Open Chronicles The Tower of Tribulations

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Seteta

The Dragon's Beloved
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316
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Floor 2
Seteta stood with sand pooled over and around her feet, closer to the edge of the room.

Every grain of sand in the room was under her control, whether on the ground or still falling through the air, each piece of it linked to each other through magic. Sand was the most difficult form of earth to master, but if you mastered it, you could control anything. As an Abtati, Seteta had been working with primarily sand since her magic manifested as a child, and as she'd built up her capacity over the years, the magic and the sand now responded merely to her thought and whim.

Gale and Rheinhard were near the center, in the deepest part of the sand. Diedrick stood nearer one of the doors, and even as she spoke to Gale, her eyes had never left the boy. She could feel Gale's struggle against her own magic, and against Rheinhard. She could feel every step that Rheinhard took, every motion he made.

As Rheinhard's knife flew through the air toward Diedrick, she felt the strange shifting of his weight. By the time he was pulling the knife out of his stomach, she'd already made up her mind what to do.

Because with pain, she would have access to yet another kind of magic.

Diedrick turned his disgusting grin on her and tossed the knife, but she answered with a smirk of her own as she simply stepped to one side to let Rheinhard's knife--grateful that it was sharp--graze her side. A tendril of sand caught the knife as it fell behind her, and settled it gently in her palm.

"That was a mistake," she hissed as pain and blood blossomed across her skin, but her smirk didn't falter. She felt Gale cease struggling and Rheinhard step away from the other geomancer to assess the situation.

Seteta flicked her wrist. Every grain of sand in the room exploded into the air, and engulfed the room in darkness.

It was not darkness caused by blocking the light.

This was an illusion. With magic fed through the pain Seteta endured, she bound the illusion to the sand itself, and made the darkness thick and cloying. It didn't matter how well one might be able to see, they would not be able see through this darkness, because there was no light to aid them. Even Seteta could not see through it, only sensing where things were by their movement through the sand-cloud.

She bound a tendril of her magic to Rheinhard himself, so she would not mistakenly attack him.

And then, sucking in a breath as the room began to shift and spin as more competitors entered the area--many of them entering the very room itself, and crying out with fear as the darkness suddenly engulfed them--Seteta sprinted to Rheinhard's side, calling some of the sand to make a steady path for her to trod, even through the very air itself.

"It's me," she muttered, grasping Rheinhard's wrist and pressing his knife back into his hand. She knew the significance of those weapons, and would not use them herself if she did not have to.

"I think we'll need Nestor's help before long," she said as she held onto Rheinhard and pulled the sand from her pathway into a sturdy platform beneath their feet. The room moved around them now, but they were stationary. With the added benefit of more bodies, though, Diedrick would find it nearly impossible to locate either one of them through the darkness.

Volker
Diedrick
 

Volker

The Man of a Thousand Souls
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261
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Volker felt Gale strike him weakly, but like any good pit dog he simply clenched down and waited. Her struggles weakened, and he caught site of the key she vaguely grasped for before she well and truly passed out. He spat her throat out, but stayed in a defensive position with his eyes focused on Diedrick. He saw the other pull the knife from his gut and throw it toward Seteta. He grabbed the key from Gale.

Thankfully, Rheinhard’s knives weren’t something any fool could pick up and throw. With one half of the knife steel and the other bone, it seemed quite unbalanced to a man used to perfectly balanced blades. Seteta could have easily dodged it, but Rheinhard sensed her game. She needed pain to amplify her power.

She plunged the room into darkness, and Rheinhard instinctively wrapped cloth around his mouth to keep the sand from his nose and mouth. He could still smell tendrils of scent through the chaos, and Seteta’s was strongest. She was near, and returning his knife. He sheathed it, favoring the longer blade in the dark, swirling chaos.

Other contestants were entering, making the room spin faster and faster. Rheinhard was never more grateful for Seteta making him a stable platform. He shook his head a bit, shaking off the last of the dizziness.

“It only began spinning this quickly when others entered the room. We need to get them out. Can you use the sand to throw them out of the windows...or make them stand still?” He asked the elf, squinting blearily against the sand. “We may need to disable the one I stabbed.”

He could feel the others in his head. Nestor scribbling notes about the key in his hand, trying to sort out the riddle. It felt like some large worm squirming around in his brain.

Seteta
Diedrick
 

Kade Anvar

Ragashan
The Empire
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16
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FLOOR 1


Not everyone, huh? What, were there some...oh what were they called...the monsters in the labyrinths in all the fables...bull-heads, enormous arms...MINOTAURS, that was it. Were there some minotaurs, maybe made out of stone or sand, who knew their way around here or something. Oh he hoped not. Kade wasn't particularly superstitious, but sometimes he felt like just thinking about some bad stuff somehow encouraged it to be so in reality. Why not think positively instead? Invite some of that to be conjured up in the real world.

Hey. Right there. For starters on the positive front, the cloaked woman wasn't about to smack him on the top of the head or deck him straight in the chin for points. There's enough for everyone, she'd said, going on to add a "we" into the mix. And Kade, for a moment, stood there a touch stunned. He could scarcely believe his luck and this woman's--alright, be honest--generosity. Simply deigning not to attack him was one thing, but actually putting forth the idea of teaming up was another. That wasn't against the rules, right? He didn't remember a rule like that. And, well, the only reason he was following the rules was because he absolutely had to in order to stay in the competition (and frankly they weren't all that hindering anyway). Sure this might not give the crowd a show, but there were other floors where surely there was more exciting things happening.

Kade, not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, sprang into motion as the cloaked woman headed into the maze. Coming along beside and a little behind her. He held his sword like an afterthought at his side and had his other hand on the strap of his satchel.

"Four eyes see more. I like your thinking," he said, walking. "Listen. Name's Kade Anvar. And I really don't need much. I'm not fooling anybody--I'm not looking to win this thing. Golden prizes, roars of cheering and applause, standing highest on the winner's pedestal, heh, that's for someone else. I just want a few points so I can go home with a little something, that's it. One statue should be fine, I think. You want the rest you can have 'em--borrow my satchel if you need."

Kade often got to talking in times of uncertainty. And, yeah, a lot could happen in two hours.

PFFFFT. PFFFFT. PFFFFT.

Where those...footsteps? Big footsteps? In the sand?

Kade glanced back over his shoulder.

And saw Rhix, his eyes having to trail upwards to register the crocodilian beastfolk's full height. Not a minotaur, but terrifying enough, that was for sure.

Kade's mouth dropped open. He reached over and tried to tap Rania on the shoulder and probably missed and tapped nothing but air. And he said, "That's trouble, that's trouble, that is some BIG trouble!"

So he did the only thing he could do: run like he was trying to outrace a dust devil. Run like he so often did on the streets of Ragash when a pickpocketing or coin swiping had gone bad. Straight ahead for now, hoping the cloaked woman kept up and didn't get caught. And now, of all the times, the maze seemed to be obstinately refusing to shift and block off the approach of the giant Rhix.

(off to his left, down another corridor Kade passed by too quickly, a glint of bronze. he only saw the briefest flash of the statue before it was replaced by stone wall as he kept running and didn't dare to stop.)

Rania
 
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Vulpesen

Ain't Dead Yet
Fae Courts
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128
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The hair on the back of Vulpesens neck rose and hisnsystem surged with energy as the screams of the poor damned fools filled his ears. What cane next, he knew hetter than to resist. His free hand dove down, plucking a dagger from his belt as he sprinted dow nthe hall.

His magical senses came alive as he ran, offering a picture clearer than anything his eyes couldnhave managed. Someone was in trouble and while he may not have know their face or name, his instict demanded he come to their aid.

Medja Aratus Seldomus
 
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Len Dy't B-taa

Ghost of The Savannah
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30
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Len's mind was so intently focused on traversing the treacherous floor beneath his feet that he didn't immediately notice the presence of another. Certainly he expected to run into other participants at some point, but why anybody would announce their presence to him was certainly a mystery. Len had begun to get an idea as to how the floor would carry him, and he was sailing along the room quite easily, surveying any sign of a puzzle or exit when he finally saw the odd fellow.

Certainly, this one didn't intend to fight him?

He slowed himself, lowering to a squatted position to slow his momentum as he approached the elevated platform the man stood on. He wielded a rapier and dagger. A fine combination in the right hands; Rapier's were perfect for one on one combat, and the dagger was quite easy to underestimate. Take it's presence for granted and one could easily find themselves gutted.

There was no words from the armored figure as his opponent descended to the floor in his path, his momentum carrying him into a pillar across the room from B-taa. Reaching behind himself, he grasped the sword that hung from the hooks on his back, swinging it forward by the hilt to brandish it forward as pushed off with his back foot to slide at the nimble fellow.

His opponent was lightly armored, so he could not afford to take a solid strike from Len's blade. He was nimble though, and although Len's first flurry of attacks was swift and unorthodox, his entire body shifting and rotating with his swings, his attacks were evaded.

Len collided with the wall, a small thud echoing throughout their chamber. He wasted no time in pushing once more, launching himself again at the man from behind....
 

Diedrick

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6
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Didrick wasn't too happy about the sudden change of scenery, especially the one that involved his vision being obscured by.....something. Diedrick's put the engorged muscles of his legs into action, tearing them from a now weakened sand grip. He took a step forward, his eyes closed to accommodate the total darkness that surrounded him. At first, he wasn't sure what to do, as he couldn't see a damn thing. All he knew was that more people flooded into the room, judging by all the noise and chattering behind him. Diedrick thought for a second, needing a way to locate where his enemies were currently located. He couldn't rely on visual input, at least not at the moment, so he went for the second-best option, sound.

The tyrant parasite manually redirected the flow of energy from his eyes and into his ears, this meant that Diedrick would lose ocular enhancements, but that didn't matter one bit. He didn't need his eyes right now, ears were the primary target. Diedrick used the redirected energy to boost his hearing to a superhuman degree, enough to gradually start making out the individual voices in this ruckus. He did the only smart thing he could, which was to filter out all the unknown sounds until he could catch onto Seteta's and Volker's voices. Diedrick wasn't able to instantaneously accommodate his newly invigorated sense of hearing, but he didn't have to. For now, he only needed to know the pair's general direction and rough location. He couldn't make out where their bodies were down to a meter, so trying to engage in melee simply wasn't an option. Hopefully, his ability to find things based on sound would get better as time went on, but he feared that the whole confrontation wouldn't last that long. The caster could even cancel out their spell, leaving Diedrick with wasted energy and a useless augmentation.

With that in mind, Diedrick started to craft yet another plan to get himself out of this sticky situation. His dominant hand shapeshifted, its fingers significantly elongating. The space between these elongated fingers was quickly filled by a thick, leathery webbing. By the time Diedrick was done with it, his hand resembled a grotesque and fleshy baseball glove, perfect for grabbing things in large quantities. He also manifested about a dozen spheres made out of a dense material not too dissimilar to human bone. There were about a dozen of them, each roughly the size of a ping-pong ball. Making them wasn't as taxing as replicating actual, living bone since they lacked bone marrow, nerves, and complex blood vessels. This wasn't to say that he was happy with how things went. Diedrick had wasted roughly 50% of the tyrant's total energy reserve, if the fight ended up lasting too long he'd have to retreat in fears of being depowered. Still, he believed that his current plan could yield some success, even if said success only came to partial fruition.


He knew the rough location of Seteta and Volker, and with that in mind, he positioned himself to be facing said location. His mutated hand gripped the balls tightly, much like a baseball pitcher would, then he put himself into a throwing position. As he threw the balls, Diedrick used his entire body to generate force, acting as a humanoid whip. The energy was generated from feet up, with an arching, twisting motion that ended with the snap of his hand, just like a whip. His arm was little more than a vessel that controlled the ball, not its power source, Diedrick made sure to put his palm and fingers behind the balls as he was throwing them, to give some extra push and rotation. A dozen spheres flew in the direction of his enemies. The spheres spread out like oversized buckshot, each ball was carrying enough energy to possibly crack bone and inflict some serious bruising, while simultaneously remaining nonlethal. They were incredibly fast, both due to their relatively meager surface area and the mechanics behind their launch; when combined with Diedrick's superb augmentations this throw would make a professional pitcher blush. Individual balls could easily be one or two meters off target, but at least some would land. Diedrick would find himself happy if even just a half of them found their mark, didn't matter where, be it the torso, head, or the limbs. He needed to get some....vocal reactions out of his enemies, to better calculate their location. Diedrick had every intention of turning the darkness against them.

Seteta
Volker
 
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Seteta

The Dragon's Beloved
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Fortunately, it seemed that the room would not spin on endlessly, gaining infinite amounts of speed, and even though there were numerous more contenders within it now than there had been before, it was already slowing and steadying.

Seteta could hear the compass whirring around like an agitated bee, though, and wondered what exactly the puzzle was in this room that had to be solved.

She sent her senses back out through the suspended web of sand and illusion magic she'd spread through the room as Rheinhard spoke.

“It only began spinning this quickly when others entered the room. We need to get them out. Can you use the sand to throw them out of the windows...or make them stand still?” He asked the elf, squinting blearily against the sand. “We may need to disable the one I stabbed.”

"I can restrain them," she answered in a whisper to the first part, though it would be a strain with as many people were now in the room, and keeping an eye on the strange boy.

There was... something unnatural about the boy. While Rheinhard's presence felt different because of the magic behind the Well--warped and twisted from bearing a burden no man should ever have been doomed to carry--this didn't seem like magic to her.

As she worked with her magic, wrapping slim cords of sand around contender's necks--the easiest way she'd ever found to quickly restrain someone, especially in the dark--she deliberately left Diedrick unrestrained. She suspected he would fight against it to the point of strangling himself, and while he was quickly eating up her patience, unlike Rheinhard she had no desire to kill anyone here. Not unless she was forced to in self defense.

She felt when Diedrick began doing... something. She couldn't tell what at first, so she just 'watched' for a few moments, letting the stimuli from her web of sand and magic paint an image in her mind. Not just of Diedrick, but of the whole room. She sensed the key in Rheinhard's hand, and the fallen chandelier near them with three other keys on it. She remembered, though, that the other geomancer grabbing the first key was what had sent the room topsy-turvy the first time. So while she extended tendrils of sand and magic, ready to pluck the three remaining keys from the chandelier, she did not do so yet.

And while Seteta had not been able to make out what Diedrick was doing fully, she easily recognized when he moved into position to throw something.

She didn't bother to divert most of them his... balls. They were off target, and when they struck other contenders besides her and Rheinhard, they would misdirect the boy. It was obvious that he was trying to find their location. She did, though, have to ease up on some of the restraints she held to slow down the momentum of Diedrick's projectiles when they were on course to strike someone in the face. That would have been lethal.

"We need to split up," she whispered hurriedly to Rheinhard, then pushed him to the side as one ball whistled through the air between them.

Her illusion held strong as the wound at her ribs throbbed and ached, darkness still permeating the room from wall to wall and floor to ceiling.

The next one Diedrick threw--she'd counted almost a dozen so far, though she wasn't sure how many projectiles he'd... constructed?--she swiftly redirected, creating a channel through the sand suspended in the air that curved the projectile around gently, losing as little momentum as possible, and sent it flying back toward where she sensed Diedrick's presence, using her magic and her memory to target his center mass.

As the ball flew its course, Seteta reached out to gently tug at Rheinhard's senses with the magic she'd tied to him, attempting to guide him through the throng of new contenders toward Diedrick.

Volker
Diedrick
 

Volker

The Man of a Thousand Souls
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261
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Volker was trying to navigate the darkness but he was practically blind. His human eyes couldn’t penetrate the darkness, and while Seteta was guiding him, brushing her magic against his was profoundly uncomfortable for the denizens of the Well. He could hear the rushing of the sand targeting something, he assumed the other contestants. He was still trying to get his bearings and maintain control when she sharply shoved him to the side. He heard the ball whistle between them, but he still lowered his head and hissed at her. He didn’t like being touched.

Then she tugged at his senses. Rheinhard shook his head with a loud growl; they didn’t need an open confrontation. Not with a boy who was so clearly inhuman. Not mature enough yet to quest out with a tendril or charge at them, not smart enough to use the floor or even the sand itself, but still dangerously unknown. That, and her touching the Well was threatening to unseat him.

They were already close to the keys, and Rheinhard pawed around until he seized two of them. By the sound of it, Seteta was throwing one of the man’s projectiles back at him through the sand. That, hopefully, would slow him down. Three keys. The remaining one would leave the participants no way to solve the puzzle.

Rheinhard inserted two, and struck them powerfully with the femur ball of his blade. The keys bent and warped, wedging the door open to floor 3.

“Move! Now!” Rheinhard bellowed at Seteta, and tossed the extra key into the stairwell. It could be useful and if it wasn’t, it would prevent the other participants going downward. His idea was to attempt to jam the door from the other end, sealing their opponents in the stairwell.

Seteta
 
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Seteta

The Dragon's Beloved
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There was too much going on. Seteta heard Rheinhard hiss, felt the aura of his presence become unstable, and withdrew her magic from him sharply. She sensed Rheinhard's movements through the sand-cloud and her illusion, and as soon he went for the keys, she knew he'd decided that lingering on this floor was a waste of time.

They'd come here gold. He was right. Better to leave now before either, or both, of them were seriously wounded or exhausted.

As he worked to open a passageway for them, Seteta refocused her magic. The illusion of darkness was still in place, but she quickly unbound it from the sand, and then used the sand to reach out for the contenders nearest her--only three or four of them, though--and toss them out one of the tower windows. There were several more that would remain behind in the room.

“Move! Now!” Rheinhard bellowed at Seteta, and tossed the extra key into the stairwell.

She followed quickly on his heels, the sand falling back to the ground behind her, but she didn't release the illusion until they were both in the stairwell and closing the door behind them. Once the door was secured, Seteta leaned against the wall and caught her breath, hissing as she reached to examine the cut on her side. Her hand came away smeared with fresh, bright red blood.

Volker
 
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Diedrick

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Diedrick just found himself staring into nothingness, his attack didn't connect and what was sent back at him failed miserably, he had already moved out of the way as the balls were being redirected. Still, the darkness didn't go away, not instantly at least. As it lifted, he caught a glimpse of his enemies retreating, frowning in displeasure at the signs of their cowardice. He looked around the room once again, finding it much less empty than it was before. People were everywhere, half a dozen of them at least. Diedrick assumed them to be other contenders, or perhaps paid warriors who were sent here to act as a nuisance to contenders. Whatever they were didn't matter, if he had to go through them, he would, without thinking twice about it.

Diedrick's attention was temporarily redirected to a dangling chandelier above his head. He noticed a couple of keys attached to it, keys that he assumed could lead him to another chamber, either upper or lower than he already was. But he couldn't quite reach it, not without jumping at least two meters from the ground. He'd be damned if he wasted more energy on retrieving a single key. He reached his hand into the sand, pulling one of the bone balls out of it. Instead of jumping to grab the key, Diedrick found another way to get his hands on it. He threw the ball with marksmanship level precision, hitting the key just slightly above its dangling point. This made it dislodge and land right into his open palm.

Just as he had grabbed the key, a door opened, one of the several. Looking at it from a few meters away, he couldn't quite tell where it leads, nor did it really matter to him. He started making his way towards them, only to be intercepted by three unknown men. Two of whom were well armed, one with a sword and the other with an axe. The third one only had a knife, some flimsy leather armor too. The sword carrying man rushed at Diedrick, only for his opponent to sidestep and lodge an elbow in his face. Diedrick had in fact just stabbed that man in the face with his bony elbow, feeling the blood from his crushed nose and the partially cracked orbital bone drip onto the sand. Diedrick could feel it all too well, the moment this stranger's facial structure gave in, he heard a wet snap, followed by a muffled, anguished cry of someone who was half yelling and half choking on their snot...and blood most likely.

Diedrick made sure to take the man's sword before kicking him aside. He wouldn't try cutting the other two down since this was a deliberately non-lethal competition. Instead, he gripped the sword by its blade, reversing it so that the hilt was the one facing forward. He retained a tight grip on it to prevent his fingers from being cut. One of the two remaining men wore riveted mail, which would probably protect him from the sword's cutting edge, maybe even its thrust, but Diedrick had something entirely different in mind. He bludgeoned the pair into unconsciousness, breaking their bones in the most nonlethal way possible; leaving them behind to writhe in pain as he nonchalantly exited the room.
 

Rania

The Nightstalker
The Empire
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99
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Floor 1

“I understand,” said the thief and behind the mask a faint smile happened upon Rania’s face. “I really do.” The Empire’s stance on the poor folk was, as with any kingdom or realm, sobering at best. Either you fend for yourself, make the most out of what you have and struggle for survival to do just that – or you don’t. Rania didn’t know why she longed to live a life as unfortunate as her own, but here she was, desperately holding on to that last shimmer of hope for something greater.

“There is someone else here,” she spoke quieter this time around, and as her seismic sense sent that eerie tingle up her spine, the raven haired woman shuddered. The ground was rumbling and not even the sand could muffle the sound of the approaching creature. “I stand corrected,” the thief added with a raspy voice. “Not someone, something.” Rhix towered over both Rania and Kade and even though the beastfolk were nothing short of terrifying – this one in particular – Rania swallowed her fear and subconsciously scanned her surroundings.

The maze was ever moving, which gave them a tiny advantage – at least they weren’t trapped here with that.

“Screw that,” the woman’s voice nearly broke. “We are not fighting,” the thief decided (as if that weren’t obvious) and nervously glanced over her opponent. The Emerald Hand was massive in every sense of the word and Rania prayed that Rhix was as immobile as he appeared to be. Crocodiles aren’t fast on land, are they? The thief contemplated and swallowed again.

“Run–,”

But Kade was already running. She cursed quietly and fell into a sprint behind the young lad. Quick as a fox, Rania pulled down the scarf concealing her face and glanced at her companion. “I’m Rania,” she said, gasping for air in between each word. There wasn’t much time to explain, as their goal was to bring as much distance between them and Rhix as possible. “I have a seismic sense,” she explained, but stopped abruptly when her eyes caught a shimmer of bronze to their left.

“And I know where the walls are moving.”

In other words: Rania’s ability allowed her to see the paths and avoid dead ends and Rhix. As if she was granted an opportunity to demonstrate her skill, two alleys opened ahead of them around the next corner, and Rania instinctively dragged Kade to the left, never slowing down.

“We shake him off, then we quietly search for the statues and avoid all other encounters.”

OOC:
Kade Anvar Rania's plan here so far is to have Rhix lose sight of them, and Rania using her seismic sense ability to know where he is, therefor avoiding all paths that lead to him, simultaneously searching for goodies while they do that.
 

Medja

Vizier of Stars
The Empire
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247
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The Vizier of Stars continued watching from on high, a multitude of scrying glasses and the array of crystalline beetles allowing her to observe the events unfolding within with perfect clarity. Barely ten minutes had passed and already a number of them had caught her attention, with about 10% having been rendered unconscious or wholly ejected from the tower. Things were getting interesting, and the crowd was loving every minute of it.



Floor 1​


A terrible cacophony of shifting and slamming stone filled the air within the floor as the contestants moved among the ever-shifting maze. It was difficult to traverse, yes, perhaps encapsulating the most of what made the tower a labyrinthine mess, but the first floor also had some of the richest rewards. The density of statues found within was quite high, yet the disorienting nature of the maze ensured that the unfortunate or unresourceful would not be able to reap the benefits in any large capacity...

Rhix snarled as his quarry fled into the refuge the shifting walls provided. He'd have to stick close to them if he had any hope of being led off this floor and to more fitting prey. Lumbering behemoth that he was, Rhix was more than capable of moving quickly in short bursts, something that aided him greatly when it came to his preferred method of fighting. The moment Rania and Kade ran off Rhix shifted gears to give chase. The duo ducked into the maze before he could catch them, but that was fine--preferred, even. Rhix inhaled deeply, confident in his ability to follow them by scent. Carefully, he began to make his own way into the labyrinth of sliding stone, stalking his prey patiently...



Floor 2 -> Subfloor 3​

Strange and practically nonsensible in its construction, Diedrick would soon find himself far below the tower's ground level. It was impossible to tell by exactly what magics space seemed to distort here, whether by illusion, mental manipulation, or something more real, but the result was the same: Diedrick wound up in the third subfloor of the tower, an octagonally bordered ring, well lit by glowing crystals on the walls and ceiling. The moment he walked through the entrance, each door within would seal shut. The floor and ceiling both were vaulted, and at the center of the room stood an eight foot entity of iron and bronze. It hafted a shield in one hand and a simple, brutal, oversized gauntlet in the other.

gmagno-gallery-5495.htx96i.jpg

As Diedrick enters, it locks its dimly glowing eyes on him and speaks in a deep, hollow, metallic voice.
"How unfortunate for you to find your way to this room. I'm afraid the rest of your time in the games will be wasted in here." The thing taunts Diedrick, gesturing to the space around it. "The doors will remain sealed unless I fall...and I will not fall."



Floor 3​

Mechanisms continue to slide about unbidden as Len and the duelist begin their bout. With the advent of Len's second onslaught, the mustachioed man grimaces and brings both his blades to bear, this time doing his best to parry and deflect each blow Len lashes out with rather than dodge. With the unsure footing of the low-friction floor, however, the duelist soon finds himself being pushed back--literally--until his back is nearly against a wall. The walls, however, don't bear the same slippery quality of the floor, and in a desperate bid the duelist turns, kicks off the wall, and nimbly flips end over end to land behind Len, if only to escape the ghostly swordsman's rampaging flurry.

Before the duelist can recollect himself, however, the sound of stone grinding against stone can be heard as a hatch on the floor opens, allowing Volker and Seteta to rise from the previous floor...



Subfloor 1​

As Vulpesen moves carefully, yet quickly through the tight tunnels of his floor, he may find a number of unsettling things: further growling and chittering from deeper in; the occasional contestant pasted to the wall or ceiling in thick, impregnable silk, the contender desperately struggling to escape; or even the subtle sound of shifting stone as the odd spear lunges out from a cubby hole, intent on skewering those who pass through...though not every hole seems to do this, by any means.
 

Aratus Seldomus

Professional Cynic
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A creature of great height, great terror and great ugliness crept from the darkness, clicking it's mandibles and it's many legs in front of Aratus.

Aratus never did like bugs.

The mandibles came at him, striking at his heavy shield. Wood and iron kept the beast at bay- but a sword catching one of the mandibles at the tip was even more effective. However, as the beast screeched and reared back only to attack once more, Aratus knew that his options were limited.

Were it not for the shield, he would've surely been eaten or at least, had to take a more offensive position. But the shield was a staple of his people and himself, the great walls of the city built not with stone but by the arms of the Soldiers of Thelios.

He turned his head, noticing where the passages got considerably thinner.

He smirked behind his shield, and began to back up while the beast came at him, snapping but unable to get past his shield. A mandible came low, and caught Aratus across his upper bicep. He screamed in response, but continued his retreat- seemingly backing himself into a corner.
 
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Kade Anvar

Ragashan
The Empire
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16
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FLOOR 1


Rania was her name. And Rania had a something sense. Kade, despite his occasional trips to the libraries of Ragash to work on his literacy (and to help Aisha and Tahir with theirs), had never encountered the word seismic before. Life choices, book choices, altogether a conspiring of circumstances that kept him from learning what that particular word meant. But, as it was, he didn't need to know. It was enough that Rania had some kind of sixth sense that could help them navigate the maze. She did have some magic then, huh. Lucky.

Kade didn't protest when Rania took hold of his sleeve and led him down the corridor to the left. He might have had a clear mental map of Ragash in his head, but, well, this wasn't Ragash was it? Rania had the mental map here, thanks to her sizemo sense. Sizemike sense? Size...mick. Seismic sense. Right.

Shake off the reptilian beastman. A plan if Kade ever heard one. They'd be fine so long as they kept cutting a few corners and if a helpful wall came crashing down between them and the brute. Or so Kade thought.

"Hey, I saw one. A bronze statue," Kade said as they kept up the pace. Little puffs of sand thrown up from Kade's sandals in his wake. "That corridor on the left? About twenty paces ago back around the corner? There was one in there. We lose the lizard we can circle back around for it probably."

* * * * *​

The other two people on the first floor were staying loosely together. Not particularly moving toward Kade and Rania, not particularly moving away. Contenders likewise searching for points.

Rania
 
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Volker

The Man of a Thousand Souls
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Volker eyed Seteta, and knelt to examine her cut. He pushed up her shirt sharply, without a care as to her modesty. “You will be fine. Be still.” He unstrapped his knife roll and worried around in a small pocket. There was a vial of knife oil, which he set aside carefully, a spool of thread, and a curved suture needle. The needle’s maker wasn’t hard to guess; there were tiny rosemary flowers inscribed along its thickest areas.

He quickly threaded the needle, and spat to get the bitter taste of the thread out of his mouth. “It is coated echinacea and goldenseal. Nestor says this will keep it from festering.” He explained, and stitched up her wound. He gave it looser stitches than he might if they were resting; she needed to be able to run and move without tearing them. He tied and bit off the thread, and carefully replaced his things. The knife roll went around his thigh again. “Nestor will see to you when we are finished. I am not a doctor.”

Volker pushed his way up into the third floor, and the sounds of a battle. The floor was coated in something that made his hand slip when he pushed on it, and he sniffed at it carefully. What the Devil? He eyed the pair of combatants and shouldered the trap door open. “The floor is slick, center your weight over your feet.” He muttered to Seteta, and carefully got to his knees on the floor. He drew his longest knife, and carefully used the trap door to get to his feet.

He wasn’t sure who was friend or foe, but they were fighting, which meant they were distracted.

Len Dy't B-taa
Seteta
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Diedrick

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As soon as Diedrick entered the room he was met with the sight of a large, metallic golem; a creature that clearly wasn't going to let him through without a fight. It was big, that much he'd give it, and it seemed armed with a shield and an oversized gauntlet, not the best weapons for dealing with someone smaller and faster than you. "Uh oh." The male tilted his head sideways, looking for any alternative ways to exit the room, hoping that the chamber wasn't a dead end. He didn't have all that much energy left in him, having dropped to 50% from his previous encounter. Still, he'd fight if he had to, even if it wasn't the odds wasn't stacked in his favor.

"Aye? I suppose that we can't talk this out then." Diedrick exhaled sharply, feeling the air flutter out of his lungs like it was a steaming teapot. With the rise and fall of his chest came a steady rhythm, only then did it become obvious that he was bouncing on the balls of his feet. He purposefully kept it light, heels up and toes down. Diedrick focused the energy, first into making his muscles slightly bigger and more explosive, then into hardening his skeletal structure; this change was especially apparent around his shins, forearms, and fists; at those places, small bone growths have started to protrude from the skin.

A belicious smile spread across his face, brows furrowed together into a cheeky expression. He gave his adversary an intent look, trying to discern any flaws and weaknesses in the creature's design. Someone had been putting these guardians here for a reason, but they couldn't be invincible, otherwise, the contenders would have no chance of getting past them. There were two possible ways that things could go. Either Diedrick would find another way to get out, or he'd have to defeat the guardian. The latter wasn't gonna be an easy task, not by a longshot.

Diedrick had already scanned the whole room moments earlier, noticing that the walls had some archaic weapons attached to them. A few axes and polearms lay crossed over one another, the closest one being just behind the golem. They were all adorned with bronze ornaments and decorative carvings. These were some mighty fine weapons for someone to randomly leave in a dungeon, just one of them probably costed a small fortune. Still, if he could get his hands on any of them, the fight would be a whole lot easier.

"You know what." Diedrick put his feet apart, around the rough width of his shoulders, with the lead foot facing towards the mechanical construct. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

Medja
 
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Seteta

The Dragon's Beloved
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THIRD FLOOR​

Seteta rolled her eyes as Rheinhard began tending to her wound, though she hissed quietly at the pain as he began stitching the wound. Of course she would be fine. Didn't mean that it wasn't uncomfortable, though. But at least, for now, it meant she could use a reasonable amount of her illusion magic without having to gamble on future pain.

“Nestor will see to you when we are finished. I am not a doctor.”

Seteta simply nodded, and followed Rheinhard the rest of the way up to the third floor. She carefully entered the room behind him, gingerly making her way to her feet. The cut on her side throbbed unpleasantly as she worked to maintain her balance while surveying the situation they were walking into.

There were two swordsmen, and Seteta had only her fighting knife--one inferior to the Telling steel one she'd lost to Oor--and her magic. At the moment, the swordsman with the mustache was poised behind the masked one.

"Can you handle the swordsmen?" she quietly asked Rheinhard. "I will figure out the room."

The floor was slick under her sandals, and she took a careful step to see if she could manage it. She felt some small relief when her feet, at least, did not fly out from under her, but she would certainly not be able to run.

She needed to get to a wall or a pillar, something that wasn't covered in whatever was making the floor slick. She could force her way through the substance and into the inherent magic of the stone, but touching a wall would be much easier, and additionally it would help her maintain her footing.

The wards within the tower that prevent her from manipulating the stone of the tower itself should not prevent her from using her magic to sense the layout of the room and any unexpected motions or machinations within it.

Those large stone balls especially worried her, and she wanted to be able to sense if they started to roll.

Volker
Len Dy't B-taa
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Len Dy't B-taa

Ghost of The Savannah
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With every sound of steel matching steel, Len would draw back and swing again. This odd looking man was more skilled than he would have initially given him credit for, but Len's aggressive assault afforded him no opportunity to think of anything but defense. The slippery floor beneath their feet allowed Len to advance upon him without the need to move himself; This room was Len's element. With a mighty swing, Len lunged only to find the cold wall of the tower as his opponent leapt to his rear.

He had to admire the nimbleness of the act.

Raising a foot to the wall he now came to rest against, he shoves himself back in his opponent's direction once more, his hips twisting to send him into a spin, blade extended as he spun on one foot across the floor. He would miss his target by inches, another credit to the mustached fellows skills as he leaps over Len's death spin.

The armored phantom lowers his raised leg, planting a knee on the ground to slow his velocity. Before he had time to strike again, the walls begin to shake an echo with the sound of stones grinding against one another. Carefully rising to his feet, he shifts his vision to look at the two new figures emerging into the room from a new passage in the floor.

He felt frustration make attempt to bubble up in his stomach, but he controlled his temper. An old man, with a woman who wore garb similar to that of his home... Len was confident in his abilities, but unknowns and wild cards made him nervous.

Shifting his attention back to the duelist in front of him once more, he chose to ignore the two newcomers until he had dealt with his current target. If they were wise, they wouldn't interrupt. If they were here, they were likely strong. Len would hate not being able to test that strength himself.

Volker
Seteta
Medja
 

Volker

The Man of a Thousand Souls
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Volker eyed the combatant, and his mustachioed opponent. He carefully braced himself against the open trap door, not wanting to remove their (as of yet) only means of departing a room. He pulled out a smaller knife, watching the stranger fight for a moment. He could take out one or both of them, but he’d be left to contend with the other and there was no sand here. Back in the second floor, Seteta had been a formidable combatant with the inches of sand on the floor.

Now? There was only this slippery substance, and Seteta only had one small knife. He carefully began to walk in a circle around the combatants, his weight between his legs and over his feet. It made him look a bit like a bird trying to keep balance, but as long as his weight was directed down and not out, he’d not slip and fall on his rear. He settled against the wall, flaring his nostrils to try and catch a scent.

He could kill the second one later, especially if he was laboring under the assumption Volker was an ally. He carefully readied the knife, and attempted to make eye contact with the armored one. Silently, but carefully, offering assistance.

Seteta
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Seteta

The Dragon's Beloved
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THIRD FLOOR​

As Rheinhard leaned against the trap door, clearly thinking, Seteta took his silence and observation of the pair of fighters as affirmation that he would deal with them for now. She cared little for how he dealt with them. Unlike other contenders, these two seemed the type to willingly fight to the death, and Rheinhard would be able to handle that.

So she left him to it, and with careful footsteps began to work her way toward the wall. The nearest wall would put her too near the fighters, though, so she went the other direction. Rheinhard would let her know if he needed her to intervene with the fighters, though she wasn't sure what she could accomplish other than distraction.

Moving cautiously and slowly, as both the slick floor and her injury demanded, she finally reached a wall. Seteta stretched out a hand and touched the wall, both for an extra way to stabilize herself and to connect with her magic.

True enough, Seteta felt the wards that kept her from manipulating the tower itself--the floors, walls, and ceilings--but she could still feel the magic, and she closed her eyes for just a moment, following the flow of it, trying to get a basic layout of the room. With some relief, she realized that it was only the four of them in the room. At least for now.

When she opened her eyes again, she looked at the pillars--not really pillars at all, she realized now--and the walls they butted up against, and then the tracks in the floor. She nervously eyed the stone balls on their slides, trying to make sense of them and if they lined up in any way with the pillars.

As the clash of swords echoed through the room, Seteta moved to the pillar nearest her. She placed her hands on it, made handles on the surface with her magic, and carefully tugged. She did not want to pop her stitches, but she hoped that lubricated floor combined with her pulling would make the pillar easy to slide. She wanted to know what was on the other side.

Volker
Len Dy't B-taa
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Vulpesen

Ain't Dead Yet
Fae Courts
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SUBFLOOR 1

As he stalked through the hallway, Vulpesen took in a sudden breath, sucking in his stomach as a spear tip lanced out, grazing his clothing and coming far too close tot he flesh beneath. Lovely place, he thought as he backed up a couple paces to get a safer look at the holes in the wall. He wasn't sure whether it was man or machine that had taken upon itself to assail him. What he did know was that it wouldn't get another chance to repeat the mistake. Placing his hand on one of the openings that hadn't tried to skewer him, Vulpesen closed his eyes and reached out for the shadows.

Once he had his hold on the darkness, Vulpesen gave them form and weight, pouring in his energy to crush whatever lie within the walls. Of course, should he find some unfortunate human wielding the spears, he would have mercy and send them into unconsciousness... but any mechanism would find itself facing the full brunt of his annoyed might.

Safe once more, he continued on his way to the banging of a shield and shouts of battle, stopping at each of the unfortunate souls who had been plastered to the wall. Each one sparked a pair of voices in his head. The first was the voice of compassion... reminding him that he should rescue them and spare them of this discomfort and the possibility of being a future meal for some ravenous beast. The other spoke of tactics, suggesting that he sue them for free points within the tower. In the end, he settled for appeasing both. Each man he freed enough to begin a deal. Yield and be set free to leave the tower in peace. At least their embarrassment wouldn't continue to be on display for the world outside.

Medja Aratus Seldomus
 
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Aratus Seldomus

Professional Cynic
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SUBFLOOR 1

The beast had him cornered, gnawing and gnashing, mandibles clicking at what they could reach. But an iron will and a steel shield kept it at bay- and Aratus kept slinking back into the narrower passage, until his shield was scraping the walls. He smirked, and rotated the shield to where it was pinned by it's sides to the wall. The beast came heavy down on it, clicking-

And left it's belly wide-open. The centipede's soft flesh gave way, as Aratus reached up and stabbed, twisting to cause a deeper wound with his short sword. The beast recoiled again- and cursing himself for forgoing gloves, Aratus reached upwards as the creature screeched a horrible, wretched sound, and shoved the blade through the bottom of it's maw, straight into the roof of it's mouth.

What was once a threat become more than a collection of tissue and carapaces laid before him, falling limp to the floor. Covered in the beast's blood, Aratus stepped over the dead creature, heading back inwards towards the Subfloor- covered in blood of his slain foe.

And still as determined as ever to finish his fight.

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Rania

The Nightstalker
The Empire
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Floor 1

The walls continued to shift with no foreseeable pattern forming whatsoever, but that didn’t mean that Rania’s plan was a hopeless case. The thief was a quick learner, she always had been – and even though the ever-changing maze gave them absolutely nothing to work with, she familiarized herself with the sound of every rumble, with how heavy each wall felt and all the little gaps and holes that opened for a split second, revealing only a hint of bronze.

In any case, it didn’t really matter if she, or they even, made it out of the maze. If anything, that wasn’t the plan anyways, the goodies were here and here they would stay. Still, the crocodilian beastfolk had to be avoided at all cost although Rania did wonder whether or not they had any chance of tricking and defeating it. It? A thought crossed her mind while she ran, still dragging Kade after her everytime she chose to turn around another corner.

Is it a boy? Do crocodiles have kickable balls?

Rania had yet to meet a male that was immune against the pain a clean kick in between their legs could cause, but she’d never tried with the beastfolk. “I bet that giant fucker is worth a shitload of points,” she said to Kade and cackled. “Perhaps it’s worth considering, for later. If all fails we can try and knock him out with one of those statues.” After a while, she stopped running and changed into a fast-paced walk.

Still speaking quietly and always keeping an eye – and all of her other senses – wide open, Rania looked over her shoulder at Kade. “I think so. We have to try. If any other contenders show up behind one of those walls , attack. We can’t really afford having any rivals with that thing chasing after us, we are limited enough as it is.” If Kade wanted to oblige or not was up to him, Rania wouldn’t force him, but if it came down to it she wouldn’t save him either.

This alliance was for the moment.

The thief unsheathed both her daggers and step by step moved forward. The heaviness that was Rhix felt far off – not far enough for them to be at ease, but they could stop the running. “If you see something again, just go for it. The walls close up too quickly otherwise,” Rania thought out loud and kept an eye out for more bronze statues.
 

Len Dy't B-taa

Ghost of The Savannah
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Len's aggressive assault on his enemy slowed, and he allowed himself to slide back away from his foe. If this rapier wielding fellow noticed the additional company that they now had, he didn't display it. The addition of an unknown element to his duel was not a welcome one; he'd been in battles when an unexpected third party complicated things to a degree large enough to put him in a great deal more danger than need be.

The presence of the other participants limited his movement considerable. He couldn't move to his full potential, not with the possibility of an attack from his blind spots. The two of them circled each other, slowly inching their way across the slick floor, each waiting for their foe to dare make the first move. Neither of them dared move fast enough for the floor beneath their feet to carry them too far.

Then, out of the corner of his vision he saw one of the two arrivals slide into view behind his foe. He was a much older fellow, but he was managing his own weight expertly. Under different circumstances, he would have complimented him on his efforts. His eyes quickly darted between the old man and the duelist. The old man stared back at him now, silently offering an olive branch, perhaps?

Len responded with the tilting of his head and the lifting of his blade towards his foe, and then a swipe to the floor. He wanted to deal with this man himself, but if this man insisted on interfering, he would show no aggression. It didn't behoove him to make more enemies yet. Upon delivering this silent answer, Len sprang forward again, sliding towards his opponent in a duck, sweeping low. He expected the man to jump over his attack, and would respond with an upward strike should he be correct.

Seteta
Volker
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Kade Anvar

Ragashan
The Empire
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FLOOR 1


Kade slowed when Rania slowed. Taking the time to breathe and let his muscles somewhat relax. He wasn't winded. Not yet and far from it. Maybe the other contenders of the Tower had been practicing fighting, their swordsmanship and their magic and all else, for good long whiles, but Kade's life had led him down a different path than that. The battered shortsword in his hand was, honestly, little more than a showpiece. Nah, this was his domain. Running. Evading.

And misdirection.

Kade wouldn't have considered it at first, taking on the big lizardman in any capacity, but Rania's willingness (perhaps even confidence) got him to do said considering. To mull over the idea in his head. Knocking him out, even if both he and Rania had two statues each and had a combined clear and free shot to smack him simultaneously on the back of his scaled head, seemed...not feasible. At least Kade thought so.

But they didn't have to. Sure, Kade wasn't much for rules...unless he could use them to his advantage.

"Hey, Rania," he said as they went, the vibrations and thumping of the shifting maze a near constant din, "can you use that sense of yours to..." and he couldn't help a cheeky little smirk, "...lead us toward some of the windows?"

And maybe, just maybe, Kade and Rania could somehow misdirect his big lizard ass out of one. There were plenty around the outer edge of the Tower's wall, he knew that much just from seeing them from outside.

The other item of note: the statues, of course. Just go for them, if he saw one. And to that Kade gave a nod of concurrence. Hey, no problem. That was what he did. He was no infamous thief, renowned for his skill in whatever underground circles those who made it a profession traveled in, but his hands and his feet were quick enough. If he was the first to spot one and grab it, he thought he ought to give it to Rania. Build a bridge of trust for the duration of this thing. Like he'd said, he didn't need much. Just enough to keep his promise to Tahir and Aisha.

Rania