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  1. <<The Shadow>> <<Immortal Object>> 550 DMG | 4 ACC Shadow Aura: Players take a penalty of 2 Accuracy. This penalty is ignored if the player has the Night Vision mod or if a member of the party is holding a Glow Stone. Pillars of Light: Four Machines are placed in four corners of the arena. All must be lit to end the encounter. Lighting a Pillar requires a collective LD of 66. Shadowlings: Shadowlings attempt to blot out the light. Each unaggroed Shadowling increases the Pillar LD requirement by 1. Marked for Death: Gaining Aggro on a Shadowling applies a stack of Marked for Death, increasing the Damage <<The Shadow>> deals on his next attack by 15 per stack. Stacks are cleared when the Shadowlings die. The swirling darkness continued to coalesce. An oppressive aura seemed to settle in on the room. As the shadows solidified, the minotaur - Orgoth - readied his weapons. Slowly, their adversary was given form. From out of the darkness stepped what appeared to be a simple dark-haired man in a black business suit. His expression was one of complete apathy. Through a gaze veiled with sheer boredom, he sized up the group before him. He let out a sigh of exasperation, rolling his shoulders forward and backwards. “This infernal stiffness. One doesn’t appreciate the ability to stretch their limbs until it is robbed of them.” The voice came not from the man, but from the darkness filling the room. It was as if the voice came from everywhere and nowhere, layered on top of itself multiple times and reverberating off of the walls. Suddenly Orgoth let out a mighty roar. With frightening speed, the Minotaur blitzed past the party. Within an instant, he was upon the figure, his vicious axes raised high above his head. The powerful minotaur struck with all of his might. A loud clang filled the room, the force of his blow cracking the ground beneath the figure’s feet and kicking up a cloud of dust. When the smoke cleared, the heroes would be able to witness the sight before them. Orgoth’s axes seemed to be clashing against an invisible force. Hanging in the air between Orgoth and the figure was an icon with two words: Malicious laughter filled the room. The figure raised both his arms, holding them out to his sides in challenge to the minotaur before him. “What’s the matter Orgoth? I recall a time when you could carve through my shield like paper.” The figure brought one hand in front of him, tucking his middle finger behind his thumb. “I do wish that Orgoth would have come to play. Ah well. What is life but a series of disappointments?” And then he flicked the minotaur in the direct center of his chest. The blow lifted Orgoth off of his feet, blasting the hulking brute back the way he came until he was stopped by the wall far behind him. The minotaur fell to the ground prone, having left an indentation of himself in the brickwork. “I suppose I’ll have to content myself with you heroes. As a token of my gratitude for freeing me, I’ll make this quick. Now stand still. Don’t make this any worse for yourselves.” In an instant, the figure had disappeared. The next moment, he was standing to the left of Hestia, just inside of her blind spot with his fist cocked back to deliver a mighty blow to the woman. He followed through with the attack, blasting her away much like he had done with Orgoth, as well as shredding a healthy chunk from her health bar in the process. Now standing in the midst of the warriors, he cast his bored gaze over the five that still remained in close proximity. “I suppose I should give you all something to play with. Be careful now. The void is hungry.” The darkness began to coalesce again, this time in multiple places. Dark figures stepped out from the void and began to advance on the party. As they closed in, a voice called out. “Heroes! Use the Pillars! He must not be allowed to leave this room!” Orgoth had somewhat rallied from the devastating blow and was slowly climbing to his feet. With a snap of his fingers, The Shadow conjured dark chains that wrapped around the minotaur and bound him to the wall. As a final bit of degradation a metal muzzle appeared from the void and latched itself to Orgoth, preventing the minotaur from speaking. “Ah, ah. That’s enough from you, Orgoth. But by all means, heroes. Light the Pillars. If you can survive long enough, that is.” The deadline for this round is 72 hours [March 26 at 8:00PM GMT-5], or when all players have posted once. As in a standard rotation, all players may post once.
  2. Their attacks had proved to be insufficient. As powerful as the warriors had been, Nihilim still hung on by just a thread. The dragon lurched forward, its mighty jaws wrapping around Hestia. As they clamped down, two things happened. One, of course was that Hestia suffered damage from the attack. Second, with its jaws still clamped down on Hestia, the massive beast collapsed to the ground. The entire chamber shook as the dragon's body collided with the ground beneath it. The tremors were violent enough that they unearthed four strange structures around the arena. Nihilim had been defeated. If only the warriors knew what secrets the dragon held. The reason for the pure darkness that still seeped from the creature's wounds, lining the floor of the arena like a thin layer of smoke. The warriors might even celebrate the dragon's death as it began to slowly decompose, its flesh and bone reduced to nothing but purest dark. They might even forget that bosses in Sword Art Online don't decompose like that. Not without reason. "FOOLS!" A loud voice boomed throughout the arena. Dashing in through the massive arches of the door was a large minotaur. Unlike the other minotaurs that roamed the maze outside, this one was absolutely massive. He bore a striking resemblance to the statue back in town. In both hands, the minotaur carried a pair of vicious-looking axes. Piercings and war paint were prominent upon the features on his face. His red eyes blazed with a fury that could only be described as a father finding out their child had keyed their new sports car. "Do you have any idea what you've done?" A sinister laughter filled the room. The darkness flowing from the dragon's body began to coalesce to a single point. Come now Orgoth, the heroes have slain the dragon. Let them celebrate. It will be the last thing they do. The deadline for this round is 96 hours [March 16th at 11:20 AM GMT-5], or when all players have posted. As in a standard rotation, each player may post once.
  3. Nihilim felt neither the sting of the ballista nor the sensation of free-falling through the air. The creatures down below had failed in their attempts at preventing the dragon’s ire. And now they would suffer the full heat of his flames. The dragon’s gut swelled as he breathed deep. The loud woosh of the inhalation could be heard distinctly even over the din of the attempts to ready the ballista down below. Then, silence. Nothing could be heard save for the rhythmic wingbeats of Nihilim up above. And then, a spark. In an instant, the air above the warriors ignited into a deadly maelstrom of fire. The sweltering heat of the inferno so intense that the warriors would receive the full brunt of it. So profound was the intensity of the flames that their weapons began to glow red-hot in the face of it. Flames wrapped around the ceiling of the cavern, licking ravenously at the large stalactites that hung ominously from the ceiling. Under the roar of the flames, if one listened closely, they could hear a loud popping sound. The heat, compromising the integrity of the stone itself, caused the razor-sharp stalactites to crack at their base. Weakened thusly, the adornments were torn from the ceiling and began to crash down to earth. The party found themselves assailed by giant masses of half-molten stone from on high. They crashed into the ground like meteors, splashing molten stone in all directions as they landed. A massive cloud of dust and soot was kicked up in their wake. A final, loud crash. The dust settled. As the party would rally from their wounds, the proud dragon rose to his full height. He spread his wings and let out a terrible roar. Wounded and beaten, Nihilim nevertheless stood tall against a backdrop of death fiery devastation. While true, the warriors had vexed their draconic foe at every turn, Nihilim was not without tricks of his own. The deadline for this round is 72 hours [March 3rd at 2:15 PM GMT-5], or when all players have posted. As in a standard rotation, each player may post once.
  4. So they had done it. Taunted it further. Healed the damage it had inflicted. Used whatever puny might they could muster to whittle away its health. They seemed confident and assured that victory would be theirs. But they had yet to witness the true power of Nihilim the Dragon. The gigantic reptilian creature spread its wings to their full length and, with a mighty flap, heaved its body off of the ground. Wind would engulf the arena as it soared high into the air, its silhouette eventually lost against the darkness that lingered above. The cacophonous roar of its massive wings still rang periodically through the chamber, the air displaced felt even at the ground level. They had but a moment to ready themselves and shoot the creature down, lest it rain misery upon their foolish souls. They had become comfortable and impatient, viewing Nihilim as nothing more than a pest to be swatted away. They could come to recognize the power of the labyrinth's guardian soon enough. The deadline for this round is 72 hours [Feb 25th at 3:30 PM GMT-7], or when all players have posted. As in a standard rotation, each player may post once.
  5. Did the puny humans believe their language was lost to Nihilim? That it could not understand them? Or did they truly think their insults might frighten such a divine being? Instead, their trash-talk simply sickened him. The dragon’s chest swelled indignantly, disgust as dark and heavy as the shadows surrounding them. It was insulting enough that such insignificant creatures even challenged it. Like an irritated cat, Nihilim flicked its tail, head tilted to glare down at the players. Contempt pulsed in every move the Guardian made. The final swordsman had only just delivered his attack before Nihilim lunged again. This time, fangs replaced talons, razor-sharp daggers plunging into Hestia’s armor. The dragon’s mighty jaw clenched, tore, and released only to emit a thunderous roar. Even as the tiniest pebbles bounced with the rage exploding through the cavern, that familiar ruby glow returned. Once more, a great blaze burst from between the beast’s ivory teeth. Like molten liquid through a castle’s murder holes, flame spilled, crashed, flowed. The wave consumed all in its wake, again depleting the health bars of the unlucky victims. Taunt me again, Nihilim seemed to challenge, as the tiny pests fled from his flame. The deadline for this round is 72 hours [Feb 19th at 5:34 PM GMT-7], or when all players have posted. As in a standard rotation, each player may post once.
  6. The dragon’s enormous body lay lifeless, save for its eyes, which closely followed each attacker. The dark pits remained devoid of emotion as each hit landed, crimson gashes sparking against black scales. Only when the final blow came, and the brown-haired player moved back to his comrades did those obsidian eyes flash with renewed vigor. My turn, they seemed to say. Nihilim climbed to its feet, then shook its mass like a dog ridding its fur of excess moisture. The sight might have been comical, were it not for the murderous expression, and the way the pale light gleamed on the beast’s sharp teeth. A low rumble rolled from deep in its throat as it eyed each individual player. Its gaze lingered the longest, coming to rest entirely, on the raven-haired tank named Hestia. Something about her infuriated Nihilim, far more than any of the other miniature humans. She would be its first victim. With startling speed for such a sizable reptile, the guardian shifted to its haunches. A clawed hand shot forward, raking red across Hestia’s armor, before being withdrawn once more. Nihilim’s tail swished back and forth, creating an eerie crunching sound as it dragged across the hard ground. It was as if it invited the woman to retaliate, a true battle of strength, for who could possibly hope to beat a dragon? But the others drew nearer, as well. Surely they knew not of the dragon's power, else they would keep a safe distance. Instead, they closed in like a pack of ravenous coyotes, each ready to take their next nip. They would need to be educated. A scarlet glow roiled within the gigantic reptilian's gullet, worming its way up the creature's throat as the shine slowly grew in intensity. By the time it had made its way to the beast's crooked maw, tangerine rays were peaking through the slits between its teeth and painting the arena a deep gold. Molten hot flames spilled from the the dragon's mouth and pooled against the floor beneath before exploding outward in every direction. It crept across the floor with much the speed and nimble skipping of a family of blazing rabbits, each lick of the flame threatening to clutch the players' HP gauges evaporate them away. They need not fear the dragon. But they would respect it. Editor Notes: The deadline for this round is 72 hours [Feb 13th at 7:12 PM GMT-7], or when all players have posted. As in a standard rotation, each player may post once.
  7. A sharp screech blared through the arena, reverberating harshly off of the solid walls in a pervasive echo. The players would feel the air vibrate with the intensity of that roar, the ringing in their ears as it finally subsided blocking out all other sound. As the ringing slowly dissipated, they would begin to hear it. Faintly at first, like the distant fluttering of a stealthy crow. The noise would grow, creating a flapping cacophony that would ripple along the walls with the descent of the dragon. And then, a deafening crash as the dragon's limp body clapped against the floor, the force of the impact scattering the bolts that lay there. Here, Nihilim would remain. Stunned, its piercing eyes staring indignantly into those of its many adversaries, chagrin riding its indiscernible expression as it did what it could to move. The bolt had struck a critical area, weakening the creature and paralyzing it for the time being. It knew the assault was coming, but it hadn't the faculties to do anything about it. For now, all it could do was wait. The deadline for this round is 72 hours [Feb 7th at 8:45 PM GMT-7], or when all players have posted. As in a standard rotation, each player may post once.
  8. The orbs began to tremble. It was a slight movement at first, and easy to overlook entirely. But as the seconds passed, the shaking grew more violent until they hummed with an angry, pent-up energy. The tipping point was reached when the twelve lights finally shot toward the dragon's corpse, piercing the tough hide with the force of a bullet. Now plunged into darkness, everything remained still. Then, the silence was shattered by a blood-curdling roar. Nihilim had awakened. Crystals set into the walls themselves began to glow a warm yellow, illuminating the boss room. The new light revealed the area's massive size. It was impossible to make out the cavern's ceiling, as it was so far above, and cloaked in darkness. Yet the enormous dragon still dwarfed the expansive space as it found it's feet once more. All previous injuries shimmered, then disappeared entirely. Bolts fell away, clinking to the hard floor to bounce once, then lay motionless. The discarded projectiles collected like bones at the beast's feet. The look in it's piercing black eyes suggested he planned to make skeletons of the newest arrivals. With yet another furious scream, Nihilim swept upward. It's powerful wings now carried it's bulk easily, and in seconds, it was positioned above the party. A line of crimson traced its way from the dragon's stomach to it's mouth, the color a stark contrast to the hard, black scales. Something was coming - the players would have to work together, and quickly, to avoid certain destruction. The deadline for this round is 72 hours [Feb 3rd at 7:25 PM ET], or when all players have posted. As in a standard rotation, each player may post once.
  9. The passage opened into darkness. Then, as if something from a fever dream, a scene began to play out. A dozen minotaurs, their cloven hooves eerily muffled against the hard-packed earth, worked in tandem. While most grasped battle axes, a small team gathered around a massive ballista. Their horned heads thrown back in roars that came as whispers, they struggled to load and prepare the weapon. The largest among them worked the lever, adding tension until, finally, he fired. The bolt exploded from the ballista with a deafening thwack that shook the entire space. The target, positioned in the center of the room, emitted a shriek of pain. Though the sound was again strangely distorted, as if heard underwater, one could not mistake the dragon’s violent agony. Spines protruding from thick reptilian skin stood snapped like jagged rocks. Long gashes criss-crossed the scaled hide, sizable chunks missing altogether. Perhaps most noticeable, however, were the ballista bolts lodged in the beast’s body. They quivered with each struggling breath, clinging like meddlesome burs to keep the magnificent creature from taking flight. As the last bolt found its mark, a final nail hammered into a metaphorical coffin, the dragon’s enormous wings spread once more. The single flap produced a gust so mighty that the minotaurs were knocked off their feet, sent sprawling across the dimly lit room. The dragon, however, was able to rise only a few feet in the air before collapsing with a muted crash. With a closing tremble, it lie still. Before the minotaurs could celebrate their apparent victory, darkness burst from the cooling corpse. Like water from a popped balloon, it rolled in waves to fill the space, crashing against the cavern walls. The newly arrived party felt nothing as the blackness washed over them, but the minotaurs were swallowed by the swells. When the gloom finally sank back into the ground, it left behind only twelve identical glowing orbs. They cast a faint white light, throwing shadows across the dead dragon, and the stage now set for the players. Thus begins the preparation stage. The next phase will commence after 72 hours (Saturday 2/1 at 4:07 PM ET), or after all parties have posted. Be advised, this will only be a few minutes in-game, so do not delay. Declare your stats, equipment, battle-ready inventory, skills, buffs, and consumed items in your first post. This information should reflect the scouting thread.