We Don't Get to Choose

“You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

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We Don't Get to Choose

Post by Strawberry »

((The following events take place on Friday, April 16th, 2021. We originally ran this as a live D&D 5e styled voice campaign so it’s taken me a bit to transcribe everything. It definitely won’t do it justice but I’m going to try my best!))



Part I -- Descent


What happens when Batman, the Three Stooges, and their babysitter walk into the Void…

So goes the start of many a tale.

Well, maybe not exactly. It isn’t even how this story starts, in fact. Instead, it begins on the white sands of Seaside beach, near the pulsing crimson meteorite that crashed there long ago and has been hot ever since. Sounds like a great way to go home with super powers or radiation poisoning, right?

Three of the four that met there had assembled at the Seaside Baronial Manor the night before. Or maybe it was early morning when Ettyn Gedda arrived at last, after a long hunt for a missing Morgan LaFey. The Baroness of Seaside had opened the manor to their preparations, scant as they may have seemed. Though Jaycy and Ettyn had absconded together sometime around dawn, Caleb patiently waited for the moment at which they all left together, setting off down the beach toward the meeting point at the impossible-to-miss meteorite.

It was there that they found Angela, dressed casually and waiting for their arrival. Unlike prior times when Caleb had met Karma’s sister, she was not dressed in the black robes of her station but rather in white with a jacket and boots, her fiery red hair worn loose about her shoulders.

“Is this the group?” She asked, looking each of them over, the assassin, the slayer, and the Governor.

Angela.” Ettyn greeted her with a flaring of nostrils.

“Yes, that’s my name.” Angela confirmed before continuing. “I hope you all remember my talk about discretion. Let’s not make too much of a scene in there.”

“Good luck with that,” snorted Jaycy.

“I can be quiet,” Ettyn protested, giving Jaycy a narrow eyed look only to be met with a smirk from the redhead.

Ignoring the exchange, Angela spoke. “When the trouble does start, at that point you guys can go as crazy as you want. Until then, let’s keep it easy going.”

“You want me to talk or you want me to shut the fuck up when people say stuff?” Ettyn asked gruffly.

“Yes.” A simple enough response from Caleb.

“Shut the fuck up,” Jaycy answered with a laugh.

“Unless you have something nice to say about the current situation that will help us, then please feel free to talk,” Angela added her two cents.

“I mean meeting people in… what the fuck do you call it, Amaurot,” Ettyn clarified.

“Speaking of, I should probably take you all there right now.” Angela said after a moment of thought.

Quietly, Caleb swore as Angela turned and began manipulating the Void to open up a portal made of curling purple and black energy. It was stomach turning even from afar. Up close, it was a nightmare.

And it was together that they met that first nightmare, stepping through the churning portal to leave Seaside Beach behind.
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Re: We Don't Get to Choose

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Part II -- The Square


The Void energy fades and so too does Seaside Beach. When it does, the quartet finds themselves in a small but remarkably cavernous room. There were no windows and no doors. The corners were lit with a soft blue glow emanating from square pools of water at the base of obelisk shaped stones. Without them, it was likely that the room would be pitch black save for the faint glow coming from a crack high in the wall, well out of reach save for the curtain of ivy spilling from the hole and blanketing a corner of the stone floor.

It was the very corner in which sat a petite, dark haired humanoid figure curled into a ball next to one of the square pools. Angela moves in closer to see if they’re breathing. On closer examination, the mostly naked man appeared to be none other than Morgan LaFey. He looked like he had been there for a little bit but time seems to be wonky here.

“Well this is odd…” Angela hummed.

“Morgwynn.” Ettyn spoke.

“Hnn…” Morgan startled slightly, lifting his head.

Jaycy perked up. “Did you just say Morgan, Ettyn?”

“I said Morgwynn, that’s his name.” Ettyn said.

Morgan sat up, rubbing his face. “Oh this is a nightmare.”

Further questioning revealed Morgan had taken a trip through a faerie ring and had ended up the captive of fae traffickers. They were none too keen on having such a mouthy bounty and promptly traded him away. It got muddy there though because by all definitions, he should not have ended up there… not in that room. Despite that revelation, Morgan finally realized he was naked.

“Where are my clothes?! Before I was hit over the head, I definitely had clothes on.” He felt around his neck. “And jewelry. AH shit I was mugged! Great. You know what. Where... Where am I even?” He looked around.

Angela,” Ettyn prompted.

“Well you’re in Amaurot, which you shouldn’t be, but you’re here. I won’t question as to why,” Angela answers with a cluck of her tongue.

“Fae must have traded him to someone here. A changeling went to the city looking like you, didn’t smell like you, didn’t act like you. I stabbed him. He said you wandered into the circle.” Ettyn explained nonchalantly.

“I’ve.... taken control of bodies before. This one must have gone on auto-pilot after I left it…” Angela’s brow furrowed as she thought. This seemed to prompt more alarm for Morgan.

“Wh...what.” … “You know what… I’m here… and uh,” Morgan floundered for what to say.

“I’ll try to bring you back home if that helps.” Angela offered out.

“That really does.” Morgan looked through the ivy for anything to wear. He wasn’t wearing skivvies, so hopefully everyone covered their eyes. In his searching he finds… a shoe.

Half tuned into the conversation, Ettyn tears away some of the ivy and holds it out to him. It’s not the first time he’s worn ivy so he wraps it around himself like a loin cloth.

Checking to see if the ivy will hold her weight or if it will eat her, Ettyn finds that it doesn’t seem like it’ll eat her, might even hold her weight. She nudges Morgan out of the way to get a running start before jumping to grab the edge of the crack in the wall. She gets a good hand hold and pulls herself up to the crack to look around. The crack isn’t big enough for Caleb, Ettyn, or Angela. Morgan or Jaycy might have been able to but it would be a tight squeeze. Outside of the crack there are buildings of ranging sizes. From that angle, she can’t see too high, can’t even see a horizon. Can’t tell if it’s day or night, no sign of sunlight. Just a vague blue glow. But she can’t study the scenery too long.

As Ettyn hangs from the crack, from somewhere near Caleb comes a crackling. He’s quick to move away from it as Ettyn lowers down and backs up into the ivy in case of any surprises.

To one side, Angela refuses to move, rather she just looks at the others like ‘these are the people I have to bring here’.

A moment later, a bit of blue flame appears and spreads into a perfectly symmetrical circle. From the get go, it’s instantly less nauseating than the portal that brought them there.

After a moment of looking around, Angela walks right into it, disappearing.

“Fuck.” Caleb groans.

For the second time in a very, very short period, they step through another portal. This time with Morgan in tow.
~~~
The fire portal subsequently spat them out on a narrow walkway paved with lined marble tile, the walls too high to see over. As the last of the party steps through, the portal fizzles out, leaving them midway down the walkway. Scattered along the walkway is some rather familiar gear.

“OH! My pants! Oh god. Yes.” Morgan excitedly strips the ivy off while going for his clothes and everything.

While he dresses, Ettyn takes a look around. The walls are too high to see over, like an open air hallway, no ceiling. Above them the same blue glow made up the sky rather than a proper sky, the blue fading into fog. Or maybe like if you’re underwater and you look up, that sort of hazy blue. The tops of the buildings disappear into that. It smells kind of sterile and with a subtle underlying hint of decay. On the ground near some of Morgan’s gear is a smear of black blood that disappears around the corner to the east. The walkway appears to turn at the end of both the east and west ends. Ettyn quietly begins to follow the blood trail. Around one corner and then the second, she looks up the stairs. On the third corner, she peers around the side and sees a robed figure just beyond the mouth of the hallway. She takes them in and then looks back to signal to the rest of the group about what she sees. “Robes. Looks half ghostly.”

“They’re shades of the past. Be on your guard though,” Angela explains in a whisper.

“If they see me will they do anything?” Ettyn asks.

Angela frowns. “I’m not sure, I’ve only been here once before.”

Ettyn moves slightly further up the corridor. When she turns, she finds her ascent landing her at the mouth of a serene square, at the center of which is a slowly rotating blue crystal several stories tall. Lush, healthy grass offers greenery around the spinning crystal and around the edges of the grassy area is more tile, black and white and angularly lined. At the northwest and southeast corners, ancient trees still flower with fresh buds and offer shade from a non-existent sun over stone benches that sit a little higher than an average bench might. To the west is an entrance to a towering building, its door barely cracked open as far as she can tell. Tall figures in hooded robes mill about the square and beyond them, gelatinous black creatures seem to pay the robed figures no mind. Ettyn signals back to Jaycy and Angela what she sees.

In the back, Morgan whispers, “What the heck is going on?”

"Those creatures you see are Cubus. They’re failed experiments. They’re highly violent.” Angela says softly.

“H-how violent?” Morgan asks.

“Highly. If they see you, they will attack.”

Ettyn signals toward the door, looking to Angela and points to herself, making a creeping motion while looking for confirmation. Angela thinks about it for a moment and nods her head. Ettyn creeps around the edge, stealthing before stepping through obscuring black mist to cover behind the bench to the northwest to get a better look at the robed figures. She gives it about a minute to see if the one looking her way looks elsewhere.

Morgan, being not very patient at all, goes sneaking around the corner to see where Ettyn went. As he does, he gets up to the mouth of the hallway.

Caleb behind Morgan hisses, “Fuck.”

Somehow Morgan manages not to be seen and peeks around the corner at Ettyn, flapping his hands while mouthing, “What the fuck?!

Ettyn points past the shade between them and makes a gesture of something bursting. In turn, Morgan conjures a minor illusion with no sound, scent, or anything like that. He grabs a little fleece between his fingers and flicks it. The illusion, a pixie, shows up on the eastern edge of the square. Angela adds to it with a bit of sound around the faerie as if it’s beating its wings. The robed figure nearest the mouth of the hallway notices the faerie and slowly starts inching away. One of the cubus hurries over to the pixie and tries to munch on it. It doesn’t realize that it’s an illusion and keeps trying to slurp-chomp on it.

Meanwhile, Ettyn waits for the figure nearest here to get to the end of its path to turn around. As soon as it turns around, Ettyn keeps pace with it down along the western wall to try and make her way to the door. She doesn’t have to worry about the figure for long. As soon as the three robed figures hear the cubus trying to attack the faerie, they move away from it. They don’t even look at Ettyn and instead escape out the northwestern corridor. Ettyn signals back to Morgan and whoever else is looking to signal to the ooze before heading for the door.

As soon as she gets near the doors though, she realizes the flanking hallways near the door are filled with more of the cubus oozes. And they are all acutely aware of her now.

“...Fuck.”

With that came chaos, beginning with Morgan running into the middle of the square screaming at the top of his lungs and ending with the tolling of a distant bell with the death of the last of the jelly like oozes.

By the end of it, they were ankle deep in muck and Morgan was left to try and spit the taste out of his mouth after one exploded in his face. Bent over double, hands to his knees, he groans.

“It got in my mouth.”

That’s what she said.
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Re: We Don't Get to Choose

Post by Strawberry »

Part III - The Shepherd



“We should be able to travel through the city through this crystal.” She raises her hand to try and attune to it. But the crystal doesn’t respond. “This is strange. We’re in the main city square here.” Angela points to the door. “That’s the Bureau of the Administrator. There could be something there.”

Ettyn takes up her hand axe and looks at Angela, holding it up. “Anyone mind if I take a piece?”

“Nonono, don’t do that. This connects to other locations in the city. If we want to use it, we can’t risk having it fractured.” Angela quickly shook her head.

“Noted.” Ettyn nods and puts her hand axe away.

“We did say stay quiet.” Jaycy adds.

Ettyn snorts. “The crystal’s not going to say anything.”

Angela gives Ettyn a look and heads to the doors. They’re floor to ceiling, gold with black art deco vibes. The doors are closed. “Well there could be someone here. I thought the… well never mind. Either way. There should be others in here. You’ve seen them, the masked figures, large coats, rather tall?”

“Yeah they went that way.” Ettyn points north.

“We should be able to speak with them, so this is the Bureau of the Administrator. We should be able to find someone to hopefully answer our questions. I suggest one of you ask. I’m going to stay off to the side.” Angela steps back and gestures for one of them to open the door.

Morgan opens the door and immediately, a crackling bolt of purple electricity comes flying at his face. He jukes out of the way. It narrowly manages to miss Ettyn behind him, disappearing somewhere near the crystal. As the doors open, he sees a room of much the same size as the one you started in, this one seems significantly less serene. Long stone benches fill both sides of the room. At the opposite end of the room is a massive creature, equal parts man and beastly horse. In his hand he carries a spear crackling with purple electrical energy. Morgan lets out a nervous laugh. “Hey man! How you doin’.”

“That’s no man. That should not be here. I think the experiments have…” Angela says from the side.

“I think I got the wrong room bro.” Morgan attempts to close the door.

Angela’s funnels pop away from her back to cast a protective and emboldening bond of light blue on those nearby.

The figure at the end of the room calls out in seemingly every language you know. “Why do you come here?”

“Just… uh… I’m lookin for a way out, tee-bee-aych.” Morgan says.

Near the back, Ettyn grumble-growls.

“Where’s Karma?” Caleb asks.

Morgan continues. “You know where the exit is?”

At last the creature speaks again. “There is no way out.”

“Where’s Karma?” Caleb repeats.

The Shepherd reaches a hand up to stroke his beard as he squints at Caleb. “So you came.”

“I’ll ask a third time. Where’s. Karma?” Caleb repeats once more.

“I do not answer to you.” The Shepherd scoffs.

“I mean. You know. We could get along and you could hook us up with some kind of hint of something.” Morgan points out helpfully.

“What the man with the shiny shoes said. The sooner we know, the sooner we are out of your way. Right Morgwynn?” Ettyn nods.

Morgan looks at himself.

“This too will be your tomb.” The Shepherd shakes his head.

Caleb begins to approach the creature with his sickles out.

As you do.

Morgan, quietly in the background, “Caleb, you’re gonna get us ki-illed.” Singsong.

Ettyn moves forward and points at the creature.

“This is some sort of experiment that has been unleashed. It should not be here.” Angela says quietly.

“Can it be reasoned with?” Ettyn asks.

“You also should not be here little one.” The Shepherd says to Angela.

Angela lets out a sigh, pondering a moment like she’s considering something.

Jaycy pipes up. “Is there something we can do to help?”

The Shepherd shakes his head. But before he can answer, Angela casts a bolt of energy at the creature. It veers off course and tips off the end of his spear. He gives Angela a look like Really?

“Just so you know… quiet doesn’t mean attack everything.” Jaycy sighs.

“There’s no point in staying quiet anymore. Not with this here.” Angela answers Jaycy’s sigh with one of her own.

As they engage the Shepherd, he seems intent on taking off Caleb’s head. Some quick thinking puts Caleb at his flank, out of range of his strikes. Jaycy follows in to the Bureau only to find two more Cubus awaiting her. It’s enough of a distraction that Caleb is able to level not one but two clean hits to the Shepherd’s unguarded side.

Amidst the chaos, an errant spell flies off course, striking an overhead chandelier and sending it to the floor in a shattering of crystal and glass. Morgan, ever the diplomat, fires off a few more blasts and lets out a loud shout.

“SHOULD HAVE TOLD US WHERE KARMA WAS BIIIIIIIIIIITCH.”

The Shepherd slowly looks Morgan’s way.

“He is no threat!” Ettyn clangs her swords together a few times to try and keep him looking at her. “I AM.”

The Shepherd pauses a moment and looks to Ettyn before pointing a finger at her and saying a single word. She can’t get away and soon finds herself deaf and mute.

Jaycy drops a handful of Arena sand on the floor and from it, a spectral dueler rises like a ghost of Arena duelists past. It takes a swing at the creature. Behind it, Caleb jumps up and stabs both of his sickles into the thing’s back. He lands such a sure shot that the creature lets out a mournful screech and sinks back on its haunches. He leans in and whispers quietly into the beast’s ear. “Where’s Karma?”

Ettyn gives Caleb an approving gesture before looking to the creature and making a two fisted gesture like punching into something before unloading on him. “Oh. Oh. I got my voice back.”

The two trade words, Ettyn and the Shepherd, the latter sinking back a bit like a cornered animal. Ettyn grabs for his hair and with one solid swing, chops through his neck, lopping his head clean off. She tosses the head and turns to let out a roar at the slimes.

They’re too dumb to realize it’s a bad thing and they just sorta jiggle.

Nobody said survival was their strong suit.

Morgan sends a blast the cubus’s way but it goes wide. “Shit shit shit shit.” He shakes his hand out and tries again which does connect, going right through the thing’s head with a squish. He moves inside the room and spots the other one. “OH SHIT.” Panic blast.

The spiritual dueler moves over to try and dispatch the other Cubus while Jaycy also takes a hack at it. With the Shepherd dead, Caleb moves over to try and kill the Cubus and manages it with his second swing.

Once more the room falls quiet.

Angela moves closer to the experiment and moves over. “If you give me a moment, I can seal it away so that nothing comes back from it. The rest of you should go see if the aetheryte is working.”

Morgan looks back at the crystal. “It doesn’t look like it’s doing anything.”

“Sure I can’t take a few pieces?” Ettyn slaps the beast salves on her belt which slosh with disgusting liquid.

Angela considers it for a moment. “You can… just try not to take too much.”

“Only need a little bit.” Ettyn takes her axe and tears into its torso to take its liver and pull it out as quickly as she can to take it outside to prepare it into another beast salve.

Angela uses her funnels to scan the fallen creature to clear it up.

As they head out into the square, Morgan asks, “So what exactly is happening? We’re looking for Karma. There’s experiments on the loose. Honestly, I just wanna shower right now. And an explanation. The explanation is probably more helpful but I’d also like a shower.”

“Karma’s possessed.” Ettyn’s answer is a simple one.

Morgan frowns.

“Great. Thanks, I hate it.”
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Re: We Don't Get to Choose

Post by Strawberry »

Part IV -- Please Don’t Put That In Your Mouth


Eventually Morgan moves over to the crystal, looking for water under it. Instead, he finds a placard at the base of it made of symbols and a continuous line that seems to be drawn between them. It didn’t seem to be a spell, at the very least.

On closer examination, Caleb also didn’t recognize it. At a glance he thought it might line up with the sigils Karma wore on the palms of her hands. Alas, not even close.

“Hey you guys. We gotta get this crystal working right. Is that right, you, miss uhhh…” Morgan snaps a few times at Angela. “Angela.”

“Yes it would be good if you got it working again.” Angela confirms.

“So there’s this thing over here, maybe you can get it working while I go over here and try to scrape this off of me.” Morgan goes to try and scrape off the flakes of dried sludge on him.

“Sure, what the hell.” Ettyn takes her pickaxe to the tile to cut up a chunk, which she takes up and throws it at the placard. No reaction save for a faint buzzing. She looks at it, to Caleb and back. “What if you lick it.”

“No.” Caleb answers.

Ettyn and Morgan begin chanting.

“LICK IT LICK IT LICK IT LICK IT.”

“Have you all been talking to Suturi?” Jaycy asks.

Ettyn hesitates. “...Maybe.”

Only for Morgan to add in; “The DOCTOR you mean? Doctor Squire… squooter.”

Jaycy looks to Angela. “Might this involve the crystal?”

Angela goes to look at the placard. Caleb pokes at it to try and see if it moves. It doesn’t.

Morgan quietly, “Lick it, lick it, lick it.”

Jaycy moves to get a better look at the placard.

Caleb sighs. “You’re gonna make me do that…”

“LICK IT.” Morgan seems intent.

“Look at the icons.” Caleb points.

Undaunted, Morgan says; “I’m gonna lick it.”

“They’re people in different… It’s a dance.” Caleb says. That also seems to get Morgan’s attention.

“It’s a dance?! Are we gonna dance this thing on. I can dance pretty fucking good.” Morgan says, matter-of-factly.

Angela sighs. Ettyn, knowing what she must do, flexes and dances seductively toward the placard. For her efforts, she gets a zap of benevolent electrical energy to the tip of her nose.

“Are we dancing at it?” Morgan asks.

Ettyn puts her hand on the placard and does a flexing booty dance, trying to seduce it. Again she gets zapped, harder this time.

A bit like the placard is swatting a naughty dog on the nose with a rolled up newspaper.

Bad Ettyn.

At last Morgan does lick it. It’s a bit like sticking his tongue to a nine volt battery. He shakes his head. “So… you’re saying this is a dance.” He proceeds to mimic the motions of each icon in order along the line connecting them. “Uh uh oo ah vogue vogue.”

As he does so, the crystal comes to life. A blue glow illuminates the crystal and it whirs with energy.

Morgan flicks his hair.

“You’re welcome.” Caleb grumbles.

Angela reaches her hand up and attunes herself to the aetheryte. “Raise your hand to it and focus yourself upon it.”

“So… you don’t have to lick it?” Morgan asks.

“No.” Angela says.

“Good because that was eugh.” Rife with relief, Morgan was.

Ettyn looks side to side and leans in to see if she can attune to it by sticking her tongue to it, leaving a spiral of slobber around it as it spins slowly.

Angela can only watch. “...You want to focus on this…You could get lost in the aether and we will never find you or your body or your spirit ever again.”

“....Fiiiiiiiine.” Ettyn huffs.

Caleb and Morgan are going back and forth in Thieves Cant. Who knows what they’re saying but it ends in kissy sounds from Morgan.

“Shorty give me your hand.” Angela holds a hand out to Morgan.

“Uhhhh… okay…” Morgan gives her his hand.

Angela snatches his hand up. “Everyone else hold hands.”

Morgan, quietly; “Don’t tell Mart.”

“Fuck.” Caleb swears.

As if anyone expected any different.
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Re: We Don't Get to Choose

Post by Strawberry »

Part V -- The Broken Void & Three More Years on the Therapy Couch



As they hold hands, Angela focuses on the aetheryte and little by little, first their souls and then their bodies are carried away on the current. The blinding blue glow fades away and you find yourself in the dark once more. Little by little the darkness nearest you thins, pin pricked by golden stars. The black becomes purple and then magenta, a deep endless space that extends only so far before it darkens to black again save for the glimmering of distant stars. Under foot, crumbling rock squares seem to support their weight with nothing underneath. Any bouncing and jumping is met with a wobble of the square.

At first, it’s just black. And silent. Then there is a very, very quiet murmur ahead of them. Somewhere in the distance, they can hear chittering. Far off, there is the beating of wings.

“Try not to fall.” Angela starts forward. Morgan still hasn’t let Angela’s hand go. They inch forward bit by bit, the darkness clearing as they go. Eventually they come across another hooded figure. Only this one does not run away.

“Should you not be back in the city?” Asks Angela. It answers and she ventures a little closer. It says something to her and she answers in a language none of the others know. It sounds a bit like the adults from the Peanuts. “The forum is open for debate if you’d like to go there.”

“We cannot leave this place.” It answers.

“Why’s that? Could you give me any information about what happened.” Angela prompts.

“You of all people should know.” They say.

Angela feigns ignorance. “I’m just a secretary. But I should go speak with the council, is there anything you can help me with?”

“You should not continue forward.” It says.

“I have orders.” Angela takes a deep breath.

“From whom?” It asks.

“Azem.” Angela answers.

The figure pauses. “...Azem is here?”

Angela nods. “Yes, it is my role to aid her.”

The figure seems to pause a moment longer, thinking. Then after a few heartbeats, it steps aside to let her pass. Angela gestures for the others to follow. As they’re walking, Morgan drops a pebble off the side into the void. It falls and falls and falls, out of sight. He never hears it land. “Where are we now?” He asks Angela.

“We’re within the Void.” Angela continues on.

“Uh… huh.” Morgan says slowly.

They pass by a second hooded figure who says nothing but looks back to the first and after a moment, steps aside. Angela gestures with a curling finger for Ettyn to come up. “Give me your primary weapon.”

“Think I’m going to be close to this thing or far away?” Ettyn says with a nod to her longsword and her longbow.

“You’ll be close enough.” Angela gestures to the longsword.

Ettyn unhooks the steel sword and hands it over. In turn Angela blesses the weapon with a golden glow. Ettyn sheathes the weapon as Angela gestures for Ettyn to go on ahead. From the darkness comes a slimy void worm, oozing out and toward Ettyn.

Morgan lights it up with reddish pink faerie fire and calls over to Caleb, “Now try to find the balls on this one!”

Caleb leaps from one stone to another, right over the Void below to get behind the thing. He clears the jump carefully, with two shots and a solid sneak attack, he cleaves it in two. Then he removes a pair of round orbs from it and throws them Morgan’s way.

Regretfully, Morgan accidentally catches it. He holds one out to Ettyn.

“Put them in your pocket, I’ll get them later.” Ettyn says.

“I don’t wanna put them in my pocket!” Morgan protests.

“Put them in Jaycy’s pocket.” Ettyn suggests.

“I don’t need more balls in my pocket.” Jaycy quickly declines.

At the end of it all, Morgan puts them in Ettyn’s pants.

Ahead in the dark though, they can still hear the beating of wings.

Jaycy summons a figure of light ahead of them, at the edge of its light they can see the ragged edge of a beating wing. She moves the light a bit closer to the figure, illuminating a small purple void dragon hovering over the stone pathway. It is thin and distorted by the void’s energy and it looks at the approaching group with pained eyes.

“Hello,” Jaycy says in draconic.

It looks surprised that one of them speaks its language. It gives her a little sound and looks conflicted and pained.

“Are you okay? Do you need help with something?” Jaycy asks in draconic before she explains what she said to the others.

The dragon looks as though it wants to snap at them but resists, groaning and giving her a pained sound, slipping to one side as if to gesture them on. It looks like it’s warring between attacking and resisting.

“Are you hurt?” Jaycy asks.

It howls and bows its head.

“If I come up to you and have a way to speak to you, will that be okay?” Jaycy continues in draconic.

It thinks for a moment, warring with itself once more before bowing its head again. Jaycy moves up to get closer to it, lifting a hand to touch it, making soft soothing sounds as she touches it.

“That dragon’s been corrupted by the void… the longer we stay here, the more likely it is to attack us.” Angela says softly.

“How do we save it?” Jaycy asks her.

“There’s no saving it. It’s why we shouldn’t be lingering here longer than we have to.” Angela frowns.

Ettyn looks to Angela, blighted eyes and all and just looks at her for a few moments.

“It’s sad to say but we need to either put it out of its misery or we walk away.” Angela adds, even with Ettyn’s eyes upon her.

“We have to walk away.” Jaycy says quickly.

Ettyn speaks next in Draconic, “I’m sorry friend… I know what it’s like to be cursed. Please… let us pass in peace.”

Jaycy agrees, nodding with Ettyn.

The dragon looks from Jaycy to Ettyn and back a few times. It looks like it wants to bite out but after a few long moments of staring, it shifts the beating of its wings and slips aside out of the way fully. It inclines its head to Ettyn as if to say yes.

Ettyn bows her head to the dragon and looks to the others to urge them to do the same.

“Tass and I will come back to take you to the Emerald Isles.” Jaycy adds. This seems to catch the dragon’s attention.

The dragon makes a sound at Jaycy as if to ask, ‘You will?’

Jaycy nods and does a full courtly bow. Her answers seems to be a comfort to the dragon and it bows in return, leaving them room to pass.

They light the way forward and find the familiar blue glow of a portal. They all near the edge of it, leaving room for Angela to do her thing. As they reach the portal, they hear a rumbling behind them. They look back to find the stone pathway crumbling away. Little by little, it fades into glimmering motes of light, a steady wave of decay that wipes the two hooded figures off the map within seconds. When it gets to the dragon, the dragon lets out a mournful cry that sounds quite like “GO” and with it, they find themselves shielded with the last of its energy before it too joins the aether in a burst of purple light.

“Let’s leave this place. Morgwynn, Red, Caleb. C’mon.” Ettyn ushers them through.

As it all crumbles around them, the quintet steps through the portal into safety.
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Re: We Don't Get to Choose

Post by Strawberry »

Part VI -- The Coliseum of Dinosaurs


Much like before, they step free of the portal and the blue glow dies down around them. This time, they find themselves in another abyss of free floating rock. Unlike before, there is no starlight to light their path, making it harder to see much further than their eyes can squint.

It’s just black. And silent. A path of broken stone seems to lead in a spiral down to what appears to be a ruined colosseum. The pillars are white stone splashed with red, many of them are crumbling and only a few are still intact. A chittering, slurping sound can be heard coming from what may be the center of the colosseum.

Angela leads the way, hopping from one stone to another in a downward path toward the coliseum. It was once a debate forum made of stone steps in amphitheatre styling. At the center is a raised platform. To the best of Angela’s knowledge, there should be an aetheryte point in the center.

“We might have an enemy up top. Stay sharp.” Angela floats down to the edge and gestures for them to join her.

As they get closer, they see what appears to be a massive cheshire worm atop the platform.

“...This isn’t a healthy debate.” Angela says.

If Karma had been there, she would have punched her sister.

Ettyn gestures to Caleb, nodding for them to split the directions. There are 3 risers going up to the platform but otherwise the climb up is about 10 feet high. The creature hadn’t noticed them.

“Think we’ll be able to distract it somehow?” Jaycy asks quietly.

“Much like the other creatures we’ve seen, this appears to be another experiment. It would be best if we put it down.” Angela answers.

“What… are these people doing. Do you know these people?” Morgan asks.

Angela ponders. “Somewhat.”

Ettyn gets low and gestures for the others to stay down and keep quiet to stealth up against the wall.

“These people are people of creation and through their fear manifest, that is what you see here.” Angela whispers.

“Well this is now my fear manifest.” Says Morgan.

“Should we try distracting it?” Jaycy offers.

“We can try. As long as we can get to the aetheryte crystal.” Angela answers.

“Well… just, you know, make another one of it, that looks really attractive. And then it’ll trundle off into the void.” Ettyn offered out.

“That with a bow on its head.” Morgan adds.

“If it’s an experiment, I don’t know that attraction will matter. I was thinking of making something that it would attack rather.” Jaycy points out.

“Yes… it’s going to be rather violent.” Angela confirms.

Ettyn motions with her swords to attack it and starts to count down. “Caleb, assassinate the shit out of it.”

Caleb scales the wall and sneaks up on the worm. A flurry of blows is all the others can hear. He manages to deal a hefty amount of damage before it can even realize what is happening. It isn’t enough to kill it or even make it bloodied but it does a heavy deal.

As the worm reels, spinning around, Morgan moves to flank it. While doing so, he transforms himself into a giant tyrannosaurus rex. The worm is terribly confused because how often do you see a t-rex in the void?

Caleb takes the opportunity to take another couple of shots at it. With that it’s bloodied.

Ettyn finds the end of Morgan’s t-rex tail and goes running up his tail like dino-stairs at the airport in the Flintstones. At the top, she unleashes a flurry of blows, surging through the action to deal strike after strike after strike. She cleaves a deep wound and just keeps going, goring the creature straight through at which point she tumbles through the viscera and out the other side.

Morgan makes sad dino sounds. Then takes a bite out of the creature.

Jaycy takes a bite out of it too and ends up with the worst heartburn of her life. She throws up a little.

In the background, Ettyn screams like a psychopath.

As the massive black worm dies, it disintegrates into ash before fading away into glimmering motes of aetherial energy. Left behind is a ghostly figure, of similar height and build to the robed, masked figures you’ve been seeing throughout your time here. Rather than a white mask, he wears no mask and you are able to see his features plainly illuminated by starlight. He is a handsome man with golden eyes and loose flowing white hair that falls to his shoulders. A frown seems to be etched permanently upon his features. He looks to them all with his arms crossed, a little disgusted. He stands approximately where the aetheryte should be.

Ettyn cracks a big grin. “Hi.”

The man wrinkles his nose at her.

“They mean well.” Angela says in the same distorted language she used with the hooded figures.

He answers in common and gestures one hand palm up to the dinosaur. “And this?”

“That’s our bard.” Ettyn answers.

“Hey, wait a minute.” Jaycy protests.

Ettyn corrects herself, “That’s our bard. That’s our other bard.”

“I imagine his arms are much too short to play much of a tune.” The man drawls.

Morgan’s T-rex arms go up like What the fuck bro. He then starts… dinotwerking to show he’s a dancer, not a musician.

The man simply looks at them all expectantly.

“Where’s Karma?” Caleb… no Jaycy asks before Caleb can.

“Who is this?” Ettyn asks.

He answers before Angela can, “I am the Emissary of the Convocation.”

Ettyn repeats; “Angela, who’s this?” Because she understood exactly none of that.

“Elidibus.” Angela answers.


Caleb vaguely recognizes the name.

Angela continues; “He is Elidibus. And he was supposed to protect Karma.”

“Where is she?” Caleb asks.

“Elidibus, can you take us to her?” Angela adds.

The Emissary sighs. “You and I both know that I cannot take you there. That you have made it this far… you’re more determined than I thought. More stupid too but the two tend to go hand in hand.”

“You do know who I’m related to right?” Angela deadpans.

“I’m not leaving without her.” Caleb adds.

Morgan growls behind them.

Elidibus looks over to Caleb and gives him an up and down look as if he’s assessing him. It doesn’t look like the first time he’s done that.

“Can we not threaten the Emissary, please.” Angela sighs.

“Huh. Mister Feren, I assume. You’re a stubborn one, aren’t you?” The Emissary asks the assassin.

Off to the side, the t-rex is sniffing at Jaycy as she begs it not to eat her while the t-rex grins and Ettyn throws cat treats at it. Why she has cat treats is anyone’s guess. She then finds a place to lean while people make the big confusing words. She takes out the purple void worm testicles to mash them into a paste. They pop like bubbles, a bit like squishing a grape.

Dino-Morgan licks his lips.

Please no.

“Emissary, I know that you were against what they were planning. Can you offer us any aid to get to where she is?” Angela pleads.

The Emissary sighs again. “You know my oath, Secretary. You know all of our oaths. However, I can’t stop you. You seem determined to go on. But before I allow you to pass, I need to ensure that you are ready for what is to come. Because I wasn’t.” From his right hip, he pulls a pouch. He gives it a little shake, there’s rattling and a slight metallic sound. “So. Let’s play a game. I ask you three questions. You give me your answers. If I believe you have done your part, I’ll let you pass.”

“Can we nominate Not Ettyn for answering?” Jaycy pipes up.

Elidibus snorts. “I will let you all answer.”

Morgan sighs and unpolymorphs.

Elidibus squints at Morgan’s sorcery.

Morgan is still sniffing Jaycy.

Ettyn finishes her beast salve. She’s covered in blood, has a ton of weapons on her. She looks over at the weird, handsome ghost and narrows her eyes at him and curls her arms a bit to flex her biceps and gives him an upnod.

Elidibus stares at her and looks to Angela, “This is what you brought to save her?”

Jaycy wolf whistles at Ettyn.

“I sadly did not have much choice.” Angela says with a grimace.

“Ow ow!” Morgan hoots for Ettyn.

Caleb… is quiet.

“And I am second guessing my choice at this point.” Angela grumbles.

Elidibus gives her a small, small smile at that.

“We don’t get to choose who our friends are. Kind of like the council.” Angela adds.

Ettyn gives Angela the most touched look.

“They found me naked in some vines.” Morgan grins.

Elidibus looks to Morgan. “Well… at least you’ve improved since then.”

“Baby I improve all the time.” Morgan fingerguns the ghostly figure.

“When the bar’s that low, it does not take much to improve.” The Emissary tuts.

“WHOA.” Morgan gasps.

“...This is a fragment of a memory. There’s not much to seduce here.” Angela says belatedly to them.

“To be fair, I’m not really trying to seduce him because he’s not that cute. Ahahaaa.” Morgan looks at his nails.

Elidibus gives Angela a sad look. “Would that I could have a corporeal body but when I realized what they were plotting, I protested and they… decided to banish me. And… here I am. So! These questions, you are running out of time. I suggest you answer them quickly, and correctly. If you are incorrect, you are not witty enough to go on. You know, I can send you anywhere in the Void. Shall we proceed?”

Angela nods. “Let us proceed.”

“Alright. Now, perhaps these will hearken back to your early days in school, simple things, riddles, logic, the like. Word play.” The Emissary begins, then to Angela, “You know how I’ve always liked my word play. So the first one, simple enough. What does Man love more than life? Hate more than death or mortal strife? That which the contented man desires, The poor have, the rich require, The miser spends, and the spendthrift saves, And all men carry to their graves. It is greater than the gods, Worse than the Devil, Dead people eat it all the time, and if live people eat it, they die slowly.” Pause. “I’d like that to rhyme but alas, I’m not a bard.”

“Could you… could you repeat the question.” Morgan asks.

“Of course…” Elidibus readies to repeat it.

“The answer is nothing.” Caleb answers before he can repeat it.

Elidibus looks to Caleb and gives him a simple nod. From his bag he pulls out what appears to be an amulet. He hands it over, real simple, braided cording. The pendant has a familiar mark to the crystals Angela gave him previously. He doesn’t explain it as Caleb takes it. “That’s one. Now let’s do the next. I can be thrown out, yet not locked away, I can not live with extremes in play, If you lose me, there's no doubt you'll fall, and to keep me, you can not do it all.”

Morgan thinks about it for a moment and then speaks up. “...Balance?”

The Emissary looks over to Morgan, and you can see his eyebrows raise. He looks genuinely dumbfounded and impressed. “Very good. It is, in fact, Balance.”

“I’m an acrobat.” Morgan preens.

“That would explain a lot.” Elidibus admits.

Ettyn gives Morgan an upnod and a kissy face, impressed but teasing. Jaycy golf claps.

From the bag the ghostly Emissary takes out the next item, a horned mask of glossy ebony has horns and a skull-like mien. The mask reshapes to fit the wearer.

Morgan immediately puts it on.

As Elidibus hands the mask off he gives Angela an unreadable look. “Finally, the third one. Seated high above the land, I have a face; I have no hands. Night might wax and day may wane:
Beneath me, no one walks unseen. Ever at rest, but no rest for me, I determine your destiny. You knew me not for all your lives. Now, know me not, and you shall die.”

Quiet falls on them all as they contemplate the riddle. He looks between the five of them patiently.

Angela closes her eyes for a moment then answers. “Time.”

Elidibus huffs a quiet little laugh. “Exactly the thing we don’t have, is it not?” He nods and reaches into the bag, hesitating for a moment, debating on if he should follow through. He finally withdraws a small white cylindrical crystal. It’s capped on either end with brass or copper. He holds it in his hand for a moment, almost pained. But finally he reaches out to hand it to Angela. “I assume you’ll know what to do with this.”

Angela pauses, nods, and reaches her hand for it.

“You only have one shot.” The Emissary says gravely.

Angela nods. “Yes, one shot, I know.”

“Do well with that… I know you will.” Elidibus looks at the rest of them and nods. “Well, like you said, beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to our friends. So… go on--”

“I think we’re pretty great.” Morgan scoffs.

“Well… I will restrain my thoughts on that, because you… are smarter than you look, young man. Hm. That makes you dangerous.” The Emissary purses his lips.

Morgan gives a pretty little hee-hee and winks.

Elidibus looks back and nods. As he begins to fade away, he turns into a blinding blue light and the circle in the center of the platform begins to glow like the others before. Then he is gone, leaving the five of them alone.

Once more alone in the Void, the quintet takes the opportunity to heal up, applying spells and salves (much to Morgan’s chagrin). And then… it’s through the portal to their (hopefully) final destination.
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Re: We Don't Get to Choose

Post by Strawberry »

Part VII -- Azem’s Interlude



The rift takes them through a starlit path that seems to cross through eternity. If they’ve ever pictured a light at the end of the tunnel, this would probably sum it up. But they feel perfectly fine. In fact, this is likely the most peaceful and serene this place has been since they arrived. Circling sigils and runes surround their path, offering a guiding tunnel toward a white light.

As they get closer to the end of the path, a feminine figure in black robes awaits them. To Caleb and Angela, she looks immensely familiar, however she has pitch black hair, silver eyes, and a kind smile. She looks to them all, tilting her head and looks each of them over. She looks to Caleb for a moment, back to Angela, to Ettyn, her smile saddening to her as well as Jaycy. With Morgan, she doesn’t seem so sad, but the smile is still there.

“You must be weary after coming all this way. How are you doing?” The woman says. Her voice is soft but clear, soothing even.

“Where’s Karma?” Caleb asks immediately.

“Ah. Words you’ve repeated often since she left, yes?” Azem’s smile is sympathetic.

“Let’s just say I have a singular focus right now. Where’s Karma?” Caleb repeats.

“Not to worry… you’re almost there. As those who came before me have warned ad infinitum, the road ahead is truly a treacherous thing. I will not dissuade you from your course… in fact, rather I urge you to venture forth and press on. My people are…” She sighs, looking to Angela, her smile sad, “So far gone, to twist the balance in the name of the highest lord is a blasphemy I cannot bear. So, if there’s one thing you do, stop them. Lay them to rest, bring your young vessel home… do not lose yourselves along the way. Will you do this?”

“We will.” Angela nods.

Affirmations from the others echo after her words.

“Okay.” The familiarly unfamiliar woman takes a deep breath and lifts her hands, palms up. “Go now with the Light, I give you my strength in what is to come.” The light’s intensity burns so brightly you can’t see anything but white. When it fades, she is gone. They feel invigorated and even healed of many of their remaining wounds..

The light beckons them forth onto the final chapter.
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Re: We Don't Get to Choose

Post by Strawberry »

Part VIII -- The Final Steps of Conviction



One last veil separates them from their final destination, each one can practically feel it in their bones. This is it. This is what they’ve been searching for. They move on and when the veil breaks, they find themselves on a bridge. It seems like an innocuous stone bridge but there is a tension there.

Angela begins walking forward. Ettyn gestures for them to spread out.

As they inch forward, they reach a point at which the darkness breaks. From darkness comes the light. They are surrounded by the cosmos on an out of place bridge, the pillars that support it fading into nothingness beneath them. A chunk of the bridge has been taken out midway down, rock crumbling into the starlit abyss. At the far, far end, there is a bubble like enclosure that puts off immense amounts of power. Angela has heard rumors that it is a cradle of creation that gives life to the Amaurotines. It comes at a great cost, as all things do. The figures before them look similar to the robed figures of before, but these are twisted. Skeletal wings from their back have them hovering. They all look toward the party as if they’re expecting them. It seems everyone is holding their breath.

Angela once more casts the bond upon those in their party.

Beyond the winged figures, there are two robed figures on the bridge itself. One, Angela and Caleb recognize as Nem, the entity that has been utilizing Karma for dire means. The other, Caleb doesn’t recognize but Angela knows him. They stand beneath a suspended gold glowing humanoid figure. Humanoid, feminine, curvy. A familiar figure, fifteen feet above the bridge, shrouded completely in golden light. In one hand, she bears a golden longsword. In the other, a golden shield. She doesn’t seem to be moving.

The ones at the end of the bridge look their way. There’s a collective exhale. Lips are moving but words can’t be heard. They say something and disappear north out of view.

Caleb attempts to read their lips, squinting across the bridge. He caught a little bit, the shape of their mouths moving quickly enough he only got bits and pieces of it. Something about stop, don’t let, finish, must finish. It’s enough for him though he fails to share it with the others.

Morgan moves forward and spreads a bane across several of the winged creatures.

Jaycy pulls from her pocket a keychain, taking a little Bentley off of the keychain. She presses a button and it becomes a big Bentley. Like… really. A full sized Bentley right there on the bridge. “Cover me, I’m going for Karma.” She gets in and starts to drive.

Ettyn jumps on the car and car-surfs it down the bridge.

The Bentley goes barreling down the bridge and into one of the winged figures. It runs into one of them but it doesn’t seem completely solid so while it impacts it, it doesn’t hit as hard as they would like. It does knock it back onto its ass.

Ettyn jumps off the car and goes hurtling toward Karma.

“Yippie-ki-yay motherfucker.” Inspiring words from Jaycy for Ettyn.

Ettyn gets almost to Karma only to find she can’t get past an invisible barrier separating them. She swaps her sword for her bullwhip and tries to get a hold of Karma. The whip rebounds off the veil back at Ettyn. Up close, she can see Karma’s eyes are not open, she’s not moving. She’s just there.

One of the winged figures passes the car and instead tries to reach for Morgan but it can’t quite find what it’s looking for. Another tries to reach for Morgan and it catches him with its claws but the creepy wave of dread seems to dissipate.

Angela summons her spiritual weapon amidst the fray of Sundered Paragons. It takes a whack at one as Angela throws a sacred flame upon it. One of the other paragons tries to get at Ettyn to no avail. Another one goes to join the Morgan party but falters, tripping over itself, falling prone.

Caleb goes to help the others, flanking one of the paragons before attacking it. He nails it twice on top of a sneak attack, leaving it looking pretty rough. A Paragon takes a swing at Caleb but can’t quite get him.

The best thing about a Morgan party is Morgan gets to say when the fuck it’s over. He casts a thunderwave, a wave of thunderous energy flowing out from him in a quick burst. One is knocked back and the others still take a brunt of the blow. He adds insult to injury by kicking one of them. “FUCK OFF!”

Jaycy, still in the Bentley, drives forward and tries to run one of the others over before getting out.

Ettyn looks to the Paragon. “Party time.” With the radiant sword, she takes a stab at it. The first blow has it bloodied but she keeps going until it’s reduced to ash. Ettyn can’t get to Karma so she reverses course and tries to go help Morgan.

“What’s up with Karma?” Jaycy asks as Ettyn passes.

“Sorcery. Barrier. Can’t break it. Maybe need that magic shit we got.” Ettyn says as she’s sprinting by.

One of the Paragons tries to get at Morgan and can’t. Angela summons next her spirit guardians, marking her allies as safe. The turrets fly out to surround the enemies, shooting down at them and shredding through one of the paragons. Caleb takes out another one.

With a trio of eldritch blasts, Morgan takes out another, smashing his hand onto its face and blowing off its head with all three blasts, covering Ettyn in a burst of splintering bone, caking her in dust over the layer of viscera she wore like a veil. He then calls out to Angela, “YOUR FUCKING ROBOTS ARE SO COOL MAN.”

“They’re not really robots but…” Angela protests.

“THEY’RE SO FUCKING COOL.” Morgan repeats.

Angela wants to be technical but instead just says, “Th-thank you.” Sufficiently inspired.

Jaycy looks back to Karma. She can see the two robed figures heading toward the bubble dome, but they are also out of reach. The male figure is watching her but the female figure isn’t concerned. Jaycy turns and runs back toward the others, casting a cloud of daggers on the remaining paragon. It shreds through the last paragon, reducing it to dust.

“Why has no one gone to Karma yet?” Morgan asks.

“Because I can’t get to her.” Caleb growls.

“Why not?!” Asks Morgan.

“There’s a barrier.” Ettyn is the one to answer this time.

Caleb hurries to the end of the bridge to try and get to Karma, stopping at the barrier. Morgan takes Caleb’s hand and tries to dimension door to the other side. No such luck.

Ettyn tries to lean over the side to see if she can get around the barrier.

As they stand there trying to see if they can get through the barrier, the two robed figures beyond finish their conversation and grasp each other’s hands briefly. They lean forward and bump foreheads before parting. The female figure heads into the dome, the male figure heads back toward them.

Similar to the ghostly figures, he’s got golden eyes, dark hair with a single white stripe in the front. He looks tired but he comes closer until he is just below Karma. He looks to each of them as best as he can and then looks to Angela, giving her a look, like a disappointed father. “Really?”

Angela shrugs.

“Consider this my letter of resignation.”
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Re: We Don't Get to Choose

Post by Strawberry »

Part IX -- Spoiler: Karma Dies at the End


“Impressive resilience.” The man says with a sigh. “But… it matters little. It really does, surely you know this by now. So I’m going to say I don’t accept your resignation. You can go now.”

“I won’t be going without my sister.” Angela says, her voice unwavering.

“Of course. Ever the hero. You mortals, I swear. Just the same, I’m stifled by this vessel of flesh.” He says with a yawn.

Ettyn walks from one side to the other, exchanging her longbow for her two swords again.

The man watches all of them, looking world weary and absolutely exhausted, like he’s tired of dealing with this shit. From him comes a ripple of power radiating off of him followed immediately by heat. The tension of the barrier begins to subside like it’s going to fall until at last it drops. The way is not clear though, instead they are met by a wall of fire upon which he stands. As the wall falls so too does his flesh vessel, the man disappears into the purple-black energy that Angela used to open their initial portal. He becomes this massive twisted figure, bearing a purple crystal staff in one hand and what was previously a handsome man is now a monster. Behind them, the entry is also barred by flame. He looks at the five and smiles as best as such a creature can.

Ettyn sheaths the silver sword and uncoils her whip.

He sees Ettyn do so and lets out this echoing booming laugh.

Morgan lets out a high pitched sound before he polymorphs into a t-rex again.

Ettyn shrills a wolf whistle and cracks a grin.

Jaycy moves up to the wall of fire and unleashes a blinding color spray upon the creature.

He lets out a heavy sigh, long suffering, even though he cannot see.

Morgan roars as Caleb jumps in to stab and cut at the monster. From afar, Angela blesses the four at the front lines with additional strength.

The monster of a man tries to get at Caleb, but gets distracted by words spewed by Jaycy and misses. He then turns and points at Angela, but misses her with his attack.

Ettyn snaps the whip around her arm and takes out the silver sword, coming up next to Caleb and slashing at every part of the Guardian that she can. A burst of fire sends those closest to the Guardian back five feet.

Morgan the T-Rex tries to bite the Guardian, chomping down hard on his arm. But it seems like his teeth don’t quite dig in. As he does so, he drops the polymorph and tries to hang on to the Guardian’s arm. To try and escape the fire, he climbs up the Guardian’s arm to his shoulder.

Jaycy once more casts the cloud of daggers on the opposite side of the Guardian. It cuts into his back, prompting a growl as he wipes the earlier color from his eyes.

From the front, Caleb double attacks with his sickles and sneaks an additional attack in there as well.

Angela holds up a hand and tries to concentrate. She tries to cast a harmful, virulent spell, but it doesn’t seem to do any damage to him. She looks at her hand and frowns then steps back out of range.

A wave of necrotic damage rolls off of the Guardian, hitting all but Angela, though Caleb manages to avoid the worst of it. Next he takes his staff and levels it upon Ettyn. She feels a tightening around her throat. Others see a golden chain-like collar wrap around her throat. He then tries to bop Caleb but misses, the staff crashing into the ground beside him.

As she sees the chain around Ettyn’s neck, Angela calls out. “Destroy the chain!”

The chain seems to tighten further, and though she doesn’t need to breathe as often as most, Ettyn can feel it exerting pressure upon her spine, keeping her in place.

Another burst of fire sends most of them skittering backwards once more.

From his necklace Morgan conjures up a wave of water that crashes down over the fire and the Guardian. The water rushes over them both, knocking the Guardian prone. It douses much of the flames but sends a rush of billowing steam upwards. Morgan goes screaming out of the steam to get out of it.

Jaycy summons the spirit duelist again which heads to Ettyn to try and break her chains. It bangs it up while Jaycy tries to stab the Guardian with her dagger.

Seeing that the chain didn’t break, Caleb goes after it first, breaking away from the Guardian to go after the chain around Ettyn’s neck. Two hits break it, freeing her.

Ettyn growls and then roars.

The twisted Guardian roars back.

Angela looks to Morgan and casts a heal on him to top him off.

The Guardian gets up from the ground and retreats into the fire.

“COWARD!” Morgan yells.

The Guardian turns to Jaycy, since she’s the nearest, and hits her twice with his staff along with a burst of necrotic energy.

“PUSSY ASS!” Morgan adds.

The second staff blow misses as he looks to Morgan. Another wave of necrotic damage washes over them all, save Angela.

Ettyn goes screaming at the giant figure. “You crooked prick clawed, pox licking, whore sucking, shit fucker! Fuck you!” She starts slashing at him with whatever she has. It takes a good chunk out of him but it isn’t enough to kill him.

Another burst of fire pushes them backwards further. The fire at the other end of the bridge also expands further toward them.

Morgan’s hair is curly and poofy from the steam. He reaches out and throws another series of blasts at the Guardian. One catches him square in the chest. The second veers off course. The third nails him, leaving the Guardian on his last legs.

Jaycy cures herself of her wounds, healing up a heavy amount of the damage she’s taken. The spirit duelist moves up to the Guardian and strikes out, leaving him barely hanging on.

Caleb rushes forward and stabs him twice then throws in one more blow. He charges him, attacking with the left, jumping up and bringing the second one down through his head. The Guardian lets out a booming screech, the last keening of his life as it leaves his current form. He crashes to the bridge, dead.

With his death, the fire subsides.

The fire is gone but so too is the woman in the robes. Karma still hovers fifteen up in the air with her sword and shield. Caleb walks just beneath her and looks up.

No response from her. Not even a breath.

Morgan steps next to Caleb and creates a King Triton styled swirling pillar of water that lifts both he and Caleb up to Karma’s height. His hands move in circles to keep the column going so that Caleb can figure out what’s going on. They reach Karma’s level without issue.

Caleb reaches out for Karma and tries to pull her close to him. She feels like stone. But the moment he touches her, a distant feminine voice calls out.

“Kill him.”

Karma’s eyes open, a burst of energy rolling off of her. Morgan and Caleb both narrowly stay atop the pillar.

“Don’t make me do this.” Caleb pleads.

Karma looks at him, not even recognizing him.

Morgan touches Caleb’s shoulder. “You can do this.”

What comes next is a flurry of blows, Caleb’s sickle versus Karma’s sword and shield. It’s almost like Morgan does not even exist to her. They trade back and forth, dealing narrow won nicks and shallow blows. Caleb gets an early upperhand before Karma comes surging back with a solid connection. Another blow puts Caleb on the backfoot, who pushes back against her until they’re on even footing but both just a hair away from a possibly fatal blow. It’s obvious the two know how the other fights.

In the end, Caleb gets a single decisive blow. To everyone else, it looks like Caleb has just buried a dagger in her chest. But the soul stealer is meant to separate and remove a soul from a body, even if it comes at the cost of bodily harm. “You’re dead, Nem, I want her back!”

Karma drops her sword and shield and drops toward the ground as if gravity has caught up with her all at once.

Morgan and Caleb’s water column drops with her, bringing them to the ground as Karma smacks into the bridge with a thud akin to a bag of wet cement.

There’s no movement. But there is a release of aether from the wound.

Angela steps up, holding the auracite out and channeling her own aether in it to try and capture the ascian essence. This wisping purple substance coming from the wound Caleb inflicted is drawn toward the crystal Angela holds. It touches one of the copper tips and the white crystal flares yellow as it sucks in the wisps, turning the crystal purple and capturing the essence within. The golden glow around Karma fades away. Angela kneels down and touches her sister near the wound. As she does, Caleb is unloading every piece of equipment he has to try and help her. Angela lets out a burst of healing that brings a little color back to her cheeks.

Of the items Caleb pulled free, Angela recognizes one, the small music box that Lilith gave to him. He turns the crank on the bottom three times and opens the box. As the music plays, it goes through a distorted lullaby. One round…

Two rounds…

The third round begins to wind down.

It seems time has run out.
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Strawberry
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Re: We Don't Get to Choose

Post by Strawberry »

Part X -- But Only For A Minute



Upon the final note of the distorted music box’s third turn, Karma groans.

“Fuck.” She doesn’t seem keen on opening her eyes but she’s at least breathing. A bit like she’s got the world’s worst hangover in the world’s brightest room.

Ettyn nods in understanding. “I’ve had days like this. Here, drink this.” And tips one of her vials to Karma’s lips. It’s an applesauce consistency made of beast parts and specks and chunks and wriggling things.

Owlbear liver, wyvern kidneys, chimera heart, behir gallbladder.

You know, the works.

Karma immediately starts gagging from the texture. Her entire body convulses as she sits up and tries to choke it down. Thankfully (or maybe not?), she gets it down and looks between Caleb and Ettyn. Her eyes are red once more rather than gold and the violet color in her hair is steadily returning. She looks at Ettyn and then reaches out and tries to slap her.

Ettyn acts like she’s being patted on the face and nods a few times. “You’re welcome.” Then moves back to Jaycy and Morgan.

“Wh-wh...what the fuck was that?!” Karma pants.

“Good morning sleeping beauty.” Jaycy calls.

“It’s a cure all.” Morgan nods.

Karma finally registers that Caleb is there and just looks to him, her eyes wide. “You came…”

“I told you I’m not leaving you.” Caleb says.

Karma throws her arms around his neck and quietly repeats, “You came.”

“I’ll be your shield always.” Words said often before but seldom believed until now. If this wasn’t proof, she didn’t know what was.

Morgan grabs Jaycy’s hand and just starts shaking it, “Awwwwww.”

Jaycy scoffs. “Isn’t there where you should be gagging? You gag with Ettyn and I.”

“Yeah, you all are gross.” Morgan makes a face.

Karma quietly tells Caleb that she loves him before leaning back and looking at everyone there and kinda groans. The domed area behind them is still and quiet. There’s no power, no energy, nothing. The entire area seems void.

Ettyn looks between Karma and Angela. “That dome important to you guys?”

Karma shakes her head.

“It should dissipate after a while.” Angela says quietly.

Ettyn removes a scroll from her pouch and reads from it to cast a fireball on the dome. Caleb takes Karma up in his arms and starts hurrying down the bridge with her. The fire engulfs the dome but also reverberates and echoes back at them.

With the fire rapidly spreading, Angela sighs and points her palm out, opening a portal back to the beach.

Ettyn herds people through.

“ETTYN WHAT THE FUCK?!” Morgan flails as he rushes through.

As they go through, Angela calls out to Karma. “Karma.”

“Angela.” Karma answers.

“Tell them I’m going traveling.” Angela holds up the white auracite. “I have to find a place where I can destroy this.”

Karma exhales. “Just… be careful. Let me know if you need help.”

“Of course.” As the others go through, Angela doesn’t follow and instead closes the portal behind them. Karma doesn’t look panicked by this. She takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. The portal closes behind them and they are once more on the beach. What was sunrise is now sunset, the sky gold and orange in the west and indigo in the east. A moon and a half guides them home, on to whatever grand adventure awaits them next.

Check the A Side…

Flip it to the B Side…



((A hundred thousand million thank yous to Angela, Caleb, Ettyn, Jaycy, and Morgan. For your time, for your creativity, and for being a part of this. Thank you all <3 ))
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