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[BR-F23] Paving the Way to Floor 24 (Floor 23 Boss Battle - Dark Elf Council)

Dark Elf Council

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Baldur caught Hidden taunting Hirru, and then saw Stryder go over and say something quieter to him that the samurai just couldn't make out, but Baldur could read Hirru's body language, and saw Hidden kick the sword away from the Jade Hunter and Baldur's heart broke slightly. The Samurai was pissed at what Hirru did, and at what Hirru did to the guild and to Macradon. It had been a huge mess, but Baldur didn't want Hirru dead. That was why he had used his heal crystal, to keep Hirru alive.

Walking over solemnly, Baldur picked up the sword that Hidden and kicked away and looked at it. He had said some harsh things to Hirru during the fight, but the hunter HAD broken his blood oath. Who knew if the knights would ever recover from Opal and now Hirru's betrayal.

He walked over to where the Jade Hunter had been rocking back and forth, hugging his knees, looking strangely... pathetic. Before this fight, Baldur would have considered the man one of his closer friends in Aincrad. And now... this...

Baldur flipped the sword around, so that the Samurai was holding the blade, and offered the handle of Hirru.

"It doesn't matter how many times we fail, it matters how many times we stand up and try again."


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Shield stood expectantly by the queen, hoping to catch whatever information she might share as to the reason she remained. It was an oddity that Shield was eager to settle. However, as he waited, he caught moment of what happened to Hirru. He was debating whether to intervene when he saw Baldur step up. He used his hand to subtly get Baldur's attention, gesturing with his head to indicate that he had the queen covered, indicating that he could focus on Hirru without fear of missing anything. Meanwhile, Shield kept his ear turned towards the now revived monarch.

He didn't know what to make of it just yet. When he had first glimpsed the queen's dead remains upon discovering the boss room, there had been a question as to whether the queen would indeed be revived in some capacity, but he had always suspected that it would be a part of the boss fight itself. She had remained silent thus far, though considering being dead only moments before, he could hardly fault her for being a little sluggish. He took a half step closer, inspecting her as if to see what clues might present themselves in the absence of her words, but so far nothing was forthcoming.

It's not as if this whole fight was normal to begin with. I shouldn't exactly expect the aftermath to be normal either.

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She blinked and squinted, the hand she held free raising to her temple for her slender grey fingers to press against her head. The clang of the chains shackling her other arm above her head caused the Queen to jump with a start, and her crimson red eyes hurriedly looked up to the figure that first approached her. Her eyebrows narrowed, confusion and a lingering haze clear on her face. "Evahira, you..."

She stopped herself, a clarity coming over her. She turned, taking in her surroundings for several long moments while a handful of other figures carefully approached her. Queen Lun'Rael stood, holding herself a bit more proudly than she had been slouching over when she was still half-chained to the wall. She smiled politely at Hestia's gesture, but made no movement to accept the flask of water she held out. She took everything in for a moment, from Hestia's comfort to Shield's brief explanation of the battle that took place just minutes prior. "Usurped? The Council?" Again, she seemed to struggle with the information, but only for a moment.

Her eyes closed, and she let out a silent sigh. "Thank you. All of you. It seems I have missed much in my absence. To be blunt, I hadn't counted on...coming back, once the Forest Elves had overrun the tower." She spoke solemnly, and then found her resolution once more. Her chin moved from side to side and she took in the battleground that they stood in. "My heart breaks to know that malice was born in these walls. Nonetheless, there is much to be done. First, how shall I call you, my rescuers?" She gestured forward with a smile.

@Hestia @Shield

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Hikoru heard a commotion come from where the Queen had spawned. He went to move, but his legs wouldn't move from the heavy greaves. He sighed and unequipped them, his legs loosened from the tight grip of the metal as he walked over. The thought of Kayaba knowing him still rang in his ears. It was... an uncomfortable thought, and the more he thought about it, the more a knot in his stomach formed. He did his best to not let it show on his face as he approached the queen, who seemed to be a bit out of it, as she asked what had happened, and she asked what to call them. He did a small and formal bow in front of her, behind Hestia and Shield.

"Hikoru, m'lady." He spoke, making sure to give the proper respect. With Kayaba watching, he felt as if he needed to... respect, his creation. If it meant treating the NPC's like people, then he would do so. It was fear, he will admit. But a healthy fear, as he knew he would want people to respect his own creation as he was sure Kayaba was. He let out a small breath as he stood back up. He looked at Shield, and slightly nudged him, leaning to his ear. "I feel we may have to do a trade. I'll explain later." He spoke, pulling away and giving Hestia a nod.

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He felt his fingers get slapped away as his blade skittered across the floor.  His hand quickly shot back around his knees.  His breathing, if you could call it that anymore, was erratic as he awaited her next move.  Instead, she gave him a warning while making a joke of his previous oath.  Were his words really nothing but a joke now?  Were his actions really so wrong?  He couldn't understand these people.

The boy that tackled him to the ground came next.  The aquamarine eyes that followed his movements as he sat down stared dead at his actions.  The boy seemly apologized for those that could not, or would not be able to.  Saying that those 'A.I.' were indistinguishable from 'players'.  What did that even mean?  All living things are different, but still living.  All he kept hearing that after he protected Durares.  'A.I.' this.  Man made, that.  Everything didn't seem right.  The hunter could slightly understand some names that the people would give others.  He took it more as racial slurs, or such, but how they treated them here.  He couldn't understand these people.

Baldur came to him now.  He took Loyalty from where is skidded off to, and held it before the hunter.  The wise samurai had been a good friend, but his words cut deeper than his blade could.  His oath, the one thing that kept him going in a fast dying guild, was over, it seemed.  How can he protect and serve humanity, when he can't even understand these people.


He spoke softly, but his voice was shaking with his body.  Slowly, his head turned to look towards Baldur and his blade.

"I.. don't.. understand."

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I smile gently towards the queen that gains enough ground to actually speak as i smile towards her as i try to hold back a rather small smile of pride at being called Evahira unable to help that small burst of emotion as i gaze towards the queen. Though taking in the events happening around myself while waiting for the queen is another matter entirely from Macradon going off to small talks here and there as i just keep my focus for the meantime as i just glance towards Shield who wasted no time just throwing that towards the queen's face about the issue of her council. 'At least give her time to settle into the whole she is alive thing jeez.' I think to myself as i contain my want to just roll my eyes at Shield as i than move my gaze towards ruby and whispers towards her. You can get a head start if you want but i am sticking with the queen to make sure she is okay. I tell Ruby with a apologetic look within my eyes before i focus back firmly upon the queen to listen to her words wanting to take them in since if Eva respected this woman it is worth listening to what she has to say.

When hearing for the name i nod my head in understanding. As a person my name is Hestia my queen. Though as a group you could in essence call us The United Aincrad Liberation Front. I say towards the queen as my mind quickly makes up something that could fit within rather nice paraphrasing of just the gaming phrase frontlines to make it sound more official like. M'lady if i may say something. while your council had become corrupt. Evahira was loyal towards what she thought was the betterment of country while keeping in mind to try and protect you to her last breathe and even her last action. Eva is what i would call a true role model in terms of what i could try to aspire to in terms of bravery. Durares though did retreat towards  most likely the main city of your people if you wanted to see and talk to him i would recommend going their first. I say towards the woman figuring that would make some sense if Durares did teleport like a TP crystal it would require him to choose a settlement, and choosing the one with the highest population would be the smartest thing one could choose.

@Ruby@Queen LunRael

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Baldur did not want to be here, but his heart was torn. Hirru had betrayed them in the most nonsensical way. He had betrayed the oath he had espoused, for which Baldur had just been so proud of him for. He had considered Hirru a friend. And then that happened, and not only did he betray the Frontline and the people trapped here, but Baldur and his friendship and his trust. Baldur could no longer trust this man, whom he had put his life in many times. Whom he had almost been buried alive with. Whom he had fought back to back with and whom Baldur had watched his rise with pride. Hirru had betrayed all of that.

"I don't either." Baldur tried to keep the hurt from his words, but it caused them to come out more caustic than he had intended. The Samurai's eyed burned with intensity, hatred touching his eyes. He did not trust just anyone with his life. But there was compassion in those eyes too. A seething storm of emotions that Baldur was not able to control now that the fighting had ended. He had not made his mind up yet, and that both helped and made it more difficult to manage his emotions.

Baldur thought back to the oath that Hirru had said during the fight. He couldn't quite remember it all, but he softly said the words now, just for the two of them.

"I swear that I will serve the bettermind of all man. To bring down all that stand in the way of salvation from the castle in the sky that has imprisoned us. To give my future for the liberation, until my life is forfeit. May this oath be etched into the blood of all that seek the future."

He didn't look at Hirru while he said the words, but now he met the Jade Hunters eyes.

"You had just said your oath to Evahira, before you betrayed it."

He felt his rage building up. It was uncommon for Baldur to not be in absolute control, and even more uncommon to lose control in public. He chose, very carefully, the people who saw him with his guard down.

"But failure is not what defines us. What defines us, is what we do after we fail. " Baldur gestured with the handle of the sword again.

"Humanity is not so fragile that we will fail after what happened here today, no one person is so important, but that trust is. The trust that builds between those of us who put our faith and life on the line, trusting each other to watch our backs." He clenched his jaw tightly, images of the boss fight running through his head as Baldur pushes them aside, trying to grab onto the meaning of his words. He didn't even know where he was going with this, he was just speaking from the heart.

"I've failed too. I've betrayed the trust and faith that was put in me. I acted without thinking and broke bonds that I had treasured. was broken. And then my friend, whom I had betrayed, turned to me, and offered me a second chance. A chance to prove that I could do better, that I could be better.And that if I was willing to take or throw my own life away, then I should be willing to grab onto that second chance, and prove to them that their faith in me was not misplaced."

Baldur's words trickled off into nothingness as he lost momentum.

"This is your chance. Take this sword, remember your oath, and prove to us... to me, that my faith was not misplaced. Do better."


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Shield gave an incline of his head, perhaps a little deeper than his typical acknowledgement for the sake of decorum when addressing royalty. It was perhaps a little silly, but this had not been a pleasant fight. Taking a moment to indulge in the roleplay was pleasant. "You may call me 'Shield,'" he replied, holding up his Manticore Mask to indicate that it was a name meant to be both literal and metaphorical. "And we don't have to guess as to where Durares went. He called out 'Kalanes' as he teleported, so that's where he's headed. If someone wished to find him, they ought to do so now before he disappears." He kept his dark eyes on the queen, trying to make sense of the oddity of her appearance. "Now, what is your purpose in remaining? Are you to assume the throne and return to business as usual or... is there something more? Your appearance was unexpected after all, to say the very least."

Over his shoulder, the commotion around Hirru was not relenting. He wanted to intervene, to try to deescalate whatever was happening there, but trying to redirect Baldur had more potential for harm than good. Hirru would need support, and contradicting the person who was attempting to support him would only make things more shaky and uncertain for him. Baldur had more of a history. Shield would have to trust that he would be able to reach Hirru. Out of the other corner of his eye, Hestia was also playing along with the roleplay, though there was something that made him uncomfortable. He found himself wondering whether Hestia truly believed in the scene before them, and what she truly believed about the NPC's. Before this day, it would not enter his mind that a high level front line tank would be uncertain as to what an NPC truly was, but after what he had witnessed in the midst of battle, he did not doubt anything anymore.

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He listened to @Baldur as he spoke, no.. seethed.  His words, reverberating the hunter's own before going on to speak on a level that he had never once seen from the wise samurai.  True heartfelt emotion that was not disguised behind just wise words.  Most of it was anger, or so it would seem.  The hunter's own capacity to read people wasn't the best, as it would seem.  However, those words were still enough to make the hunter calm down a little.  They were enough to make the hunter..

..to make Hirru understand.

Shuffling around so he could get a better foothold, Hirru got to one knee.  Trying to get his balance back, as if the shock of everything was really messing with his equilibrium.

"I don't fully understand.."

He spoke, less shaky, but not as confidently as he used to.  He wanted to scream it, but.. he didn't have the energy for it.  Not any more.  His eyes fell back to their normal size, though, the emotions of shame and unease were still there.

"..about everyone's obsession with this term, 'A.I.',"

A shaky smile came to Hirru's face.  It felt kind of funny how everyone was getting angry over some simple names, it seemed.  Though, he could tell that it was really his actions that was the problem, but everyone kept throwing that term without much explanation.  In fact, no one really explained that well enough during his ventures.  All of the vocabulary and slang that he heard, he learned from... His head hurt for a bit, and couldn't recall where he learned it all from.

"..I don't understand the world and the slang from where you guys come from.."

His hand rose to reach for the handle, but stopped short.  His thoughts were becoming those of unease.  Was he in the right?  Would he ever be able to make it all right again?

"..and maybe, I never will.  If this damn head of mine has anything to say about it."

The hand fell back down slowly.  Hirru's eyes and mouth both sighed before looking back up at Baldur, while trying to make a brave face.  It was going to be really hard to say it all, but he needed to.  If he was to be fully understood.

"That doesn't mean, as Shield said, that I can't talk, learn, and try to understand Humanity, as it is.  I won't let these holes in my mind be my downfall."

He then looked over to @Stryder.  His eyes showing a more apologetic side. 

"I'm sorry that you had to see that.  It's not normally what happens on the front lines.  Again, I don't understand what that term means, but I guess I'm getting tricked into something that I don't fully understand yet, or I once did.  I don't know.  However, I don't hate you.  You remind me of an old friend."

Hirru looked back to Baldur, reaching out he took hold of his sword, Loyalty, by the handle presented to him.  This sword, was supposed to be a testament to his loyalty to his guild, but now it would represent a tested loyalty.

"I swear this to you.  That I will overcome my shortcomings.  This betrayal marks me, as it once did my predecessor, but it will not define me.  I will learn from it, even grow from it.  I do not make this a new oath, nor relive my old.  I need to make a new one, but that will take time."

Hirru kept his eyes on Baldur with hope in his eyes.

"I'm hoping that you can help me with that."



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"Kalanes..." She echoed in a whisper, a thoughtful expression taking over her. A hand raised, and she tapped her first knuckle against her chin a couple of times, mulling something over in silence until the rest of the players' words reached her. "Hikoru. Hestia. Shield. And the United Aincrad Liberation Front. You have my thanks." She gave a small bow herself towards the three that stood across from her. Her eyes and polite smile brightened with Hestia's praise, and Lun'Rael's hands clapped together in front of her as she straightened. "Oh, my darling Evahira. It's wonderful to hear that she'd left a lasting impression like that. She was always trying so hard." She spoke with a fondness like she was recalling a distant family member. Sincere, but strangely removed. With so many factors to contribute to the Queen's behavior, it might be impossible to understand exactly how she was programmed to 'think'.

It was then that she began to move, walking forward in strides that had her tattered clothing drag through the air and over the stone floor as she did so. She removed a deep blue hood as she spoke, the ornamental headdress that still rested over her silver hair swinging softly as she turned her head towards her destination: the long table that had served as the focus of the Council's planning room. "Well, 'business as usual' might be a bit of an understatement." She spoke a bit more casually, as if pleasantries were now out of the way. Rifling through some papers that lay askew, she let out a sigh and continued. "I must speak with my people, but even that requires a great deal of preparation." Her brows narrowed, no longer looking at the players, though it was unclear exactly what she was doing aside from taking in her surroundings. "The Council will be pronounced dead, of course. I must assess the damage and begin repairs, not only on the tower itself, but in what I can only imagine is our last remaining haven. As it was you who I see before me and not one of the Forest's armies I may be safe to assume they no longer occupy these areas, which is my only saving grace. You've only mentioned the Council, so my Royal Guard is surely no more, whether they were disbanded or sent to their death from then to now, I may not even find the truth."

"And then the boy..." Her hands stopped their idle movement, flipping through whatever documents they could find scattered about. She shifted her weight, pulling her arms back to herself while she wore a troubled expression. "Oh, what to do with that poor child?"

@Hikoru @Hestia @Shield

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I smile happily when i hear the queen speak at least fondly of the paladin woman as i nod my head towards her rather happy that the queen is at least taking solace for Evahira at the minimum, and that i am at least making Evahira be happy if there was ever such a thing as a afterlife for destroyed and reconstructed bits of data. I follow along the queen remaining a bit close to her while keeping an eye on the members within the room unable to help but wonder if someone would try to lash out at a simple NPC because of possibly a simple fact of her being in the boss room despite the cursor color being that of others NPCs we've encountered. 'Probably, but i'll at least stick close to try and protect her encase some other programmed events try to play out like Issaxi having some sort of backup plan encase somebody took power after or during her life to make sure only people she trusted remained in power.' Not trusting what was the tactician of the council not to have multiple backup plans for a just encase of her death to chain together for some sort of events to happen upon the floor while the player's guards would be down. Since this is a death game and who knows what Kayaba would have planned to try and cause further discord and chaos among the members within the room and those who had left the room. If i may my queen i would go with the idea that your guard whoever was loyal to you personally was sent to their death, and any who were loyal we had to get past them to get towards the council i am afraid. Also, the woman Issaxi had also made some personal calls to try and kill anybody who had entered the surface part of this world rather than the underground settlement that your people reside in. I...had the unfortunate fate of being unable to protect one such person who was of your people who could've maybe at least tried to allow news of the true fate of the land die because of some..two legged beast like creatures just ignoring myself and..killing her. I say softly as i look towards the side unable to help the pangs of guilt, anger, and sadness resonate strongly in my tone of voice and how i feel as that feeling of being a absolute failure and not following my own personal motto of being a tank just being destroyed by that. 'I coudln't even protect an NPC...at least i can protect people in bosses...right?'

@Queen LunRael

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Baldur looked down at @Hirru as the hunter came to grips with what had happened. There appeared to be something of a language barrier there, but they would have to figure it out. Baldur knew that Hirru had some memory problems, but they would figure it out. Somehow.

The Jade hunter took his sword from Baldur, and seemed to appraise it for a moment, as if feeling the weight of loyalty anew once again. Then the hunter met Baldurs eyes for the first time since the fight. Actually met Baldur's blue eyes.

"I swear this to you.  That I will overcome my shortcomings.  This betrayal marks me, as it once did my predecessor, but it will not define me.  I will learn from it, even grow from it.  I do not make this a new oath, nor relive my old.  I need to make a new one, but that will take time.

I'm hoping that you can help me with that."

Baldur looked down at his comrade, the man he knew in his heart was there emerging once more. The pang of betrayal was still there, yelling in the back of Baldurs mind, but the voice was easily crushed.

Baldur took a long moment to consider Hirru's words, before reaching out with a hand to help Hirru rise to his feet once more.

"We will find it together, my friend."

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Hestia was still deeply absorbed in the situation, and Shield began to feel uncomfortable. His visage remained benign and expressionless, but there was something unsettling about the way she continued to reiterate 'my queen.' This was neither the time nor the place to address it, and it may well be that neither would present themselves any time soon. Perhaps the whole thing would blow over before it became necessary to address. Still, in this moment, it was on his mind, hidden safely away behind his stony face, and he did not like it.

"Yes, majesty," he said, humoring the AI as much as he could permit himself. "The only beings encountered along the way to the tower were mindless monsters, the twin guards outside of the chamber, and the Council themselves. No other sign of elves - of any faction - either in nor near this facility." He glanced over the queen's shoulder as she looked through her business, trying to make sense of it, but for all he could guess, it was most likely typical RPG placeholder documents, nonsense papers and scrolls that would have no real significance other than to symbolically serve as scenery for the NPC's to interact with.

"As far as Durares is concerned, we have no qualm with him," Shield said, ignoring his thought that the boy likely had an important Support drop locked away inside of him. He left that thought in his head and continued on. "We need only to advance to the next floor above. As long as his living does not hinder that, there is no need to harm him."

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She would turn to watch to some of the players speaking with Hirru a bit more. It seemed that they still seen some sort of potential in him. In her last two boss raids with the frontlines, it had become apparent to her that the players in it were unfit to be the head of Aincrad. They were people who were pushed by greed and personal desires. Most of them were uncaring about even pushing through the floors. Many apprehended the progress. She was certain that they wanted to hold their position in Aincrad as it held some form of power. She would remain quiet for now, but she could only take so much. With a glance to a queen, she decided that she had no care for the floors potential lore. She wanted to get as fast away from this band of goons. Protecting bosses was the lowest thing she had ever seen. Turning completely around and continuing her way through the door, she would begin the journey to F24. They were almost one quarter through this damned hell hole. 'Its becoming clearer and clearer who are my allies... and who are my enemies' 

-Hidden Leaves the thread- 

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Taking the hand of the azure samurai, Hirru was helped back up to his feet.  Taking a moment to breath in and out, and opening his eyes once more to make sure that this wasn't just some fever dream that his hallucinating mind was making up, the Jade Hunter sheathed his blade.  The fight was over, he didn't need it out anymore.  More so, as the cloaked maiden seemed to continue on without a word.

That being said, the conversation from across the room was coming to a prominent point.  Hestia, Hikoru, and Shield were talking to the newly reborn Queen LunRael.  If what the players were saying about the other bosses were true, then this 'queen' was not like them.  However, the three were talking to her like any one of the others outside.  This confused Hirru more, but the conversation came to Durares.  It was his fault that the boy escaped.  It was his teleportation crystal that was used.  It should be his duty to do anything about it.

"Hold on, I need to take responsibility for something."

Stepping closer to the table, Hirru uneasily coughed a hesitant attention.  If they were going to continue this manner of speech, Hirru should do the same.  Follow the leader, if you will.

"Pardon my intrusion on the matter, your Majesty."

The eyes of those that he betrayed would be upon him once more.  He could tell that his next words needed to be chosen carefully.

"I, Hirru, am the one that allowed the boy, Durares, to go free.  Against the wishes of the entire Front."

He bit his lip at the last part, but kept going.  Looking to Shield before he went back to the queen.

"If he is a hindrance to our progression, then I shall take the responsibility needed to set things right."

Gripping his sword's pommel as hard as he had ever done so.  This was his chance to make things right.

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"Good." She responded first to Shield's affirmation that the players had no intention of pursuing the Seer any further. "Though he stood among the Council you all fought and defeated, the boy is under my protection once more. Make no mistake, I take the safety of my people quite seriously." Her tone was far from subtle, though she fell short of such a pointed threat. She turned, facing the players that continued to engage her just as a new face approached. She blinked, obviously surprised by the turn in conversation. Hirru's hesitance and conviction brought a soft smile to the Queen's face and she drew forward to place her hand atop his. Her fingers rested over his that were full of tension as they gripped his weapon tightly, and she addressed him. "Hirru. In the midst of war, compassion is an emotion that escapes many, and that is not always wrong. An enemy is often just that: an obstacle to be defeated. War is unkind, and unforgiving. And I have seen many a soldier lost to it. Not just those that are struck down by their opposition; but also those that lose themselves amongst the hatred and bloodshed.

"What you did was a kindness. Such mercy is rare in the best of times. Your actions may have lost you favor with your own comrades," She paused just briefly enough to run her gaze over the few players remaining in the otherwise quiet room, lingering on Hestia and Shield beside them. They trailed back to meet Hirru's jade eyes. "but I am thankful that any of mine own could have been spared. For that, I thank you." She pulled away. Lun'Rael turned, and continued to speak while she leaned over the large oak table. She reached towards the center, drawing her index finger in a short pattern that resulted in the soft blue light of a rune glowing to life. "For your success, I thank you. For your want of peace, I thank you." A small compartment revealed itself, rather plain-looking once the light of the rune had faded, but mysterious nonetheless. She reached in to collect a small handful of something, and as she retreated the opening was quick to disappear after her.

"Here." With short steps she took one of each of Hestia's, Shield's, and Hirru's free hands, slipping a small trinket in them as she went. "At the very least, you have earned my favor. There is much and more that needs my attention, so for now, take these with you. It carries little meaning outside of my domain, but in time I believe you shall find use for them. Now, if you'll excuse me." With that, Queen Lun'Rael turned her attention away from them, focusing back on the remaining scrolls and other documents that lay in shallow, unorganized piles.

Thread Rewards:


@Beat, @Baldur, and @Hikoru retain their last-hit drops (items were not traded)

@Hestia@Shield, and @Hirru receive:
<<Lun'Rael's Insignia>> (Unique Item)A small badge bearing Queen Lun'Rael's seal: a crescent moon with a single twinkle of starlight. The pendant is quite ornate, decorated with a single diamond gemstone.


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