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Gilly: The shadow looked at its claw, seemingly not understanding what had stopped its attack. While it was wrapping its brain around the puzzle the girl began to speak. As she did, the creature lunged for her once more. And then ice fell upon it. It got struck in the back several times, and hurriedly stopped to put its arms over its face, and seemed to almost sink into the ground at the force of the ice. It slowly continued forward, unable to use its claws without its head being crushed by the ice. And so, once it got closer, it tried to awkwardly jab at the girl with its mouth blade.

 

Kha: The beast had been halted by the Orc's powerful swing, as part of its body dangled uselessly besides its other half. As the Orc stood there, it began to reform. Inky tendrils connected its two halves and it started to pull itself together just as Kha lashed out once more. The beast, unable to reform fast enough, was powerless to stop the blade from connecting with its head. As Kha's blade struck it, he would feel more resistance than the rest of the body, as the eyes he struck suddenly cracked with an audible noise.

A red light emerged from the broken eyes and the creature let out a hiss as it started to deflate, sinking into the ground. The glowing eyes flickered, then went dark, and the beast vanished entirely.

 

Ryia: The creature's eyes flashed wildly as it scurried backwards, having had the weapon coming from its mouth smashed with a mace. It didn't seem in pain, exactly, but it did seem unsure of how to react. It took some time, watching the girl in front of it, before its mind was able to process a reaction. It faded from sight. Instead of the headlong charge like before it just seemed to vanish. Moments later it came crashing into Ryia from the right side, bringing its full strength to knock her over. However it found that her skin was harder than expected, and it was unsuccessful in its attempt to bring her to the ground. This didn't stop it from lashing out with its claws, however, as it tried to pierce the stony skin.

 

Anis: The shadow struck the woman's leg, but didn't tear into her like it planned. The sudden interference of the bird baffled the creature and it took a moment to re-position itself. As the woman shot an arrow towards its head, the shadow reacted quickly. It brought a hand up to swat the arrow away. The next arrow struck its arm and, though it had no reaction, the glow from the tip distracted it and caused it to recoil slightly.

Then another struck, and another. Several arrows were now sticking out from the beast, none having hit is head, and it seemed to be thrashing about in an attempt to dislodge the arrows that were now a source of light which lit the creature up.

 

Reinaan: The shadow knew not why the Draken was not attacking but it didn't matter to it. All it meant was it was allowed to line up its next attack. It leaped just as the Draken flung his spear at the creature. Its momentum meant that it wouldn't be able to halt its forward motion and so the roll caused it to miss, and land back onto the ground, still crouched and primed for another lunge. It saw the flames coming from the Draken's claws and realized it had to intercept, grabbing tight hold of the offending arm. It was preparing to brace itself and attempt to tear Reinaan's arm off when suddenly the fire moved. The shadow decided it must finish its prey off right then and prepared for just that. But Reinaan's claw sunk into its chin and caused its momentum to halt. The attack didn't seem to do much to it, except make its eyes flash, but the Draken wasn't done. It continued upwards, through the creatures head, encountering little resistance until his claws made contact with the thing's eyes. They cracked and light shone forth from them before the creature sank into the ground and vanished entirely.

 

Lindow: The creature that attacked Lindow seemed to be rushing the ending now. It seemed to realize, somewhat, that the longer it fought the more chances it gave its prey to escape. And so, when Lindow attacked, it used this as an opportunity to strike. It didn't even halt when the man struck at its midriff, intent on continuing the attack and finishing him off. And then the blade sunk into its eye, shattered it, and caused the creature to go limp, collapse in on itself, and disappear.

 

Keres: The girl panted heavily as she stood up. Her attack had managed to reach the creature, crushing several of its eyes, before it reached her. Upon doing so, the creature was vanquished, seemingly, and disappeared entirely. She shakily brought out her journal and began jotting down the details of the encounter. Intent on doing so while it was still fresh in her mind...and then there was the scream.

 

Qali: The elf seemed shocked that her attack hadn't outright slain the beast. She was so surprised, in fact, that the monster had managed to get a position upon her that she couldn't fight off. Its blade sank into her eye, piercing deep into her skull and causing her to scream out in pain as it tore through her socket. She just barely managed to teleport, right behind the shadow, but her eye was now damaged beyond repair and dripped blood.

 

Ayden: The Chosen of Dark barely reacted to being picked up by the creature, who wasted no time slamming the human down into the ground. Once, twice, three times, again and again until the man was in a complete daze. The shadow lifted him up once more, seeing that Ayden was still breathing, albeit barely conscious. Then it heard a scream, and smelled blood, nearby and got distracted. It dropped Ayden immediately and rushed towards the source.

 

Qali: The girl shuddered in pure shock as the creature that gouged out her eye turned and a second shadow approached. Then the two of them lunged forward, tearing into her with their claws, repeatedly, until she stopped twitching.

In a flash of green light, and a screech of agony, the Wind Spirit vanished.

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As the girl was awaiting the creature to simply charge her, it appeared to take a stealthier approach to what it had been doing thus far. As she focused on it, it disappeared into the shadows, and out of the girl's line of sight. Unsure of where it was, she started trying to glance from side to side to see where it could be coming from, when suddenly she felt something crash into her side. The force was definitely enough to topple a regular person, but the armored fighter had kept her ground and managed to brace off the charge with not too much difficulty. Seeing the creature recovering from recoiling from its attack. She looked to see that it was starting to move its claws back in preparation to strike her, but she had managed to rotate herself to the side and block the attacks with her shield before they could connect. With the claws harmlessly bouncing off her shield once again, the girl had went in for a follow up strike on its weak point in order to bring it down with her mace. 

 

However, as the mace attempted to hit the target straight on, the creature managed to fold and kick out its legs from underneath itself. As the creature managed to avoid her attack, it seemed a bit stunned once again due to its awkward placement, and seemed to not be able to immediately follow up with its next attack. Giving the vanguard the opportunity to react as the creature struck with its claws at her abdomen, she pivoted her body and slightly raised her left arm in order to bring the shield that was at her side in the way of the claws. Once the attack had met the wall once again, they bounced off again, and gave the earth chosen ample opportunity to counter attack. With her shield parallel to the creatures face, she pushed her arm forward, bringing her metal shield to the creature's face.

 

Of course, as the shield came within striking distance of the creature, it managed to bend and twist its body in some odd ninety degree fashion, causing her to miss again. Feeling slightly frustrated with the creature's flexibility and speed, the girl continued to persist until it fell. Taking a step forward with her right foot in order to shift her weight again, the girl then had her already raised mace arm come down at the creature. With an ample amount of force behind it, the girl struck the creature's face dead on. When the mace connected with the bulbous red eyes, they seemed to shatter and let out a light, causing the creature to sink and fade into the grown, disappearing altogether. Breathing a bit more deeply for a moment there, trying to catch her breath after the series of blows she had attempted to do to the creature, she stood upright, feeling slightly victorious over it.  Looking over to her draken comrade, she noticed that he had already taken care of his own as well, though before she could say much of anything, her thoughts were cut off by a loud scream

 

Looking over, her eyes widened in horror as she looked at where the screaming had come from. Two shadow creatures, hunched over the body of one of the people who had come in with them, withdrew their bloodstained claws from the, what could only be, corpse of the eccentric elf girl. While the death itself did not help her nerves, the real horror came from the, now, fact that the council did not care whether they lived or died. The people who had called them here in order to aid in their problems had no qualms when it had come to killing any of them. Nevertheless, while she was unnerved, she steeled her nerves and tried to figure out what it was she would have to do next. Seeing that everyone was either holding their own or had defeated their shadow creature, there was only one person that seemed in immediate need of aid, and that was the man she didn't feel quite right around outside. While she looked at him, she felt some kind of primal feeling of disdain towards him, she did her best to push it out of her head as she moved as fast as she could to make sure that he did not meet the same fate as the elf girl had. 

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As crimson light spilled out from the wound that Kha had newly inflicted, he dared to think that perhaps he had been correct to think that the creature's head had been its weak spot, dared to think that this was all over. Dropping to one knee, he held his sword perpendicular to the ground in a ceremonial salute as he watched the ghoulish creature dissipate into the shadows. "May the spirits guide you home." He said, clutching one of the pendants around his neck. He could practically feel Kal'bri's eyes roll, but he paid her no mind as he kissed the charm making a religious sign with his hands.

 

It was at that moment that a scream cut the air, slicing through Kha like a knife. His head whipped around, immediately honing in on the Chosen that was quickly becoming soaked in her own blood. Suspiciously still Kha feared he had forced the cycle. He had taken a life, and now a life would be taken from them. Overcome with a guilt, Kha whispered to Kal'bri. "Can we still save her?" The desperation clear in his voice.

 

"Why would we want to save a stuck-up elf?" The confusion even more evident in Kal'bri.

 

"Compassion, Kal'bri! That's why. Just- Can we save her?" Kha pressed.

 

"No, she looks pretty dead to me. The cute one though, that one we can save." Kal'bri motioned to where Ayden had been thrown, the Earth Chosen standing guard over him.

 

"You'll help me then? Without complaint?" Kha rose, stretching out his hand for Kal'bri to land in it.

 

"To save a human like that..." Kal'bri landed in the palm of Kha's hand sinking below his ashen flesh, giving it an ethereal glow as they merged. Invigorated with the blessed spiritual power, Kha felt as though he had no time to waste. Dashing to Ayden's crumpled form, he looked to Ryia.

 

"I will heal him, but I will need cover. Just in case." He had noticed that the ranks of the council's attack-ghouls had thinned fairly considerably, but there were still the two that had killed the elf girl left to worry about. Kha was confident that now that he knew how to kill the creatures that he could do it fairly easily, but he also couldn't in good conscious leave the man on the floor in this kind of state. 

 

Setting his sword down, Kha lay both of his hands down on Ayden's abdomen. A faint blue glow emanated from his hands, enveloping his the Dark Chosen's form. Kha had to concentrate. This wasn't like a sword cut or an arrow wound, his body was broken. Slowly, however, Kha felt Ayden's bones shift, re-setting themselves, and his bruising began to fade.  "You're safe."He cooed. 

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The blades of fire pierced through the head of the creature with the same lack of resistance the spear had met before. But then the magic struck the eyes of the beast and finally found something solid to hit. The red spheres cracked and burst into light as the monster appeared to sink out of existence, its hold on Reinaan's arm vanishing with it. The Draken saw his opponent finished and for the first time since entering the tower relaxed the slightest bit. There were still noises going on around him, still other battles to help win now that he was finished but his mind was naturally relieved to be rid of one of the monsters. The boy's breath was fairly heavy now from the intensity of the scrap with the creature. The claws of fire receded back into his chest and the various sparks and embers that danced off of him seemed to gain some intensity with it. Reinaan looked himself over and brushed himself off some checking for injuries. The cut in his shoulder had stopped bleeding, there were some fresh cuts from the creature's tight grip around his right arm that were gently oozing blood like his shoulder had been. The cold of the injuries was difficult to fully feel given Ziiyol's fire coursing through his body at the moment but aside from the shoulder, arm and minor scratches at his tail he seemed to be alright. Ryia who he had helped earlier seemed to have managed to finish her opponent off as well. He'd have to remember to talk to her for real when things were in the clear. Reinaan's relief was cut short as a scream pierced the air. Looking over two of the monsters had assaulted the elf girl. Green light flashed as the wind spirit disappeared.

 

The armored girl and the large orc rushed to the side of the human man who seemed to be in bad shape as well but Reinaan stood there in disbelief. He had been all for the council testing them and slightly concerned just how dangerous this test seemed to be but he thought surely no one would die for it all. The council hadn't called off the beasts. They had let the girl die. No, they had killed her themselves. This was murder and he had no idea what to think or feel. His senses refocused him as sounds from the other fights came back to him. There were still four of these monsters left, they had to go before he could anything else. Reinaan ran quickly to retrieve his spear. He could stay merged with Ziiyol for some time yet but the time he had left on the claws before they started exploding on him wasn't something he was fully aware of yet and he didn't want to risk it. Weapon in hand he took off to Ryia's side to help fight off the two monsters who had injured the man and killed the elf.

 

"Ready for round two?" he asked the girl somewhat playfully as he tried to psyche himself up some. He was tiring out and wasn't looking forward to taking on another of the monsters but there wasn't much else to do at this point. He readied his spear and stared down the two monsters doing his best to not look away despite the sight of what remained of the elf girl.

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Ayden's struggles were completely unnoticed by the beast. It seems his curse had the opposite effect, increasing its strength and speed rather than hindering. When it's hand was on his face, he could do nothing but watch. The first slam to his head left him feeling dazed. Then the second. Then the third. The world was spinning, and he found it hard to think. Darkness formed around his eyes, and there was a very sharp ache in his head. He knew death was coming...but then something else happened. A shrill shriek took all the attention off him. He didn't even try to figure out what was happening. As soon as he was dropped, he just chose to stay there, sprawled out against the ground. His eyes rolled into the back of his head and he embraced the incoming darkness, now unconscious. Still breathing, but in need of medical attention.

 

Nocturne had tried to help, but he found himself losing grasp of his physical form. After being violently shoved to the side, he was struggling to remain in this form. While he tried to make his way to Ayden, it was no use. He watched again and again as his chosen was slammed into the ground by a construct that was supposedly created by people that were on their sides. The bastards... He thought internally, but held his tongue. As he made his way to what was surely to become the corpse of Ayden, the beast suddenly dropped him. Nocturne stood over the unconscious boy. He checked for breath and heart rate and pulse, but things did not look well for him. Of course, it could hardly be blamed. His magic and the nature of Nocturne were completely negated by these things. Almost like they were determined to fail before they even had a chance to do anything. The unique and dark magic Ayden had was absorbed entirely by this demon. 

 

Speaking of the demon, Nocturne knew the only way to keep his chosen safe was to dispatch of them. With the last of his remaining ability, he charged after it with an unreal speed. When he entered its range, he pounced. As he landed, he dragged his claws down the creatures back. Not wasting any time, he dashed quickly through this construct. He then dashed through it again. And again, and again, and again. Finally, Nocturne could not hold his form. With a final dash, he cleaved his way through one last time, before losing grasp of his form.

 

It seemed as if Nocturne's flesh began to burn. It peeled off, all that was visible, and a black steam emanated from him, and his form became ethereal. He backed off, taking deep breaths for a moment, before regaining his composure and returning to Ayden's side, unable to do anything but watch.

 

"Hang in there kid..."

Edited by Chéderz

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Gilly easily avoided the awkward jab from the creature's mouth blade. Grinning, she twirled her spear wildly once more, looking to take advantage of its awkward positioning. However, her skill with the spear was so bad that she ended up missing horribly, stabbing right through Snow's incorporeal form. The rabbit sent her an unimpressed look.

 

The halfling managed a contrite face in response before she continued flailing away. Meanwhile, Hob butted the shadow in the side again, having summoned up enough courage to face that cold feeling again. It wasn't as if he wasn't used to the cold, after all, but this was a different type of cold. One that sent his heart shivering.

 

Snow looked at Hob's actions. He didn't think the sheep would be able to do much, but at least it might distract the creature. Enough that he might have time to do that. Looking at Gilly, he hopped on her shoulder straight from the ground. If one were to see him in action, they would think that he had wings for feet.

 

"Gilly, we should do that," he said. Despite his emphasis on the last word, his voice was as flat as ever.

 

"No way," her response was immediate and unsurprising. "I'll figure this out with my spear. Because I will be the greatest spear hero that ever was. And," her tone turned a bit meek, "you're tired right now." Her voice gained confidence as she spoke. "So just sit back and watch. I'll show you the power of a determined halfling!"

 

The rabbit blinked, before settling himself onto her shoulder more. That part of her...I don't mind so much, he thought. The spirit sweatdropped when he saw her drop her spear by accident. But she really does need more training with that thing if she wants to be even a little heroic.

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"...A death already."

 

With the monster being distracted with all the light arrows, Anis took the time to look around to properly assess the battlefield's condition. She noticed how the elf of earlier ended up getting killed rather brutally by another beast apparently, and despite how much she was not comfortable in the presence of the elf, Anis offered some words of prayer towards the girl's soul, before returning her focus towards her enemy.

 

"You didn't seem so disturbed. It's the kind of fate that's going to come to your and Ileca's door at any moment. So, why don't you show some more concern?"

 

"There's that one point where I stopped being shocked by it. Death's a part of natural life, after all. You cannot have one without the other.

 

And if dying like that is the fate we are facing...then both of us are ready. Isn't it right, Ileca?"

 

Ileca nodded in silence, her gaze was still focused on tracking down the beast's movement. It seemed that some of the beasts were already being defeated by the others chosens, which meant that she would be able to do so if she figured out how. Looking at the beast again, she noticed that the beast had none of the arrows Anis fired earlier managed to hit its head. Ileca found it pretty hilarious how a skilled marksman like Anis could miss a target that big, but it did give her some concerns too. Time kept on ticking, and it's or never.

 

"Kaw, kwa wak waak! (Anis, let's finish this! Let's cut off its head, and finish him with your bright sword!)"

 

"If you...well, if you so wish.

 

Let's do this."

 

Responding to Ileca, Anis brandished her short sword that was still shining with the light she embedded into it earlier, and she channeled more of her magic to its blade to make the light brighter. And then, Ileca wasted no time to charge towards the dazed beast before them, building up momentum from her speed, and rammed the beast as hard as she could. Moments before the impact, Anis jumped from Ileca's back, and while the bird crashed to the ground due to the backlash of the impact, Anis went straight towards the beast Ileca had just crashed into, and still having some momentum with her, brought her shining sword towards its head, and attempted to cleave a big part of it, and even going down towards its body.

 

She was left in a prone position now, but she was still adamant that even if this failed to kill the beast, Ileca would recover fast enough to save her from fatal wound. And after that...well, she could patch up those before she went to an actual healer.

 


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Lindow watched as th creature fell limp after having its eye shattered. "Well that's that." He sighed as he slid both weapons back on to his belt.

 

"I have to admit... If there's one thing you're good at, it's murder." Lily's tone was full of relief. Though their moment peace didn't last very long... "Lindow," Thunder spirit began as her sights settled on the Chosen of ice as the young girl dropped her weapon whilst attempting to fend off her opponent.

 

"On it!" The Witch Hunter was already in motion. Approaching the confrontation from the side at full speed whilst drawing his sword. "Mind if I step in?" Lind's chirp was heralded by a flash of silver as his blade glided cleanly over the ice chosen's tiny head in a broad slashes aimed towards the creature's face. Still hanging on to Lindow's shoulder, Lily flashed the spirit of ice a smug grin as their chosen made contact.

 

Sensing the danger only moments before it was beheaded, the shadow creature immediately contorted its body to dodge the new combatant's attack. Unable to stop the man from scooping up it's target with his free hand and diving forward, the creature promptly corrected its posture before lunging towards the pair of humans.

 

"Lily, if you'd please..." Lindow called out to his spirit as he glanced back at the beast with the chosen of Ice slung over his shoulder.

 

Nodding, the thunder spirit lept forward releasing another discharge of lighting directly on the beast's path causing it stumble in it's advance.

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Keres looked upon the unsightly view of the creatures tearing into the elf girl, The Chosen of Wind, Keres reminded herself, the one with the element closest to mine, I should have done something, I should have helped, I...She lost concentration and the water dropped to the floor with a slight splash. This caused the creatures to turn towards her. And then one of them was assailed by the Spirit of Darkness. Again and again Keres watched as the thing sliced through the creature's midsection. It seemed to split in half and fall to the ground as the Spirit finished its attack.

"Keres be careful. I don't think these things will be affected by illusions."
Keres nodded. "Agree....Retreat." She kept her eyes on the creatures as she began to back away. However the moment she blinked she lost sight of them, as they crept along the walls and out of sight, the fallen one seemingly leaving its legs behind. She couldn't be sure which direction they were going, especially as the glow from the Chosen of Light's magic was fading somewhat, but she was sure that they wouldn't be going after the larger group that had gathered around the Chosen of Dark.
 
She paused. They could be coming from anywhere and it would do her no good to gain any distance from their original location. She could feel panic beginning to set in and gripped her robe tightly, counting to ten, and breathing regularly. There wasn't much water left in her flask, she wouldn't be able to fight back for much longer, so...
She felt something at her back. Suddenly her shoulders were grabbed by one of the creatures and she was lifted, legs flailing, into the air. The other, legless, one seemed to shoot from the ground itself, a dagger-like appendage sticking from its mouth, as it rushed towards her.
 
The beast that Anis attacked split in twain fairly easily from the momentum of the attack, and Anis' sword would pierce from the top of its head to almost waist level on its body. However she hadn't pierced any of the eyes and the creature was now dangling in practically two halves, as it started to reform. A thin substance latched onto its left side, from its right, as it began to pull itself back together, awkwardly flailing its claws at Anis.
 
The one fighting Gilly seemed to just be waiting for a moment to attack. Which came as the girl dropped her weapon. However as it was about to attack it noticed movement to the side, and bent its body to avoid the blade coming for its head. It righted itself and meant to attack the girl again but she was no longer there.
It looked at the two, and seemed confused. It didn't know how it was supposed to deal with the situation. It meant to fight a single prey, not two. It stood there for a moment before crouching down, closer to the ground, and partially fading from view while it crept along the side, waiting for one of them to make a move.

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Gilly pouted, annoyed that this strange one-eyed man had interfered. "I could've done it myself, you know," she complained. "But thanks for your help," she added. Picking up her dropped spear, she moved forward to attack, and then backed up when she saw the lightning spirit release a bolt right in the creature's path.

 

Snow was trying to make sense of the situation. Because not only had he felt the flicker and fade of the wind spirit, but now the lightning spirit, or rather, its chosen, the one who set his nerves on edge, had rescued them. "My thanks to you," he dipped his head, tone cold, not seeming to react to the smug grin Lily had shot him earlier.

 

Hob gave his own baa of thanks, before backing away once his owner started twirling her spear again. "Hyah!" she shouted, attempting to aim at the monster in front of her.

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"Kwaa! (Anis, it's reforming!)"

 

"Wha-?"

 

As Anis' attention was disrupted a bit due to the feeling of the other beasts now attempting to attack more than their original target, she didn't realize that her own beast reforming after being split into two until Ileca warned her about it. Although...looking at it, it was still stuck in a pathetic state right now. It wobbled aimlessly as it continued to return into a more proper form, and leaving itself open to further attacks. As Ileca rushed towards her in an attempt to assist her, Anis just smiled at the bird before touching her beak,, making them shine in the same firefly-ish glow that her equipments shared. Ileca looked at her as if she's complaining, but Anis patted her head before leaving her to deal with the beast on her own.

 

"Tear it apart like how you'd tear apart a deer for dinner, Ileca. I know you've been itching to do it from earlier, so it's time for you to do it."

 

Ileca understood her orders, and while she was clearly bummed that Anis went on to do something else without her, she still approached the reforming shadow beast, and stared at it. It looked pathetic in this state. Even her usual prey usually looked more dignified. Its eyes, looking at her, it made Ileca feel sick. The beast would return to fighting form soon, but at Ileca's prey now, she wouldn't let it go anywhere. Using her razor sharp beak, she started to tear anything on the creature's head apart. Ileca hated to be seen in that way by her prey, and it's just general rule of thumb that something without a functional head wouldn't be alive. Unless you're a cockroach, but Ileca usually swallowed them whole anyway.

 

From Anis' viewpoint, Ileca seemed to be more savage and messy than usual, but perhaps it's just due to the fact that she didn't want to eat the shadow beast no matter what. She turned her sight away from the carnage, and returned towards what she was meant to do. She took her bow and shining arrows, and as she made out the faint positioning of the other beast that was now attacking another girl, she took her aim towards its head.

 

In hindsight, she was still not sure on the effect of the lights she had on the beasts, but at this point she's doing it out of habit.

 

Anis fired the arrow towards one of the beast.

 


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While safeguarding for the man, the large orc man from earlier made his way over to where she was. While at first she figured that he was coming over to aid in the defense of the chosen of darkness, she was soon surprised to see hear him talk about being able to heal the man. Just figuring that it was part of his magic, the girl nodded to the orc man and stood guard while he went to go aid the unconscious man. While she was trying to remain vigilant to make sure that nothing interrupted the orc, she then heard someone else who had walked up to her, deciding to help guard the man as well. As he made a comment about going against these shadows again, the girl simply looked over to him, giving a nod with a slightly more assured look on her face. She knew that the draken male was definitely someone who could manage against these creatures by himself, and so she felt more confident in her ability to defend against any creature that would attack them. 

 

However, she started to look about the scene in order to find just where the shadows were and how many were left. Looking back to the fallen elf's body, there were two lingering about, as if skulking about for their next prey. Looking back, there was the smaller girl who seemed to have her hands full, yet was able to keep going due to the assistance of, what appeared to be, the lightning chosen. Noting that they seemed to have the situation under control, her attention then turned to the older looking woman with the bird, creature, thing that was accompanying her. While their fight was still going on, the woman still seemed to be in control of the situation at hand, so all that left was the two shadows that had murdered the elf girl. However, as she turned her attention back to the now deceased body, she realized something. 

 

They were no longer there. Thinking more on it, there was also only one chosen that she had not accounted for in her cursory sweep of the situation at hand. As such, her eyes immediately darted over to the smaller girl who seemed to be on her own. As she saw the shadows start to converge on her, the girl decided that it was best to go aid her. While she was not fast enough to attempt to attack both of them, she could still do her best to mitigate the damage from them as best as possible. As such, the girl started to move away from the orc and the unconscious man, believing them to be fine now and started to attempt to cast a spell. Upon the necessary time channeling completed, a large earthen wall appeared in front of the girl, protecting her from the dismembered one from lunging at her. The pink hair girl then followed this by running closer to the girl and then attacking the shadow that was grappling the girl, her mace aiming towards its face in the process. 

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The wounds that could physically be seen on Ayden's body had pretty much been healed up. Still, Kha couldn't detect any physical change in his condition so he poured more and more energy into the healing light that spilled out from his hands. Kha felt a worm of fear tunnel into his thoughts as he began to wonder whether or not Ayden had some sort of internal wound. 

 

He began to wonder whether or not his magic was having any real affect on the dark chosen. Originally, he could feel the changes in his state, but now he was just trusting the spiritual power to do its job. Ayden still laid at his feet in a collapsed state, obviously still injured by the ghoul's initial assault. As more and more of the light spilled from the orc's palms, the more heavy his muscles felt. Finally he came to the conclusion he had done all that he could for Ayden, hoping that soon he would move and optimistically thinking he would rejoin the fight. 

 

Languidly, Kha grabbed hold of his longsword that he had set down beside. He wasn't foolhardy enough to think that in this exhausted state that he should rush back into battle. Instead, he would stand guard over Ayden until he showed signs of improvement. Crouching low, he prepared himself for any surprises, scanning the darkest parts of the room, deftly noting that the lights that Kal'bri had earlier summoned were quickly going out. 

 

The orc brandished his sword defensively, its blade glinting menacingly in the fading light of the magic orbs. "We'll make it out of this." He reassured Ayden. Nervously he watched as the other Chosen engaged the ghouls, knowing that they had already lost one of their own. 

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"We'll make it out of this."

 

Thankfully for our young hero, the immediate response from Kha was soothing the pain. His bones mended, and his head's throbbing pain began to dull. Gradually, his eyes fluttered open. The first thing he expected to see was an endless lake of fire, and a comical demon overlooking him, ready to start torturing him. Thankfully, the sight that met him was not quite that. The first thing he saw was Nocturne overlooking him. He then shifted his eyes to the side, viewing Kha. He watched the Orc stand over him, taking up a defensive position. Clasping his hand back over his sword, he attempted to stand. He was still a bit dizzy from the wounds, but he noticed his body didn't ache anymore. After putting a bit more effort into standing, he finally did, though he was shaky. 

 

"Thank you, Chosen of Light. We are forever indebted." Nocturne said to the Orc that'd saved his chosen.

 

 

Ayden took a few deep breaths, steadying himself. This was round two. Though he didn't have much formal training, he felt newly invigorated. After being knocked down once, he knew what to expect. Magic was now out, he would have to bank on his wickedly large blade. He forced himself to stop shaking, and finally brought his sword up. His anger had began to well up within him as he recalled the violent assault of creatures created by their supposed allies. After this resolved, if they survived, he was sure to give the counsel a piece of his mind. He was starting to miss the threat of burning at the stake though, it seemed much less painful.

 

"Uh...thanks for the pick up." He said awkwardly, as he moved to stand by Kha. He grimaced as he mentally prepared himself for what was to come next.

 

"Ayden, be careful. Next time you go down, I will not be able to defend you. I've expended my energy." Nocturne warned.

 

"This time its personal..." The man responded, finding his confidence again. His large sword was at the ready and he stood firm now, ignoring the headache and mustering his courage.

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After situating himself nearby Ryia Reinaan quickly noticed something was amiss. The shadow monsters weren't where they had been. They were difficult to track even for an experienced hunter so the boy started scanning around the room. The Water Chosen was on her own and the two beasts had attempted to assault her instead. It made much more sense than attempting to attack the injured but well guarded Chosen of Darkness. The Chosen of Earth had acted faster moving to the girl's aid. With a touch of magic a wall of dirt rose from the ground separating the chosen of water from one of her would be attackers and Ryia was moving to attack the one still holding onto her.

 

Reinaan knew Ryia if anyone would be able to get the monster off of the girl simply from observing some of her earlier fight with her original opponent. This second monster needed to stay out of things though and so the hunter found his new mark. Looking at it the beast appeared to be missing its lower limbs and was dragging itself along the earthen wall attempting to reach its target. Reinaan charged with his spear ready to pierce through the face of the beast. As he got close enough to attack the monster turned its head toward him and instead of finding its mark in one of the eyes the weapon pierced through the throat with the same lack of resistance from piercing anything but one of the eyes. The claw hands grabbed hold of the spear as the monster appeared to be pulling itself toward Reinaan. This was the chance to strick. Reinaan relinquished his grip on his spear with his right hand as the fire from his chest once more surged outward forming the blades at the ends of his claws. With a yell he struck out at the creature's eyes, the tips of his blades barely piercing the surface of the red spheres before something went very wrong. The spheres were cracking and the creature's form began sinking back into the earth below. But the blades began to dissipate. Having experienced this once before the Draken knew what was coming and knew there was no way to stop it. A light intensified at the palm of his hand and a ball of fire surged outward sending a shock wave through the room. The force of the explosion forced the cracked eyes of the beast to shatter and the monster's form disappeared. The force however sent Reinaan flying back and slammed the boy's back into rock wall Ryia had created.

 

The impact alone had Reinaan's mind spinning but to compound the issue Ziiyol materialized in front of him indicating their merged state had ended. The spirit was giggling ecstatically, energized from the experience of coming back into existence after having been part of her partner. Reinaan's heightened senses dulled back to their normal levels adding to the confusion. The cold sensations from the injuries sustained in the fights returned in full force but now a powerful burning came with them. Reinaan could feel it in his right hand. The internal burning from the recoil of Ziiyol's power. The pain was intense and the boy let out a yell worthy of it as he fell from the wall face first onto the ground grabbing at his right hand with his left and clenching it tight to his chest as if he could stop the flame's advance. It stopped at the wrist but the pain didn't fade. To further complicate the matter Reinaan found he was slightly aroused now as he often was upon separating with Ziiyol and he didn't know what to actually associate the feelings with at the moment. Was it the fight? The pain? Regardless it would likely prove awkward when he found the strength to get up off of the floor. For now he continued groaning in confusion in pain.

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"My thanks to you,"

 

Lindow simply nodded in response, before taking up a ready stance. Watching as the ice chosen once again began to thrust and twirl her spear at their opponent with all of the grace of someone with no combat training, the man's expression showed a hint of exasperation.  "You guys really just picked anyone, huh?" He whispered to Lily, before suddenly dashing forward and grabbing hold of the girl's spear as she went for another thrust. "You need to aim for the eye..." He called out to his fellow chosen whilst watching the shadow creature lunge forward to meet him.

 

Raising his sword just in time to block a two a handed slash from the beast, Lindow grunted before yanking the spear and the ice chosen forward then up so that her weapon's tip and shaft penetrated the creature's upper body. "Not good..." He thought to himself.  Having intended for the spear strike to reach the creatures head, Lindow had put himself in an unfavorable position...

 

Now locked in a power struggle with the creature, the Witch hunter's eye narrowed as he struggled to maintain his guard with both his opponent's claws pressing against his blade. 

 

"Lindow..." Lily voice sounded from his shoulder; concern oozing into her tone as she watched her chosen begin to be pushed back by the beast's superior strength.

 

"Little busy here..." Lindow growled through gritted teeth as he allowed the creature to drive it's claws even closer to his flesh. Realizing that he was fighting a loosing battle when competing with the beast in pure physical power, Lindow quickly opted to us his opponent's strength to his advantage. Without shifting his gaze from his target's glowing red eyes, Lindow suddenly took a step backwards, causing the shadow creature to fall forward and driving the spear farther into it's body. In the same instant, Lindow released his grip on the ice chosen's spear before grabbing his dagger.  

 

"Goodbye~" Lindow chirped at the creature as he brought his dagger up into beast's eye as it stumbled forward. Just like his first victim, the creature's eye shattered upon being pierced, causing the body to go limp before collapsing into itself and dispersing into the shadows. Not even a little interested in watching the spectacle a second time, Lindow closed his eyes and attempting to steady his breathing whilst returning his dagger to his belt. That was two down now, and there was still quite a few more creatures left...

 

"Bwahahahaha!" Without warning, Lindow tilted his head back and began laughing madly to himself. "This is actually pretty fun!" It had been a long time since he had been pitted against such strange circumstances and enemies! He continued to cackle for a moment before exhaling loudly and glancing down at his palm as he flexed his hand a few times to test his wounds. How many more of these otherworldly creatures could he kill before his body gave out? This would be quite a good test of his abilities...

 

"Wow," Lily was mumbled under her breath as she watched the last remnants of the creature fade away whilst her chosen cackled maniacally. "Really really f***ing good at murdering things..." She brought her paw to her face and groaned, only to quickly shift to a more noble position when Lindow turned to face the Ice Spirit and his Chosen. "Don't forget that you're hurt, idiot." The lighting spirit punctuated her sentence by prodding at the gash left on his shoulder from the first shadow beast. 

 

 

"It would be boring if these things weren't a threat..." Lindow responded to her rather casually, before gazing down at the ice chosen. "You don't seem to be much of a fighter... does that mean you're our medic?"   

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After Lindow and Reinaan dispatched two of the creatures, there only remained two more. The first was being beset by a giant glorified chicken. The creature barely even seemed to register the animal before it. Instead it determinedly tried to follow the Chosen who had moved on from its position. However being not fully formed, the creature was wobbly in its movements, and the bird was able to attack it from behind. It tore into the creature, despite its size, and brought it low enough to be able to reach its head.

The creature tried to surge forward but the bird's claws wouldn't let up, tearing its head open and ripping apart several of the thing's flashing eyes. It cracked, and collapsed, fading from view, probably confusing the bird as to where it went.

 

Keres didn't make a noise as she was lifted off her feet. Her mouth was set in a line while she watched the creature in front of her suddenly appear, throwing its entire body at the girl. Her thoughts whirled but she couldn't figure a way out. She didn't have much water to work with, nor time even if she had, and she wasn't strong enough to pull herself from this thing's grip. Not only that but the creature's arms were not entirely solid and so she couldn't even get much of a grip on them anyway. She had just decided that she would die when a wall of rock appeared in front of her, blocking the monster mid-air.

 

A shining arrow made its way through the darkness at the same time, and the creature's neck was punctured all the way through. The now glowing creature spun, holding Keres, in the direction of the attack. She was then able to see the other girl, the Earth Chosen perhaps, was advancing and seemed intent on attacking the creature's head.

Keres was glad to see her new comrades had basic problem solving skills.

 

She struggled in the creature's grip. Usually it wouldn't do anything but, as the creature was now under assault, it served to make holding onto her not worth the effort. She was tossed to the side and into the wall. Keres knew there was still another...was that an explosion?

Keres checked around the wall to see the Draken boy against the wall, with the attacker missing. He must have killed it. Impressive power, but...he seemed injured.

Keres felt uncomfortable as she looked at the boy. She still wasn't sure how to feel about the rather unconventional Draken. Given that it wasn't all that long ago that she was being chased by his kind.

Still he seemed to be in pain. "Hurts where?" Keres muttered, trying to get an idea of where the pain originated. When she got some indication, she raised a hand towards the injury, and her remaining water flowed from her flask and over the injured area. Reinaan would feel the pain relieve itself, dulled somewhat, as she cast her spell. "Still injured. Temporary." She said, coughing as her throat tried to get used to the speaking. The injury, whatever it was, would need to be treated. But her magic was able to keep him from experiencing too much pain. It would help him continue to fight, if that was needed, however...

 

As Ryia attacked the beast, it would catcher her mace in its clawed hand. But she simply brought her shield around to crash against the arm, while pulling, which allowed her to tear the thing's arm and force it to release her weapon. Before she could attack again it lunged, forcing her to bring her shield up once more to stop the attack. She wasn't in a position to attack, however, despite how open the creature was. It was trying to push over the shield in order to stab at Ryia with the blade coming out of its mouth. And then an arrow, from Anis, came sailing through the air, striking one of the creature's eyes and shattering it.

The creature let out a hiss as it deflated, vanishing into the ground.

There was silence for several moments, as the Chosen looked around them. The creatures had been slain, though it came at a cost, and now the room felt eerily silent.

Then one of the Council members clapped their hands together. "The test is over." He said. "And it seems we were right to test you. Already one has fallen, she was proven unreliable. I hope you understand what this means. You are not invincible. And just because the Spirits chose you...does not mean they chose correctly."

 

There was another silence, and there seemed to be some sort of unspoken conversation between the Council members. Keres glanced down. What was the purpose of this? It seemed unusual to weaken them so. Of course, they may have not expected such a thing. She did notice a strange tone in the man's voice. Surprise? She couldn't be sure. She didn't really want to think about these people more than she needed to. As the man continued to speak, Keres began recording what she knew about the battle, and the death of the Wind Chosen.

 

"There is one more thing, and then we will permit you to ask your questions...The Council had talked much about this. We are leaving our fates in the hands of strangers, criminals" Keres felt eyes upon her. "And witches. We had to take...preparations. You have been injured during this battle. Look at the wounds, you will see symbols. Two trios of black dots. It is a curse. One which will result in your death some time from now. The exact date will not be given, and the spell to lift the curse is known only to us. This is our guarantee. If you do your task, and destroy Demon Gates, will will remove this curse. Once you've destroyed one, you may return to us. You must understand, we cannot risk betrayal. Now." There was a hint of amusement in the man's voice during his next words. "Any questions?"

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The spinning in Reinaan's head began to settle somewhat though Ziiyol's giggling remained steady. A voice spoke and the Draken found himself able to somewhat focus again despite the intense pain in his hand. It was the Chosen of Water meaning the other creature had likely been dealt with which was relieving. The girl spoke but in very short statements that felt like they were missing a few words. She must have heard him yelling or just face first on the ground in general and asked where it hurt. Hesitantly Reinaan stretched his right hand out as the girl began using her magic. A stream of water came from a flask at her side and surrounded the hand and with it a cool sensation to ease the pain of the burning inside. This was met with more simple sentences stating the hand was still injured and this pain relief was likely to subside with time.

 

"Uhh... thanks." he managed to say back to her. He wasn't sure how much language she really knew or if she would understand things he said. Reinaan's mind was coming back into focus and some of the fatigue he'd felt seemed to be lifting as well. Ziiyol's power was certainly impressive but he wasn't appreciating the state it always left him in. Though slightly battered and bruised he was able to sit up now that his hand didn't feel like it was literally on fire. He set his bag containing all of his gear down beside him as he sat on the ground with his legs and tail out in their respective directions. He seemed rather unaware of a certain a slit that was wide open and slowly closing. Rummaging through his things he found a small jar and began applying the salve inside to the cuts from the creatures to help his scales heal. As he did so he took note of how quiet the room was. All of the creatures had to be dead then or else there would still be sounds of fighting.

 

Eventually the silence was broken by a member of the council speaking to them. His words were not of congratulations but looking down on them it felt like. He cited the death of the elf girl as justification for their test. Reinaan had nearly forgot and while before he had not known what to think or feel now anger was what came to dominate his thoughts. Before he could finalize any thoughts on things to yell at them about it the man continued speaking to the injuries the monsters had inflicted. A curse meant to kill them at some time the council felt convenient. Reinaan began searching himself where he'd been hit and didn't find any of the dots he was supposed to be seeing.

 

"What the heck's he talking about I don't see anything." he grumbled as he held the end of his tail close to his face. Ziiyol finally seemed to be calming down and came over to look over her partner herself. "It's hard because of your lovely black scales but they're there as he said. The magic's definitely present." Regardless Reinaan was furious. Doubting the spirits' choices, murdering people their legends told would save the world, cursing survivors to die unless they did as they were told? What did these people think themselves to be? Reinaan wasn't even a tenth of the way into his life yet and yet clearly this council would not mourn his death should he simply leave and let the curse take him.

 

"There's no way I'm doing what these people say! Ziiyol, you told me you could burn magic away. Well get to it so I can go home already!" he yelled at the spirit. The usual passive happy face disappeared giving way to a sad and defeated look. "Reiny I can't... it's more likely to kill you than anything and I don't want you to die. Please just do as they say, you can get it removed after one of the gates is gone. Please Reiny." she practically begged. Reinaan wanted to keep yelling things about how he'd rather die by her magic than the council's or how could she want to cooperate with them given they don't trust the spirits at all. But Ziiyol's concern for him was genuine and she hadn't done anything wrong and blaming her wouldn't help. Instead he turned to the council who had invited them to ask questions as if everything was alright here. Reinaan struggled a bit but stood up and Ziiyol took to his side as if she could support him at all.

 

"What's wrong with you people?! You killed that girl! You tried to kill all of us! You're still trying to kill us! Do lives mean anything to you?!" the boy practically tried to roar at the council. Ziiyol was absorbed in the energy he put forth and swore she saw a fire in his eyes. Though despite her pleas this still didn't sound much like he was going to cooperate with the council. A voice started from behind Reinaan in the back of the circle. "Why I never, ignorant little-" the council member started but was cut off. A feeling of magic stirring among the council was present. Instead the member at the front of the circle addressed him. "Your concerns are noted. There are many lives at stake here. Surely you would not want them to be in the hands of incompetents?" they said. This didn't do much to help Reinaan's anger with them. He felt they seemed to care for the people but only as a group. An individual like the elf girl meant little to them so long as their nameless, faceless mass of people was still there.

 

"That doesn't mean she had to die..." he replied. He didn't feel like he was going to be able to reason with them and it frustrated him now more than anything. He took his jacket out of his bag and put his arms through the sleeves not that this did much more than cover his arms and back. Thankfully a certain something had closed up by now so no need to worry about covering up at this point. He then threw the bag around his shoulder as he grabbed his spear and began walking towards where he thought the entrance they'd come in through was not caring if the council had some spell to keep them there until they were ready to let them leave or not. He usually had a pretty good idea of where he'd been and gone but couldn't quite seem to find it so was mostly just walking towards the edge of the room hoping to find something. Anything was better than sticking around this council.

 

"Reiny wait where are you going?!" she called out. She passed by Keres and stopped briefly to thank the girl for helping ease Reinaan's pain then followed after her partner.

 

"To get one of these stupid gates so I can come back here and go home!" he yelled back at her.

 

"But you don't know where you're going yet!" she called back as she ran off to catch up with her partner. He didn't seem to much care what anyone had to say at this point.

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"Think not of what battles could have been, but what battles could be." Kha repeated an Orcish proverb, clapping Ayden on the shoulder as he stood. His sword dragging slightly on the ground as he rejoined the majority of the group. He was happy that they had finished the conflict without suffering anymore losses. He looked forlornly at the slain elf, bring a charm around his neck to his lips as he mouth a silent prayer. The cycle of life was inevitable, he knew, but it didn't make its passing any less difficult to accept. Especially now, when it all seemed so pointless. He could only hope that this was the work of the spirits and he just couldn't see the point of it all.

 

Kha's optimism was short lived as the council began to speak. The silhouetted figures revealed once again how underhanded they were. Absentmindedly, Kha brushed the chill on his shoulder that at the words of the council had suddenly got very cold, leaving him longing for the winters of his childhood. The glow that had emanated from his skin faded as Kal'bri re-emerged. 

 

Kha was stunned into silence, unable to do anything but just absentmindedly nod along as Reinaan told the council off. This form of coercion was just so foreign to him. Orcs were straight shooters. Even in politics, when vying for needed resources or territory, even the craftiest of orcs simply would beat their opposition over the head from behind. There was no looming death curses needed to get one's way. 

 

"You realize that without us you have nothing." It wasn't a question, but a statement. It was quite obvious that the council understood how valuable each of the Chosen were, otherwise they wouldn't have gone to such great lengths to ensure their compliance. However, they had also lost a Chosen in the process. "No hope. No chance. No way of escaping the cycle of darkness." Kha looked at the mutilated form of Qali. "And yet you prove that perhaps you are no better than what we are rescuing you from. Do you not remember that we are doing you a favor?" Kha rarely felt small, being an orc he usually towered most other races and being dwarfed was alien to him. However, originally, the Council's presence had made him feel insignificant. Suddenly, however, he felt larger than ever. "Spirits protect me, but curse or not I will do what is right. You and your agenda have no power over me."

 

"You are going to f***ing die." 

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"You need to aim for the eye..." that eyepatched man from before called out.

 

Gilly bristled. "I don't need your advice, Mister crow man!" he...reminded her of a crow, all right? "I'm just fine by mysel--whoa!" she cried when the weapon started to slip from her grip. Being made out of ice, it tended to slip if used for too long, considering it would start to melt. It didn't matter though, as soon afterward the lightning Chosen yanked the spear and halfling combo up to hit the creature's upper body. Gilly ended up dangling from the spear, her toes a foot from the ground. She watched as the weird man finished the monster off in a couple of moves.

 

The halfling watched, quiet for once, as he managed to do in a minute what had taken her the whole battle. "Not fair," she muttered to herself, dispirited. But she soon bounced right back up at the next thought. "But that only means I just have to get stronger! I will be the best spearfighter in all Fantalius, believe it!"

 

The man gazed down at Gilly soon after. "You don't seem to be much of a fighter... does that mean you're our medic?"

 

The halfling bristled. "Medic? Someone as awesome as me, reduced to being nothing more than a backstage healer? No way, buster! I am the lovely and talented spearfighter, Gilly! Er...I might not be that talented yet, but I will soon, just you wait! And then you won't help but bow before my greatness. Watch and learn, crow man!"

 

"You're more of a magician than a fighter, though," Snow chimed in.

 

"So says you!" Gilly scowled. "Ice is meant to be a frontline element, what with the ice spears and all that. You're just a bitter old man because you're a cute little bunny and bunnies aren't frontline fighters so you're just jeeealous."

 

Snow didn't deign that with a reply, but Hob reached over to lick at Gilly's face worriedly. "I'm fine, Hob," she giggled, ignoring the slash across her brow.

 

Soon afterward the Council started talking, but Gilly didn't pay them much attention aside from the whole dying thing. "You guys are real jerks, you know that?" she said. "First you don't even let me go to the latrine, and now this. Maybe I'll just go and die, and how would you feel then? Snowy wouldn't choose anybody else, cuz I'm too awesomesauce to replace, so you'll just have to go 'boohoo we're so sorry we were so mean to you Gilly we were wrong' and I'll be like, 'Haha it bites to be you losers, cuz I'm dead,' but oh that would bite for me too wouldn't it? Hmmm...well maybe I'll pretend to be dead then and then you guys will feel the pain of knowing I'm dead but then I'll come back and save your sorry butts and you'll have to acknowledge me as the hero you were all waiting for! Maybe I will do that, but oh fiddlesticks, I gave my plan away. Guess I'll have to figure something else out then." She thought for a minute. "Hmm, got nothing. Well, I'll figure something out, and you guys will regret you ever messed with the great Gilly! You'll be crawling back to me in shame!"

 

Meanwhile, Snow was trying his hardest not to hang his head in his own shame.

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The battle was over.

 

Anis' shoulders were sore. Perhaps she must start taking notice to her deteriorating stamina next time, she was not of a fresh age anymore. Or perhaps it's because her overuse of magic this time. There were a lot of opportunities where it was quite unnecessary for her to use it, which was quite the waste. But, that's that, no use in regretting her decision since they won. It's just something she should take as a note for the next time. Ileca soon approached her, having several wounds on her body but mostly looking fine. Anis made sure to check on her wounds, but she was interrupted by the council speaking.

 

"Ah, the after battle hoo hums, of course.

 

Did you miss me?"

 

Shirin's voice slightly distracted her from what the council was saying, although for the moment, it wasn't too important. Still, it would be rude for her to not listen to what they have to say. And then, they started talking about dying. Apparently, they placed a curse on the wound she and the others suffered through the battle, and it would kill them unless they did what they're tasked for, and destroy the demon gates. That was a fact Anis felt quite uncomfortable to learn. Not because of her dying, that was something she had been ready for a while. It's because there was kids like the halfling on the group, yet the council still deemed it necessary to do something like this, and it's not even something any of them really took voluntarily.

 

She looked at her legs. Anis couldn't see the dots there, but perhaps it's because the flesh replacement she did covered the place the dots appeared. it would definitely be there, somewhere. She could see Ileca looking at her own wounds worriedly, perhaps due to her thinking that she might be affected by it too. Ah, it was sad, to think that she might have to part ways with Ileca earlier than they were prepared for.

 

Of course, the others were angry. It was reasonable for them to be so, and Anis did feel something inside of her that would lead her to react in the same way. Yet, she was too tired to be angry. Perhaps she was getting a bit too resigned to her fate. Shirin stayed silent. Did it know about all of this, yet it didn't tell her or Ileca about it? Or perhaps it also didn't know and as shocked about this like the others? Neither would really get Anis to hold anything against it, but its silence was worrying.

 

Well, at this point there wouldn't be any other choice on what she should do. She just had to destroy the gates, and keep the others alive.

 

She promised Ileca that they would have the adventure of their lifetime for her last years, and this would be it. Dealing with the council could happen later, she just had to make sure that everyone else stayed alive until then.

 

"May I ask a question?

What are these 'demons' anyway?"

 


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"Think not of what battles could have been, but what battles could be."

 

"That doesn't even make any sense..." He tried to object, but Kha walked off, eager to tell the counsel off. Quite frankly, Ayden was in the mood to as well. He started to walk there, when Nocturne simply stood in his path. Normally Ayden would have kept walking, since he can just pass through Nocturne as he saw fit.

 

"Wait, and listen." Was all his spirit said. 

 

It seemed like great advice. Besides, its only been 2 days and Ayden has been close to death on multiple occasions. It was obvious whatever he was doing was not working. Regardless, he decided to listen to the Dark Spirit for once, an unusual occurrence. Nocturne was very pleased that for once Ayden listened to him. The two of them simply followed behind the Orc, for they were now indebted. One by one each of them freaked out. It seemed the counsel had full intention of forcing them to do their bidding. Nocturne had planned on it regardless, but the threat made the spirit quite dissappointed. Ayden on the other hand was taking it all very poorly.

 

"Do something! They're going to kill me. Again!" He whined to Nocturne, but was silenced instantly. He whispered something to Ayden really quick.

 

"...Yeah..good question. Hey, dickheads! How can we be sure you won't just kill us anyways after we do your bidding?" He shouted, pointing an accusing finger at the faceless beings that have decided to play god.

 

"Ayden, show respect! Do not forget who you are talking to. They can still end you right now!" Nocturne chided him.

 

"Nocturne you do this kind of stuff, how do I get the mark off me?" He tried to subtly ask his spirit.

 

"I am not quite sure. However, I would not risk trying. The last thing I want is for you to end up like the unfortunate elf." He responded to Ayden, still keeping his calm and emotionless composure despite all that was unfolding.

 

"Do you ever show emotion? This is not what I signed up for when I said I would help you!" Ayden started to whine.

 

"This is exactly what you signed up for. Put your big boy pants on, and get over it. We will do our best, and I hope to keep you alive, but the first bit of advice I will give is to KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT EVERY NOW AND THEN!" The outburst took Ayden but surprise, and his mouth clammed up.

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After her final struggle with the ghoulish creature, it having nearly struck her before being killed by one final arrow, the pink haired girl let out a sigh of relief. As the creature faded away, she looked around to see that everyone else had managed to finish off their little skirmishes with the other creatures. With all said and done, the eight chosen had not taken any more losses in the fight after the loss of the elf girl. With nothing left to fight. the tall goat like spirit had emerged from the girl's body before nodding at the girl in approval, and simply trotting along to go face the now speaking council. 

 

As the shrouded people began speaking about how this was all a test for them, and that it was apparently rightfully done, the earth chosen couldn't help but begin to feel her blood boil. She looked to the ground as, a bit of a grim look, as she the end result in, and the words of the council. The fact that someone had died amongst them was not the thing that had struck the girl the hardest. She was uncomfortable and saddened by the loss of someone who she had just met, and seemed a bit more immature then the rest who were around them. However, having done adventuring prior to this, she was no stranger to deaths by the hands of monsters. However, those were all a product of their own choices, ones that they had decided to take when they decided to adventure, and ones that happened as a result of making poor or uninformed decisions in the battlefield. This was different. They had not made the choice to become chosens. This current fight was one that had happened entirely by surprise, on the council who had invited them's terms. 

 

The girls fists were clenching, her top teeth biting onto her lip as she felt her frustration welling up inside of her. The more they spoke, the more the girl realized that to these faceless beings, the chosen weren't people. Being cursed to death if they didn't do as they were told, even after already being forced into this position of having to save the world on behalf of these...the girl wasn't quite sure if she wanted to refer to the council as people either. Anger continued to cross her face as she couldn't understand what made them feel like they even needed their help. If the chosen were so untrustworthy to these councilman, then surely they could do this mission themselves. These people quite clearly were powerful enough to effortlessly summon and empower creatures for each of them to deal with. They quite clearly had the resources to throw around and had at least a notable set of soldiers and mercenaries at their beck and call as well. Yet it somehow managed to come down to all of them to take care what these, she could only assume, lazy group of snakes didn't feel like doing themselves. 

 

While her frustration with council grew, only to be growing larger as the orc and draken had spoken to them, the girl already knew that there was no arguing with this. As angry as she might've been, having to fight against demons in an effort to save the world, or die at the hands at the hands of the very people who told them to do this, filled the girl with another emotion. She was frightened, being forced into this lose lose situation, and knowing that there was no way out of this other than fighting did nothing to help these nerves. Eventually her hands stopped trembling with rage, her fists becoming unclenched, and she had ceased biting her lip, practically breaking the skin from the force behind it. While her expression seemed to ease from its previously angered state, it was still difficult to tell her state of mind as her eyes were completely covered by her long bangs. Without looking up from where she was, standing still, the girl simply asked, "where are these demon gates we have to close?" While the girl wasn't the most forward or confident people, her voice seemed to lack any nerves behind and felt more hollow than anything else. 

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Keres simply stared up at the council as they gave them their sentence. She glanced at the mark and saw it there, just as described. She began to study it, drowning out the voices around her, even as her companions began to break out in an uproar. She was trying to discern its nature. "Never saw similar." She muttered, drawing Flux's attention.

When she noticed he was listening she clammed up nervously for a moment before saying. "Strange magic. Need to learn more."
"Well you could ask them." Flux responded helpfully.

She shook her head. "Dislike." She said. There was a great mutual dislike between her and them. They distrusted her for her heritage and she distrusted them for putting such stock in it. She settled for watching what the rest were doing, for now, while poking at the marking.

 

The Council seemed to ignore the Draken after his outburst, letting him wander around aimlessly. He would find the wall upon which the council sat was solid, despite its shadowy appearance, but there were seemingly no doors.

 

"You realize that without us you have nothing. No hope. No chance. No way of escaping the cycle of darkness. And yet you prove that perhaps you are no better than what we are rescuing you from. Do you not remember that we are doing you a favor? Spirits protect me, but curse or not I will do what is right. You and your agenda have no power over me."

"And that's exactly the point, Orc." Came a nasally, bored, tone from the left. "If you decided to leave, ignore this destiny, and run away, we couldn't do anything. We're not risking everything on the charity of strangers."

 

"Hey, dickheads! How can we be sure you won't just kill us anyways after we do your bidding?"

"Technically speaking." Came the nasally voice. "You can't."
"We have no reason to do such a thing. You're no threat, or enemy, to us. It would be a waste of time, energy, and potential, to kill you after." This was from the voice of the one who had done most of the talking.

 

There was a weird silence as Gilly spoke her piece. Which none of the Council seemed to entirely understand. "Your concerns are...noted, Chosen of Ice." Came the same voice. "We, uh, we'll keep that in mind."

 

"May I ask a question? What are these 'demons' anyway?"

"where are these demon gates we have to close?"

 

"Finally something worth while." Grunted the grumpy voice who had, earlier, began to insult Reinaan.

"Well as to that...why not just ask young Keres here." The nasally voice replied, with a hint of malice and demeaning tone. "You should know all about it right, go ahead girl, where's your arrogance now?"

 

Keres cringed as the attention was drawn towards her. Her eyes flicked back and forth between them all, settling on Lindow, who had remained quite, contemplative, stewing about something or other, then she glanced down at her feet. "The Abyss." She said simply. There was a pause until it became clear that's all she would say.

 

"She's right. Demons are creatures from the Abyss, the plane that co-exists alongside ours. Filled with terrors, and pain. These are creatures who want nothing more than to claim mortal souls to prolong their cursed lives. the Demon Gates are terrible artifacts designed to connect their world and ours. Without them, only the rare demon can come to our world. If even one is activated, an army could be created. That is what you must stop. Only the Spirits have the ability to fully destroy these devices. Their locations are not entirely known. However what we've learned is there is one of them on each of the islands."

"Except Haven." Chimed in one, eager and feminine, voice. "And unknown about Dusk. Hopefully not. That would make things difficult."

"Yes, of course...if that is all, you may go rest. This portal," Suddenly at the other end of the room from the voice a door, similar to the one they entered before, opened up, "will take you to a room with beds for you to rest. Anything you need can be brought to you, just press upon the runes next to each bed and state your desire. In the morning you will be allowed to leave, or, if you wish, we can provide a one time transport to any of the bridges on Haven."

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Kha didn't really know what to make of the council. He knew that he thought they were horrible people. He knew that they thought they were doing the right thing. He thought that they knew that they were going about it all wrong. But, he wasn't really sure where that left him. These people definitely couldn't be trusted, but ultimately, he realized he didn't have a choice and as much as he would like to trudge off to the moral high ground they had very well tethered him here. More than anything, Kha just wanted to leave. He didn't want to return to his old life, but this one didn't feel right. It didn't feel like the spirits had intended for this to happen, but instead that the races of Fantalius had somehow had perverted fate. 

 

"The world has a way of paying back those that take from it." Kha said to the faceless crowd of manipulators. He wasn't sure if he simply meant it as a statement or as a threat because at that moment he was feeling uncharacteristically vengeful. Still, he knew he couldn't let his own emotions get in the way of the spirits' will. Instead, he just resigned himself to leaving their fate up to the spirits. However, that didn't mean he couldn't prayer for their demise. 

 

Speaking of which, Kha had no way of knowing how much time had passed while they had been trapped in the starlit room. More than likely, he had missed a time of ceremonial prayer already. "Now, if you will excuse me, I must consult with the spirits and rest for our travels. I trust I will see you all soon." He added that last part for the council, shooting them a glare to let them know he was prepared for any tricks they might pull throughout the night. However, secretly his body was already falling asleep as he made his way to the portal. He supposed that the trust he was forced to place in them would have to start now. 

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