear him apart if his master let him.

After a moment, the Fire Master spoke. “…Out.” The bodyguard protested, but there was no denying a repeat of the command. He quickly left, closing the door behind him. Baron gave a wry grin as he dusted himself off, straightening his jacket slowly and deliberately before walking over to the chair and slumping down in it casually.

"Sorry about that. I hope I didn't off-put you too much, sir." This time there was no mocking to his tone; he had to cover up his tracks somewhat. "Though I suppose that's not completely untrue; why would you need to sully yourself beating up a smartmouthed boy when big and scary out there can do it for you? Either way. At least I don't feel like I'm being glared at anymore."

This time the Fire Master actually laughed. It was surprisingly human of him, considering his lack of emotion before. "On the contrary, it's been a while since someone has had the gall to stand up to me, in the face of, well, that. I can tell you're not the brains of the operation, but, no matter." The man then stood, walking past the whole group without the slightest bit of trepidation, flipping the latch to lock the door securely. "I believe we have something to discuss, and with my guard out of the way, you can speak freely."

"I don't take a claim to the brains of the operation, but I do like to think I've got a little wit to me." Baron's smile didn't slip, but inwardly he was letting out a long sigh of relief. He didn't flinch as the man walked past him, though he wanted to. "As for something to discuss... why don't you start us off? I couldn't possibly imagine what you'd like to talk about." And again the sarcasm was present, though lightly, not intended to insult.

The Fire Master returned to his desk, sitting behind it after giving Baron a roll of his eyes. "Very well. Orian, or should I say, Demorian?" Demorian’s hand twitched towards his sword, despite the lack of expression he showed at the Fire Master’s revelation that he knew his name was fake. Baron refused to let himself budge; he couldn’t show surprise now. "And friends. I'll speak plainly, if you won't.”

“I know about the coup.”



----

((OOC: Sorry to change the Fire Master's color on y'all, but he's on my color and I kinda need it. D: Orange is all fire-y too!))

_________________
Character Information
Baron | Level 47 Twin Blade [100/1000 EXP] | 891 HP / 265 SP
Weapon: Fishskin
Armor: Emperor's Crown/Bone Armor/Thunder Gloves/Ninja Anklet
Accessories/Books: Ethereal Angel Wings, Silver Grunty
Skills: Thunder Coil, Gale of Swords
Spells: Merrows, GiRai Don, BiVak Rom, GiGan Zot, Rai Don, Ani Don, Duk Lei
GP: 750 (As of 8/2/15)
Wishlist: Nny Scales, Lucky Shoes, Saint Cross, Greave Sticker, Pet EX-Levels/Spheres(!)


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