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 End of Jungalore: Final Chapter 
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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
Twelve steps. Precisely twelve steps Eiryk took outside of the palace before five assassins made the drop on him.

"Eiryk Advento, you are being charged with conspiracy against the Assassin's Guild. Come quietly with us, please."

Eiryk's grin grew, "So Scorpio just wants me gone now, is that it? Why don't we just take a dance then, shall we?"

"Have it your way..."

Each drew blades and bows, and activated within themselves the shadow virus laying dormant. Surrounded by dark shadows they rushed towards Eiryk. He himself made a rush towards them, and as they leapt at him, he made to slide under them, drawing Excalibur in the process and easily ending one's life mid-air.

"So, about that oath you once held..." Excalibur spoke.

"Sorry, but a soul can change over thousands of years. As can ideals."

"Perfectly logical." The blade replied. But they had little time to continue the conversation. Eiryk made to run for the current guild's location, climbing up the side of one building and opting to travel by rooftop. Of course, this route would be much more dangerous. In fact, by the third building, five more assassins got to him.

"Advento! Stop running and come with us, don't make us have to spill your blood. You've now committed high treason AND murder."

"Says the murderers under a man who has committed the highest of treason."

Once more Eiryk was being rushed. This time he opted to take to the air, spinning on the tip of Excalibur's blade and going airborne, landing with his knees on either shoulder of one assailant and stabbing his blade through the back of said assailant, also skewering a second assassin in the process and then flipping backwards to his feet. Already three lay dead at his hands, and only seven stood in his way towards what he was about to do.

"Seize him! Take him alive or dead if you must!" One assassin shouted.

Three took to fighting Eiryk hand-to-hand with the aid of the shadow virus. Of course, he had a reach advantage with Excalibur in one hand and the retractable blade in his other. He took to defensively blocking his back with his sword, and his left hand would deflect the frontal attacks as he made motions to dodge. He then made a grapple of one and launched the retractable blade with it focused on the neck of the assassin. Dead, instantaneously.

"What are you all doing? Let's just attack him at once!" The commanding assassin bellowed, as the four others now joined the fray. This would be too much for him to handle on his own. Luckily, he wasn't alone.

"By the order of Queen Philena Taltanis, cease your quarrel!" A Meridian guard and three others had climbed onto the rooftops and caught the attention of the assassins.

"Guards of Selk! This man is accused of high treason and murder, having spilled the blood of four of our comrades. He is to be-"

"Released." The helmed guard stated. That was when the man removed his helmet to reveal himself.

"Izraf!? I thought I sent you to Tal-Ari!"

"I knew you would be a bit too short-sighted to handle things here. In any case, he is to be released."

"Izraf, you have a warrant for your assassination..." The assassin stated plainly to the Meridian, "Dare you fight us?"

"Well, let's just say your guild is bound to cause problems in the future."

Still using his hammer, Izraf made a rush for the assassin standing in front of Eiryk, swinging his hammer down. Eiryk wrestled from a grapple from behind as the assassin in front leapt out of harm's way, only to be stabbed in the air with Eiryk landing on the hammer. Izraf began to lift the hammer and Eiryk vaulted from the launch and took a dive downwards, impaling a second assassin on Excalibur.

"So, did you make it to our lady?" Izraf asked.

"Hastily," Excalibur began, "She is likely already out of the town."

"Good... All we need to do is get to the church, then."

"The church?" Eiryk asked, "Why there?"

"That will be where we find the ones who will aid in this fight against the assassins."

The four remaining assassins still had their viruses active, and no doubt were using poisoned weaponry. Eiryk himself knew they wanted but one thing by now, and he knew he had to stop Scorpio, and end the other eleven disciples of the brotherhood.

"So... We can't discuss this in a civilized manner, can we?" Eiryk jested at the four remaining assassins as they all faced an opponent. Everyone was intent on facing at least someone, and keen on picking up any one singular body motion. One made their first move against a meridian guard and would have got the better of him if not for his shield. What that assassin didn't count on was how painful a blow to the jaw with the edge of said shield would be, as it sent the hooded assailant reeling and created the perfect opportunity to become an ornament for the man's spear.

Seeing the battle was lost, the commanding assassin threw down a flash bomb and disappeared with his two remaining comrades.

The guards secured a safe passage through the streets as the two of them made for the church.

"Cassius is already there." Izraf commented, "You are lucky I arrived when I did."

"I'd like to think I was handling myself alright." Eiryk commented.

"But you can't just keep living from one battle to the next. Take a break, man."

"Fair point, but we can't exactly afford that luxury." Eiryk grumbled along with his stomach.

"Speaking of... You're human, aren't you? As in, you have hunger and sleep requirements again, yes?"

"Yes, I suppose that means I need to eat..."

"Relax, we'll have something when we arrive. Any preferences?"

"I feel like I haven't had a glass of milk in forever. I'd also love to have some grilled ham and cheese sandwiches." He said with a mild enthusiasm. Izraf laughed at this.

"Come now Eiryk, we have a shortage of food in the area... But I'm sure we can at least manage a glass of milk and grilled cheese on whole wheat buns."

Eiryk grimmaced, "Well, I'd prefer white bread and the ham... No matter, it sounds delicious."

Within a short matter of time, the two of them along with the three guards were inside the church. Godot welcomed the two of them openly as the group was preparing... Something. Eiryk got his meal, along with Izraf's beef tenderloin, but during the course of the meal, Eiryk kept getting distracted by the constant sorting of ammo boxes and test firing of guns.

"Are the demon hunters preparing for something?"

Godot smiled, "Your rebellion, of course! After all, being a subsidiary of the church, we have overheard your ideas for a new order of guild."

"An eye in every nook and cranny, right?" Izraf asked.

"But the church is losing influence." Godot stated, "So getting informants around is difficult. Not that we really care for our association with them, it's more that the church influence has become a hindrance rather than a blessing."

"Is this where I come in, then?" Eiryk asked, finishing off his sandwich.

"Yes, we have a common goal, see... Libra is the head priestess of the church in the region, and a high ranking assassin. She's trying to spread the influence of the guild in Avalon. We need our demon hunters to be able to freely roam so that we can conduct investigations alongside the guard."

Izraf entered into the explanation, "See, while we do have archers, us Meridians are more suited to melee combat. We need to get some ranged fighters in our ranks. Godot can provide those, but the guild is strangling us so they can force a rebellion against Queen Philena and her son."

"So you basically want me to off the head priestess in Avalon..."

"... and that will off the strangling of our people. Do that and you will have a fighting force capable of ending the rule of Scorpio."

"And the other ten zodiacal assassins?" Eiryk asked about.

"Well, that will be something we could possibly assist in." Godot added in, "Right Izraf?"

"Yes... In fact, taking out Scorpio will be a service to the queen and her country. We'd owe you a life debt. We already do, in fact."

Eiryk nodded, "Then I, too, am off to Avalon. It is good discussing business with you."

"Oh, and Eiryk, Izraf..." Godot began, pointing to Eiryk in particular, "Let's call you Noxiel from now on. Don't let your real name get out."

"Understood." Izraf agreed.

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
"I saw the bones poke out from his flesh, like so many bloodied fangs not three days ago and now look at him." the head trainer sighed as he stared across the training field where the initiate Ashigaru were going through their final challenge. "He's not even supposed to be out of the healers until a week from now and just look at him go."

Dodging a wooden staff with ease, Yemhelch ducked low and struck the man with the wooden shield with his own wooden weapon in the chest with enough force to topple him over. The man fell back onto the dirt with a breakfall and yelled 'One Point!'.

"50 points in one 10 minutes." the referee intoned, raising the black flag. "That's enough, both of you. Stand down."

With a polite bow to his sparring partner, Yemhelch returned the wooden staves he was using to the instructor.

"It seems there's nothing more for me to teach you." the instructor smiled as he greeted Yemhelch as he walked off the dirt ring. "I can't really give you a fancy ol' scroll, but you've got what it takes to be a splendid Ashigaru. Keep honing your skills and I'm sure you can surpass yourself someday."

"Thank you, Majima-sensei." Yemhelch replied, again with a polite nod. "So, I shall."

"Though, you really should be resting." he finished.

"The healers here are the finest I've seen yet. I'll be fine."

"Ha, so they are. You should go pick up your new gear from the Dojo. Pass my regards to Kyouko, will you?"

"I will. Thank you again for your hard work so far."

---

"... and that's what we found so far. Something has damaged the very fabric of magic in the world." the seer finished. "It's not perceptible now, but the gaps and voids are there, and they are slowly growing larger."

"No wonder you wanted to keep this information secret." Hiroko shook her head. "Bad enough we have a monster problem, but without magic, our healers wouldn't..."

Hiroko fell silent, then shook her head to banish these uncomfortable thoughts. If the constant use of healing magic was causing a strain on Will, she had to find a way to get her people to use alternate, scientific means of healing. Overcome with concern, she paced around the pagoda, carefully planning her next move.

"We'll have to start using science, and not just use healing spells for the more minor matters..."

"Aye, it's as you say."

"Please keep what we've discussed here a secret - but work on your own to promote the uses of non-magical healing and the research into it."

"It wont be easy, Lady Hiroko. Two of the largest centers of learning in the world are lost. Whatever codexes may have survived the two disasters are most likely worth their weight in gold."

"We'll find a way."

"Indeed we will. Then, by your leave..."

The healers and the seer bowed to her and left. Hiroko sat down on the comfortable, padded chair and rubbed her temples, trying to process this new threat to humanity at large. The end of magic? Could such a thing be possible?

---

"Did you like the little upgrade we did for your tanto, Yemhelch-kun?" Ryouko smiled as she watched him inspect the set of blades arrayed before him.

"Saying I like these wouldn't be enough." he mumbled as he looked at the twin wakizashi and tanto set. "No, these are magnificent. The heft of these grips have been triple-woven to absorb moisture from the palm of the hand... in fact, the whole scabbard's been folded into itself to provide a solid-steel handguard. Judging by the weight of the blade, it's been readjusted by adding a lead counterweight to the base of the blade. The taper's perfect, too. The blades have been sharpened to a razor edge, then hardened and tempered by sootfire to be even more resistant to breakage than before. You really know what you're doing."

"That's why I'm the Daimyo's personal armorer, heh heh." Ryouko grinned. "Usually, I wouldn't go all out for a newbie, but I was watching that day, you know. When you saved this country from going to a shitstorm of sengoku-era mass infighting. Hiroko-sama told me to go all out when customizing your weapons for you."

"The court case, huh?"

"Yeap. You basically called out the inquisition AND the necromancers on your ass. Maxing out some equipment's the least I could do for you. Dunno why you're still alive, though. I figure you've gotten pretty good at dropping those assassins and dark knights they send after you..."

"The end of the world helped somewhat."

"Seems like you're gonna be doing alright. Anyway, the light cuirass is standard for new Ashigaru. You can wear it under your clothes, too."

"Ah, so it works like that."

"And that's that! You should totally go try your new weapons out on those pesky monsters that keep attacking the town walls nowadays."

"I just might do that." Yemhelch nodded, slipping both the wakizashi and tanto into their scabbards.

As he stepped out of the Pagoda's armory, he saw two familiar faces...

-

"Oissu, Mikkael, Kazeko." Yemhelch waved. "Where ya two off to?"

"For an audience with Lady Hiroko. Mikkael wants to go to Avalon, because he thinks he remyembers something about them. I kinda wanna tag along too, nya? Wannya to see this mystic city for myaself..."

"Want me to come along?" Yemhelch grinned. "You owe me a free meal, ya know."

Mikkael stared at him, confusion evident in his expression. Coming to his rescue, Kazeko quickly intervened. "A-anyway, if you want to travel, you can join us. That's alright, right?"

".... I guess." the meridian nodded quietly.

"Awesome! It'll be just like old time!"

Mikkael shifted on his feet nervously, as he tried to remember... drawing nothing but a blank.

-

They were shown to the Daimyo's meeting room and asked to wait. Hiroko emerged from the back after a few minutes. Her skin seemed pale, and her countenance brightened somewhat as she saw her friends.

"Hiroko-sama, Mikkael almost remembered Avalon." Kazeko explained. "At least, he through he knew."

"In time, your amnesia will fade." Hiroko replied gently. "But if you visit Avalon, perhaps you may find something able to jog your memories even further."

"So, Lady Hiroko, I've come to ask permission to escort Mikkael. Yemhelch wants to join us as well. These lands are more dangerous now, and it'd be foolish to travel alone."

"A wise choice, permission granted." Hiroko smiled. "Actually... it was you who discovered Avalon, wasn't it?"

Mikkael looked nervous, but nodded. "At least, that's what the people here tell me."

"Then, if the stories of it surviving the cataclysm untainted are true, there would be books and scrolls of old, and those written by those who came in from the fall of Vex Vinas, correct?"

"... I suppose so?"

"Then, I have a Quest for the three of you." Hiroko smiled. "The three of you are to enter Avalon, then find whatever scrolls, books and codexes in the matters of medical arts, and bring copies of them back."

"The healers are being pushed too hard, aren't they?" Kazeko nodded.

"Indeed. The knowledge of the healing arts must be preserved."

"I hear you had some fine equipment crafted for me." Yemhelch smiled. "And besides, the healers here saved my life. This is the least I could do for you all, lady Hiroko."

After bowing politely, the three left the Pagoda.

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
After meeting Cassius and finishing the discussion of what was to transpire, both Izraf and Eiryk called on a carriage to get them to Avalon. Cassius chose to stay behind and keep things in order for Godot as he would be planning for a total upheaval of the Selkie regime.

"That place is bound to fall..." Eiryk quietly spoke to Izraf during the carriage ride, "The Meridians will likely be settling in Avalon. I just, I can see it, and I guarantee it."

"It makes sense." Izraf commented back, "After all, it was her late lover that founded Avalon once again, wasn't it? And despite the raid on Vex Vinas, he was the one who let the homeless live there."

"Exactly. But more than that, I believe it's bound to fall with the fall of the assassins. I can hardly see any guilds surviving in the future, except maybe the knights."

"Well, we certainly will see, won't we?"

Upon arrival at Avalon, the two of them met with Philena's own carriage, and young Hydra. To think between when they departed Selk for the pyramids, he was but a youngling, swimming in a pool of water, but after three months of traversing the desert, meeting Cassius, and even hearing of the events at Cyndar during that time, he had already grown to walk on his own two feet. Even Philena praised her son for his skill in helping out the Meridian soldiers with sharpening their blades. Truly though, the boy was the spitting image of both his father and mother, but more his father. He had the pale blue tone of his father's scales, and the sky blue of his mother's eyes, but also the sharp teeth of his father, pearly white as they were on the older Meridian. He even had the dorsal fin going down his head appendage much like Mikkael.

"Isn't that a little dangerous for a child?" Eiryk asked the queen.

"Meridian children are trained from a young age in whatever skills or crafts they desire..." She began to say, "... but ultimately, our males are often drafted quite young to assist in military affairs. It seems some clans have yet to drop such traditions, but I allowed it. I thought he could use a skill like that."

"Besides, I'm descended from the great Mikkael! If I ever meet Dad again, I want him to be proud." The young Meridian exclaimed, chipper in his tone.

Eiryk smiled as they began to walk through the town. The group eventually making their way to the local adventurer's association office. After all, Eiryk had to formally establish his guild.

"Your guild needs a name, and that one is quite long and specific." The elderly man at the counter noted. "You sure you want to name it such?"

"A fair point. What would you recommend?"

"Well, yours is an odd guild. No focus, no adventuring inclinations, not even a particular racial restriction." The man spoke, trying to come up with some sort of idea, "You only have a symbol, yes?"

"I have one in mind... A cross, but not like the crosses of the church. No no no... I want a cross with arrow points at the end, and from the points a circle to encompass the cross. Then, it has to be like an X rather than a lower case T."

"Hmmm... So like this?" The man asked, quickly illustrating the design Eiryk had in mind. Eiryk agreed and began to make some slight adjustments.

"So with this basic design, I would also like the four directions to represent something. Going clockwise from the north, the north is to represent the wisdom to guide one another, the east to represent the spirit within that drives one another forward, the south to represent the purity of character to make the right decisions as a community, and the west to represent the prosperity we each bring to one another."

"Then I recommend your north section to have a bright, shining star, the east to have a flame, the south to have three people close to one another, and the west to have a fruit-bearing tree."

"I like the sound of that." Eiryk stated. They tried a few different designs of each of these decisions and then decided upon a final set.

"With this design in mind," the worker finally coming to a conclusion, "What about..."

Eiryk agreed on its name. He finally signed off the papers, paid the dues and fees, and in the next thirty minutes obtained his guild leader's crest, made from a small plate of silver, with the golden guild symbol added on top.

"So, you have your guild then?" Philena asked as he stepped away from the counter, "What is it called?"

"The Paragon's Order."

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
Without the luxury of a carriage, nor ferry or dragon in the world, they had to settle for walking. Mikkael and Yemhelch followed Kazeko who now served as their guide. It was a good thing, though - the cataclysm had altered the lay of the land so much. If Kazeko wasn't there, both of them would have become so utterly lost.

As they emerged from the swamp, sunset revealed itself, painting the plains a brilliant orange. Mikkael nervously raised his arms to his eyes - but suffered no further, while Kazeko breathed a sigh of relief. Following her lead, they trudged out of the swamp.

That was when they spotted two men in simple iron armor, swords akimbo - running at them. And in hot pursuit were a small mob of undead led by a decayed, filthy quadruped.... thing that looked like a four-legged spider bound in flesh and seething magical energy. Yemhelch quickly unsheathed his double blade set, Mikkael went for his steel one-handed sword, and Kazeko hopped back, getting out a set of kunai. It's a fight!

VS. Undead Warrior x6 and Lich Spider.

The two humans have temporarily joined the party!

BATTLE!

Spoiler: show
"Allryght, I've been itchin' to take down some stinkin' dead!"
Kazeko prepares her kunai set for throwing!
Yemhelch's blades are ready, and he attacks the first undead shambler approaching the party!
Mikkael prepares his weapon in an unusual stance and gets ready to attack the rapidly-approaching Lich Spider.
?Human? gets out a bag of herbs!
?Human? gets out a bag of herbs! - In perfect sync, they smash the medical herbs into two different wounds on their bodies! The two humans are healed!

Undead shambler mob has reached the party!
Yemhelch attacks the crowd, using his natural agility to deflect the wrestling and takedown attacks!
Kazeko throws her kunai in a one-two shot! The first one misses, but the second one moving in the blind spot, hits one of the undead square in the face! With a pained cry, the thrall goes silent!
The Lich Spider stops its charge, letting Mikkael's heavy attack miss, and steps back - incanting a vile spell with sinister, guttural tongue!
The dead body shudders and begins to move!

"No good... we'll have to go for that.... thing if we need to stop them!" Yemhelch gritted his teeth as he prepared to charge. Mikkael, recovering from his stagger, nodded - reading the battle plan perfectly.
?Human? correctly counters the lunging attack of the undead, pushing them away from the formation!
?Human? barely manages to block a biting attack with his sword, kicking the thrall away!

The Lich spider rears up with its hind legs, revealing an ugly, laughing face frozen in a contorted roar of anger! "DIE, MORTALS!"
Yemhelch charges in, both blades drawn! Mikkael follows in formation!
The Lich spider's face suddenly roars, eyes turning red! Yemhelch is hit by a spinning spider leg and is thrown off!
Mikkael follows through and pierces the creature's 'face' with his blade!
Leaping over the humans who stopped the undead advance, Kazeko leaps into the air!
"Its nyover!!!"


The lich spider shrieked as Mikkael's steel blade pierced through it's central cepalothorax - pinning the creature to the ground, and Kazeko followed up with thrown kunais bearing explosives on the handles! Mikkael quickly hopped back as the explosion took apart the monster's exposed brain in a spectacular, gib-splattered explosion.

Without the lich's control, the few straggling undead were quickly released from the dark sorcery binding their bodies, and the great stress of combat caught up with their ancient bodies, turning them to dust as they stood - their faces almost appearing grateful for being released from eternal servitude. Yemhelch managed to get up, slightly dazed, bruised - but alive.

"Nyo, you're kinda unbyalanced without your signature weapon, Mikkael..." Kazeko noted. "But still, you seem to ryemember how to fight in a team..."

"... yeah. Thanks. But he managed to take the hit meant for me..." Mikkael nodded at Yemhelch - somehow managing to smile despite himself, and then looked at the two humans who were cleaning the ichors off their blade. The older of the two noticed their gaze and after sheathing their blades, they walked over to the party.

"Much thanks for the save, strangers." he said, smiling gratefully. "Didn't expect to find anyone this far out in the middle of scenic nowhere, though. What's your business?"

"You idiot! Wrong!" the younger warrior socked the man upside the head with a practiced chop. "Introduce first, then ask that!"

"Wait, I knyow you two..."

"Aha! Our fame knows no boundaries! We are..." the older man grinned.

"... the Torii Brothers, Shuu and Satoshii! Finest Stand-up comedians from Vel Da Ir!"

"Comedians?" Yemhelch asked them.

"Well, I see you're from the north... so, I guess... bards, would be more like it." Shuu explained.

"So, what's the two of nyou doing this far from home? It's nyot safe out here..."

"We found that out the hard way! See, Satoshii there wanted to take our act abroad. Stopping at Selk, then to Frenga Farms, then now - to Avalon!" Shuu nodded. "This world's in a pinch and a crisis, and even if we're not top-grade warriors, we have to make the world a better place."

"Its just that, well... we didn't expect to run into the undead. Even the morphos tire out if you run away fast enough."

"So, you guys are going to Avalon..." Yemhelch mused. "Wanna travel together with us? There's safety in numbers."

"Gladly, but I must warn you... it's not safe at the badlands at night."

"Why? What's lurking there?" Yemhelch queried them.

"Terra worms. Pissed-off, aggressive digging critters the size of a crocodile that'd as much as look at you as they'd bite ya in half. Sunlight seems to spook'em good, so we should camp here for now, wait until morning." Satoshii explained.

"He's just acting cool because he almost got his head chewed clean off, though." Torii quipped.

"Hey, shut up! At least I didn't scream like a little girl when it showed up!" Satoshii shot back, and both of them laughed, getting a grin off Yemhelch and a smile from Kazeko as they mentally imagined the scene.

"... a real class act." Yemhelch grinned.

-

The salt wards consecrated with holy water would keep weaker undead at bay for the night. The fire crackled warmly against the cold badland air as the song ended, and Yemhelch relaxed as he reclined against the long-since dead tree.

"And that was 'Song of the Elemelons.', thank you for listening." Satoshii bowed.

"Speaking of melons, stew's ready." Torii smiled as he removed the lid from the makeshift pot crafted from a copper shield.

"Smells delicious. Hey, Mikkael, want a serving?" Yemhelch smiled.

"... it doesn't have fish, does it?" Mikkael finally grunted.

"Nah. Just mostly wild veggies, beef jerky and lard. We call it hoshiniku - pemmican."

"... I guess I'll have some, then."

The wild stew was well done, the taste exploding in his mouth as the flavors ran down into his sensory spectrum, and he found himself smiling. "Delicious. Feels like some time since I... had something to eat like this."

The party settled down to eat, and Yemhelch decided to ask them another question.

"Sure,(munch, munch) what's up?" Satoshii replied.

"I'm kind of interested in the myths and legends of the world. What would you say is the most enduring legend you've ever learned about?"

"Aah. That, my friend, would be the prophecy of the Monarch's rebirth."

"Tell me about it."

Mikkael leaned in closer, intently listening as Torii began to strum a lute...

---

"You know, it makes a lot of sense..." the man mused as he carefully shifted the soil over the freshly-grown roots of the saplings. "The old system, that is."

"...Huh?" Yemhelch asked, surprised at breaking the silence of this forest grove.

"Oh, you know... that thing about collecting artifacts to become Monarch."

"Ah..."

"Sure, on the surface, it looks like a generic RPG quest. Collect the whachamacallits and good end get, right?"

"Right.... so?"

"I'm thinking, the artifacts are capable of some amazing things, right?" the man smiled. "So, whoever this monarch is, their rule lasts on how wisely they use these artifacts."

"..."

"So I figure, if you're an evil schlub who uses the power of the artifacts for teh evulz, you're just setting yourself up to be defeated by the next generation of heroes that'll emerge. Whaddya think?"

"... that does make a lot of sense. Speaking of sense, there's something I've been meaning to ask you."

"Go on."

"Is it just me or has it been harder to pass the barrier lately?"

"You noticed it too?"

"Yeah. Did something happen over here?"

"No. I use the magic power of the world as a slingshot to transport the consciousness stream here. Something has damaged the very fabric of magic in your world. It's not noticeable now, but I believe that over time, it may become another crisis."

"... maybe that's why Hiroko's looking for scientific healing..."

"On a quest again, are ya?"

"Yeah."

"In that case, you should rest up. Lots of hiking for you tomorrow, since I sense that you're in the middle of some rough country."

"I guess I'll turn in. Goodnight."

"Goodnight."

He opened his eyes and found himself in the camp. The campfire long since put out, and Mikkael slouched on the tree, his hand on the handle of the sword, keeping a sharp lookout for enemies. His turn to keep watch would end as the moon hit the apex - so for now, Yemhelch rested.

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
It came to be night fairly soon. Eiryk was away from the group with all that was happening, he was on a stalking mission. He chased down the next of the assassin leaders and before she even knew it, she was dead. Her entourage but a trail of bodies in the strets. Yet it pained Eiryk. He knew he was doing something that tortured him deep in his soul. But this was life now. He had to fight his way through the ranks of the assassins, but more important, he had to establish order.

"Order isn't everything." Karliah said, appearing behind him with the Lance of Longinus mounted upon her back, "Hello Eiryk. It seems we've both got a lot to talk over."

"... Indeed." He agreed.

The two sat at the canals, the dead body left for the authorities to discover whenever they happened upon it. They had been relatively communicative up to this point, but it was as if they had both come to new realizations of this world they lived in. Karliah herself was supposed to be a paladin, and yet everything she had once honoured she betrayed, while Eiryk, who transitioned from scholar, to hunter, to hero, had too many ups and downs to recount. He felt himself silent and unable to communicate any of it to the one he once called friend.

"I suppose we are no longer people of Lumbra." Karliah finally said. Yet Eiryk knew of everything he had done, everything she had done for him. He felt sick to himself.

"Goddess Eris," Excalibur spoke, "It is more than that. Eiryk's soul had a deep vow once, one which he has betrayed."

"Is that truly all it is, Eiryk?"

He nodded, "Yes. I can't help but feel like this strife that we live in... At times it feels like all of it is for nothing. All this needless killing and suffering..."

"I understand, but I am a goddess of discord now. I understand the need for discord in this world."

"But why..." Eiryk tried speaking, choking back tears, "Why can't we all just work for a better tomorrow... Together!?"

"I don't know... I just know that what we are... We are two souls now bound for eternity. That is why I had sought you out. I had heard you had formed a new guild."

"Yeah, but I wonder, is this what I want it to stand for? Murder? Death? What about order and happiness? Not just a few hours ago, I had been thinking that was what I was after. Not a few days ago, I was considering that."

"Let me join you then." Karliah finally offered, "I will be the one to scar my soul for you."

"Karliah? I can't let you do that. I-"

"No, do not say that..."

Eiryk sat there in silence.

She smiled, bittersweet as it was, and spoke, "Ours is, or rather, was something that could never be. It is not in destiny."

Eiryk quietly mused internally over her words, "I see..."

She was quite surprised he was taking it so well. He wanted her, truly, but he knew she was right. They were two souls that would work together, and nothing more, and he accepted this. He knew deep down his ties to her from an age since passed, many ages even before the second Jungalore. Was that reason to want her? Reason they had to be together? Perhaps their souls were lost in a darkness they did not comprehend fully. Whatever the case, he knew from that moment on, their feelings would not be reciprocated, but he did treasure her as a friend, and he knew he always would.

"Then, will you let me hunt down those who would oppose the order of this new world?" She asked.

"Yes. Thank you for being straightforward and... Well, not making this too awkward for me." He responded.

"I didn't exactly have the words, to be honest. I only know that I do have someone who I do care for. I would like to make this world better for her."

"... I see. I am happy for this news at least. Tell me though, where do I go now?"

"The last monolith that requires Excalibur's touch. The Slab of Destiny."

Eiryk stood up. "Then that is where I am going. Do you, as a paragon... Have anything that can send me there?"

"Only just outside. The darkness radiating there... It is too great for my powers to pierce at this time." She paused, "But are you sure you are ready?"

It was finally the time to end this cataclysm. It was now time to return the world to from whence it came, and to start everything over from here. Perhaps, with this, the threat of evil would be gone. Perhaps then, Baphomatt's curse, and the curses upon all lands would be rid of.

"I am."

Everything shone brightly and Eiryk had disappeared. Karliah shed a single tear for his hurt. Because though he never said anything of it...

"I still felt that, you asshole..."

She smiled and disappeared as well. Her reappearance was somewhere in Arcane Well. Long since abandoned due to the nature of Vex Vinas in the short days of the past few years. There she walked through, slicing, piercing, and sundering every enemy in her path, until she reached the depths of the ancient city. A deep chasm was in front of her, and she tossed a torch down, hearing a metal clank at the bottom. She let her white wings gently bring her down where the passageways of metal and glowing blue lights now guided her.

She walked in the darkness, dimly lit by these lights as she came to a great door of black metal and blue light. Placing her hand upon it, it opened, and inside were hundreds, or rather, thousands of tubes. Some filled with sleeping bodies. The fluorescent liquid containing them keeping them alive.

"Soon more will join each of you. In ten thousand years, it will be their time to awaken, to show us all the old ways. For now, continue your slumbers until at the end of it all I may join you."

She closed the door once again and left this room, a room labeled "Containment Facility Alpha" though she had removed this sign and instead etched into the stones a new name for it. The Temple of Rebirth.

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
When he arrived at the island on the Remnvald Archipelago, he couldn't help but be struck with pure awe. He saw the swirling clouds around the peak, red and raining the red liquid that poisoned the waters. The remnants of souls taken by the cataclysm. Yet it wouldn't be monstrosities he would fight, for as he walked along the path leading to the foothills, white feathers slowly drifted down upon the pathway. Only after an hour of walking and leaving footprints did he realize he was walking in a perpetual loop.

"Why can I not enter...?"

"Clearly something in the heavens is preventing us from moving forwards."

"So how do we solve it? I can attack monsters but that won't necessarily do anything I don't think."

"It seems that unless you are blessed by heaven, the passage will not reveal itself."

Eiryk smiled and called forth the three deities he had saved. With their combined powers, they opened the way for him and bid him good luck. Yet this was not pleasing to heaven. For in doing so, the heavens retaliated.

Waves of angels descended and drew their blades upon Eiryk.

"Do not pass." They stated firmly, "You are not allowed to ascend this mountain, human."

"Human...?" Eiryk chuckled, "I didn't know I was still considered human."

He stared them down and shouted, "FOR I AM OF PARAGON BLOOD."

Immediately he cut down two angels who set their blades upon him. Others cast beams of light at him, burning his robes with holy fire. Yet he continued on, cutting away at each of them with confidence and might. Suddenly, he also heard marching at his back...

"Advento!" A familiar voice cried out. It was Ortza and the Elvine armies! Not only that, but the Cult of Umbraria was at their side. "We had been waiting at this site for some time, and we were stuck on that path until you arrived..."

"Excellent. Then let's seal this one off together!"


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As they made their way to the mountain proper, they saw engraved in the mountainside each of the monarchs of Jungalore, the great ones being entire statues no smaller than twenty five feet in height.

"A tribute to the past kings and queens..."

"Save for that one." Ortza pointed out the destroyed effigy of Zeden Altena. It seemed they were added in reverse chronological order. Perhaps honouring each along the way, with the first queen perhaps holding the highest honours. Excalibur, it seemed, was melancholy and yet happy to see each monarch's image.

Along the way, waves of angels would strike at their marching army of 1,000 individuals. As Eiryk paid closer attention, he realized not all of them were of the cult or of the Elvine.

"So who are these people?"

"Those who have heard the word of the Realmskeeper Eiryk, the one who would keep this world safe from calamity should it ever arise again. They are your followers." Ortza explained, "The world travelled fast in my city, and in others as well with our help. They eagerly made their way here to assist you in this climb."

He felt touched by this gesture, if not slightly worried for their safety. Perhaps his words did matter after all...

Thus they were one quarter of the way up the mountain by dawn.

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
The sun was setting when they finally finished their harsh trek, and finally arrived in sight of Avalon's great gates. The triad alliance had reinforced their members well, it seemed. Yemhelch spotted men and women in classical Selk wear, knights from Cyndar and peasants from Fort Frenga all working together to further reinforce the great gates, each watching out for the other and working like a well-organized army. At the gates, they were stopped by a giant of a man.

"Halt, strangers." his voice boomed. "What business do you have in Avalon?"

"We're here on request from the Daimyo of Vel Da Ir." Kazeko replied. "I knyow it's strange, but could we have permission to visit the library?"

"Huh. So they're still alive, eh? Good for them." the knight smiled, pearly whites visible through his visored helmet. "It's fine. Ah, for security purposes - I'll be having your names now."

"... I'm Yemhelch. From Frenga Fa- uh. Fort Frenga." Yemhelch answered.

The knight called a peasant over, and the man smiled in recognition as he saw Yemhelch's face. After exchanging greetings, the peasant confirmed that it was indeed 'The Demonslayer' himself. The knight shook his hands with Yemhelch as well.

"You're a good man, Mr. Yemhelch." the knight nodded as the peasant left. "I have family back there, you know? Still, this is just a formality. We must be wary of demons or even death worshippers now, especially with rumors of trouble in Selk..."

"What's happening in Selk, Sir..." Yemhelch asked him.

"You are quite well-spoken, despite your rough appearance, Sir Yemhelch." he nodded. "Courteousness has lost its place at large in the world today, but you carry the hallmark of a knight. I am Sir Irven, Knight of Cyndar. Though my Order may have been marred by the demons, I will stand proud. I will never abandon this place - this hope of all life.... (mumble) No... never again...."

"It's an honor, Sir Irven." Yemhelch greeted him politely.

With that, Irven quickly changed the subject "...Ah, what I mean is - there's rumors about a schism in the order of assassins they have there. Perhaps, if worst comes to worst; we will assist the Queen reinforce order there. But thankfully, they have only been rumors, no more."

The introductions continued, with the two bards getting recognized for their fluent wordplay gags, and at last, the Knight faced Mikkael.

"Precious few survived the onslaught of the devil's tide, but may I have your name?"

Mikkael hesitated, his eyes shifting away. Picking up this cue, the knight approached. "What's wrong?"

"My name..." Mikkael nodded as he opened the words to say, 'I'm not sure if it's right, but...' - but the keening sound of a war-horn blown three times on the wall silenced his words.

"... oh no." Irven grunted, pulling out a bastard sword from his scabbard and kicking up his shield. "That means... EVERYONE INSIDE! NOW!"

At his powerful shout, everyone in the gates quickly gathered what materials they could before running inside as the gates closed. Yemhelch, Kazeko and Mikkael followed Irven inside as the gates slammed shut and several ninja, peasants and knights slammed together massive steel deadbolts into the back of the gate. From the wall, a scout gasped out a warning - "Lots of them, Irven! Moving in from the southwest! I think they're going to attack all at once!"

The rapid-fire sound of a great gong echoed across the city as the courtyard gates closed on the fortress city. Through this, Irven remained steady - giving short, but clear commands to prepare the defense, along with helping civilians move to the fortified center of the city. Yemhelch, Kazeko and Mikkael climbed up the wall-tower and looked out to the plain, now painted a sinister shade of red by the setting sun...

It was them. The things from Cyndar. Misshappen golems of flesh, still screaming with the mouths of the mortals that had once borne them. Instead of their old, tottering shuffling - they were running full speed ahead, like beasts on the trail of wounded prey.

"WHAT ARE THOSE THINGS?!"

From this wave of flesh a great beast emerged like a whale broaching the ocean's surface. Almost built like an ox the size of an elephant, but for the dozens of hands guiding it's body like a wretched centipede, it charged with an inhuman roar straight towards the gate, exposed intestines trailing behind, giant flies the size of a man's head swooping around and oozing rotted ichor - serving as a general pheromone direction marker!

Siege START!
Vs. 1500 Enemies!


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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter

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As they made the second day's trek up the mountain. Excalibur chimed in.

"What if you are unable to fight what's at the top of this mountain?"

"I shouldn't be, should I?" Eiryk answered.

"I know, with your strength, you can, but if you fail..." Excalibur trailed off before saying more.

"Then the world falls too, I know. Trust in me, sacred sword, just trust in me."

She laughed lightly, "I suppose you are correct."

Eiryk looked down upon the forests. In all of Jungalore, Mt. Mindar was the highest volcano, but the Slab of Destiny was perched upon the tallest mountain in the land. He likened each tree to a tiny brush tapping upon a blue and crimson canvas, the crimson of the water reflecting only drops of light under the dark red clouds. Like a cacophony of colours, the clash of light and darkness. Yet in that scenery, there was still light. That was much like himself.

Similarly, there were many sights to behold, despite the redness of the water, such as waterfalls that caressed the sides of the mountains, and created mists at the rocks below, reaching as high as their pathways and bridges. Once more, it was like a painted gave strong downwards brush strokes along a red backdrop, and the coolness of the mist in the air was a refreshing feeling to the group as a whole.

Ortza had walked along the path with Eiryk, pointing out each of the kings and queens. It was interesting to see this memento to each, and even then, offerings to the dead monarchs. Flowers, herbs, spices, weapons, armor, each had gifts the further they moved up the mountain. By sunset, they made it to a tunnel leading to the other side of the mountain. This was a bad sign. Eiryk knew this had to be some sort of ambush, so he lead only one hundred with him before letting the others through. Thankfully, he was correct in doing so, as three groups of angels had set up traps and ambushes in said tunnel systems. When they emerged on the other side, it was now knights alongside each monarch, names now engraved, and each race could be seen, even some unknown to man at the time.

"Such small people, these ones, and yet, carrying such powerful weaponry." Eiryk noted pointing to small lizard and dog people.

"Those are Kobloida." Ortza explained, "King Sun is their current leader, as we see him engraved here."

"So it is also other kings and queens. I wonder if Queen Philena will have her image here one day..."

"Who can say? But I do expect it. Here's mine. I had it added privately, and had myself depicted as a hooded king of a tribe out in the forests."

"I see... So you can do such?"

"Indeed. Though, looking back, perhaps I should have trusted everyone more." Ortza said laughing at his own error and perceived fears.

They made more progress this time, now three quarters of the way to the summit. They stopped before the bridges leading to the final peak of the mountain which pierced the cloudline. The smaller peaks and boulders along the way making a path for the stone bridges leading towards the final destination.

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