Greetings Guest, Happy All Hallow’s Eve!
Discussion in 'Role Playing Resource' started by The Jedi in the Pumas, Jul 9, 2020.
It had to happen.
I love the Batman Who Laughs.
This is going to be a very fun game.
Thank you for that. It has all the makings of a very fun game and with this beginning, with everyone's posts and not just mine, so far it shows that initial impression is correct.
This inspired me immensely. A perfectly written tale of a seemingly powerless human boy, succeeding against all odds, in the Trial of Power. To get the full scope, read the other entries in the game (The Saga of the Ryujin) as they will lend context. Without further ado, here is @Darth_Elu's instant Masterpiece! W00T!!
~Test of Getting the Snot Beaten Out of You!~
The boy just stood on the mountain along with the others, nearly done with these tests. He even tapped a finger on the side of his leg for a brief second. Cretausdesperately wanted to just get out of these mountains, even if the snow was not bothering him as much anymore, and get inside.
The very idea of it was churning his stomach practically. But as the knights began to discuss amongst themselves, now that the Integrity test was done, he paid attention once more. Evidently he had passed again.
Honestly, Cretaus was a little surprised at himself. And pleased.
“Very good, very good indeed. Well my dear Audacia seems they only have one ‘test’ left…oh I do prefer the term evaluation it makes far more sense.”
“We’ve discussed this Veritas, ‘evaluation of courage’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as ‘test of courage’ or ‘test of integrity’. Besides we are wasting their timing and the master’s.”
“Ah we wouldn’t want to keep ole Zalzy waiting.”
It was amusing watching those two interact. But the third one made him jump in surprise as he began to shout out in irritation.
Veritas and Audacia’s reactions showed who was obviously in charge amongst the three. Cretaus tensed up slightly again as the man’s aura was just projecting itself over the whole mountain it felt like. It was…
“I am Dominus, Leader of the Knights of Illusion and the Knight of Power.”
With titles like that, this guy probably had most people bowing down and kissing his armored boots. Already he was wary of him.
“The last few ‘tests’ were not that. The only real test you have had thus far was getting to this place of nowhere. Those last two were to merely understand you better for the master.”
He didn’t sound as harsh and cold like Audacia, but the warmth and joviality Veritas had was gone as well. His voice was a middle ground, that of command and strength. For some reason though, Cretaus found himself preferring Audacia, though he couldn’t say why.
“Lady Ensema, it is pleasant to see you again, I’m afraid you still need to undergo these tests, our apologies for inconveniencing an elder Ryujin and friend of Zalzabar.”
At least there was some warmth in there somewhere, the teen noted dryly. He also watched him closely as he moved about as if inspecting troops before a battle. He hadn’t moved toward him yet, but he was checking the others out closely. For some reason he lingered on the youngest looking elf before nodding once more.
Probably was taken in with her beauty, kind of like he was. Again, if the situation was a bit different, Cretaus’ head would be swimming with all the women around him. All of them were exceedingly beautiful, even the barbarian looking one; none had been like that in the city he lived in!
Or had he just never stopped to notice? Too hard to say, too late to think on it now.
“Good, very good you all seem very capable.”
Cretaus was about to offer a small smile, surprised by the compliment……..
When Dominus then turned to him. Those red eyes flaring up underneath the hood, making him take a small step back in surprise. Oh yeah…those words were not meant for—
Heavy footsteps in the snow as the man marched across to and towered over the human boy.
Dominus clutched him by the collar of his worn shirt and held him aloft. The fierceness of this act had the images of all the old guards and people of the city coming very vividly to the fore of his mind. He was just like all of them.
It was so obvious.
“I know you two are soft, but really this human boy? I doubt he could even hold a sword.”
The contempt was dripping from his voice. Oh yes. He was just like all those who came before. Cretaus’ eyes blazed even as he was held by the collar. He knew moving would be a bad idea at this point, but he allowed his challenge hold in his eyes.
He hated this man. Snap judgment given. Snap judgment returned.
Could he hold a sword? It was true, he never had, but it couldn’t be too hard. All he needed was a chance to get one and he’d show him!
“Sir! Let the boy go, he showed great promise during my test, he has potential despite his…appearance.”
This startled the hatred out of his eyes for a moment, his expression of surprise coming crystal clear on his face as he looked toward Audacia.
The fact that he defended him, even if just verbally, and stated he had potential? Him?
Problem was, he didn’t have long to puzzle over this development as Dominus snarled and threw him back down onto the ground.
“Well regardless you will all be tested the same.”
Cretaus almost snarled back as he hastily got back to his feet and brushed off the snow from his ragged clothes. His eyes stared daggers as the man marched back to his comrades then turned to face them all.
Letting out a breath, more like a huff, he tried to calm himself. Whatever. He was used to this. One more test. Lets get this over with.
With a movement of his hands, the knight engaged in more magic; copies of the knight appeared and the platform in the snow they stood on shifted and became larger. Cretaus’ eyes darted amongst each of the copies, then widened as they flew across the snow toward them like wraiths in the old horror stories!
“Let’s see what you can do.”
So. It had finally come down to it. Combat. His eyes narrowed.
Cretaus was in trouble. He knew this the moment the copy of Dominus came to a stop before him, standing and motioning for him to begin mockingly.
“We want to know what you are capable of, show us everything you’ve got, we want to know what Power you wield.”
Fake Dominus poised himself and held himself ready for any attack. His demeanor was clear. Contempt and doubt filled his mind, but he would not take it easy on the teenager.
What was he capable of? Guess it was time to find out.
Allowing his expression of determination to return, he charged the man, fists clenched and legs pumping through the snow as fast as he could go.
You wanted to see what I got? Then get ready to be surp—
The Fake Dominus audibly sighed and merely backhanded him across the face with his gauntleted hand.
Cretaus’ head swam as he suddenly found himself eating snow, lying crumpled on his side before the man’s feet.
‘Dominus’ looked down at him then allowed himself a moment to turn around to face the real version and the other two Knights of Illusion. He shrugged and held up his hands as if to say ‘Really? Are we serious right now?’
Turning back to see Cretaus shuffling backward and away from him, a hand cupped to his now majorly bruised face, ‘Dominus’ shook his head and advanced at a calm stride.
This was going to be over quickly. They both knew it.
Cretaus’ eyes were widened now, panic trying to take over while his mind desperately fought to remain calm. Remember the visions. The visions! He had lived through stuff like this! This was his only chance to grab a future and do something!
“Come on, child. You’ll have to do something before I kill you. I need to know Audacia and Veritas are not complete fools for letting you this far.”
Come on, come on, come on! CRETAUS! JUST PRETEND YOU’RE ON THE STREETS!
What would he do? What would he do back then? On those cold snowing nights, trying to evade the guards. The ones just like this ass.
Another sigh. “Very well. Pitiful.”
The weapon was raised. “Consider this a mercy then.”
With a shout of desperation and rage, Cretaus reached for a bundle of snow before him as he stopped his futile backpedaling and threw it up into the man’s hooded face. He saw the eyes flash red again and a slash from the sword to clear the thrown snow.
But it was enough, it changed the trajectory of the swing and the teen used the opportunity to spin and dash to the side, under the attack and manage to get back on his feet. Dominus merely turned to face him, watching. There were no compliments for the maneuver. No reason to. It had been pure desperation and was partially luck. Both knew it.
Both also knew it wouldn’t likely work again.
Panting already, trying to reassert control over himself, Cretaus stared back at the man. Combat. He had to fight. But charging in was not going to work and he had no weapons or magic of his own. What then?
He was idly grateful for the fact that the nearby avalanche did not swallow himself up, or even most of the others. Was anyone affected? Cretaus couldn’t tell at the moment, not quite enough time to count heads. Not without risking himself that is.
The teen did notice the other fights were progressing quickly, a few having some difficulty as well but at least putting up resistance, some were easing their way through to a degree. Unsurprisingly, he was by far having the most trouble. None probably expected him to pass this one.
He sure didn’t.
But he said he would choose where and when he died and he had meant it. It was time to mount a counterattack of some sort.
“Fine. We’ll try this again.”
Dominus approached him again, still taking his time but going slightly faster than before.
“No, we’re going to try something else.”
A huff sound of contempt. Dominus didn’t slow down.
Cretaus charged a second time.
“You are a fool, BOY!!!!”
This time his eyes weren’t trained on his hooded face however, they were trained on his sword arm. The moment that arm even twitched to begin its swing, he slid on the slippery surface (anticipating and judging its momentum on his feet…hey, he had done this a few thousand times in his life before…you ever experience running for your life barefoot on the flagstones of a city that had the first layers of winter’s ice upon them?) to give himself a burst of greater speed for that half second and allow himself to lean back just enough to get away from the point of the sword.
As the man expertly halted the maneuver and thrust forward, Cretaus was pivoting on his heel and spinning around the attack and around him. He was now behind him.
Dominus let out a faint grunt. Whether that was exertion, irritation, or Three-forbid being impressed; it was impossible to tell.
Time to see how long he could play shadow now. He needed to buy himself some time. As much as possible.
Every time his opponent moved, Cretaus moved with him, keeping to his back. Dominus was trying to move quickly to prevent him from reading his moves, but he had experience having to make instant judgments from the very first sign of movement from those meaning him harm. He had to or he would have been dead ages ago.
As Dominus enacted his own pivot, spinning in place as quickly as possible to really throw him off, Cretaus dived and rolled through the snow to keep behind.
The man snarled. “You are going to have to attack at some point, child.”
Cretaus swallowed some air and let his breath show in the wind.
The clone turned his head to look at him over his shoulder, eyes showing red once more. Yeah. They really didn’t like each other.
Then that was when Cretaus took off. He had been buying time, furtively glancing around himself and surveying the area. Making predictions. Turning to the side and sprinting like Sapientis himself was on his heels. That sudden switch in tactic probably threw the Knight off. The man started, surprised, but then followed suit for a few steps.
That was when Cretaus realized one miscalculation. He forgot about his magic for an instant.
Dominus was flying wraith-like again to make up time, exploding out of the snow toward him. He was done playing with his food apparently.
Damn it! Got to move faster than fast!
All he could do at this stage was move as fast as he could, willing his legs to pump as quickly as they could, reaching his intended target before the flying Knight could catch him.
Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!
A sword reaching out like a spear thrust, yellow cape billowing out. Eyes glowing.
Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!
The tip of the sword was nearing now, it was only a foot from the boy’s back. Half a foot! Three inches! Tw….
Dominus immediately came to a halt, snow just lightly spraying up as he pulled up and landed on his feet again, stab halted. Cretaus had reached where he was aiming for.
The woman who he didn’t know was called the Laughing Butcher was in the middle of her own fight for her life and Dominus didn’t want to interfere with this one’s test. A growl coming out.
Cretaus couldn’t focus overly long on the fact that at this point, the woman already had a sword through her shoulder. He had his own concerns right then. Plus she seemed like she was having a good time. No time to think on it!
She was driving herself down the sword further, her laughter ringing throughout the mountain side, as she began to strike for the man’s knee and tricking him into a kneeling position.
Letting out a strangled chortle himself, that mad laughter almost infectious in the instant, he had spun around the two of them to separate himself from his own Dominus.
Dominus was not dissuaded and leapt up, using a great burst of magic and strength to actually jump over the two of them and come crashing down in a fatal and thunderous two-handed slash that would vertically cleave the boy in two.
His eyes flashed as Cretaus let out a rough grin the moment he was a third of the way into his trajectory. He had been watching the mercenary the moment he had started running toward her, analyzing her movements as much as possible.
Orphan life, don’t fail me now.
As his Dominus came over the dueling pair, that was when She of the Tainted Blood had brought her blade up with lightning speed, ready to slam that pommel back down in her Dominus’ face. Damn, was she quick! How did she do that?
No matter. It was what that first twitch of her arm had shown, he had just barely caught it, predicting a rough idea of what she was about to do. His Dominus was literally leaping up into her sword, now being used as Cretaus’ indirect stab as he passed by.
Letting out a sound of surprise and anger, Dominus turned to the side at the last possible second, the blade scoring a hit along his side. A few sparks from the metal on metal in evidence.
The moment he turned, Cretaus was turning and moving again. He was hoping that would finish it, but expected it not to. Perhaps the next move. Another little ripple of that strangled laughter for just a moment, was it contagious?
His Dominus crashed into the snow on his side as Rebecca was just ending her duel and only barely registering what else had happened around her, so zoned into her battle rage as she was at the moment. Drowned in the red current. But he was up and lunging after the teenager before she could completely focus on him.
Guy’s reflexes were fast in that armor, Cretaus had to admit. Made things that much harder.
Move! Move! MOVE!
His eyes began to dart all around as he chugged along, the Knight of Power racing to catch up behind him. Cretaus needed to know. What was around him? What could he use? How? Who? What were they doing?
There were already two at least in evidence. That pompous guy from before had suddenly turned into one with a flash earlier and was in a majestic white form, towering above the landscape and burning bright with that word Dominus so loved.
And so had his version of Dominus contesting him….so that meant this guy was a ryujin too!? How disadvantaged could Cretaus possibly get!!!
NEVER MIND THAT!
His life was literally on the line right now. And judging by the way the dragons were….Cretaus’ eyes widened, then his gaze dropped to his immediate surroundings. A cracking sound racing toward him, coming from the right got his attention too. A glance that direction turned out to be a good idea.
It was a good idea too as Dominus was getting close again, reserving his magical force by going on foot as well. Well, more than likely, not wasting it on him.
The ice broke apart underneath him from where Anaxagore had split it apart in an attempt to both defend and counterattack against magical tactics from his own opponent. Thank the Three he caught sight of it in time! Life saver.
Cretaus angled himself and jumped onto a jutting piece of ice, let himself slide a bit, then hopped off to the next piece. He did this continually, the attack from the side catching Dominus by surprise and forcing him to traverse the uneven terrain longer than he would have liked. Cretaus did this a bit, buying time again, as if he had done this for years.
In some ways, he had.
Meanwhile, his eyes flicked upward. They came back down and he hopped off to the broken ground back to where the snowy mountain was ‘solid’ again. He didn’t stop. He didn’t dare stop. He was still alive, so he knew it had slowed the knight. The sound of the armored feet plopping into the snow not far behind told him how much time it bought.
Angle a bit more, just to the left some…More. Yes. Just as expected, Dominus was taking the most direct route to where he was running. Just a bit more…
Then Cretaus stopped and spun around, a smirk on his face again.
Dominus glared as he ran, “And why do you say that?”
As soon as the words left his obscured mouth, the knight came to a sliding stop, his head jerking upward in shock.
The empowered second blast from Kaynus erupted into being as his own Dominus roared out in tremendous agony. Cretaus didn’t care about that one though. Only his own. The timing had been perfect.
Judging by the way the white Ryujin had arched back his head like that and the light it was showing in its maw, he had an inkling as to what he was about to do. Given his position and where they were on the ground, he knew roughly about when and where the blast would strike from the sky. He figured Kaynus’ opponent would dodge, but had been wrong on that score. Nevertheless, the attack was strong enough to punch through a part of the knight clone and have some of the continued energy assault land right where Cretaus wanted it to. He wasn’t sure exactly how the man had summoned up so much destructive force, it actually left the teen in awe, truth be told. But for now, the important fact was…
Letting out a breath as the attack came to a close, though Kaynus remained fighting despite the power he displayed, Cretaus began to walk back toward where the clone had once been. It didn’t take long for him to freeze.
There hadn’t been much left of Dominus, or so it had appeared, but a reforming Knight of Power appeared out of the little crater in the snow.
You’ve got to be kidding me…By the Three! He can’t be beaten!
“Lets not jump to conclusions, boy,” replied Dominus coldly, “I’m not satisfied with you yet.”
His eyes widened once more and he turned to run, trying to quickly process a new strategy. Any strategy!
“No. Not this time,” snarled the knight, “I see what you are doing now.”
Dominus launched himself out into that wraith flight again, making rapid time to catch up. Cretaus identified his next target and began moving. Hoping. Willing.
Dominus came right up behind, landing on his feet in a slide, spraying a wide arc of snow around in front of him as he held his sword in a mighty two-handed grip and swung savagely in a horizontal line meant to slash him in two. He was going to end this in a single blow!
Desperately, Cretaus managed to duck under it and ignored the snow spray, having spared only a second’s glance back at his opponent to guess his line of attack. Of course this made him trip in the depth of the mountain’s white blanket and fall onto his stomach. He had snow thrust into his face a second time now.
A shadow began to descend on him and he instinctively rolled to his right and sprang up, getting away just as Dominus landed vertically down where he had been laying in a piercing maneuver. The knight’s eyes trailed after him as he kept angling toward where he needed to be next. He didn’t have much time!
The teenager only got a few more steps however as he came to a firm halt, experiencing some whiplash. Despite the miss, Dominus had simply left his sword upright in the snow and lunged across to grab the back of his collar. Cretaus was caught!
This was the end of the line.
“It’s finished now,” he stated. “This was a test of power. Not of running away and using others.”
The sword angled with the knight’s left hand, pointed right at Cretaus’ neck. His right hand held firm onto his shoulder now to make sure there would be no escape. There was literally nothing left for him to do except wait.
….for the ice shard to strike right across the side of his head, knocking him backward (and out of the way of a few more shards) and setting Cretaus loose. The teen took this opportunity and bolted. It hadn’t been spot on like he wanted and it was hard to predict the trajectory of the ice magically thrown by Delsanra, but he was able to get a decent idea from the direction they had been pointing and from where her opponent had been standing. As he moved, he caught a brief glimpse of the elven woman suddenly appearing right beside her enemy (how did she do that?) and then dropping a wall on him.
Cretaus swiveled his head back for a moment to gauge his own adversary and sure enough, he was fine. If he could survive that awesome dragon blast, an ice shard wouldn’t be enough! Still it had done great damage and thrown him off balance for a moment, forcing him to heal again before glaring after him.
And now he was…glowing red? That…wasn’t a good sign. He looked straight ahead, realizing this might be the point where he was in over his head. Like really over his head!
Run, run, run, run, run!
Even over the frigid wind, he could hear Dominus’ voice carry to him. “Boy. Now you have legitimately made me angry!”
He was nearly to his next target. The overall strategy might be apparent now, but if he could just manage to even barely get where he needed to, eventually he hoped it would be enough. That the knight would give up!
The shadow washing over him and the snow wasn’t there a second ago. But all of a sudden it was. Somehow Dominus had become as fast as lightning! Cretaus had only an instant to act. Muscle memory over mental tactics. Instinct, not thought.
He lunged forward, arms splayed ahead of him and legs kicked up, just barely over the slash of the glowing sword from Dominus. It tore into the fabric of his shirt, ruining it further. The tip of the sword just nicking the skin, though so fast he didn’t actually feel it. It was so close to eviscerating him it wasn’t funny.
And in this lunge, Cretaus embraced it.
The wind elemental brought forth by Esenma.
It was as large as Dominus’ brass dragon form, a twister with arms. It did nothing, but the winds around it were intense. If one was honest, Cretaus hadn’t really managed to reach the entity, just barely reached the periphery of where it had started to affect its surroundings.
And Dominus had tried jumping after him, to pull him away. Too late. Both the teenager and the glowing knight of power were whisked around like rag dolls. At the magical being’s mercy and it hadn’t even registered them there. Not really. All he could do was pray to the Three at this point. How had the beautiful woman managed this!? And this thing obeyed her whim? Just how skilled in magic was she!!!
Cretaus had severely underestimated the thing’s power and in the heat of the moment, had only thought about getting Dominus suck up into it…he hadn’t put in enough thought about how to prevent himself being caught!
Then it was reverted to a stone form, Esenma grasping and setting it back into her bag as Cretaus and Dominus were tossed away from each other and crashed into the snow a good distance away with a heavy thud and explosion of white.
It took a few moments for both of them to regain themselves. Cretaus struggled to a standing position and spotted something laying only a foot away from him. Dominus’ sword!
With a wry smile, Cretaus stooped down and picked it up. Oh! The thing was actually a lot heavier than it looked! Using both hands to maintain a handle on it now, instead of one, he held the sword straight out ahead of him as if pointing accusingly toward his foe.
Dominus was staring him down, having recovered himself.
“You dare try to wield my own blade against me? Fine then, show me what you can do with it.”
Cretaus only stared at him. A moment of confidence bloomed in him, irrationally perhaps, but it did. He held the weapon now. He had even survived this long against a person, no. A ryujin who was intent on killing him!
That moment wilted away as quickly as it came.
Dominus, glowing red once more, was suddenly right in front of him. Cretaus wasn’t sure when it happened exactly. But there was a boot in his stomach. It was like time seemed to slow down for that brief moment, his body conforming to Dominus’ foot, his hand involuntarily letting go of the sword and Dominus calmly snatching it…
Then time sped up in his eyes as he registered the fact that he had been flown backwards a great distance and smashed into a large body. A dragon’s body.
Ne’tar was too busy snatching at the ryujin Dominus he was fighting to even practically feel it, or at least focus much on the sensation. Cretaus, as he struck the draconic form, spat up blood from his mouth due to the sheer force of impact. His eyes bulging, the sound of something popping that shouldn’t pop presenting itself. He collapsed onto the snow once more, as ryujin Dominus roared in pain from something the smaller Ne’tar was doing.
His own Dominus, still in humanoid form, had come to stand before him…ducking as the dragon tails swished dangerously over their heads while the dragons rolled around right behind them. This time Dominus had involuntarily maneuvered them here, not Cretaus. Didn’t matter though, this was fight was over this ti—
That look of concentration, despite all the pain wracking his body, revealed itself and Dominus just watched him. For once he didn’t seem to want to end it, but seemed curious what the boy would do. What could he do anymore?
“Do not apologize for your weakness. Instead—“
“…my attack isn’t over yet.”
And with a frantic motion, he spun as he raised himself to his knees and used both hands to find purchase into Ne’tar’s scales…..becoming airborne as the half-orc’s adversary took flight.
Cretaus’ own opponent could only stare up in disbelief. What could the boy do from that position? He began to charge up once more, to leap with all his strength and catch the boy on the dragon’s tail. He could change form himself, but there was no point. That would be overkill, plus…there was no way the boy could do anything. He was harming himself. The red aura faded instead.
Dominus decided to just wait and not put himself into a needlessly dangerous position, probably like the teenager wanted.
It was true, Cretaus had wanted Dominus to follow him recklessly, but wasn’t entirely surprised he ultimately passed. He was the leader of the Knights of Illusion for a reason. His body was beaten, nearly done in, but his mind continued to work. The ringing from before had mostly stopped…it was just the panic from suddenly realizing you were holding onto a dragon that had no idea you were there and was locked in a primal struggle with an even bigger dragon, now took over.
But that was also kind of the plan. A moment of no plan. He had no idea what was going to happen with these two. On the flip side, neither did Dominus. They couldn’t anticipate.
A sharp right bank, with Cretaus nearly thrown off, his face a grimace as he struggled to keep his grip and Dominus running down below to keep up so he wasn’t far from his opponent. And then the upward spiral.
It was so fast, he couldn’t properly register what was going on. It was just a whirl of blurry images and wind whipping across them all.
“Reckless,” whispered Dominus down below. Watching.
Just how on Regnum did Ne’tar manage to keep clinging to this other Dominus so well!?
And then they were crashing down, down, down into a thunderous boom on the mountaintop! As they landed, Ne’tar’s tail flicked upwards thereby preventing Cretaus from smashing into the ground himself and threw him over their draconic forms and into a large pile of snow. Bigger and softer than what was normally there. It had been there from the earlier large avalanche.
The upside of that insanity? It had given him distance that Dominus hadn’t expected and thus time to consider his position. Bad as it was.
Dominus was walking now. Cretaus was nearly done, the boy couldn’t run, he was badly beaten and hadn’t much to begin with in the way of fighting. One way or another, this trial was coming to a close. But perhaps there would be one final surprise or two?
Cretaus indeed had at least a couple more planned as he crawled through the piles of snow, watching Dominus approach forebodingly while allowing his eyes to take in everything. The one compliment he remembered ever hearing from someone, a fellow street urchin back in the day, had been just in passing. They weren’t together, Cretaus never joined a ‘pack.’ He had always been a loner.
But sometimes even loners have very brief allies. They had helped each other pilfer some food in a busy marketplace on a day with more guards than normal. When it was over, the boy who had been about four years older than him, with pockets full of stolen food had looked at him appraisingly.
“You know, you see a lot.”
It was the only compliment he remembered ever getting. He saw a lot. Cretaus had learned the ability to watch everyone around him, almost simultaneously and figure out distances and timing in less time than most. He had to. His survival depended on it.
Once again. Cretaus saw a lot.
Finally stopping, tired and on his back, in the snow; he waited for Dominus to come to him.
“End of the line?”
It was delivered flatly. Dominus was tired too, though trying his best not to show it. Evasion was not power, but it was taking a toll on him. This he had to admit. Especially given that he was also expending energy on the others.
Unfortunately for Cretaus, he still had plenty enough left to see his test to the end.
The boy sighed, “Kind of…”
Dominus heard it first. Then he felt the heat. The crackle of lightning. As the purple light intensified behind him, temporarily destroying any shadows in that immediate area, Cretaus rolled as fast as he could to the side and held his hands up. It wasn’t likely to do anything, but a natural reflex to protect nonetheless.
Dominus turned right before it struck. Somehow the timing and placement was unerringly perfect for something not even supposed to be a part of their duel.
The dark fire of Anaxagore, charged further with violet lightning, struck him just as the red glow manifested itself around Dominus and he tried to leap backward, out of the way. He was rewarded with only half of his body being blown away and burned.
Dominus roared in agony as his legs were now gone, blood splattering across the snow pile like paint. Cretaus waited, recovering as much energy as possible while also praying yet again to the Three that the heat would not come to harm him. It did. But not nearly as bad as it could have.
Blisters as if from a second degree burn formed on one forearm and his back (which was facing the blast), his shirt burned clean off now and the heat licked the air all around him in all its enticing power.
Dark Fire. Dragon Fire.
Once again, though he didn’t allow himself to see the attack, Cretaus was left wondering just how the dark ryujin could summon up the necessary willpower to create an attack of such strength!
The blast finally dissipated as Anaxagore’s opponent leapt up into the air and forced him to close his maw and halt the assault, forcing him to look away and follow the opponent that required all his focus. Unaware of what else it had done. In this moment, Cretaus swallowed a large gulp of air, his throat suddenly parched to an almost unbearable degree, his body settling into the snow and now stinging like it had never stung before.
He had no pride to speak of. He internally admitted it to himself as it happened. Cretaus was crying. He was crying in pain. Big tears from the overwhelming torment came down his cheeks. The sobs coming in big, heaving, swallowing gulps of air that did nothing to alleviate his condition.
And yet he moved. For the fire served another purpose.
It had melted the snow almost at once and with this quantity? A small river nearly formed and he was right by the cliff side. It would carry him without having to move himself up and over the edge. An edge he had peered into just long enough as he had been falling since Ne’tar unknowingly launched him.
More snow, lots of it, had fallen down there into some hidden area.
It was almost noiseless, just a little soft plop as he landed in this pile. The pain of all that he had endured since the start of this test almost masking the frightful sensation of free fall. Dominus would heal and it wouldn’t take long for him to figure out where he had gone. But it would take time. A good amount this time.
Burrowing himself out of the snow and clambering onto his feet once again, despite the pain, he found himself in a deep cave pit of some kind. A good idea to continue his evasion, but did he just reach a literal dead end? And plus…
I still need to find a way to actually use my own strength somehow. Still…Still working on that one.
His eyes came upon the opening in the far wall. An entrance to a tunnel of some kind. There was no other way out and no other options for him here, so he made his way as quickly as his limping form could go into it. A deeper darkness as he inched onward.
It smelled of desperation, likely his own, and fear. Not entirely his. It felt…like a mix of his and another’s, though whose he couldn’t place. He kept moving, always moving. Never stopping.
Oh. It hurt. Every step felt like it was the end of the world. It should have been probably. But no. Not here, he would not die here. Dominus may just kill him, but not until he was good and ready. Tired of simply running with nothing else possible.
He was tired, exhausted even, but sheer determination saw him through. The blisters screamed at him. The cut on his chest stung. The tears still wet on his cheeks humiliated him.
Cretaus found himself on a wide apron of rock. All darkness all around. Just like his life.
As he moved, he saw the bodies. Orcs, goblins, even some ogres. They had been all over the place, now that he thought of it. Arrows in most of them. Lots of them. There was only one person in the group that he knew of that had a bow and arrow. He couldn’t remember her name. Honestly, Esenma was the only one he did. He’d do his best to work on that…if he lived.
Following the path Taella had unknowingly cleared for him, heading into the narrowing tunnel and doing his best to move quicker. Dominus was very likely healed and in at least the cave pit by now. He was also likely to be heavily irritated to be following him down here after the goose chase he had already put him through.
The giant body of a troll lay ruined and lifeless, blocking most of the entrance to yet another tunnel. There was no other way. Sighing, he clambered up and over the massive body, the smell of it making him scrunch up his nose. The movement hurt.
That bruise from the very start of this trial yet remained too.
Squeezing into the new tunnel, he kept going. He idly wondered how much further he had left to go. He even wondered where he was now. Would Zalzabar even know where to find him, even if Dominus just said ‘heck with it’ and let him go?
At the end of this tunnel though, a flicker of light. His heart skipped a bit, the subterranean space having been smothering him. But then it slowed way down. The light was only flickering because there were a lot of bodies blocking it. Their backs were to them, the survivors of the orc, goblin, and ogre horde still stood there.
He hesitated, then grimaced and ran forward, his limp still present. Within moments he plowed right into the middle of them, many turning surprised and grunting with confusion at the boy’s sudden appearance.
“Um, sorry! Excuse me! Coming through! Need to get the elf up ahead!”
He could only hope she’d help him, perhaps more directly than the others before him.
“Little human want elf too?”
Some of them exchanged glances and started laughing, in a very perverse and disturbing fashion.
“Make way!” one bellowed, “Little human want piece!”
“Little human one of us!”
Somehow, the thought made him sick though he didn’t know why. The obvious misinterpretation worked to his advantage however as they moved out of the way so he could proceed faster and into the center chamber. One of the goblins handed him a short sword that they carried as he passed; much smaller and lighter than Dominus’ sword. This one he could handle! Even if his whole body was full of pain every time he’d probably swing now.
In any case. Rock ceiling. Bottomless pit below. The exit at the end…and a center bridge over the chasm to get there.
Cretaus glanced back. No sign of Dominus yet, but he had the very distinct and uneasy feeling it wouldn’t be long now. Time to keep moving!
Yes, the moment he stepped onto the bridge, he finally showed up. He cut through the horde like they were nothing. True, Cretaus realized with a start, they were probably true illusions. Like the other two tests had been. For some reason that hadn’t occurred to him till just now. That meant they were nothing.
Cretaus, knowing he wouldn’t reach the end in time now, turned to face his opponent at last. A scene that played out only moments before about to do so again, but with one person different. There would be no more running.
He had a weapon, one he could passably handle. Possibly. He had an enemy to use it on. Maybe this was the moment.
Holding it weakly in a diagonal stance, his left foot not wanting to fully put weight on itself any further, he prepared himself to duel Dominus in truth.
The Knight allowed his red glow to fade then seemed to take a long inhale and even longer exhale; realizing the end was truly in sight now.
Then he advanced.
Cretaus readied himself and as Dominus got close, began to swing.
“You’re not holding it right,” the knight snapped and with an almost bored swing of his own, disarmed the blond teen.
Cretaus gaped as the weapon struck a far wall and clambered down to the pit below, lost forever. Just like that, his chance of mounting something resembling his own attack had vanished into thin air.
Dominus advanced again. He was visibly itching to end this now. Cretaus couldn’t fully blame him anymore. Part of him wanted it too. But only a part.
Taking a quick glance behind him, he noted something that had been left on the bridge. Likely after some kind of fight Taella had had. He lunged and rolled, yelping in pain at the movement, with Dominus lunging after him. He grew tired of this chase.
Cretaus grasped the heavy great shield, a golden glow seeming to exude from its edges, and managed to pull it up with both hands and turn the first slash from Dominus. Then the next. And the next.
He did not know of it being enchanted dragon scale or the meaning of its properties, but he did know a good shield when he saw one.
Dominus leaned back on his back foot, observing Cretaus a bit now. Pondering the new development. A low, chuckle seemed to fill the chamber…it wasn’t exactly a humor-filled one.
“Fine,” he said low in a dangerous whisper. Then repeated it again.
“Fine. I do not need this to beat you, Cretaus, but after all this…now I’m just curious how you will handle it. Show me what you can do against me now.”
And with that, Cretaus peeked around the edge of the shield to watch as the knight sheathed his sword and then watch his armor and body begin to shift, change…
Cretaus could only stare in complete and total horror.
“You danced around the other versions of myself, but now I bare my true power directly at you! PREPARE YOURSELF!”
With almost a whimper, he saw Dragon Dominus throw his head back, knowing what was coming. He saw the golden fire beginning to flare into life in his maw. In this cramped space? There was no escape.
He closed his eyes tight and simply crouched down to make himself as small as possible, placing the large great shield over him. It became more like a shell as he hunkered his whole body underneath it and waited.
To be burned alive.
The golden flames came in the violent burst he expected. The heat was there. The power was there. Right. The Trial of Power. That was what this had been about, right? Now look at him.
He didn’t know it was because of the enchantments on the shield, but the heat didn’t hurt all that much. It was bearable this time and the immense defensive properties of the physical shield itself turned the fire.
A little snort of amusement came from the dragon looming over him. Then it put a single claw just under the bottom lip of the shield and flicked it upwards, ripping it from Cretaus’ grasp and sending that too, to the bottom of the pit.
No more defenses. He had nothing left now. Hell, he didn’t even have a shirt anymore.
Shakily, Cretaus stood and gave a glare to Dominus, leering down at him.
Striking at the boy would be too easy at this stage, so the ryujin knight opted to flap his giant wings once. Twice. Letting a giant gust of air rip through the chamber, blowing the boy away and off his feet.
Cretaus' hands roared at him louder than Dominus’ ryujin form could as he grabbed onto the railing of the bridge at the last moment. That refusal to die forcing himself to endure even more of this utter humiliation.
Dominus pondered him another moment, then took a swipe with his front claw, breaking the railing and sending the boy tumbling into the waiting abyss. A wail of surprise and fear emitting from him against his will.
“SHOW ME SOMETHING!” the ryujin roared, desperate for completely different reasons.
After a heartbeat, Dominus leaped down after him, his wings tucked in close for the moment. He would speed down upon the boy, his jaws opening wide.
This was his last chance.
Cretaus fell, careening out of control, flailing wildly as his voice trailed behind him. He shouted, yelled, cried, swore. Honestly, he didn’t really know what he was saying. For all he knew, he managed to do all of those things at the same time.
The brass dragon form plummeting after him was noticed. It didn’t help matters.
His feet, already hurting beyond imagining, struck the wall and he pushed off of it. What else was he to do? The pain erupting was even worse now, but he was dead in a few seconds so that didn’t matter. Still it slowed his ascent a little.
He managed to push off with his hands on the opposite side. Same effect. Same pain.
This happened a couple more times as he fell haphazardly, Dominus nearly upon him. Red eyes glowing both eager and frustrated.
A little glint in the darkness.
It was something coming up…right about there…right about…NOW!!!!!!!!
He reached out, not even entirely sure he had imagined whatever it was and grasped at the air.
…..They felt themselves close around a silver gossamer rope. His eyes widened. That elven woman had come through and not even realized it!
His descent halted almost immediately, his hands shrieked like never before as the rope burn took over while he slid almost to the end of it. But his luck did not abandon him; he held on. He had stopped.
As abruptly as you get.
Dominus’ eyes widened. He had literally just been about to snap his jaws shut around the boy and then suddenly….
The dragon roared in shock, amazement, and a slight spike in fear due to knowing the incoming pain…There was no room to stop.
The whole narrow pit tunnel shook, earth and dust falling from the sides as he crashed into the ground below. Some water splashing up in magnificent fashion to announce the spectacular end to Dominus’ dive.
He was not dead of course. But that one really got him good. Panting, Cretaus let go of the rope and let himself fall the rest of the way, no longer fatal.
The landing still hurt like hell though, forcing him into a roll to stop completely.
Dominus already began healing and changing back into his humanoid form at the same time, while Cretaus looked at his surroundings. The only way out was some kind of crack that had…..another Dragon Dominus in it. His tail and hind legs were swishing and kicking about while he clearly tried to push in deeper. Likely attempting to go after Taella, who had escaped that way only moments previous.
Still that meant escape and evasion was officially ended. He turned to face his own Dominus, visibly panting now as well. They just stared at each other a moment, their breaths wafting into the dark air quietly.
Dominus had his sword out. He was ready for one last attack. Cretaus continued to pant in shattering agony, only his ragged pants being the last thing he possessed.
The Knight of Power was tired. And now sloppy.
But Cretaus had literally nothing left.
Cretaus watched, his vision beginning to blur, but he willed himself to stand for this.
Dominus raised his blade, a slight misstep due to exhaustion making him stumble a bit before continuing.
Cretaus stumbled and swayed to the side himself, partially due to exhaustion and partially to avoid Dragon Dominus’ giant rear right leg behind him from kicking into him.
With a little stuttering step, humanoid Dominus paralleled Cretaus’ movement and brought the sword up—
And utterly forgot about the tail.
It swished in irritation at its elven prize succeeding in its trial and unwittingly smashing into its counterpart, sweeping him clean off his feet and onto his back some distance away.
Cretaus saw as Dominus dropped his sword for the second time. His eyes stared at it, and without even really thinking about it, he jumped for it.
There was no need. By the time he got his hands on it, his opponent was still just clashing into the ground with a clatter of his armor.
Cretaus stood, both hands wrapped more prepared this time, around the hilt and limped over to where Dominus just lay panting.
Those red eyes finally opened to see the teenager standing above him, his own blade pointed down into his face. The tip hovering dangerously close. The slightest twitch of movement and the boy would skewer his head.
They just stayed like that, seemingly frozen and looking at each other. They stayed like that for a long time. Finally, after a small eternity, Cretaus spoke first.
“Am I holding it wrong now?”
They continued to just hover like this as without the boy even realizing, the whole illusion came undone around them.
They were back on the mountain, all else finished with their trials as expected, and while they hadn’t been able to see him during his own trial (with the exception of the Knights)…they saw the finale for themselves.
There was the last clone of Dominus laying on his back in the snow, panting and silent.
There was Cretaus, the poor and grievously injured boy of no special origins or training, the knight’s own sword in both hands…blade still pointing at his face.
“Do it,” Dominus whispered, “Kill me and end it.”
Cretaus blinked. His eyes were dry now too. They were starting to hurt along with everything else.
“Why are you hesitating?”
“I…” he swallowed, “I vowed. I vowed to myself, years ago, that I’d…”
He stared down at the knight who reminded him so much of that hated guard so long ago. His hands shook and not just because of the pain. It hurt to remember that man. To look at this one. To remember that vow. To keep it.
“…I’d never kill unless necessary…”
Dominus just stared at him quietly, the snow and others paying witness to this last subdued exchange, unknowing of all that came before it.
“I’m not real, Cretaus. Just a clone. And I will heal.”
Cretaus gave a breathless sound. Was it supposed to be a laugh? He couldn’t tell, but he shook his head pitifully before backing up a couple of halting steps. The others may see what was going on, but for these two, the world had shrunk to only them.
Only this moment.
“I still remember what this test was for…”
Cretaus felt his fingers go limp and the sword tumble silently into the snow beside him.
“…this trial of power.”
The teen sank dully to his knees before the Knight, who still hadn’t risen. He had healed as promised, of course, but he made no move to attack. Only watched. And listened.
Another breathless sound. Was that supposed to be a cry this time? Cretaus still couldn’t tell anymore.
His head lowered, his chin sinking to his exposed chest.
The wind was the only thing that replied for a while. And the cold, that damnable, damnable cold…begun to once more settle into his body. His soul.
"Cretaus..." The Knight of Power raised his armored glove and rested it gently on the boy's shoulder. He lifted his hood down, revealing the face of a snow elf, his deep red eyes dimming.
His face was not met with disdain or anger. He smiled, patting the young human boy on the head. His tone was soft, its goal was not to tear down the boy but to comfort him.
"The world is filled with people who stand for nothing. People who command great quantities of power and use it for nothing but themselves. I see now what Veritas and Audacia saw before. Most men, let alone boys, would have died within moments of facing me."
The clone's head looked up to the sky, a tranquil look on his face. "The world needs more people like you Cretaus, you may not wield devastating power, but you have something, far, far more important." The snow elf bowed his head, offering a hand to the boy to help him up.
"Power comes in all forms young one, and you can learn. I will be more than happy to instruct you. You passed Cretaus, you passed."
Dominus' hand was outstretched, open in an offer to the boy. Only he could decide if he would accept.
Feeling the sudden presence of the gauntlet resting on his shoulder, Cretaus instinctively flinched. But did nothing. When it was clear that Dominus wasn't doing anything violent, the teen looked up and found himself staring into the Knight's true face. His hood removed.
So he was an elf. Not a demon at all. He wasn't sure if this pleased him or felt anti-climactic. With an almost dry laugh inside his head, he decided on both.
Cretaus listened, not really sure he was hearing correctly. He had something more important than power? He didn't understand. Couldn't understand. He was just him. Some nothing from nowhere. Cretaus desired 'something' for he possessed nothing.
His eyes held confusion. Pain. Sorrow. Lingering doubt in spite of everything. That reckless determination in spite of that.
But now they held something even newer.
~He had passed. Cretaus had passed.~
His hand slowly, the pain not forgotten but for this moment tolerated, reached up and took Dominus' own as he rose once more.
Not just as Cretaus any more. In this instant, on this day, Regnum bore witness the rise of someone new.
His eyes shone through the haze of pain and enervation, with the symbol of that rebirth.
I truly enjoyed reading this tale or perseverance. Thank you!
I couldn't agree more @greyjedi125
Was truly an awesome post, and extra props for writing it so quickly. It was not only a great post in and of itself but also served as an excellent summary of the various fights everyone was undergoing. Very glad to have you on board in the game @Darth_Elu!
From Last Stand...
But just look at that.
It's so colourful and beautiful.
I love these characters, all former and current PCs picked by the brilliant players.
blushes as 6 characters of the above 8 are hers....
Thank you @Sinrebirth
Okay I know Elu's already been put in here for The Saga of the Ryujin, but I just couldn't resist. Just the way he lays out scene from the update, and the way Cretaus interacts and reacts to everything brims with character. In many ways Cretaus is a surrogate for the reader, as I'm sure I am not alone in dreaming up having fantastical powers, part of the reason most of us RP, Elu's character captures this excited energy that wants to learn everything. Little bit of a ramble, hoped that made sense. Basically good character, good writing, good stuff... nuf said... enjoy.
So, here we have an absolutely amazing combo between @Ameteth and @galactic-vagabond422 . These are their respective characters: Zephyr a.k.a Psion and Blue a.k.a Blueline. These two are having a late night conversation prompted by some critical decisions they have made. Familiar themes are visited in the Age of Doom: Protecting vs Spying on the people they care about, Teamwork, Moonlighting, Commitment, Conviction. Trust. It's all in there. I'm a little proud to put this here, but I'll own that. Without further ado; Please enjoy their amazing work.
Blue had shuffled off to bed long before, though it was in bed sleep was a hard thing to come by. With Hammer prowling the streets, and Bounty Hunters combing for an easy payday, he'd been somewhat restrained in his after dark activities. It didn't sit right with him, having to hunker down and wait for something to happen, or wait until morning when he could see the threats coming. They had sent up a surveillance system for the bodega so they would know when Gustavo, or at least someone that looked like him, showed up there. It was a start but every part of Blue wanted to just station himself on a nearby rooftop and brood, watching over the store like a bandana clad gargoyle. But, he'd told Lourdes what she needed to do, and he wasn't getting much sleep.
What was keeping him up was Lourdes, she was scared, worried about what would happen to her and her family. And he was scared for her. Every time he closed his eyes he worried about missing her call, about not being there in time to help. He'd had too many of those moments, of getting to the scene just a little late, watching people get injured or worse.
He was snapped out of his last bit of sleep by a knock at his door. His eyes snapped over to the sound.
"Blue...you awake?" Zephyr's voice sounded from the other side. That was curious, normally it was Casey coming to knock on his door late at night. Quietly Blue tied his bandana around his head once again hiding his face.
"Yeah," He called out getting to his feet and walking to the door, opening just a bit to see his friend standing there.
The door was ajar but Zephyr could feel Blue's presence fully, a weak smile crossed his face, just grateful that the group leader had made himself available at this late hour.
"Hey Blue...can we talk...I need...I need to run something important by you."
Zephyr tried to look up at Blue and meet his gaze, but the weight of his uncertainty made him look sideways, this was one of those 'gray areas' that he's heard so much about and had basically no experience navigating.
"It's about Zara." He declared finally. "I think that she may soon be in danger and...and I did something."
Looking up then, the raven haired hero fixed his eyes on Blue and presented the situation.
"She's all over the net, pictures and vids, her face is in the open and after the Union Square debacle, I'm afraid that someone is going to come after her." His brow knotted and his fist tightened as if warding off the possibility.
"So I set up a recognition protocol, similar to what we did for Gustavo..." He admitted and averted his gaze feeling slightly ashamed and embarrassed for no clear-cut reason.
"But I have to tell her, because otherwise it somehow feels...wrong. You know what I mean right?"
Zephyr's silver-blue eyes now searched his team leader's face, hoping for at least a sign of understanding.
Blue opened the door more letting Zephyr walk into the spartan space. He'd been there for over a year and he hadn't changed a single thing. There was still the bed in the middle of the wall, a simple wall scroll above it, a dresser that was still empty. Blue existed in this space, he did not live in it. He turned on one of the lamps that rested on the nightstand to provide a little light as his fellow crime fighter continued to speak.
There were a few points where he did nod, taking in the information and thinking about it. It was certainly an issue, her face being plastered across the net, and the heightened danger for all of them. It made sense why Zephyr would be worried, Casey's mentioning of his crush on Zara not withstanding.
Blue took a seat on the floor, about the only place to sit beyond his bed.
"I do know what you mean." He said sitting with his back against the frame of his bed, dressed in a white t-shirt and jeans. "And you should tell her, should have told her before you went about doing that. The government already keeps us under surveillance every hour of every day, add to that every person on the street having another camera in their pocket." He stopped himself from rambling about the surveillance state they now found themselves in. "And your feelings are right, it is wrong. Even if it is for their own protection, those we watch over should know about it. I never had access to a supercomputer so it was just an understanding between me and Ernesto." the Blue clad hero left off the want to protect Lourdes that also drove his actions. "But now, with all the gear you have I'm sure it's tempting to never let her out of your sight." His words were spoken with a knowing tone, something the veteran hero had to wrestle with himself. "But, we are not those big robot things, we don't force our way their lives when they don't need us or want us. A well meaning stalker is still a stalker." His words were blunt, but he felt they needed to be to get his point across.
"I guess my question for you is, how are you going to break it to her?"
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Zephyr noticed the almost austere simplicity of Blue's room, the lack of clutter and frills served as an unspoken testament to the singular focus that often characterized the bandana hero.
Sitting down on the floor and directly across from Blue, Zephyr took a loose lotus position as he considered what was being said to him.
"Yes, I was hasty." He admitted softly. But he had his reasons, there was no time.
His eyes opened wide briefly as a thought crossed his mind. 'Is this how people like Doom start, rationalizing an action for the 'greater good'? No, no, people like that are only interest in power and control, Doom only craves power for control.'
"Agreed. If she decides that it is an unnecessary measure we'll do away with it, no arguments, no contest."
"As to the how or when, I figured that I'd look for her at some point during my first day of orientation with White Star, which I hope will take place in the next few days, if not sooner." the last part being said with a very casual tone.
"Thank you Blue, you are a good friend and a trustworthy leader. Often head strong and crazy reckless at times, but someone definitely worth following into the fray. I can't thank you enough."
With that being said, Zephyr would extend his hand to shake on it.
"I'll definitely keep you posted."
Blue reached his hand out to accept the shake but paused halfway through, words finally falling into place for him.
"You're doing what?" His brow furrowed and his gaze hardened, the kind eyes now more piercing. "You're..." A long breath left him as he pressed his once outstretched hand to his forehead. "When were you planning on telling us that you decided to be a junior White Star Agent?" He couldn't help the indignation and hurt in his voice. "I thought we'd already made our decision on this. We weren't going to join. We work better without a bureaucracy, a structure above us telling us what to do." His hand ran through his hair coming to rest on his thigh. "What about Lourdes, how are we going to help her when you're running jobs for the White Star? We're a team, we work together, and now you're moonlighting. Will they even let you do we do? Or will you just be hound for them to lead around?" He took another deep breath something he'd seen Zephyr do a few times to steady himself. "I know you're a smart man Zephyr, you wouldn't have done this without a plan. You have some way that you think this, you joining the White Star, will be ok. And I want you to tell me it right now."
Blue's reaction wasn't entirely unexpected, but it still hurt a bit. Every point he made was valid and as team leader he deserved an explanation, this was about trust, transparency and the larger picture.
Zephyr regarded the bandana hero warmly, this was his friend and in many ways a mentor and this moment was important to both of them.
"Well, to be clear, you made the decision that you weren't going to join and that your personal choice. The thing we discussed at length was about being a team and working together and that hasn't changed."
"There is NO competition here, I'm first and foremost Team Argus and will always be. I'm here for Casey, for Lourdes, for Don Ernesto, for you and anyone else who needs me. I believe in the work we do and all the people we help, I am fully committed and there is absolutely no reason why you should doubt that."
"It is also true that you have found your calling, a crusade that is close to your heart. You are a fierce protector and the areas within your reach are made safer because of your near-sleepless vigilance, that's just how it is." His voice was even and filled with understanding.
"I am likewise finding my crusade, the field were I can apply myself and help the greater effort taking place on a larger scale. I know that you have a negative outlook about it, but I don't, and that's why this is an avenue for me to thread. I need to learn and get involved and by necessity bring those lessons to add to our cause. Furthermore, my parents are out there, Zack also and so many others, I have a duty to perform, I have sworn to find them, to free them." The conviction in his voice was unmistakable and quite recognizable.
"I'm not joining some draconian military op that will suddenly OWN me and subvert my will, they actually work with what you bring to them." His eyes closed for a second as he paused, there was so much more to be said.
"Blue, I'm saying all this because I want you to trust me on this." And there it was, the test that would prove the quality of the glue, of the friendship.
"Promise me then, that you will remind me, in no uncertain terms, of my commitments to our team SHOULD you find me lacking in that department."
Zephyr's silvery eyes locked onto Blue's, shining with restored confidence and almost daring his team leader.
"Do we have a deal, can you shake on that?"
Again Blue pressed his hand to his forehead. It felt like the words came at him fast and he was still processing but the look in Zephyr's eyes told him everything he needed to know. He did not agree with his partner, not one bit but, that look, that steely determination to do what someone had set their mind to, told him it didn't matter. Zephyr believed in this, he wanted this. He was right of course, he always was, his powers, his skills they far out paced Blue's, Blue could take a bullet but Zephyr could disassemble the gun. Of course he would want to do more than just beat up a few muggers in an alley.
Blue looked away at the mention of family and friends. He'd lost his family, the one related to him by blood, it never occurred to him that Zephyr might want to find his, make sure they're ok.
Zephyr was asking Blue to trust him, that was a hard thing for the azure guardian to do. He'd almost lost that ability, working alone for so long. Going over everything he'd ever seen from Zephyr, he knew the other man to be very thoughtful, and considerate of his actions. Never once had he ever let Blue down, not before today. He had at the very least earned some trust, gained the right to pursue his dreams. That didn't mean he had to like it...
With a long breath he took Zephyr's hand a deal made, and permission given.
"One last piece of advise. Be mindful of what, or who you put first in your priorities. One day you will have to choose, between a person you care about, and your crusade. And in that moment there can be no hesitation." His words were of painful experience, choices he'd had to make, choices that hurt and haunt him.