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 Memory, Fate, and Broken Chain (Solo)

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Scion

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quote : You'll never learn to fly until you're standing on the cliff.
Registration date : 2013-06-18

PostSubject: Memory, Fate, and Broken Chain (Solo)   Tue Jul 23, 2013 10:03 pm

The forest was burning. Conrad knew this from the start. He didn't know how he got to the forest, or where it was, but he knew it was burning. So, he ran from the flames that he could not see.

He ran and ran, eventually coming out into a clearing on a hill. He could see the treetops in the distance, bathed in gold fire. But as he watched, a wave of red flames descended, and snuffed the inferno, leaving the bright, sun-drenched forest unharmed. Then, he remembered.

I was in the library. That secret chamber. That scale, it... He tried to justify it, but he just had to deal with it: It tried to take my mind. That gold dragon's soul tried to POSSESS me! He was furious. Also, he recognized the shade of red fire as belonging, almost specifically, to his mentor, James, another dragon. He had used his spirit pressure to force the old dragon back into its shell.

This forced the realization that he was now somehow inside his own mind. Which resembled a somewhat hilly forest. “Well,” he said to himself, “let's see what this is all about.” As he walked down the hill, he remembered that he had fallen on his head earlier. “Oh, I'm unconscious, aren't I?” he asked thin air. Shrugging, he continued to walk.

Danger. Powerful. Moving fast. Coming for me. He felt it at the bottom of the hill. Whatever it was, it was strong. Stronger than him, certainly. It seemed familiar, but he couldn't place it. So, he did the only thing he could do: he ran.

There was no direction, just away. He ran through undergrowth, up trees and across branches, weaving through trunks, moving as fast as he could. Not fast enough, not fast enough. Conrad didn't quite know why he was so afraid, but he didn't test it. Instead, he pulled his power out. His ring, now blazing blue, began to morph into the now-familiar dark-grey knife wreated in blue fire. “Erkaso,” he said, voice straining from the effort of running for his life. He started to really move quickly then.

Conrad managed to not see the cliff until he had practically leaped off it. He just barely managed to curb his increased speed, but now he was trapped. So, he held his ground until the thing (black/fast/sharp were Conrad's only impressions) was nearly on him, then sidestepped. The hope was that it would barrel itself off the precipice. But the thing just stopped dead.

Long, thin body with overlong limbs. Hands ended by razor-sharp talons as long as Conrad's knife. A death-mask for a face, with eyes that burned sun-bright black. A hole instead of a heart. Conrad knew this monster. It had been there at the start. According to James, he was a Hollow. According to his senses, he was incredibly powerful.

According to the monster, its name was El Cazador.
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Scion

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Number of posts : 53
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job/ intrests : Student of literature and religion, fiction writer.
quote : You'll never learn to fly until you're standing on the cliff.
Registration date : 2013-06-18

PostSubject: Re: Memory, Fate, and Broken Chain (Solo)   Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:07 pm

“It's you,” Conrad said, taking a defensive stance. “Why did you come back?”

El Cazador laughed, low and cruel. “Why would I leave? I have too much invested in you, Conrad Streiber.” It stood relaxed at the edge of the cliff, seemingly without a care in the world. “You will never escape me. I was there at your earliest beginning. I was there again when your powers awakened.”

Memories came unbidden. Conrad, standing between a white-faced beast and a small boy with a broken chain on his chest. He saw his knife form itself out of his father's ring. He remembered the strange words coming to his lips of their own accord, unlocking his power and saving his life. Pain, when struck by a wayward claw.

“And I will be there at every step,” said El Cazador.

The boy, saved, thanking Conrad. A man in black robes, taking him to a world beyond. The boy had been dead. Conrad had seen a lost soul, it seems. Then a horrible pressure, like a constant hammer-blow on every sense. He could not move. His wound bled freely. He fought to his feet, ran to an empty lot, fell again. His vision fading, he saw another monster. This one seemed much more intelligent. Long, sharp-fingered hands. Horrible movements. Like a spider on two legs. A needle piercing his shoulder.

Conrad fought free of his memories. He readied his knife, leveled at El Cazador. “I don't care what you are, you will leave me alone.”

The monster cocked his head. “Why would I do that? Because you demand it? Little Fullbringer, you are in no position to demand anything of ME!” He lunged to attack.

A horrible voice in his ear. “You are my greatest creation. You will be strong, little Fullbringer. And you will be mine. Remember my name: El Cazador” He could not breathe. His vision went dark. He came to minutes later, wounds partially healed and mind swimming. And life had never been the same.

El Cazador's attack was blocked by a blade that came out of nowhere. It was a guan-dao, and wielding it was Amalie Roehrig. “Hallo, Conrad. You mind telling me what I'm doing here?”

An arrow flew across Conrad's line of vision and bounced of El Cazador's torso. Conrad looked and saw Josef just inside the treeline, bow in hand. He waved, and shouted, “Yeah, I don't know either. But hello!” And reloaded his bow.
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Scion

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quote : You'll never learn to fly until you're standing on the cliff.
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PostSubject: Re: Memory, Fate, and Broken Chain (Solo)   Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:23 am

Conrad, aided by the distraction, pointed his knife at a rather convenient fallen log. “Rhagae!” he shouted, and the log sped into El Cazador's face. He was knocked back slightly and staggered, and Amalie disengaged. She turned to Conrad.

“Okay, what is this?” she asked, matter-of-fact. As the Hollow started back in, they fought his talon strikes defensively.

Conrad stuck to essentials. “Hollow. Powerful, intelligent, calls himself El Cazador. He's the one that may have made my powers active, I can't be sure. Very very nasty.”

Amalie nodded. “Well then. Do you know why we're here? I thought I was asleep.”

Josef shouted from the undergrowth where he kept firing arrows. “We ARE asleep, Malie. We're dreaming. I know this because I have never shot a bow IN MY LIFE.” Every arrow he launched hit its target.

Finally, between deflected blades, El Cazador simply turned and caught one of the arrows. Everything stopped. “Enough of this,” it said, eyes turning to Conrad. It raised a hand, and the talons shot forward, stretching with incredible speed.

Tenkora!” Conrad shouted, his knife en route to intercept. When the claws hit the knife, the fire flared. Conrad could feel the energy fighting itself for an infinitesimal moment. Finally, the energy rebound formed a pulse that, instead of forcing El Cazador off its feet, blasted Conrad back into a tree.

He could see Amalie fighting the monster on her own, the arrows not doing any good. However, before Conrad could reach them, El Cazador swiped downward, breaking the pole in half. Amalie, not missing a beat, tried to use a blade-and-sheath style to counter, but it just grabbed the blade. It ripped the weapon out of her hands, struck her across the face, and put its claws at her throat.

She was trapped, pushed against the cliff-edge by the monster's hand position. She couldn't move without a death-stroke awaiting her. And El Cazador was waiting for me.

“Do not try to attack again, Streiber,” it said, completely calm. “Or you, back in the bushes.” Josef turned red in anger and I could see him just barely resist rushing it. The monster continued. “They die here, they don't wake up. And you think you can protect them?” He smirked. “Now, put down the knife.”

Call to the souls of the earth and sky... Conrad was desperate. He couldn't lose her. Rage was filling his head. So, he tried. As when he drew his knife, he called to the earth below. It responded, answering without words, but still saying that it would obey, it would help. The wind jumped at his call to arms. He was ready.

“Amalie,” Conrad said, “do you trust me?”

She responded immediately. “Don't you DARE think you're going to try bargaining with it,” she said, fiercely. “Don't worry about me, just kill the bastard.” The bastard in question pushed his hand an inch forward, drawing a bit of blood. She winced. “Don't do it, Conrad.”

“Amalie,”, Conrad repeated, “Do. You. Trust. Me?” She hesitated a moment, then whispered.

“Yes. With my life.”

“Good.” He turned to El Cazador. "Fine then, monster," he said, "you got it." He dropped the knife. The knife that was loaded with enough kinetic energy to blow up a building. The knife that he had told to release all that energy into the ground beneath them. And it fell like Thor's hammer.

The ground cracked and split. Conrad's knife, bounced upward on its own blastwave, fell into his hand. The crack extended forward, coming between Amalie and El Cazador. And Amalie screamed as it fell away, taking both her and Conrad with it.
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Scion

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Number of posts : 53
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quote : You'll never learn to fly until you're standing on the cliff.
Registration date : 2013-06-18

PostSubject: Re: Memory, Fate, and Broken Chain (Solo)   Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:53 am

As Conrad fell, he stepped toward Amalie. The air, normally fluid and fleeting, became solid under his feet with small pulses of green light. He caught up to her, still screaming, but alive and unharmed. She stopped the second he caught her. “You okay?” Conrad shouted over the rushing wind.

“Do I look okay?!” Amalie screamed back.

Conrad looked her over as they stood in midair, a platform created out of wind beneath them. “Yeah, you look good,” Conrad answered cheekily. With a flick of thought, the platform bounced them upward, and he stepped, again faster than was really possible, up to the cliff edge. They landed safely back from the precipice, Amalie breathing heavily. “You'll be okay,” Conrad said, comfortingly. “I'll go sort this-”

Josef was yelling. They looked, and saw El Cazador fighting him. Josef was actually doing fairly well, for someone armed with a bow. He blocked a strike from above, but again the monster's blow broke his weapon. But Josef thrust his hand forward, Iron Palm style, and blasted it back a few feet somehow. It raised its hand, the same way it did when it attacked Conrad earlier.

Conrad flipped over El Cazador's head and landed in front of Josef and placed his knife, again, horizontally in front of the incoming talons, with his other hand bracing it. This time, they stopped dead.

The spiritual pressure blew the flames off Conrad's knife. It threatened to drive Conrad himself to his knees. He looked at Amalie, wounded and scared. He saw Josef, battered and defenseless. And he decided in that moment that he would not bend or break to this.

His power returned with terrifying force. The alcohol-blue flames exploded brighter than ever, then retreated onto Conrad's arms, forming strange patterns burned into his skin. On his left arm, straight lines with right-angle turns moved all the way up to his elbow, burning his coat's forearm off as they went. On his right arm, strange pointed curls made their mark up his entire arm, destroying his clothing as well. His face sported three marks, traveling from the right side of his head: two below his eye, one pointing down at his jaw, the other one pointing up; the third on his forehead, completing the arc that bisected his eye. He closed his eyes for a second, absorbing this radical change in his power, and when he opened them again, his right eye glowed that same dark blue.

“I see you,” he said to the monster. He moved his knife aside, forcing the talons to retreat rather than pull it off balance. Where the claw struck, a sigil had engraved itself into the knife: a series of nested broken circle segments, with two radial lines. He shifted his weight, and the marks on his arms and face began to pour small bits of blue fire into the knife, making the symbol glow. “You are a false thing,” Conrad said, his voice shifting strangely. “You are a projection. A stand-in for the real thing. I have felt El Cazador's power once, but it was enough. You are nothing compared to that,” he said, turning sideways and pulling the knife up, preparing to throw.

“You are nothing compared to me. You are in my mind, now, monster, and I have HAD ENOUGH OF THINGS TRYING TO GET IN HERE! ANEKTIN PAHRE!” he threw the knife, and a meter-wide crescent of energy pulled it out of his hand, speeding it toward El Cazador.
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Scion

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quote : You'll never learn to fly until you're standing on the cliff.
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PostSubject: Re: Memory, Fate, and Broken Chain (Solo)   Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:01 am

El Cazador knocked the blade aside. Conrad could tell that it had been a brutal effort to do so, however, and it wasn't prepared for what happened next. It stood up, snarled, and prepared to attack when the knife, spinning as it went, returned to him and embedded itself in its side.

The monster's scream split rock with its fury. “How?!” it said with desperation in its legion voice. “How did you do this? How are you so strong?!”

Conrad stepped forward, calling the knife. It came, ripping itself out of El Cazador's dreamflesh. “I do not fight with the expectation that doing so will bring safety for my family,” Conrad said, rage infusing his voice and power driving his steps. “I fight so that everything that threatens them dies.”

“I'm not romantic enough to believe that I can buy their freedom with my life. But I can with yours. I don't fight to get stronger, I get stronger so that I can keep them safe. To do that, things like you,” he indicated El Cazador, “need to die. I feel that I can do that.” The monster lunged, but was stopped by two things.

The first was a blade that descended on its head so hard the mask cracked. Amalie was holding the remaining half of her guan dao, looking very pleased with herself.

The second was an arrow covered in what looked to be lighting striking El Cazador in its thigh. Josef's bow had become whole again. That's Josef, figuring things out,Conrad thought. He had his opening, but he did not take it.

Instead, he grabbed Amalie and dragged her back near Josef with another step of green light. “Stay here, I have to finish this,” he said to them. They did not move. Which was good, because Conrad had a plan for how to end this.

The wounded El Cazador was a shambling mess, but still dangerous. Conrad eliminated that danger. “Hold him,” he said, and the ground obeyed. The monster was dumbfounded. “How?!” it said, hands and legs embedded in rock that had grown around them. “You can't do that!”

“Wrong,” Conrad said. “You are in my mind, and it rebels against you. No, I can't do this when awake, not yet. But in here, everything that isn't a person is ME, and you fight on my terms. You tried to invade, you tried to destroy. And my mind will not accept that.”

“You projected a version of yourself in here, for some reason. But let me be clear.” Conrad, aided by that green pulsing light, was suddenly right in front of him, looking him dead in the eye with his own extraordinary gaze. “I know what you are now. I know your name. And I know that you are very powerful, more than me in every regard. But this echo of you is not. So, you get to be my messenger.”

He placed his knife against the monster's neck. “So, here it goes: I name you, El Cazador. You are Hollow, you are Vasto Lorde. Your name, long hidden, is Niyani Shekhaiyen. I know you, now. Just as you know me.”

“And know this, too: I'm breaking the chain. I won't accept whatever plan you have for me, and those like me. Whatever you'll say about what will be, I deny. I will not be hunted by you, Niyani. So with all possible prejudice, FUCK YOU!” Conrad ripped the knife across, decapitating the Hollow. It dissolved into black sand that evaporated into the nothing it came from.
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quote : You'll never learn to fly until you're standing on the cliff.
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PostSubject: Re: Memory, Fate, and Broken Chain (Solo)   Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:43 pm

The blue marks flowed off his body and into his hand as he let go of the power that kept his knife animated. The knife collapsed back into the ring, the last memory of his father, as the marks faded from view. He breathed deep, bringing back his normal calm. He turned to his two friends. “So, any clue how you're in my head?”

Josef answered, “Not a one. I still think we're all dreaming. After all, the bow repaired itself, and I can do some strange stuff here.”

Amalie nodded. “I'm never that fast or agile. But I do have a theory: I think your mind was helping us fight the invader. Drawing us here, giving us weapons. If we aren't figments of your imagination, anyway.”

Conrad shook his head. “Nah, I think it's really you guys. And the rest makes sense. I do think you two should get back to... yourselves though.” He turned to look out over the infinite cliff.

Josef went to him. “I don't know what that thing was,” he said, quietly, “but I do know it'll be back. You called it a weakened projection, so if it got the message, Niyani will be coming for you. And when it comes,” he said, heavily, “I'll help you in any way I can.”

“As will I,” said Amalie. Her face was set in a ferocious scowl. “No one messes with us, you got that?”

Conrad laughed a bit. “Yeah. We'll be ready for it. I meant it- I won't be hunted. I don't know what Shekhaien wants with me, but it can't be good.” He thought a moment. “So, ready to leave?”

“How?” asked Josef, shortly before his mental projection vanished alongside Amalie's. I had simply pushed them out, and closed the door behind. Conrad now had the forest to himself. Which was a comfort, given that the forest WAS himself. He was alone now in his own head. He used the time to do some soul-searching.

Where does this lead? he thought to himself. What will all this make me? Will this be my life from now on? Fighting and fighting until an early grave? Can I stop once I'm free from El Cazador's reach? Can I have anything that resembles a normal life again?

He asked and asked, and found no answers. All he knew was the declaration he had made: that he would not let himself fall under that monster's sway, in any manner, for any purpose. Somehow he felt that the oath he had made was binding, that it could not be broken by him or any other. And that thought gave him some comfort.

And as he paced the quiet corridors of forest, untouched by demon's claw or dragon's fire, he felt his leg burning. He quickly went to slap the wayward ember out, and realized that he was sitting on the library floor, awake once more.
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