Time for a Race?

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Re: Time for a Race?

Post by Sade »

The hairless canine’s spirits sank when Freya described the problem with his request for her to teach him- and this was visually apparent on his face and the lay of his ears. Oddly enough he only ever suppressed expressions of positive things. Like many young people he’d confused stoic nobility with poutiness and moodiness. Frowning and glowering, that was all just fine. Laughing? Now there was a cardinal sin! He still held out hope, though. He didn’t push the issue, but he was resolved to learn these new skills. Preferably she would succeed in teaching him. If not, he anticipated that she would be able to find someone else who could.

Presently, none of that mattered.

He yelped when the dragon grabbed him, too frightened to sputter indignations. When the rock fell into place- and apparently an endless column of others behind it- he immediately felt trapped. Was the air getting thin? He imagined he was having trouble breathing- though it really was just his imagination. “How will going deeper get us out!?” He wailed pitiably, stunned and motionless in her arms. When she finally released him he nearly toppled over. He tried to regain composure but- composure!? Who the hell CARED anymore!?

He was a mess! His clothes were all dirty, his white hair which had been so nicely styled and voluminous was now wild and lay unkempt all over. His wide eyes darted around, trying to see what wasn’t there. That bloody stupid facade of his seemed so very bloody stupid right about now. What did it matter? What did anything matter? This had been one near-death experience too many. The canine was loosing it… and yet a part of him couldn’t help but revel in the feeling.

“Oh riiiight,” he snapped, stepping into the path, feeling its resistance, “because why not!? This makes perfect sense in the grand scheme of things! A river of nothing disguised as a path to nowhere!” He couldn’t help but lift one of his feet to look for moistness- but of course there was none.

He followed her deeper into the cavern. For the longest time he stubbornly refused help as the resistance to their forward movement grew stronger and stronger, until finally, after he’d resorted to crawling along on all fours for a while, he stooped up and grabbed Freya’s tail. And of course there was logic to that which he could see. She was much larger, and though her shape was feminine it was also powerful. Powerful magic, powerful body. All Etienne had was his mind, and it had proven so incredibly useless in this place so far.

And this only fueled his desire to learn magic even more. It was a fascinating new field; it seemed to run off the mind- in his limited and poor understanding- and in doing so it substituted for strength. He had plenty of mind. He needed more strength. Perfect match. “What kinds of wizards did you meet back when such things were normal,” he asked her, boredom and curiosity supplanting panic and self-loathing. “What were the people like?”

———

Osborne shook his head, “your assertions do not hold, sir. First, businesses and organized groups of people have existed longer even than you, they are not the product of this century. Second, I am a competent team-builder; it is the team which will be competent to make these judgement calls. It is the team which will have perspective and philosophy, collectively. I have said this many times now. Finally, it is a fact that every two days we create more new information than the sum total of recorded feilan knowledge up to the year 2003. In only forty years we’ve created over 3 billion new lives and the systems to support at least some of them. My wrist watch could out-perform the tech from 1974, and the improvements did not happen of their own accord, as you seem to believe- not in computer technology, not in any other field. They are not a rock to be thrown on a ballistic trajectory, following a path set in the past. People made these things happen. Without those people, we would still be in 1974.”

The tabby finally realized that this was a hopeless debate. He shook his head again, but this time at an entirely different target. His voice turned from bemusement to withering disappointment as he spoke, “I will not live long enough, probably not. But I find it amusing, this self-fulfilling criticism of yours. I seek those who would share the burden and responsibility of guiding this change, I seek those who would outlive myself and see it through, I seek those with perspective, philosophy and expertise. They turn me down, and then criticize me for suffering the very problems their participation would have rectified.”

He put his hands on his knees, straightening. “So be it. If mine is the burden, I will carry it as long as I can.” He turned in his seat to face the dragon, observing him for a few moments. “And you, sir, have already failed. Demons have already risen to eat the souls of the innocent. They rose from your land and slaughtered seven million people in cold blood, in gas chambers or lined up in front of ditches. This happened in your lifetime. You failed to prevent it. I liked to think you would appreciate my help as much as I would yours, because alone you have already demonstrated your impotence against mere mortal monsters, let alone supernatural ones.”

Fire and ice was an apt metaphor. The tycoon had told himself over and over again that he held no ill-will for Gawainians, that he did not judge them for the crimes of their forefathers- that he did not hold them personally responsible for the annihilation of his original family… but most alive today were not alive back then. This dragon who sat here in Gawain, who’d lived through it and now waxed apocalyptic about other things, was. And his attitude was supremely grating to Osborne.

Anger and challenge crept into his voice, “You have given me no convincing reason to change my course, just empty criticisms and sophistry. You told an incredible story about how you created something beautiful and glorious long ago. I see now that you think you own the monopoly on such achievements. You tried and succeeded, and now you act to stomp out everyone else’s right to try the same. You stand in the way of progress. I cannot and will not stand for that.”

“I’ve got a giant, black, metallic rat statue on display in my den, Zed, and other artifacts abound. As you said, the old world is not gone and dead. I will continue my work towards this end whether I gain the magicapacitor or not- whether you help me or not.” The irresistible force lifted its chin defiantly, “you’ll have to kill me now if you want to stop me.” The feline was deadly serious. Part of him doubted the dragon would do so, but he was also resolved to the possibility. A person of Osborne’s age who’d flirted so often with death tended to keep his affairs in a perpetual state of ‘in order.’ He knew death could come at any time, without any warning. In the event of death others would continue in his place. If he had any one regret, though, it was that he would have liked to teach Etienne more of what he knew before the end. “I think we’re finished here.”

As calm as the pool of cool water could be, so too could fire. As comforting as those cool waters could be, they could just as easily steal warmth and life away, they could stifle and drown. As hot as the fires burned, they could hold the night and deathly cold at bay and gather the family in warmth and light every evening. Resolutely, stoically, Osborne stared into the dragon’s eyes, waiting for one of two things to end: the car ride, or his life.
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Re: Time for a Race?

Post by Rackenhammer »

When the dam of ice finally broke, it let loose the one thing that Osbourne had probably not expected his speech to call forth from Zechariah: laughter. It was a tired laugh, but not without humor. The dragon shed some of his dignity by doing so, but the laughter of someone as ancient as he had a kind of power about it, in that it made all present who were not laughing feel as if they were too deficient in intelligence to get the joke.

"Sophistry! So, that is what you call my arguments. Very well, but what do you give on your side to support it? Progress! A principle so steeped in intellectual harlotry that it will sell itself at equal price to the fascists and the communists, and every philosophy in between." He let our another round of laughter, before proceeding in a more level fashion. "Really, the question is not whether a person is progressing, but what is he progressing towards. You tread in paths familiar to me, that I do not believe you or the world will be better for following. That does not mean that there are not other paths I do think superior."

"Your secondary argument, though..." And here his eyes grew sad, and then hard, in turn. "I wonder, sometimes, if you really know what you are saying. There was, perhaps, a time I could have stopped it. In 1925, a young man was in the back of my car, and talking my ear off. He had yet no power, and yet a cold feeling came over me that if I were to let him go, the world would suffer for it. He did leave alive, because I felt that murder in cold blood was morally wrong. Perhaps you will call that argument sophistical.
"I had no opportunity like that again. The Wermacht was more than equal to one dragon. But there were plans I had my claws in; I and my compatriots spied for the Allies, in the hopes that we would receive support for our plan to oust the scourge to our country. We never got it, and so we failed in our attempt. But your country was more than willing to use the intelligence we gave them to kill the young furs of 18, 19, 20 that we sent against them. 15, 16, and 17 too, towards the end."

His eyes grew sad again, as he regarded the feline before him. "You accuse me of not wanting any fur to be in my position. You have never had your conscience lead you to betray your country's body to save its soul, and ultimately salvaging neither. To be responsible, and yet without power..." The dragon sank into a faraway look, before motioning the driver to stop. The door on Osbourne's side opened of its own accord.
"Well, if you're bound and determined to learn by experience of what things you shall conjure from the depths of time, you shall. I will say, as one who does not yet despair of calling you friend, that Mia possesses resources and loyalties that she has not yet callen upon, out of a sense of fairness first, and in keeping their possibilities secret. Now that you know, and have made you choice, she will no longer hesitate. Auf wiedersein."
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Re: Time for a Race?

Post by Sade »

The dragon’s laughter might have had a crushing effect on a student of his philosophy, or one who’s convictions were too weak to bear it. Osborne was neither. As powerful as the laugh was, his convictions were its equal. What he saw before him was the laughing fool amused by a joke at his own expense. The dragon saw what he believed rather than the other way around, and laughed at truth mistaken for folly. Osborne had spent most of their discussion responding to Zed’s concerns and critiques. He’d answered each one, in some cases multiple times, and always his answers had been either twisted into something sinister or flatly ignored: it was sophistry. Osborne had come to negotiate in good faith, to meet Zed halfway on these issues. It was clear now that Zed had come only to draw a line in the sand and stubbornly refuse to cross it- to look an opponent in the eye perhaps.

It was a pitiable display, followed by those very same sophist arguments and statements. Accusations which Osborne had already answered or in principle agreed to address at a later date. He was at the table. Zed was not. And so the cat said nothing. What could he possibly say to all of… that? He’d told himself before arriving that he respected opinions different from his own; but he had heard no opinion here except for ‘nothing you say is correct, even when you agree with what I have said.’ The other man’s nebulous claim to have a different, better way forward Osborne took with a grain of salt, so to speak- a truly massive one.

The Dragon of the West now had the gall to claim that he would like to call Osborne a friend. That almost made the tabby laugh himself. While Osborne would welcome true friendship, arranging a meeting with no intention of actually meeting on the issues was not a friendly act. Friendship involved compromise. Zechariah had thrown Osborne’s good will right back in his face. What the dragon wanted was a subject who would conform to what he believes, blindly. He’d been around so very long that he thought his opinions to be absolute and prophetic. Osborne remained silent, impassive. Every attempt to find mutual ground with Zed- every offered compromise- had been flatly rejected on the grounds that his very reasoning was faulty. What was there to say? What would be the point of trying?

When the car came to a halt and the door opened he left without a word, informative or courteous or otherwise, and as the car rolled away he ran his fingers through his hair. He took a deep breath of the fresh air to calm his nerves- he’d gotten angry back there, and the dragon’s rude behavior had irked him even more. This had been a colossal waste of his time, and perhaps an intentional one. He was now a good six or seven hours from where the action was.

Osborne felt tired now in a way he rarely did. He felt every one of his 71 years, all the old complaints of a body pushed hard for what a normal feilan would consider a very long life. As he travelled back to the airport he couldn’t shake the feeling that the future looked a little less bright, and he felt his age in a new way; the dragon had been right about one thing, Osborne Thatcher would not be around for all that much longer. He’d suffered setbacks before, but more recently each one took on greater urgency. Given this most recent failure, if he failed to gain the magicapacitor, would he have time left to do all that was left to be done? What would the future look like if he failed?

As it always did, taking flight eased his nerves and lifted his spirits. At least he was moving forward.
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Re: Time for a Race?

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"It's not that bad..." Freya said as the pair walked down the path, responding to the obvious disappointment Etienne had displayed. "but I don't want to get your hopes up, I'll think about trying to teach you, and if nothing else, we'll have to find practitioners to help the researchers, one of them my want to teach you..." She continued, wanting to bolster the canines spirits at least a little bit.

Freya had watched while Etienne came to grips..sort of...with their current situation. She wasn't sure if she should laugh at the situation or worry that the hairless canine was about to tip over the edge, and go completely off the deep end. His next outburst did have her laughing, a bright delighted laugh. "river of nothing disguised as a path to nowhere....that's a good one." She commented with a pleased smile. "don't worry too much, we'll get out of here, but not without that artifact."

She didn't say anything as Etienne tried to make it down the path without help, she could understand the pride involved, and was a little surprised he made it as far as he did without her help. When she eventually felt him grab hold of her tail, she didn't comment, though she was pleased to see that he wasn't too stubborn.

Etienne's questions took her a bit by surprise, but she answered them in slightly wistful tones. "there were many kinds of magic, fire, ice, water, air, earth, light, and dark were the most commonly used, most mages were could use at least a couple of different types with varying degrees of mastery. Nearly any mage's ambition in their craft was to evenually master all seven elements. Of course there were may others as well, those that used rituals and blood. There were small communities of furs that used a magic that bled into our world from another, called it the fey. I met a mage once that used what she called spellfire, raw magical energy pulled straight from the ether...extremely powerful, and extremely destructive...she had a tendancy to absorb any magic she came into contact with. Some used spirit magic. King Gavin had the gift of prophesy. Alchemy was a mix of chemistry and magic, those that mastered the art could create amazing things like the artifact we're after now, but few were the alchemical masters. There were others that used the souls of furs to power horrible constructs..." She shuddered as she thought about the last bit of her statement. "the people weren't much different than they are now....as a whole at least....maybe a little less lazy, harder workers....they had to be otherwise they wouldn't have the food to survive..." She shrugged, then fell silent as they came within sight of their destination, and the resistance became enough that she had to put an earnest effort into pulling them forward along the path.

At the end they came to a large stone block against the farthest wall. In niches in the wall near the box were many objects, among them were: a crown, a thick tome, a sword, a mirror, archbishop's vestments, a small portrait of a family, a treaty, a contract, a banner, like those used to mark a general's location, and several others. Freya eyed the objects for a few moments before she noticed an inscription in ancient Edwinish on the wall above the block. "The key to true power will unlock all things." She read, then frowned. "ugh, sounds rater subjective to me..." she grumbled as she looked at the objects again, then back at Etienne
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Re: Time for a Race?

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“It sounds to me like they had the means to solve most of the problems in that world,” the hairless canine wondered aloud. “If magic wasn’t so difficult to learn and magical items so difficult to mass-produce, we may never have developed the technology we have now. There would have been no need. It seems even then that the people you knew were trying to imbue inanimate objects with the power attributed to those wizards. The mage you mention, absorbing magic and releasing it destructively; the magicapacitor would seem to have the same function, or at least the same failure state.”

It was towards the end that the river metaphor broke down. It wasn’t like he was fighting a current flowing in the opposite direction, rather it was a force only perceivable when trying to move forwards. If he stood still he felt nothing- which he did little of, because they were not here to stand still. He felt sort of like Freya was pulling him through thick jelly. When they finally reached the end of the path and he finished with the odd sensation of being extruded from an invisible jello mold they ended up in a room with a message and various objects in alcoves.

Etienne paced back and forth as the two of them tried to untangle the riddle. The source of true power? What the hell was that supposed to mean, anyway? The hairless canine rubbed his eyes with both hands, slid the hands upward to run them through his hair- he was furless, not hairless. He wasn't sure where the hairless moniker came from. All he was sure about right now was that this riddle made his brain want to explode. He couldn't even be sure it was a riddle at all! Maybe this would be blindingly obvious to the people hundreds of years ago, and that only led to a more convoluted train of thought; people hundreds of years ago did not necessarily think the way people do now. What he found important and fundamental was a product of this era. He'd bet that even Freya's mindset had been influenced by changing times through the years. To Etienne the idea of a monarch- the crown- was repugnant, but long ago this would not be the case. People back then- and a few now even- would have invested all their hopes and aspirations in the one man.

It was exactly as Freya had said; "Subjective..." Etienne murmured aloud, looking down at his naked hands. His brow furrowed as he chased a new thought around and he rubbed his fingers together, feeling the grime of their surroundings. "You know what I'm not seeing here? Volcanos, the sun, weather, celestial symbols... nothing from nature. They aren't talking about just any source of power, they're talking about Feilan power." His pitch and tenor picked up as he chased the thought like lightning, "all these things represent the things we've invented;" he walked along the alcoves, pointing to each item, "government; knowledge; weaponry or something to that effect... organized religion; the concept of the nuclear family or, maybe, society in general; politics; business; warfare, or perhaps tactics or strategy..." he continued down the line. Many were repeats, the sword and the general's banner being good examples, but in the end he was able to assign one or more labels to every item- except for one which he had skipped. Now he came back to it and turned to face Freya, "all those things come from us! These are all the product of our minds, who we are, our souls if you will. Nothing here would have any meaning unless people had lived and created and did the things people do. The very phrase ‘True Power’ itself has no meaning without a man, or woman, to have that thought." He bent at the knees to look in the mirror. The reflection of his face peered back at him.

“On the other hand, the mirror could represent vanity… no, anyone who reached this far into the cavern would have had to know what he was doing. The intelligent narcissist is aware of narcissism as a negative trait- probably one which he does not see in himself. Such a self-absorbed-but-clever person might discount the mirror immediately as a trick, not realizing what it really meant.” He looked back at Freya, “a trap against those with an unhealthy mindset, maybe?” He turned back to the mirror, felt around it in the alcove looking for something. There must be a trigger of some kind- surely the stone slab barring their path wouldn’t answer a spoken response. When he found nothing he stared at the mirror again and gingerly picked it up. He glanced at Freya and waited for something to happen. For all he knew whatever mechanism the builders put into this room might no longer be in working order. Eight hundred years was a long time for machinery to decay, and even magic, according to his draconic companion, was not everlasting. He sincerely hoped that was not the case here, because presumably the only exit from the caves now available to them was beyond the barrier along with the item they sought.
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Re: Time for a Race?

Post by Rackenhammer »

It was unfortunate, but unsurprising, that the meeting between the two had gone as it did. Zechariah had held out some hope that he might convince Osbourne to give up this project, and equally the cat had come with the intention of swaying him.

But it was not to be, for the very same reason that the dragon had taken no students for so long. The modern mind simply could not be trusted with magic. It was enough in Zech's own mind that the late unlamented Hitler had been the last of them to make any large-scale effort to make use of the powers the ancient and medieval Feilans knew. That repulsive creature may be fairly said to represent the worst of the modern world, and Thatcher may fairly make a case that he himself represented the best. But, even at its best the modern world aspires to be rational, which is exactly what magic was not, whatever else it was.

In truth, the dragon knew it was a mistake to look to any created thing to solve the problems of the world. A balanced mind and compassionate heart could make a solution out of the materials already at hand; it was the lack of such things that allowed for the current exploitation. Simply increasing energy options would only give equally to the oppressor and oppressed. At best, it would do nothing to actually redress the imbalance, and it stood a very good chance of making things worse, either by bringing anarchy or tyranny.

If Osbourne could not see that, Zechariah concluded, then the feline was a fool, and it was a fair race to whether death or enlightenment would reach him first. God only knew which would be the worst calamity.

~***~

In such places as caves, the increase of light meant the division of primeval darkness into myriad shifting shadows, like a creepy feeling retreating into the recesses of the mind. A mystic looking at the scene would have his thoughts stray to the dualism of morality, or a feeling that all goodness was a defiance of nature. The magician was somewhat more practical than the mystic, but it was practicality without that set of first principles called 'scientific.' They would see shadows as things in themselves, not as mere blockages of light.

Scientists may deny this, but again, it can never banish the old feelings, anymore than the lights brought from the surface can fully remove the darkness. The old feelings reside as fears in the back of even the most modern fur's mind, as they keep looking at shadows askance, fearing that they may be moving on their own.



And sometimes, like on the present occasion, they do.
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Re: Time for a Race?

Post by Asyriel »

"That's a pretty accurate assessment." Freya had responded to Etienne's comment about magic, and the world's turn toward technology.

Freya watched Etienne pace back and forth as he worked through the riddle set before them by the builder's of this site. She could almost see the turnings of the canines mind as he began to speak, voicing his thoughts as he went. Freya found it to be rather impressive, Osborne hadn't been lying that Etienne had a lot going for him in the intelligence department, perhaps he would be able to train his mind to magic. She nodded as he went from item to item, giving them labels as to their possible representation, and for the most part, she agreed with the labels he assigned.

"I think you've pretty much hit the nail on the head." She said as Etienne picked up the mirror. "though..." She gently guided Etienne to press the back of the mirror to the stone block. As the two objects touched, there was a sharp cracking sound, and the stone block began to slowly turn to sand starting from the top corners, and working down and in. Eventually the sand fell away enough to reveal what they had been racing for. The magicapacitor sat in front of the pair, looking old and scorched, but still in one piece. "Ha ha...there it is!" She exclaimed as she reached out to carefully pick the device up. A few moments after Freya had picked up the device, the pair could hear a distant rumble from above, and slowly a faint shaft of daylight began to filter into the underground room the pair occupied. Something nagged at the back of Freya's mind throughout the entire process, like the feeling one gets when they are being watched. She decided to open her awareness, better to be safe and forewarned than sorry.

She looked up once the rumbling had stopped. She was greeted the sight of a small circle of the outside sky. She wondered idly how long they had been down in the tunnels, and just how high up their 'exit' was. "looks like somebody had a sense of humor." She commented. "you ready to get out of here?" She asked Etienne.
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Re: Time for a Race?

Post by Sade »

“Ooofff course,” Etienne mused when the touch of the mirror elicited a reaction from the block of stone. He was so used to thinking mechanically; that is how the modern world- or the parts of it he knew- had always worked. But he was finding it ever easier to accept the workings of magic at face value. It must follow logical principles and it must follow consistent rules or it could not be wielded, and he was determined to learn them all.

Freya’s excitement was contagious. The hairless canine’s composure gave way and he grinned like a kid on christmas. So there it was! The thing they’d struggled these past days to capture was finally theirs! Smart and observant he was, but these were not his stomping grounds. Etienne was not aware of anything out of place, and he’d stopped glancing sidelong at shadows a long time ago. “An acerbic sense of humor for sure,” he commented with a laugh. “This joke could doom an explorer to die! Unless they knew it would be you, somehow, or another dragon. Or an avian.”

He knew what was coming next- or so he thought. A short period of uncomfortable physical contact would be a small price to pay to be back in the sun and on their way home. Even so he wrestled his face back under control. “I have been ready to get out of here since before we left Osborne’s jet!” He moved over to the dragon and waited for her to grab him under the arms as before, and cast his gaze up into that shaft of sunlight.
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Re: Time for a Race?

Post by Rackenhammer »

The sudden opening of light at the top of the cave lengthened the shadows below. Those from the rocks fell across Etienne and Freya, and their touch was nearly tangible, cold and clammy as such sightless creatures that called caves their home. The feeling of being watched would have grown, alerting the more attuned that they were not alone.

But even the more dense would have felt what happened next. The shadows suddenly had a grip, like tentacles, seizing the pair by the legs and trying to pull them down. There was indeed someone in the shadows, who wielded them like whips, dark weapons to their will. Freya might have been reminded of a certain follower of Miles, who had powers over the same. What nightmares came into Etienne's mind, the shadows could only guess with glee.
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Re: Time for a Race?

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Terrified people are prone to stupid acts. Angry terrified people are prone to stupid and violent acts. When the shadows assaulted them Etienne’s first reaction was terror- this was literally like a child’s nightmare: nonsensical but frightening in a very subconscious, very visceral, surreal fashion. When he saw Freya struggle and lose grasp of the magicapacitor his concern overwhelmed his fear long enough for a brief moment of reason: magic was real; they were not the only ones after the artifact. And: they’d done all the hard work; someone else was trying to gain from it. This was a breech of ‘the rules’ that surround such things in his mind, and there were few crimes he ranked higher than breaking ‘the rules.’

Terror gave way fleetingly to fury. The hairless canine flopped around on the floor, gripped by his feet. Shadows endeavored to bind his hands and failed only due to his mad flailing. One flailing hand reached under his vest, and on the reverse flail it came out with the black metal of Osborne’s machine-pistol. It was but a simple and ill-thought matter to squeeze the trigger as it whipped around and paint a wild arc of bullets across the shadowed walls of the chamber. The gun cycled for all of two seconds before depleting its ammunition and its racket gave way to another second of chattering, ricocheting bullets.
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Re: Time for a Race?

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Fryea chuckled as Etienne's comment about explorers being doomed to die. "that was likely the goal, this place was created with trained mages in mind as the only ones that should be able to make it in and out alive, at least that is my guess....a trained air mage could go out that opening, and an earth mage could easily go back the way we came..." Freya trailed off as she started moving to Etienne.

As the shadows slid over them, Freya realized what was going on, but it was too late. The shadows gripped her and Etienne, keeping them on the ground. They wrestled the magicapacitor from her grasp, but she was not letting it go that easily. She flexed her will, and tied a telekinetic tether to the magicapacitor, taking physical strength out of the equation for that competition, now it would be a battle of wills, something she almost never lost.

After tethering the magicapacitor, she moved over to Etienne. She made it to his side just as he began firing the machine pistol he had been carrying. Freya could hear the bullets pinging off the walls, and put up a shield around herself and Etienne, but not before one of those ricocheting bullets buried itself in the tricep muscle of her left arm. "AH!" She cried out briefly, then sucked in a long breath between her teeth as she got control of the searing pain.

"whoever you are, you should leave now before this escalates." She called out into the room. "I do not wish your blood on my hands today, but I will paint them in it if I must." She continued, hoping to intimidate the one controlling the shadows. As she spoke, she began a psychic search for their assailant.
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Rackenhammer
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Re: Time for a Race?

Post by Rackenhammer »

The stranger in the shadows certainly had no sentimental attachment to the so-called "rules." Most things that were of the shadows did not. The shadowy figure was so lacking in chivalric decency, in fact, as to absolutely refuse to be hit by a wild spray of bullets aimed at nothing in particular. There was plenty of cover in the cave, and with the ricocheting, the bullets were more likely to hurt Etienne and Freya.

The dragonness had more presence of mind, and was regarded as more of a threat. While the shadows may have been the visible manifestation of the fight, it was primarily a mental one. If Freya broke her mental connection with the capacitor, she would lose it; if the being in the shadows let its cover slip, it would be a two-to-one fight with an all but inevitable outcome.
The intimidation attempt didn't seem to do much. The mental probe brought forth no location, but it did bring a reply echoing through both hers and Etienne's minds. *I fear not death; I walk with the Reaper daily. You have nothing, can do nothing, that I fear. But there is much that I can do to you...* There was a mental counter-attack, the shadows sought the fears buried deep in the imaginations of their targets, even as their physical forms sought to tighten their grip.
Be Humble in Yourself, but Adamant in the Truth.

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Sade
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Re: Time for a Race?

Post by Sade »

Etienne felt part of his mind warping out of shape, and found his imaginings turning to those horrors which haunted him in days of darker depression. He saw… himself, unkempt, sitting on a torn-up sofa in some downtrodden apartment block. Middle-aged. Baggy eyes. Empty wallet. A failure left only with unfulfilled dreams, looking down at his hands, wondering how they’d slipped through his fingers.

And suddenly he was another place entirely- huddling in an alley overhung by enormous towers of steel and concrete reaching up to and through a dreary grey sky. He was elderly, alone and defeated in a future not worth living in, a future out of 1984. He peered up at one of the tallest buildings, one of few built from glass. He squinted at the highest window he could see, and he saw…

Himself, looking down at a pathetic beggar in the streets. Himself, at the helm of something twisted, a physical manifestation of corporate greed and megalomaniacal thirst for power. And he saw the memories of that self, of the terrible things he had done- the criminal and deeply petty things, and the unconscionable things.

They surrounded him, weeping at him, taunting him, screaming nonsense at him, looking down with disgust at him. The hairless canine was terrified and overwhelmed, but a part of him knew that these were, in the end, HIS fears. He owned them. They belonged to him. They’d inspired him to fight for the good things in the world, just as they inspired him to fight now. Mustering his will, he pushed back. With as much speed as he fled those monsters of his own mind he charged headlong into the force giving them life.

“No!” The hairless canine shouted, eyes flicking open. His brow furrowed with anger, hatred, conviction, determination. With quick jerks of his arms he tore his hands from the grasping shadows- which fell away as immaterially as shadows would be expected to. He kicked his legs, burning paths through the darkness binding them. He pushed off with his hands into a crouching position… and sudden astonishment doomed him. His own amazement at what he’d done broke the spell, so to speak. The invisible assailant was back on him in an instant. The shadows tore his legs out from under him and slammed him back onto the floor.
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Re: Time for a Race?

Post by Asyriel »

It had been a long time since Freya had encountered a situation similar to the one they were in now. She mentally rolled her eyes at her opponent's claims to lack any kind of fear, and was almost taken by surprise when their attack came. Her mental defenses were up before more than a single image was able to form. She sectioned off the part of her mind that held the artifact, and let it concentrate fully on it's task. Since the bullets were no longer bouncing around the chamber, she let her shield drop, then concentrated on a counter attack of her own. Her opponent had made the mistake of creating a link, and she seized it. She sent her counter attack flying down the link to smash hard against her opponent's defenses. The first attack was followed by several more in quick succession, along with a clear sense of her intent. Once the other's defenses were down, she would go through and destroy their memories, and identity...wipe the slate clean as it were. It was hard not to fear that prospect, unless one was filled with the worst self loathing.

A part of her mind caught Etienne's movements in her peripheral vision, and was impressed, but she spared no more thought for it than that, and merely stored the images away.

"You fail to understand just what you've gotten yourself into." She called into the darkness, her voice was cold, and hard, filled with a certainty that she would not loose this contest.
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Re: Time for a Race?

Post by Rackenhammer »

There was an old fairy tale, one of the ones totally unsuitable for children, that dealt with a monster that could not be killed, because he had removed his heart and hidden it in a locked box. Freya might have been reminded of that as she mentally sought to break her assailant; the main core of her identity was bound elsewhere.

It was a she, though, the dragonness would be able to tell that. There was even a name and rank, Major Jinx. While she had not been destroyed, Etienne's breakthrough and Freya's counter-attack had put her on the defensive, and while the shadows lashed out, they were less precisely directed, more wild in their attacks. A coordinated effort by the pair would allow them to break free.

Realizing this, the shadowy soldier tried a sudden change of tactics, in one last attempt to secure the device. Instead of putting up mental blocks, she suddenly released her defenses in a kind of mental judo, to catch Freya off-guard with a sudden surrender. The rush of the dragonness' mind into her own would leave open a two-way street for a little while, and then Major Jinx would make her move, switching the focus of Freya's mental rope from magicapacitor to a rock. This sudden maneuver took all of her concentration, which left Etienne unmolested...
Be Humble in Yourself, but Adamant in the Truth.

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