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Welcome back one and all into a new part of our adventure. The most important day of our life is happening very soon indeed... Are you satisfied with your journey so far? We've met lots of people, fought for our lives while constraining our violence yet... good deeds pale in front of a pharaoh ambition. Steel yourself for violence.

Previous Threads
http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Lots%20of%20Dialogues

Twitter for schedule updates
https://twitter.com/TaleOfMonsters

Perks and spells for our main character
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FFJHeWTu21_OktfrfYkJQhpV5HQw4PtFKav_QoMYjQY/edit?usp=sharing

Characters met by Arawn.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ishEn1-U1A1i3FbZ-YiQd65xk2jXpLab1XnM2hTNZvs/edit?usp=sharing

People from Muribel.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1u4hEEmOuqHF7cNUloB7Rw79JGVIEqJddOANDbmFrxI8/edit?usp=sharing

Bath smut
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rCnN1tcTnqUuIodJchGFVVnBAMVYDK-cFWbrsSOG32w/edit?usp=sharing
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The sun had disappeared under the horizon, yet its light wasn't entirely gone, surrounding the evening in a darkened, gentle atmosphere fitting for the lonely cemetery behind the church. Faraway noises from the mustering ground echoed all the way here, reduced into a soft timbre of activity that sounded almost ephemeral. Back inside the church, the ritual to heal Hao was progressing without trouble: Mana had employed Shereen help to isolate all of your links inside a ''cocoon of blood'' near the altar, a process that needed the help of a few shards for magical weaving. Once accomplished, the presence of the girls dimmed, reduced to the familiar knowledge of their wellbeing instead of the constant radiance of emotions you've become accustomed to. Whatever was happening in there was beyond your notice.

''Bit weird to be out there, I wanted to talk where nobody'll hear us.'' Zhu scratched the back of her head. ''Eeh...'' And sighed.

''Are you okay? You're looking a bit unusual... did I make a mistake with our fight?'' She had been an awkward ball of nervousness inside the church now that things had calmed down. She's been incessantly walking around, rubbing her face, and actively dodging people's glances. Had you not talked with her, Hadraniel would have: the angel had been watching Zhu like a hawk, somehow keenly aware of her distress.

''No, no, nah. It was good Arawn, damn good, perfect end would have been a bath together, can't have everything.'' Holding her hands behind her head, Zhu turned to face you, singular chromatic eye shining with an inner light in the increasing darkness. ''I've been putting off telling you something and, well, with Shereen and Klesiah busy, now's the time. Sure was easier to make you wait this morning.''

Her casual, almost cheerful tone contrasted with the nervousness sneaking throughout her body, small shakes of her shoulders betrayed her confidence.

''Zhu? Are you...?'' It couldn't be.

At first, Zhu looked confused, your hesitation quickly dawned realization.

''Ah!'' She scoffed, a familiar broad grin returning to her face. I wish! Can you imagine what Shereen or Klesiah would...? Wait.''

...

''You wish?'' While difficult to distinguish in the increasing darkness, Zhu had gone red in the face. Cute! ''What exactly do you wish for Zhu? Sorry, I wasn't too clear with my words.''

''Sssssshtuff it.'' She growled, nearly walked into the only grave, and swiped fruitlessly in your direction. ''Don't make me throw my sword into your punk face! Who the hell would want a kid with some lanky crow-woman anyway?'' A woman of no subtlety. Very good.

''Have you forgotten where we are?''

Zhu bites her lips and covers her shiny eye, opting to completely ignore your remark. Yet she couldn't avoid recoiling at your laugh while stubbornly keeping herself silent. ''...Smug bastard...'' She grumbled.
>>
It's a good thing you aren't linked because Zhu would have easily seen through your bluff. Dear oh dear, what would you do if that had been what was bothering her?

''Say.'' That detour had gotten rid of a little tension. She removed the hand covering her eye, the rainbow orb trailed a colorful powdery line as Zhu walked closer. ''It's kinda amazing that you and Shereen became so close with the way everything began, huh? Started as her slave yet now both of ya love one another, even a half-blind scarecrow like me can see it.''

The fresh air of nightly Zipangu was exactly what you needed to cool down your hot face. ''Yeah, I awoke as her slave, Banu wasn't exactly good company back then... Why are you bringing that up?'' You ask her quickly. ''Bit odd, you've been part of our dynamics since... we went into Marleon, two weeks after I woke up if I remember right.'' Your memory is probably missing a few days. Muribel people's access to calendars were in the churches and you hadn't paid too much attention to remember the days on Shereen's side of the palace.

''Yeah... That.'' Zhu closes her mouth and makes a cute squeaky noise with her lips and, with one long exhale, wills herself to speak again. ''It was kinda... really lucky how we met.''

''I've tried my best not to be paranoid about it.'' Ama said it often enough, she wasn't responsible for all the evils you want to throw on her shoulders but you've been dancing on her stage for a damnably long while now. ''It wasn't pure luck?''

Zhu scoffed and wrapped her arms together, resting them on her stomach. ''World ain't hopeless but it ain't kind either. I dunno anything bout math, still gotta wonder... What were the odds that we'd met by chance when you were at your most vulnerable? Not even waking up naked in Throne Town can compare with being a slave inside a hostile country.''

''Luck is how I reunited with Klesiah...'' Gods, now you really don't know what to feel about that damnable witch. Zhu's presence in Muribel is solely due to her manipulations?

''Yeah. One very nice fortunate break. Here, Ama had to give you some good odds to make her game fair.'' She pointed at herself with a thumb. ''Big sis from your time as a vagabond who not only happened to have a crush on ya but is also damnably good with a fancy sword makes a good equalizer huh?''

Your throat tightened, your feelings balanced between the sincere love you felt for Zhu and an imminent sense of betrayal. ''Did you...'' One second of hesitation. ''...make a deal with Ama?''

''I wish that was it. I'd rather have you angry or disappointed instead of sad.'' Her energy followed the dimming of her chromatic eye. ''I dunno how to say it, but, well, I'm weird. One super fancy artifact sword and another mega shiny rare artifact jammed into my skull. All the people I ever gave two shit about weren't obnoxious about knowing about them, I've always appreciated that but... shit happen. And it crawls up to ya.''
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''I'll admit Zhu, I've always been curious about those magical items. Carrying the sword of the Embodiment of Justice and having this beautiful eye made you really...'' You trailed off, she's made you feel so many different things, you couldn't find the right word.

''Damnably cool, mysterious, and the sexiest company?''

''Absolutely.'' You two shared a laugh.

A comfortable silence followed. Despite your recent rush of emotion, being alone with Zhu was fun. You can't reason how to explain your relationship with her in your head. One day she's like a predator you have to calm down, at other times she shows surprising vulnerability despite her bravado, her love for battles and excitement never trampled her good senses... Zhu straightforwardness has always been her best quality. Yet she has her secrets it seems, Ama threw one last little twist in her infernal game?

''It's kinda bold to be claiming this eye belonged to some mighty emperor from a far-off land huh?'' Zhu had relaxed, her luminous artifact shone quietly. ''It's the truth as far as I know it, I've forgotten almost everything about my life before those alchemist fucks jammed that thing into my skull... and I've survived but, well, let's say I had to figure out the hard way what this thing truly is and half of it comes from what I've overheard as lab meat.''

''Thing was an experiment into immortality. I still dunno any details but I -do- know that it absorb and trap souls inside'' She points to her glowing eye with her thumb before you can ask any wise questions. ''And little old me managed to consume every single souls trapped inside that thing when I was a wee traumatized lass. Probably why I'm such a headcase now, I think the academics fucked up by planting this thing in a kid, something about youth letting me resist... well that's not important. I happened to be the first and only kid they tested this jewel with.'' Zhu dismisses her traumatic childhood with a carefree wave.

''You're fine now, right?'' Gods, you can't shake off this ball of stress twisting your guts.

''Aint nobody but me squatting the jewel, yeah.'' A brief shadow of sorrow lowers her tone. ''Now's the hard part. You tell him.''

Huh? This last remark wasn't aimed at you. Your comrade covered her chromatic eye, angled her head down, and... stayed there silently.

''Zhu? You... Have you been in a situation similar to me and Klesiah?''

''Yeah... Sorry kid, this time it ain't a good happening.'' Zhu usual voice sounded different, warped by a graver accent. ''Oof... this is uncomfortable.''

You said nothing, your heart was beating a drum in your chest and this familiar rush of panicked feeling demanded resistance else you'd go and do something rash: you settled with activating Focus, prompting Zhu to step back near the grave.
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''Whoa, whoa easy there Arawn!'' She waves to dismiss your aggression, Zhu's empty right socket had grown an eye. A completely black shape was fully open in what was previously an empty place.

''Tuilelaith here. My body is hosting your friend soul, has been since the beginning of the game.''

Deep breath. Acknowledge. Assess. Zhu is standing there, nobody else, but...

''Bitch of a witch has this uncanny ability to hold me by my non-existent balls. She really does obsess with making things fair and, well, neither of us believed you'd become friends with your captor. Ama wanted to even your odds and there wasn't anybody else but me to do this job.'' She pauses to take a deep breath, covering her black eye for a few seconds: a tiny dark trail was crawling out of it.

''Is Zhu okay? Can she hear us now?'' Klesiah and Shereen share their bodies with different entities yet there's always been a clear distinction between the two, both girls have always retained their individualities. Here... things looked different. Zhu tone of voice, stance, even the way she breathed was just a tiny little bit different...

''Yeah. Can't hear us, the artifact kinda acts like a room. Slam the door and she's all alone, which is why I can't be hanging around too long else my body start to readapt with my soul.'' She pointed at the dull multicolored gem with a forefinger instead of her thumb.

''Your body...'' You wanted to desperately to believe that maybe, just maybe, Zhu was pretending, perhaps suffering some kind of mental illness.

''I've let Zhu borrow it, yeah. Corruption, shapeshifting is a hell of a thing huh? But that's not important.'' Zhu walked forward and nearly stumbled on her feet. ''Man, this height is trippy!''

You say nothing. Zhu approach and stop a few feets in front of you. Without any distractions or excuses to latch onto, her expression hardened into resolute sadness. ''Readin' between them lines huh?'' She murmured.

Brace, Arawn.

''Your friend died after leaving that moth girl in good company.''

Aaah... It sting.

''Details are murky of course, that kind of event is something that really scars the soul. Still, you can't expect someone to be living by the sword inside the Allied Kingdom with a queen keeping a deep grudge, even if she pissed off the church, there must have been a few inquisitors willing to help out and couple with her order of knight...'' Zhu, no this case Tuilelaith, continued to speak in this gentle, absent tone, that of someone far too used with delivering sad news. ''...her soul fled into the gem as her body perished and what do ya know? Ama managed to sniff out this thing location last year and steal it before her grand game.''

Her soul remains intact but her body...?
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''Kinda like that little cat. Except Zhu doesn't even have a body to heal anymore so...'' While it was a different soul now inhabiting this body, hearing Zhu refer to herself in the third person was creepy. ''...well I'm dodging the main issue. Not much time left, my body is gonna start reforming soon.'' New trails of dark liquid crawling out of her good eye and corners of her mouth gave her remark credence.

''Meaning you wouldn't be able to host Zhu soul anymore?''

''Yeah.'' Zhu... no, Tuilelaith, straightened her stance and wiped some of the Corruption crawling down her face with a piece of cloth. ''So here's the deal. Zhu wants to switch places and isn't gonna be listening to me. Tomorrow is gonna be a shitshow, strength is gonna be needed and...''

''I understand.'' You interrupt dryly. It was logical, no delusion of grandeur hold up against a ninetailed fox. ''She's...Gods hell.''

''Between you and me, she wouldn't be able to resist any emotional appeal from you, Shereen, or Klesiah. Which is why she's shutting herself in this thing.'' She gestured at the dim gem. ''But I can drag her out.''

''Her sword...''

''Can be used by someone else.'' She responded mercilessly. ''I'm not sure what's the best thing to do here. We both know what's logical but I sure as shit don't wanna stand alone in a crowd of powerful, angry people cause of a cold heart.''

Meaning... Tuilelaith wants you to support her once she lifts her shapeshifting.

''Just like that? No goodbye?'' It was a good thing your links were all so heavily preoccupied. Bitterness and sadness made an unhealthy cocktail that tensed your entire body almost painfully.

''...she's running away.'' Tuilelaith gentle response sounded exactly like Zhu usual voice. ''Pretty sure she already resolved herself with doing this yesterday, only time we could talk was for an hour when she slept so we couldn't communicate much.''

Was she? This coming war was something Zhu had always wanted to participate in. Being a part of a mass conflict was one of her dreams, letting her participate might just be the accomplishment of your long promise to her... Yet she's willingly stepping aside because someone even stronger can help.

Is it the right thing to do? Is there even such a thing?

If Zhu soul returns fully into the gem, she'll be going into a deep slumber as the sole occupant of this alchemical trap...

>Isn't it obvious? Zhu also wants to protect you and this is her way to do it. It is a bitter revelation... but strength will be needed tomorrow. Tuilelaith should regain full ownership of her body.

>Has Ama game truly ended? Zhu talent in battle is self-evident, without her there's no telling how different your adventure would have gone un Muribel. This little secret about her body should remain between the three of you, perhaps in this way you could surprise Ama? Or... No, it's just too soon to let go.

>Free.
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>>4964353
Holy shit, Zhu's situation is like a combination of what happened to Alucard and Fray. Damnit, I wanted to be a daddy and I bet she wanted to be a mommy. This is really, really sad man.

Still, what we have is essentially a soul crystal with a viable soul in it. Much like a certain childhood friend from other Siggy's past. How long would it take to give Zhu a golem body to inhabit?
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>>4964420
100% impossible to tell. Making a receptive body is going to cost a fortune at the very least and the gem will need serious study to avoid possible side effects.

Tuilelaith is one of the very few people who could allow Zhu to move around freely due to her immense talent in shapeshifting and Corruption manipulation.
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>>4964427
How long does it take for Tui to regain full control and use of her powers? The holy blade is anathema to outsiders and you can bet we're gonna be facing those tomorrow. Zhu said you have to have a certain mindset to use it and I doubt you can just get some rando sword master to adopt it on the fly. We could hand it to Klesiah, but I don't know if it'll synergize with her magic and the mindset question comes up again. This revelation will crush her and the other girls emotionally. Hilde is also another potential option, but I think she's a master at unarmed combat and not the blade. Do we even have someone that can use that sword anywhere near as good as Zhu?

Then there is Zhu's opinion. Is this really what she wants? I mean, this is gonna be a fucking war and the chaos of the battlefield would provide ample opportunity to slip away and let Tui take over if that became necessary. Plus there's the issue of Zhu going down also meaning Tui dies and with her perhaps a critical piece of the puzzle to ending Ama's dominion over our soul and/or restoring bestest buddy. Fuckin hell, this is huge choice right off the bat...
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>>4964434
>How long does it take for Tui to regain full control and use of her powers?
Around three hours. The shapeshifting to accommodate Zhu soul completely is extreme since she's replicating everything to avoid any possible discomfort on Zhu soul. This is a change deep enough to fool soul vision, the kind of thing Deruella needed to implant false memories in herself to do. Her appearance itself returns quickly, but the slew of change to return to her usual self is lengthy.
>Do we even have someone that can use that sword anywhere near as good as Zhu?
Tui is confident Waltier can wield it without any trouble.
>Is this really what she wants?
Hard to say now, Zhu decided to flee and seclude herself... dragging her out might just be prolonging the inevitable.
>Fuckin hell, this is huge choice right off the bat...
Could it be a prelude to coming events?
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>>4964441
Dragging her out might prolong the inevitable, but at the very least she deserves a goodbye and a kiss if we go with the Tui option. Plus it wouldn't hurt to give her some hope of one day returning to our side. We are an immortal elf and the Embodiment of Protection. We'll still be around when the time comes. If Leena can be saved and granted a new body so can she. We would swear to make this happen if we go with the Tui option as well. She should at least slumber with the hope and dream of one day getting to be with us. For keeps this time.

Basically, I want to give her some hope and hear her opinion before we make a permanent choice. We should have time to do that.
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>>4964449
Yeah, that's a good option in my book. Gonna proceed with that.
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''We've got time.'' For once in your life, you do. ''Tui, would you drag her out? You won't mind waiting for a little more?''

''Nah, it's all good. Was thinking the same.'' She waves and pat the grave next to her. ''I've never been good with people, I know how to give a good first impression and that's about it. Her friends and lovers deserve a little something instead of a cold shoulder I'd say. Just don't go speaking to me when Zhu's out, yeah? I gotta regain total control to know what's happening again.'' The beautiful rainbow eye starts to shine gently. ''Now come on out little mouse.''

You leave her to her work, calm yourself down fully and let go of Focus, digesting this revelation, leaving you with one question you'd prefer not to know the answer to.

If, during the game, Zhu had died, would that also mean Tuilelaith demise?

You don't know when the change happens. Zhu shuffles on her feet nervously and the faint glow projected by the eye is all the hints you needed.

''You okay?'' It's strange, you expected to feel anger, yet there's nothing but sadness gripping your heart.

''Am I...?'' She gargles, frown, fiddle with her blade, and grimace. ''...Fuckin' hell Arawn, I... It'd be better to just be done with it. Cold separation, no time to hesitate. Nothing is worse than fucking hesitation this... Fuck!'' She stomps closer yet instead of grabbing you, Zhu untangles the golden sword on her belt and shoves it toward you. ''Someone in that crowd of heroes could make use of it.''

''Zhu...'' You grab it gently, the shakings in your limbs stop.

''Fuck!'' She steps back. ''Why the fuck aren't you angry anyway?''

''This is too important for me to get angry at... besides, I love you. You being a little weak isn't going to piss me off.'' You'll have plenty of time to get angry later. Angry at Ensan, Zerase, that awful queen of the iron kingdom, the entire world... You've got a big ball twisting your guts and only the knowledge that tomorrow brings an outlet is keeping you calm and sane.

''Don't say that.'' She grunts and turns around, hand on the only grave. ''This entire fucking thing is just... fucked.''

''...Is letting Tuilelaith take your place what you truly want?''

''Fuck no, goddamit!'' She doesn't turn to face you, Zhu vigorously shakes her head, leaving brilliant outlines from her magical eye. ''This battlefield is what I've always wanted. I got a cause, a reason and comrades to fight with, a chance to quench that fucking fire burning my guts but it ain't the right thing to do. Tui a ninetailed fox, she's stronger than me, you, Klesiah... Hell, I'm not that good anyway, been whiffing like an incompetent cunt throughout our journey. The fox is strong, she'll...'' Her head and shoulder droop. ''Help keep everyone alive.''

It's not what she wants; it's what she has to do. This... is answer enough. Right?
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''Hey.'' You bridge the distance and put your free hand on her shoulder. ''Let's at least wait until the ritual to heal Hao is over with. Klesiah, Shereen... Banu and Hildegarde too, deserve a goodbye.'' Almighty gods, you need a moment to keep your throat from tightening up. ''Or at least we can make up our mind about this. We've got time.''

''Aint nothing bout ''making up'' needed here.'' Zhu grumble. ''Punch me in the throat to make me shut the fuck up or something, all this emotional bullshit ain't mixing with a woman like me.''

''Really now? A woman like you? What kind of woman took my virginity back then? Pretty sure that was a damn good mix of emotions.''

Zhu makes this kind of choked-up gargle that she only manages to stop by a long exhale of her nostrils.

''What the hell kind of shit to say is this?'' She fails to keep herself from laughing mid-sentence. ''Dude.''

''Oh, I'm serious. I've remembered nearly everything now, sure the details are murky but the memories left an imprint of emotions and I do remember that mini-me found you real sexy. Your boisterousness is something I always found attractive... and being impetuous isn't always bad. I kinda regret holding you back when Ensan brought Rupert.''

''Ah... man you're being... shit. I'm too fucking easy.'' Zhu turns around to look at you. Her singular eye is shining a rainbow of color, highlighting her somber face, would she be crying if she could? ''What do you want me to say huh? I never thought myself a boy chaser but hey, there you were, a ferocious juvenile wildcat trying to protect his little corner of the world. How could I not be attracted to something so weak and unpolished?''

''Hmmm... So I wasn't fat when we met?'' You've always been a pudgy kid and that's been a complex that never left you.

''Dunno, maybe? Oughta ask Klesiah.''

''Really? I thought the woman who owned my body would know.''

''Pfft!'' This time she rewards you with a cocky grin. ''You still had some growing to do, yeah but you've always been a fast learner.''

And so your conversation continues. You and Zhu speak and tease each other, ignoring the darkness of night, the activity of the church and all the soldiers preparing to sleep.

''You've never gotten drunk?'' You ask, incredulous. ''Seriously? I think I remember seeing you having a few pints with some of Deruella mamonos during that party.''

''Yeah sure, getting a buzz is fine enough my dude.'' Zhu cracks her fingers. ''Drunk or high is another thing. I'm a violent gal, I don't fancy killing a poor schmuck because of a moronic argument. That and... ya know, the number of people wanting to take advantage of one lone woman traveler is disgustingly high.''

She scooted close enough to bump shoulders. By now, you were standing side by sides, talking next to the grave marked by the name of ''Sylphis''
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''Before I reached the Allied Kingdoms... man. Being a murder hobo was my existence, can you believe there are still some tribes out there kidnapping women to take as wives? Shit man, there's so many thirsty Mamonos you'd think...'' She frowns, stopping her rant. ''...Huh, kinda strange now that I think about it but I don't remember seeing many of em in the far-off secluded villages I came across.''

''Monsters need men for reproduction, they can't thrive on their own so they need to remain close enough to civilization to prosper.''

''Hmm... There's probably hidden communities out there but yeah, thinking on it now, longevity can be a real problem huh?''

And so the conversation changed, you and Zhu moved inside the church for some much-needed refreshment as you'Ve talked yourselves into a dry throat.

''Man, if you could see the lust that surrounds you sometimes... being a dude in a land of horny monster gals must be an experience.''

''I, huh... I don't like thinking about it.'' You clear your throat. There wasn't any alcohol in the room, probably because it was easy access for the kids. ''Monsters don't like mansluts anyway.''

''You will not make me believe most of em won't go for easy dicks.'' She says, leaning on the couch.

''I dunno, I don't care anyway!'' Bah! this is not a subject you're good with! ''I've got my little bubble and no temptations will make me burst it. Mamonos live in these unusual family units you see and monogamy-''

''Don't bullshit me by saying you won't get a lamia hug once in your life, dude.''

Oh crap. ''That... is...different''

''Pfftehehe.'' Zhu cackles. ''Colors don't lie. Better to ask for forgiveness than permission ey? Just make sure nothing slip.''

''How about having us both rolled by a lady snake? That way if something does slip, it'll be somewhere safe!'' Zhu licks her lips at your statement and goes to put her glass on the table.

Then the door opened and with it, a reminder of your situation...

''Oh?'' Shereen quietly stepped inside, smiling mischievously when you and Zhu separated. ''Bit too early huh? Were all done with our ritual. Hao and the girls are being inspected by Tsukiyomi and that crow-lady, things look fine.''

''Good.'' One less worry. You glanced at Zhu, she looked at peace. To stay or to go, she needed one little push...

>''Could you gather our friends, Shereen? Banu and Hildegarde too. Me and Zhu need to share something.'' [The fox will regain her body, bringing great strength to your force]
>''Shall we go?'' [You don't... no. Zhu can be useful on the battlefield, perhaps this way, by keeping Tuilelaith hidden, it could be some kind of trump card...]
>Free

There's also the question of your last Awakened Pearl. Mana will need it to bring additional forces from Kreszen, amongst which several Supremes and some potentially very strong human allies.

I'd like more than one votes for this so I'll wait until tomorrow to close things, perhaps give more time.
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>>4964581
>''Could you gather our friends, Shereen? Banu and Hildegarde too. Me and Zhu need to share something.'' [The fox will regain her body, bringing great strength to your force]

Looks like we have a bunch of people that need our help and things to do once this is over, at least we're well placed to get things done.
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>>4964581
So let me see if I got this right. Zhu really, really wants to be involved in this fight but she has come to care about us and those around her so much that she's willing to give up her dream if it means greater chances of everyone's survival? Damnit man, you've been keeping this bit of suffering and sadness in reserve haven't you?

Can we learn soul vision from her before she goes? Did Tui learn it through osmosis or something? What are Tui's combat capalities and does she know about how pearl magic works and how to counter it? Can she act like a "tuner" for big ME's web and thus give her greater chances and screwing over/with Zerase's? Could she have a new and inventive use for our last Awakened Pearl? How big is the power difference anyway? Like is Zhu a bunker buster but Tui is a friggin' tactical nuke? How does Tui fight anyway?
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>>4964622
>Zhu really, really wants to be involved in this fight but she has come to care about us and those around her so much that she's willing to give up her dream if it means greater chances of everyone's survival?
Yup. She accepts the fact Tuilelaith is stronger than her.
>Damnit man, you've been keeping this bit of suffering and sadness in reserve haven't you?
Weeeeeelll... She's been thinking about it...
>Can we learn soul vision from her before she goes?
No.
>Did Tui learn it through osmosis or something?
No. Soul vision will be one ability lost, unfortunately.
>What are Tui's combat capabilities and does she know about how pearl magic works and how to counter it?
Listing her capabilities in detail will take too long but she's equal to Mana despite being a purely physical fighter. She shapeshifts into an assault mode and uses all nine of her tails as additional limbs, potentially becoming a beast that could contend with 50+ armed combatants at once. Or she can be an anti-hero combatant. I'll dump a list of all the potential squad members soon. She, like Tsukiyomi and Ame, is very very strong. Her knowledge of pearls isn't that good, unfortunately. She wasn't particularly active during the Pretender Era.
>Can she act like a "tuner" for big ME's web and thus give her greater chances and screwing over/with Zerase's?
Unfortunately not. Tui is ME strongest agent, but manipulating or affecting the web by herself isn't something she can do.
>Could she have a new and inventive use for our last Awakened Pearl?
Hmmm...Not really. Awakened Pearls weren't popular back then and magic changed a whole lot.
>How big is the power difference anyway? Like is Zhu a bunker buster but Tui is a friggin' tactical nuke?
Hmm, it's difficult to put it into word. Look to history and consistency: you've encountered three ninetailed foxes, two of them in positions of great authority with a reputation for ungodly magical might, and the last one need no mention.
>How does Tui fight anyway?
She tends to adapt her body based on the threat. Usually, nine regenerative fanged tails but her body can ''break'' easily and shift into something else. She's kinda like a slime... Her regenerative capabilities might be the best ever seen.
Francine is also one of the strongest combatants in the church right now.
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>>4964648
Alright then. I believe Ama said she can also make alternative bodies for people's souls but it takes quite a lot of time (that she didn't or does not have with Leena). Sadly, going that route means owing her big and NOPE not doing that. Well, unless *she* owes Tui big for doing this and taking the risk of Ama (or her agents) just killing her when she's Zhu like a good and devious BBEG.

I'll need to sleep on it a bit but for now I say we allow Tui to take Zhu's place. Losing soul vision will probably bite us in the ass somehow but we're dealing with 2 red world princes and Zerase's pearl BS. She's going to go full Nagash the instant the portal in her realm hits.

Of course, like I said, we swear to get her a new body. Daiyu owes us a favor. I say we redeem it for the funds to research the gem and construct a perfect body to house her soul. That's not cheap, but it is a thing a Billionaire or a Nation's Sovereign (i.e. the King/Queen) can shell out for easy. Hell, she might just do it out of the goodness of her heart after seeing us be so selfless in our redemption of it. Well, not totally selfless as we do love her and all but you get the idea.
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>>4964672
Oh, errr, just out of curiosity what are the potential other options? Like, put it up to a group vote? Ask Mana if Zhu's soul vision will be useful in the coming shit show? Can Zhu remain "awake" inside the gem somehow for people to commune with? There must be a safe way to interface with it as it hasn't swallowed Tui's soul despite being imbedded in her body and we are a soul mage so it should be child's play to do it once we know the proper rights.

That would let us keep "soul vision" but it might be unimaginably cruel to Zhu. Seeing all that fighting and not having a body to join in on the fun with...
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>>4964706
>Oh, errr, just out of curiosity what are the potential other options? Like, put it up to a group vote?
Something like that. It would mean informing everyone in the church about this but Zhu would rather have something a little more intimate. She's very much of the ''get it over with'' mindset. Arawn managed to calm her down enough to be receptive for a goodbye at least.
>Ask Mana if Zhu's soul vision will be useful in the coming shit show?
Mana does have soul vision, it's something that needs activation instead of being a constant thing like Zhu though.
>Can Zhu remain "awake" inside the gem somehow for people to commune with? There must be a safe way to interface with it as it hasn't swallowed Tui's soul despite being imbedded in her body and we are a soul mage so it should be child's play to do it once we know the proper rights

Impossible to know anything, you'd need to ask the creators or experiment on it yourself. No time for either of that I'm afraid. The fact it hasn't done anything to Zhu is indeed peculiar... but it could simply be because the fox soul is too much to handle even for the gem. Or Zhu is already filling it to capacity, one could say that she is immortal in it... Either way, can't answer any questions.
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>>4964714
I meant doing anything to Tui.
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>>4964721
Gonna have to find a sad yet hopeful song for this scene it seems. After all, it is a goodbye but perhaps not a permanent one. The gem holds her soul intact and viable for eternity it would seem. We'll get her a new body for it to inhabit, perhaps even better than the one she once had and the one Tui gave her.

It'll look exactly like her too if we can help it. Scars included. We find them sexy and very Zhu. Hope Tui has this "template" saved as it were for when we get around to that. It really is sad we likely won't ever get to have a child with her though. That really is another cruel tragedy here. Errr... we didn't potentially knock up Tui did we?
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>>4964727
Huh, the idea of making Zhu a mommy is surprisingly persistent. Would she be a good one I wonder...? Alas... Fates are cruel.
I wish you did, too bad she's too much of a biohazard for that!
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>>4964737
She'd be the ultimate cool mom. Oh well, we're immortal and so is she technically. Full body prosthetics might get so good they can actually translate soul data into DNA and enable full reproductive capability. That pretty much happened in the Megaman universe. Reploid and Human eventually became so intertwined that the difference was so small as to be essentially moot. Everyone was "carbons" by the time Legends was a thing and nobody knew they weren't "true" humans.

It might take a few thousand years, but so long as we and her survive, she can still potentially become a mother!
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>>4964737
Oh, and knocking Tui up should still be possible, but it'd take a concerted effort on her part. No shapeshifting and focusing on her own nature not consuming or auto-aborting the fetus but should be possible.

As you've stated that what comes out of a mamono pregnancy might not be the exact race of said mamono it'd be interesting to see what'd come out of Tui...
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>>4964749
''Interesting'' is a polite way to say it. Seem like saying goodbye to Zhu will be the choice, so you'll have a chance to see why this shortie fluff is supposedly so scary. I'll still wait tomorrow to see if the vote stick
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>>4964752
I don't like it but it is the decision that'd fit with our character. Especially because of the blatant and obvious potential for us to provide her with a new body later down the line.

Still have a chance to give her yet another battlefield with a worthy cause and companions worthy of her. She seeks Valhalla, and as even if we do solve the ultimate tragedy of the mamono's they will just be humans with extra exotic bits and as we all know, where there are humans, there is conflict. Where there is conflict, there will be war. Even the ultimate happy end will involve a battlefield at some point and there she will likely find herself in the end.

Also, I was thinking about the big fight between Ama and Zerase we missed. You a fan of Guilty Gear? There is a scene that went down pretty much how I think it went thanks to us bugging the hell out. It was just the two of them. A dapper old lady vs. a genius progeny who was way too full of herself. Too bad for her she wasn't interested in beating/killing her. Just buying some time and distracting her for her "real" problem to present itself.
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>>4964770
>You a fan of Guilty Gear?
Surface level, nothing more. Love me some Ramlethal I absolutely suck at fighting games so I never went deep
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>>4964779
Look up the fight between Bedman and Slayer in Xrd Revelator. Ama is Slayer, and Zerase is Bedman. Mimiru is Zato-1.

It's not an exact replication but the mood and feel is similar. Mimiru is smarter than the average ghoul I'd bet. Probably gave her mistress an idea she'd never have come up with all on her own I'd reckon.
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>>4964783
Well, hard to say the exact vid as it isn't popping up but just searching "Bedman vs Slayer" causes the scene I'm talking about to pop up but its all in japanese.

Used to do the same, but with the text in english. Sad. Slayer and Bedman trash talked each other pretty damn well if my memory serves. I know Zerase and Ama had to have done at least a bit of it...
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>>4964788
>>4964783
Hm, I'll see about finding it. Look interesting. I'm really tempted to write a special episode about that fight or something but... it would give hints of Zerase capabilities so I can't. Still, it was some goooooood time.
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Also, I'd like an answer about your last Awakened Pearl. Reaching a consensus sooner will make things smoother.

Using it will keep Mana web energized, allowing her to not only bring reinforcement but also use it during the assault... but that would mean letting go of your last trump card.
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>>4964795
Too bad. Ishiwatari is almost on Yoko Taro's level in making a world full of suffering.

But he's also a metalhead par excellence so you know that every time it seems like suffering is inevitable someone throws up the horns, issues out a ring wraith scream as they slam on a power chord and tells destiny to get fucked and succeeds. Why? Because that's metal that's why!

Seriously, he does so many things wrong from the view of a person like me who studies stories and yet it just works. Sol Badguy (cringe name one could say) is a blatant Mary Sue self-insert... except even though he is he really isn't. Ya just have to grok that story to understand that. Ya think you'd wanna be Sol, but the more ya learn the more you find that ya really *really* don't.
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>>4964797
Oh, I'd put that one up to a final committee. Mana, Daiyu, all of em'. Zerase likely has no idea about awakened pearls, us becoming a soul-devouring death mage or Shereen becoming Papa Nurgle Incarnate likely not a thing she even saw coming.

However, Zazawu joining the assault along with a fully empowered web come to impose, hack, and eat away at Zerase's might be funny. The next post will force our hand I'd wager. After this further delaying the choice will register noticeable effects. That is, you'd rightfully be allowed to screw us over for not making up our minds sooner.

However, this is, yet again, our last chance before you get to screw us. Either we keep the pearl as is and entrust it to whomever we think will be able to best make use of it (including ourselves as it will turn us into the chosen of Xel'Otath), or we give it to Mana and go with Daiyu's plan of maxing out Brute Force with Zazawu joining the fray.

I assume the latter option involves our favorite lich coming along. Vilma's a good girl and was sadly denied the chance to meet Zhu. Too bad, bet she would have really clicked with her...
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>>4964815
>I assume the latter option involves our favorite lich coming along.
The planning of the assault will come soon enough, there will be three main squads with Arawn and your crew being part effort to rescue Anais and destroy the Blood Pyramid (you'll likely have to separate). I'll post a list of names and a very brief summary of what they can do. Using your pearl will add a few more names to that list... once we get to them. Not gonna spoil the surprise, not even Mana can know who is able to come.
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>>4964822
I hope we can bring her along all things considered. Again, I expect Zerase to go full Nagash. It would be quite helpful for a practiced and hopefully now master level innate necromancer to have a contested roll every few rounds. If the dice gods smile upon Vilma well, might make things quite a bit easier. Especially if we can tip those scales by feeding her mana. Heavily tip those scales if we have a few NPC mages to tap if ya know what I mean...
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>>4964822
Ah, got two tracks that might fit. Both are titled "Into the Light" but one comes from "Kara no Kyoukai" and the other from "Ar Tonelico" Sad, emotional, yet also a bit hopeful.

I bet we can ask Daiyu if Vilma is now a part of Zazawu's inner circle. If she is we give up that pearl for the reasons I mentioned. Death Pearls are BS, but innate mages of esoterics are also BS. We are BS because we be a soul mage, Shereen is BS because innate blood mage, and Vilma is BS because innate necromancy (a gift she has likely mastered and fully embraced in the full on friggin' year she's had since we last saw her).

Plus I think Zazawu and his entourage are the "good guy" versions of some right bastards and whatnot from another setting if memory serves. I'd really dig Zazawu's perspective and disses on Zerase. The man has always been the foremost servant of the Demon Lord and every one of them kept him around and trusted him I think. However, he seems particularly loyal to Daiyu. Mayhap he's seen enough slaughter and horror. Daiyu's dream isn't perfect (until we fix the big problem with it that is), but it's a damn sight better than genocide. Maybe he's finally found his cause. Finally, despite whatever fear he's had of them in the past, he's found a Demon Lord with a vision truly worth dying for...
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>>4965017
Oh, one more thing. Can the shards shapeshift or otherwise mimic what Tui did? Does Mana have a spare body lying around?
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>>4965017
>I bet we can ask Daiyu if Vilma is now a part of Zazawu's inner circle.
Hm, that's not a difficult question to ask. I'll try to remember.

>>4965269
No on both accounts. Mana dying will have her return into the web, so at least there's not too much risk with this artificial body.

Locking votes. Were saying goodbye to Zhu
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>>4965309
Only for now. We will see her again after this is over. Might be a year or two for R&D, but constructing a new body for her that doesn't strain her soul should be doable.

Too bad we won't get to hear her insults towards Zerase though.
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''This is fucked.'' Zhu starts to complain once Shereen innocently closes the door to fetch your friends. ''Totally fucked.''

You reach for her shoulder and grab it gently. ''It is a Moon duty to be strong for their Sun.''

A forced laugh is her initial response. Then, she reaches for the defective collar around her neck and gently removes it, giving it to you. ''Never thought bout it till now, kinda amazing that Shereen of all people made me cool with wearing a choker.''

Gripping the object is the only outlet you have, controlling your emotions is becoming difficult. All members of your link are feeling happy and relieved, Hao healing must have gone well.

''...At least Klesiah luck finally improved.'' Zhu comment and the door open.

''Arawn, Zhu.'' Sieglinde greets both of you. ''We really should think about retiring for tonight.''

Slowly, everyone comes in, making themselves comfortable in the dark room that was only illuminated by a single candle, the girls brought an additional lantern. Hao is so giddy, she leaves the group to jump at your chest, wrapping her arms around you... but her sharp instinct has her notice your grim mood immediately. Her eyes settle on the golden sword you've been holding then those gorgeous greens look up to you. ''What's wrong?'' Her question immediately brings the rest of your links to attention.

''...yeah, I... we have something to say.'' You briefly glance at Zhu. She had turned her back on everyone to look outside. Welp. You're the man, Arawn.

The sad new doesn't take long to deliver and it completely chokes out the happy, wholesome collective feeling shared by the girls.

''When did you find out, Zhu?'' Klesiah was the one to break the long, oppressive silence that had quickly settled after you finished talking.

''During my fight with that chimera freak.'' There's no spirit in Zhu voice. ''Kept wondering what the fuck I oughta do but I decided to stop giving a shit pretty quick... till today.''

''So now you're... going away? Or rather, returning this body to her owner?'' Klesiah had skipped any delusions of denial, your grim feelings undeniably making it impossible for her to look away from this truth.

''Yep.'' A surge of guilt emanated out of Sieglinde. She had no intention of voicing her opinion but she couldn't hide her feelings: bringing Tuilelaith into the army was something she fully agreed with. ''We're big girls now, Klesiah. I never knew it myself but I always needed a filter, once shit happened... well, we can follow the logic yeah?''
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''H-hold on now, hold on.'' Shereen shook her head and stomped closer. ''I'm not about to go and lose my Moon! You're my third, my last one, I can't just... exchange you for some random fox! I don't want to.'' She crossed her furred arms, failing to look authoritative. ''You're a good fighter, Zhu! And... and even if I kinda find it annoying, your loud and brashness is comforting, you're the only one who spoke up when...that... happened to Rupert...'' Shereen's resistance lessened words by words. Reality was simple: ninetailed foxes are unrivaled combatants.

''Tui is much better.'' Zhu responds while turning around. ''Besides, I've had to revoke the privilege of being your slave, my darling sun.'' She trails a grim line across her naked neck. ''Tomorrow is war, tomorrow you'll also get your chance to speak to your mom and tell your sister to fuck herself. I shouldn't even be here anyway, the witch decided to play and this body has been borrowed. I fucked up biiig time before I met all of yous.''

''Shut up, your adventure happened Zhu. You happened. You're here.'' Klesiah interrupts, walks up to her taller friend, and grabs her by the shoulders. Faint trails of tears crawl down her blue eyes. ''Who is it that said she'd never settle for second best, huh?''

''Letting Tui fight aint second best, darling.''

''I know, stop acting like you're going to fucking die!'' Klesiah yells, grabbing her best friend's shoulders tightly. Your calm heart, mirrored by the sympathy of your links, are the only reasons why she's not breaking into bitter sobs. ''This gem... you'll be sleeping inside of it once you return right?''

''Yeah, probably. I've no idea how things will truly go but that's the precedent.''

''Then you're not dying you're... going away.''

''My older sister soul was housed inside one of the weapons of the 13 heroes.'' Elina suddenly interrupts. ''It took Zipangu 13 years and a bit of witchery bullshit, but Hadraniel is fully restored. There are many differences, of course, her body wasn't gone but... there's a precedent. They also have a sentient golem, a soul can survive inside an artificial body.''

''That girl, the black cat, Leena right?'' Sieglinde speak. ''Right now, her body is dead, kept in a state of unlife by the magic of pearls... her quest, no matter how it ends, will create a path for us to follow. My sisters and aunt could also take their time to investigate this Emperor Eye once things calm down.''

''I'm sure we can investigate that country, Zen, for some information too.'' Hildegarde add. ''Once the fiasco with Muribel is over and the Allied Kingdoms cool off, we'll get some stability.''

''What, are you going out there yourself?'' Zhu tries to joke, her voice is choked up with emotions.
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''You're my friend, Zhu'' Hildegarde responds bluntly. ''You've been far too cheeky for your own good during our travel, I still have to break a few of your ribs.'' She knocks her artificial hands together. ''If I gotta piece them together before that, so be it. I'll go out there with Anais if we have to, milady could use the experience.''

''I've enjoyed beating you up after we met.'' Banu comment. ''You're the cheekiest person I've ever met, but you've also been good company. You're far, far too young to be dying, lass. Come back before I get completely decrepit, I'd like to choke you out again.'' There's a tired sadness in her singular eye. The kind of sentiment born from being an old person who saw far too many young people die.

''Zhu...'' Hearing these opinions had significantly calmed down Klesiah. A somber steeled resolves had dried her tears and she regarded her precious friend with a calm smile. ''...Arawn, Sieglinde, and Elina are immortals. If it comes to it, my, Shereen, and Hao children could also carry this quest.''

''W-what the... Klesiah!?'' Redness cover Zhu cheeks, a sentiment that is quickly shared by everyone in the room. Good gods! This is beyond the concept of bold!

''Arawn won't abandon you. I can feel it.'' Klesiah continues, undaunted. ''Sieglinde, Elina, and Hao will keep us from getting drowned in our desire to restore you.'' She put her hands on Zhu cheeks, forcing her to lower her head so their forehead touches. ''I'll see you later... okay?'' She gave herself the inch she needed by going on her tiptoes to give Zhu lips a quick peck.

Right now, the most ardent desire to live created an all-encompassing light inside Klesiah soul. It transferred into you and blossomed into the girls, lifting the sadness and, perhaps ever so slightly, lessened the burden of grief.

''I kinda wish I could cry.'' Zhu responded between grunts. ''Hey Shereen!'' She steps back from Klesiah to look at the silent, despairing Anubis. ''There ain't anybody else in this world who could put a collar on me. Keep on shining, yeah?''

''I'll...''

''Tell your sister to fuck herself on that oversized dildo she keeps lugging around! Your mom is a bitch, too. You're a late bloomer, sure but y'know what? Your family hasn't seen you turn into an adult and it's about time they see it for themselves. All ya gotta do is grow up a little.''

''...Ah...Have I really...?'' This statement caught her completely off guard.

''How'd Arawn taste in that bath? I'd say that was some mighty adult activity.''

Oooooh fuck. Shereen completely froze. Hildegarde snort, unable to resist giggling.

''Bath?'' Sieglinde asks, inspecting your soul -very- thoroughly. ''What bath?''

''Ooooh man.'' Elina palms her face.

''Aight!'' Zhu interrupts before Sieglinde can continue her inquiry. ''It's way past my bedtime!'' She thrust her arm upward, pointing at the roof, the heavens, hiding her glowing eye with her second hand. ''Peace!''
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Nothing happens. No light, no signs, no manifestation... After a full minute, Zhu relaxes her stance, one hand covering both of her eyes, the other...Hold a dull multicolored orb.

''No hard feeling?'' Zhu speaks but her voice is changed, warped by a tone and accent she doesn't usually use.

''None.'' Sieglinde answer. ''It might have been a little underhanded... but you've given Zhu a second chance, thank you for being here, Tuilelaith.''

''Gonna take me an hour or so to reform my body.'' She answered, dispirited. ''I ain't good with this kind of stuff.''

Klesiah walks away from her friend and reaches Shereen side so quickly she nearly leaped at her. ''It's okay'' she says gently at the choked-up princess. ''Zhu really liked you.''

Shereen can't say anything because her face is buried in Klesiah belly, gentle sobs rock her shoulders, and she calms down after a minute without making a move to release herself from Klesiah motherly grasp.

''Hey, kid.'' Zhu -Tuilelaith- calls to you. ''Hold onto it. This eye is some real sturdy stuff, it'll survive a battle. Better if you keep it.''

The Emperor Eye... despite being dull, a faint light can sometimes be seen, throbbing like a heartbeat. Inside, your boisterous, loud, annoying, invasive, self-titled older sister and lover sleep, hopefully with good dreams.

Who should keep it?

>You.
>Shereen.
Giving it to Klesiah will have her insist you hold it. That's why she's not a choice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sg7qgZI0R5Y

With this sad situation resolved, our day comes to an end. Tomorrow will be the most important time of your life Arawn, have you done everything you could...?

Should you give your last peal to Mana? You cannot delay this decision any longer

Finally, I'll post a list of names soon. These are going to be the people you can bring in your squad and, if the pearl is used, I'll update it when the time is right.

The choice you've used for Hao healing also grant yo ua new ability, one I need to think about properly before putting to paper. As such, there won't be a second answer today. Final prep time before Big Things Happen.
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This is a rough summary of your allies to know what they can do at a quick glance. I'd probably need 6 posts to describe what they can all do in the details that'd satisfy you guys.

Red World Agent = They can be in the Red Princes Kill Team.

Walter Swanhill Wilhelmina
Master swordsman.
Can use the golden sword without any trouble.
Red World agent
He insists on confronting the Red Princes, stating that's where he'd be most useful. You can bring him on the rescue mission regardless.

Siegfried-no-Mikoto
Fluid mage.
Ice specialization
Excellent reserves.
Master Measurer (occur no penalty or complication when taking from your magical reserve)
Excellent mid-ranged archer
Sniper.
Can cannibalize his soul to alter his spells.

Mylen.
Telepathic link with Siegfried, unparralleld teamwork.
Best one-on-one defensive duelist in the entire army. (Very important distinction. She can keep herself alive in a fight, but she struggles to deliver a killing blow).
Will always accompany Siegfried. Both of them are extremely effective when working together against a single target.

Hadraniel
Embodiment of Love.
Angel. (Natural wind user, excellent flying capabilities.)
Very skilled with the use of Holy and shields, does well in tight environments.
EXTREMELY durable.
Potential user of the golden sword
Red World agent
Excellent coordination with Siegfried

Kyorn
One of the last surviving 13 heroes.
Glass mage.
Half-angel. (Fly well, no wind or holy magic)
Weaponmaster. He uses his nature to create weapons mid-fight and break them to keep foes off-balance.
Adaptable.
Master Thrower.
Warmaster. Has excellent instincts in combat due to a long existence of armed conflicts.
Potential user of the golden sword.
[Red]Red World agent

Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto
Ninetailed Kitsune
Unequal raw magical power.
Biggest magical reserve in the army.
Nature of ''soulfire'' that she mixes with summoning. Ame channels her magic into destructive will-o-wisps that wreak havoc on the battlefield. Burning people alive is her way to give humane deaths.
Specialized in area of effects magical incinerations. Big Booms. If adequately protected and with good set-up time, will prove EXTREMELY destructive.
Can burn people souls.
Excellent coordination with Siegfried.
Using her magic without a summoning filter only happens in a FUBAR scenario. (Big risk of blue on blue).
You cannot affect her magic in combat. Sourcing and boosting her magic on the battlefield will not work.

Tomiko Umeno.
Tengu (Flying monster without inherent wind magic)
Mage with a lightning nature.
Good reserves.
Excellent summoner. Will go into battle with three Shikigamis. (Summons with an enchanted paper core, each one rivaling a Ushi-oni in strength). Once consumed, she can summon numerous low-to-mid qualities entities and enchant them with her magic.
Expert in souls.
Fully trained in first aid.
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Deruella.
Her style of combat requires set-up, she uses Corruption outside of her body to create favorable terrain, obstacles, and mutations to fight at a distance.
Not exactly suited for the rescue squad, her sharp wit could prove useful. The foremost expert in the modern application of Blood Magic you're likely to see in this lifetime and the next.

Sonja Meril
One of Deruella maidens
Manticore, warrior monster. Mastered the special application of Onis summoning. This allows her to channel one of her ancestors in combat, creating a silhouette above her own that acts independently, helping her attack and defend as needed.
Natural weapons. Her tail vomits acid, her mouth can belch fire and her arms shift into claws due to battle excitement.
Natural armor. Scales grow to eventually cover all of her body if she stays in battle too long.
Natural (slow) regeneration, a trait shared by all warrior species.

Meruse Taskaros.
One of Deruella maidens.
Warrior lamia, spear user.
Almost the best agility in the entire army, only the slime is better.
One of the best infiltrators you'll never see.
A good warrior, Meruse might not be able to take on an ushi-oni by herself in a brawl but she is by no means bad despite being the weakest on this list (barring Shereen and Banu).
Meruse is an excellent opportunistic ambusher. She knows how to take advantage of all the confusion of a battlefield to strike quick, lethal blows against enemies. She excels in helping her comrades.
Skilled summoner, she can summon small hordes of low-quality entities for distractions.

Francine.
Last of Deruella maidens.
One of the Red Princes, the Pygmy.
An absolute physical terror. Her malleable body makes her extremely hard to deal with, especially indoors. Crawling, jumping, thinning, growing additional limbs, launching them out of her body... Francine is a semi-liquid sentient combatant.
She can regenerate herself with people Corruption.
Slimes tend to have a visible weak core. Francine has no such thing, making her extremely hard to kill.
Best duelist in the entire army. Nobody can keep up with her.
Strong water severely slow her down.
Red World agent.

Tuilelaith.
A fucking behemoth. Anything she fights will have a REAL ugly time, so I'll list her bad things instead.

Tui struggle indoors, cause a lot of collateral damage. She can shapeshift her body to adapt but she finds it very hard to cope with maintaining a proper form in battle.

Biohazard. When wounded, if she doesn't take some time to fix herself, her body and all the Corruption erupting out of it will become a danger to everyone around her. Obvious dangers in tight space and the middle of a friendly formation.

Struggle with agile targets due to the fact she tends to break everything around her.

That's it. She's the oldest of all the Kitsune and likes to keep things simple. She's a physical Corruption user.
Red World agent.
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>>4965527
Damn, Klesiah is fully down with the harem ending it seems. Didn't know she was holding back so much impurity and lewdness. Already anticipating babies with multiple waifus? Damn girl you ain't wasting any time!

I'm a little worried about what might happen if we have to undergo a full fusion with the eye on us. Does it count as magitek or anything? How durable is it exactly? How magic resistant is it?

I'd still like to know if Vilma's part of Zazawu's inner circle. If we can get Vilma over here along with him it's worth the pearl. Death Soul magic won't do jack to a horde of undead and Shereen giving them the plague just makes them plague zombies (i.e. it makes them even worse for us). A battle hardened innate necromancer however... that might be able to do something about that horde. Gotta actually get to Zerase if we want to stop her and between her and us is gonna be a whole lotta zombies.

Good ones too. Not typical "baby's first raise dead" bitchmade zombies oh no, full on Death Knight/Wight tier shit. She's got enough Death Pearls for that. More than enough and she'll do it too.
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Anyone that isn't listed means they can't join your squad. Mana will remain on standby as reinforcement if the entry goes well, Daiyu is locked on the Kill Team, Tsukiyomi and her two prodigious summons will remain on the battlefield to create the portal for reinforcement, Athena and Emeth (sentient golem) are part of the second wave etc.

You have to judge the pros and cons. Whoever is picked won't be available for the other squads. Arawn usual comrades will default to following you, but it's always possible to send them somewhere else.

So, for now, the rescue squad is this.
Arawn.
Elina.
Sieglinde.
Hao.
Hildegarde.
Shereen.
Klesiah.

You know their strengths well enough.

Banu will not be able to participate for reasons that will be revealed in the continuation.
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>>4965640
>Does it count as magitek or anything?
Hm, hard to say. It was created through an unknown alchemical process but the sciences of magitek and alchemy are so close that it can be very hard to separate at time. If you want to stay on the side of caution, assume yes.
> How durable is it exactly? How magic resistant is it?
Both are unknown questions but it look pretty damn hard... at least.
>I'd still like to know if Vilma's part of Zazawu's inner circle.
Daiyu doesn't know Zazawu roster in detail since she leaves his organization not him but she -does- know that Vilma (and that fire summoner succubus) have become prized recruits in Zazawu band. Also, Klesiah was helped by Vilma before going into Muribel. The two killed a certain vampire I'm sure you remember together... Ama didn't stop her shenanigans while you were sleeping!
So, to answer your question, if Vilma hasn't been sent on a long-range patrol in the swamp, expect her to come.
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>>4965658
If I remember correctly the rescue team has 2 objectives. Save Anais and wreck the blood pyramid. We're gonna need someone who can deliver untold devastation to buildings. Who is good at wrecking structures? Can Zazawu or members of his inner circle do it?

Do we have High Explosives? We're going to need High Explosives if we don't bring a living wrecking ball. How advanced are they if we have them? A few large linear shaped charges placed just so would be swell. If not we can just bring a huge amount and "cast" budget Ultima. Remember lads, few things can't be solved with gigantic explosions!
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>>4965670
>Who is good at wrecking structures?
Ame and Tuilelaith, undeniably.
>Can Zazawu or members of his inner circle do it?
Zazawu will be too big to accompany you, unfortunately. Nobody but him can wreck a building quickly, possible that some of the other reinforcements could help in that department.
>Do we have High Explosives?
Only some incinerating grenades. There are a few Shikigamis with destructive summons that can do this job. You'd obviously to bring along someone trained in Zipangu styled of summoning to use them.
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>>4965672
Oh, isn't Ama's shard going to be with Shereen? We only got a small taste of her combat potential and seems to have access to a "beast mode" if Shereen does some magic. What's she good at killing and doing?

Ame and Tui are good at building wrecking eh? You're saying it's also an option to leave the pyramid's destruction to the second wave reinforcements? I don't much like the idea of leaving it up that long as it may be able to be used remotely by Zerase. If we spend the pearl we could just give Zazawu that mission and then have him reinforce whoever could use it after he's had fun breaking an artifact from the pretender era. Can we take people with us to do a thing and then have them reinforce the red world Kill Team after they've done a thing for us? Could members of the red world Kill Team reinforce us once they've accomplished their task?

Don't the portals also need defending? We'll need a good commander to stay behind to coordinate their defense. Who's good at that? Looking over the sheet I'm partial towards taking Old Siggy+Mylen as we don't have to worry about him overdrawing from our reserves and "Gate of Ice Spikes" is an economical way to thin a high-level undead horde if most of those spikes are guaranteed headshots. Plus if shit gets FUBAR eating his own soul probably allows him to break some rules regarding magic. I think his magic ignores magical defenses as well if they aren't backed up by soul infusion or some other BS. Useful if true.

Does Zazawu like breaking precious things? Y'know, in service to his liege of course. We could use male friends after all and if he does like to break shit that gets us on his good side.
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>>4965683
>Oh, isn't Ama's shard going to be with Shereen?
Yeah but she won't be too effective since she's stronger at night, the assault will take place at noon, at the apex of Mother Earth strength.
>What's she good at killing and doing?
She can weaken foes with hexs, poison them. Ultimately, she needs pearls to really be effective. Shereen can channel her blood magic into her though, which can lead into all kinds of unforeseen things
I completely forgot to add Mina, too. She'd do pretty good damage against a structure.
>You're saying it's also an option to leave the pyramid's destruction to the second wave reinforcements?
That, or you could forego destruction in favor of taking control of it. Neutralizing =/= destruction.
>If we spend the pearl we could just give Zazawu that mission and then have him reinforce whoever could use it after he's had fun breaking an artifact from the pretender era. Can we take people with us to do a thing and then have them reinforce the red world Kill Team after they've done a thing for us?
A battlefield is an ever-changing thing. Flexibility matter. You could do that, but if the Kill Team lacks people at the start, they'll have a mighty struggle.
>Could members of the red world Kill Team reinforce us once they've accomplished their task?
Definitely. It is by no mean an easy task.
>Don't the portals also need defending?
Yes. It is your mean of reinforcement and evacuation, if needed.
>Who's good at that?
Tsukiyomi, Waltier, Siegfried, Ame, Kyorn.
>Does Zazawu like breaking precious things?
No, he likes smashing evil things.
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>>4965689
Wait, we can take control of it? What would it enable if we did that and how long would that take. I assume Ama can tell Shereen how to do things so that would help her out. I assume it is also booby trapped to all hell but if Ama knows how to avoid setting those off it becomes a viable option if it only takes minutes. I assume you'll only tell us what reinforcements the pearl use gives if we decide to use it.

Without the pearl I think the choice is between bringing in a big (but not as big as the pearl enables) force but that costs us the web meaning no hacking or interfering with Zerase's. Or we keep the web but that means starting the battle at a big disadvantage as that entails a small initial force through the portals that might get overrun by Zerase's prepared defenses.

Would he see the Pyramid as an evil thing? Since he can destroy buildings quickly couldn't he "Kool-Aid Man" his way to a fight with Zerase if we got a beacon we can activate that'll tell him our location? We're gonna want to exfiltrate the premises the instant we got Anais. Or at least, her petrified statue and Mimiru. Zerase and Ensan are likely going to be right next to her. We could find them, activate beacon, Shereen gets her confrontation and hopefully he comes in at just the right moment. We tell him to grab the statues and get them back to the portal. Then? Then he can go nuts and do whatever he wants.
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>>4965698
>Wait, we can take control of it?
Natural Blood Mage
My, to think my players didn't follow this logical path... oops!
>What would it enable if we did that and how long would that take.
A complete unknown, in all honesty.
> I assume Ama can tell Shereen how to do things so that would help her out.
Don't assume so much. Remember that Ama and Tuilelaith survived the Pretender Era by being lowkey and quiet, gaining intimate knowledge of its various artifact is not something you can expect out of them.
>I assume you'll only tell us what reinforcements the pearl use gives if we decide to use it.
Yes. The big general and most of his Red guard is a certainty because of Daiyu being 100% certain of it. Whoever else could come along is a mystery.
>Would he see the Pyramid as an evil thing?
Definitely. He's the one ancient who actively fought in the Pretender Era, so he does know some shit
>Since he can destroy buildings quickly couldn't he "Kool-Aid Man" his way to a fight with Zerase if we got a beacon we can activate that'll tell him our location?
Big maybe. Battlefield is too much of a unknown to give any certainty.
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>>4965705
Since we don't got Gardy's Soul and Tui and Ama basically hid under a rock and waited for the gods to settle their shit... That means Zazawu would actually add to our knowledge of what might get thrown at us?

If so that's a definite point in give pearl to Mana's favor.
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>>4965710
>That means Zazawu would actually add to our knowledge of what might get thrown at us?
He's your best bet. Ama focused on acquiring pearl knowledge, Tui... Her story is one that would make for a lengthy, sad discussion so I won't go into details.

Zazawu entire history is difficult to pinpoint since nobody really knows what he truly did. He never talked about the Pretender era though, not even to Daiyu.
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>>4965714
I'll sleep on it but for now I'm leaning toward giving up the pearl. I kinda wanna see Zazawu and Vilma again.
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>>4965719
Oh wait, I just remembered this. This ritual was actually successfully carried out during that era. Zazawu may have been present when it went off. He may know of something we missed...
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>>4965705
I think I remember a certain board game we played in our memories against our sister. We were in control of the "bad guy" faction and our chosen "leader" was a blood mage.

He raised the dead as a zombie horde and called down a chaotic storm of death and horror in response to getting essentially killed by a paladin.

Memory blanks and I have other shit to do besides exhaustively scour the archives but if Shereen gains full control of the Pyramid I'm sure Ama can give her quite the idea or two. Especially if we're there to infuse our soul nature onto her endeavors.

I've mentioned Nagash, but there is a potential light side version of it. As Daiyu gambled with the entirety of mamono kind, so too could she in this limited domain. Instead of trying to slave all those undead to her will, perhaps she instead grants them the sentience they had in life.

She cannot change the fact her mother killed them with the intent to consume their souls to fuel her apotheosis as she desecrated their bodies by raising them as zombies, but she can still give them a choice. Do you trust the secluded princess more than you fear the snek? That will be a big reveal. Perhaps big enough to fix Shereen's issues if it resolves on "trust" over fear.
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>>4965794
Interesting observation.
I might leave the entirety of tomorrow for voting, depending on participation. I need a final answer o the pearl, who we take on the squad can wait a bit but having a solid answer will be needed after an update or two I'd say.
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I'd say Walter (with golden sword), Tui, and Francine for the red-world team. Maybe more, but I'm not sure.
Francine isn't going to be bothered by excess corruption flying everywhere, so she's a perfect accompaniment to Tui.
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>>4965885
We don't wanna skimp too much on the red world subjugation squad/kill team. They have to take out 2 entities that are basically greater daemons who also have swarms of lesser daemons under their command.

Daiyu is locked in on the kill team. Apparently she insists. But even those 4 might have problems just by themselves. They will need more. I'd assume we're sending Haddy with them as well as boy will they need a healer.

Does the general army have healers? They need some too or else this operation is gonna get a *lot* of wonderful mamono's KIA.
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>>4966085
They have a few summoners who can use regenerative entities and plenty of potions. Quick healing is an unfortunate weakness of monsters armies since Holy is an angel and human only thing.
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I'll give the pearl decision some more time. I'd like that resolved today though, so you guys have to decide.

Squad can wait.
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Hm, not even rereading the last thread give me any hints about players mood concerning the pearl. Don't go making me roll for it now.
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>>4966574
I say we give it up. Zazawu may have pertinent information on this ritual, the princes, and the like.
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>>4966596
One vote for giving Mana your second pearl.
I'll close it for good tomorrow. It's so ungodly hot today in my corner of the world that I'm too sleepy and miserable to write.
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>>4966601
I have an idea that would involve it... but also we need to survive to even consider making Zhu into an Artificial Lich. I'll go with >>4966596's choice.
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>>4966620
Artificial lich? How would we go about doing that?
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Should I roll on who gets to hold onto the eye? It's a simple detail, but it's one I'd like to make clear... Nothing ominous now.
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>>4966632
The eye absorbs souls. Liches absorb soul essence. We might be able to make it work. Just a theory honestly, but a fun possibility. If it would work she might be able to have our kid after all.
>>4966672
Shereen. We want her protected anyway, so less likely to get it damaged.
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>>4966672
I don't know why Tui wants us to take it with us to this fight, but there must be a good reason.

I'll go with Shereen. I don't want to find out what happens if we use a full fusion with it on us. Plus it might serve as moral support. Her friend and moon is still right by her side and all...
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>>4966765
>I don't know why Tui wants us to take it with us to this fight, but there must be a good reason.
Her only answer to this is ''You never know, mate.''
The Emperor Eye can still be interacted with. After all, she gave Zhu a body, yeah, but Zhu soul is still in it.
Ultimately, the option of leaving it behind is also there if you guys really want.
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>>4966775
Hmmm... might be a way to cheese Zerase or Ensan. We just jam the damn thing right into their skull and let it suck their soul out. Zhu's... well it's big spoilers for the "Hellsing" series but I'm sure you know what I'm referencing. Neither Zerase or Ensan stand a chance against that unless they could still use astral pearls or something in there and I bet they can't.

Also, what do you mean nothing ominous? The thing has to be lodged into someone for it to try and drink a soul. Surely it's not like a halo device. Right?
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>>4966786
>Also, what do you mean nothing ominous?
I'm not trying to entrap you with this choice. It's just a detail that I need, that's all.
>The thing has to be lodged into someone for it to try and drink a soul. Surely it's not like a halo device. Right?
As far as you know, yeah. Zhu never had anybody try to, say, channel magic into it so all you know is what she told you. And what you've learned from her. It can be channeled by someone like Tuilelaith so at the very least you know some of its functions.
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>>4966802
Oh, just thought of this. If we are going to opt for the "control the Pyramid" option we're gonna want to bring the Tengu. Tomiko can't join the subjugation squad and isn't skilled in command anyway.

Thus, if we're gonna try to force the "good" aspect of Zerase going full Nagash (seriously look up how the Tomb Kings happened it was both nuts and glorious in many a way) we'll probably need her there to make that ritual carry the 2 and actually work without Shereen or Zhu dying in the process (as I assume Shereen will have Zhu's Soul Gem on her when she tries this).

Basically, without a soul expert, it'll come down to a dice roll. Potentially an opposed dice roll with Zerase. Not good as she has pearls both death and astral for days. Best to hit her in such a way as it negates most of her brute force options.
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>>4966986
Oh, one more thing. Francine can regen off of corruption pools or recently deceased mamono corpses eh? That makes her a perfect companion to both Tui and Deru. Basically, so long as she's next to either of them in combat she's gaining a ludicrous amount of health regen. This would basically mean that if we take Francine we can take Deru free of charge as her weakness is perfectly compensated for by Francine as she gets insane regen while within the area where Deru is preparing her wipe mechanic. Combined with a core that's both small and next to impossible to spot and identify given her viscous and opaque nature...

Yeah, strong water may well be a known weakness but...

Ok, how fast can one convert 2 astral pearls to another element? You said they are basically the universal currency in regards to pearls. 2 of them equal 1 of any other element. The only thing that'd slow Francine down while standing in an area soaked with corruption is basically a torrent of water the likes you get when you'd say... demolish the Hoover Dam or pull what Goblin Slayer did with his "gate" scroll. Y'know, link the damn thing to the bottom of the Mariana trench.

Perhaps Zerase has that kind of backup in reserve. However, I doubt she anticipated Big ME accepting her presence in her reality let alone her gaining that purchase within it and thus exiting the red world entirely.

Err... is Francine now more powerful here in ME's reality or is she like us and Hilde. That is, far stronger in a world or at least a section of it that is not under her vigilant gaze?
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>>4967015
>Ok, how fast can one convert 2 astral pearls to another element?
Mana was able to change the type of pearl because she used her web. Not even Ama can physically change two astral into another one. You need alchemical tools for this. Mana only needs a few minutes for this, provided she still keep access to her web of course. The alchemical method needs 12 hours.
>demolish the Hoover Dam or pull what Goblin Slayer did with his "gate" scroll.
Being in a river with a strong current for too long can eventually kill her. She's much more at risk of dissolving instead of getting gutted by pressured water.
>Err... is Francine now more powerful here in ME's reality or is she like us and Hilde. That is, far stronger in a world or at least a section of it that is not under her vigilant gaze?
Stronger in this reality. Mommy Earth accepts her state as an Outsider, so she's a bit of a balance breaker. She is by no mean a slouch in the Red World, but her body is more... attuned with the chaos over there, instead of being the semi-paradox she is here.
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>>4967039
Ok, than I'm kind of partial towards taking Francine and Deru with us too as Deru can function as Francine's Healer. I'm guessing holy would actively screw over Francine and thus she needs a corruption source to both heal and go truly all out.

Plus if we go with the "assuming direct control" option and also bring the tengu we got all our bases covered. Blood, souls, and an absolute nightmare of a prepared defensive position.
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Gonna be one of them long update today, it's coming in a few more hours I'd say.
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''Are you sure...?'' Shereen barely finished her sentence when you handed her Zhu precious gem.

Klesiah leaned onto your hand when you caressed her cheek. ''I am.'' you respond to your little sun. ''We'll find one of those metal tubes they use here to protect scrolls. Zhu will be safer in your hands.''

The church remained a busy hive of activity that, had Hadraniel not outright demanded everyone goes to sleep, would have continued into the small hours of the morning. The only one to bring good cheer to Tuilelaith arrival was the excitable Kin.

Had you not been so tired, you would have loved to witness what kind of talks Ama and Tui would have during the night. Two ancient rivals forced to sit at the same table, stand in the same army of an upcoming battle was the kind of situation you'd imagine a trickster god would engineer.

Giving your last pearl to Mana was your last strategic contribution to the army. With this... She'll be able able to bring reinforcement and hopefully continue using her web tomorrow, it should still give your side flexibility.

Alas, what happened with Zhu drained all of your energy. You and the girls slept together. No awkwardness, no teasing, radiating sadness but also... peace. You had to remain strong for Klesiah, you had to hug this little sun of yours.

Somehow, Shereen wound up at the center of the bed, one hand clasping yours, the other holding Sieglinde's deformed one. You have no idea what they talked about earlier today, they've gotten close really fast.

--

''Ah, finally, caught you both together.'' Banu interrupted you and Shereen little alone time. Had she come a little later she'd have seen something she shouldn't have.

''Is something wrong Banu?'' Shereen bounced off the bed as you fiddled a little too much with your new shield, it wasn't strapped on your arm yet. A good excuse.

''Yeah.'' She answered dryly, her singular eye revealed nothing about her state of mind but... she probably knew. ''I won't be able to follow you in battle, your majesty.''

That was a bucket of cold water thrown in your face.

''Look here.'' Banu lifted her shirt to reveal her belly, a huge bruise was noticeable on her tanned skin, almost like a ripened apple. ''When we went to handle that gang in Marleon, we found out that bitch was pretty handy with pearls because she enchanted her weapon with a few of her death ones and I got unlucky, got pierced by it. That angel has done marvelous work fighting off the toxin but... This wound still needs time and treatment.''

''Banu...'' Shereen hovered a hand above the wound, coming close to touching.

''Don't be like that.'' The old woman answered sternly. ''If I was twenty years younger or with pointed ears, I wouldn't slow you down. I won't accept being responsible for killing someone because I have to nurse my stomach. You've used the pyramid to heal Arawn, Shereen: my knowledge of the palace's inner parts is as good as yours.''
>>
''...okay.'' Shereen stepped back. ''Okay. Today, weakness isn't tolerated. I'll... we won't be away for long, Banu.''

''Start with breakfast.'' The way Banu patted Shereen head reinforced the obvious: she was her true mother and it seemed to you that, neither of them knew it.

Ama didn't show any signs of existing all morning.

--

The mustering ground, unlike the church, was a proper atmosphere of war. When your group arrived in the later parts of the morning, the arrayed Ushi-Onis -all 250 of them- shone in the morning sun because of all the heavy metal covering them, even their massive hairy spider legs had protection. The walls were full of archers and crowds upon crowds of regular soldiers camped outside the open gate, perhaps close to a thousand from what you could see with your narrow point of view.

This awkward separation was because of Mother Earth ritual. Her spell could only accommodate a finite amount of souls, once this group was sent to war, the soldiers are going to rush inside and wait for the portal.

Where was that golem-girl? You haven't seen her since yesterday.

''Not too nervous?'' Daiyu walked to your group.

''None of us felt like talking all morning, it was kind of oppressive.'' Elina answered. ''Also dreamt I was losing my teeth.''

''That's a normal mood, don't worry.'' The Demon Lord answered gently.

The arrival of your group caused a few of the demonic spiders to holler excitedly. All of them were armed with two-handers and, coupled with the personalized plate armor, the amount of weaponry on the field was probably a dukedom net worth!

''We'll be setting out in two hours.'' Daiyu continued, waving at the soldiers. Deruella and her little posse were lazing around nearby, Waltier was also hanging out with them. ''Our reinforcement should be here any minutes, my messenger wasn't too pushy I hope.''

Standing on the singular tower of the mustering field was Athena and her two daughters with a dozen of lizardwomen you assumed to be her guards. Below, near the only door, was Mother Earth avatar.

She stood silently surrounded by a dozen of her shards, all of these multicolored, shiny women reinforced the plain beauty of Mana's simple existence. Siegfried was beside her, the two talked with a joy that was genuinely cute to see. Mylen, ever watchful, guarded her man and Hadraniel waved toward her sister. Kyorn was probably somewhere... you couldn't see him despite his distinctive wings.

''You know, I really hate that you and your sister are coming on this reckless mission.'' Daiyu commented, green gaze flowing between Sieglinde and Deruella. ''But you're an adult...''

''...This isn't my first war, mom.''
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''I know and I'm giving you the same warning.'' The tall green-haired mother put a hand on her daughter's shoulder. ''Not matter how far, whatever happens to you, Deruella and Martha... I will know.'' She took a deep breath and gently tapped her forehead with a curled finger. ''I will abandon everything to reach you. Never forget that.''

The only reason why Daiyu allowed her daughters to participate in this war was that her girls were hard to kill.

A sudden breaking noise resonated throughout the courtyard, like two giant bottles smashing together. A golden luminescence put everyone on edge, cheers erupted when the fissure morphed into a giant oval shape, a golden portal.

Something mountainous promptly emerged. A massive being of muscles and furs, a four-armed giant with the animalistic face of a weasel and spikes protruding out of his body stepped out of the portal that barely managed to accommodate his mass. Everyone on the field was silent as the ancient straightened himself to his full height -he had to crouch to fit through the portal!- and glared at the assembled army. The silence of the dead was so intense you could hear your heartbeat...

The creature spotted something, his face widened into a worrisome grin.

''SIGGGYYYYYYYY'' A bone rattling scream to be heard for miles!

Boom. Boom. Boom. The earth doesn't shake with his steps, your limbs do. This... towering beast of a man reaches your lonely spot on the other side of the field in barely ten seconds! Spiders have to hurry out of his way!

''W-wait unc!?'' While the girls scream and huddle around you, Sieglinde is lifted off the ground by two massive furry hands. There is absolutely no trace of fear in the link.

''Ooooh, uncle has been so worried!'' Zazawu rubs the gorgeous demonic redhead on his face. ''It was so sad! I saw you sleeping in Throne Town... and I tried my best coming here every month even if all I could do is see you sleep!'' His massive body quakes with sobs, you can't see any tears from your position and whatever words Sieglinde managed to squeeze out is drowned by the activity of Zazawu mere existence.

''Deru!?'' Zazawu bellow, and...

Boom. Boom. Boom.

The white demoness doesn't try to flee (her maidens do), she keeps her composure when a massive furry hand lifts her off the ground.

''Where have YOU been!? I barely saw you last year!'' He rubs her all over his face, too.

''Meet Zazawu Hazu.'' Daiyu can't stop giggling as she motioned the absolute tower of a beastman to your party. ''The gentlest giant you'll ever see.''

The four sword handles as big as your torso on his waist tells a different story.

Ka-chink!

A noise even odder than Zazawu entrance erupts out of the portal. It is unlike anything you've ever heard, a dozen swords smashed together is your best bet. It sounded metallic. ''Here comes the reckless girl.'' Says the mountain beastman.
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A tall, thick, rotund walking statue emerges. Two-third as tall and wide compared with Zazawu, this hulking piece of walking humanoid metal moves with surprising nimbleness, accompanied by this constant grating ''ka-chink'' noise that makes it seem like something inside is broken and traveling its innards with every steps. Fog... no, steam sometimes erupts out of many cylinders throughout its body as it carefully walks toward your corner of the field, adding yet more noise to the cacophony of its existence. Two big swords are strapped on its back. It's walking toward your party.

Ka-chink!

It stops, thick metal poles push open its center from the inside, revealing...Martha. She was sitting on an awkward seat, naked from the waist up because two translucent tubes had been stabbed on her back, sucking out a steady flow of blood and Corruption. Half of her face was covered by a mask linked with the innards of this infernal machine, muffling her voice.

''Hey.''

''WHAT DID I TELL YOU!?'' Daiyu explode. ''This... this... this-this... this thing this...How is it even moving!?''

''The big treasure of the ranger is working again, s'cool mom. The dwarf inside is a good dude, seriously. I'll be fine.'' The machine turns to help Martha field of view so she could look at you and her sisters.

''Fuuucking hell girl, Zaza is one thing but now you bring another giant?'' Tuilelaith had climbed the giant beastman body to sit on his shoulder.

''Things happened.'' Answered the blue demoness. ''Hey, Arawn, did my gauntlet work out good?''

''Yeah, its been a vital piece of equipement.'' You try your best not to sound meek. Is unreasonable reinforcement an existing expression?

Cheers from the demon spiders attracted your group's attention. A man had emerged out of the portal, clad in heavy armor painted black with the tabard of a prominent rose wrapped around his chest. The man had his visor open but you were too far to get a good look at his face. A big double-headed battleaxe rested on his shoulder as he waved a thumb up at the crowd with his free hand.

''Let's get closer.'' Elina proposed.

''I'm going to ground you when this is over.'' Daiyu growled at Martha. She didn't respond, the metal door of her machine closed, obstructing her mother's wrath.

Another person emerged out of the portal...

''Teruko! It's Teruko!'' Hao bounced, nearly leapt in the crowd. Her excited scream somehow carried toward the portal because, indeed, Teruko whipped her head in your direction.

The good professor looked in good health. Gallant and svelt, it was hard to believe she was so heavily pregnant last year. She was garbed in light armor with a tabard similar to the man next to her. She grabbed his hand and wanked him next to her so they'd make place for a pair emerging out of the portal.
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Vilma. It was unmistakable her. Short, healthy, purple-skinned, garbed in light armor with a vibrant red overcoat. She trotted next to Teruko timidly whilst the woman next to her waved at the assembled spider-women proudly.

This is... right, you've completely forgotten her. Elenor, that girl who so ruthlessly bullied Vilma in the college. She looked to have wizened up since last year, at least when she and Vilma crossed eyes, there wasn't any visible enmity compared to the drowning hostility you keenly remember.

Teruko promptly shoved them all forward, forcing any nearby spiders to give grounds. During this awkward process, more people came through the portal.

First was a woman. A tall, pale beauty of noticeably long, thick pure white hair stepped through the golden portal, a cute ribbon kept this mess of silk under control. She didn't look particularly special: visible chainmail protected her body, legs were reinforced with plates on her knees and chin, a torn-up tabard allowed her to keep her hands in her pocket and her mouth was occupied with a smoking pipe. She acknowledged the assembled monsters silently, nodded, and walked toward Mana.

''That's Olga.'' Tuilelaith whistled. She was sitting on one of Zazawu lower hands now, his shoulders were occupied by both demonic sisters. ''Heat mage, another big weapon of the rangers.'' One of the tails pointed at the metal machine occupied by Martha that made everyone but you nervous.

''Knew it, knew it!'' The sheer brilliance of Hao emotions forced you to pause. She and Teruko had reached one another and were now enveloped in the deepest of intimate hugs. ''Oooh Mother mineself knew always, this sleep would never last!''

''Hey, peeps!'' The man greeted your squad, looking genuinely shy. Now that he was closer, you could tell Teruko husband (an assumption on your part, of course) was the ruggedly handsome type, with piercing blue eyes and brown hair. His helmet did squish his face slightly and his shadow beard needed a shaving, otherwise, you'd call him a perfectly good man. ''Bit of an awkward way to meet but hey, let's happily save each other lives today. Who's ready to keep count?''

Behind him, Vilma timidly trotted. Elenor tried to constantly coax her as if the lich was a scared cat but it had little success. Your good friend clutched her staff, barely managing to contain her emotions.

''Who the fuck are these three spooks?'' Tuilelaith comment cut into the happy reunion like a hot knife, prompting everyone to look.
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Three men had emerged out of the portal, all of them odd. First was someone who gave you the impression of a terminally ill patient. The guy was tall, almost gaunt because of his lanky body. Short white hair and pale skin must have been what gave you this impression because his movements and straight stance betrayed no weakness. Bringing a pair of glasses on the battlefield was a bad idea, but he looked confident. His coat camouflaged his armor, if he had any.

Beside him was a beast of a man completely clad in armor. Plate gauntlet, legs, chest, his great helm was his only identity: prodigious antlers made him stand out, his only true identification, his armor was all metal without tabards. He held a poleaxe, his waist had a sword and his back was occupied with a strapped greatsword.

Behind them was another odd man. Probably middle-aged, his face was obscured by a wide brimming hat revealing only a scruffy beard. Half-plate covered his body, various alchemical bombs were strapped to his waist whilst his right hand held some kind of wand...?

''Exorcist.'' Zazawu pointed at the pale man. He couldn't remove the sheer booming strength in his voice despite whispering ''Exemplar Paladin.'' Another finger pointed at the deer armored man. ''Inquisitor of the Closed Fist.'' Was the man in the big hat. ''The shards brought news that couldn't be contained so we had to do some... quick negotiation with the church security force. These three are here to safeguard the good mother in the coming battle.''

You have to give them some credits: they've got balls. Going inside the stronghold of an assembled monstrous army and walk toward a goddess that didn't look happy to see them wasn't for the meek. Siegfried looked almost hostile, thankfully that ranger mage, Olga, stopped all three before they could reach Mana. Ame and Tsukiyomi emerged out of the tower looking none too pleased as more people came out of the portal. Waltier finished running next to Olga, surprising the inquisitors: they hadn't expected him.

The exact count of reinforcement was to be thirty people. A few of Zazawu red guards, a handful of rangers, and some of Daiyu agents were the last ones to emerge.

''We'll have to be partners in death.'' Teruko husband, Ambrus, commented. ''They don't deserve trust but there's at least a common cause uniting us.''

You will be setting out in an hour.

>Free
Last-minute preparation? Will you enjoy a little time together with your reunited friends? Go see the three church spooks and maybe pressure them into something because you're an elf?

You've already done all the preparations you can reasonably do... Enjoy!

List coming next post. The continuation will undeniably take me all day tomorrow, so you have that time to make up your squad.
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Zazawu Hazu
Ancient Behemoth, only one in the army who has a fair chance of killing Daiyu one on one.
Red World Champion. Can shift in and out of that alternate dimension faster than anyone but you.
The strongest and most durable entity in the entire army. 4 arm, 4 swords nearly as tall as a man, he's been known to survive an outright decapitation. Zazawu is in the same boat as Tuilelaith: the bad is what I'll focus on.
Too big to be in your squad, initially. Could reach you during the battle if he's told to look for signs of your squad by going into the Red World.
His mercenary band created special signal flare rings that can be used in the Red World.
Whilst he could eventually break all the walls he comes across, that kind of demolition job is slow, dangerous, and ineffective. A rubble shower means severe slowdowns. This isn't a problem in the Red World, structures over there are much easier to break.
Physical fighter, he needs to get close to kill... which isn't too much of a problem because of his bulk and reach.

Vilma Ingerd.
Red World agent
Lich, natural necromancer.
Average reserve (struggle in long engagements).
You've trained with her enough in the past to remove any penalties when it comes to altering or sourcing her spells.
Not a warrior, she's nimble and quick on her feet, keep threats at a distance.
Third best summoner in the army. Unlike Tsukiyomi who is exclusively quality, Vilma is adaptable: she can create hordes of trashs or focus on a few elite summons.
Could, in theory, alter the magic of the battlefield or at least be very effective in small areas but this is in no way certain. Pearls fuckery and modern magic is unknown territory.
Good teamwork with Elenor.

Elenor Limdis
Red World agent
Fire mage.
Good reserve.
Excellent warrior.
Talented archer.
Create her fiery weapons.
Specialized summoner. Elenor creates up to 4 fire clones tethered to her soul, each one semi-independent, they share her skillset and fight with telepathic coordination.
Good teamwork with Vilma.

Ambrus Gunji
Excellent warrior, better offense than defense (due to wielding a big axe). Great stamina and endurance.
Good squad commander. Founded a mercenary company and proven himself in the dangerous wargames of the Allied Kingdoms and the volatile arrival of the lizard refugees.
Surprisingly agile despite all the metal covering him.
Excellent coordination with Teruko (soul link)
Rapidly heal in battle. Light wounds close in seconds, grievous injuries like fractures need only a minutes or two to heal. His stamina returns quickly, too. This ability is lost if he's too far from Teruko.
Red World agent
>>
Teruko Gunji
Second best summoner in the army. She can easily adapt to a changing battlefield with quality or quantity. (Doing both is always the dream but it's not happening).
Her soul being fused to a fairy awakened her body to a special kind of magic: the healing of fairies, forever changing her original nature. Teruko creates rapid regeneration, closing grievous wounds in minutes without suffering the drawback of Holy (require massive magic) or alchemical (can overdose and is very slow-acting) healings.
Can let her fairy act independently, channeling healing magic into her whilst operating summons.

Olga Yevdokiya
Red World agent.
Mage with a nature of heat.
Fire specialization
Reserves equal to Arawn.
Master Measurer.
Excellent aim, she excels at mid-range. Her effectiveness severely dropoff at long range.
Terror in short-range combat. Anything with bad magical resistance melts.
Dubbed the ''Fire-Witch'', she has the ominous reputation of being one of the most dangerous mages in the Allied Kingdoms.
Veteran Ranger. Skilled at tracking, sneaking, survival etc. Her job is to hunt down and kill Outsiders of all shapes and sizes, handle the exploration and eventual subjugation of alternate dimensions (usually by destroying the connection between worlds).

Martha Jawahir.
Can't follow you, the palace walls are far too thick for her to continuously kool-aid through. What a shame! She can be told to help clear a path for your squad, which is likely to leave her stranded behind enemy lines but she's inside one of the dwarven masterworks, those machines aren't paper-thin.

Those three church's spooks
They are here to protect Mother Earth and aren't going to take anything else as orders. For now, anyway.

And here's your reward for how you handled Hao problem!

Resonance. Magical technique.
The healing method you have chosen for Hao resulted in a weird phenomenon.
Your spells can be cast through all of your links. What this means is that you can give Hao additional soul-limbs that she can control, for example. All spells requiring touch are not affected by this penalty for anyone you are linked to.
Your magical nature can be mixed with one of your soul-linked mages, resulting in spells that are completely impossible to predict.
Finally, battle coordination for anyone you are linked with is greatly increased. If you watch Sieglinde duel someone and you see an enemy archer ready to snipe, she will be able to react without you shouting anything. Your coordination is telepathic, you just cannot actually communicate.
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>>4968016
Oh yeah forgot to add the obvious.
Teruko is a magical expert, her time as a teacher did her wonder
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>>4968040
Holy shit this is a big reinforcement. Weren't we also going to get some of Mana's shards out of this deal too? I honestly wasn't expecting the Holy Church to send us 3 of their best spooks. At least we know that Mana will be quite well defended in the event she needs to dedicate all her attention towards something with this quasi "honor guard" backing her up.

I'm a bit worried about the closed fist one. Aren't they the monodominant ordo? Y'know, the "purge all the abominable monstergirls in flame" faction? I mean, I kind of get it if he thinks our side is the one that's gonna let him kill more monstergirls but he might backstab Mana as a false representation/avatar of his god if she's too chummy with the likes of Daiyu.

Other than that what are the default deployments and what are their expected duties? Who is locked into what group and who can we move around? That's a good place to start if we want to influence who gets deployed where and make our best guess at an informed decision. After all, no plan survives first contact with the enemy.

Also, I will have to cut out before the thread actually tends to start and will be quite late for it. This is a rather big thing though. How we handle deployment will affect the survival odds of every actor and all the troops we bring along. We don't just want to win and keep all our named characters alive, but to minimize casualties all around. People are gonna die no matter what, but we want to minimize that. Every life is precious.

Well, every life that's on our side anyway. The famous quote from Patton applies: "Nobody ever won a war by dying for their country. He won it by making the other poor dumb son of a bitch die for his!" or something like that. I fear this will be moot though as we're almost certainly walking into the mother of all zombie apocalypses. Zombies are already dead so no moral quandaries!
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>>4968213
>Weren't we also going to get some of Mana's shards out of this deal too?
They'll be here once the ritual begins.
>Aren't they the monodominant ordo?
They believe in the supremacy of humanity but they tend to be flexible. Some are indeed PURGE but they gotta be smart about it, the majority want humanity as a whole to be the dominant force in the world. You won't find them condoning genocide, just ''humanity first''.

>Other than that what are the default deployments and what are their expected duties?
Listing it all will take a while and honestly be redundant, the thing you have to worry about is your squad.
The default option there is the people you know. Keep in mind that you might need to separate if Anais isn't near the pyramid.
Arawn
Sieglinde.
Elina.
Hildegarde.
Shereen.
Hao.
Klesiah.
Mina.
Ama.
Anyone not chosen will be distributed amongst the other forces, it's where I'll actually make them. Of course, someone like Teruko is likely to bitch like hell if you take a meager force...
>Who is locked into what group and who can we move around?
Anyone I haven't mentioned is locked. Tsukiyomi, the three spooks, Martha are all locked into the defensive force. Daiyu is locked into the Kill Team, Waltier will be locked on the Kill Team if you don't bring him along. Zazawu is too big to bring around.
I'm not going to burden you guys with micromanaging the entire force of heroes. Worry about your squad while keeping in mind that anyone you take won't be able to help on the defense of the portal or the killing of the Red Princes. This army has smart people commanding it, so they'll be distributed in good places.
>That's a good place to start if we want to influence who gets deployed where and make our best guess at an informed decision.
Yes, it's possible to be flexible. For example, giving Zazawu and Martha to help clear the way for your squad after entry and then be assigned their original duty is possible. I'll always welcome the effort my players put into things, but let's not get bogged down either.
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>>4968231
Can Zazawu shift others into the red world along with himself? If so I've got ideas.

Also, can Deru power heal or power up Francine? If so I'd like to bring them along with us. Zerase and Ensan are gonna have BS on their side and we don't have any "S-rank" combatants by default as we can't go full fusion outside the red world. Plus I think the interactions between them would be hilarious.
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>>4968244
>Can Zazawu shift others into the red world along with himself?
Only those that are trained to do so. They'll be able to share his trait if he holds them while shifting.
>Also, can Deru power heal or power up Francine?
Yup on both. Proven and tested. Deruella entire squad is really scary once the white demoness had time to set up a field.
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>>4968246
Does Deru's squad have good coordination with each other and do they lose this if they aren't all together?

How long does it take Deru to establish her "field" and how quickly does it expand. Also, is it safe for people not immune to corruption to be on if she isn't targeting them?
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>>4968269
>Does Deru's squad have good coordination with each other
They do but it's not soul link level, so the coordination isn't on a level similar to your party.
>do they lose this if they aren't all together?
No, all of them know how the others fight so they make a good duo, too.
>How long does it take Deru to establish her "field"
Average of 5 minutes to make something notable.
>how quickly does it expand.
She has to do it herself, it doesn't expand on its own. However, once the ''roots'' have been installed, an entire field like the one you are in can be covered in minutes. Enemies can knock down erected towers though, those act as the nexus of her Corruption.
>Also, is it safe for people not immune to corruption to be on if she isn't targeting them?
Yes. She's damn good when it comes to manipulating Corruption, so she'll make it entirely physical.
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>>4968277
5 minutes? Ouch, that's quite the cast time. Can she be subtle about it? The exchange between Shereen and her family will take some time. If she's subtle by the time everything breaks down and hostilities commence she could have it fully casted and ready to go.

Though we had best not let them See Francine until it gets to that point. Zerase probably knows what the pygmy looks like. She'll be shocked for about a second or two and then immediately dump a slew of death pearl spells into her. That'd suck for Francine... if she doesn't have what amounts to 10-20 percent of her max HP regenerating every 2 seconds and whatever other BS Deru can pull once it's up keeping the enemy occupied with dodging.

Errr... how many people know about the combat capabilities of the Demonic royal family? Everyone knows about Daiyu, but how many know of her kids? Also, Sieg. Our Sieg, what's she do when it's time to end a few motherfuckers?
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>>4968279
>Can she be subtle about it?
Of course. The ground will start changing however, some splurt of inky corruption will come out of the ground here and there even if she keep the ground natural layer.
Subtility remains Deruella specialty.
>Errr... how many people know about the combat capabilities of the Demonic royal family?
Daiyu and Sieglinde are widely known as martial artists. Nobody knows anything about Martha and Deruella reputation as a boogeyman completely overshadows what she can actually do.
>Also, Sieg. Our Sieg, what's she do when it's time to end a few motherfuckers?
Her deformed hands are natural weapons, so is her BIG, THICK deadly tail. She's like a mother: shapeshift into lethality. Which is -very- dangerous because of her altered Corruption
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>>4968281
Oh, does she need to remain absolutely still or can she "sow seeds" as she walks about? Y'know, "pre-cast" the field a bit and thus maybe make it happen in around 3 minutes?

I'm basically trying to figure out if it would be a most wonderful idea to bring Deru and Francine with our squad as their synergy is absolutely insane. Oh...Oh that's another one. Can Francine enable an "instant cast" of Deru's field and how does that affect her while she's carrying it if she can? We won't really need either of them with but one other S-Rank attacker (leaning on Ame) clearing their way with us in the event we run into something requiring that level of firepower.

In case it wasn't obvious I count Zerase and Ensan as two S-Rank "final boss" tier enemies and they have a ton of "trash" backing them up. Very high quality trash to boot. Teruko is very right to get right pissed if we sound outright cocky by not bringing enough "heavy hitters" with us. Are Vilma and Teruko still close? I'd like to hear what they think our team composition ought to include. How much power would make them feel comfy?
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>>4968289
Oh, and I'm also counting on taking Old Siggy and Mylen as well as Old Siggy is S-Rank once he starts cannibalizing his soul.

Oh fuck, I just realized that the Castle is a confined space. How many people can comfortably fit shoulder to shoulder within the palace's corridors? That's gonna matter quite a bit. More than 3 men as Scorpion Girls and Lamias are a thing but they aren't gonna make it absolutely cavernous either.
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>>4968289
>Oh, does she need to remain absolutely still or can she "sow seeds" as she walks about?
The quickest way to go about things will be jamming her hand on the ground, shaving off a minute in exchange for being stationary. Otherwise, she can drops droplets on the grounds to sow seeds, which take the full 5 minutes to blossom.
Deruella still needs to remain in the general vicinity of her altered terrain though. She needs to keep eye contact and be within 10 meters.
>Can Francine enable an "instant cast" of Deru's field
Nope. Francine body can't be altered by anyone but herself.
>Are Vilma and Teruko still close?
Of course.
>I'd like to hear what they think our team composition ought to include. How much power would make them feel comfy?
That's... difficult to say. You're the one with the best experience in this matter since nobody but Arawn, Shereen and Banu saw Zerase firsthand!
Teruko wants you to bring along her husband, herself, and Vilma of course. Best way to keep you safe is with her own two hands. Outside of that, she'd like Olga's presence: that woman impressed her a great deal.
>How many people can comfortably fit shoulder to shoulder within the palace's corridors?
Your only experience is based on Shereen corner of the palace and out there, three people could easily stand side by side. Hard to say if that'll be the same in the inner palace.
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>>4968308
We can tap Banu one final time on that one. Are the inner palace corridors pretty much the same as the ones Shereen experienced?

Teruko's solution is actually a good substitute for Deru and Francine. Though if we brought them as well that's a wipe mechanic/enrage. That is, if Zerase and Ensan fail to kill any of us before Deru and Francine are fully prepared they're pretty much fucked no matter what.

As the default party includes Elina and Teruko is basically the absolutely OP fusion of a FFXIV Scholar with a Summoner with her Warrior Husbando (i.e. we got absolutely insane survivability and healing)... Yeah, she wants to cheese Savage content with us. Gotta respect how far she's willing to go in trying to break or cheese potential mechanics. Teruko confirmed for hardcore gamer.
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>>4968326
>We can tap Banu one final time on that one. Are the inner palace corridors pretty much the same as the ones Shereen experienced?
No, they were thinner. Marginally so, Shereen lived in a luxurious branch of the palace. Someone like Zazawu would barely fit in.
Meaning, two people side by side is your best bet.
>Teruko confirmed for hardcore gamer.
Making the best with the resources you have and doing your damn best to cheat all of your opponents is how you survive in this cruel, cruel world.
>>
Anyhow, you guys have all of tomorrow to come up with your squad too, so we can afford to wait.
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>>4968338
Yeah, does Teruko think bringing Deru and Francine is a good idea from her pro gamer prospective? I'm kind of leaning on her a bit now. Zerase and Ensan are problems that need ending the instant Shereen gets confirmation on her nightmare being true.

She truly is the only good thing about her family (her father perhaps was another, but Zerase went full Black Widow on him). Her mother and sister really are pure unmitigated evil so potent as to make a choir of fallen angels cry out with glee.
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>>4968349
>does Teruko think bringing Deru and Francine is a good idea from her pro gamer prospective?
Yes. She knows slime and something as unusual as Francine is bound to show impressive results. Deru though, is one she wants to see sweat so might as well bring her where it's the most dangerous.
She doesn't know either of them enough to give a good assessment.
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>>4968359
Ok, say Deru doesn't try to set up her field. As a raw source of corruption for Francine to use, how good is she?

Y'know, like if Deru fully became Francine's support, how powerful would that be?
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>>4968359
Oh, also, Teruko wants to see Deru sweat...

Is Teruko an S?
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>>4968367
>As a raw source of corruption for Francine to use, how good is she?
Best you can hope for.
>>4968376
>Is Teruko an S?
Teruko is... Teruko. Better ask her husband.
I would be loath to see her die so soon after reintroducing her. You guys better do a good job!
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>>4968398
Ok so far I'm seeing going with the default squad but we add in Teruko, her hubby, Francine, and Deru.

Oh, can we bring along our own version of "trash" as it were? Y'know, nameless NPC reinforcements. We're gonna want at least one of them choking out our entry point so that we don't get flanked instantly by the legions of the undead!

Also, can we ask Zazawu and Martha to plow the road for us with an additional order towards Zazawu that he'll come and back up his most beloved surrogate daughters the instant it looks like the Red World Princes situations looks good and settled?

I mean, he can shift between the realms at pretty much free will. Surely, for good or ill, he knows what they look like from the angle of that plane. He does right?
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>>4968427
Oh, and Vilma too. Forgot to mention her. Will her former tormentor tag along with her if she decides to go somewhere?
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>>4968427
>Oh, can we bring along our own version of "trash" as it were?
There's no trash in the friendly first wave. Every single soldier is elite.
Olga brought in five rangers with her, all of them are snipers and good warriors. Zazawu brought a good amount of his Red Guards, who are all combat summoners and Red World agents.
Bringing a handful with you is possible too. It will all be forces that can't help out elsewhere.

>Also, can we ask Zazawu and Martha to plow the road for us with an additional order towards Zazawu that he'll come and back up his most beloved surrogate daughters the instant it looks like the Red World Princes situations looks good and settled?
Yes. He'll need a signal to know where you are though. Martha and Zaza can help open the way for your squad when things start.
>>4968428
Elenor would like to tag along too since she's pretty close to Vilma and Teruko but she'll accept being posted elsewhere.
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>>4968448
Elenor can come too if she wants. I'd rather everyone get to maintain whatever synergies they have with others as you are out for blood here after all.

If Zaza needs a signal how do we make one in the red world?

Captcha tells me I'm right.
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>>4968686
Oh, you said that Vilma and Elenor are possible to put in the kill team for the red world. How would necromancy be of use in that hellscape and how powerful would Vilma be in there?
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>>4968690
Ah, another consideration. Banu might know about Zerase and Ensan's combat abilities. She needs to spill the beans on that right now.
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>>4968686
>If Zaza needs a signal how do we make one in the red world?
You can take one of the signal flares he brought, shift into that realm and activate it.
>>4968690
>How would necromancy be of use in that hellscape and how powerful would Vilma be in there?
She'll be useful in clearing up crowds of enemies since her magic will be able to directly kill the weak souls of the Red World entities and potentially dominate them. She'll be sticking close to Zazawu and/or the main squad since she's been trained to act as a mobile source of reinforcement.
>>4968701
She knows nothing about Zerase. She saw Ensan use a staff often to dominate people in battle, her magic has always been hidden unless she killed someone in public (in which case she consumed a pearl). The only thing she knows for sure is that Ensan is an excellent martial artist with a staff.
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>>4969055
Ok, as the rest of the people will get auto-assigned to the group they're best suited for I want to add to our default group Teruko, Her hubby, Francine, Deru and either Vilma and Elenor or Old Siggy and Mylen.

Vilma and Elenor if we're expecting to have to clear a giant horde of low level trash once inside and Siggy and Mylen if the trash is lower in number but of higher quality. We could also bring both of them, but that might leave someone wanting in some way. However, that would maximize our chances of taking out Zerase.

However, I don't think we have anyone capable of Blood Pyramid demolition in that case. Would destroying it be the better option over trying to take it over? I can imagine Zerase booby trapped the thing in case Shereen did try for that. She's utterly ruthless and did try to rip her soul out after all. It may be safer to just blow the damn thing up. Who/what could we bring that could make it happen fast besides Zazawu or Tui? Could Ama scan the red world for us before we shift into it to drop a flare? I'd imagine that's swarming with ravenous security inside the pyramid as well.
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>>4969376
Oh, also, can Francine go full Volumen Hydrargyrum and effectively "scout" a corridor and the rooms beside it tens of meters out? That'd be damn useful indoors.
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>>4969376
>either Vilma and Elenor or Old Siggy and Mylen.
You'll need to make a choice. There is zero intel about the potential danger you'll face since pearls necromancy can create hordes or a few very strong entities. The enemy can adapt, too.
>Would destroying it be the better option over trying to take it over?
Yes. Don't underestimate the destructive potential of a strong summon though, or big spells.
>Who/what could we bring that could make it happen fast besides Zazawu or Tui?
Ame or Olga would do a very good job.
>Could Ama scan the red world for us before we shift into it to drop a flare?
Maybe, will depend on what's happening with her.
>>4969380
Her body has to remain humanoid for her to keep her sanity.
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>>4969388
Drat, I was hoping Francing was like Terminator Maid. Oh well, can't have it all it seems.

In terms of open battlefield, the red world, or the confines of fighting through a building who is better at each? Vilma and Elenor, Siggy and Mylen, Olga, and Ame. Forgot about those last 2 and they would be quite strong.
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>>4969395
>open battlefield
Ame
Vilma
Siegfried

>the red world
Olga
Vilma

>fighting through a building
Mylen
Olga
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>>4969401
Didn't place Elenor because she's a good choice for everything. she's just not the ''best''
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>>4969401
Ok then, we take Olga instead. Needless to say Zazawu and Martha will plow the road for us.

If any other anons have a better idea or noticed something I missed please speak up.
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>>4969417
So to summarize, do you want to add...

Ambrus
Teruko
Deruella
Francine.
Olga.

With your group? >>4968231
It'll help me if you write who you want in your squad.
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>>4969427
Yes. We need a bit more "omph" if we're gonna want good survival odds and those people will give us what we need. Francine is an absolute beast/walking nuke/shoggoth but needs a corruption source to remain at full power for long. Deru is a ludicrous source of corruption and can thus keep her "topped off" in the HP and MP departments (though I think for her the two are linked into one big bar). Ambrus gives us another "tank"/Melee combatant. Teruko gives us more heals and summoned meat shields/apocalyptic elite summons if we choose to fuel her. And finally Olga is our mid range support/close range tactical nuke. Plus she's good at fighting outsiders and I just know we're going to run into a few of those nasties.

Again, if anyone else agrees or disagrees with this speak up. This is a major decision that might either ensure our survival or seal our doom!
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>>4969438
Oh also, because the likes of Lamias and giant Scorpions are kind of normal for their military and guard ranks the corridors within the palace have high-ish ceilings right? High enough for say, a melee combatant to jump over a front line unit or two to start delivering a beat down?
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>>4969438
I'm not sure how long I'll need to finish this update, but I'd say tomorrow afternoon is a good time for me to close this decision for good.
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>>4969445
Good observation. Yeah, the ceilings are pretty high
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>>4969448
Good, than the extra melee fighters will have a use. A few fuckers charge us, our "spare" melee jumps over and boom we've got em' surrounded. We'll be able to quickly mulch the trash packs in this fashion.
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>>4969453
Wait, before I finalize this vote, do we know where Anais is and is there a very real and distinct possibility that we're gonna have to split the party? Might need to add one or two more if that's the case.
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>>4969661
>do we know where Anais is
She's been petrified in Ensan room but it's always possible she was moved elsewhere. You'll need to get there to see.
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>>4969681
Actually, thinking on it, bring the other two of Deru's maidens as well. As we well know, you never split the party and Deru has one. We shouldn't split hers. Plus the Lamia and Manticore have uses in the confined environment.
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>>4969965
Oh, you also said we had one more hour before the shitshow commences. Can we do anything? Catch up with someone? Try to learn a new spell?
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>>4969965
One last addendum, alright.
>>4969971
Nope.

In the absence of more opinions, I'm going with the squad I've got, meaning.

Deruella and all three of her maidens. (Meruse, Sonja and Francine)
Olga
Ambrus and Teruko.
In addition to your party (Hildegarde is replacing Banu)
Martha and Zazawu have been instructed to help clear the way for your squad to reach the palace

I'll do my best to update today, but I can't promise. I've been a bit busy and can only now start writing. Have this banger in the meanwhile, gonna be one hot-drop into Zerase party!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcOPh5ltbAw

Time for questions is over, now is action.
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>>4970310
Ok, we can't learn a new spell. Can't we talk to someone really quick? I do want to tell Vilma how much we missed her and hope she still considers us and the other girls her friends and that we'd really like to catch up once this is all over.
>>
>>4970318
Oh, and ask for one of those red world flares. Always nice to have an "Oh Shit" button.
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>>4970318
>Ok, we can't learn a new spell.
That already sorta happened. >>4968016
>Can't we talk to someone really quick?
A little fluff is fine, don't worry about that. Now's is the time to stop hesitating.
>>
>>4970326
Not hesitating, just wanting to spend a moment with Vilma before the shit really hits the fan. After that it's off to our likely doom. Also, I'm sure the additional shards will aid Zazawu and Martha in their retreat back to the front lines. Or will they set up in a choke point and wall themselves in with a mountain of corpses?

Song kinda fits too. I mean, we are marching in with the equivalent of literally God on our side.
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>>4970337
>Or will they set up in a choke point and wall themselves in with a mountain of corpses?
Depend entirely on the situation. Returning behind friendly lines would be ideal of course.
Exactly why I chose it. Now is the time for wrath for all you've gone through this entire act!
>>
''Ah...'' Vilma squeaked when you approached. ''...I-its true.''
You weren't the only one getting close, Elina had been quicker and wrapped her short friend in a hug. You stopped next to them, bringing your hand on top of Vilma purple head, throwing back her red hood in the process.

You heard Zazawu move, Sieglinde landed on the ground and quickly reached the short lich, putting her oversized hands on her shoulders. ''Hey.'' She spoke gently as Vilma stiffened. ''Good work.''

''I-I...I always knew. Never...okay some days were difficult but I never lost hope.'' This tightly woven ball of emotions can barely find the breath to speak. ''Klesiah.'' She says, tiptoeing to see the blue knight standing further back. ''I'm not angry! I-I'm just so glad you're okay too.''

''So am I, Vilma. I'm... sorry, I was rash and said things I shouldn't have that time.''

''Nono.'' Vilma shook her head, much of her tension disappeared with her smile. ''I was too frustrated and desperate, Arawn... everyone situation was complicated huh?''

''Sorry to interrupt.''

Tsukiyomi-no-Mikoto was an invasive presence. She needed only to speak to attract everyone's attention, Zazawu towering existence wasn't enough to intimidate her. Inevitably, she heralded the end of any peaceful talks with those you love.
Not that you could begrudge that. Having her healthy and able to fight without combat drugs made you happy, she even briefly shed her severe expression to give you a gentle smile.

''Let's finish what we've discussed yesterday, the inquisitors will not be a problem. Still, it would be prudent to keep ourselves... subtle until the fighting start.'' She glanced at Shereen. ''We're spreading our spider ogres in a few squads and regiments who need leaders, so let's make sure everyone knows what they are doing now. First, with Daiyu as the leader of the Kill Team and with our reinforcement I believe I can spare both of my...''

And so ended your peaceful morning.

--

By the time this important discussion ended the queen-mother had dragged your squad into the field, Zazawu had left your group to speak with his comrades, and Martha lumbering presence needed to stay near one of the shards for her security.


All twelves shards of Mother Earth were making a long circle around the entire force (Mina was the only one not doing anything). Lamias garbed in brilliant blue shawls had come and gone during the last preparations, each of them holding a small wooden bucket with a scoop they use to splash the content onto the soon-to-be departing soldiers with prayers in a tongue you didn't understand. Your party was also offered this blessing and of course, everyone accepted.

They were priestesses of Zipangu water dragon, one of the two deities that had created the island in times going even further back than the Pretenders.
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''Friends!'' Ame voice boomed, enhanced by magic. She was holding a fan in front of her mouth, the drawing of a serpentine blue dragon glowered, leaving behind bright flakes. ''...We are about to experience one of the oddest moments of our lives.''

Standing beside her and with the three inquisitors behind them, Mana was beginning her ritual. You saw a gem in her hands, something looking like a giant pearl. Death altered into... wind, perhaps?

''I'll give you all a proper speech after we win, so keep yourselves alive to hear me rant alright?'' Snorts and chuckles come out of the ranks of spiders ogres.

''To bleed and die in a far-off-land is unfair, sisters, you won't have me say otherwise. We all remember the bitter lesson of the crusade, don't we?'' The queen continues as the ritual proceed. The bright midday sun nearly obfuscates the descent of brilliant golden lines from the clear sky.

''A crisis in the Allied Kingdoms eventually reach us. It is a fact we had to endure the hard way.'' The queen continues, her tails spread around her like a blossoming flower. ''That's exactly what we are setting out to prevent. If good women like us do nothing, then next year those suffering will be all of our communities. Besides...'' Ame pause with amped-up merriment. ''I'm your queen and I'll be bleeding with you all today, do you girls need any other reasons?''

That provoked a wave of laughter throughout the assembled demonic spiders.

''Once we reach our destination, look to your weapons. I'll gift you all the warmth of my love.''

The big pearl in Mana hands had disappeared during the queen speech and from her shards, soft white lines extend out of them to crawl up and sideways, creating a wall of fog that slowly obfuscated the entire world, even the tower in the middle of the field somehow disappeared. Next, golden lines snaked out of all twelves multicolored women and spread throughout the crowd, eventually reaching your party.

''These are for our security.'' Mina had emerged out of Klesiah, gently floating above your knight. ''Don't be afraid, okay?''

Those golden lines moved almost like living snakes to wrap around the limbs of everyone present. The spider-ogres whispered, whistled, and spokes excitedly, their bravado made panic impossible. Once this massive ground-bound spiderweb finished weaving, the foggy dome grew completely opaque, becoming a light gray wall of cloud. A sensation of movement followed, unlike anything you've ever felt. You felt like everything around you had disappeared but, couldn't see it, the golden vines secured around your body held you in place to avoid tripping or moving against this strange... vibration?
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''My bladder feels tingly!'' One of the onis yelled.
''Hel!'' Another responded. ''Don't you start now, it smells good in here!''
This sensation ended quickly, prompting no end of exciting chatters from the ogres, the clearing of the walls cleared away this feeling.
Outside the magical dome was a sea of white stretching into an endless view below a spotless blue sky and a shiny, blinding sun. There was nothing to see but white, no earth, no country, only gently moving clouds that spread into infinity.
''A treasure only seen by angels eyes.'' Zazawu comment as the opaque walls slowly returns, cutting off Mother Earth last gift of peace.

You could hear something faint. A speaking voice at the very edge of hearing... a song?

Golden butterflies start to fly into the dome, pushing through the fog. Ten, twenty, thirty... you soon lose count: a crowd of beautiful shiny, flying insects fly toward their mistress who had been dutifully channeling her ritual. All of them adopted human bodies replicating Mana elegant beauty except, of course, the ever-changing long multicolored hairs whose constantly shifting hue was... making them akin to a living wave. Their arrival was welcomed with cheers from the soldiers, all of them landed and waited for the golden ropes to entwined around their bodies. It wasn't a hundred, unfortunately.

''A third of all the shards from the Old World and the Allied Kingdoms. Most of them will be helping out our kill team.'' Mina whispered. ''The Good Mother is ready to drain her web.''

''Brace, sisters!'' Ame suddenly bellowed. ''We've had the good view, wrap your hearts in wrath and carry the torch of the Mother justice!''

Mother Earth hands glittered in pure white as she swung them down.

Now came falling. The dome of fog made it impossible to judge speed or distance but the feeling rocked your limbs and, thankfully, the golden vines wrapped around your body keep your stance solid. None of the girls around you stumbled, everyone remained firm, Shereen even kept herself from screaming as she squeezed your hand. Rattled, shaking, falling. Falling.
Impact.

The opaque walls thinned slightly to reveal the familiar life-giving ocean of Muribel, you were so high in the sky you could even see hints of a faraway land. The horizon of the country itself was covered by a thick, immense, seemingly infinite web of darkness expending everywhere but the sea. It went above the city of Marleon, going all the way toward Myrtidal, reaching deep within both cities, making them difficult to distinguish with the otherwordly smog that was Zerase deadly spell.

Zerase web had manifested and endured Mana spell.

A dark silhouette wormed its way through the magical fog, a golden arrow lodged itself in its skull before the familiar, emaciated shade fully made it through. This happened five times over, creating a wave of excitement amongst the soldiers.
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''Girls, I need you to brace!'' Tsukiyomi amplified voice boomed throughout the dome as more and more creatures were felled by the bows of the shards, Zazawu calm demeanor was a boon to keep everyone under control. ''We will be feeling painfully hot very soon but it'll last only a second! On my count of one, stop breathing!''

Mana was doing something odd. With Ame and Olga holding onto one of her arms, fluxes of pure magical energy zapped between the Good Mother palms, a bluish-purple manifestation like a contained maelstrom soon appeared.

''3!''

A proper volley was unleashed by all fifty shards, each one found a mark. Mana spell took on a manifestation of a colorful cloud.

''2!''

The Good Mother magical exercise changed yet again, becoming a circle of energy with a defined line in the middle. A blue spark on one side, a violet-orange one on the other.

''1! Hold!''

The sparks met, you held your breath.

Your world exploded. Heat, world-shattering, bone-melting heat engulfed you, searing pain scratched through your skin, liquifying your bones yet... You kept your eyes open, for nothing happened inside the dome outside the death of all the invaders. Outside your protective bubble, the world burned.

Miles upon miles of the pharaoh's web was incinerated and the entire surface covering her palace turned to ash. You felt the resistance holding the Good Mother vehicle break and your agony of heat ended, your body shook from the sheer force of falling combined with snapping, crashing noises, the walls keeping the dome whole burst, creating an outright pandemonium wherever it is you've landed.

There was too much pressure to see anything. Noises mingled into a cacophony of destruction, winds nearly strong enough to rip out your skin howled, carrying the Mother ruin.

Everything ended as suddenly as it began. The golden vines around your body dried up, becoming nothing more than dead leaves.

You've landed on familiar ground, the manor you first awoke in Muribel... Yes, that place reserved to house the hundreds of slaves and low-caste Moons of the Pharaoh permanent ''residents'' had been completely and utterly destroyed. There's nothing to describe because nothing is left standing. Everything outside the protective ''eye'' that kept your army safe is a mess of debris and broken corpses, the sheer force of the Mana spell had completely obliterated the -entire- manor, the only ones who could have escaped this pandemonium could only have done so in a basement.

''WAKE UP AND FIGHT.'' Zazawu bone-rattling scream opened this one-day war. The ancient tackled right through a wall of debris, quickly followed by Martha whose machine kept hissing steam. Olga was the next one to grab the initiative.

''Steel your heart, darling!'' Deruella said, patting Shereen head. Your little sun hadn't been able to shake off her horror from observing the carnage and the few corpses trampled by debris...
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Your squad set out to follow the path opened by the giant and once outside, you had to pause to marvel at the world around you. Zerase web stretched in the sky like a colossal tree, massive enough to plunge the entire area in shades. Yet the world all-around was a mask of foggy white masking much of the battlefield, you couldn't see the only gates leading outside or the harbor in detail. Pieces of ashes fell like rain, the fiery wrath of the goddess had spread throughout every surface of the web you could see, starting from the hole you've punched through.

''Cmon people to the palace!'' Ambrus screamed, pointing at the large building with his axe. ''Trust our escorts!''

From the horizon of ash, a squad impeded your progress. Thirty guards with shields and spears locked themselves in a practiced shield wall, you remember them being the unit who guarded the gate.

''Raaaagh!' The ancient roared and their line crumbled. Zazawu bowled right through them, his four swords swung in a cadence, one after the other, breaking shields, cleaving limbs, reaping lives. No one fled because the entire squad was slaughtered to a man in less than a minute.

All they could do is screams and the noise was over quickly.

Martha machine suddenly let out a column of steam out of its hands, landing in the middle of another group creating some form of cohesion: the resulting screams were more than enough to prove her machine effectiveness. With their protection, reaching the palace might as well have been a stroll.

Strange noises erupted constantly in the sky. A hundred pots reaching simultaneous ebullition erupted overhead. Golden flashes pierced the clouds to intercept spheres that burst wide open in this infernal noise. Zerase forces have been caught by surprise but not unprepared.

Everyone has their duties, focus, Arawn!

Zazawu and Martha controlled rampage made it impossible for any opposition to mount anything significant. Reaching the palace main entrance happened frighteningly fast, all the fog and ash was a perfect screen for the ancient massive frame!

''Ensan!?'' Shereen's scream gave everyone pause.

The crown princess wasn't in the palace. No, she was near the docks surrounded by actual warriors and a handful of her scorpion guards. A group of men -slaves- on their knees remained obedient as she... killed two of them. Blood reached out of the necks of two unfortunate slaves to be absorbed by the strange amber staff she held and with a visibly glowing purple pearl in her hand, Ensan broke it by balling her hand into a fist and pointed her weapon at your group!

Out of it came a screaming projectile. Two bloody interlocked corpses yelled in agony from the burning purple fumes all around their bodies.

''Shit ta-'' Ambrus threw himself over Teruko.
>>
The ancient protecting your squad stepped in, swinging a sword that melted when coming in contact with the fell spell, Zaszawu let go of another weapon to grab this thing with a single hand: the entire projectile went inside his limb!

He didn't hesitate. Opening his maw, Zazawu bit his wrist and tore his hand out in one prodigious pull and spat out the limb. Surprisingly, blood barely rushed out of his wound. ''I'll see my niece to safety!'' He howled, shaking everyone out of their awed stupor.

Inside the palace was a crowd of soldiers ushering what looked to be nobles out of the way, the inside being a mess of overturned tables, scattered food, and dropped instruments. Combat retinues prepared for combat, all of their moons of all shapes and sizes: some warrior species, others wielded weapons more fit for dancing than war but, toward the far back, four mages glowered and your destination was guarded by a line of palace guards that wouldn't be easily dislodged.

Overall, perhaps a hundred foes were in the massive hall with half that number being non-combatants being evacuated toward Shereen side of the palace... Here comes your first trial.

>Alter the strategy, go after Ensan with your squads and your escort. Killing her off quickly will be all the more advantageous!
>Encourage Zazawu and Martha to go after Ensan, if she can be dealt with quickly, that'll be all the more advantageous!
>Enroll one of the two giants to help you clear this hall.
>Stick with plan, say goodbye to your escort, and fight your way through, the enemy is still reeling from all the chaos of your arrival, you can push through!
>Free
Actual choices for how to fight will be happening once we decide on what to do here.
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>>4971739
Ok, how many enemies are behind us? How many enemies are ahead of us and what is their composition? How far away is Ensan and where is she in relation to where we are now? What was the cast time on that nightmare projectile? How far are we from our allies front lines? Can Zazawu regenerate his hand and how long will that take? It seems like he's dealt with that kind of spell before.

Fucking hell right out of the gate and we almost got wiped in one shot! You ain't holding back are you.
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>>4971744
>Ok, how many enemies are behind us?
Impossible to tell for sure because the ashen fog hasn't cleared yet, based on noises and the silhouettes you see, you'd say a hundred.
>How many enemies are ahead of us and what is their composition?
Do you mean the palace ground? It's a combination of palace guards (heavy armor with two scimitars) and the retinues of nobles, their moons. These are all too personalized to describe, there are about 12 warrior species among them.
> How far away is Ensan and where is she in relation to where we are now?
She's at the entrance of the harbor to the northeast of your position. Its familiar ground so reaching her would take your party around a minute of sprinting.
>What was the cast time on that nightmare projectile?
Shit came out real fast. Arawn would say 20 seconds.
>Can Zazawu regenerate his hand and how long will that take?
Yup. Impossible to tell how long, you're in no position to ask.
>Fucking hell right out of the gate and we almost got wiped in one shot!
Now now, you did have the tools to stop it. It's just that Zaza was here, too.
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>>4971760
I assume Ensan has a pouch full of death pearls on her hands. Acquiring them would be a great boon (even though only Ama can make use of em' unless Zazawu is hiding something). What about that trick we did with Elina back in Myrtidal. Y'know, the hypersonic exploding lance. Would that blow away those slaves and most of her retinue far enough away such that she couldn't use em' if they died even if someone yet again manages to tank the hit for their accursed liege? Could we turn Elina into such a projectile with a bit of our magic? How fast could she zip over there, explode a category 5 hurricane tier wind spell, and zip back?

How much longer will this massive ashen smokescreen last? How clear of a shot will the nobles and their slaves in the palace grounds have at our backs if we go for Ensan? We have that magically resistant shield yes? Would that do a damn thing against what she hurled at us? How about Francine? How quickly could she mulch her retinue and her (prioritizing Ensan as we don't want to give her a chance to utilize the dead in a spell) once in Melee range? How about Deru? How far can she lob a glob of corruption? Reducing a few scorpion girls and/or Ensan into sex crazed degenerates might be a good thing. Or Olga, what's her "instant melt" radius? How about summons? How long would it take Teruko to use a big one?
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>>4971785
>What about that trick we did with Elina back in Myrtidal. Y'know, the hypersonic exploding lance
Might need to reread that, but what you say here is pretty much employing your Resonance ability. You can make that spell happen.
>Would that blow away those slaves and most of her retinue far enough away such that she couldn't use em' if they died even if someone yet again manages to tank the hit for their accursed liege?
No idea, try and find out.
>How fast could she zip over there, explode a category 5 hurricane tier wind spell, and zip back?
One round to reach and explode, another to make it back to where you are. If things go well.
>How much longer will this massive ashen smokescreen last?
Impossible to tell.
>How clear of a shot will the nobles and their slaves in the palace grounds have at our backs if we go for Ensan?
A pretty good one but it doesn't seem like anyone has any projectiles and the four mages you saw are near the door leading deeper inside the palace.
>We have that magically resistant shield yes?
Yup. Everything on your sheet is fair game.
>Would that do a damn thing against what she hurled at us?
You'll have to find out the hard way.

>How about Francine? How quickly could she mulch her retinue and her (prioritizing Ensan as we don't want to give her a chance to utilize the dead in a spell) once in Melee range? How about Deru? How far can she lob a glob of corruption? Reducing a few scorpion girls and/or Ensan into sex crazed degenerates might be a good thing.
Every single one of those questions is not something I can answer because Arawn doesn't know their capabilities -that- well. You know what you linked girls and Hildegarde can do dow not the minute details but that doesn't extend to all of your allies. Also, I can't just give you ''this will happen if x does that'' as an answer.
>Or Olga, what's her "instant melt" radius?
This however is something I can answer. Less than 1 meters is where the heat becomes extremely damaging, capable of harming metals.
>How about summons? How long would it take Teruko to use a big one?
Arawn saw Teruko practice often. A big summon needs one minute of concentration (so one round because of this fairly high mass battlefield) to make.
>>
Let's not get bogged down with too many questions, gotta get this fight moving!
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>>4971814
Alright, the cold hard fact of the matter is we cannot allow Ensan to remain on the field. If we just leave her to Zazawu and Martha there's damn good odds one of them isn't coming back home and if we just ignore her she's going to become a nightmare for our allies. We can keep up with Zazawu if we're fully reinforced right? The next attack is probably going to be aimed directly at either him or Martha. We need to be able to interdict with our shield. Preferably a close layering of a resonance soul-holy shield from Elina. That ought to stop it dead.

Plus we've got quite the *massive* grudge against her right now. Rupert, Porky, trying to force Banu to seppuku right in front of Shereen's eyes... Yeah, cold logic says she dies now, but we are rather happy about that fact.

Teruko and the Lamia can summon trash meat shields yes? If they can run a bit ahead of us that'd be great. Though I'd also like the options you mentioned.
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>>4971839
>We can keep up with Zazawu if we're fully reinforced right?
You already are, he's faster than your entire party save Francine
>Teruko and the Lamia can summon trash meat shields yes?
Yup.
> Though I'd also like the options you mentioned.
While I see them as guides, they're still valid of course.

I'll expand on the intensity of your spells and/or rolls afterward but for now, what I really want to know is if you'll be sticking with your escort and/or alter the plan to go fight Ensan at the entrance of the harbor. Remember that you're at a big advantage here, your entry was SAVAGE
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>>4971848
I thought altering the plan meant going with Zazawu and Martha and bum rushing Ensan. Because that is what I intend. Wiping her out here and now will save everyone a *ton* of headaches later and it'll serve to severely demoralize the enemy. Their great champion, their goddess who commands the primordial power of death itself, laid low in an instant.

As a coherent formation is only as fast as its slowest member who is slowing us down? If it's Shereen someone is going to start carrying her so we can move faster. Is Ensan on a pier? If so the exploding spear option is quite good. Blow it up, force her to tread water, than we get to have fun with Klesiah as salt water is oh so deliciously conductive. Flash fry em' all in an instant! Enasn should be bouyant if she isn't in heavy armor so we just have Hilde retrieve her corpse. Or rather, the peals on her corpse. Can't forget those.
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>>4971862
Plus if we leave her at Zazawu and Martha's back there's no way they'll be able to get back behind friendly lines alive. She'll just death nuke them in the back.
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>>4971862
>I thought altering the plan meant going with Zazawu and Martha and bum rushing Ensan.
Yes, that's what it is.
>If it's Shereen someone is going to start carrying her so we can move faster.
Shereen is the slowest, Deru will handle carrying her.
>Is Ensan on a pier?
No, the pier is behind, busy with activity. Sailors are rushing out to fight and reinforce her. Various amount of beastwoman and lizards are forming a coherent line with medium armor, spears, and shields in addition to the force she's got, they aren't numerous enough to be a worry yet.

One vote to alter the plan and bring the fight to Ensan with your escort. Gonna close it tomorrow afternoon, make your voices heard people!
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>>4971873
Oh, err... say everything goes extremely well and we get our hands on that pouch full of death pearls Ensan has on her. Can Ama convert them into Astrals? Well, we already know she can but how long does it take? Because if we had just one of those things we can enter a fusion state for essentially free among other things.
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>>4971905
>Can Ama convert them into Astrals?
Not in this place.
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>>4971910
Damn. Well it'd still be ammo for her if shit hits the fan. We keep it on us and feed her as needed if we luck out that hard. I'd like to keep whatever remains after this and convert them to astrals.

The dead people inside them can be exorcised, but I'd think they'd like it better if their death counted. That it meant something and that their true final moments were used in the service of good.
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>>4971913
>The dead people inside them can be exorcised
Regular death pearls don't contain sentient souls, Awakened Pearls need to be made with people who are actually aware of what's happening.
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>>4971913
Oh, and how many weapons is Zazawu down? Did the deathflare melt the tip of one of his weapons or did it slag it down to the hilt? He just dropped another one so he can pick it up or something right? Could we cast heavy Soul Arms and hand it to him?
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>>4971915
Still contain souls though I thought. Ama said their small mercy is that they're dead asleep inside them
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>>4971918
Yeah, but they can't be interacted with or awakened. Essentially braindead, nothing can stir them awake.
>>4971916
Slagged one of his sword in two
>He just dropped another one so he can pick it up or something right?
Yeah
>Could we cast heavy Soul Arms and hand it to him?
Honestly useless to do.
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>>4971921
Eh, half a sword is better than no sword. So now he's got (for him) 3 normal swords (one on the ground) and a half-sword. Only each of his "swords" is basically the size of Dragonslayer if not bigger it seems.

Still down a hand though. Could Teruko accelerate his regeneration of it while also summoning some trash to soak up some damage for the team?
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>>4971932
>Could Teruko accelerate his regeneration of it while also summoning some trash to soak up some damage for the team?
Doable, but Zaza is likely to refuse since her range will limit his mobility. Being down a hand isn't something he seem to care about too much
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>>4971934
Well, he does have enough strength that he could probably punch the average mamono or even a scorpion girl with the "stump" and it'll still pulp their skull/insides and instant-kill them anyway.
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>>4971936
Let's just say he has Daiyu full trust when it comes to keeping her girls safe.
Ironic that he's actually protecting her entire family right now.
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>>4971939
Shit, you're right, all her daughterus *are* right here. He seems to love them as if they were his own blood though. Like he really is big uncle Zazawu. And Ensan just fired a death nuke at them...

Oh man. She fucked up.
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>>4971942
>Like he really is big uncle Zazawu.
Daiyu was the third person in the world to hold Daiyu infant's daughters, he held them the very same day they were born.

I think that gives a good idea about the bond they share.
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>>4971953
Eeer, I meant Zazawu. Good thing I don't have to write more tonight! Anyhow, gonna wait for more votes now.
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>>4971953
Oh, is Ama sleeping on the job? She needs to not be sleeping on the job. She needs to tell us what the fuck Ensan just pulled and what the best way to stop it is. If she can feel Shereen's emotions that bit of horror and fear ought to have gotten her up. If she can't fight she can at least be a good little dog and guard her "master" with some knowledge!
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Alright, I'll take silence as consent. Were going with
>Alter the strategy, go after Ensan with your squads and your escort. Killing her off quickly will be all the more advantageous!
>>4972224
Under no circumstance do you have the time to sit and hear out a magical explanation, explaining the spell isn't like throwing out a few orders.

Here are a few choices.
>Send your fastest members ahead to reach Ensan as fast as possible.
Francine and Elina can reach her in half the time of your party. So can Zazawu, with a good roll.
>a) Help Elina enhance her natural wind magic with yours. [3%/5%/10%/15%+] Small-Medium-Heavy-Dangerous spells
>[Disruptive/Destructive]
>Proceed at a fast pace as one single party. You'll have to react and defend against your enemy but it's better to reach her prepared and able.
>a)Tell Elina to anticipate your foe with a protective spell/Join your magic to hers. [3%/5%/10%/15%+]
>Advance while keeping your squad on the defensive. You'll need two rounds to reach Ensan, but it'll be almost impossible for her to surprise you.
>Free
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>>4972629
How fast can we go vs. how fast can our fastest go? If we go as one group how many of those deathflares will Ensan be able to get off?
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>>4972687
Oh, and what's the difference between a fast pace and being defensive and taking 2 rounds?
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>>4972687
>How fast can we go vs. how fast can our fastest go?
To keep things simple, your two fastest members (Francine and Elina) can reach Ensan position in half a round. Your party needs a full round to reach her by sprinting, making it difficult to defend. Zaza, with a good roll, can also reach Ensan.
>If we go as one group how many of those deathflares will Ensan be able to get off?
She killed two slaves to make one and there are three slaves remaining, so she can only make one more of those spells. Impossible to tell what else she can do.
>>4972693
Being fast means only one roll to potentially reach her or getting bogged down by what she does. Being on the defensive will obviously take you longer and give Ensan more chances to do spells but it'll also be much harder for her to harm someone since your squad will be bracing against her attacks
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>>4972706
Could Ensan cast something in half a round? How long is that anyway?
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>>4972714
>Could Ensan cast something in half a round?
Yes.
>How long is that anyway?
Around 30 seconds. Given the scale of the fighting, I'm functioning on a bigger timescale for now. The distance between the palace and the harbor entrance is still pretty damn large, Zerase wanted her little palace town on the bigger size.
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>>4972720
So that means someone will have to save or die on that option...

How fast are trash summons? Can Teruko and the Lamia make a small swarm of ultra fast annoying bugs to leap at Ensan and start gnawing on her? Not enough to do any real immediate damage or anything but burrowing ticks or leaping biting spiders will make it mighty hard to focus on continued spell casting.

If they could give them an ominous purple glow effect that'd be great. She knows we were in Solemnval, we might have pearls too. She doesn't know we don't but hey, nothing lost by trying to bluff.
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>>4972726
>How fast are trash summons?
Depends on what kind they make, fast and fragile, slow and enduring are all possible choices.
>Can Teruko and the Lamia make a small swarm of ultra fast annoying bugs to leap at Ensan and start gnawing on her?
No, the closest they can do is make a swarm of quadruped to rush into her soldiers.
Bug-sized summons will require a summoner who specialized his entire career in handling and breaking weak spirits.
>If they could give them an ominous purple glow effect that'd be great.
Can't happen, unfortunately.
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>>4972742
Could they be leapers? Y'know, rush into range than leap into the air with the intent to land on and rip into Ensan? If we linked with Shereen and Teruko could we infuse them with those magics and thus grant them a psuedo "alive" status? Could we do this while also fueling Elina's shield magic? Pretty sure a resonance holy/soul shield could stop one of the damn things.

I'm currently leaning on sprinting towards Ensan while giving 10 percent of our reserves to Elina in the hopes of triggering a resonance. Can Teruko and the Lamia make leaping quadrupeds to hopefully distract Ensan or screw up her cast at the same time?
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>>4972753
>Could they be leapers?
Not all of them. Making a swarm quickly makes it impossible to grant the entities abilities at will, your summoners will just imitate the biology of an animal since they gotta unleash them fast.
>If we linked with Shereen and Teruko could we infuse them with those magics and thus grant them a psuedo "alive" status?
Possibly, but Teruko will need a full round to make summons at the very least. Summoning while joining magical flows make it reeeeally hard to practice her craft.
>Could we do this while also fueling Elina's shield magic?
If you don't mind having to potentially spend an increasingly big amount of magic, yeah. Don't forget your sheet.
>I'm currently leaning on sprinting towards Ensan while giving 10 percent of our reserves to Elina in the hopes of triggering a resonance. Can Teruko and the Lamia make leaping quadrupeds to hopefully distract Ensan or screw up her cast at the same time?
Heavy Resonance with Elina + two swarms of low-quality summons is a good choice.
You won't focus entirely on the defense, so hopefully you can reach her...!
I'll wait around 30 minutes for more voices, I'd really like other anons to make themselves known here.
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>>4972762
I just started watching an anime and it made a good point. If you always make the safest bet you'll never be able to make a huge reversal happen or win big. Plus I really don't want to give her any chance to get more slaves to sacrifice from that ship.

If we block this second spell she'll probably go all out and start sacrificing her own troops to fuel a true wipe mechanic spell in a panic. We need her good and dead before that happens.
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Rolled 50 + 30 (1d50 + 30)

Alright, waited long enough. Gotta get to writing.
I gotta make two rolls regarding your potential swarms, you guys... don't need to roll for now

Hopefully the bubble work!

Let's see how Teruko does.
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Rolled 14 + 10 (1d20 + 10)

>>4972823
Jesus christ why even bother with Meruse
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>>4972823
>>4972826
HOLY SHIT! High is good right and those were for us right? I assume this little gambit goes through and we reach Ensan as a coherent team in one round without anyone eating a death flare?
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>>4972838
Only assume what's posted now. Gonna try my best to update today.
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>>4972850
Still, high is good and they were both for us right?
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>>4972853
Yeah. Only time I operate with low rolls is with measurement, which is quickly becoming irrelevant.
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''Already throwing the plan in the gutter!?'' Olga snapped angrily, a surge of flame erupted out of her pipe.

''Trust the prince!'' Ambrus replied. ''That's a pearl wielder, if we remove that threat early, having reinforcement for our missions isn't a dream!''

''Let's go! We can remain as a group, the ash is screening us from the rest of the enemy army!'' Thankfully your group didn't hesitate. Your experience in Muribel had given you the leadership of the rescue squad. ''Is it possible to launch a horde ahead of us!?''

''Oh yes.''
''On it!''
The two summoners responded.

Ka-chink!

The lumbering metal mass that was Martha set out first. Deruella scooped up Shereen (who didn't scream in protest)and your squad proceeded to sprint into the wide-open field between the palace and harbor. Good thing all the ash and fog was making it impossible for the enemy archers to bury your squad in a volley!

Staying on the gallery, Ensan pushed off the two dead slaves whilst slamming her staff on the wood three times, causing the emerald eyes of the skullstaff to brighten intensely enough to be seen through the ashen fog. The fact all three remaining men remained motionless despite all the noises around and the recent murders of their comrades made you wonder... could they be drugged out of their minds? Damn this bitch!

''No idea what she could be doing!'' Zazawu screamed, the noise of the battlefield was getting deafening now. Out there in the ashen field, the lines of spider ogres had connected with the pharaoh troops. Ensan had extracted three pearls out of a pouch, plopped one into her mouth, and smashed the others on top of her staff, causing the glows to change from green to purple.

Blood spurted out of the poor men throat as if their jugulars had just been slashed by invisible knives, the liquid flowed inside the now open mouth of Ensan amber staff in three brilliant crimson lines

A horde suddenly manifested in front of your squad, Martha and Zazawu nearly stumbled on their feet in surprise. Mutated quadrupeds appeared mid-run, some being little more than oversized dogs, others looked similar to humans running on all-fours instead of beasts. The majority were outright abominations, being little more than maws on legs, with wide-open torsos full of teeth running toward the stupefied enemy line. It was a proper horde. Completely dwarfing your party, wide enough to occupy all the space of the harbor entrance, a hundred perhaps more mutated dogs barked, giggled, yapped as they reached Ensan position far sooner than your party and smashed into the barely forming shield wall.

''Damnation!'' Teruko huffed. ''Lost control, too big a horde!''
''Yeah, fuck!'' Meruse swore. ''Felt like my mind was going to be swallowed up! Must be the Princes.''
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That problem wasn't a concern. The beast had been given an order engraved into their instincts. The dogs bit at the soldier's heels, dragging a handful of the non-shielded sailors on the ground to be devoured. They tackle themselves against the solid shields of the soldiers, then dogs climbed on top of their struggling brethren to further pressure the Mamonos. They couldn't chance any attacks with their weapons, doing so would mean getting bitten and dragged down!

Within seconds the line was pushed onto the high gallery. Mutants climbed on top of each other and jumped onto the wood and were promptly slaughtered by Ensan bodyguard: she had six armor-clad scorpion women with her, four of them on the gallery whilst the last two were below, walking backward whilst slaughtering anything in reach with the oversized cleavers in their hands. Each step you took meant one more summoned dog made it on the gallery: most of the creatures were immediately distracted by the easy meat of the dead slaves, their distraction was a boon for your party because reaching the harbor happened without troubles!

''More slaves!'' Ensan screamed amongst the cacophony and retreated. She left the soldiers below to a gruesome death and ran toward the pier, accompanied by all of her bodyguard and the dozen sailors that made it as reinforcement. Dogs swarmed over the entrance in a wave of flesh, always hungry for fresh kills, immediately becoming a problem for Ensan and her reinforced guards, the enemy sailors might only be armed with a single scimitar but they knew how to use it. The horde will crash upon them soon enough.

There was a problem. So many creatures had been summoned, they completely blocked the entrance, you'll need to trample right through them to reach Ensan... or wait a minute or two for the creatures to disperse!

''Francine can easily climb up that building!'' Deruella pointed at one of the two main storerooms blocking your path. ''With Elina and Mina as support, they'll be able to hold Ensan long enough for us!''

That sounds good!

''Bad idea.'' Someone that didn't belong to your squad spoke, you couldn't avoid grimacing. ''Ensan stored three slaves worth of blood and two pearls into her staff, I'm not sure what it is she thinks she can do, but she'll undeniably unleash something extremely dangerous.''

''Store... Aaah!'' Zazawu stiffened. ''This staff is the Ambition of Worlds! The main weapon of the Rakshashas blood god! How did you...?'' Then he realized who spoke. Ama floated above Shereen like the evil ghost she was, the good general stared in disbelief. ''Youuuuu....rrrgh!'' His titanic body shook in rage, the growl that came out of him was a guttural, terrifying thing.

''Uncle no!''
''Uncle please!''

Deru and Sieglinde pleaded with the creature and one look at them was enough to calm him down.
>>
''Hahahaa! Oh man!'' Olga openly laughed. ''Oooh fucking man, now I wish to see what kind of veins those church's freaks are gonna pop after learning this!''

''She's good, she's good!'' Hao constantly waved her arm (the other held onto a greatsword) at Ambrus and Teruko. Husband and wife looked to one another and let the matter drop, although Teruko's scowl made her state of mind obvious.

''What do you propose we do?''

''Turn around or endure her spell.'' Ama answered your question with a grim smile on her sharp features. ''You've carried us quite far from dear Anais, so make the right call, my dear player.''

''Do we really have the time!?'' Martha choked voice still boomed with unearthly energy. ''Our chance is slipping!'' Her machine pointed at Ensan.

The evil princess had climbed on the back of a scorpion woman and waved her glowing staff, the purple light pierced through the fog to rally Mamonos coming out of the boats as reinforcement.

''Teruko!'' Meruse yelled. ''Can you regain control of that horde with me?''
''O-oh yes. Just a minute, yes and we'll be able to give that frenzy directive!'' She replied

Almost two hundred mutated dogs swarmed over the entrance, completely distracted by the few stragglers mounting a vain resistances and all the corpses. Around forty Mamonos had died in this short five minutes assault. You have to give Ensan a little credit: the instant she realized her untenable position, she gathered what resources she could and retreated, uncaring about the people she left to die.

You can't underestimate her.

>Press your advantage, everyone is at full magical capacity. Push through your summoned hordes and bring the fight to Ensan with all of your party. Don't be afraid of what she can do, fight and remove her from the battlefield!
>a) Employ Deruella suggestions as well, forge ahead while sending Francine, Elina and Mina forward to fight the enemy.

>Hold back. Let your summoners regain control of their unexpected horde. Take this time to strategize a little more, learn what you can from Ama about that artifact. Ambitions of Worlds? What a dumb name!

>Free

Your summoners cannot create more entities this round, they need a minute to rest up for their Corruption to settle down.
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>>4973258
Is Ensan now on a pier? Does Mina have a clear shot at Ensan? Have they spotted her? What about Elina. If we have fed her magic but she didn't need to use it could we employ the exploding spear spell? Does Francine have ranged options? What about a tag team attack with Deru and Francine? Y'know, Deru loads her up with a big glob of corruption and Francine fires it like a cannon?
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>>4973336
>Is Ensan now on a pier?
Yes
>Does Mina have a clear shot at Ensan?
Nope. Ensan is surrounded by friendly and all the ash make it difficult to see her, her glowing staff is at least easy enough to spot.
>>4973336
>Have they spotted her?
What do you mean?
> If we have fed her magic but she didn't need to use it could we employ the exploding spear spell?
Replicating it might be a tad difficult but yeah, you did it once.
>Does Francine have ranged options?
Nope.
>What about a tag team attack with Deru and Francine?
Deru is not as quick and agile as Francine. Can't happen quickly.
>Y'know, Deru loads her up with a big glob of corruption and Francine fires it like a cannon?
Doesn't work like that. Foreign Corruption dissolve when her body touch it
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>>4973362
I mean have they spotted Mina and/or Elina and acquired them as a target? If no than they still have the drop on potential targets.

How far away are we from Ensan? If they regain control of the horde what could they do with it and how big of a force multiplier would it be? Could we prepare to fire the spear as they do that? We don't need to hit Ensan, but if we could blow up the pier right behind her or where she's standing that utterly cuts off her avenue of retreat. Where she's standing is preferable but I'll take the former.
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>>4973374
Oh, and here's an extra thing we could do. Shereen can amplify her voice with her magic. Having her scream out "ENSAAAAAN!!!" might throw her off balance or cause something else to happen. Ama still has that astral pearl after all. Shereen's soul is still protected. For now.
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>>4973374
>I mean have they spotted Mina and/or Elina and acquired them as a target?
Impossible to tell.
>How far away are we from Ensan?
Enough to be considered Far. Meaning that all of your long-distance strikers/snipers will have a hard time attacking from your current position.
>If they regain control of the horde what could they do with it
Direct it again in one uniform mass instead of the animalistic horde spreading around.
>and how big of a force multiplier would it be?
You'll have to be the judge of that.
>Could we prepare to fire the spear as they do that?
Yes.
>>4973377
>Having her scream out "ENSAAAAAN!!!" might throw her off balance or cause something else to happen
That's also possible, yes

So you vote for
>Activate a heavy (10%) resonance spell with Elina to destroy the piers whilst your summoners regain control of their summons.
>Have Shereen try to distract her big sister.
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>>4973402
Ok, the pier itself is pretty big yes? As in, Elina is pretty much guaranteed to hit it especially as we're aiming for the area around the purple glow right?

Also, the horde is about 200 ravenous big dog sized abominations right? That ought to do something so yeah let's regain control of our zerg rush.

Also, how much longer will this ash keep falling. The spear's detonation will create a clearing around that pier but if this shit is still falling at a good clip it won't last long and actually make it harder for anyone outside the short lived clearing to see in as ash will be blowing hard into their face.
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>>4973434
>Ok, the pier itself is pretty big yes?
Yeah, the harbor itself is pretty damn big since it's pretty much the beating heart of Muribel noble decadence. Wealth flows into the palace and from there it flows into Marleon. Big ships, big harbor, big pier.
>As in, Elina is pretty much guaranteed to hit it especially as we're aiming for the area around the purple glow right?
Yeah.
>Also, the horde is about 200 ravenous big dog sized abominations right?
Around 160 are left now, they're animals and died like ones while overwhelming your squad-sized enemy.
Yeah, Summoners of Teruko calibers are scary as hell.
>Also, how much longer will this ash keep falling.
Remember there's also the strange magical fog that Zerase created, too. The ash longevity is hard to tell, Mother Earth punched a big hole in the web and it's been burning in the sky since your arrival. A right proper apocalyptic backdrop!
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>>4973443
So long as that web is a burnin' that ash will keep a fallin'. I'll need to sleep on this but for now I think this is a good choice. Especially if this is gonna be a resonance spell. Last time it was just a mere supercharged wind spell we fueled.

If this is gonna be a "soul wind" explosion than it really ought to wipe out the pier and has a chance of sending even the scorpions overboard. Also if Ensan's distracted she might not see where the spear is coming from until it's too late. Last thing I want is for her to have a lock on our angel with *yet another pretender Era Relic!* How many of those things does Zerase have anyway? Did Armin just pull up with a huge chest full of em' and tell her to knock herself out!?

Oh, and after they've regained control will they be able to add to it? Y'know, because fuck everyone who isn't us and drowning our foes in a whatever color these things are tide is an idea I can get behind.

Oh, while we're preparing all of this will we get Ama's explanation? If we can only get the quick version that's good enough.
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>>4973457
Oh, and, for clarification, what kind of monstergirl is Ensan? I forget. I think she was either a Lamia or was like a succubus (i.e. almost completely humanoid).
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>>4973457
>Oh, and after they've regained control will they be able to add to it?
What do you mean?
>Oh, while we're preparing all of this will we get Ama's explanation?
Nope. Magic require concentration.
>>4973475
She looks completely human, not even the usual odd succubus appendages are sprouting out of her. Her race has't been told yet but it's safe to assume she's a succubus. At least... she ought to be!
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>>4973485
As in, once they regain control of this horde can they summon more? Perhaps go for some quality summons instead of another horde?

Also, while *we* and Elina won't get to listen in that doesn't stop our party from hearing Ama out as we prepare to fire. The summoners will also be out of the loop too and Shereen, well, Ama has telepathy with her so even as she dialogues with Ensan she'll get the skivvy but everyone else could use the info. Might keep them alive. Though it sounds like Zazawu is familiar with the thing and its capabilities. Probably was on the wrong end of it in the pretender era.
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>>4973485
Also wouldn't Shereen know her sister's race? She should tell us after this round is over.
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>>4973490
>As in, once they regain control of this horde can they summon more? Perhaps go for some quality summons instead of another horde?
Oh, no. Not a horde of this size, it needs to think out a bit. All the happenings in the Red World makes it difficult to summon well.
>Also, while *we* and Elina won't get to listen in that doesn't stop our party from hearing Ama out as we prepare to fire.
Of course, that works. You just won't be able to know, so you'd better listen to your friends!
>>4973492
She was genuinely never told. Ensan has always been ''what Mother wanted''
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>>4973497
Oh, errr, We're on the ground and Elina will be a bit high up in the sky before firing right? She's also dimmed her halo as much as she can right? Try to time the distraction to be right before we fire. I want Ensan's eyes to not be looking in the general direction of where the spear will be coming from.

Should she see it coming she might use her charged spell to stop it. That spends the spell, but she can just get another ready by the time we get to her and destroying the pier cuts off a significant source of reinforcement for her.

Hell, if we get lucky it puts her in the drink and you know what my plan is once she and her sycophants are swimming in a conductive medium. Hilde has throwing axes and Olga has fire arrows right? I will insist we double tap Ensan if we manage to kill her.

Oh, one more thing. Say we added 5 more percent to this little spell. What would that do?
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>>4973724
Wait. Zerase's hyper-paranoid and may have planned for all of this as a "worst case" scenario. How fast can portal magic/teleportation be activated? If the answer is potentially "instant" than we might not want Shereen to say anything. Also we're absolutely sure that really is Ensan waving that staff around yes?
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>>4973724
Worrying about every single little detail is going to bog down everything, Arawn can't be expected to predict everything and neither should you.
>Hilde has throwing axes
She swapped them for two bandoliers of knives since she could
>Olga has fire arrows right?
Nah, her most basic projectiles are good old fireballs.
>Oh, one more thing. Say we added 5 more percent to this little spell. What would that do?
Make it more powerful in exchange for growing unstable. You'll need a dc to make sure it does what you want.
>>4973725
>How fast can portal magic/teleportation be activated?
The speed varies a whole lot and can be near-instant.
>Also we're absolutely sure that really is Ensan waving that staff around yes?
Yeah, the fog and ash make it hard to see but Ensan is a distinctive person.

I really wanna see if our other players have anything to say. I'll lock the answer at 5pm.
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>>4974003
You're right of course. The choice makes sense from a character perspective. Arawn is logical but hates Ensan personally and Shereen's got a lot of baggage with her. I doubt she'd turn down the chance to yell out something.

I just hope the others are cool with my choices so far. Note to self: Once this is over, we need to start practicing with "overcharged" spells.
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>>4974065
Not a vote to actually do that now. Too damn risky. 10 percent on a resonance explosion lance is fine.
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Alright, going with what I've got.
No rolls needed yet...
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>>4974095
That's either a very good thing or a very bad thing. You really like keeping us on edge don't ya...
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Hm, this is likely to become a longpost. Gonna try to update today but I might finish tomorrow.
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>>4974065
I wish I was more available when discussion is happening. Things look good I think?
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Gonna try my best to update soon. Getting some irl distraction today so I can't write quickly until tonight
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Look like I'll have to update tomorrow. Sorry about that guys, at least we'll have a proper session.
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>>4975496
It's cool dude, we're willing to wait for quality... or suffering.
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>>4975496
Can't rush genius.
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''Better to wait, we've manifested a pound of flesh, let's use them all to keep these bastards contained. Elina! Remember that trick we've used with your spear? They're all on a pier above the water!''

''Huh?'' Elina confusion faded as quickly as it appeared. At this moment your hearts are in synch, with death and fear surrounding you, your souls seek natural comforts with one another. ''Oh! An even stronger spell might hold, too!''

''Waiting won't be that much of a disadvantage anymore, got them in a good place!'' You continue, take a deep breath, and calm your nerves. The enemy hasn't been able to respond yet, if you can bury this lot before Zerase shows up it would have made this detour worth it! ''Let's start!''

Elina comes down from her gentle hovering, her body clad in stained blue armor remains a gallant sight despite the falling ash. You gently grab her halberd and close your eyes to concentrate: her intent mirror yours. The duality of angels does make this exercise difficult, Elina body and soul carry Holy yet her gorgeous wings are vessels of wind, both linked into the same organic reservoir. Separating the two isn't easy, the best example you can think of is to separate one color from a river with two of them... But watching the Good Mother magical practice does give you an idea.

Magical flow is water, yet a spell itself is similar to weaving. Take the water, transform it into a string, join your imagination with Elina and both of you weave together a spell of wind around the halberd. Slow, meticulous work would be ideal but you don't have time, you need to work quickly yet not too fast, else the spell explodes in your dear angel hands.

Hao was healed with bits and pieces of all the girl's souls, since they are all connected to you, it significantly reinforced the synchrony you have with all of them. Elina weapon is connected to her, allowing it to become the center of a very dangerous spell.
Your magical reserve stands at 90%
Elina magical reserve stands at 95%

''Ensan!'' Shereen booming voice made you jump and attracted the attention of the closest mutants. Thankfully, Teruko and Meruse were already wrangling the creatures.

''Hear me, Ensan!'' Shereen continued, needing magical reinforcement to be heard over the echoes of combats and all the noises of the horde. The pier was a mess of corpses, devouring beasts and running sailors coming out of the myriads of boats whose faint outline could barely be seen amongst the fog and ashes.

''Hear me all! I am Shereen Roshanak, third of the Blood! I've come to stop my sister and mother who do not deserve to rule this fair land, their cruel ambition has gone far enough to bring the wrath and ruins of other countries on your heads!'' As Shereen yelled into the white of the piers, Ensan staff kept moving, projecting its piercing, ominous glow.
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''Will you Braves truly be tempted by the words of someone who accomplished nothing?'' Came a powerful reply wreathed in fog. ''The Blood is cursed with greatness, look what the useless princess brought to our home! Look the adversity we need to vanquish now!''

''Ensan!'' Shereen replied. ''Please! Just... stop!''

Her sister ignored her, the only thing that would make her receptive to talking is cold violence.

''It's done.'' Elina announced.

Your joined spell was a beautiful herald of danger. Wind spiraled all around her halberd, gently displacing all the falling ash that fell close. It flowed around Elina's limbs almost like silks, ready to unleash nature's wrath.

Shereen grimaced and looked away.

''Let the hounds pin them in place.'' You announced and the summoners silently commanded the horde of mutants. They rushed forward in a tide of flesh, barking in gleeful indulgence for the coming carnage. The heavy ashen fog made it difficult to see but the noises of claws on woods and roaring violence told its own story. Shapes and silhouettes collided in the fog remaining solid against the onslaught.

''Our creatures won't last long.'' Teruko commented

''I'm going.'' Elina held her polearm, wings flapping nervously.
''I'm coming with you!'' Mina insisted.

They set out together, quickly and quietly floating in the air. The ashen fog was good co-
A purple pulse of energy spread out of Ensan shining staff and did nothing but travel well beyond your party, an unexplainable burst of harmless magical energy disappeared well beyond your vision.

Golden streaks pierced through the thick fog far behind your party a victorious warcry spread above the deafening noises of combats.

''Portal already up? Damn! Fluff work fast!'' Ambrus commented.

That was indeed fine work. Small portals contained in scrolls aren't too complicated to raise quickly for they are used to transport personnel but a massive opening to connect a country to another, something big and stable enough to let an actual army through was another piece of work altogether.

''Brace people!'' You yelled, sensing Elina intention. She threw her weapon right after you spoke, landing it somewhere on the big piers as the horde of freak mutants dogs continued to fight to their deaths. Then she recalled it... and pandemonium erupted.

The compressed wind exploded in a burst of vengeance, rolling around a short-lived imaginary eye. Floors planks were torn right off, people screamed in horror as bodies collided with one other or flew into the water. A distinctive purpled light completely disappeared, Mamonos fell into holes or were carried by drowning waves, the closest boat was outright upturned! Things settled down as quickly as they began, with your two flying combatants returning without having been spotted.

''Gaddam! What a mess!'' A manly, metallic voice came out of Martha machine.
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The slave gallery has been completely obliterated, holes on the roofs of two nearby storehouses told of a few Mamonos or debris having crashed in there. A third of the pier has been outright obliterated, most of the far-off wooden pathways had suffered big enough holes to make walking impossible. The area Ensan had been reinforcing herself in was a collection of potholes, torn planks, and broken floors. A bare handful of lucky Mamonos had managed to somehow remain out of the water, everything else -including every single summons- had fallen in there. The pier was not going to be a battlefield.

Where is Ensan?

The spell had also done wonder in clearing up the view. The majority of the ash and fog had dispersed, revealing the usual gorgeous vista of the palace harbor. In this case, hundreds of people had been launched in the water, and up above, the ever-faraway web of the pharaoh had stopped burning.

Screams erupted out of the ocean. Tendrils traveled down the impossibly high dark web in the blue sky to spear into the hundreds of helpless swimmers, red ink spread into Muribel clear water, increasing with each skewering that sent one of your would-be enemies in the depths.

''W-what!? Stop! Stop this!? Who's doing this!?'' Shereen stepped back in horror. All appeals to mercy went unheard, every prayer to the Pharaoh was ignored until the screams stopped and the only thing remaining was the war raging behind you.

''Too damn far for me to throw anything.'' Olga commented nervously.

Ensan and all six of her armor-clad scorpion-woman bodyguard rose out of the water in what first looked to be levitation until sunlight identified the phenomenon. Dark purple hands gripped their bodies and a collection of skulls under their feet gave them solid ground, will-o-wisps burned behind them, gathering in ever-increasing numbers, sometimes flashing in full-bodied humanoid wraiths... and standing at the front of the dizzied, overwhelmed crown princess was a familiar snake woman, floating above the ocean with the help of a dozen spirits holding onto her, more gathered under her to elevate the pharaoh in a literal small throne.

''I reckon we oughta-wait something's falling from the sky!'' Sonja yelled, pointing one of her big hands toward the hole in the web Mana had punched through.

The large portal had done wonders in clearing up the fog. The spider-ogres had all but obliterated the main enemy position and were now proceeding to assault the wall (Mana had created a literal earth ramp for them to climb onto) and the gate to shut it down from enemy reinforcement coming from Marleon. The enemy force was completely disorganized and only managed to mount pocket defenses around the palace, friendly soldiers poured out of the portal in cohesive formations...

This good fortune was going to change.
>>
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Nightmarish mutants began to fell from the sky. Man-sized slugs covered in tendrils and eyes fell from a deadly distance, screaming like... like cattle being eviscerated. Harsh landings weren't enough to kill them, these creatures became a literal rain of flesh pouring out of the destroyed manor!

Your allies had the good sense to establish the portals away from your entry point, thank the Father. But how is this even possible!?

''Not liking our chances.'' Sieglinde whispered, tangible fear gripped her heart, she wasn't going to succumb to it. It didn't show in her voice.

Hundreds of wraiths had risen above the water to stand with ominous organization beside and behind their pharaoh leader. Bloody fumes hovered near them, wreathing around the spirits in cloaks of blood. She held onto the amber skull staff, its glowing eyes burned red.

''Normally these spirits would only have an hour of life at best but this cloak expands this lifetime enough for them to survive till dusk and by then the sun won't be strong enough to purge them.'' Deruella spoke through gritted teeth. ''Sacrificed her entire force for better soldiers...''

''I-I'm sorry, mother!'' Ensan voice was difficult to hear amongst the cacophony of battle.
''Nay, you've done us proud.'' Zerase voice was as slithery as her existence. ''Such pride you hold, dearest. You've understood you were outmatched. The Red is useless if the field is lost so quickly.''

''Mother, you...''' Shereen squeaked. ''...You have to stop, we need to stop.''

''Let's retreat further back!'' Olga voice easily trampled your little sun voice.

You had to agree, the pharaoh was up to something. You and the girls proceeded to run back, Zerase waved her staff in response, the brilliance of its eyes extinguished. A skeleton was pieced together frighteningly fast, bloody pieces from the corpses below flew up, and snapped into a skeleton holding onto Zerase and then, behind her an immense mirage appeared for the briefest of moments. A massive created blinked in and out of existence, with too many eyes to count, all of them glowing an ominous yellow-ish orange...

''She's channeling the mountain! Get behind me!'' Zazawu yelled and the next instant, the skeleton grasping Zerase shoulder leaned forward, opened its mouth...and unleashed armageddon.

A concentrated beam of destruction, the wrath of the prince of famine was made manifest in a realm it shouldn't touch. That damnable staff eased interaction between the Red World and Mother Earth realm...!

You don't have time to think, you can hear this rushing, screaming heat of magical, molten rock rushing you far, far too quickly.

>Rush forward. You have the equipment and the body to endure this spell, don't leave Sieglinde uncle alone!
>Stay in place as he ordered, perhaps the spell will split, needing you to do...something.
>Throw yourself in front of one of your friends. (Who?)
>Free
You don't have time to make any spells
>>
>>4976453
Ok, so the veil between the red world and real space has been essentially obliterated yes? That means Full Fusion without penalties is on the table yes? Because if it is that looks like our only option. Fuse with with shield to grant insane magical resistance and block this attack as our bestest buddie blocked the Banshee's scream so long ago.
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>>4976461
>so the veil between the red world and real space has been essentially obliterated yes?
No, it hasn't gotten that bad yet. The veil has thinned, at least that's the only conclusion Arawn can make for this absurd phenomenon. A true lifting of the veil would be very, very obvious.
>That means Full Fusion without penalties is on the table yes?
Impossible to tell for now.
>>
>>4976474
How big is this incoming beam? Can our shield even hope to block enough of it to keep our legs, head, and shoulders intact? Can we channel our nature as the Embodiment of Protection to amplify its power? Could we have Zazawu hold us up as his shield and brace us against the torrent of destruction as we did that?
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>>4976482
>How big is this incoming beam?
It's surprisingly thin, a little smaller than your shield.
I can't answer anything else, there's no time to even think about what to do, friends. Gotta act!
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>>4976488
Ok. The shield has *easily* withstood the harshest attacks of even Supreme Monsters (i.e. Nine Tailed Foxes and the like). Our Dwarven Rune Belt can increase durability of held items (shield included I'd bet), and a Medium Fusion can grant us the physical strength to endure the forces involved. That and we will be acting in accordance with our nature as the embodiment of protection.

Provided the beam is heading right for us/Zazawu and all our allies are indeed directly behind/smart enough to get behind Zazawu/us when we rush forward (and thus the beam won't be able to split and hit them unless we're talking bullshit "bloom sail/gundam/Rip Van Winkle" hax) we should be able to tank it so long as we can get right in front of it by utilizing all of that.

Time to channel a certain someone/something. Though I would like to hear the other anon's thoughts on this plan. If they think this is good let's do it. If they've got a better idea or a helpful alteration to make to it I'm all ears.
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>>4976536
So, you want to use a medium fusion (draining 50% of your magic) in addition to all of your defensive items to tank the beam.
That's a valid choice.
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>>4976543
I'm assuming we can't just dodge the damn thing because if we could that'd be what I'd try to do. However, if we could do that Zazawu would have screamed out "DOOOOODGE!" and then done so.

I also want to hear from the other anon. Our time zones don't seem to overlap very well sadly but I would value their input.

Also, once a fusion activation is used it stays up so long as we remain conscious and in focus and doesn't further tax our reserves correct? That'd make losing half our mana worth it as we get a permanent mega buff to physical stats, melee, ranged calculation (Gardy's basically an A.I.), durability, and situational access to his data core (e.g. we'd get all he knows about the mountain in this case). That right?
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>>4976544
>Also, once a fusion activation is used it stays up so long as we remain conscious and in focus and doesn't further tax our reserves correct?
Yup.
>That right?
Mostly. You'll get a big buff in everything physical and ranged calculation but you'll need to go full fusion to get all of his knowledge regarding foes. Of course, medium fusion doesn't expand your repertoire of skills and abilities. Can't go absorbing items into your body and engineer their abilities like additional natures, as you did against Horkus.
>I also want to hear from the other anon. Our time zones don't seem to overlap very well sadly but I would value their input.
Fair. I think I'll wait until we get more inputs. My eagerness to keep going has been unfair to our players.
>>
>>4976546
We still get maxed out melee skill right? Also, once we've already paid for one tier of fusion wouldn't it reduce the cost of going further? Furthermore, since we're no longer bound by the restriction of having to be in contact with our allies to cast spells through them or feed them mana can we not leech mana from one of our links on the go?
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>>4976549
>We still get maxed out melee skill right?
Yup. You're still somewhat confined by being in Mother Earth realm though. Don't take your fights in the Red World as an example of your capabilities.
>Also, once we've already paid for one tier of fusion wouldn't it reduce the cost of going further?
Yeah, and your mindset will also be important. The last tier of fusion is the most difficult one to do.
>Furthermore, since we're no longer bound by the restriction of having to be in contact with our allies to cast spells through them or feed them mana can we not leech mana from one of our links on the go?
If it's on your sheet, you can do it but mana transfer in combat will be subject to a potentially hefty dc of success depending on who you leech from and their general situation because it's one of those ''channeling'' spells that is very, very distracting.
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>>4976554
We're basically a legendary hero/servant with medium activation. Really fast and strong, but still limited by the fact we got 2 hands, 2 legs, and can only do with them what makes sense. Still not a thing you want to face one on one though as I suspect Ensan and Zerase are quite squishy. One good punch from us and there goes their skeletons and vital organs.

Not intending to do a mana transfer "in combat" mind you. It's more a thing to do after this combat is over if my option gets chosen and we survive. We'll try to get ourselves up above 60 percent on the way to the next encounter.

If this goes down now with the fusion we'll have 40 percent remaining. Good enough for this encounter, but not the next one as I'm pretty sure we'll be at critical levels by the end of this.

Fucking hell I didn't expect the big boss battle with Zerase to happen so damn soon. At least if she's here she's not with Anais meaning she should be safe. Hopefully. God I hope we didn't just doom her...
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>>4976562
>Fucking hell I didn't expect the big boss battle with Zerase to happen so damn soon
Did you really think mommy snake would abandon her daughter?
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>>4976572
Yes. Yes I did. If she was close enough to breaking the spell on Anais and thus sacrificing her to kick off the Apotheosis spell than yeah, she is evil enough to do that. A small sacrifice in the name of achieving godhood and all that. She already tried to rip Shereen's soul out and is now trying to nuke her position so she's obviously willing to kill a daughter to get what she wants.
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>>4976574
Yet she just showed up to save her girl, even praised her!
At least if Zerase is here, she's not doing... whatever she was doing before.
Gonna wait till another anon make his input, with tomorrow afternoon as hard cut-off point.
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>>4976577
I hope that if all goes to plan our party has independent initiative. Zazawu was intending to tank the blast himself. Hell, he was probably going to contest the attack with a breath/beam attack of his own. If we tank it he can direct it towards Ensan, Zerase, or the skeletal colossus they're riding on instead. Francine, Elina, and Mina will likewise be in a position to deliver a sucker punch.

I'm not liking how she just turned all her forces into blood cloaked wraiths. I'm betting they function like summons now and are all slaved to Zerase's will.

It's like I said she'd do, she went full Nagash. Damn her!
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>>4976599
Hehehe, I just caught this one. Shield is bronze and has been enchanted by several dwarven runesmiths? Perhaps there is layers to its defense? Dwarven Runecraft is synergistic with itself as well right? That is, one rune doesn't override or cancel out another unless explicitly intended or stated?
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>>4977083
Alas, Arawn knows nothing about runesmithing aside from the fact that it's constantly activated... at least those enchanting your shield are.
I'll start working on the update now.
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>>4977479
So we're going Medium Fusion and tanking the beam with our shield and rune belt? Hope this works. Zazawu was probably going to sacrifice himself to stop the beam. We can't have that. We haven't had the chance to become bros with him yet!
>>
Your magical reserves stands at 40%
Steel fibers weave into your bones, magic travels throughout your body faster than blood for that is what you need. You can almost feel your bones transform, your body is made of metals: gold, copper, steel... everything within you meld with new material and changes, yet remains wrapped within the existence of Arawn Loukanos.

All you're doing is manifesting something that had always been there.

Zazawu has moved to obstruct the projectile, he cannot react when you sneak in front of him and bear your shield forward. The artifact of Zipangu is large enough to cover one-third of your body, it is a big, heavy, durable shield, one you've got to trust your life with.
One push of your belt adds a new steely layer to your body, making it difficult to move.

''What are you!?'' Zazawu doesn't have time to say anything else as you stand in front of him.

Impact. Despite adding stability to your shield with your second arm, the sheer power of the spell easily trample your resistance, and your protection slam against your torso. Had you not been in the process of fusion, your ribs and supporting shoulder might have collectively snapped! ''Gnn!'' You can only grunt. The noise feels like it'll rip out your ears: a thousand bubbling pot mixed with sizzling and strange thumps from the runes resisting this onslaught of heat. your shield is heating up, enough to cause progressive agony on your skin but what's worse... ''Fall!'' you barely manage to squeak. Despite projecting Gardy body within the reality of Mother Earth... you couldn't keep your balance!

One massive weight behind your back kept you from sliding back, two steely grips on your legs forced you to keep standing. Zazawu had crouched to grab you, the surrounding heat projected by the wrath of famine was sizzling his fur...

...Mercifully, everything ended. Through your tears-filled eyes and sweat-ridden forehead, the skeleton using Zerase like a climbing tree lost its cohesion and fell in one clump of detached pieces in the water.

''Returning to sender!'' Someone yelled.
''No, wait! Palace! Aim at the palace, Olga!'' Deruella, that was Deruella.

Ungodly heat and a sizzling cacophony erupted behind you as a new beam erupted out of the firewitch fingers, aimed at the reinforced entrance of the palace. Your absence had allowed the guards to reorganize and they had made a solid line of polearms, they couldn't move in time to dodge the spell: the beam pulverized an unfortunate pair and proceeded to wreak untold devastations further inside, breaking through -anything- it encountered.

''Phew.'' Hao had been hugging the ranger. ''Thank, lass. Always good to feel a warm body. Seem the prince magic is made of heat so I siphoned what I could.''
>>
''Yeah. Within the Red, the Prince magic cannot be identified, it resonates as pure, undiluted ''power'' but within our realm, this handwaving doesn't work.'' You reply, how did you even know? ''Zerase had to add a nature into the destruction.''

''Nevermind that, you okay Arawn?'' Elina brave the heat near your shield, it would undeniably burn a normal person's skin... but you've manifested Gardy body, you don't even have a scar on your flesh.

''The only thing to worry about is my diminishing reserve. This body will continue to fight.'' You sensed a burgeon of confusion, then suspicion, coming out of the angel. No matter.

''I'm going into the Red!'' Zazawu proclaimed, one if his arms pointed toward the snake pharaoh, or rather what remained of her.

She, her daughter, and all six scorpions-women had become vague shadowy silhouettes that only remained in the world for a few seconds, disappearing like smoke.

''The battlefields are linked, we need to keep the pressure!'' He continued, his massive limbs wrapped around his torso, his presence began to diminish before anyone could mount a protest. ''Girls, stay safe! I need to see if your mom needs a hand!''

The ancient titan shifted into the Red World without waiting. Hopefully, he's going to give Zerase some serious hell!

''Friendlies behind us!'' Ambrus yelled, he was undeniably used to screaming on a battlefield.

A group of five Ushi-Onis had peeled off the broader battlefield, each one protected by so much metal the only identifiable thing about them was their revealed faces and their great weapons wreathed in their queen blessing: powerful blue flames hugged their weapons without harming anyone they perceived as friends.

''We got separated in the fog when things began!'' One of them, their leader you assumed, spoke. ''Things went well enough for us and we saw you guys, let's stick with each other yeah?''

The opening of the grand gate had cleared the fog, unfortunately, you couldn't assess the state of the battlefield from this position. The spider-ogres were holding onto the newly captured walls and gate from an assault coming from the other side (likely the second half of Zerase army which had the chance to reorganize).

Big trouble came crawling out of the ruined manor. Zipangu regular soldiers had formed a cohesive line of spears (with Athena in the middle) against the abomination falling from the sky but their only saving grace was the creature's animal mind preventing organization. Your allies would be undeniably overrun if the creatures were to fall on them as a wall of deadly flesh and teeth. For now, at least, you could see the inquisitors helping the soldiers, and soon, a group of tengus emerged out of the portal, immediately lending potent lightning magic to the stressed spears.
>>
''Yeah. Within the Red, the Prince magic cannot be identified, it resonates as pure, undiluted ''power'' but within our realm, this handwaving doesn't work.'' You reply, how did you even know? ''Zerase had to add a nature into the destruction.''

''Nevermind that, you okay Arawn?'' Elina brave the heat near your shield, it would undeniably burn a normal person's skin... but you've manifested Gardy body, you don't even have a scar on your flesh.

''The only thing to worry about is my diminishing reserve. This body will continue to fight.'' You sensed a burgeon of confusion, then suspicion, coming out of the angel. No matter.

''I'm going into the Red!'' Zazawu proclaimed, one of his arms pointed at the snake pharaoh, or rather what remained of her.

She, her daughter, and all six scorpions-women had become vague shadowy silhouettes that only remained in the world for a few seconds, disappearing like smoke.

''The battlefields are linked, we need to keep the pressure!'' He continued, his massive limbs wrapped around his torso, his presence began to diminish before anyone could mount a protest. ''Girls, stay safe! I need to see if your mom needs a hand!''

The ancient titan shifted into the Red World without waiting. Hopefully, he's going to give Zerase some serious hell!

''Friendlies behind us!'' Ambrus yelled, he was undeniably used to screaming on a battlefield.

A group of five Ushi-Onis had peeled off the broader battlefield, each one protected by so much metal the only identifiable thing about them was their revealed faces and their great weapons wreathed in the queen blessing: powerful blue flames, harmless to anything they perceived as friendly. Ame must have used the bulk of her magic for such an incredible spell.

''We got separated in the fog when fightings began!'' One of them, their leader you assumed, spoke. ''Things went well enough for us then we saw you guys, let's stick with each other yeah?''

The opening of the grand gate had cleared the fog, unfortunately, you couldn't assess the state of the battlefield in details from this position. The spider-ogres were holding onto the newly captured walls and gate from an assault coming from the other side (likely the second half of Zerase army which had the chance to reorganize).

Big trouble came crawling out of the ruined manor. Zipangu regular soldiers had formed a cohesive line of spears (with Athena in the middle) against the abomination falling from the sky but their only saving grace was the creature's animal mind preventing organization. Your allies would be undeniably overrun if the creatures were to fall on them as a wall of deadly flesh and teeth. For now, at least, you could see the inquisitors helping the soldiers, and soon, a group of harpies emerged out of the portal, immediately lending potent lightning magic to the stressed spears.
>>
''Spirits are coming!'' Sieglinde yelled. That was true. The motionless, floating ghosts began to stir, twitching awake like puppets being shaken and, worse of all... abominations of flesh crawled out of the water. All the hundreds of bodies floating in there had been repurposed by the pharaoh's magic, melding together in masses of bones, muscles, tissue, and debris.

Winning the field might be impossible.

''My armor isn't too good against these things'' Martha warped voice came out of her walking metal coffin. ''Just sayin!''

Physical trauma can dispel wraiths but the force needed is... excessive. Hundreds of them make everyone's future grim best.

You've been joined by five friendly spider-ogres
Zazawu has left your squad.

>Proceed with your original objective, race into the palace entrance with everyone!
>a) Have your new allies escort Martha back toward Zipangu forces. The Magic Armor should significantly help in holding the line and someone has to warn your allies of this incoming attack of wraiths.
>Abandon your original mission. You should go back in friendly territory, help everyone endure the coming onslaught of hostile spirits and undead abominations. Zazawu said the Red and this realm were linked battles... Surely winning here will help Anais!
>Free
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>>4977705
Holy fucking hell, looks like that was the right call. Looks like I'm right and that shield really is this setting's version of the Aias. Tanked a not-Excalibur blast to the face to prove it. Thanks Athena, you saved our party's collective ass by giving us that thing. And thanks Olga for plowing our way into the palace!

Ok, so the 5 Ushi-Oni with us essentially have force weapons. Those will insta-kill wraiths right? How far away is the front lines? Could Shereen bellow a warning and would it actually be heard by people that matter at this distance? I'd imagine there aren't many enemies behind us at the moment save for that growing army of eldritch slugs/beasts of Nurgle. How effective is Martha's machine against them and the misshapen horrors rising from the sea?

There is one potential chance for a big reversal here. Ama, Anais, Shereen, and the pyramid of blood. Ask Ama if it is possible to do a ritual with the pyramid that would undo the protection the wraiths now enjoy and would Anais's blood be of any help with it. We ain't gonna sacrifice her, but we might need her to bleed a little. Hope her mastery of pearl knowledge also let itself towards learning about artifacts that worked well with em'.

Can we split the Oni as well? Like, keep one or two with us and have the rest escort Martha? The interior of the palace will only allow 2 of them to stand side by side at most (I assume they're about the size of the Scorpion girls in width).
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>>4977758
Also, I really dig that pic of Mokou drawn as if she was a Guilty Gear character. That's a stand in for Olga right?
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>>4977758
>Those will insta-kill wraiths right?
One swing will kill a wraith on average. Outliers always happen.

>How far away is the front lines?
Very, pretty much on the other side of the entire field you are in. Reaching them will take a while.
>Could Shereen bellow a warning and would it actually be heard by people that matter at this distance?
There's too much noise for that to happen, unfortunately.
>How effective is Martha's machine against them and the misshapen horrors rising from the sea?
She's good against anything that isn't a wraith.
>Ask Ama if it is possible to do a ritual with the pyramid that would undo the protection the wraiths now enjoy and would Anais's blood be of any help with it. We ain't gonna sacrifice her, but we might need her to bleed a little
You're not going to get an in-depth explanation, Ama only answer is ''Might work!''
>Can we split the Oni as well?
Yeah, they're reinforcement.
>>4977767
Yup. Just taller and more adult looking than regular Mokou
Olga might have an important role in Act 3, you guys should try to keep her alive...
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>>4977785
The goal is to try and keep *everyone* alive. I voted to tank the blast because I thought Zazawu would die or be otherwise rendered combat ineffective in his attempt and I want both a new bro after all this is over and I wanted him alive and well enough to tear into Zerase, Ensan, and whatever BS they try to pull.

It looks like shit unfolded such that Shereen has been fully denied her confrontation with her family. Unfortunate, but nothing we can do about that now.

Fact of the matter is so long as Anais is unaccounted for Zerase has a major trump card up her sleeve with her potential sacrifice. We need to ensure she doesn't get to play that card. Split the Oni. Keep 2 with us, have the other 3 escort Martha back to the front lines ASAP. Get word to Ame, Tsu, and the Tengu Matriarch. They should know how to best deal with a horde of daywalker wraiths.

As for us? Head into the palace. Locate Anais, secure her and Mimiru (that's another ally/combatant to add to our forces as well), then head for the pyramid of blood.

Oh, a quick query. Since we're in medium fusion does our blood now count as "artificial" and would it convey that status onto any bladed weapon coated in it? Might be a way to damage the wraiths with our physical damage dealers like Klesiah. Also, does magical damage do the job on them? Elina's weapon takes em' out too right?

Also, now that we're technically out of combat and won't be in combat for a bit now's the time to siphon off some mana from our linked girls to replenish some reserves. Say, 10-15 percent from Klesiah? That shouldn't take too long and we can do it on the move. We got allies to watch our backs for us after all.
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>>4977800
>It looks like shit unfolded such that Shereen has been fully denied her confrontation with her family. Unfortunate, but nothing we can do about that now.
You'll likely have another chance. At least, that's what Shereen hopes.
>Split the Oni. Keep 2 with us, have the other 3 escort Martha back to the front lines ASAP.
Valid choice.
>Head into the palace.
One vote for the palace. This won't require a big update, I could continue tonight but... I'd like to wait for more voices. I wanna know if our other players are okay with the direction so far.
>Since we're in medium fusion does our blood now count as "artificial" and would it convey that status onto any bladed weapon coated in it?
Impossible to know without testing.
> Also, does magical damage do the job on them?
Yup.
>Elina's weapon takes em' out too right?
Yup. Angelic weapons have no fanfares but they are a literal projection of souls, so they do affects everything equally.
>Say, 10-15 percent from Klesiah?
Also doable. Klesiah handled your flow often enough to have no penalty and since you aren't in combat there's no dc. You can siphon 10% of her reserve before you reach the palace.
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>>4977819
I'd like to siphon more but the more we siphon the more time it takes I think and that is sadly the one thing we don't have right now.

Now that the veil between worlds is weakened can Ama act as our "red world scanner/visor" and warn of us anything coming at us from that angle? I don't think she can really fight yet but that would be extremely useful right about now. Bad Fluffy needs to start pulling some weight!
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>>4977844
>Now that the veil between worlds is weakened can Ama act as our "red world scanner/visor" and warn of us anything coming at us from that angle?
Unfortunately not. You can't dip between the worlds, Ama would need to completely go out there and she can't do that right now since she's still attached to Shereen.
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>>4977850
I hope the other anons are cool with all this as well. Things have been going relatively well so far. Nobody's dead or seriously injured yet. At least, nobody on our team is. Hope the other teams are OK. Daiyu, Old Siggy, Tsu, Tui... plenty of people we give a damn about who could be hurt or dead right now...

I just noticed this, but we're acting weird. We're talking kind of like an amnesiac Gardy and we're spouting off about shit we ought not know (e.g. how the hell do we know how the Mountain's attack was supposed to work).

I hope this is actually a good thing, his memory core slowly repairing itself somehow. How do the other linked girls feel about us right now?
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>>4977975
>How do the other linked girls feel about us right now?
Worried, of course, Arawn is feeling a bit colder and much ''firmer'' than usual. Still, they're far too distracted to feel anything meaningful yet. Fairly sure this is the first time Medium has been used
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>>4977985
I think it is. The other big times we used fusion we went with full. Low fusion I think is the side effect of doing a red world phase shift and we did that a few times but yeah. I think this is the first time for this tier.
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>>4977992
Alas, this tier makes a great many things instinctive. Arawn is a sharp lad but you might need to remember some of his observations...
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>>4977996
Small curiosity, the Oni reinforcements were in case we lost people weren't they? How bad does the battlefield look between us and the frontlines? Do the Oni know? Debating on whether or not to keep 3 or 2.

Force weapon wielders would be damn useful if we start getting swarmed by shades or other ethereal opponents. Does Hilde's heat effect count as magical damage and would it synergize with Olga? Y'know, she can be a "heat sink" and store the excess for a big spell free of charge? That's pretty much what she did with that Famine Beam (just on a much, much larger scale). Conversely, could she amplify the effect without damaging Hilde?
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>>4978050
>Oni reinforcements were in case we lost people weren't they?
Now, they were my planned reward for supporting the field battle. (Going after Ensan)
>How bad does the battlefield look between us and the frontlines?
I haven't mentioned a single ogres casualty so far and that is ringing true. The field battle was going very well until eldritch horrors started to literally rain down from the sky and even with them, Zipangu is holding on well. Arawn would say there's going to be a thousand friendly soldiers coming in soon and reinforcement ain't stopping.
> Does Hilde's heat effect count as magical damage
Yes
>would it synergize with Olga?
She could help Olga with reducing her mana cost, actually. Essentially ''start'' the heat phenomenon.
>Conversely, could she amplify the effect without damaging Hilde?
Clothes aside, Hilde resist heat very well
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>>4977800
>>4977819
>Split the Oni. Keep 2 with us, have the other 3 escort Martha back to the front lines ASAP.
I agree to this.
>Also doable. Klesiah handled your flow often enough to have no penalty and since you aren't in combat there's no dc. You can siphon 10% of her reserve before you reach the palace.
I'm also down with this.
Is our shield still hot? And can that be siphoned as a heat source? I didn't see that asked.
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>>4978136
>Is our shield still hot? And can that be siphoned as a heat source?
It won't stay hot long enough to be used as a heat source for Olga.
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>>4978070
Well then, if this means there is little difference between keeping 3 with us and 2 with Martha in regards to Martha's survival odds and speed in reaching the friendly frontline then I'll take the 3rd and send 2 with her instead.

If that 3rd will ensure Martha gets back to warn everyone sooner though the plan remains unchanged. Priority is getting that warning to our people before they get surprised/ambushed by wraith swarms and flesh titans. Having a 3rd adamantium plated rapid regenerating meat shield inside the palace though sure is tempting though...
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>>4978159
>If that 3rd will ensure Martha gets back to warn everyone sooner though the plan remains unchanged.
She won't, remember that Martha is in a super thick magic mech. 3 ogres it is.
Here's an image of what the ''flesh detritus'' look like. At least they're slow!
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>>4978163
So we get 3 or Martha gets 3? It doesn't matter to me too much. I just wanna max out everyone's survival odds.

And holy sweet Jesus, that's even worse than the friggin' Gaping Dragon! Looks like all our NPC soldiers are gonna have to make a SAN check. Wonderful. I hope Zazawu is in the process of turning Zerase into Lamia sashimi. She is more than earning fates worse than death here!
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Blast, gonna have to hold the session tomorrow. As you can see from me updating so early, I'm having a bit of insomnia.
My brain ain't letting me sleep cause I keep thinking about what's gonna happen alongside my scifie project
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>>4978366
It's cool dude. We are in the closing moments/climax of the second act after all. I just hope we ain't too late to save Anais from the predations of foul slithering demon that is Zerase.
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>>4978377
Oh, thought I'd share this one. When Zazawu kept us from falling on our ass and getting vaporized I can't help but imagine him gripping our legs whilst using his head to prop us up. That or putting his palms up while placing his head behind them. Damn I wish I could draw. Even the rough sketch would be cool.

Tis' about the only way he'd be able to keep most of his body out of the AoE of the beam being split by Athena's shield. God I wish we could see Zerase and Ensan's reaction to Zazawu popping into the red world essentially unscathed by their attempt to murder him and all of us besides.

They've got a big problem now that big Uncle Z no longer has to protect anyone. I wonder if Zerase has any idea of what he's capable of when he isn't being held back by anything.
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>>4978947
Oh, and one more thing. I assume our summoners have fully lost their horde and are thus free to summon other things in our march towards the palace. That is, while we siphon mana from Klesiah they ought to be working on summoning more minions that'll be most helpful during this next phase.

Scouts. We need capable and dependable scouts such that we can hopefully avoid splitting our party in the event Anais and Mimiru aren't where they're supposed to be. Quality scouts able to be both quick, avoidant of detection, and accurately relate the relevant position of our target. Perhaps only Teruko can manage that but Meruse's trash summons can be just the kind of distractions that make stealth brain dead easy to pull off.

One more consideration. We do have Francine (i.e. the pygmy). Can she in any way detect if something is gunning for our party from the red world? She is a prince and uniquely attuned to that realm. Now that the veil has been weakened can she serve as our advance warning system? Too bad she can't talk but her freaking out and forming shapes in the direction of the threat ought to be plenty enough to help us not get ambushed.

Plus I bet she and Deru have developed a form of shorthand communication. We don't know or understand Francine, but Deru does. We trust her as deeply as Sieg does and I bet there is no measuring the depths of that trust.
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>>4978947
>I wonder if Zerase has any idea of what he's capable of when he isn't being held back by anything.
Who knows! Maybe old people have history.
>>4978980
>Perhaps only Teruko can manage that but Meruse's trash summons can be just the kind of distractions that make stealth brain dead easy to pull off.
Nay, it can't happen. History knows only two summoners who managed to create semi-independent summons who can operate on their own, One is a nine fluff, the other was one of the 13 Heroes.
>Can she in any way detect if something is gunning for our party from the red world?
Nope. The veil hasn't weakened enough to allow her to dip a tendril into it. She's never returned in the Red after quitting it, becoming a ''transit'' being to survey both worlds is possible since that's what Famine did, but figuring out how to do it is another matter. No fancy amber skull staff to help you, too.
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Still haven't quite recovered from yesterday, I wish I had Arawn sturdiness. Only one update tonight, coming soon.
It's not a long one.
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''Okay, we've got to go now!'' It takes time for new consciousness to adjust within the fragile shell of a spirit. Zerase knows how to work fast. The abominable mutants made of corpses and debris aren't a concern now but they'll become a serious problem as the fight goes on...

''You two will accompany Martha!'' You point at a pair of spider-ogres and wave your still smoking shield at the machine. Gods, let this woman become your second magitek mentor in the future! ''Inform as many people as you can about the wraiths! Even a single minute before the clash will help our army prepare! Go! Now!''

Ka-chink!

''I'd better see you all alive again!''' Martha voice come out distorted as she set out running, prompting the two overwhelmed onis to follow. Their numerous big legs easily made them keep up with the Magic Armor indefatigable stride.

''You lasses signed up for one hell of a mess!'' Ambrus comment at the ogres earned him cocky grins, there was no time to chat.

''In the palace!'' Sieglinde yelled. ''We've gotta put serious distances on those wraiths!''

Your party (with its three new additions) sprinted back on the clear road before the full awakening of the pharaoh's new army. On the way, Klesiah sensed your intention: you didn't even have time to voice your intention before reaching your destination!

Your magical reserves stand at 50%
Klesiah magical reserves stand at 90%

The entrance of the palace was still reinforced despite Olga spell, all eight remaining guards held onto their polearms in a single line but... as you began to formulate a strategy mid-sprinting, they broke rank well before anyone in your party got within effective range, although their retreat wasn't a panicked one.

''I'll go first!'' Elina flying easily made far speedier than anyone else. She reached inside the big entrance of the palace before you could hold her back and immediately raised a bright golden shield, you heard something smashes against it, the pillars and the doors conveniently hid the offending projectile.

''I'm okay!'' The angel glanced back at you. ''They've set up in there!''

''Hey hey, those fucking things are coming now!'' One of the onis yelled.

The purple wraiths with their cloaks of blood rushed over the water and phase through any obstruction they came across. The debris produced by your spell was impeding the misshapen abominations of flesh but these spiritual enemies suffered no such disadvantages. They washed over and through the pier like the wind with a strange eerie noise of breaking glass following them. Close to a hundred peeled off the main horde, already coming out of the harbor to enter the path connected with the palace.
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Inside, beyond the golden protective screen of your angel, your enemies had dug themselves in a defensive formation despite Olga spell. A makeshift barricade made with all the furniture they got their hands on had been pulverized, reduced to a burning wreck that wouldn't find any other combustibles due to the palace grounds being made of slick stones. The destruction hadn't stopped there, the big double doors that separated this ''public'' space with the pharaoh's living area had been smashed wide open, revealing a trashed waiting room.

''Her Holiness reinforcement will come soon, we need only hold!'' One of the guards screamed, earning a uniform yell from her comrades.

Your enemies had used their time well. All the non-combatants and nobles had been put somewhere safe(probably Shereen side of the palace, it only had a single entry point and no other exit), leaving behind plenty of retinues to bolster the guards position. Around 60 foes held a line two-man deep separated in three squares to easily reinforce one another and make it harder to bust through with a single big spell. 4 warrior monsters -three minotaurs and a salamander- reinforced each of the squares, with the firebreathing lizard being in the middle.

The offender who forced Elina to raise a shield was one of three mages. One lamia and two lizardwomen glowed ominously; the snake produced a bright blue color whilst the lizards showed ominous, burning yellow-ish orange like the sun so high in the sky.

''This ain't no sandwich I'd order!'' Sonja yelled. ''Fuck we doing now? Gotta go fast, my soul ain't the thing I want sucked outta me!''

There's barely any time to think, let alone hear out any suggestions. Act now, Arawn!

>Go on an all-out offensive. Spare no magic, no efforts, no risk. You need to bust through this fortified position as quickly as possible. Thankfully, the reinforced doors aren't a problem, doing something like that is possible... (Risky. All of your mages will do a heavy spell, your warriors will forge ahead to open a violent path. This option will not allow your summoners to create anything since they'll have to keep up with the party.)

>While you're short on time and under pressure, you can't be reckless. Keep your party as one force, see if you can become a tight fist to punch through the first enemy square, and have your comrades slow down the enemies long enough for everyone to go through those broken doors! (Go slower, but more tactical.)

>Free
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Inside, beyond the golden protective screen of your angel, your enemies had dug themselves in a defensive formation despite Olga spell. A makeshift barricade made with all the furniture they got their hands on had been pulverized, reduced to a burning wreck that wouldn't find any other combustibles due to the palace grounds being made of slick stones. The destruction hadn't stopped there, the big double doors that separated this ''public'' space with the pharaoh's living area had been smashed wide open, revealing a trashed waiting room.

''Her Holiness reinforcement will come soon, we need only hold!'' One of the guards screamed, earning a uniform yell from her comrades.

Your enemies had used their time well. All the non-combatants and nobles had been put somewhere safe(probably Shereen side of the palace, with only a single entry point with rest of the palace), leaving behind plenty of retinues to bolster the guards position. Around 60 foes held a line two-man deep separated in three squares to easily reinforce one another and make it harder to bust through with a single big spell. Four warrior monsters -three minotaurs and a salamander- reinforced each of the squares, with the firebreathing lizard being in the middle.

The offender who forced Elina to raise a shield was one of three mages. One lamia and two lizardwomen glowed ominously; the snake produced a bright blue color whilst the lizards showed ominous, burning yellow-ish orange like the sun so high in the sky.

''This ain't no sandwich I'd order!'' Sonja yelled. ''Fuck we doing now? Gotta go fast, my soul ain't the thing I want sucked outta me!''

There's barely any time to think, let alone hear out any suggestions. Act now, Arawn!

>Go on an all-out offensive. Spare no magic, no efforts, no risk. You need to bust through this fortified position as quickly as possible. Thankfully, the reinforced doors aren't a problem, doing something like that is possible... (Risky. All of your mages will do a heavy spell, your warriors will forge ahead to open a violent path. This option will not allow your summoners to create anything since they'll have to keep up with the party.)

>While you're short on time and under pressure, you can't be reckless. Keep your party as one force, see if you can become a tight fist to punch through the first enemy square, and have your comrades slow down the enemies long enough for everyone to go through those broken doors! (Go slower, but more tactical.)

>Free
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>>4979830
So we're on the clock before we get swarmed by wraiths eh? How long do we think we have until they arrive? Do wraiths discriminate between friend and foe? Can Teruko not suck us dry if we attempt to fuel a mega summon like we did way back in the beginning of our journey?

Seems we got an Ice mage backed up by two fire mages. Can Olga "redirect" fire magic or otherwise absorb it and fire it back at the users? Could they do likewise to her own magic? Can Olga make magical napalm by herself or would we need to make a donation? Are our enemies near any support pillars or in a corridor of some kind? How sturdy is that roof looking? We can still use our magitek gauntlet yes? How would a smoke bomb like we made in Myrtidal do here? Would it start to suffocate them? We could keep it away from us with a bit of Elina's wind magic after all.
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>>4979870
Oh, and what are the other monsters? The warrior types are gonna be a headache but what are the others mostly comprised of?
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>>4979870
>How long do we think we have until they arrive?
At best? Two minutes. If you want to be careful, expect them to potentially reach you at the end of next post.
>Do wraiths discriminate between friend and foe?
Usually, they don't.
>Can Teruko not suck us dry if we attempt to fuel a mega summon like we did way back in the beginning of our journey?
That summon contained 20% of your mana, it was a big fucking deal. She'll need a measuring roll but expect the mana cost to be around that and, unfortunately, she'll need at least a minute to set it up safely.
>Can Olga "redirect" fire magic or otherwise absorb it and fire it back at the users?
Depend on the spells. She can redirect fire fairly well but returning to the sender is useless since the enemy mage will just regain what they spent.
>Could they do likewise to her own magic?
If she employs fire, they can redirect it fairly successfully, yes.
> Can Olga make magical napalm by herself or would we need to make a donation?
A spell like that is possible due to her heat nature but extremely hard to make due to the ''fluid'' required. Helping her is your best bet.
>Are our enemies near any support pillars or in a corridor of some kind?
Nope. They've set up in the big hall. Those pillars are only near the entrances.

> How sturdy is that roof looking?
Very. It's wide and tall, sunlight comes through myriads of little opening to light up everything. Muribel palace has some beautiful architecture.
>We can still use our magitek gauntlet yes?
>How would a smoke bomb like we made in Myrtidal do here?
The main hall is big and spacious, it won't be as effective since you used it in Myrtidal tight streets.
>Would it start to suffocate them?
Maybe at first, they could easily move out of the way. Or just endure and/or charge through.

>>4979874
8 elite palace guards with polearms being lamais, the rest are a collection of lizardwomen palace guards and various Moons, mostly exotic beastwomen and perhaps a few undeads or demons since some look very human. They are all armed with swords and shield with the back lines holding spears, your enemies had time to figured out their weapons.
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>>4979884
>That pic
Fits. We are essentially a squad of Space Marines that just got dumped into a mass of heretics. Their dark god will not avail them before the radiance of Mother Earth and we, the incarnations of her wrath!

I don't suppose Ama knows of a way to "paint" our foes as targets for the wraiths or otherwise mask our party from their detection does she? These people ran inside before the big spell went off so they are ignorant of the fact their "reinforcements" are indiscriminate and ravenous wraiths yes? What about those slave collars on those moons? Any way to mass disable them? Willing to bet more than a few will run away once they hear about wraiths and no longer having what amounts to an armed bomb around their neck. And if that doesn't break them Francine will.

Probably gonna sleep on this one but no matter what path we pick I would like to inform them that Zerase has mass sacrificed all her loyal troops outside and turned them into wraiths and undead abominations. These "reinforcements" are likely to do the same to them (assuming they even discriminate). Again, if we can disable the slave collars that'll be a good play. The elite palace guards are probably fanatical enough to welcome becoming pawns for their "god" but the slaves/moons? Yeah, not so much. Shereen ain't doing much combat wise. She could break the news while the fighting happens. Speaking of which, she has Ama whispering in her ear. Once the blood starts to flow will she be able to do anything to help?

Oh, does Francine have an AoE attack and if so how well does it do against armor? How quickly could she mulch these fools?
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>>4979899
>I don't suppose Ama knows of a way to "paint" our foes as targets for the wraiths or otherwise mask our party from their detection does she?
She sure would like to know if something like that exist.
>These people ran inside before the big spell went off so they are ignorant of the fact their "reinforcements" are indiscriminate and ravenous wraiths yes?
You can only assume that.
>What about those slave collars on those moons? Any way to mass disable them?
Not without whatever tool Ensan had.
>Once the blood starts to flow will she be able to do anything to help?
Another maybe. Shereen barely trained her magic during the act, alas...
>Oh, does Francine have an AoE attack
More of a multi-hit attack that can aim at about 5 people.
>how well does it do against armor?
Need bashing, piercing or slashing? Take your pick cause that's how much the slime can alter herself. She'll do very well against armor, only the ogres, Hao and Ambrus big axe are ''better'' but that's because two-handers are cheats, they can't match the slime flexibility.
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>>4979907
Ok, our general direction. Where do we think Anais is and where is the Pyramid of Blood relative to our position. That is, which group are we going to have to plow through no matter what choice we make and how much further will we have to go to reach our objective?

Also, how long would it take Shereen to spill some beans? Y'know, the fog, the apotheosis ritual and how they and their masters (for the moons) are all going to die if they don't get out of our way even if they kill us, stuff like that. Could she do that while we fight? That 2 minute deadline doesn't leave us much time for diplomacy. I don't suppose we could see if they'll listen to her orders to stand down could we? I doubt they will but hey, worth the 5-10 seconds to give it a shot.
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>>4979926
> Where do we think Anais is and where is the Pyramid of Blood relative to our position.
You don't have time to assess that right now. Your destination is beyond the doors opened by Famine beam. It lead into a waiting room and after that should be the path to Ensan room, the pyramid and Zerase chambers...
>Also, how long would it take Shereen to spill some beans?
A good while.
>Could she do that while we fight?
No. People are going to die and the violence will escalate really fast once the battle is joined. Your enemy has numbers, your party got skills.
>I don't suppose we could see if they'll listen to her orders to stand down could we?
Trying is a hard option.
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>>4979934
So it's like the fight in Myrtidal all over again. They have us outnumbered, and we have them outclassed.

Damnit, I don't know what the right call is here. I'm leaning towards a quick attempt to leverage Shereen's authority. Something like: "I don't have time to explain everything. A ravenous horde of wraiths is coming this way and they won't discriminate. By the authority of the blood and as a concerned sovereign I order you all to save yourselves and the lives of your charges by standing down and evacuating before you're all consumed!"

I need to sleep on this one though. We got till around 4 tomorrow afternoon to change this right?
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>>4979974
Oh, just thought of this. Ama's a real piece of work. I'm willing to bet either some moon or the owner of that moon cut a deal with our "dear" fluffy devil and she can and ought to leverage that now if we try to use Shereen here if it looks like it's going to fall through.

After all, Banu knew of "the Fox of Poisoned Knowledge" and cut a deal with her. Who is to say she wasn't the only other "high" ranking moon or noble to know about Bad Fluffy and how to best garner her attentions in a fit of desperation?

It need not even be them directly. Ever watch "The Godfather"? There is a scene she likely channeled and ho boy, this is the time she'd call in that favor if she wants Shereen, us, and our collective party to live through this BS.

Errr, one other clarification. Our spells now have an added modifier of being "artificial" yes? Like, if we cast and use soul arms now they are essentially of a mechanical nature yes? That means they screw over wraiths pretty hard right?
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>>4980016
>Our spells now have an added modifier of being "artificial" yes?
No.
>Like, if we cast and use soul arms now they are essentially of a mechanical nature yes?
No.
>That means they screw over wraiths pretty hard right?
Your soul arms can actually affect wraith pretty good, better than regular arms.

So you're leaning with a potential persuasion attempt with Shereen? Bold indeed, but hey she is one of Zerase daugthers.
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>>4980045
If the attempt falls through will we get another choice? We stay on the defensive of course. If they start shit we finish it. If the wraiths get here before we're clear have Shereen coat our physical damage dealer weapons with our blood. Might not do anything but hey worth a shot.

Actually, can she make our blood into her blood toxin? How about her own? Pretty sure that'll deal with wraiths, eldritch abominations, and these poor unfortunate fools (if they're dumb and don't listen to reason) nicely. It sure as hell fucked up porky and he was a legit red world prince. Don't get in near Francine though. Best slime girl doesn't deserve that fate.

IRL obligations will make me a bit late this afternoon sadly. This may not be the smartest choice but it does fit with our and Shereen's character. We have pretty much always attempted diplomacy before hostility. I think we made an exception with a small group in Myrtidal but otherwise yeah, if we had a choice we always tried to talk first.
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>>4980271
>If the attempt falls through will we get another choice?
Well, yeah. You'll have to handle a new situation.
> If the wraiths get here before we're clear have Shereen coat our physical damage dealer weapons with our blood.
The wraiths WILL reach your party in the middle of the talk and your friends will need to handle them while Shereen tries to reason with the soldiers. This WILL happen, it's impossible to be faster.
>Actually, can she make our blood into her blood toxin? How about her own?
She can alter her or your blood into a toxin, whether its effective against wraith is something that needs to be tested.
>IRL obligations will make me a bit late this afternoon sadly.
That's fine. I wanna wait for a confirmation before I start since this isn't a choice I anticipated.
>One vote for having your little sun try to reason with the soldiers. She is their princess, neither Ensan nor Zerase are here...
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>>4980512
Ok, so if we go for negotiation we *will* have an encounter with the wraiths yes? However, I don't think there is any avoiding an encounter with them. Even if we blow through these fools the damned things will just wash over the remains and then head right for us. To a wraith all the living are is food.

Are they like zombies? As in, if they kill someone do they get instantly converted into yet another wraith? Because if so then reasoning is a good option as Zerase would definitely not have them be discriminate. Wraiths, after all, are an "upgrade" to normal troops so she'd like them to get converted.

Could our summoners prep summons as the negotiations are happening? Could we do like we did in Myrtidal and prep for a breakdown and/or the wraiths' arrival? How much blood can Shereen lose and how much is needed to coat a weapon in her toxin? Do wraith attacks ignore armor?
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>>4980694
>Ok, so if we go for negotiation we *will* have an encounter with the wraiths yes?
Yes.
>As in, if they kill someone do they get instantly converted into yet another wraith?
Normally, yes but this only happens at night.
>Could our summoners prep summons as the negotiations are happening?
Yes.
>Could we do like we did in Myrtidal and prep for a breakdown and/or the wraiths' arrival?
You'll barely have any time to prep against the wraith, really.
>How much blood can Shereen lose and how much is needed to coat a weapon in her toxin?
She can coat three weapons before feeling lightheaded. She can't really talk while doing a spell though, she's not good enough with her magic to do that.
>Do wraith attacks ignore armor?
Armor help mitigate their attacks, but they do bypass most of it.
Not gonna be able to update today, been feeling sick all day.
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>>4980708
Yeah, that normally part. Methinks Ensan and Zerase just cast a spell that both weakened the veil between the red world and ours *and* applied the "nighttime" modifier to the whole battlefield. Why? Because fuck us that's why.

I'm thinking that talking is the better option really. The wraiths are gonna get here and they likely aren't gonna be discriminate. Once these troops and moons see that their "reinforcements" are more like a zombie horde intent on feasting on their souls and converting them into their kin they'll get way more receptive to whatever it is Shereen has to say. Plus there's like, what, 100 wraiths incoming? That makes us hilariously outnumbered by the swarm. Successful diplomacy will give them a 60 strong speed bump.

Can Ama or Deru whisper things into her ear to help her be more convincing/charismatic? The latter's pointers would be especially helpful here. She is the kind of person who is persuasive enough to sell sand in a desert right?

Also, angel blood is extremely potent for blood magic and holy healing can restore lost pints yes? Since the wraiths are coming and most everyone here is physical damage (i.e. not very good against wraiths) they're going to need something to even the odds.
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>>4980738
>Can Ama or Deru whisper things into her ear to help her be more convincing/charismatic?
It'd be better to rely on Sieglinde. She can try to help Shereen persuasion attempt directly, there's no way to be subtle about this.
>She is the kind of person who is persuasive enough to sell sand in a desert right?
Not quite, Deruella is much better at intimidation and trickery when it come to persuasion. She only becomes charismatic around the people close to her
>Also, angel blood is extremely potent for blood magic and holy healing can restore lost pints yes?
Yes on both. Calling angel blood ''potent'' isn't quite right, it's just very, very useful since it'll be infused with Holy.
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>>4980747
Ok, Sieg helping. As in her talking with Shereen in full view of these troops? I don't think we want to give the impression that Shereen is relying on someone else or that someone else is using her like a speech puppet. Reason being the soldiers won't interpret Shereen's words as hers but rather that of Sieglinde and they most certainly won't listen to her.

I do believe Succubi are infamous in regards to their use of charm magic. That might not be a factual thing but perceptions matter more than reality. Not sure how famous Sieg and Deru are either. These people may or may not know who exactly they are, just that they're almost certainly succubi. If they think Shereen is charmed they won't listen and will try to focus down Sieg and Deru to free their princess from their vile mind fuckery!

Speaking of said mind fuckery, we got anyone capable of it? A subtle charm spell to make them more... "open minded" shall we say, would do wonders here.
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>>4980790
> As in her talking with Shereen in full view of these troops?
Yes. Sieglinde is the firstborn of the Demon Lord, it's a pretty big deal.
>Speaking of said mind fuckery, we got anyone capable of it? A subtle charm spell to make them more... "open minded" shall we say, would do wonders here.
No. Charming is a subtle and finicky craft and Deruella doesn't do something like combat charm to turn people against one another.
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>>4980800
>Mind controlling enemies to attack their allies
I didn't mean for Deru to try and pull that off. I meant a charm spell to make them more susceptible to being persuaded by Shereen. Combat charming is a damn dirty trick and I can understand why Deru finds the practice repugnant. A mind trick to help secure a peaceful outcome however? Not nearly as bad.

So long as she can avoid the perception that Shereen is relying upon her or she is being her speech puppet than it might help. Y'know, guarantee that if they flee and surrender to our Joint Army they and their charges won't be persecuted and that whomever Zerase is holding hostage to keep them loyal will be rescued right after our victory is achieved.

Plus there is verification that yes Zerase intends to sacrifice them all to achieve godhood and that they can either guarantee their deaths by fighting us or they can at least have a good chance at survival by following our request that they stand down and flee. Not that the wraiths are gonna give them a choice but hey we tried.
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>>4980821
>I meant a charm spell to make them more susceptible to being persuaded by Shereen.
Not gonna happen with the numbers you're dealing with.
You've got until tomorrow to finalize your choice, alongside any other anons voting of course.
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>>4980827
Ok, I think I got it. Does anyone know how to read a room? How fanatical do these folks look? Who looks like they might be a Commissar hand picked by Zerase to ensure loyalty? Target them with a charm effect to make them more receptive. See, we don't gotta convince this whole lot, just gotta convince the commanders and the commissars.

As for Sieg, like I said earlier. If she can help without giving off the impressions I mentioned above she should. Otherwise she shouldn't as we don't want her to sabotage Shereen's pleas. She should also mention that the wraiths will be coming from the direction of the port in a few moments and that they ain't gonna discriminate and will intend to kill us all and convert us (and them) into wraiths. Because Zerase is that much of a cunt and in her mind Wraiths are upgrades compared to even her elite royal guards.

We have designs on stopping the damnable things though. It will require those statues that are hyper realistic depictions of young women and the Pyramid of Blood. Both of which lie beyond that wrecked door they're guarding. They can help us and thus give themselves a decent shot at survival or they can resist and ensure their demise. Also, refusal to aid us is to refuse a direct order from the blood and nobody knows what happened to Zerase and Ensan. Thus, so far as they're concerned Shereen's the last remaining royal/god and that means she's basically Queen now. They wouldn't defy their queen right?
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>>4981020
Actually, I just thought of this. This little persuasion attempt would be completely within Shereen's character. She's also holding onto the gem containing Zhu's soul yes? I could see her suddenly feeling it in her pocket, clutching it as she remembers what she said about her growing up, then doing it.

Like, we're all about to start fighting and then she just steps forward and starts talking before anyone really has a chance to stop her.
>>
>>4981020
>Does anyone know how to read a room? How fanatical do these folks look?
You don't really have the time to make a thorough inspection here. The soldiers are split 50/50 between palace guards and noble retainers/Moons.
>who looks like they might be a Commissar hand picked by Zerase to ensure loyalty?
There's no obvious leader at first glance.
>Target them with a charm effect to make them more receptive.
Nobody in your party can do it.
You don't have time for making some grand plot or big speech, especially with the wraith hot on your ass. If you want to try and make Shereen appeal to these soldiers, you'll need to either stand beside her to help her speak or put your faith in her.

>>4981042
>Like, we're all about to start fighting and then she just steps forward and starts talking before anyone really has a chance to stop her.
She's a bit too meek with demanding your party fight off the wraiths while trying something that look really, really improbable. Don't forget your little sun is the type of person who often need a little pat on the back.
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>>4981056
Speaking of what's in character us putting our faith in her fits. Hell, we're in medium fusion mode so we're also basically Gardy. I'm betting Shereen is giving off some serious Devona vibes and Gardy knew when to just let her do her thing over trying to interfere.

Hell, she knows of our legend as well. Unlike most others she knows of the pretender age and of the great protector that played a major role in it. We can give her that pat on the back with a simple knowing smile. A smile only the bestest dad ever could give (and Gardy is potentially best dad ever).
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>>4981064
Well... as long as you understand that you're making assumptions. Trying to persuade the soldiers in standing down is doable.

Now if only I wasn't sick so I could start writing.
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>>4981065
It's cool dude. Though I'm pretty sure that first poor lizardgirl who gets consumed by the wraiths and converted into one immediately afterward will do most of the persuading for us.

Shereen will have mentioned that's what's gonna happen and yeah, without Zerase or Ensan right there to bark out a countermanding order Shereen's authority is now confirmed to be absolute. Help us get to those statues and then to the pyramid if ya wanna live and ensure the survival of your noble charges moons!
>>
Alright, we've got our option.
I'm still feeling under the weather so I'll work on this update slowly today with the hope of posting tomorrow.
An interesting proposition.
>>
Gonna have to restart the thread around Tuesday. My weekend will be too busy to let me write
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>>4982951
It's cool. I just hope this works out. Either this was a great idea or it is a major screw up...
>>
>>4982951
Life should come first, enjoy your weekend!
>>
My brain need a little rest, having some struggle writing. I don't want to close our thread through, this assault needs a good endpoint! I'm thinking of restarting Friday if my weekend allows, otherwise, it'll be a little later.

This option did throw me on a bit of a loop but... it's surprisingly doable. especially given the general confusion of the battlefield.
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>>4986720
I do wonder how far Shereen is willing to go. She's been pretty honest and meek but Zhu's influence and the weight of what's at stake here could turn her into one *hell* of a brazen liar.

Convincing too, as she's also likely to know of who/what Zazawu is and what he accomplished in the pretender era. I mean, death pearls aside, if it was just Zerase vs. Zazawu in single combat? Curb stomp in the uncle's favor hands down (hell, everyone knows that if he *really* tried he might just beat Daiyu in single combat). Chopped her to bits and did a damned good impersonation of Ozzy as he bit her head off and masticated it for good measure. Ignored or didn't notice her though. Y'know, worthy opponents commanding the full attention of the combatants and all that.

Hell, even with the pearls he fought through that entire conflict. For him it'd be a simple question. Death Pearl mage with tons of ammo eh? Significant threat but that's a known quantity. How do I deal with that? That question is asked in the same context of "how do I deal with an entrenched machine gun nest" with some variable dealing with what type of Machine Gun is being used against you in our modern world. There is a way to deal with it if you know how and have the relevant tools to do so. If you know how and got the gear, you just deal with it and it's over and done with.
>>
We'll restart Monday or right after that, see you soon
>>
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The soldiers were ready to fight, spread into a formation that would bog down your party advance instead of outright blocking your path, their compositions... Palace guards and noble retinues who did not want to be here. For them, today was about enjoying the special festivities provided by their godly Blood, Mother Earth apocalyptic entrance had shaken them. Unlike the palace guards, they might not be... inflexible. The mages in the far back and the four warrior species would become a definite problem, they might not have the bulk and strength of your three Ushi-Onis but the overall numbers of the enemies, coupled with the swarm of shades at your back... Problems. Big problems.

''Shereen, I believe you can convince them to stand down.''

''H-huh?''

''You're the princess.'' You looked at her seriously. ''Just like that time in the chapel.''

''We don't have time for that!'' Olga didn't yell, thankfully. Last thing you needed was to give your enemy hints of discords within your party.

''We do!'' You replied, she doesn't need to know you're making this up by the seconds. ''We can't outrun the wraiths, Shereen could buy us enough time to deal with them and prevent us from being caught in a pincer! They'll at least hesitate to kill their princess.''

''Handling'' a hundred wraiths was a nightmarish thought, everyone understood there was no other way: the few seconds it took to speak had your foes nearly upon you! They floated forward faster than any man, closing in like the nightmare they were, victims hunting for fresh kills.

The intensity of the firewitch stare lessened. ''Okay... Angel!'' Olga pointed at the entrance. ''Cover the doors with a screen, ghost can't go through! Those thick walls will give us a few moments of respite, slow em down enough for the first wave of the horde to lose cohesion... Cmon people, let's move near that elevation!''

Said elevation was the higher floor that Zerase used as a spot to hold her illustrious presence. A wave of nervousness spread throughout the soldiers as your party ran into position as one uniform, cohesive unit. The shades had already reached the broken entrance to ram themselves uselessly against Elina golden shield. A mixture of broken glass and unending breathy whispers flowed out of the palace entrance, drowning out the noise of battles in favor of a true living haunting. While some of the creatures scratched at the slick Holy obstruction, more piled atop one another into a frenzied dark red mass, enemies slowly filtered within the palace, having great difficulty to go through the palace walls: most of the ghosts stopped to reorient themselves after getting inside.

Medium spell used, your reserve stands at 45%

When Hao felt your intention, she was at first surprised but she allowed your magic to pour into her soul and find an anchor. Two translucid arms sprouted out of her spine and she promptly directed them at her big sword, wrapping them around the blade...?
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''Fucking things!'' Deruella Manticore companion roared. ''Gonna show you how me and my grandma deal with useless parasites!'' She fully embraced the highly unusual totemic might of southern Zipangu style of summoning. Something aking to a giant wooden creature hovered above her, mimicking her movements, slicing the air with a pair of giant, oversized wicked claws that, added with the manticore natural weapons, made for something extremely dangerous.

A golden trail soundlessly pierced a specter head, the creature hissed, lost cohesion, and broke apart on the ground like a statue of glass. Mina felled another being while Olga kept informing the combatants.

''...don't panic when you get grabbed cause getting your heat sucked outta ya take a while, the real danger are those cold as fuck claws that can carve nasty wounds if you let em! Use your armor! They'll have trouble going through chainmail and plates if you don't stand still but -don't- go far enough to get swarmed cause that's how they hunt! Don't try removing one latched onto ya, don't fucking panic, my flames will take care of any of em slugs, hear me!? Your weapons can dissipate em, keep em off balance till magic do its job, Onis flaming axes are gonna work wonders, you girls are gonna be our workhorses!'' Olga was wreathed in flames. Two trails of bright, hot, fiery orange traveled her body in a constant motion whilst the pipe she kept holding onto began puffing blue smoke. You heard Hildegarde loudly smashing her hands together, Klesiah lightning crackled around her glaive, the luxurious marble ground began to turn dark...

''Hands-on exorcisms hacking their way soon!'' One of them yelled.

''Keep to Titania light!'' A warm rainbow burst out of Teruko, a tiny, brilliant little silhouette levitated above her then proceeded to zip right toward her husband who welcomed the little fairy within himself, the beautiful enchantment spread out of him. ''The warmth of thine souls shall return posthaste!''

Nearly all the ghosts stopped, their bodies contorted in what looked to be pain or excitement as countless fumed heads turned toward the axe wielding man who gave the horde a middle finger.

''A-Arawn...'' Shereen trembled beside you, one hand touching Zhu pearl in her pocket.
''I'll help.'' Sieglinde commented.''Family gotta step up, right?''

The soldiers were shaken by this surreal arrival. The reinforcement of their beloved Blood wasn't supposed to be homicidal ghosts pulled straight out of myths, however... ''Prepare!'' One of the palace guards yelled. ''We can prove ourselves to the Blood! No matter your feelings, deeds and deeds alone matter for her holiness!'' Another said.

There were no obvious leaders amongst your enemies, these various voices were slowly reassuring the conscripted retinues.
>>
>Leave Shereen and Sieglinde to talk with the troops. Join the fight personally, hold that line against the true undeads!
>Stand back. Oversee the fights. This will not only allow you to relay telepathic information to Elina, Hao, and Klesiah but you can react to protect your little sun or bolster the line.
>Stand with your sun, Sieglinde on one side, you on the other. Show these soldiers who, exactly, support their forgotten princess.
>Free
Bad sleep today so that'll be my only update.
I'm so sorry guys, I got completely distracted playing Wrath of the Righteous.
>>
>>4996671
Ok, good thing we brought Olga. Seems she knows all about these things and how to fight em'. She's treating this like it's friggin' Tuesday.

What's the big difference between standing back and standing with Shereen? I would think telling her that we believe in her would help out her insecurity but would putting our hand on her shoulder and standing by her side be better? We're super strong right now thanks to fusion right?
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>>4996747
>What's the big difference between standing back and standing with Shereen?
You'd be directly supporting her and paying close attention to what she says, also your reaction time will be perfect in case something happen. Standing back means paying attention to the upcoming horde fight and relaying instinctive info to Hao, Klesiah, and Elina.
>We're super strong right now thanks to fusion right?
Yes.
>>
>>4996770
So it's a choice between trusting our allies to have our back and not die without our aid or trusting Shereen and Sieg to successfully negotiate for their assistance with these damnable things as we do what we can to aid our friends...

Tough call, gonna have to think about this one. Can the shades fly? That's a really big consideration. I do *not* want anyone to suffer a surprise "death from above" attack.
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>>4996844
They float more than ''fly'', but yes. They fly.
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>>4996853
Float eh? Can they float very high off the ground? As in, could they conceivably come out of the ceiling? That's the big worry here. Everyone's talking or the battle's going well and then everyone gets DFA'd. Bad. Very bad.
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>>4996895
>Can they float very high off the ground? As in, could they conceivably come out of the ceiling?
Yes.
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>>4996901
Fuck me, I was afraid you'd say that. No mercy out of you it seems.

Ok, Olga told everyone about that yes? Did our "enemies" hear Olga's explanation as to how to deal with Wraiths? Can we inform people that there is the possibility of getting DFA'd? Fucking hell this decision just got way harder. I'm leaning towards Shereen because Zerase is that much of a ravenous whore and would target her if she thinks she might do something to fuck up her apotheosis but if some shades get the DFA on our Onis or one of our girls...
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>>4996977
>Olga told everyone about that yes?
She'll do it during next post.
>Did our "enemies" hear Olga's explanation as to how to deal with Wraiths?
Possible. Everyone speak the same language here.
>Can we inform people that there is the possibility of getting DFA'd?
If you want, sure.
Hesitation is the one road to failure
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>>4996984
If Olga's gonna do it we don't have to for our party. We should warn the "enemy" faction if they can't hear. For now I'll say we stand with Shereen but I'm still gonna sleep on it. We have until around 4 tomorrow to vote right?

Also, for clarification, our party has decided to fully commit to defeating wraiths and is trusting their backs to us, Sieg, and Shereen yes?
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>>4996994
>We have until around 4 tomorrow to vote right?
Make it 2 pm
>Also, for clarification, our party has decided to fully commit to defeating wraiths and is trusting their backs to us, Sieg, and Shereen yes?
Yes, though Mina is also remaining close since she's sniping with her bow and Deruella has started to change the floor.
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>>4997015
Crap, I'm basically unable to post until after 4pm after I clock out for the night. RL is a bitch.

Well, if they have fully committed then we should do likewise. We suggested this course of action so we should go through with it though the heaven's fall. We will stand with Shereen, but we will tell the mages on the "enemy" side to turn their gaze skyward for these wraiths aren't gonna discriminate, they can and likely will try to DFA us all, and underestimating your enemy is the first and most fatal step on the road to defeat. We are all but as tasty warm morsels to them. Our allegiance/cause matters not to such abominations.

It ain't a question of "if" we're all gonna get DFA'd by this swarm now, it's when. If we're prepared for that and trust each other enough to want everyone to survive we'll all stand a good chance of not dying horribly.

Oh, as for Deru, she's setting up her "territory" right now yes? How many rounds do we gotta hold out before she gets it rolling? I'm assuming she's fully committing herself to the tender love and care of both us and our party and is thus able to establish it much faster than usual at the cost of leaving herself utterly and completely vulnerable as if she were a newborn. If we can, can we interpose ourselves between her and the enemy magical/ranged DPS as we stand beside our wonderful doggo? That'd be optimal if we could. Nerves are high right now and if *any* of them know of the "felwhore" or of the demonic royalty in general...

Let's just say that Deru and Sieg's rep/presence might backfire here if anyone has heard of an believes in the overblown stories. Gotta cover all bases.
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>>4997040
>Crap, I'm basically unable to post until after 4pm after I clock out for the night. RL is a bitch.
Eh, that's fine. If I don't have an answer before that I'll make do fren.
>Oh, as for Deru, she's setting up her "territory" right now yes? How many rounds do we gotta hold out before she gets it rolling?
Its effectiveness goes up in stage, she can start raising defenses during next turn. 5 turn would be the ''good'' waiting point for her to become really effective.
> If we can, can we interpose ourselves between her and the enemy magical/ranged DPS as we stand beside our wonderful doggo?
Doable.
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>>4997050
Yeah, we do that then. If they wanna harm Deru they gotta punch through the equivalent of a top of the line full conversion cyborg's body!

Not an easy thing to do BTW. Nor a thing we wanna broadcast mind you. We mean them no harm or hostility. We merely want to ensure the survival of as many people as possible. An end diametrically opposed by Zerase yet shared and emphatically stated by Shereen. She wants the end where we all live, and Zerase wants everyone to die them included. I don't know about you but I know who I'm siding with and it ain't the snake or that gold digging whore who claims to not be human yet looks so much like one I'm not exactly buying it!
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>>4997056
Oh, assuming Hao has all her equipment, didn't she wield a Volcanic Axe that she stole from her ancestors/tribe? She was troublingly nonchalant in where she left it but it was a full on artifact weapon of magic and magma yes?
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>>4997067
Thing is back in Throne Town and Hao prefers a greatsword, in fact, she'd rather have a sword that is far, far too big for her. The axe wasn't that good of a weapon since it was mostly ceremonial, she's actually better with what she's got now.
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>>4997084
Ah, so she prefers to channel the majorly angry boi/wielder of a thing that, by all accounts, was nothing more than a hulking slab of STEEL!

At least she has good tastes. All hail our Dark Knight Waifu!
>>
Had an unexpectedly tiring day today, gonna do my best to update but it's not a promise.
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>>4997822
It's cool dude. We can wait for quality. We're going to be standing with Shereen right? It seems like she needs this last bit of moral support to be truly effective. We want her to know that we earnestly believe in her.
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>>4997837
Yeah. I got everything figured out, just not the energy to produce that well tonight. Oh well, writing is fun on its own.
>>
You'll have to trust your party. Turning your back and looking ahead toward the soldiers made you feel nauseous but keeping yourself beside your little sun was what you needed to do.

''Keep an eye above, we might get surprises too!'' Olga yelled. You heard Mina let two more arrows fly, the distinctive noise of dying shades followed. ''Don't forget, you panic, you die, you break cohesion, you die! My magic won't harm you!''

The noise of first contact was momentarily deafening. Fire loudly erupted out of Olga like a bursting storm, lightning snapped out of Klesiah glaive, the warriors screamed together, the metallic stomps of the three Ushi-Onis sounded like a crashing forge, and the aggression -even joy- of combat erupting out of your links forced you to resist the urge to turn around.

''Stop! Stop moving! Don't you know who I am!?'' Shereen stepped forward extending her fluffy arms beside her. Your enemies had begun a tentative assault.

''What the hell are you doing!?'' One of the palace guards screamed at the mages in the back. ''Throw your spells!''

''No, you won't! I am Shereen Roshanak, third of the Blood, and you WILL listen to me!''

''One of the Blood standings with the enemies think she has any right to say anything!?'' The rest of the troops didn't share the guard's resoluteness. Everyone knew damnably well how Zerase reacted to any threat to her dynasty, Shereen did everything she could to hide her crossbow wound after your visit to Marleon... It was easy to see the fear in the retinues eyes, they didn't have the security of the palace guards.

''If anyone believes this country has a future after today you're completely deluded!'' Shereen reply was a scream of anger. ''You know exactly what I mean. All of Muribel wealth flows into the palace, what remains goes into Marleon and whatever crumbs that are left are dispersed to the beggars that are the rest of the country. That's how things have always worked and now my mom is taking everything!'' Shereed swiped at the battle raging behind you. All the spells, scream, roar, grunts of pains made you want to turn and assess the situation... but your links felt confident. These few seconds were giving your people vital moments to thin the herd, you could feel the heat of the firewitch magic constantly flow into your back.
>>
''Five years ago, the rebellion against my mother stabbed a wound into Muribel.'' Shereen joined her hands together. That statement cut exactly where it needed to, not even the faithful guards could object. ''I've never left the palace but even I felt this...apathy everywhere I looked when I went outside these past two months. This bleeding never stopped, aside from whoever my mother decided to support, our country's wealth and life dwindled to a shadow of its former self. What will you preserve by dying? I'm of the Blood!'' She stepped forward slapping her chest. ''And I have no intention of ruling this place! Our country has been oozing pus for five years and if the only thing I can do as a princess is to deliver mercy then... I'll do it! There's no life here!'' She trembled, shook her head, and glanced briefly at the battlefield behind you.

''These shades were all the sailors of the ports! My mother killed them all, made them into more efficient soldiers and that's what'll happen to you if you keep your misguided loyalties!''

A sudden wave of alarm invaded your mind: Sieglinde just spotted something overhead. You barely had the time to swing your shield above Shereen and intercept one of your lungings murderous ghosts, your brave demonic lover had already grappled the second offender. The impact of the ghost on your shield felt minimal, your blue-clad hand burned fiery vengeance, unleashing a pillar of fire directly into its hooded face of smoke.
Your reserves stand at 43%
The creature reeled and flew upward, its protective cloak of blood burned like cloth. A sudden golden arrow pierced its body and it stopped struggling to fall on the floor, breaking apart like a porcelain vase.

For the first time, Shereen didn't cower.

''Nobody even knew you existed, false princess!'' One of the palace guards retorted. ''Nobody acknowledged you, nobody cared. I've been guarding this place for twenty years, little lady.'' The lamia spat. ''And you never did a damn thing for anyone, you just existed. Now stop dithering you lot, our enemies are exactly where we want them!'' Fortunately, her spirit wasn't shared by half of her comrades, all the mages, belonged to the sheltered nobles.
>>
''Do you have any ideas about the forces arrayed against you?'' Anger and bitterness flowed out of your little sun lips. ''My Moon is Arawn Loukanos, prince of the elves! Beside me stand Sieglidne Jawahir, firstborn of the Demon Lord, and Deruella Jawahir fight with us, we have forces from the Allied Kingdoms and Zipangu coming here not to conquer us, but stop the madness of my mother! One of Mother Earth heralds is with us! Do you know what that means!?'' Shereen stepped forward, leaving the protection of your shield. ''When countries and Supreme Beings we never dealt with before learned of my mother plans, they immediately set to war! What's happening here is the beginning of a global catastrophe... It'll be another Cursed Swamp! Gods, people, this weird fog that came from the palace has killed everyone in Marleon!'

That revelation struck all of your living foes into a stunned silence.

''Don't believe me!?'' Shereen continued, pausing to breathe. ''Look outside and see for yourselves! Zipangu army is contending against abominations falling from the sky, the Red is being assaulted as we speak, where do you think my mother found the souls for these creatures!?''

''Her Majesty speak truths.'' Sieglinde spoke imperiously, the exact opposite of Shereen's honest, emotional appeal. ''Monsters have always been powerless against fate. The Demon Lords of the past enchanted their followers with authority that could only be resisted by a rare few individuals... but that's not happening now. All of you can make up your mind, Zerase has enslaved you with fear and apathy, our ancestors have always been powerless against the strong but that is no longer the case. So make up your mind! Bend the knee and die a useless death or struggle to live... either way, I can assure you that if your enemies see you fighting against horrors, you'll find fast comrades.''

''To think... This is beyond heresy! We've wasted enough time!'' One of the guards immediately rejected everything.

''Fuck this! Fuck Zerase! Everyone in Marleon dead!? What the fuck are these out-of-control ghosts anyway!? We didn't come here to die!'' One of the warrior soldiers suddenly broke rank. It was the salamander... that same lady, you remember, you fought to regain ownership of your gauntlet. ''Ya know, I've seen the way princess here treat her Moons and hell, she's been fair to my lady. There's mor-''

''You!? Are you serious!? You'll commit treason now of all-time!? Moons reflect their owner, these words alone are ground for heresy!''

''Fuck you!'' Another warrior monster, one of the two Minotaurs, yelled. ''I aint gonna fight with traitors who'll stab me in the back, or front! How can we even coordinate with these fucking feral things!? They can't discern friends from foes! And what is this about Marleon!? I've got friends out there!''
>>
The authority between palace guards and noble retinues truly was different, if you were to push forward now your party might gain valuable momentum...

''No harms will come to your comrades if you let us pass, protecting your nobles Suns won't-''

''Yaah!?'' Shereen honest scream of terror resonated above the battle.

A projectile had flown out of the demolished doors leading further inside the palace and, thankfully, you were close enough to intercept. The impact on your shield made you step back but your thoroughly reinforced body easily endured the blow. The offending weapon was a javelin, one whose tip completely shattered against Athena's faithful shield.

''Magical javelin!?'' Sieglinde covered her lower face with that strange mask of corruption.

One of the enemies -the Salamander- promptly broke rank as a heavy squad came running out of the palace deeper areas, all of them damnably familiar. Twelve scorpion women garbed in enough armor to rival the Ushi-Onis spread around the infantry blocks, all of them armed with halberds and backup scimitars. Their leader was that familiar red-painted woman. One hand held her halberd, the other gripped another of those swift magical javelins glowing with unknown runes.

''You people are damnably incompetent!'' She bellowed to her comrades. ''They've already thinned your allies, charging now ain't gonna do shit!'' She gestured for one of her squadmates who produced a suspiciously familiar wand out of a pouch. The item briefly lit up and...

All of the Moons beside the salamander (who was fighting off ghosts trying to get into the nobles place of refuge) yelled in unexpected agony. Their collars produced a strong white light, their body shook from the sudden energy electrifying their bodies. Only the warrior monsters managed to stay on their feet, all of the others -including the mages who were not combatants- writhed on the floor, clutching uselessly at the source of their torture. Some began to foam at the mouth.

''The Bloods have no use for useless traitors when told to fight you FIGHT!'' Bellowed the big, monstrous, red-scorpion woman. ''Her Holiness can make better use of you dead!''

''Stop that! Stop that at once!'' Shereen didn't step away from you. Your little sun was a courageous girl but she was intimidated by that near-death experience, that javelin came out fast, she would have been gutted had you not stayed beside her..

''Hey, where your blind bitch of a Moon? That one who killed my predecessor? You got only one left now huh?'' The woman grinned. ''How-''

''Oooh fuck!'' Teruko husband screamed. ''Got a fat bastard coming!''
>>
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A handful of abominations had reached the palace. Little more than a blob of flesh that melded corpses and debris, the creatures didn't look particularly dangerous... until tiny bones, shrapnels were explored out of self-inflicted wounds and magical energy flowed out of them, expelling necromantic rays of fell magic. One of them struck Ambrus in the chest, phased through his armor to infiltrate his body, dimming the rainbow of the fairy yet the man looked unfazed and retreated near Elina. Several dark walls and pillars jutted out of the ground to intercept most of the projectiles, leaving your friends with minor scratches at worse.

''No matter, we got all the time in the world here.'' With all the Moons writhing in agony behind her, Ensan new herald inched forward, dragging her halberd on the ground to enjoy the rattling noise. ''Since you've only got one Moon left, how about a duel? A little repeat of that moment when her holiness grace you with her gaze?''

Twelves Girtablilu were a significant threat, one that would undeniably need all of your party... It'd be possible to break through with a small group, that'd mean separating your party.

''Deactivate those damn collars first!'' Sieglinde yelled, enraged. ''What kind of trash are you!? They're your allies!''

''They're your people too, right, little princess?'' The warrior shrugged. ''If you win fast enough, you can let em breathe. Takes about 5 minutes to die after activation, even less so for weaker folks.'' She readjusted her grip on her halberd, the wicked scorpion tail behind her stabbed the air excitedly. ''We got all the time in the world.''

Pausing for one minute to think would shorten the lifespan of your enemies. Shereen didn't view it that way, of course. This kind of disgusting torture for showing doubt was beyond distasteful if that scorpion wanted to get into your little sun head, she succeeded.

''They want to slow us down.'' Sieglinde commented. ''Arawn you... You aren't strong enough to fight her.''

''I wouldn't be so pessimistic.'' Your reply held no pride, no confidence, only calm resolution. A warrior species like her was a significant threat, there was no telling what kind of magical enhancement Ensan had sneakily put into her. You've never tested your enhanced body. However, you're a defensive fighter and those scorpions aren't going to honor any bargains...

''You...'' Shereen had taken out a dagger, gripping it with all of her strength. ''...Step aside or I swear you'll be nothing but meat barely fit enough to become fodders for beasts from the Red!''

''Ah! Finally showing some of your sister spine huh?'' As the scorpion taunted, one of the tortured Moons stopped moving.

>Accept a duel. It should at least give enough time for your party to get rid of all the enemies clawing at your back!

>You can't waste time. You -need- to reach the pyramid, who knows how long Anais has?

>Free
Choices will be expended after we commit, of course.
>>
>>4999112
Fucking hell, no mercy out of you ever it seems. This bitch is going to the special hell and we're gonna send her there one way or another. Damned deluded fools probably think they're gonna get their own minor apotheosis as the "angels" of Zerase. Damn them all!

Ok, how many rounds have passed and how many enemies remain for our allies to deal with and how are the scorpion bitches positioned? Are the others even going to allow the duel and not just use their javelins the instant they got a clean shot at Shereen or one of our allies or just otherwise charge everyone the instant it looks like their leader is gonna lose? Can we see the device on her or see where she stashed it? I assume destroying it won't save the moons but it might. I also assume destroying the collars also won't save them but we don't got time for that anyway.

We are fused with Gardy now so combat relevant data should be accessible. What did our mind think of that javelin? Did it have some kind of launch enchantment that makes it hit superhumanly hard even by warrior type mamono standards? What do we think of our opponent's strength? Steel is literally our body now so are we immune to poison and supernaturally durable? Does our soul reinforcement apply bonuses to this as well? Also, while Gardy is the embodiment of protection sometimes the best defense is a good offense. We currently have max weapons skill in pretty much all melee weapons yes? Anything lying around that'd be better against Halberds and Scimitars than our mace/hammer?
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>>4999147
>Ok, how many rounds have passed and how many enemies remain for our allies to deal with
Roughly ten minutes passed. The horde has significantly thinned, there are about 30 ghosts left (with more still coming) but new enemies are crawling through the doors, they burst through Elina shield.
>How are the scorpion bitches positioned?
In a triangle around the three infantry blocks. There are good distances between them.
>Are the others even going to allow the duel and not just use their javelins the instant they got a clean shot at Shereen or one of our allies or just otherwise charge everyone the instant it looks like their leader is gonna lose?
No guarantees. These kinds of duels are pretty big deal, but no guarantees of honor here.
>Can we see the device on her or see where she stashed it?
The wand is held by the red scorpion squadmates closest to her.
>What did our mind think of that javelin? Did it have some kind of launch enchantment that makes it hit superhumanly hard even by warrior type mamono standards?
This. It's a simple enchantment that significantly enhances the projectile speed after launch and increases the thrower aiming capability before launching the object.
>What do we think of our opponent's strength
A normal Girtablilu would be a difficult fight, you have absolutely no idea if that red woman is better or worse than her compatriots since you never saw her fight. You're a defensive fighter so... Arawn self-analysis is ''a fair shot'' because of all your defensive spells and items. However, that would mean a long fight and you don't have that luxury. Being aggressive put you at a disadvantage. But, you've got the tools to make it work.
>Steel is literally our body now so are we immune to poison and supernaturally durable?
Yes.
>Does our soul reinforcement apply bonuses to this as well?
No. Soul reinforcement here is shielding your inner body from Mother Earth reality.
>We currently have max weapons skill in pretty much all melee weapons yes?
Yes but you still lack good instincts in melee battle.
>Anything lying around that'd be better against Halberds and Scimitars than our mace/hammer?
Nope.
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>>4999162
Ok, about the other option. How long until the big nasties that are gonna break the shield get here? Since it has been 10 minutes that means Deru's territory is fully established and spreading right? How fast does it spread and how much of this room is currently her domain? Could we lure the damnable bitches into it so Deru can do budget Kazikli Bey and impale the lot of em'? Is Deru seeing this? I mean, if her territory stands between the new enemies and our allies she's going to do that anyway and they will walk right into her trap. These entities *are* feral and have no IFF correct? Meaning if we somehow position them between the horde and our allies they will eat some attacks from shades and abominations yes? If someone other than these scorpions gets their hands on that item will the collars deactivate or does it need specialized knowledge to use?

Also, how self-assured, smug, and overconfident is the main bitch looking? We did easily withstand that javelin throw and that was delivered with all her strength and then some. Also, I thought we had Gardy's instincts now and his skills in melee were immaculate. We can't shapeshift but otherwise it shouldn't be hard to adjust.

Damnit this is a really hard choice. How the hell do we save everyone!
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>>4999169
>Ok, about the other option. How long until the big nasties that are gonna break the shield get here?
During next round.
>Since it has been 10 minutes that means Deru's territory is fully established and spreading right?
No longer spreading, she's reached the best of what she can do.
> How fast does it spread and how much of this room is currently her domain?
The area your party fight in can be considered her ''domain'' now.
>Could we lure the damnable bitches into it so Deru can do budget Kazikli Bey and impale the lot of em'?
You can try.
>Is Deru seeing this?
Yes. Arawn has no idea where she is, no time to look now.
>These entities *are* feral and have no IFF correct?
As far as you know, yeah.
>Meaning if we somehow position them between the horde and our allies they will eat some attacks from shades and abominations yes?
The undeads are directly behind you.
>If someone other than these scorpions gets their hands on that item will the collars deactivate or does it need specialized knowledge to use?
Nobody knows, unfortunately.
>Also, how self-assured, smug, and overconfident is the main bitch looking?
She's looking mighty full of it, clearly enjoying the pain and carnage going on. Hard to say if it's overconfidence or plain joy at seeing violence.
>Also, I thought we had Gardy's instincts now and his skills in melee were immaculate.
Gardy instincts have naturally changed into ''instinctive experience'' in melee. Your body is still elven despite the changes to your skeleton, so is your soul, the information is still processing. Shield and mace is what you've trained with and for now, it's your best type of melee capabilities.
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>>4999197
How big is that domain and how much of the room is it taking up? All our party is still currently alive right? Damn this is one hell of a predicament. Gonna have to think really hard on this one. I don't suppose we can ask her to assure the duel

Oh, I almost forgot about this trick. How many weapons are just lying on the ground right now? Strong Soul Arms are basically gravity guns and with our fusion our ability to aim ought to be damn near flawless. If we cast that spell could we start launching weapons at our enemies? Also, since we do have max weapons skill could we adeptly use them with said arms to basically make us a multi-armed melee fighter? Those are hard to deal with. We also still have our gauntlet. What element is it currently set to and can we swing and cast using it simultaneously and/or cast soul arms and use the gauntlet/switch its element on the same turn?

Also, scorpion ladies have pincers they can use as well as that tail and their human half right? That's a problem if so. What's the reach of all that? Finally, how thick is their armor and what all does it cover?
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>>4999216
*assure the duel won't get interrupted nor our party charged by her party as we fight her.

Damnit, I thought I had that all typed out...
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>>4999216
>How big is that domain and how much of the room is it taking up?
Roughly twenty meters circle
>All our party is still currently alive right?
Yeah, bit rough here and there but the girls and dude and holding on nicely.
>I don't suppose we can ask her to assure the duel
Sure, you can, as long as you trust her.
>Oh, I almost forgot about this trick. How many weapons are just lying on the ground right now?
Nothing close to you. All the weapons of the Moons are on the ground, meaning various spears, swords, and a few two-handers and they're way too far for you to grab.
>If we cast that spell could we start launching weapons at our enemies?
Yes
>Also, since we do have max weapons skill could we adeptly use them with said arms to basically make us a multi-armed melee fighter?
As long as you don't grab a greataxe, yes.
>What element is it currently set to and can we swing and cast using it simultaneously and/or cast soul arms and use the gauntlet/switch its element on the same turn?
Fire and no, you can't attack and switch elements in the same turn. You can switch elements during a defensive maneuver since that's what Arawn is good at.
>>4999216
>Also, scorpion ladies have pincers they can use as well as that tail and their human half right?
Yes. They have a pair of pincers, a fuller upper woman half like spidergirls, and a scorpion tail. Meaning three safe attacks/round and a potential fourth with the tail.
>What's the reach of all that?
Spear-length for the pincers. She wields a halberd to match that range.
>Finally, how thick is their armor and what all does it cover?
Armor and natural exoskeleton cover everything monstrous, meaning the Girtablilu lower half. The human part is covered in chainmail beside her head.
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>>4999225
I'm probably gonna need to sleep on this. The best option is likely a hybrid plan. Errr, if we dumped 10 percent of our mana into Elina how strong of a wall would that create and would it be a resonance spell like what happened with the white spider? Also, we still have telepathy with our girls. How are they holding up so far? What's the link telling us? Are they getting tired, scared, or desperate?
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>>4999249
> Errr, if we dumped 10 percent of our mana into Elina how strong of a wall would that create
Very strong, though it might not come out like a wall.
>ould it be a resonance spell like what happened with the white spider?
Yes. Your natures will meld into a single whole.
>How are they holding up so far?
Best you can guess is ''stable''
Hao is in pain yet that's only exciting her, Klesiah and Elina don't seem seriously wounded.
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>>4999249
Oh, an important consideration, how fast are we? Like, do we outclass her in terms of mobility and could run a circle around her faster than she can turn her body? Because if so the duel option gets way more appealing as it'd mean we could position ourselves such that she could only attack us with the stinger and once we chop that off we just mount the bitch, impale her with a spear then crush her head with our shield or mace.
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>>4999264
>how fast are we?
About average (compared with the rest of your party)
> Like, do we outclass her in terms of mobility and could run a circle around her faster than she can turn her body?
Absolutely not, the opposite is likely. She has many legs that easily support her big body, expect her to be quite mobile.
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>>4999277
Hmmm, I was thinking she could only turn so fast given the dimensions and such. What is the shape of our "arena" and how far away are each group of scorpions from both ourselves and our party?

Average for our party is still pretty damn fast right? Like, what's our "full move" distance? Y'know, if we just sprint for a round and do nothing but haul ass how far do we go? Can we make napalm with our gauntlet? Do we think her arms or armor are enchanted in any way? Also, since our insides are "artificial" if she used a death pearl to "stop/crush/kill our heart" it'd just fail outright wouldn't it? I'd also think we're currently immune to poison. After all, venom doesn't really do much to machines. The stinger piercing our skull or chest would still be a concern though though I also think that's not gonna be easy. We're still wearing chainmail ourselves yes?
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>>4999307
>What is the shape of our "arena"
It'll be a simple square.
>and how far away are each group of scorpions from both ourselves and our party?
Well, fairly far. They're occupying the same areas as the soldiers, really.
>Average for our party is still pretty damn fast right?
Yes.
>Like, what's our "full move" distance? Y'know, if we just sprint for a round and do nothing but haul ass how far do we go?
Enough to reach the furthest of the scorpions, who is around 10 meters away from the door. In quest term it'll be enough to reach anyone considered ''far''
>Can we make napalm with our gauntlet?
No.
>Do we think her arms or armor are enchanted in any way?
Impossible to tell at a glance, the armors and halberds are looking fairly mundane.
>Also, since our insides are "artificial" if she used a death pearl to "stop/crush/kill our heart" it'd just fail outright wouldn't it?
It will still hurt you because the world/reality still believes that Arawn has bones, you'll bleed if cut but at such a low rate that dying of blood loss isn't a big concern no matter your wounds. Your internal body is a perpetual paradox. The effectiveness of necromancy will be severely reduced but it will still affect you, though you'll most curses are only going to last for 1 round at most.
>I'd also think we're currently immune to poison.
That you are.
>We're still wearing chainmail ourselves yes?
Yes
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>>4999321
Ok, can we donate magic by proxy? I might have a plan but it does require us to be able to donate a fat chunk of magic to a non-linked girl without moving from this spot. Teruko in particular.
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>>4999348
>donate a fat chunk of magic to a non-linked girl
Not happening without holding hands yourself
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>>4999356
Damn, gonna need to sleep on this one then. If we run back to our party they're all gonna charge us aren't they? If we agree to the duel could Sieg and Shereen retreat safely into Deru's domain?

I was thinking either mega summon with Teruko or Volcano Cannon shot from Olga while we "duel" the bitch to suddenly shift the situation radically in the favor of our party who would then decimate the other scorpions. These bitches are pure scum and deserve no pity, mercy, or honor from us.
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>>4999373
OH! Oh that's a sneaky git move that might just work. The process of mana donation, how long does it take? I might be able to pull this one off after all.
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>>4999380
Depend on the degree of mana. A heavy dose (10%) would need around a minute for someone used to your stuff. Twice that for the uninitiated if they aren't really good at handling their internal mana.
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>>4999386
Ok, then that leaves Klesiah as my last option then as we can donate to her at a distance at max speed no problem (and she can get astropathic messages from us too).

Errr, resonance is gonna be a thing? How wide is that corridor where those abominations and ghosts are coming from? You're initiated into the rites of anime so you know what I'm talking about when I say Macross missiles or Gundam multi beam weapons yes? I can go into more detail but something along those lines in such amounts that it eliminates around 90 percent of what's coming towards them in that moment.

After all, if we can buy a full minute or two for our party to focus down these most vile and heinously evil of bug girls without having to worry over much about their rear we're pretty much guaranteed to win unless Ensan's new envoy has a pouch of death pearls and knows how to use em'. Almost hope she does though as if we get lucky she dies quick we get to appropriate them.

Can Ama do anything yet? Just asking as she *really* needs to start pulling some weight now that Shereen almost got killed AGAIN!
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>>4999400
Oh, one more thing. We have combat knowledge and shades present. Do we think shades will react to our "bait" spell? This may fit into my plan.
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>>4999400
>Errr, resonance is gonna be a thing?
Always.
> How wide is that corridor where those abominations and ghosts are coming from?
The abominations are coming in from outside via the only open entrance. Ghosts, by now, are streaming in from all directions behind you.
> You're initiated into the rites of anime so you know what I'm talking about when I say Macross missiles or Gundam multi beam weapons yes?
It's not gonna go that way with Klesiah, especially since there's no time to communicate.
>Can Ama do anything yet?
Alas, she hasn't shown herself...
>>4999409
>Do we think shades will react to our "bait" spell? This may fit into my plan.
Yes. For now, the shades have been nicely baited by Ambrus. One of the big reasons why the party is still healthy is that the guy ran around as bait with the fairy inside him.
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>>4999416
No time to truly communicate, but time enough to relate our intent through the link. Again, an astropathic message. The multiple, beautiful, random yet also logical forking paths of lightning. The instant yet also logical fragmentation/spread of a railgun projectile designed to do so upon exiting the barrel, both of us have the frames of reference necessary to grasp in an instant my intent for this big spell I have in mind.

She is going to try to "shotgun/grape shot" the corridor through which those abominations and most of the shades are coming at them from. Elina created that choke point so the shades wouldn't just wash over and eliminate them all. Now the abominations arrive to fix that problem but they too must pass through that same corridor right up to those holy walls so that they may shatter them and allow their brethren to employ the swarm tactics they favor.

We ain't gonna let them do that. We have a railgun and we have the concepts necessary to use it most effectively without giving these whores the slightest hint of that. Agree to the duel, Klesiah fires a railgun frag round, and depending on how we're doing with the true felwhore we go from there.
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>>4999422
Nothing prevents you from attempting that of course. I'll wait for tomorrow for confirmation.
A big spell instead of the duel will be interesting indeed.
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>>4999430
My plan was/is to accept the duel with the intent of buying enough time to allow that big spell to go off without these hopelessly deluded fools interfering only for them to fully grasp that fact too late. Our party's rear is now clear and theirs... is not. Doubly so if the shades are also pouring in behind them and they have no IFF so they go for the nearest living being and it now just so happens to be them and not us. Doubly so if we can land a bait spell on the archbitch and make her the absolute focus of their attentions.

Archbitch is obviously so down with Zerase and Ensan I'd label her a fully devoted lesbian lover of one or both. No convincing her of being anything except a useful idiot for her sociopathic masters she dreams are her lovers. Same goes for the others. The 12 most loyal/stupid/idiotic royal guards they ever did see. Man, I almost feel sorry for them. Almost...
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>>4999441
You're misunderstanding something here. The shades aren't close to your enemies because your party is in the way, so clearing your side of the battlefield won't make them attack Zerase forces, the shades will be wiped out.
buying time is perfectly possible.
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>>4999447
The only problem with buying time now is that it directly leads to the deaths of innocents. Well, mostly innocents but you get my point. At least one "enemy" moon is going to die within the next 2 minutes and they all die after 5.

That and our enemies are doing likewise. They want to delay us for some reason. I'm betting our previous stunt with ensuring Zazawu remained largely unharmed was not what Ensan and Zerase anticipated. They thought the famine beam would render him largely combat ineffective. Instead they got him at nearly full strength and really, *REALLLY* pissed off as they also just tried to kill his beloved nieces in his eyes. Even with a fuckton of death pearls you ain't putting down the concept of "Uncle Guts" down easy, quickly, or without serious injury.

Also, I must once more be drawn to the concept of bait. Teruko's hubby is "premium goods" to them it seems. Is it he himself that is such goods or the fairy? If it's the fairy I got yet another devious scheme if she can carry our bait. Oops! Sorry, didn't mean to drop that on your rather prodigious and ugly scorpion abdomen! Sorry!
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>>4999454
IRL calls and I won't be able to post again until this evening. I think I can add the finishing touches to my plan then. Just need a bit more info if I can get it...
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I might close the thread after we decide on a course of action actually, I need a little break and I feel this new answer will be nicely... explosive depending on what we do. I've also been unable to shake off my tired malaise so I want to let it pass before committing to my usual updates.
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>>4999960
Ok, another consideration I just thought of. Commanders. No matter what we won't be able to fill that role from our position at the start of this next encounter. Do we have anyone who is good with squad level tactics and strategy?

Also, are ghosts/wraiths streaming in anywhere near our adversaries? I believe we saw Deru use ranged attacks back in throne town with what I presume was also a fully established domain. How good are they and can she make them infectious? Y'know, start corrupting the scorpions?

Also how far are we from our party and does any of our enemies have a clear line of sight on Shereen? We might need to somehow ensure her safe retreat. I've another thought as well. How about insulting Ensan and their/her honor? Would that get them angry?
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>>5000059
>Do we have anyone who is good with squad level tactics and strategy?
Sieglinde, Deruella, Olga, Ambrus. Klesiah is inexperienced but she's got potential.
>Also, are ghosts/wraiths streaming in anywhere near our adversaries?
No, they're all focused on your party.
>How good are they and can she make them infectious? Y'know, start corrupting the scorpions?
Deru offensive capabilities are ''okay'' at best, she's much better with disrupting and frustrating her opponent to elevate the strength of your party. Corrupting Mamonos doesn't happen, best you can hope for is weakening poison.
>Also how far are we from our party
Roughly 10 meters, a ''medium'' distance.
>does any of our enemies have a clear line of sight on Shereen
Absolutely, every single one of them does.
>How about insulting Ensan and their/her honor? Would that get them angry?
You'll have to try!
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>>5000092
I think I might have something. Fact is these are Ensan's hand picked guards and they aren't likely to have any shred of honor likely having been told by their literal god that everything is now permitted to them.

How far can we jump or otherwise cover 10 meters in a big hurry? They've likely figured out that we're gonna protect Shereen no matter what and that'll be used against us. We need to get her somewhere they can't easily snipe her real quick like. Now we do know which scorpion has that scepter that controls the collars yes? We need to have someone (probably Mina because she can fly) snipe them down at an opportune moment and then keep them occupied long enough for someone on our side to retrieve it and deactivate them. I'm willing to bet they'll join our side after all this.

There is a possibility that one will flee the instant hostilities commence because that's the real dick move (unless that scepter has an effective range and it stops working if she gets too far away from them). She must not be allowed to run away. If we can save these moons and other lesser guards we will have a mostly secure rear so we can save Anais and possibly do something to help the general battle at the pyramid.
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>>5000326
Now, after we get Shereen to safety we're going to have another tactical choice. That is, do we bait their charge or do we charge ourselves? I'm not sure which is the better option, but we do want to engage in melee with them. If we bait they'll be in Deru's domain and she can really shine, but they aren't here to kill us necessarily. They just want to delay us for as long as possible.

If we charge they'll likely decide to meet us halfway. They're still gonna try to gun for Shereen so someone will have to be dedicated to her defense so everyone else can fight with all their focus poured upon the battle at hand.

I'm getting tired though. I think I'll have a more fully completed plan once I rest a bit. God this is really stressful. One tiny mistake and we're gonna lose people we can't afford to lose!
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>>5000326
>How far can we jump or otherwise cover 10 meters in a big hurry?
Without any burden, you could do that in the middle of an action. If you want to cover Shereen, then you can't protect her while throwing a spell.
>Now we do know which scorpion has that scepter that controls the collars yes?
Yes
>>5000335
>One tiny mistake and we're gonna lose people we can't afford to lose!
Now, now now... It is not the time to fear regrets!
We got time for you guys to make up a plan, though don't forget you still got plenty of undeads on your back, and ultimately, the situation could so very easily dissolve all of your carefully crafted ploys...
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>>5000340
Part of my plan will involve nuking that corridor with a big spell so we have some breathing room. We need time to at least get properly entangled with these bitches so the undead might inadvertantly help us out. They'll nom on whoever is closest or between them and the tasty tasty treat that is Ambrus.

I don't think we've ever tried to fire our bait spell directly at a target though. We did use it to "dose" Hilde when we saved her. Any way we can keep it from just being naturally absorbed by an enemy as energy and instead make them look extra tasty?

Wait... paranoia is striking me here. That "head" bitch we recognized as the painted one. Is she currently wearing make-up? Like, a lot of it? I think I know what Ensan might have done with her and it ain't good for us...
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>>5000357
>Part of my plan will involve nuking that corridor with a big spell so we have some breathing room.
There's no corridor to speak of, you're inside the big open room that is the palace main hall, the abominations are bursting through the main door you came through while the shades are flying everywhere behind you.
A big joined spell with Klesiah is of course possible but it'll be a full choice for sure: don't plan or assume anything until you see the result.
>Any way we can keep it from just being naturally absorbed by an enemy as energy and instead make them look extra tasty?
Trying to make it ''physical'' would require a d20.
>That "head" bitch we recognized as the painted one. Is she currently wearing make-up? Like, a lot of it?
Her monstrous body is painted red and her face has a red warpaint, a weird symbol that consists of three big red points. One on her forehead, the others on the cheeks

I'll try to make our new thread next week.
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>>5000369
I don't suppose we know how big those abominations are and what it might take to either slow em' down or outright kill em' do we? I mean, if we had a way to lure them around somehow we could guide them into our enemies.

Wait... we can "hold" a bait spell can't we? Y'know, cast it, hold onto it, then fire when we're ready to stop being the focus of their attentions yes? Also, making the bait physical, how hard of a check will that be? I'd imagine it may actually be a bit easier than normal given our fusion state.
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>>5000432
>I don't suppose we know how big those abominations
You do, they're big mass of flesh crawling on the ground, unable to stand up. Corpses and debris are merged together to create a literal abomination.
>Wait... we can "hold" a bait spell can't we? Y'know, cast it, hold onto it, then fire when we're ready to stop being the focus of their attentions yes?
Yes, but you can't do that while doing any magical-related stuff.
>Also, making the bait physical, how hard of a check will that be?
Not going to tell, it won't be too difficult. Depending on circumstances.
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>>5000435
Ok, we do have conditional access to Gardy's memory core. A soul/lightning resonance spell/spell fueled by an astral/lightning pearl... that particularly effective against abominations like this?
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>>5000470
>that particularly effective against abominations like this?
Fire would be ideal, lightning should work ''good enough''
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>>5000474
So a guaranteed kill involved a fire pearl spliced with an astral, but a close second was using a lightning instead? They are close enough speaking from our own perspective. Sparks ignite tinder and cause fire. One could say that a spark is the primal/primordial manifestation of flame. Not the same but "close enough" as it were.

I would say leave it to Olga and fuel her up given that but achieving the same level of "big spell" results with her takes a whole minute we don't have given what all you've said is possible.

Well, we can try to expedite it given other examples of quick fueling of the spells of others not linked to us but that means the *other* person makes a measurement roll and we are 0 for X on that working out for us in regards to our plans and intentions. They *always* get drunk on our, to them, seemingly infinite reserves and drain us hardcore/way more than they needed to to achieve our desired result.
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>>5000491
>So a guaranteed kill involved a fire pearl spliced with an astral
Maybe. You don't have any pearls so that's not something you can do, were talking Resonance with Klesiah here.
>I would say leave it to Olga and fuel her up given that but achieving the same level of "big spell" results with her takes a whole minute we don't have given what all you've said is possible.
That would mean holding her hand to make it happen, technically refusing the duel.
>Well, we can try to expedite it given other examples of quick fueling of the spells of others not linked to us but that means the *other* person makes a measurement roll and we are 0 for X on that working out for us in regards to our plans and intentions.
If I remember right Olga shares Siegfried trait as a master measurer so you don't need to be afraid of that.
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>>5000506
So a potential plan is to insult Ensan's herald by route of insulting Ensan's sense of honor, decency, and love of her loyal subjects, retreat with Shereen such that they can't get a good snipe attempt, hold Olga's hand and tell her to do something amazing like that Volcano Cannon shot I mentioned, eliminate those abominations, and then go from there? I mean, if shot one worked wonders shot 2 launched at one of the enemy squads should be awesome to!

Err... could she aim them high enough to merely burn the dying moons they're currently positioned over? Can Ama walk Shereen through the process of using vaporized blood as a reagent for her healing spell?
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>>5000516
>So a potential plan is to insult Ensan's herald by route of insulting Ensan's sense of honor, decency, and love of her loyal subjects, retreat with Shereen such that they can't get a good snipe attempt, hold Olga's hand and tell her to do something amazing like that Volcano Cannon shot I mentioned, eliminate those abominations, and then go from there?
That's an acceptable course of action.
>Err... could she aim them high enough to merely burn the dying moons they're currently positioned over?
Olga might not be able to hurt the undead behind you and the soldiers at the front.
>Can Ama walk Shereen through the process of using vaporized blood as a reagent for her healing spell?
Can Ama do anything? Who know!
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>>5000516
Speaking of which, can Olga use sweeping beam attacks? Volcano cannon shots are typically used as straight shots but even a quick sweep would devastate most anything.

Biological matter most certainly included as it's mostly H2O. Flash boiling of a given person's blood ain't outside of the realm of possibility and oh yeah, you're dead if that happens.

If you know anything about the Battletech setting a mere normal human who gets hit by the passing sweep of a Medium Laser is instantly reduced to their skeleton (if they're lucky) as almost all the water in their body is flash boiled away in that instant with predictable results.

I'm betting Olga can achieve that with a bit of our help. Am I right about that?
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>>5000524
>Speaking of which, can Olga use sweeping beam attacks?
You don't have time to ask.
>I'm betting Olga can achieve that with a bit of our help. Am I right about that?
Not so literal, remember that everyone has inherent magic resistance. You'll have to see what she can do, there's no time for trial here!
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Once act 2 ends I'll be starting a new quest. We've lost most of our players, I'd say its time to rebuild and see where things take us. For now though, we got scorpions to handle...
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>>5001577
True, we will have to deal with the damned things. How hard are they to kill exactly? Decapitation works for an instant kill yeah? What if we pierce the spot where their heart would be if they were human? If it ain't there, where is it?
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>>5001678
>How hard are they to kill exactly?
The hardest enemies you've faced. Remember how sturdy those paladins were? They're even better.
>Decapitation works for an instant kill yeah?
Work on most things.
>What if we pierce the spot where their heart would be if they were human?
Should also work but doing that is far easier said than done.
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>>5001690
12 of them as well as the ghosts? How many people are in our party? Will the Ushi-Oni's force weapons make short work of em'? I think they do essentially what force weapons do and deal direct damage to their soul if they hit right?

And then, presumably, after all of this we have to face Zerase and Ensan directly after this (though hopefully they too will be quite spent). Damnit, you are *really* trying to kill us all aren't you.
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>>5001699
>12 of them as well as the ghosts?
Yes.
>How many people are in our party?
Nobody died.
Arawn
Sieglinde.
Shereen (Ama)
Klesiah (Mina)
Hao
Deruella
Sonja (Manticore)
Meruse (Summoner/rogue Lamia)
Francine (You haven't seen her in action yet.
Teruko
Ambrus
Three spider onis.
Olga.
Don't think I forgot anyone...
>I think they do essentially what force weapons do and deal direct damage to their soul if they hit right?
Ame enchanted their weapons with Soulfire. Damage is physical and affect the soul, but it's not a 100% conversation not soul damage.
Offensive Holy is the only thing that can do that. Zhu blade was the only thing that could do that.
>Damnit, you are *really* trying to kill us all aren't you.
Now now now, the good pharaoh has to handle two fronts.
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>>5001712
Forgot to mention Elina!
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>>5001714
This continues the trend but isn't Hildegarde also with us? Everyone seems to keep forgetting about her.
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>>5001716
She's quiet and dutiful. Arawn hasn't been looking behind him so he has no real idea who has been doing what
Arawn
Sieglinde.
Shereen (Ama)
Klesiah (Mina)
Hao
Deruella
Sonja (Manticore)
Meruse (Summoner/rogue Lamia)
Francine (You haven't seen her in action yet.
Teruko
Ambrus
Three spider onis.
Olga.
Elina.
Hildegarde.
Is your party.
The start of this thread has the skills of everyone you don't know too well listed... But your opposition is pretty mean, I'll grant you that.
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>>5001720
So that's, counting us, 18 functional combatants and 2 non-combatants (Shereen and Ama). I assume Shereen knows how to use that scepter and deactivate it so keeping her alive and obtaining the scepter is our immediate goals. However, how big are those squads? I've of the mind of rejecting the duel, somehow instantly obliterating the abominations, and then absolutely swarming one of them in an attempt to wipe them out before the others can hope to intervene so we can then start to really snowball our numbers advantage. Need a bit more time to think of the particulars though.

Damn, it's like we're trying to clear an end game MMO raid here. Party size is pretty big and the threats match it.
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>>5001723
>However, how big are those squads?
Without the noble retinues, there are only 15 guards left. Each squad is thus 5 peoples
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>>5001726
You said there were 12 Scorpion bitches. What are the other 3? Then there's still the accursed wraiths and those 2 abominations currently so even if it's only 12 we've still got big problems.
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>>5001729
> What are the other 3?
Not sure I understand what you mean.
Zerase/Ensan royal guards are the 12 scorpions and they all share the same equipment. (Heavy armor, halberds and back up scimitars)
>Then there's still the accursed wraiths and those 2 abominations currently so even if it's only 12 we've still got big problems.
Specters horde has been thinned and they've spread out now but the two abominations crashing through the door are indeed a worry.
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>>5001732
You said there were 15 guards remaining yet only 12 Scorpions hence the discrepancy I noticed. If there are 5 to a squad yet only 12 to go around than there's 3 extra somethings you didn't mention.

Oh, can we see any more Javelins on any of them? That's my biggest worry and why I'm for rejecting the duel outright. If even one of them has a Javelin they are going