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[F17] Obsidian Invasion

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For the first time in a while, a long while at the I look at the blonde sage with something like respect. Like a veritable field commander, she took charge of the civilian NPCs and started organizing them in an orderly fashion. While she took point, signaling the way for the column with her lion themed flag, I take a more reserved approach and keep a bunch of kids under my watch so that they don't get lost. Some of them weren't accompanied by any type of relatives, a stuck closer to those and a few of them even grabbed onto my armor's cloak with they tiny hands. "Are these really NPCs...?" I wonder, not for the first time as I caress one of them that seemed to glue himself to my side.

"Are you scared?" I ask him as I stroke his had gently. He looks up to me and and doesn't uter a word but simply nods. Of course he would be scared, they're home got destroyed, loved ones taken from them in a split of a second. I ball my free hand into a fist and grit my teeth the whistle towards the front. While Ariel simply simply glanced behind, too busy issuing orders and herding the group of people. However the one I sought attention from came running when I beckoned her. The white lioness nimbly making her way through the crowd. "Don't be afraid, we're under the protection of the queen of the jungle. Her majesty Kimba will keep us save no matter what." he let out a small chuckle as the previously scared kids went and took turns patting the lioness who instantly assumed the role of a guardian deity with pride.


Objective: Escorting Civilians to Safety 

ID# 133693
LD Result: 8
Progress: 2/3
[Portals capped] 

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Solei deadpanned when the group he was leading seemed to have gained a couple of more. . . kids. Well, he guessed that was convenient? "Alright, uh," he sputtered, looking at the group of kids and one mother with a nervous expression. 

Get your big boy pants on, Danny! You didn't spend four years for a freaking teaching degree for nothing! He cleared his throat and wiped away his nervous face. "Pl-please just stick together, okay? I know that we've gotten a few more members in our group so please just stay in front of me and stay together!" He announced, only to mentally face palm himself. What kind of half-assed speech was that?

"Let's just go. Come on, guys!" He beamed, trying his best to put on an enthusiastic face as he nodded down the corridor. "It won't be long until we get out of here, just you wait!" He said positively. 

Escorting Citizens to Safety
ID: 133701
LD: 11
Progress: 2/3
 

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Once he was content with the knowledge that the citizens were safe behind friendly guards, Alkor hurried through the tunnels and navigated his way above ground. What he saw when he returned to the surface was horrible. Devastation wrought across the face of the settlement only worsened as the onslaught continued, and even while the Players toiled to beat it back, the Cardinal System gave rewarded them with outright war.

He kept his blade at the ready as he moved through emptied streets and burned out buildings, an elaborate maze of desolation. They kept coming from a concentration of sources- the information dealers had worked quickly to obtain that info and make it available, and the incursion was being swiftly dealt with as a result.

So, when he eyed the last portal, Alkor gunned it straight toward-

Lessa? Oh, good, someone he could trust to help handle the situation, and she was hugging...

"...woah, woah! Hey there!" Alkor called out absently as he came to a halt a healthy distance from the two. His eyes moved from Bahr to Lessa, and he put up a hand to direct his speech solely to the woman.

"Hey, what are you doing with Mister Temper Tantrum?" he asked her, no hint of subtlety in his voice. "You shouldn't get too close. He might punch you for no reason."

[Moving to Portals]

@Bahr @Lessa

Edited by Alkor

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Objective: Close Portal
ID: 133711
BD: 4
Group Members: @Alkor @Bahr @Lessa @Macradon
Cumulative BD: 4=4

Macradon would look at the situation unfolding in front of him “It’s like I’m the fourth wheel on a tricycle.” he said looking at the three having their moment “Can I at least be a functioning fourth wheel?” he asked the others as he stepped up to the circle while holding his hands out for others to grab onto “I don’t know how much time we have left, but let us get this lone portal taken care of, that’s at least something I’d like to have accomplished today.” he said and awaited the three others to join hands with him “We have to REALLY friendship this portal away, that’s the only way I can think of to get rid of it, like a true story about friendship. The death and havoc wasn’t what they wanted, but the true death and havoc was what they all had inside, kumbaya.” he said with outstretched arms.

Edited by Macradon

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Objective: Close Portal
ID: 133713
BD: 2
Group Members: @Alkor @Bahr @Lessa @Macradon
Cumulative BD: 4+2=6

“Hey Bahr, here to close portals?”

The voice sounded familiar, but Bahr couldn't fully make it out over the chaos ensuing around them. When he turned toward the sound, he was graced by none other than-

"Macradon," came the deadpanned response.

“We need two more for this, but it seems like we're gonna clear this unless another phase pops up. I haven’t seen if there were others that had time to help us, but let’s see if anyone’ll show up.”

Two more. Should be easy.

"Yeah," he sounded with a nod, letting his eyes wander to the rest of the battlefield. "Hopefully it doesn't take too long. I'd like this over sooner rather than l-"

Tackled, practically. At first, Bahr didn't know who it was. But as his arms naturally folded around her and he caught a glimpse of her golden hair, he knew it was Lessa that had assaulted him with a hug. It was exactly what he'd needed to pull himself from the weird head space scenes like this put him in. As she tightened her grip around him, the mimicked the motion, fulling her closer so he could feel her warmth.

"There you are." The words were muffled against his coat. "I wasn't sure you were here. I hadn't seen you." She stood back and let her eyes shift over him. Up, then down, then up again. "Are you okay?"

Great. She could tell. 

Before Bahr could respond, he heard another voice calling out. "... Woah, woah! Hey there!" Bahr knew that voice, even if he'd only briefly heard it. Alkor. "Hey, what are you doing with Mister Temper Tantrum? You shouldn't get too close. He might punch you for no reason." Of course.

As much as Bahr wanted nothing less than to drive his fist into the man's face again, it wasn't the time or place. Instead, he turned his attention to Macradon as he tried to break the tension. “It’s like I’m the fourth wheel on a tricycle,” he said, eyes shifting between the three. “Can I at least be a functioning fourth wheel?”

"Don't worry about it,"
 he stated, waving his hand dismissively. "Just tell us what we need to do."

As Macradon explained the process, he extended his hands for the others to take in their own. Bahr hastily snatched one of Macradon's hands and one of Lessa's, not wanting anything to do with the third. As Alkor stood across from him in their circle, Bahr's crimson and verdant hues stared blankly across to his whiskey tones. There was no fierceness or animosity in the gaze. Emotions were shut off during this kind of thing. Bahr would later reflect on how strange it was that he could look into the eyes of the man holding Lessa's other hand without feeling any sort of ill will. He would feel it upon reflection, though.

For now, he simply did as he was told. He focused on the warmth of Lessa's hand in his, a sensation he had grown accustomed to and had come to desire. The camaraderie he felt in Macradon's firm grip, the man who had mentored him all that time ago. That was enough to keep him tethered to the moment in a positive light, and focus that positivity into the portal.

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Objective: Close Portal
ID: 133714
BD: 3
Group Members: @Alkor @Bahr @Lessa @Macradon
Cumulative BD: 4+2+3=9

"I-what?" Lessa's gaze flicked from Bahr to Alkor, then back again. "You're the one who punched Alkor?" she asked incredulously, when her eyes finally came to rest on Bahr's mismatched ones. She opened her mouth to say more, then shook her head. "You know what, nevermind. We can talk about it later. We should probably focus on saving the city and all that."

The player who joined them, creating the necessary group of four, was one Lessa only vaguely recognized. "Thanks for helping," she stated dumbly, unsure of what else to say. The man appeared familiar with Bahr, even chummy, so she figured she'd be introduced at some point. His friends were bound to become her friends, right? Wasn't that how things worked when two people were - no, wait. Focus.

Lessa gave Bahr's hand a squeeze, then reached for Alkor's. It was then that the realization hit her - how bizarre the situation was. Her previously dead friend whom she'd loved - still loved? - and the man she'd fallen head over heels for. Her two closest friends. Bahr had held her while she'd cried over Alkor, and Alkor had described being punched by Bahr. And now they were holding hands with this other guy, who she didn't even know, and....

She wasn't focused. Not at all.

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"Jesus Christ, why are there so many kids here?" He whispered under his breath, looking over his shoulder as he watched a couple of more kids join in on the group. "Alright, everyone, we're almost there! Just keep going down this hall and we'll be by the caves in no time!" He said joyously, looking his shoulder one last time to see if there was anyone still coming. Nothing. Alright, it seemed like it had gotten most of the citizens in the area. That was good!

The blue haired player pursed his lips when he watched the usual cobbled walls of the castle start changing into a much less refined brick. Great! That meant that they were almost there!

Solei wheezed as he pressed his palms against his knees. "We. . . made it!" He exclaimed breathlessly as he patted himself on the back. Damn, he never knew how accomplished he'd feel after reusing a few dozen NPC children, but he did it!

Escorting Citizens to Safety
ID: 133715
LD: 19
Progress: 3/3

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By the time the blonde finished ironing out the details of their little trek, they we're already there? She looked around... caves, that's what they saw for a while and near the end, a massive exit towards the nemean plains. "Is this it?" she muttered only to have one of the guards nearby nod twice. "Our queen is in a hut over there." he added, indicating to a small opening in the woods where people already started forming some sort of a refuge community. "There are more people inside the city, captain! You should bring them here too." he said with a smile and made a salute motion.

She turned to the rest of the convoy behind then and was happy to see that some of the civilians were reuniting with their loved ones in the camp. Dracul silently made his way next to her, the children already having left his side as well. "Captain? let's see now, how many titles are you going to collect: 'Lioness', 'sage', captain', grandmaster tailor, you've already got more titles than half of the players here." The blonde let her head hang and watched the ground, her bangs covering her smile.


Objective: Escorting Civilians to Safety 

ID# 133688
LD Result: 21(14+3[item]+4[cocoa])
Progress: 3/3
[Portals capped] 

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Wait, did they just... start holding hands? What the hell did Macradon just say about singing campfire songs and being best friends? Alkor stared from one face to the next, mortified by the suddenly display of muted, mandated affection between four people who really didn't know each other all that well.

Well, he didn't know two of them that well. "Wait wait, what the hell?" He pulled away before either of the other two Players could take his hand. "There's got to be a different way to go about this, because I'm really not comfortable with Christmas Cookies staring deeply into my eyes. And no offense Mac, you're a nice guy, but I'm not really the hand holding type. You didn't even take me to dinner first."

Alkor shifted uncomfortably and looked from one Player to the next. "I think we need to really think this one out before we jump headlong into it. Is standing around it and playing My Little Pony going to do the trick?"

 

Objective: Close Portal

 ID# 133716:

 Battle: 5

@Bahr @Lessa @Macradon

Edited by Alkor

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Objective: Close Portal
ID: 133718
BD: 1
Group Members: @Alkor @Bahr @Lessa @Macradon
Cumulative BD: 1=1

Something went wrong, it didn’t work, the portal was still standing, still living, still full of energy “No … NO! We need to try harder! Let’s try once more!” he said and tightened his grip on Alkor’s and Bahr’s hands “Let’s show this portal that we are stronger than it! That we can muster up enough willpower to shut it down!” he exclaimed like he was going super saiyan, he tried his best, he really did, but this mind thing wasn’t really his cup of tea. "We have to ... let's try ..." he said trying to plead with Alkor even if it wasn't the most comfortable moments for him. Macraodn mustered up all the willpower he had, he had no idea of how much that actually was, but he hoped that he was able to actually be of use and not just be a fourth wheel put on perpendicular to the other three on the tricycle. This was like a nightmare, the portal had to be closed, and of course this was what he was incompetent with ...

Edited by Macradon

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Objective: Close Portal
ID: 133719
BD: 5
Group Members: @Alkor @Bahr @Lessa @Macradon
Cumulative BD: 1+5=6

"
You're the one who punched Alkor?" 

He remained silent. There was no use trying to explain it at a time like this. He'd planned on telling her when the time was right, but it appeared as though that opportunity had been stripped away from him. Typical.

"You know what, nevermind. We can talk about it later. We should probably focus on saving the city and all that."

Thank god.

As abruptly as he had arrived and started antagonizing Bahr, Alkor backed away from the rest of the party, throwing his hands up in the air and muttering some nonsense about this not being his "sort of thing," or something like that. Bahr set his jaw as his eyes narrowed, still locked onto Alkor's.

"Alkor," he sounded loudly, sternly. "Now's really not the time for whatever theatrics you're trying to pull. Are you going to help us put an end to this, or not?" His icy gaze was completely unwavering, until he scoffed and looked away. "I guess that's fine. Maybe you're scared. I get it. But if you're not in on this, then go get someone who is. Something tells me we won't have forever."

Then came Macradon's yelling. Right. Time to buckle down.

"Let's do this."

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Objective: Close Portal
ID: 133719
BD: 5
Group Members: @Alkor @Bahr @Lessa @Macradon
Cumulative BD: 1+5+6=12

Lessa's jaw worked as she watched Alkor's refusal, and Bahr's subsequent scolding. Mac offered a fantastic pep talk, but unless Alkor was willing to take her hand, they would never succeed. Not only that, he would have to focus on the task at hand, giving his all to their portal closing efforts. Even she'd been too scatterbrained to do so the first time. Maybe if she could get him to buckle down, she would be able to do the same.

"Alkor." She began the same way Bahr had, but her voice was softer, gentler. "Hey, look, I know this isn't really your deal. But it'll be quick, okay?" She reached for him again, her empty hand waiting for his. "It's just me." She nodded toward Mac, gave a small, crooked smile. "And I don't think he bites."

"Come on," she concluded, allowing a bit of the urgency to leak into her voice. "We can do this."

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After the short fun I made of the blonde, I wave at the departing members of my group, most of then children. "Even a self proclaimed vampire's descendant can have a soft spot for kids huh?" she teased earning from me an embarrassed "Shut up!... they've reminded me of those two a bit." I didn't have to explain why as she was perfectly aware of the circumstances and I appreciated her silence afterwards. My eyes drifted to Kimba who had just dodged some of the children that wanted to pet the queen of the jungle one last time. She looked at me, her breath a bit ragged so I knelt and rubbed her underneath the chin. She seemed pleased with the reward so she yawned while going about her business. One does not try to stand in her way.

"Ready for round two?" i finally ask after a short while, when was just the two.. three of us at the cave entrance. I hear a snort as the blonde comes to a standing position: "You bet your arse. I don't think its over yet!" With that exchange we went back to the bowels of Larrisa, seeing what else this event had stored for us.


Objective: Escorting Civilians to Safety 

ID# 133693
LD Result: 8
Progress: 3/3
[Portals capped] 

Edited by Dracul

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Alkor grit his teeth as Bahr spoke, fingernails biting into digital flesh as his knuckles turned white. This arrogant prick just pushed all the wrong buttons, and he had plenty of words for the stoplight eyed Player. "I don't know who the f-"

Just as he was about to unload a torrent of unhealthy, unfiltered curses at the man, Alkor was stopped by Lessa. She said she understood, but apparently this was the only way for them to move forward.

The swordsman let out a heavy sigh and closed his eyes. "...fine," he resigned himself. It was less important that he chew Bahr out for existing and more important that he got this over with as soon as possible.

He took Mac's hand finally and accepted Lessa's, but kept his eyes closed. He couldn't help but fidget uncomfortably. This type of touch based interaction made his skin crawl.

And he kept telling himself, "stop thinking about how much of a douche he is, stop thinking about how much of a douche he is..."

The effort went about as poorly as expected.

"Dammit!" he seethed in frustration. 

 

 Objective; Close Portal

ID# 133723:

 Battle: 5

Edited by Alkor

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Objective: Close Portal
ID: 133724
BD: 8
Group Members: @Alkor @Bahr @Lessa @Macradon
Cumulative BD: 8=8

They tried their best, at least he hoped they did “Third time’s the charm I guess … “ he said looking at the others “Since we’re the only ones left, despite how this little party has become quite the motley crew, we have to do it, if not us, then who?” he asked rhetorically and tried again. “It’s like we’re all way out of sync of each other, like it’s not just one of us that’s having a hard time trying to mingle with the rest, it’s like everyone is having a hard time trying to mingle. I had hoped I was the odd one out, but this is like a tricycle with no parallel wheels, let’s try again, let’s keep on going, even if we’re the worst, even if it will take us too many tries, we just have to, I don’t like this, you guys probably don’t like this, so let’s get this over with!” he exclaimed.

Edited by Macradon

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Objective: Close Portal
ID: 133725
BD: 4
Group Members: @Alkor @Bahr @Lessa @Macradon
Cumulative BD: 8+4=12

There she was, consoling him. He'd been insulting and antagonizing Bahr since he got here, but of course her attention was on him. One clapback was all it had taken to make her completely forget about Bahr. Wonderful.

It seemed that, at the very least, she'd managed to stir him into action. He seemed more focused on the task at hand, willing to get to work and actually help close the portal. Bahr would have loved to have believed that that would have made everything worth it, but it wouldn't. This was the first time he had seen Alkor and Lessa interacting, and the chasm between how she felt for him and how she felt for Bahr was painfully evident.


Focus on her hand. Focus on Mac's. Forget the tool who kept insulting you and acted surprised when you shot back. He's not worth your chagrin.

Even though he was speaking to himself, the words fell on deaf ears.

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Objective: Close Portal
ID: 133726
BD: 4
Group Members: @Alkor @Bahr @Lessa @Macradon
Cumulative BD: 8+4+1=13

Come on, come on, come on..

It played over and over in her head. A chant? A prayer? A promise that she'd do just about anything to get that portal closed? She pushed everything she had into it, envisioning her life force pouring from her and pooling at her feet. She could do this. They could do this. They had to do this. The stink of rotten eggs was growing stronger, and the demonic laughter was louder than it had ever been. Whatever lurked on the other side of that portal was close. A moment longer, and it would be on them.

"COME ON!"

The words were in the air now, amid the cries of civilians, the crackle of flames. Something told her that it was now or never. She squeeze Bahr's hand, squeezed Alkor's, and drew the last of her strength from both of them.

In the moment, the symbolism was lost on her.

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"So," NIGHT asked, taking a glowstone from Bistro's possession. "Uh, how are you doing that…?"

"What?"

"That," she repeated, gesturing over to the interface in front of the broker. "You mean the camera?"

"Yeah-- I-I didn't even know we had a feature like that. I figured someone out there in Aincrad was just a really good artist half the time."

Bistro raised a brow. "The lack of brush strokes?"

"Unnerving." A cheeky quip from the adventure, turning the informant's blank look into a smile. "But much stranger things have put me off in this world." Like, I don't know, the anonymous tip from my doppelganger. Twice over, now. Ominous bastard.

"It should be under System Tools. Bring up your menu for a bit? I'll backtrack it with you."

The two browsed over their options for a moment, NIGHT letting out a sound of surprise when she'd done it. "Ah, so that's how…"

"Yup. And now you're better equipped for the job." A light punch to the warrior's shoulder, making the two of them laugh. "Right," NIGHT replied when she'd caught her breath. "Got it. Thanks, Bistro."

"Any time."

Edited by NIGHT

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There was nothing else but heat, ashes, and smoke now. The world spiraled around him and choked him, threatening to encroach from the immense pressure on either hand. Whether they intended to or not, the other two Players weighed heavily on the anxious Swordsman, who shored up all of his resolve to block out the things that were dragging him down.

The other man disappeared. The sensation of other people faded. Darkness sucked him in and drowned his senses. Aincrad and Alkor stared at each other through the abyss, and a moment later, the world went white.

Serenity washed over him. Whether the system understood him, or resonated with his determination he couldn't say; but what Alkor could say was that a familiar voice came to him in that moment.

You can do it.

The shakes faded from his arms and he felt something swell in his chest. His eyes opened, burning now like gilded flames. He stared into the portal at the epicenter of their circle, and he willed it to be gone.

In that single moment, their will was as one.

The Portal responded by slowly flickering from existence.

ID# 133727:

 Battle: 10

Cumulative: 8+4+1+10= 23 Success!

Edited by Alkor

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Objective: Close Portal
ID: 133728
BD: 3
Group Members: Arabelle, Ariel - The Crowned Lion, Dracul, Ronnel
Cumulative BD: 19 + 3 = 22 (success)

[personal portal count: 3/3]

...it worked and the totally out-of-place portal closed, leaving her glaring down at rubble. Arabelle rubbed her eyes and blinked, but she also realized she was the only one who had been doing so. Okay, wow. Was that because of what she did or something else?

"Seems pretty close," she commented. Both play with liquids to make varying effects, so... Arabelle tilted her head at his next question. Her? Advice? She smiled at the thought of another cute little kouhai following her around. "I don't mind," she said, and the fortune teller's exclamation earned a giggle from her. "I think you'd be pretty fun to talk with, too! My name's Arabelle." A friend request window appeared in front of him as she introduced herself. "Send me a PManytime."

They went to the last portal and holding their hands, Arabelle breathed in deeply and glared down at the portal.

Hey, if it worked the first time, it was only a given that she was going to do it again!

Edited by Arabelle

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