Irulia: The Spirit Changers Quest

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Dianne had halted her practicing and listened to Seamus as he asked for her help. It didn't seem like she'd accept his request at first, probably because he had interrupted her training. But after having a good think over it, she decided to go out and have a look. Dianne and Seamus stepped outside and she slowly scanned the horizon. Seamus followed her movements from the ground, but he couldn't make much of anything out. Perhaps she could find Lecta from her perch above the desert sands. As she looked around, the strangest event Seamus had ever seen happened. The clouds, having had the most vicious appearance of any clouds in existence, suddenly evaporated into the firmament. There wasn't much in the way of explaining that one away without using magic. Shortly after the storm vanished, Dianne jumped down from the roof and announced the results of her survey. "Well, alright then. I guess he's alright," Seamus responded, frowning in contrast to Dianne's grin. "We've managed to stay alive for this long. I'm certain Lecta will survive. Yeah, we'll see him at the cave. I don't doubt it. Uh... Well, if anybody needs me, I'll be on the roof. I'd prefer to not be disturbed unless if somebody gets injured, but I'll be willing to help out any way I can." Seamus shrugged and climbed up the side of the building, ending up on top of the shelter. As civil dusk gave way to nautical dusk, the temperature dropped and slowly gave Seamus the shivers. But that was alright; he deserved it. He had failed yet another person in their group, and probably caused another death. There wasn't much that he could do about the situation, but he might have been able to prevent Lecta's disappearance in the first place. Maybe if he had payed more attention to the boy during their trip to the desert, he'd still be with them. He had to figure out what was going on with himself to cause all these deaths and injuries before they happened again.


The two girls stood with their arms clasped around one another, tears streaming down their faces. As Kulos managed to get out another line, begging Donna not to leave her, the girl’s embrace on her partner tightened. Donna wasn’t sure how long they stood there, clutching at one another as if they were standing on the edge of a bottomless void, but it felt like a single moment stretched to eternity. As her tears dried, she noticed that the sun had now set and that the clouds had vanished and the moon was beginning to rise over the darkened desert. Not a single piece of life stirred around them and all they could hear was silence and the rustling of the wind through the walls of the refuge. The walls were thick enough that they couldn’t even hear the crackle of the fire from within the building.

Wiping away the remnants of her tears, she planted a kiss on Kulos’ cheek and pulled her head back, looking the other girl in the face. There was a fire in her eyes, a sign of the Donna of usual affairs, the Donna that threw boys across the courtyard for making jokes about the fact that she could lift twice the weight that they could. “I’ve made my mind up.” There was a steely edge to Donna’s voice, it was the same edge her voice took before she entered the combat circle for a match. “I’m not hiding who I am and I’m not hiding from my feelings for you. I… Whatever this is, Kulos, I love you. And I’m not letting worries about a group of morons who I could beat up blindfolded stand between us. I’m sorry for the past week, for… everything I did to you. Now then, let’s go back in there. Together.” As she finished, she leant in and her lips found Kulos’. Their bodies came together and she passionately pushed the other girl up against the wall of the refuge, savouring their moment together. Pulling away from the other girl, she murmured under her breath “One for luck… And strength” Her voice shook slightly as she quenched the last of her fears. Straightening up, she sorted out her hair, brushing it behind her ears. “Right then. You ready to go back inside?”

As Seamus remained outside, she shrugged. “I doubt you’ll see anything but sand but you’re welcome to stay out there if you want. Don’t catch a cold though.” Dropping down Dianne re-entered the hut. The girl and boy had awoken and were sharing a private joke and had a look upon their faces as if they were preparing something, probably relating to the group given their prior history. Deciding that whatever they were up it was likely no good, Dianne ignored them. She smiled, however, as she saw Amelia. Theo had fallen asleep reading his book and Amelia had left her seat besides Sera and Mandan to put the book away in his pack before getting out his bedroll and setting Theo to sleep with a maternal level of care. The two boys in the corner had also set out their bedrolls and had hit the sack. Sam was now tending to the fire, sitting and staring into it with a wistful gaze.

Deciding she had practiced enough for the day, Dianne pulled her shirt off, leaving her with just a strip of cloth around her chest that acted as an informal sports bra and her cotton trousers. Pulling out a tunic top from her pack, she slipped that on. It was larger than her usual tank top and she had taken to wearing it over the past couple of weeks as it helped to keep the cold at bay. Her nightwear sorted, Donna leant her khopesh (curved blade) against her pack which she dumped on the floor. Deciding that she wasn’t quite tired enough to go to sleep yet, she simply settled for sitting on the floor in front of the fire, not next to Sam but neither was she opposite him. With a brief nod of acknowledge from Sam the two didn’t exchange words, it being an unnecessary action on both their parts. As Amelia finished tucking up Theo for the night, the girl pulled a woollen jumper from her own pack and placed it over her head, joining Donna and Sam by the fire. And so the three sat, staring, waiting for tiredness to come or for someone else to make a move.


Donna didn't say anything in response to Kulos'... request seemed like too weak of a word, but demand too rude... She wasn't sure what to call it. Maybe something closer to a... prayer. Which was funny, until this trip, she would have been the first to insist that anyone praising God, gods or whatever was out of their mind. But then she got to know Donna and everything just... fell into place. Sure, there had been some bumpy patches, some hard times, but even if everything else in the world were to burn away, she would be content if Donna was still there. And given that Donna tightened her embrace as soon as she choked out her piece, it looked like she would be. Kulos let herself be lost in Donna's scent, the feel of the other girl's arms around her, the sound of her breathing. And then, after a while, her lover moved and with a kiss on her cheek, the moment was over.

Though it didn't look like Donna was done with her, given the look in her eyes and proclamation that she's made her mind up. She knew that tone, the hard edges that meant she was going to get to watch someone's face hit the dirt. It was one of the things she'd fallen in love with in the first place. And then the next phrase hit her ears and Kulos felt her heart stop. If they were going back together and she wasn't going to hide any more, then they could be public with this, they could... She felt Donna's lips come in for a more passionate kiss than she'd had since that night in the ruins. The shock faded, overwhelmed by the feeling of her lover against her, melting against Donna as she pushed her up against the wall. Normally, the feeling would have been restrictive, would have left her struggling and kicking, but with Donna... she was having difficulty remembering how her legs worked anyway. And then that moment was over too, leaving Kulos wanting her lover more badly than she'd ever wanted anything in her life. She was left leaning against the wall, breathing hard, heart racing, but if Donna didn't want to keep going, she couldn't argue with her. Plus they needed to head back inside, it was starting to get dark and she nodded at the question of whether she was ready head back in. But before they made it... A couple steps, a quick peck, and a retreat was enough to satisfy back the fires that had been building in her chest. "And one for the hope of doing more later?" Lack of confidence turned her phrase into a question, but she got her message across. Whatever storms might come, she could weather them with Donna at her side.


As the night began to rise, Seamus slid off the roof of the hut, weariness from the day’s travelling beginning to set in. Entering the hut, he changed quickly into nightclothes and with a soft goodnight to the others, settled in for the night, his bedroll tucked up against the wall of the hut. As his head hit the sack, he heard the door open but it was too late for him as exhaustion at the day’s events and concerns over Lecta and his need to lead the group overtook him and his eyes dipped closed, an occasional gentle quiet snuffle giving away the fact that he was sleeping.

As she pulled away, Kulos pulled in again, giving her a quick peck on the cheek. Donna smiled at the comment. “Well we’re certainly going to give them a show.” As they made their way around to the front of the building it seemed that no-one else had gone inside. The desert was still, an eerie quietness pervading the desert as there was no sign of life amongst the sands. It was a sense that the group had had to acclimatise to over the course of the past week as almost nothing ventured out in the night. Now that the sun’s warming rays had vanished the sand began to cool and Donna shivered slightly as they stood in front of the door, her hand interwoven with Kulos’, gripping the other girl tightly for strength. “Well then, let’s give them something to talk about. Trust me?” Once she had received verbal assent from the other girl, Donna opened the door and led inside, keeping her eyes fixed on the pair in the attic. A malicious grin spread across the girl’s face as she stared at the two of them. Donna froze up for a second, her hand tightening its grip on Kulos to an iron vice like grip for about a second before she shook herself out of it. Dianne glanced up from across the fire and the room was silent, several seconds seeming to hang for eternity as no-one made a move. And then Donna pulled Kulos into her, spinning the pair of them round and dipping Kulos backwards, giving the girl a long kiss as they bent over the floor, Donna’s long hair thankfully covering her cheeks, stopping her from going bright red.

As she stood back up again, she hugged Kulos for just a fraction of a second and returned to holding her hand. The pair in the corner sat, mouths agape in wonder at the unexpected development whilst Sam barely seemed to notice and Amelia turned a bright shade of purple either at the public display of affection or the relationship itself. Dianne, however, remained where she was, narrowing her eyes for a moment. “Donna, a quick round of disarm practice? Then we should all hit the sack.” A wry smile crossed the air-user’s face as her eyes flickered to the side of the room where the boy and girl sat on the bed, muttering angrily between one another. The girl, Leona, had her mouth drawn into a tight line whilst the boy, Gideon, whispered into her ear. In a single move, Dianne had proven to the pair that they would receive no support from the others and that making a scene was more likely than not to get them seriously hurt. “I think you’ve got your moves perfected.” Donna’s voice was less shaky, inspired by the other girl’s calm tone, and filled more with a joking tone. Going over to her pack, she produced her bedding roll and a sleeping blanket. Waiting for Kulos to get hers, she gestured for the other girl to lay down her bedding next to Donna’s and would then proceed to go to sleep in the other girl’s embrace, with a whisper of “not in front of everyone else, it’d be too awkward, even if it were straight” putting any ideas of fun times to rest for the present moment. With the pair gone to bed, Dianne decided to hit the sack as well, followed swiftly by Amelia, who drew her bed up near Theo’s and Sam was the only one left awake as he tended the fire. He would remain in his present state for another couple of hours, surrounded by the others gently snoring around him. Eventually sheer fatigue caught up with him and he wasn’t even aware of his surroundings as he closed his eyes and fell sideways, falling asleep on the cold, hard, wooden floor.


As they walked back to the front and the door, Donna refused to let go of Kulos' hand, still holding tight. There was nothing wrong with that, of course, she loved touching the other girl, but she hoped that this whole situation wasn't scaring her too badly. If the others took it badly, she would protect them, no matter what. And they took it well, there was nothing to worry about. Her own heart was still going about a million miles an hour, but the cause there was more than a little different. They stopped in front of the door before going in, with Donna asking if Kulos trusted her. The question was... a little unexpected, her lover should know the answer to that. "With everything I am," Ku replied, her voice soft and sincere. And then they were inside, Donna letting go of her hand and staring at the pair in the attic. Ku kept an eye on them as well, those two had been a couple of the jerks who she had pulled some jokes on, mostly because they had been jerks and the teachers weren't doing anything about any of- And then Donna was pulling her in, dipping her down for a long, drawn out kiss. Fireworks went off again in Ku's head as she locked eyes with Donna, surprise teaming up with lust to rob her of any sort of choice but to melt into the other girl's embrace. She didn't know if Donna's face was red out of embarrassment or excitement, she'd almost forgotten that they were doing this in front of the entire group. And before she was ready, it was over, she was back on her feet with weak knees and wide eyes. Her brain vaguely registered someone else talking and then Donna saying something in reply and then collecting their bedrolls and laying them next to each other, Donna snuggling her way into her arms, whispering something about "not in front of everyone else." Ku would lie awake for a little while after that, listening for anyone coming close and trying to get her pounding heart to stop going so fast. Eventually, she would be able to relax into Donna and sleep.


(OOC: This is your OP speaking. Just a quick announcement about a change to the rules. From here on out, since we are close to the end of the RP, consider your characters to be unprotected. Whereas previously I would have stepped in to avoid them being killed or pointed you away from the source of danger, your fate is now in your hands and yours alone. I will not warn you and you will be killed if you make the wrong choice or mess up. And if you die, that is it, you’re out of the RP and there are no replacement characters. If all of the PCs die, then I will conclude the RP and, depending on how far you make it and the choices you’ve made along the way, different ending scenarios play out. The decisions are with you now and I wish you luck. OP, out!)

As Kulos settled into her arms, Donna smiled gently and placed a kiss upon the other girl’s neck as she nestled in behind her partner. As the two lay together, sleep steadily overcame her and she drifted off with the other girl in her embrace. The night passed quietly with little occurring save the passage of the stars and the moon across the night sky. As the sun rose, its gentle rays illuminated the desert sands and something more ominous began to occur.

As the sunlight filtered onto the desert sands, the clouds from the day before began to form again, darkened grey clouds and they began to drift towards the hut, barely ten minutes away. As the group slumbered on, unaware of the sight outside, the shadow of the clouds passed over the hut until it was enveloped entirely. “Rise and shine Lecta…” The boy was awoken to find himself trapped in a cage made of dark shadows. He could see out of the cloud and down onto the desert refuge below him. “We wouldn’t want you to miss the show after all.” Lecta would find himself unable to shift or use any magic whatsoever as the cage suppressed all of his powers. His head ached slightly as he felt as if an unseen force were running its nails across his skull, trying to peel back his skin and find a way into his head. As Lecta looked down, he would see the spectacle unfold beneath him.

The first indication that the group had that anything was wrong was when the air temperature dropped, freezing the room. As Donna felt the change she stirred from her slumber and sat up, shivering slightly. The hearth smouldered as the fire had gone out at some point during the night and the smoke lazily drifted up to the ceiling and through the rafters. There was a moment of quiet and then suddenly the sound of wood splintering. The wall in the upper attic exploded inwards, large shards of wood being sent flying across the upper floor as a hole in the wall was created with a single blow. Gideon jolted upright at the sound and was struck across the head by a flying piece of debris, it bouncing off and avoiding Leona. Before the pair had a chance to react, however, shadows that screamed rushed through the open hole and grabbed both Gideon and Leona, pulling them out of the refuge hut. “Everyone get away from the walls!” Donna was on her feet, her right fist already coated in hardened water as she pulled Kulos up and towards the centre of the room with her left. Sam had jolted awake and followed suit, drawing his rapier and pulling into the centre of the room.

Amelia was already awake and she slapped Theo across the face as the boy struggled awake. Before the boy could respond, however, the wall against which he was lying collapsed underneath him. Amelia could only watch as Theo dropped away from her to be caught in the air by the screaming shadows, as he was pulled up into the clouds. Instinct taking over, the girl ran along the upper section of the building as the walls exploded either side of her, headed for the ladder down. Deciding that the ladder down would leave her to exposed, she jumped as the last of the upper section of the house crumbled away behind her, the wooden flooring collapsing onto the desert sands as the structures that held it in place gave way. Landing on her knees, Amelia absorbed most of the shock of the impact before stumbling, losing her balance and falling forwards. The wall on the far side exploded and, as they were grabbing their weapons, Everett and Matthew were pulled from the building. Seamus was the last one awake and as he went to grab his shillelagh he stumbled and Sam rushed forward to help. The explosion knocked both of them back as the wall opened up and the screaming shadows grabbed the pair, pulling both of them from the building. As the group stood in a circle around the fire, Dianne held her khopesh ready, Donna stood with her fists prepared and Amelia gripped her daggers tightly as she stared at the outside wall, waiting for the next attack. “Guys.” Amelia’s voice quaked with fear as she spoke, “What do we do?”

As Lecta watched, the shadows darted down, smashing into the refuge hut and pulling the members of the group out, one by one. Cages formed around the members as they reacted in different ways. The bars, however, suddenly filled in and they became like boxes, trapping their inhabitants inside. “Why don’t you go join your friends Lecta? I’m sure they must want to see you.” The bars on Lecta’s cage filled in, leaving him trapped in a dark box. The scratching at his skull increased as, unbeknownst to him, the cage was lowered to the floor and Arthur descended from the sky, his charred skin bristling with red cracks like lava flows on the side of a volcano. Standing alongside his captives, all kept in their separate boxes, he spread his arms out and waited for the group to exit the building. Either that or he could blow the front of the house off. Depends on how long they made him wait.


Snuggled up against Mandan in a way that he wouldn't like were he awake it hadn't taken Seraphim very long to drift off to sleep even with her stinging sun burnt limbs.
At some point she must have started dreaming as her mind was filled with evil laughter and howling winds that tore through the building to snatch at those within. Suddenly Sera found herself being thrown to the ground with her terrified mind screaming Not a dream Sera! This is not a Dream! "Mandan!" She screamed in terror as she scrambled up onto her feet clutching her stave tightly "What's going on? What's happening?" she whimpered quietly as her terror slowly overtook her. For the first time in her life there really were monster lurking within the dark.
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Lord Regal

Campfire Guardian
An explosion of some kind shocked Mandan into alertness. What in the world was going on? Looking around revealed little aside from panic and confusion as the entire upper level of the shack was torn away, the occupants removed forcibly by some kind of shadowy beings. Amelia was the sole escapee from the upper level, and no one seemed to have a real plan of action. Sera was asking him what was happening fairly panicked, which was fully understandable. "Not sure. Upper level and back wall are gone, people are being abducted by something, can't tell what. Stay close to me." He looked to see who else was still in the cabin. Looked like it was just Amelia, Donna, Dianne, and Kulos, meaning over half of their number were out for the count. "We need to get outside. Our opponents are capable of picking us off in here, they've proven that. Exit as one unit, safer that way." He didn't like giving orders. That was more Seamus and Sam's thing...but they were both amongst the taken, and that left Amelia who had specifically asked what to do, Kulos had shown to be too emotional to lead, and Donna and Dianne weren't doing anything. Sera would've been able to if she could see, but unfortunately that wasn't an option. That meant he had to.

Mandan cursed inwardly. Was this all according to the Ultimate One's plan? How long did he have to walk right into things he didn't want to have to do? This was beyond ridiculous now. Still...he'd taken the same classes as the others, and had paid attention to strategy...after all, if he was more of a stealth fighter, he'd need to know how to work around the options. This was just applying common tactics. Screw the Ultimate One. Screw this gods-damned destiny bullcrap. He was going to save his family, the only ones he'd known...and if that meant he had to tell them what to do himself, he was going to. Get outside, make a plan from there. That's what they had to do.


Howling winds, evil laughter and exploding timber beams resulted in complete sensory overload for Seraphim with her unable to use heightened senses to even guess where she was let alone navigate her way through this mess. Things weren't made much better by Mandan calmly describing the horror and chaos going on around them in the same voice normal people would use to describe the weather "What!? b-b-but how?" she whimpered; taking a firm hold of Mandan's hand. She didn't care if he wasn't comfortable with her doing so, she needed this, she needed him!
Through an extreme force of will she concentrated on following Mandan's orders knowing that he was right and that they had to get out of this barn before the enemy picked them off one by one or crushed them with falling roof timbers.
Taking several deep breaths Seraphim began the process of splitting her mind as she produced a dozen mirror images of herself in hope that her mirrors would draw attention away from the rest of them and trick the enemy into thinking there were far more of them than there really was. Normally it would be pointless creating this many duplicates because the more she produced the more indistinct and blurred they became until they were nothing more than ghosts. However it was dark outside so she hoped that nobody would be able to tell until it was too late.
With a firm grip on both Mandan's hand and her stave Sera continued to take deep calming breaths like Amelia had taught them to do in order to start meditating before finally speaking to her brother in a slightly calmer voice "ok Mandan I'm ready when you are"


Kulos was having a pretty nice time for sleeping. No irritating, course sand to deal with, Donna wrapped around her, everything was right with the world. Then Donna sat up. The sudden change from the delicious warmth of Donna's body to frigid cold was a pretty unpleasant one. She'd been sleeping so nicely, why was Donna up? Forcing her heavy eyelids open, Ku found her girlfriend and rolled over to cuddle back up against her. "What's wrong, Donna?" she asked, sleep weighing down her voice. Nobody else was up yet, there wasn't really any reason for Donna to be. Though it was a little colder than it probably should have been. "You ok-" Her question and her delicious sleepiness were both rudely interrupted by the screaming of shattering wood from upstairs. And then Gideon and Leona were grabbed by shadows and pulled out of the hut. Ku had just enough time to register that they were under attack before Donna was dragging her toward the middle of the room, screaming at everyone to get away from the walls. Her fingers snagged her weapons get armed just before they dropped out of reach and despite her mind still reeling from the noise and sleep and suddenness of it all, her sheathe was belted on and swords were in her hands before she consciously registered any of that. Amelia was apparently the only one to make it down from the upper levels nonono not again, Mandan and Sera, Donna, Dianne... Five people wasn't enough to fight this run get out. Not with how many it had just taken down. She needed to get Donna to safety kill it, they needed to run, escape... Sera was panicking, and Mandan was saying something kill it now to reassure... no, the boy was giving orders. Surprisingly good ones, too. "He's right, we need to get out. Escape, get more favorable terms, something." A multitude of Seras, all blurry and indistinct appeared good idea fight it now, that would buy them a little time and maybe a distraction. They needed some way to break out, which meant... "Donna, if you can blast down the back and take point, I'll hold the rear," Kulos said, voice shaking run. If Donna could make it out safe kill it, it wouldn't matter what else run happened. But they needed to go fast, needed to go now... "Move!" she yelled, keeping an eye on the front killitkillitkillitkillit. Please run work, killitrunkillrunrunrunkill please work...


As she stood around the fire, her fists readied and her eyes scanning for the next source of danger, Mandan’s voice snapped her out of her focused state and suddenly she realised that he was right. Kulos added her own thoughts, telling her to take point and to let Kulos bring up the rear. As Donna moved forward, however, the front of the lodge exploded. Two bursts of water smashed into planks of wood and they splintered, thrown back by the force of the water blasts that Donna had let out. As another plank flew directly at the girl, she planted a kick firmly in the centre of the plank, water shrouding her foot to strengthen it. The plank snapped in half, both sides clattering to the floor behind Donna on either side. Suddenly, two more black shadows were in the building and as the first one rushed for Donna, Dianne acted faster and moved forward, her khopesh flowing through the air to slice the front of the shadow in half. The being writhed in agony and retreated. The second tendril shot straight for Mandan and Sera, screaming loudly. As it was about to hit the pair, however, a bright light emanated from Mandan’s arm and for a moment his whole body seemed to be surrounded by a glowing aura. The shadowy creature slammed into Mandan but rather than any physical contact, it simply vanished straight into his chest and disappeared. Mandan was left with a feeling of strength as his body tingled like it had when his arm had previously fired. As the shadowy tendrils were suddenly left at a surprise, Donna took advantage of their hesitation and shouted to the group. “Come on!” Leading the charge, she ran out of the front of the building, coming to a stop on the desert sands. In front of them stood Arthur, his skin red and cracked. Either side of him he was surrounded by blacked out cages. Though the others could only hear the wind, Sera could also hear murmurs, whispers. Promises of powers unimaginable and strength unmatchable if you simply submitted, welcomed yourself into the embrace of the spirits.

As the group arrived outside the building, forming a line opposite Arthur, he spread his arms. “Welcome, my old friends! Now, Mandan! I didn’t expect you’d be the hero of legend! This is most… certainly…. a surprise! Such a shame, you would have made a wonderful addition to our forces. Still, there’s hope for the rest of you yet.” Before the rest of the group had a chance to react, shadows dropped from the sky, landing on the heads of Mandan’s comrade, enveloping their heads entirely as they dropped to the desert floor, motionless save for the slight rise and fall of their chests. “I wouldn’t advise trying to help them Mandan… Interrupting the bonding process can have rather… fatal side effects.” Cackling to himself, Arthur stepped forward, a pair of bowie knives appearing in his hands. “Either way, you’re going to be too busy for that. The spirits demand your death, oh mighty hero and I will comply.” Arthur set off into an immediate run, giving Mandan little time to respond. Closing the gap between the pair of them in a few seconds, Arthur leapt into the air, slashing one of his two bowie knives straight at the other boy’s head.

She was alone. The world around her was dark, cold. No matter which way she walked, the world seemed empty, bleak. She stood on nothing but yet was not falling. After several minutes, hours, days or weeks of wandering, the time blending hours and years into single moments, she saw nothing. Felt nothing on her skin. Even the wind seemed not to exist. After a second or an eternity, a voice called out to her. “Kulos! Kulos!” It was Donna. The tone was instantly recognisable as the other girl’s but the sound was different, warped. It was Donna, afraid, and alone. “Where were you Kulos?!” No matter which way Kulos looked, the void continued. And yet the voice of Donna sounded as if it was right next to her, within her ear. “I needed you Kulos! I loved you Kulos! Why?!” Suddenly, flashes in her mind. Donna, sprawled out of the dirt. Crimson seeping from her chest. The butterfly sword plunged through her heart. Kulos staring at her blood stained hands. “I thought you loved me Kulos.” The voice was calm, almost childlike. “Then why did you kill me.” The tone was neutral, as if Donna were simply reading from a history textbook. Suddenly the voice changed, warped. No longer Donna, it hissed in her ear. A thousand voices simultaneously, inside her skull. “You aren’t strong enough Kulos. You were never strong enough. Too weak willed, your destiny is to kill the one you love most. Give in Kulos. Accept the despair. You’ll never be able to save her. No matter how hard you try.”

The courtyard. Back at the academy. She could see. The grass was green and the flowers were in season. The grounds were silent, empty. But it was a good empty. A calm, contented quietness had settled over the campus like on a summer evening, when students would gather round the campfires and listen to heroic tales or laugh about the day’s events. Suddenly, however, her reverie was interrupted. A stone stung her shoulder and as she spun to see who had thrown it, another one hit her in the back. Before she knew it, she was being pelted with stones, driven to her knees under an endless barrage that marked her skin and sent drops of crimson blood down her face as the stones pelted all of her. In a moment she was surrounded by girls. Leona, Samantha, Juliana and all of their cronies. They laughed and chanted, the words warping and twisting as they continued to pelt the girl with stones.

Samantha stepped forward and grabbed Sera’s hair, forcing her to the ground. “Lick it slave!” Her face was smashed against the dirt and she could feel the crunch of her nose and the dirt smearing onto her cheeks, her face burning with the pain. A foot stamped on her right calf, the leather heel of the boot digging in until it reached bone. As it was released, her calf screamed in agony. A tormentor smashed a boot into her side and her ribs shot with agony as she was flipped onto her back. Another girl grabbed the skin on her chest, pinching and twisting it to cause maximum agony. Unable to transform, Sera was left to face the beating. Her eyes were forced open, held open and she watched as the daggers came down and the world turned black once more. Unable to see, the blows melded together, the girls started chanting about how useless Sera was, about how she couldn’t even see or use her weapons, how she was going to amount to nothing and just die being a failure, letting Mandan and everyone else down. Suddenly, the world seemed to pause around her and the stinging pain subsided to be replaced by an ache. The girls were gone and Sera was left on her hands and knees, the world having vanished around her. In front of her lay a crystal, shining red. A voice hissed in her ear, a multitude and yet a single sound, as if it were inside her skull. “You’re so weak Sera. You’re never going to amount to anything Sera. But we can make you strong. Reach out and pick up the crystal. Accept us into you Sera. Unless you want this.” Images flashed through her mind. Donna, an arrow through her throat, gasping for breath as she gargled blood. Seamus, his own shillelagh sticking through his upper body, a surprised look on his face. Sam’s body, headless, on its knees as blood flowed from the stump of his neck. Amelia, her chest littered with arrows as she stumbled forwards, blood seeping from her wounds, a look of desperation across her face. The show in her mind came to rest on a final image. Mandan, impaled on a wall by a spear, blood seeping from his chest. His veil had been removed and his skin was charred, burnt beyond recognition. “Accept us Sera. Save your friends Sera. Or let them die.”

Lord Regal

Campfire Guardian
Thankfully everyone seemed to agree with Mandan's plan...he wasn't sure he had it in him to try again. They hadn't taken more than a few steps, however, when the front of their shelter exploded and another pair of shadow things moved to attack those still inside. The dark boy didn't have time to look at where the first one was heading as the second one was heading directly towards him and Sera. With a snarled, "stay back," he stepped in front of his sister, fumbling for his short sword despite the obvious futility. Once it hit him though, it just...vanished into him, and he though he'd been filled with energy from the shadow thing. Oh...oh no...wasn't this proof he wasn't the hero people seemed to think he was? What kind of hero was able to turn such obvious evil into strength? What kind of hero couldn't even manage something anyone else in his order could? How many more of those could he take before they finally got to his mind? There unfortunately wasn't any time to deal with this in a reasonable fashion, however, so he delayed his concerns for the time being and instead followed the others outside, guiding Sera with him, muttering about what had just happened and adding a "Be careful, this energy is akin to the crystal I has a mind of its own," as he went.

Outside the situation worsened rapidly. Arthur, fricking Arthur was in command here, their companions supposedly in cages. The horrifically corrupted boy taunted Mandan for a moment, then dropped darkness on every single one of his friends' heads, causing them to collapse. He managed to catch Sera and gently set her down, shaking in pure, unadulterated fear. The boy in front of him continued, saying helping them would undoubtably kill them, meaning there was nothing he could do...he was as useless as always...surely he could have done something...but no, the universe continued to ruin his life, and the lives of those around him. The dark boy blinked as he realized he hadn't released Sera's hand...whether in hopes it would bring her comfort or if he was doing it himself, he was still holding it. And yet it seemed Arthur wouldn't even let him have that, summoning his bowie knives and charging him, yelling about spirits wanting him dead. The dark boy barely had time to get his short sword and dagger out before throwing himself backwards to avoid decapitation. Oh gods...this was a serious life or death situation...he'd known that from the start, but there was something about having just avoided a gruesome end that kicked it in for him...but...he wasn't a combat-centric changer. He never had been. He wouldn't've been able to best Arthur before the boy had gotten himself corrupted in a fair He had no chance in hell. However...if someone...either someone in a cage or someone who had more recently been enveloped...if someone managed to resist the 'bonding process' and come back to themselves...then they could help him...he just had to stay alive until then. So deciding, the dark boy abandoned any thoughts of offense whatsoever and focused on one thing he was good at...agility. He'd lead Arthur on a dance, dodging, ducking, and when needed, parrying the demonic boy's blows. He couldn't win. Mandan knew that. He just had to delay...delay and trust in Sera...or Donna...Kulos...Seamus...Amelia...Dianne...hell, even Theo...if someone managed to break free...they'd be able to help him survive this. Until then, evasion, his strongest combat trait, and when needed, more direct defense.


The plan was set, they were going to burst out of the building and either escape or go down fighting. It wasn't the best of plans admittedly but under the circumstances it was the best they had and Seraphim had to admire the romanticism of it; just like the heroes from a book.
However like all stories, real life didn't pan out that way for no sooner had they burst out they were trapped and quickly overpowered with Seraphim's consciousness rapidly leaving her as she was enveloped in something cold and velvety. Her final thoughts wholly occupied on the voice that spoke to Mandan, a voice that sounded oh so familiar.

It was a barmy summer afternoon with the sun shining brightly overhead with the air filled with the scent of wildflowers and birdsong. She had no classes on today and so later maybe she and her friends; Jeyne and Arya could go swimming. She wasn't the best of swimmers and she was always self conscious about wearing a bathing suit but it would be nice to cool down in the water and perhaps even have a picnic down on the bank.
It was as she walking along the neatly bordered gravel path; idly fantasizing about Jaune and his dreamy eyes and what it would be like to attract the attentions of such a boy that she was suddenly struck by a stone "ow that hurt!" she cried out searching for the culprit only to be struck by another, and another, and another.
Pelted from all directions by unseen assailants Sera had little choice but to drop to her knees with blood and tears streaming down her face as she pleaded for them to stop. Her attackers showed themselves soon enough with the ringleader grinding her face into the dirt “Please, leave me alone I haven’t done anything to you, I don’t deserve this!” she sobbed as they continued to attack her. They’d never been this violent before, it was as if simply making her cry was not enough for them anymore and that they wouldn’t be satisfied until they’d killed her!
It wasn’t fair, she’d never done anything to them and no matter what she did they never stopped tormenting her! She’d tried staying away from them, she’d tried telling her lecturers she’d even tried doing their homework for them but none of it had worked and now they were going to kill her for it.
Seraphim caught the briefest flash of steel as the daggers descended only to be plunged into pitch black darkness.
The girls were gone as was the pain and their nasty taunting words; instead there was a single red crystal and a legion of voices urging her to let them in. Tears continued to stream down her face as one by one she was shown the gruesome deaths of her friends and companions. Culminating in the death of her poor sweet brother; his body impaled and his veil ripped aside to reveal a charred piece of meat that was unrecognisable as a face.
They’d removed his veil…they. Had. Removed his veil! They had no right to do that to him! Bad enough to kill him for no other crime than being her friend but to deliver that final indignity was…was…
Rage boiled up within her as she thought back on all those times that she and her brother had been mocked and bullied for no other reason than for being who they were. She’d heard what some of the others had called Mandan behind his back; loner, freak, silent weirdo. He didn’t deserve to be picked on any more than she did just because she was pretty!
Look at you! You promised that you wouldn’t let others push you around and here you are doing just that! Her mind screamed at her, well she’d show them, she’d show all of them! The bullies, the Demon Changers, the Ultimate One! Damn them all! And she knew just how to do it.
Reaching out before her Sera steeled herself for what she must do, the gem pulsating like a bleeding red heart. Her life was ruined already so what did it matter if it killed her, consumed her from within, they were never going to allow a blind girl to attain the rank of Spirit Changer so she may as well forget it. At least this way she may just be able to save her brother. A noble sacrifice, just like out of the stories, only with a lot more blood.
Her hand closed around the crystal and Seraphim’s life changed forever.


As they prepared to move out, the front of the building they'd been standing in blew inward. Planks of wood flew toward them, two broken by blasts of water and one by Donna's kick. Ku tore herself away from watching her girlfriend protect herself to watch their back, making sure that those shadows didn't decide to sneak around while they were distracted. And then they were moving, out into the front, Kulos keeping an eye on their rear while they ran as well as she could while still keeping up. And then they were stopping for... what in the world? The boy looked a little familiar, probably a student, but that didn't particularly matter because he also looked like something out of a nightmare. Ku tore her eyes away, still keeping her eyes out for an ambush just in case you idiots, just attack him alre- while the boy monologued about-

And then the ruined hut, all the noises, the sensation of the wind on her skin, the warmth of the rising sun, disappeared. Kulos whirled around, trying to find her friends, to find anybody, anything, but there was just darkness everywhere. She ran forward, it didn't matter if she lost her bearings. She could get out of this, just had to run, get away from that demon boy, then she'd come back and help Donna and kill him. Just needed to keep running... Keep running... How far away did she need to be? How far had she already run? She was starting to run out of breath, her legs burning, and she was still alone like this... Kulos' pace slowed to a jog, then to a walk. She just had to escape, didn't she? Just had to get free and save Donna and kill that jerk and then she wouldn't be alone again... Time began to wear on her as she kept walking in that one direction, hoping to find something, anything that would get her out. The burning need to find Donna, to get out and murder that jerk burned down into a dull ache. She missed the chirps of birds, the sun, the wind on her face. Donna. The thought kept Kulos pushing for another step, and another, and another, until she stumbled over her own feet and collapsed onto whatever passed for the ground in this place. Tears burned her eyes as she lay there, trying to gather the will to get back up, to keep walking and find that way out.

And then she heard Donna calling out to her. "Donna!" she yelled back, scrambling up to try to find the source of the voice. "Donna!" She couldn't be that far away, she sounded close, Ku just had to find her, keep her safe. She wouldn't have to be alone like this anymore. But... why was Donna using past tense? Her voice didn't sound quite right. What's going... And then she saw Donna. On her back in the dirt. With one of Ku's swords sticking out of her chest, its twin laying in pieces not far away, shattered just like the plank Donna had broken an eternity ago in the hut. The blood on her hands made it clear who was to blame. Her lover's calm voice accusing her of the murder, asking why. "I didn't, I couldn't have... No..." Kulos curled up, closing her eyes, trying to block out the horrible image. And then Hell got worse. The voice of Donna morphed into a hissing legion, telling her that she wasn't strong enough, that she was destined to kill the one she loved, to give in and accept despair... Wait. Destined. It hadn't happened. That was just a trick, an illusion a stupid picture to try to trick her into giving up.

"Liars," Kulos whispered, opening her eyes to see the vision of Donna replaced by the empty void again. "Liars," she said, louder this time, gripping the scarf around her neck. This wasn't that different from when Alice and Carol left. From when Luke left. That had been awful, but she'd survived it, she made it through. Weak willed? Not strong enough? Maybe. A strong girl wouldn't have ended up crying into his arms when he told her that it was alright, that he liked having her around, how she made him laugh. A strong girl would never have needed someone to slap sense into her, to tell her how stupid and selfish it would've been to leave. A strong girl would never have learned out how to tie a noose by trial and error. But a weak girl would never, ever be able to hurt Donna. If it came down to it, her girlfriend could protect herself. If it came down to an even fight, Ku had more than enough faith that Donna would win. No matter who she fought. So Ku just needed to get out of this place and make sure that she had her lover's back. Kulos wiped her face and got to her feet. "Liars," she muttered to the empty air.


Arthur charged at him again, yelling out in frustration as Mandan dodged yet another blow. “Too coward to fight me Mandan?!” His voice strained and he hissed out his words, the anger feeding into his own power. He let a knife fly at Mandan, the boy barely dodging the blade as it embedded itself in the desert sands, summoning another knife to replace the one he’d thrown. Mandan was so busy defending that he was unable to notice as the masks peeled themselves off of Donna and Kulos and his first indication that something had changed was as Donna picked herself up off the floor and ran to Amelia’s side. Sliding in next to her, Donna shouted. “Amelia! It’s me! Donna! It’s lies Amelia! It’s all lies! Don’t give in!” Arthur’s gaze flicked to one side for a second, but he kept pressing forwards, attacking Mandan, refusing to give the boy a chance to break the lock. “She managed to escape the bonding process?!” Jumping and slashing a knife at Mandan, he skidded to a stop before launching on another offensive. “It is no matter. She will die after I am done with you.”

“Liars.” As Kulos responded with defiance at her predicted fate, the voices stopped suddenly, as if frozen. As she rose to her feet, the floor beneath her shook, a tremor hitting the phantasy realm. The world began to shake and parts of it shattered around her, like chunks of glass. Bright white light shone through the cracks and the world kept collapsing until…. The wind of the desert was cool upon her cheek. Around her, she could see Arthur throwing a knife at Mandan. If she tried to move her muscles, however, she would find herself stiff, almost disconnected from her body, and a tingling numbness came over her. Looking at the desert sand around where she lay, there was now a black puddle of gloop that sat, simply inert.

But… Theo… She’d tried so hard to save him. She’d fought back but… As the crystal lay before her, Amelia opened her hand and prepared to reach out and grab it when. ““Amelia! It’s me! Donna! It’s lies Amelia! It’s all lies! Don’t give in!”. Donna?! Amelia hesitated, and rose steadily to her feet. “I’ll… I believe in my… my friends.”

As the mask peeled off of Amelia’s face, lying inert in the sands, Donna breathed a sigh of relief. “Don’t try to move. Your body has to reconnect itself.” Standing up, Donna summoned water around both of her fists and prepared to intervene in the fight between Mandan and Arthur, waiting for the two boys to separate before she attacked. Before she had the chance to intervene, however, all hell broke loose.

The voices laughed as Sera closed her hand around the crystal. “Accept your fate. Give us your strength.” The shadows came down and Sera’s mind went blank.

Arthur slashed another knife at close range, the blade slicing a horizontal line through the front of Mandan’s tunic as he leapt backwards to avoid the strike. Arthur flipped the knife in his hand, holding it with the point downwards, and he raised the knife up to strike like a sacrificial dagger. Suddenly, however, he paused, frozen in position. A large bright light shone through the desert, piercing the blackened clouds and the screaming souls suddenly poured forth from the heavens, streaming into Sera’s body. A large shockwave was sent out and both Mandan and Arthur were sent flying backwards, skidding to a stop on the desert sands. Donna, who was standing close to Sera’s prone body, caught the full force of the blast and was thrown, managing to land in the desert sands before collapsing face first into them. Kulos and Amelia, their limbs still not fully working, were left paralysed in the sands and Mandan and Arthur watched on as Sera’s body raised up into the air, surrounded by a glowing halo of light. Her feet were together but her arms were held out by her side and her body shone pure white in the desert sun, illuminating the entire surrounding area. The shadows continued to stream into her body. Arthur, with a snarl, started running for the girl. Leaping into the air, he prepared to drive a knife through the girl’s throat.

Lord Regal

Campfire Guardian
Arthur was fast, strong, and determined...everything Mandan didn't want to have to deal with at the moment. Fortunately, his swings were more or less predictable, fueled by rage as he was. Didn't make the sand easier to deal with, but at least there was something going his way. Precious little seemed to be anymore. This was insane, this was truly insane...the boy had gone fully over to the demon changers, that much was staring him in the face. However, that didn't change the fact that this was an unwinnable fight. Arthur's latest attempt at murdering him was to throw one of his knives, which missed by a hairs-breadth. This couldn't keep up, he'd run out of luck eventually...though as Donna's voice came through to his ears, yelling for Amelia to fight it...they were resisting! They could help him, he just had to hold out a little longer...despite his fear, despite all the panic and horror, Mandan felt a little bit of hope, his mouth curling into a very small smile under his veil. It didn't matter that Arthur's latest blow had cut his tunic, it didn't matter...they were going to help him...they were-

The explosion sent the two of them tumbling, the fight temporarily abandoned. Dazed and stinging from the rough landing, Mandan blearily realized it was Sera that had caused the distraction...being lifted up by some unknown power, light and shadows dancing in some kind of macabre fashion. What...the...hell...the others were down for the count from the blast presumably, with Dianne still engulfed in the blackness. None of the cages had revealed anyone yet either. And yet it was Sera who captured Arthur's attention, as he abandoned the duel against Mandan, charging instead for his sister., she didn't look capable of defending herself at the moment...she couldn't...she'd Fear, agonizingly hot, swept through him. She couldn't die...she was the one person who had never doubted him, never thought him cold or distant because of his preference to not speak...even when they had just trained together she'd been completely accepting of his silence. And since they'd been on this gods-forsaken trip she'd been on his side completely. No one else would have been as understanding as she had when he'd lost his powers...she'd supported him through his forced change, and even hadn't turned her back on him when he'd absorbed the demon crystal and gained a new, destructive ability that he'd nearly killed someone with. And as the demonic boy had already departed to kill that very source of kindness and helpfulness while he was still reeling from the blast, he had no other real option. He could only hope that the terror he was feeling now was close enough to sorrow for the damn thing. Mandan struggled into a kneeling position, then braced himself, grabbing his right wrist with his left hand. Holding his palm out, he pointed it at Arthur's retreating form and focused...or tried to...the fear was overwhelming him...what would happen if he failed...what would happen if he killed Sera too...what would...what would...come on, do it and save have the damn thing, she and Amelia have been trying to get you able to use it all the favor back...come ON!


(OOC: Kulos’ movement cleared with Autumn)

As Arthur leapt forwards, Mandan’s arm began to glow, his energy focusing in. The danger plunged towards Sera’s neck but just before it could hit, Arthur was sent flying away, sprawling to the floor. The bolt of energy had struck his chest and where his stomach had been there was now a large crater that smoke. Arthur’s body suddenly ignited and shadows streamed out of him, flying Mandan and streaming into his body through his arm, their power being absorbed into his own until the entire process overwhelmed him, the rush of power causing the boy to black out and collapse onto the sands.

It was in this state that the group slowly came to. Where Arthur’s body had been there now lay just a small pile of ashes, a last momento of the Spirit Changer who had been corrupted. Kulos and Amelia were the first to rouse, the paralysis wearing off around the same time. Donna was the next to awaken, opening her eyes to stare into Kulos’ face as the other girl cradled Donna in her arms. Managing to croak out a faint “Hey beautiful” Donna’s lips slowly curled up in a smile before she went for a gentle kiss with the other girl. Amelia, all the while, had been attending to the rest of the group. With Arthur’s defeat, the cages had vanished, the shadows being absorbed by Mandan along with the rest, and the ones who had been kidnapped had been dropped, unconscious, onto the desert sands. Seamus had been the first to awaken and was, with the help of the girl, tending to the rest of the group as they slowly woke. Gideon and Leona went silently to retrieve their things, refusing to utter a word to the rest of the group, staying out of the proceedings. Similarly, Everett and Matthew were too shell shocked to talk to the group and both remained sat upon the sands, preferring to simply digest what had occurred. Amelia led Theo off to one side once he awoke and she spent several minutes consoling him with a fair amount of hugging and Theo crying. As all of this was going on, Mandan remained unconscious on the desert, the sand spread around him. It was in this state that Sera slowly returned to the world.

“Hey, Sera? You ok?” As she blearily opened her eyes, Sera was greeted by a stark new reality. Sitting over her was a large block of solid silver, the colour of steel. It was cool, calm and collected, and the figure that lent over her was talking relatively loudly in her ear. “You pulled quite a number there Sera. How are you?” The voice belonged to Dianne. Sera could smell the desert around her, in fact, she could smell everything. The slight stench of charred… something that was Arthur’s remains. The desert sands, everything was so… vivid. And she could hear… everything. Every single member of the group’s breathing, each individual and each distinguishable. She could even hear the sweet nothings that Donna was breathlessly whispering to Kulos as the pair continued to make out. She could feel the wind all over her skin and the rough callouses of Dianne’s hands as they gripped her body. The steel that she saw, she saw it move, as Dianne leant her forwards to check the back of her head, the steel disappeared out of vision and as it reappeared, she noticed something that she hadn’t before. Intermingled with the steel was a darkness, a shade of black that reminded her of the night sky when the could came over and the stars were hidden. Desolate, lonely. She heard Mandan’s breathing pick up suddenly, as he returned to wakefulness, and she was left to answer Dianne’s question.

Lecta awoke to find the cage gone and the group that he had abandoned around him. Seamus was sat a few metres away, paying no attention to the boy. As he went to move, however, he’d find a gentle hissing in the back of his skull, like an incessant buzzing. The noise, however, swiftly died down, leaving Lecta to his own thoughts.

As he opened his eyes, the desert sun baked down upon him. His muscles felt stiff and the last thing he would remember was the blast hitting Arthur squarely in the chest, sending the boy flying off course and saving Sera. As he picked himself up off the floor, he would look around and see the group scattered. Dianne was kneeling over Sera, seemingly tending to the other girl as she woke up. Amelia was still caring for Theo and Seamus seemed to be enjoying a moment of quiet contemplation. Lecta had just awoken, his injuries gone. Donna and Kulos were in one another’s arms, enjoying the moment, and Gideon and Leona were nowhere to be seen, having disappeared inside the remains of upper level of the refuge hut to gather their things. It was in this state that Mandan was left to his own devices.


Well-Known Member
Time seemed to pass by very slowly for Lecta as he lay in anticipation on the sand. He considered trying to fall asleep, but decided against it. He would be awoken eventually by the storm when it reached his little part of the world. Lying where he was, Lecta allowed himself to once again lose himself to his thoughts... As the days had drifted by, his initial resolve had faded away to be replaced by a lonely feeling set in the pit of his stomach. On many occasions he had thought back to his confrontation with Mandan. The dark-clad boy had not fully understood what Lecta had been trying to tell him about Kulos. He hadn't been there at the incident, so what reason had he had to believe him of all people? From the jist of what he had said, Lecta had decided that Mandan had attached himself emotionally to Sera - perhaps not in a romantic sense, but it was clear by the way he stated that making up with Sera would allow him to show forgiveness too that Mandan had formed an more interwoven bond with Sera than previously seen. Did he feel jealous? Perhaps a little, but it probably did not matter very much now that he was striking out by himself. As things stood, it was unlikely that he would ever see Mandan or Sera again... He would cope with the loneliness. He had to, if he wanted to make it to the Ultimate One in a fit state.
After some time, the storm arrived. However, contrary to what he had expected, the storm did not bring swirling sands and howling winds. Instead, Lecta felt a coldness settling underneath his skin. It was a chilling cold, not one which wore away slowly at the protective shell, but rather one which was ever-present, constantly irritating him. The cold didn't last for long though. After a few minutes of it had passed, Lecta heard an all-too-familiar voice speaking directly to him. Simply hearing the voice was enough to send shivers down the length of the young Spirit Changer's curled-up body. Lecta had no time to react to the presence, however, as immediately the once-lost boy had told him rather bizarrely to be a good boy and go to sleep did Lecta feel an impact strike the back of his head, causing him to lose consciousness.

Some time later, though how long he could not make out, Lecta heard the dreaded voice again out of the gloom, this time coaxing him into wakefulness. Arthur, for it was him, then teased about some show that was about to take place. Then, silence. Lecta lay still for a few moments, before tentatively opening his tired eyes. It took him only a short moment to adjust to the change in lighting, at which point he started to gaze around him. The first thing that he noticed was that he was trapped in a cage of some design. The cage was black, and the walls seemed to shift as if formed by the essence of a mystical being. Outside the cage, he could see some sort of shelter. From the look of the surroundings, the shelter was positioned somewhere in a desert, perhaps the same one that he had been lying down in when Arthur had discovered him... It was then that he noticed the clawing, digging pain that seemed to want to split his head open and devour its contents. Applying his own hands to his skull, Lecta tried and subsequently failed to appease the pain by massaging the affected area. It seemed that he would have to deal with the discomfort for as long as he was trapped in the cage. Speaking of the cage, some things did not make sense. First off, where was the cage? To his eyes, it seemed that he was looking down on the world from a vantage point in the cloudscape. Whether this was true or not, he had no idea. Secondly, he had no idea where on earth the desert shelter was, and why Arthur would be so interested in putting on a show there? Lecta was not given long to muse, however, as the show began.

It soon became clear that the desert structure was in fact the location that the group had chosen to wait out the duration of the "storm". From his sitting position inside the cage, Lecta could only watch on in horror as the group were one by one taken by shadows from the shelter and thrown into shadowy prisons of their own. Lecta winced as Seamus was taken up into his own cage, some form of leftover companionship causing him to feel sadness over his former friend's captivity. The show that Arthur was putting on appeared to be the decimation of the group of Spirit Changers that he had travelled with. From his viewing platform, Lecta could make out that the rest of the Spirit Changers had rallied together and were at that moment huddled together in a group on the ground floor of the building, Sera, Kulos and Mandan among their number. After a short time, they made their way outside, only to be confronted by human Arthur himself. A fight with Mandan then ensued, with the rest of the group seemingly paralysed. What happened next though, Lecta couldn't entirely make out. At some stage, Sera emerged from her coma and launched into the air, summoning shadows and light into her in some strange spectacle. Arthur made a move to end her life, only to be stopped by some stupendous beam of energy from Mandan's outstretched arm. Then, it was all over.

Lecta awoke again to find himself sat on the desert floor surrounded by the group that he had tried to extricate himself from. It seemed to him that fate had a strange way of putting him exactly where it wanted him to be - with the group. Now that his time of solitude was over, it was up to him to sort out his relationships with everyone else. He had spent his travelling days considering what the future could hold for him, not how he could make amends. Thus, no rehearsed speeches, no pre-planned strategies. He would have to go with the flow. Where the flow would take him though, Lecta had no idea. For now, he sat cross-legged on the sand, watching everything going on around him.


Something had happened. Though for the life of her Seraphim didn't know what as all there was, was a great gaping hole in her memory with the last thing that she could recall being her hand closing around the strangely cool, red gem.
Awakening to a voice shouting a question at her, Seraphim found herself in a strange new world. Her already heightened senses had exponentially increased to the point that she could sense everything in such minute detail that it was almost painful. If being deafened by the sound of a dozen people talking and breathing or having her stomach turned by every single scent within the desert, many of which she’d never knew existed before this point, wasn't bad enough her eyes, her useless, sightless eyes were being bombarded with colour as a silvery shape leaned in towards her.
It took her a few moments for her to realise that the silvery mass was in fact Dianne; with the girl asking her how she was in a voice that was far too loud "I...I don't know, s-something isn't right D-Dianne, everything is t-too strong a-and I-I'm seeing colours" she whimpered; gasping as the girls hand brushed the back of her head. She could feel every individual hair being moved by her calloused fingertips; gained through long hours of practice with a blade. The sound and scent of her breath, the rustling of her clothes as she moved, the sound of her hair moving within the breeze. It was then that she saw something lurking within the now vaguely humanoid silvery mass; a darkness so black, empty and lonely that it was all she could do to stop herself from throwing her arms about the other girl and telling her that it was alright and that she would stand by her as a friend until the bitter end, anything to fill that void within her.
However forcing such thoughts aside she instead asked a question that had been burning a hole in her mind the very moment that she'd woken up "D-Dianne...where is M-Mandan? Is...Is he alright?"


Apparently it really was that easy. All that walking, the horrible vision, the loneliness, all she had to do was see through the monsters and Kulos was free. Though she still had to brace herself as the illusion fell apart around her to show... darkness again. Kulos could feel the wind ahhhhhh again, hear the sounds of movement in the sand, and forcing her heavy eyelids open for the second time that day gave her a wonderful view of Mandan dodging away where is she? from the demon boy. Her body felt mostly numb and her limbs wouldn't really respond when she gave them commands, which was worrying. And what worried her more was that she couldn't see Donna anywhere in her limited view. Ignoring the two boys battling in front of her, Ku tried to move, tried to get up and go find Donna, make sure she was alright, but all she managed to accomplish was curl her neck down, turning her head away from the fight. Good enough for now. She could see most of their companions, Dianne, Amelia, Sera, all with weird black masses on their faces, but no Donna. She must have been on the other side and Kulos wasn't going to be able to roll over for at least a little while. Her fingers were starting to respond, the feeling slipping back in, but that wasn't fast enough. She had to find...

And then Donna thank goodness was running past her. Emotions flared, joy that her lover was okay, irritation that she wasn't the one being run to, fear that Donna wasn't just running away, to anywhere else, anywhere safe. And then Donna kneeled next to Amelia, screaming that it was all lies and irritation evaporated. She'd figured out that Kulos was okay, gone to help someone else. And she was okay. Well, if Donna was helping people, Ku knew her part kill him. Her legs still weren't working quite right, her fingers couldn't really even curl into a fist kill him, but she could at least try to get kill him up. But Ku's efforts were interrupted by a blinding light coming from Sera, accompanied by a wave of force that sent Donna flying across the sand no and Ku flopping back to the ground nononono. Ku managed to move enough to find her girlfriend, face down now, and begin the slow process of dragging need to make sure she's not hurt her still unresponsive body toward Donna's. There was something going on behind her, but she didn't care about any of that. Strength steadily poured back into her limbs and soon she was stumbling to the ground next to Donna, picking her up, cradling her, checking for breathing, a pulse, anything. And then Donna opened her eyes and Ku's heart felt like it just stopped. And of course, the first thing she did was smile and flirt. "Don't ever do that again," Kulos whispered back, bending down to meet Donna's puckered lips with her own. The kiss wasn't amazing, but hearing the others moving, talking, with none of the frenzied elements from earlier... they'd won. They won and they were alive. That warranted a better kiss than this. Kulos adjusted her hold, breaking the kiss for a moment to bring Donna up into something closer to a sitting position. "I love you," she whispered. And then she smiled and went for a tight embrace and a much deeper kiss. A much better way to celebrate surviving yet another disaster.
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