Title: All You Create, All You Destroy
memory - June 9, 2010 01:34 AM (GMT)
By virtue of my authority as the present Grandmaster of Ice, and with the joint concurrence of the Grandmasters of Fire and Earth, I, Aidathelosurina, hereby summon the Grandmasters of Wind, Lightning, and Water to the sacred and ancient meeting halls of Melmond. Under the pact of the Six, all mentioned parties are required to attend. Refusal to submit to this order will carry consequences.
"Where is the ancestral hall? This is not the Melmond that I remember. Cecily, please locate the halls for me," the Ice Grandmaster declared, gazing around the new city with a calm expression on her face.
Obeying, Cecily knelt, placing a hand on the ground and closing her eyes. "There are a number of sizable ruins underground. What am I looking for?"
"The circular marble table. Certainly that has not moved," she replied.
Behind them, a familiar figure approached. Tall and lithe, purple hair in a ubiquitous topknot, Eastern-style blade held sheathed in her left hand. The wind swirling around her body told the three other Grandmasters that this was one of the individuals they had just summoned.
"The table's gone. Wrecked. But it doesn't matter. We can meet wherever we want," Leila said casually, eying the unfamiliar Grandmasters before her.
"How ignorant!" Aidathelosurina scoffed. "I expected more from the Grandmaster of Wind. Anemoira should be disappointed."
"Who?" Leila responded shortly, narrowing her eyes. "Don't know anyone like that. But if you want to get into the ruins we sealed below-"
"Sealed?!" Aidathelosurina exclaimed incredulously. "You impertinent brat... to seal away one of the sacred meeting grounds for the Grandmasters is a severe transgression of the inviolable codes governing our interactions...!"
"We'll discuss that in a bit, right? You seem really concerned with rules. The other two Grandmasters are waiting for us up in the Citadel," Leila retorted, giving Aidathelosurina an unimpressed look. "If you don't like where we're meeting, you don't have to attend... oh, but that 'will carry consequences', right?"
The Grandmaster of Ice exhaled deeply, sending out a puff of frosty mist in her wake. "Fine. We will meet on your terms. But you will not wrest control of this convocation from me. I will impress upon you, and everyone in attendance, the importance of the rules previously set forth."
memory - June 9, 2010 04:43 AM (GMT)
A while later, the six Grandmasters sat in a wide circle around a large stone table. The ceiling above was made of transparent crystal, allowing light to filter in indiscriminately. Undoubtedly, it was crystal work straight from the hand of Salinas Xaruthan.
Curiously, the traditional seating order (obeying the cycle of elements) had Aimee Voltaire and Aidathelosurina facing one-another. It seemed almost natural to pair them up, based solely on their composure and evaluative expressions. Leila looked uncomfortable placed between the Ice Grandmaster and the Earth Grandmaster, but said nothing; she was facing Melody, whose reassuring presence tempered the cold, stoic aura emanating from the Fire Grandmaster beside her.
Of course, Aidathelosurina was the first to speak.
"I will begin by introducing myself. I am-"
Aimee did not wait for her to finish. "Aidathelosurina. Ice Grandmaster from a long, long time ago. Your reputation precedes you, rest assured. History does not easily forget the magically powerful."
Before the Ice Grandmaster could respond, Leila interjected, "And that's Aimee Voltaire, present Lightning Grandmaster, possessor of unbridled knowledge. As far as Grandmasters in the here-and-now are concerned, she's the alpha and the omega."
"Cute," Cecily responded. "And since no one can speak for themselves, the silent man over there is-"
"Enough! You all try my patience. We are here to discuss and reverse certain transgressions that have come to pass," Aidathelosurina said forcefully, keeping her attention directed at Aimee.
"Transgressions? As in?" Melody inquired, leaning forward interestedly.
"Upon my return to the seat of Ice Grandmaster, I learned from my colleagues that three Grandmasters were complicit in a plan to wreak havoc on the Writing forming the basis for this realm's existence. This is unacceptable. The laws binding each Grandmaster require inaction when it comes to matters concerning the ones who Write," she explained.
Aimee leaned back slowly, sighing deeply. "I have already thought this through. Three Grandmasters are more than enough to offset the negative effects given the tools the Moiety have at their disposal."
Cecily shook her head. "Prove it, Lightning Grandmaster."
"I don't need to justify myself to a botanist," Aimee replied harshly. "There is no reason to doubt the information the Moiety has provided us, especially after I have independently verified it through years and years of prior research. I will not change my course of action."
memory - June 9, 2010 10:38 PM (GMT)
Aidathelosurina shook her head. "If you will not cooperate with me, then Varuna, Amida, and Fujita will need to be contacted. The Grandmasters must be in concordance regarding this issue. We will not watch the Moiety destroy any part of the Writing without action on our part."
The table was silent for a long time. Finally, Melody spoke, her eyes remaining closed. "I'll speak with Varuna. I trust the Lightning Grandmaster's assessment of the issue, but... Aimee, knowing you on a personal level, I've seen your disregard for the human element, and... well, you know what I'm saying."
"A very reasonable decision, Water Grandmaster. You are a smart girl. I am certain Varuna will agree with my point of view," Aidathelosurina said confidently, locking her gaze intently with Aimee's.
"Don't be too pleased with yourself," Leila interjected, "because I'm not budging. I won't give up on my allies or my own freedom just because you tell me to. And I still don't know who in the world Fujita is, or Anemoira for that matter."
"Ignorant girl. Fujita Anemoira was the Wind Grandmaster of my time, a powerful and strong sorceress. I sense none of her musicality or magical strength within you... but certainly you know of those who came before you?" the Ice Grandmaster replied, a tone of disbelief hidden behind her words.
"For all your supposed expertise and power, you're not a very worldly person."
Before Aidathelosurina could respond to Leila's repartee, Aimee stood, saying, "I believe we're done here. You have earned no converts to your side. The status quo stands at three-to-three."
"Lightning Grandmaster, I am not an enemy you wish to make. Your refusal to submit to the laws of our land could cause this conflict to escalate needlessly," warned the Ice Grandmaster. "Defeating your triumvirate would be a simple task, rest assured."
cielo - June 9, 2010 11:54 PM (GMT)
It was at that moment that a young man, tall and proud with messy brown hair and green eyes, chose to make his entrance by rising through the floor. Hands empty, he made a small wave. "Melody, Leila, Aimee! I got some sort of garbled message, and noticed you three in one spot together."
Leku's smile froze a bit as he noticed the three other Grandmasters, gaze lingering on Cecily for a second. "I certainly hope I'm not intruding."
memory - June 10, 2010 01:28 AM (GMT)
Cecily looked a little startled at first, but then her expression changed to one of apprehension. She looked like she wanted to say something, but the company around her kept the normally talkative young woman quite reticent.
"Leku, it's been a while," Leila greeted. "Ice Grandmaster, this is Leku Tessan, former Earth Grandmaster. He looks stronger than your puppet over there, don't you think?"
Cecily took offense to this. "As if you're not the weakest Grandmaster here! Your combat records are less than formidable, Winley. Of all of the former Generals of the Shining Alliance, you've racked up the most losses-"
"Then how about I rack up a win right now?" Leila responded, half-yelling.
None of the other four Grandmasters made any move to stop the two. Cecily and Leila both stood, facing one another, an antagonistic glare on both faces. This situation was quickly escalating out of control.
"Are you certain you want to start this here, Voltaire?" Aidathelosurina asked, rising to her feet. Endymion was now the only one who remained seated, showing no signs that he was even paying attention to the argument around him.
"You heard what the Water Grandmaster said about me... the human element is the least of my concerns," Aimee replied, stretching her fingers in preparation.
"I am not concerned with the people of the city, I am concerned with what lies below us. If a skirmish involving six Grandmasters breaks out, then surely your seal on the meeting ground will be broken, and your desire to keep me from reaching it will certainly be invalidated," Aidathelosurina curtly replied, shifting her eyes momentarily to the ground. "And against two Grandmasters from such an illustrious period, how can you ever hope to win?"
Leila grinned. "Five reasons. First, as I stated before, Aimee Voltaire is the be-all end-all of Grandmasters in the current age, you two fossils included. Second, we of Genesis have a strong interest in avenging the three members of Mnemosyne the Earth Grandmaster murdered. Third, it's imperative we weaken the Earth Grandmaster to the point where the captives held under her jurisdiction can escape. Fourth, if Leku is so inclined, we have you outnumbered. And fifth, again as I stated before..."
At this point in her explanation, Leila slowly and deliberately removed Vayavastra from its sheath, extending it in front of her.
"...you've got no idea what kind of freedom I embody."
And with that, chaos erupted. To the untrained eye, the pursuant events would have seemed to be a massive explosion, but the six Grandmasters each saw every instant of it.
First, Leila lunged at Aidathelosurina. Her blade was blocked by a shockingly fast reaction from Endymion, who delivered an upward kick wreathed in flames to her blade and followed up with a blast of heat that easily pushed her back toward the wall. Melody countered with a column of water around Leila, who darted through the liquid and toward Endymion this time. A number of thick, leafy vines shot toward the three Genesis members, but a quick flicker of Leila's blade cut them all into numerous pieces.
As all of this unfolded, a strange look washed over Aidathelosurina's face. Gone was her complete composure- replacing it, a snarl of pure malice, accompanied by a waving pattern of indigo light carved into the air by rapidly aging, twisted fingers. From this matrix of ice magic, it seemed the fabric of existence itself began to freeze and crack apart. But before this ability could fully develop, Aimee loosed a strategically placed blast of negatively-charged energy into a weak point in the Ice Grandmaster's magical architecture. The cracks and disjointed portions of reality immediately fused back together, and huge pockets of chaotic energy welled up into bulging spheres at their ends before creating a huge explosion that blew the ceiling right off the spacious meeting hall.
cielo - June 10, 2010 01:45 AM (GMT)
Leku wove diamond into being, shielding himself and Melody from the explosion; in the next instant, the shield had dissolved again and Leku shot across the room without his feet leaving the ground, aiming a punch for Endymion.
memory - June 12, 2010 06:37 PM (GMT)
Endymion vanished with an imploding burst of flames, reappearing next to Cecily and Aidathelosurina as they regrouped. Similarly, the three Grandmasters from Genesis stood together, facing their new adversaries from across the room.
"I've got limited intel on all three of them," Aimee began, keeping her eyes fixed on Aidathelosurina. "This could get ugly fast. Don't expect clean match-ups and don't hesitate to interfere if you see an opening."
The other two didn't speak. There was no hesitation in their minds, but deep down, both had a spark of concern for the city below, which had once been their impregnable fortress.
cielo - June 12, 2010 08:08 PM (GMT)
Leku felt the same, and turned to look at both groups. If it got too ugly, he was determined to move the entire room somewhere else.
A thought brushed near Aimee, avoiding the full brunt of her intellect; Leku didn't want to get too close to that. Aimee, how resistant would the new Earth Grandmaster be to my attacks?
memory - June 14, 2010 12:39 AM (GMT)
Very. I wouldn't be surprised if she absorbed them altogether. Leave her to the rest of us.
Aidathelosurina and Endymion stood side-by-side, staring down the three Grandmasters of Genesis. Cecily stepped forward hesitantly, flexing her fingers and keeping her attention on the former Earth Grandmaster.
"We will take them all at once. I will cancel out their elemental powers with my own and you two will go in for the kill. Understood?" the Ice Grandmaster ordered. She took no fighting pose, instead standing still and waiting for her foes to make the first move.
Melody stepped forward, speaking in a low voice to alert only her allies. "The city's defense mechanisms are biased toward our side. We have the clear advantage as long as the wards and barriers remain intact."
"Then let's whip up a storm, shall we?" Leila asked, glancing at Aimee. "Leku, take shelter!!"
At once, the three Grandmasters took a triangular formation, each raising a hand toward the center. Jets of green, blue and violet energy surged into the center, forming a highly pressurized sphere of elemental magic that swirled angrily within its shell.
Alarmed, Cecily shouted, "Aidathelosurina, we've got to attack! This spell is-"
"Everything is under my control here, girl!!" she replied angrily. Beneath her feet, a ring of ice-glazed runes expanded outward, flinging bolts of pure cold straight into the formation. This met the wall of the sphere and was quickly consumed, its energy dispersed outward in powdery snow. The Ice Grandmaster easily manipulated this dust into a thick shell of ice, which she then emblazoned with similar runes.
"I can control the expansion of their magic with this technique... they will not break through it."
As if timed to spite her words, a lance of the same multicolored magic shattered the shell and shot upward into the sky. There, the compressed magic exploded outward in a violent swirl, flinging colorful spirals of light further upward and outward.
Then, something truly mystical occurred. From the vortices of multi-elemental magic in the sky, a seemingly endless torrent of dark clouds and howling wind surged outward. A stormy din set in over the metropolis, sending sustained arcs of lightning surging across the sky. Day turned abruptly into dusk, plunging most of the city into shadow and inciting the magical lights across the city to illuminate. Whenever lightning blasted itself toward the buildings, barriers sprung up and dissipated the impact. And then, a steady rain began to drop from the clouds, lightly at first, and then so heavily that anyone caught in it would be soaked immediately. The wind swirled in a circular pattern around the center of the city, catching any debris and flinging it high into the atmosphere.
The citizenry, it seemed, knew exactly what this meant. Despite the hurricane developing around their city, they began to flee, aided by calm tunnels formed by the bubble-like barriers now visible around structures and major roads. A steady stream of airships fled through similar tubes in midair.
Cecily looked down upon the city in awe. It must be Teralyn's work... this level of barrier architecture is too expansive for it to be anyone else.
Leila grinned again. "On my own, I could probably create a hurricane big enough to encompass this whole city without taxing myself too much. With three of us, stretching the storm across most of the country couldn't be any harder, right?"
Their work finished, the three Grandmasters stood facing their foes, preparing to take advantage of the storm to quickly defeat their enemies.
cielo - June 14, 2010 02:43 AM (GMT)
Leku, now covered in several plates of steel, granite and vine, stood rooted to the floor with arms crossed over his chest, seeing and breathing through his armor. The featureless reflective faceplate turned slowly to look at their foes, giving off an air of immutable silence.
The arms uncrossed with a scrape, both feet removed themselves from the floor, and Leku rose into the air.
memory - June 18, 2010 02:06 AM (GMT)
Leila took off at once, accelerating with the storm's assistance toward the enemies. Vayavastra emitted a clear ring as she swung it at Cecily, blasting her backward through a spray of rocks and rain. She was unharmed thanks to a lucky dodge, but the force of the wind surrounding Leila was enough to easily send her flying off the ledge they were standing on.
The Earth Grandmaster handily rescued herself with plant tendrils, which shot out of the cliff face and melded with her arms and legs. With this connection, she created an expansive system of roots beneath the others, then abruptly pulled it out; this made the ledge incredibly unstable, and a quick push of the rock caused it to cave in to the ground. She remained hovering on a sheet of stone, keeping the roots wrapped around her body as a careful defense.
Leila deftly leaped from the crumbling stone and bounded into the air, briefly conjuring a tornado to strike her foes. Once more, Endymion fired a blast of flame into the center, countering the wind's rotation and causing it to dissipate. He then attempted another blast, but this was extinguished by a rapidly rotating disc of water. In the air next to Leila, Melody hovered, suspended in the air by the rain falling around her.
"Leku!" Melody called, parrying Endymion's continuing barrage with more rain. "Help me out!"
The two remaining Grandmasters teleported away a short distance, ending up in a relatively undisturbed area. Aimee and Aidathelosurina stared one-another down, charging their respective spells and preparing for what would doubtlessly be a lengthy and destructive duel.
"You do not have the requisite experience to face me, young Grandmaster of Lightning. Take your two allies and leave now before I get serious," Aidathelosurina warned. Aimee did not respond; she merely smiled and raised a hand.
cielo - June 18, 2010 03:09 AM (GMT)
Leku, covered in his element as he was, simply warped to intercept Endymion's barrage, continuously recreating the armor as it was turned to slag. A wave of sand burst from thin air, apparently intending to sweep Endymion away. At the same time, a terrible idea crossed Leku's mind.
Leila, can you manipulate the clouds so I get hit by lightning?
memory - June 19, 2010 01:25 AM (GMT)
As the sand neared Endymion, the waves of heat surrounding him interacted with the particles and created a sphere of superheated glass that hovered in place around him. He proceeded to break up this molten material with small jets of flame, creating spherical globs which he proceeded to fling haphazardly toward Leila and Melody.
Melody immediately conjured a swirling sphere of water around herself that expanded to counter the molten attack. But it was not enough to protect her from Endymion as he darted in with incredible speed, closing the gap between them in the blink of an eye. Reflexively, the Water Grandmaster revealed her Astra between them, countering the flaming kick aimed for her neck with the flat of Varunastra's blade. As flames developed around Endymion to continue his attack, a similar amount of water poured out of the longsword and, with some difficulty, pushed him back.
The Earth Grandmaster, now hovering in a formation of stone linked by earthen roots, started firing large wooden lances hardened with stone reinforcements at Leila. This was not nearly sufficient to endanger her; with a few twists of her off hand, several spirals of wind shredded the spears and cut into the girl's defenses. At the same time, Leila began to spin Vayavastra in a wide arc over her head, causing the massive clouds above to move visibly. Soon, the concentration of elemental magic was unbalanced enough to induce a surge of lightning energy, which pulsed straight toward the metal-covered Leku.
Aimee and Aidathelosurina had begun a light exchange of spells.
Obviously, neither was willing to fully commit to the battle yet. The spells they were casting, while large and full of destructive power, had none of the precision or intent one would expect from such skilled archmagi. Even so, the collateral damage was already incredible. Nearby buildings had already been reduced to rubble by colliding spells.
"It's tough to find classically-trained magi these days," Aimee remarked offhandedly between blasts of lightning. "I should take this as an opportunity."
Aidathelosurina did not respond.
cielo - June 19, 2010 03:36 AM (GMT)
Steel became much more conductive silver, and Leku felt the immense energy crackling over his armor. He told himself it shouldn't work, but levelling both hands at Cecily and discharging the lightning was easy enough. Immediately after, a fist of stone shot out from under Endymion, aiming not to hurt, but instead unbalance.
memory - June 19, 2010 11:50 PM (GMT)
The massive pulse of energy smashed directly into the defensive array of stone surrounding Cecily, pulverizing stone and setting plant matter ablaze. In the middle of the chaos, the Earth Grandmaster protected herself with a hastily conjured globe of dust and dirt from her surroundings. But with her platform destroyed, she was unable to remain aloft and crashed into the ground, covered in the rubble of the meeting hall.
As the stone reached Endymion, the flames surrounding him intensified. All of the earthen essence within the attack was drained, replaced with pure fire magic that transformed the stone into magma as it flowed around the Grandmaster's untouched body. He didn't even need a gesture to fling this magma in a bolt-shaped blast toward Melody, who narrowly avoided having her arm burned off at the elbow by swiping Varunastra toward Endymion again. A serpentine wave of water surged forward to meet the magma and a draconic head swallowed it whole, creating a wholly inert piece of glassy rock that crashed to the ground.
He's unbelievably strong... we won't even reach him at this rate!
On the ground, Cecily slowly stood, brushing dust and rocks off of her body. Within her, a source of power slowly began to awaken, regenerating her wounds with flashes of viridian light. Her skin, originally colored a healthy tan, took on a green tinge as she generated a huge amount of plant matter beneath her feet, filling the earth with life.
"Cybelastra, awaken!" she cried, raising her arms to the sky. From her abdomen, a green jewel emerged, accompanied by a number of leafy appendages resembling from her back. Cecily's arms and legs became enveloped by a melange of vines and stones, forming extra limbs that quickly began to function as if parts of her own body. Locks of hair quickly converged into a grassy knot, kept together by a slender string of malleable metal. Finally, a gown of multicolored flowers exploded out of her torso, covering her torn clothing and replacing the last obviously human parts of her body.
Fully augmented, Cecily used her newfound oneness with the earth to rocket into the sky. As she aimed an enlarged fist at Leila, she extended jagged thorns and sharpened metal blades forward, attempting to mangle her foe with the first strike. Of course, Leila immediately parried, countering with a powerful backhanded stroke that smashed apart the makeshift weapons with resonating bursts of wind. But Cecily did not budge; instead, she released a spray of organic needles, each coated with deadly toxins, toward Leila and the nearby Leku.
As the duel between Aimee and Aidathelosurina slowly escalated, both took fleeting moments to watch the progress of the other battle.
"The Earth Grandmaster ought to pick a fight with someone else," Aimee commented, looking at Cecily's Astra-influenced form as it attacked Leila. "Leila has any number of advantages over her."
"It matters not," Aidathelosurina replied, flinging a veritable iceberg toward Aimee. "She just needs to stall until Endymion eliminates the other two. I would not expect someone of her skill level to have any success in a battle like this."
As Aimee shattered the iceberg with a similarly-sized bolt of energy, she smiled. "That's where we're different. Leila and Melody obviously aren't that strong, but I fully expect them to take Endymion down given the circumstances. It's a question of science, you see."
cielo - June 20, 2010 12:37 AM (GMT)
Leku simply warped to cover Leila, the needles striking off his armor, saving them both. His faceplate opened, silver sliding apart like water. "You don't want to do this, lady. I am not the right person to use the earth against."
If I had Dmitri, this would be much less of a problem. And I'm not using my Astra, not yet.
A long diamond spike shot out of the ground from below Melody, veering off at Endymion, before abruptly exploding. Now, dozens of shards shot about haphazardly, before readjusting and flying for Endymion.
memory - June 20, 2010 07:29 PM (GMT)
Once more, Endymion's defenses activated. This time, however, the simple act of removing the earthen essence from the diamond did not fully destroy it. Owing to the physical properties of the substance, it was able to penetrate closer to the Fire Grandmaster than any previous attack. But even one of the hardest known substances was not quite enough; as it grew closer, balls of flame coalesced around each individual shard. This slowed the jagged diamond so quickly that by the time it reached Endymion, there was not nearly enough force left to harm him. Moreover, as the diamond touched his body, it rapidly changed composition, degenerating rapidly into hunks of greasy, gray material that plummeted uselessly to the ground.
The next moment, he was soaring toward Melody, his back enveloped in wing-shaped flames. Menacing lances of fire zoned in from all angles, blasting the Water Grandmaster with incredible heat even before they struck. Alarmed, she squeezed the hilt of her Astra, drawing back and raising the blade in a defensive stance as she prepared to counter the attack.
Meanwhile, Leila darted out from behind Leku, unleashing a powerful slash augmented with a gust of wind generated by the storm above. Stone and vines were cut asunder by the attack, nearly separating Cecily's transformed body into two pieces; however, no blood came out, and before Leila could even follow through, she had fully regenerated. From the flowers wreathed around her body, the Earth Grandmaster began to pump out a mist of scarlet venom, dispersing it at a rapid rate into the windstorm surrounding her.
Seeing this, Leila flipped into the air, tracing out a circle with Vayavastra in the air. A ring of green light shot past Cecily, forming a cylindrical field of stilled wind that prevented the poison from spreading uncontrollably. Thwarted, the Earth Grandmaster absorbed the toxin into a number of organic limbs and flung them around haphazardly, hoping to catch Leila in the chaos and infect her with a nerve-rotting poison.
As the blaze neared Melody, she jumped back further, twirling Varunastra in spiraling arcs that created defensive crescents of water in front of her. This was enough to lessen the spears of fire, but Endymion was still approaching through the rain and wind, threatening to tear right through her if she didn't evade.
Abruptly, the exchange between the Ice and Lighting Grandmasters ceased.
"Reconsidering?" Aidathelosurina inquired, observing her opponent carefully.
"No. I've just finished analyzing your casting techniques," Aimee remarked, "so I thought it pointless to continue such a low-level exchange. I don't intend to simply fire lightning bolts at you all day."
"You're bluffing. Surely you do not believe you can analyze my entire repertoire from a few simple ice spells."
"We'll see about that, won't we?"
With that, Aimee dashed forward, charging a huge amount of lightning into her right hand. A blade of energy developed out of her outstretched fingers, forming an energy sword meant for the sole purpose of cutting through Aidathelosurina's next spell. Indeed, as the Ice Grandmaster's gnarled hands set about weaving a formation of symbols and runes in midair, the sword slashed forward, disrupting the delicate latticework and creating huge impulses of destructive force that exploded a few feet away, blowing apart the weathered architecture around them.
cielo - June 20, 2010 09:40 PM (GMT)
Leku warped away from the immediate battlefield, and could be seen hastily etching circular runes into the stone of buildings around them with a sharp iron stake; eventually, he returned to get in Endymion's way again, floating in a wrestling ready stance and silver armor transmuted to bismuth.
memory - June 22, 2010 11:03 PM (GMT)
Endymion stopped abruptly several meters in front of Leku, sizing him up expressionlessly. The flames around him swirled violently as he waited, expelling a pillar of steam and superheated air that rose quickly into the air, propagating into a large dry spot centered around the Fire Grandmaster. Then, a sphere of increased heat began to expand around him, expelling moisture from the air and assaulting those nearby with ferociously increased temperatures. When the heat waves reached the ground, they immediately began melting stone into molten material.
Obviously, he was preparing for something.
Meanwhile, Leila handily dodged Cecily's attacks, firing off highly amplified sword slashes to puncture the poisonous material from afar. Around herself, she forcefully compressed a large amount of air, invisibly forming a pressurized shield between herself and anything Cecily could throw out. This defense in place, she rocketed downward to meet the Earth Grandmaster, smashing through rock walls with Vayavastra as she went. As Leila neared her position, Cecily jumped back, continuously adapting her defenses in a vain attempt to counter the offensive power of the Wind Grandmaster's Astra.
That weapon of hers is ridiculously powerful... I can't hold it off for much longer!!
In the time it took for Cecily to think this desperate thought, Leila had already broken through her last defense. Instinctively, the Earth Grandmaster threw herself down, trying to meld with the earth below as a final defense. But even this wasn't enough to deter Leila, who easily slashed into the dirt and stone with the speed she had just accumulated. A sudden twisting formation in the storm above ripped Cecily from the ground and sent her flying up into the air, with Leila close behind to deliver a devastating cut to the appendages on her back.
As she soared upward, Cecily curled up, clutching her abdomen and crying out in pain. A reflexive burst of pure Earth Magic exploded outward in arcing blasts, carving out sizable trenches through the increasingly wrecked city of Melmond. One such blast managed to clip Leila, who was instantly flung to the cloudy heights above by the sheer force of the energy released.
As Aimee slashed another series of runes in half with her Formina Sage technique, her attention was caught by the spectacle above.
"The Earth Grandmaster is getting desperate, Aidathelosurina," she remarked slyly, stopping the fight briefly to observe the phenomena centered around Cecily. "Expending such huge amounts of elemental energy in that haphazard way is going to leave her wide open."
Indeed, just as Aimee made that passing comment, the clouds above Cecily split briefly. As if dropping from orbit, Leila crashed down upon the Earth Grandmaster, slashing straight through the yellow-orange rays of energy with a green aura around her. The cut cleanly obliterated a great deal of the plant matter composing Cecily's body, immediately knocking her unconscious as a response to the intense pain. Leila then whirled and stabbed Vayavastra straight into the center of the girl's chest. That was as far as she got before another automatic response kicked in: the tendrils of pure elemental energy smashed into her simultaneously, flinging Leila away without her Astra in hand. This time, the wind helped to slow her movement enough that she remained level with Cecily's altitude.
The moment she skidded to a stop, Leila took off again at maximum speed. This was extremely fast, even by the Wind Grandmaster's standards; the defense surrounding Cecily couldn't even react by the time Leila reached in, grasped Vayavastra, and let loose.
"Get together, Atmosphere Maximum!"
With Vayavastra at the center, a spherical wave of swords forged from the wind exploded outward, cutting through Cecily's earthen form and the magic surrounding her. For a few moments, it seemed as if a storm of metal had just erupted out of nowhere, filling the air with a clashing of blades rivaling that of a full-sized army.
In the middle of it all, Leila finally retrieved her weapon. Her gaze shifted to Cybelastra, the Earth Grandmaster's Astra; with a quick whirl and an intent-filled swing of her own Astra, she inflicted a huge crack on the viridian orb, flinging it into a collapsed building below. From this new fault, a shimmering green liquid poured out, soaking into the earth and rocks nearby. It wasn't long before Cecily's unconscious figure formed out of the dampened material, badly wounded and clearly unable to move. Nevertheless, Leila saw fit to drag her and her cracked Astra to the center of a wrecked square, where she used a few of the wind swords she had previously conjured to pin them to the ground. Finally, she used Vayavastra to etch an oversized sealing rune into the earth around Cecily, cutting the lines into her body where needed.
cielo - June 23, 2010 12:20 AM (GMT)
Leku watched as Leila defeated Cecily, and a grin crossed his face under the cooled bismuth plate when Cecily had released such a large amount of earth magic. "Perfect. It was getting a bit hot here, anyway."
For the second time in the fight, Leku made a gesture; namely, pointing at Endymion. On his command, the runes on the surrounding buildings stopped gathering energy and began releasing it, shot after shot of pure earth magic.
He floated backwards, shedding the armor until only the shoes remained, keeping the normally flightless Leku aloft.
"Cerastra, to my hand." The first sign of his astra was a white glimmer on Leku's left palm, which grew to encompass a simple sword, grainy woodlike metal making up the vine-wrapped hilt, and from there a double-edged milky white blade. The hilt extended and the sword became more like a lance, which Leku held with his hand and armpit.
memory - June 23, 2010 02:40 AM (GMT)
This earthen attack seemed to give Endymion a little bit more problem than the ones he had dissipated earlier. Instead of just letting the attack head straight for him, he conjured a swirling vortex of fire that altered the course of the blasts, letting them swirl around outside his protective shell of flame. The color of the twisting formation of dangerous earthen magic quickly transformed into a deep red, hinting at a deeper change in the spell's nature.
Abruptly, all of the heat, fire, and energy swirling around Endymion rushed inward. An aura of incredibly dense, hot elemental energy coalesced around his back, arms, and legs as his stance changed. Gone was his rigid, motionless, statue-like form; replacing it was a loose, dexterous-looking position that hovered effortlessly in the air.
From the ground below, Leila could hardly make out his shape in the blaze now obscuring his figure. It was hard to read a tell from someone whose features you couldn't even perceive, of course. So when Endymion hurled a solid lance of blazing flame right at her, it was only a strong sense of instinct and danger that enabled her to leap away in time. And although she avoided the initial attack, its blast radius was more than she could handle having just dispatched another Grandmaster. Flames encompassed her even as she tried to fly away, disrupting her flight pattern and hurling her straight to the ground.
"Leila!" Melody shouted, waving Vayavastra wildly at Endymion. The conjured spirals of water didn't even come close to reaching him; they instead seemed to disappear almost as quickly as they flowed out of her blade. Before she could do anything rash, however, Leila recovered and flew back up into the air, gazing down at the destruction below her with interest.
"Quite an attack," she panted breathlessly, "lots of destructive power, wide range... wrecked a whole block with just one attack!"
As Cecily crashed into the ground defeated, Aimee said, "One down. Looks like the tables are turning."
Aidathelosurina scoffed. "You seem to misunderstand Endymion's power. Even with three people going up against him, he won't lose."
cielo - June 23, 2010 02:51 AM (GMT)
"This is getting ridiculous," Leku stated, waving the bombardment off with another gesture. He didn't know what Endymion was doing with that redirected energy, and he didn't want to feed a foe. "I copied some of the aspects of the Gaia Blade onto my astra, so it should at least cut through the magic part."
He hurled his sword-lance like a javelin, willing it towards what Leku assumed was Endymion's center of mass.
memory - June 23, 2010 06:25 PM (GMT)
In response to the Astra hurtling toward him, Endymion unleashed three more fire lances, one after another, each on a trajectory meant to collide with Cerastra a fair distance away. The result was an incredibly large explosion that sent jets of flame blasting down into the city below. Structural barriers collapsed instantly under the pressure, letting Endymion's fire scathe the city with its intense heat.
One such blast of fire carved a jagged scar of ash between Aimee and Aidathelosurina, interrupting their exchange of spells and inviting them to look upward. They hadn't been fighting for very long, but the battlefield surrounding them was already flattened by the sheer power of the spells they were casting.
"Do you understand now?" Aidathelosurina asked smugly, smiling a dark grin. "Even the collateral damage from his medium level techniques is enough to destroy this city's defenses and hold off weak Grandmasters like your two allies."
As Leila watched Endymion counter Leku's attack, she decided it would be a better idea to attack than to wait and be burned to death by another fire javelin. With her trademark speed, she leaped into the sky, kicked off a low cloud, and shot toward Endymion with her Astra in hand. As she flew in from above, Endymion fired off another spray of fire lances, numbering somewhere in the teens this time. But that wasn't going to be enough to strike the Wind Grandmaster; she easily evaded and went in for the kill, swinging Vayavastra with all of her might toward her enemy. At the same time, the trademark blades of her Atmosphere Maximum technique reappeared, each surging inward toward the same point.
Fortunately, she didn't expect that attack to finish him, so she darted backward just in time to evade another potentially deadly spear of fire. The next spear was met with a whirling cut that slashed it directly in two, causing another massive explosion very close to where Leila hovered. But again, she thought ahead: this time, she manipulated the air pressure around the explosion to push herself back toward Melody, who was in the process of dousing the fires in the city below.
cielo - June 25, 2010 08:10 PM (GMT)
Leku called Cerastra back to his hand, and focused his power on saving crumbling buildings and reinforcing the ones that were in danger of falling.
Any ideas on how to beat him? Quite a tough cookie.
He thought about it. Leku had been learning from the djinn for a while now, but the rune trick was one of the few things that he thought he could apply to this fight; turning stone into a meal didn't seem to be very useful given the circumstances, and he was still too weak in the other elements to be of any use like that.
memory - June 26, 2010 01:02 AM (GMT)
When she finished extinguishing the fires racing through Melmond's streets, Melody turned to look once more at Endymion.
"I've noticed a few things since I started fighting him," she noted, "but I would need Aimee to confirm, and she's a little busy..."
Far below, Aimee and Aidathelosurina had resumed combat. It looked like the Ice Grandmaster was surrounded by a swirling formation of dark blue spirits, out of which a series of runes was spreading in all directions. Some distance away, Aimee was in the process of counteracting the technique, strategically unleashing solidified bolts of lightning that struck the runes and jammed themselves in the ground to dissipate the energy around them.
"Just tell us. It can't be worse than having no knowledge at all," Leila said, still breathing heavily. It appeared she had been burned in a couple places on her left side, and she was clearly showing signs of fatigue from her earlier fight with Cecily.
"All right. The first thing that bothered me was when I tried to directly attack with a water spell. It was evaporated as I expected, but something about the way it dissipated didn't feel right. It was like the water-elemental essence I infused it with changed natures," Melody explained, keeping her eyes set firmly on the now-immobile Endymion.
"Yeah. I used Atmosphere Maximum on him, but I lost control of the technique when it got close... I thought that was just fatigue, but if it happened after your first attack then there's something different about it," Leila replied.
"Right. So when he counterattacked I used Varunastra to defend myself, which worked to defend me fine, but-"
"But your Astra didn't work as you intended. Mine either. When I tried to cut him with Vayavastra, he... well, he parried it. That's not supposed to happen."
"So here's my theory. At first, I thought he was an unconscious magic sealer. They're uncommon, and I've never heard of one using magic within their own seal areas, but... I figured if it was a Grandmaster, then anything was possible."
Leila shook her head. "But that doesn't explain why our Astra aren't functioning right."
"It can. I've heard of rare cases where unconscious magic sealers can take control of their intrinsic powers and evolve them far beyond the capacity of an ordinary sealer. But it takes a lot of mental focus, which matches with him in the sense that he looks a lot like a monk."
"I think I get it now," Leila responded, looking off to the side contemplatively. "And I understand his attack patterns more now, too."
"Explain that," Melody said abruptly, looking at Leila.
"Well, he only attacks under certain conditions, like some of your specialized summons. See, he'll only attack when we're within a reliable range of accuracy, otherwise he'll miss and there's a possibility for a counterattack. The range is obviously different for all of us, since he's evaluated our potential ranges and adjusted accordingly. But if you attack one of his allies outside of that range, then he'll attack regardless of range, except for in Aimee's case... I'm assuming that's because she's taken some arcane countermeasure. And based on all of this information, I can assume he's a scrier as well."
"Which explains why he hasn't gone after Aimee! Her mind is too complex to scry, even for someone at his level. But how can we use that information against him?" Melody asked.
"Uh... honestly, we could try to feel out the upper limit of his attack power and then use that to overwhelm his concentration and cancel out his sealing effect... but he might revert to unconscious sealing, and we can't really predict the range of that. Plus, it looks like his offensive skills are a lot like mine, so... let's ask Aimee."
Melody sighed. "You're right. As long as he isn't attacking us, we can take our time and strategize. It doesn't look like he's storing power or anything like that, either. Leku, you're the better mentalist, would you relay this all to Aimee?"
cielo - June 26, 2010 02:32 AM (GMT)
Aimee, Melody and Leila think Endymion is an unconscious sealer, which explains why our magic isn't working as well. Oh, and Melody thinks he's developed it to the point where he can mess with our Astra too. The other theory is that he's scrying, but can't get a fix on you because you think harder than the rest of us.
Even at this range, sending thoughts to Aimee necessitated that Leku not focus entirely on the mind he was brushing.
The plan as far as it stands right now is to test how strong he is and see if we can mess up his concentration so the sealing doesn't mess us up. How likely are we all to die?
"I'd say we let me poison Vayavastra with a little something to mess him up, but for all we know he'd just burn it out of his system."
Leku looked over at Endymion, frowning. "If we had Selkah here, we could just screw with his head. Hell, Zenrae could just make a heatsink rift and solve our problems."
memory - June 26, 2010 10:08 PM (GMT)
Without pausing, Aimee responded to her three allies. She sent forth vaguely humanoid formations of mental energy toward them, closely guarding the outer reaches of her mind with a couple of barriers.
I more or less agree with your assessments. Your understanding of the deeper mechanics behind is power is flawed, but with your abilities, I would not expect a functional difference.
Melody nodded. "And our plan?"
Needlessly reckless. With the three of you combined, you could figure out his upper limit, but you'll be worn out if you do that. There are more obvious solutions.
Hefting Vayavastra idly, Leila responded, "So... a distraction, then."
"A distraction?" Melody asked suddenly. "Explain that."
Well, the basic idea is still the same. But instead of all three of you maxing out Endymion, that's left up to one of you. Once that point is reached, the other two enter the fight. If you do things right, then he'll be thrown off balance and he'll need to change tactics.
"I see... and when he does change tactics, he's at his weakest, right?" Melody replied.
Ostensibly. But... watch his reaction speed and reflexes. He's faster than you think.
"If it's a question of speed, then I'm the obvious choice for the decoy, right?" Without a second thought, Leila stepped forward, being careful not to inadvertently enter Endymion's range.
cielo - June 27, 2010 04:22 AM (GMT)
"Here, eat this first."
Leku held out a seed the size of his thumbnail, grinning. "Something I learned to do; it's got restorative magic grown into it, so you should last longer in the event he's a bastard and takes too long to unbalance."
memory - June 27, 2010 09:42 PM (GMT)
Leila grabbed the seed and swallowed it just as Melody started to protest.
"But out of all three of us, your defensive skills are the weakest! If he hit you even once head-on with one of those fire lances, you'd be done," Melody complained.
"He won't hit me. If I move at my top speed, then those lances aren't fast enough to hit me. Besides, if his power nullifies abilities... then I'll just make more abilities faster than he can sap their strength."
As she said this, Leila held up Vayavastra and placed her off-hand on the guard, laying her fingers along the flat side of the blade. Waves of green energy poured out of her hand and into the weapon as she concentrated, imbuing the weapon with a number of mysterious properties.
'Ah, the family augmentation technique,' Aimee commented. 'Indeed, that is a good way to counter his siphoning technique.'
As Leila prepared to charge Endymion, she turned to her two allies one more time, saying, "Melody, as soon as you see an opening, summon everything you can."
With that, she surged forward, jumping headlong into Endymion's attack radius.
In the city far below, Cecily awoke from her unconscious state. The sheer amount of pain almost put her right back out, but with the power she had left, she was able to dull the nerve response in those areas and keep herself awake.
So she sealed me here... and damaged my Astra while she was at it.
The sound of another explosion made her look up. Above, Endymion and Leila had begun their fight, prompting an occasional stray fire spear to fall upon the city and blast a couple buildings into ash.
cielo - June 28, 2010 06:04 AM (GMT)
"So," Leku said, trying to sound casual. "How's Salinas?"
He was waggling his fingers mystically, apparently weaving strands of a spell together, astra floating in the air beside his head.
memory - June 30, 2010 06:43 PM (GMT)
As Leila surged into Endymion's attack range, he reacted immediately. His fire lances shot out indiscriminately toward her, prompting her to change her direction of approach. But she didn't simply move herself; instead, she used the circulating mass of air overhead to create a whirling zone around Endymion. The center was calm thanks to his draining power, but the heat from his blazing aura augmented the wind speed even more than Leila could have initially hoped for.
Out of this cyclone of debris, Leila blasted forward once more, leading with a thrust-forward Vayavastra. As the ubiquitous lances approached, beams of green light sprayed out in all directions, abruptly diverting the javelin's trajectory and splitting it into numerous smaller attacks. But before she could get close enough to strike Endymion, a renewed surge of lances overwhelmed her strategy, forcing her to soar up into the air to save herself.
"She's fine. Alive. Nobody's seen much of her recently," Melody replied, watching Leila concernedly. "She has a lot of preparation to do, it makes sense. But we all worry about what accomplishing her goals will do to her."
Aimee's voice chimed in again. 'Salinas is well aware of the consequences and difficulties involved with the return to the Crystal Plane. Worry less about her and more about how we're going to hold up our end of the plan.'
"I know," Melody said quickly. "I should concentrate on summoning from this point on. We'll talk more about this later."
That said, she started looking around the wrecked city, searching for a suitable place to engrave a massive summoning circle. So much is already destroyed... having six Grandmasters unleash their powers so close to one-another really is as devastating as Aidathelosurina warned.
cielo - June 30, 2010 07:09 PM (GMT)
"Here," Leku said, holding his unfinished spell with one hand and gesturing with another. The trees in a mostly unscorched park far below retreated to the edges of the green, leaving what he presumed was a spacious enough area.
memory - June 30, 2010 11:40 PM (GMT)
Wordlessly, Melody swept away, transporting herself to the center of the flattened stone area Leku had just created for her. At the center, she plunged Vayavastra into the ground, then set about tracing glowing blue symbols in the rock with her arms from afar.
Abruptly, Aidathelosurina stopped, freezing another one of Aimee's attacks before speaking.
"Okay, that should be quite enough. Don't you think, Lightning Grandmaster?" she inquired. "I believe we've both seen what we needed to see."
"Running away? That surprises me," Aimee said with a smirk.
"I would not use such foolhardy words if I were you. Did you assume that I could not detect your various magical deeds during our little skirmish? I am well aware of the time magic you placed over this city and the various envoys you've sent out."
If this surprised Aimee, she didn't show it. But she remained silent, waiting for Aidathelosurina to continue.
"If you know as much about the ancient Grandmasters as you have implied, then my next move will not surprise you."
Aimee tensed up suddenly. This is bad. I have not finished my preparations yet. I must have taken too much time formulating my plans... but I can still break free, I'm sure of it!
As Leila neared the ceiling of clouds, she wracked her brain, thinking through her vast repertoire of techniques and augmentations in search of something to penetrate Endymion's impressive defenses.
If I just need to pierce him, then I can use Vayavastra as a spear and throw it fast to negate his draining effects. And if I use the storm's full power then I can at least wound him... that'll definitely make him wake up!
cielo - July 1, 2010 12:30 AM (GMT)
Leku eventually finished what he had been working on, a multicolored ball of etheric webbing, hundreds of individual lines forming it. He pressed the ball into his chest with a grunt, and stretched. Another djinn-taught technique he should have known in the first place, and had never used in real combat. He was, perhaps, ready.
memory - July 4, 2010 12:16 AM (GMT)
((I haven't forgotten about this, it's just on hold until I finish Never Let Me Go. In fact, there'll probably be a new topic so I can make a dent in my WEALTH OF ARTSY TOPIC NAMES))
cielo - July 4, 2010 01:46 AM (GMT)
[SOUNDS GOOD. Wait do you have a list of those drawn up already or what?]
memory - July 4, 2010 01:50 AM (GMT)
((well I take most of them from:
-book titles (never let me go)
-quotes (a winter's way, the march of time)
-song titles (give me wings)
-song lyrics (this topic, lines we couldn't cross, we're floating on a tidal wave)
-evangelion episodes (my purest heart for you, ambivalence)
-movie titles (vertigo, rear window)
so it's not very hard to find good ones!))
cielo - July 4, 2010 01:56 AM (GMT)
[I should take my topic titles from Eureka Seven episode titles! So just random songs too! :o]
memory - July 4, 2010 02:04 AM (GMT)
((good strategy! also I always keep my titles related to the core significance of the topic so I can look back and know in an instant what the topic was about, which is really handy when I'm trying to put together a working history of my ENTIRE PLOTLINE, which turns out to work exceedingly well with the way I want to resolve the 6-year story I wove around the same core group of characters. and that's why the topic is called "never let me go" because it's been almost 6 years and I've never let go.
topic names are the best!!))
cielo - July 4, 2010 02:07 AM (GMT)
[I think I might try that!]