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 Chronicles of Jungalore 
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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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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
((OOC: Just want to say thank you everyone for 75k views! You guys are what's keeping me from giving up on the project. At times I feel as though I've developed my characters in the wrong path, but I want to get The Lorian Chronicles out in its perfected form. It's basically 99% complete. I just need the artwork (which I have two people contributing to) and to fine tune a few bits and pieces.

In regards to what happens with this, there are... Many ways out. However, I am continuing this story as I intend until probably a little after TLC's release. And of course, nothing I do is by sheer coincidence, so look into that abbreviation as much as you want.

Once more, thanks again for your continued support, now, on with the story!))
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After many battles and many deaths, Eiryk and his comrades finally arrived at the top of the mountain, it had a long staircase that lead up to the peak, though it was more like a crater. Perhaps, in a distant era, it was a volcano. After all, the Remnvald Islands were known to house volcanic activity, even if it was in the distant past.

The assassin leaned against a rock surface, tired out from the walking and fighting. He looked at his hands, with a moment of thought.

"This is it, gotta keep going."

They continued up the staircase which soon turned into marble. At the top was a colossal statue of the first queen, Cynthia Darien Altena. A statue of a woman with flowing long hair, adorning a most magnificent crown, a royal cloak, a scepter in one hand, a goblet in the other, a broach of high detail clasping her robe in place, and lastly, clasped and locked at her side, was some type of tome. The craftsmanship of the statue was even more precise and pristine than what even the modern sculptors of Eiryk's day could achieve. Instantly he could recognize the very same crown given to him by Ortza.

"The same crown we stole from Zeden Altena, the woman who cursed our kind." He remarked, "Funny how such an evil woman could be born of such noble blood."

"Perhaps it was a joke of divinity. Especially since it happened not only once." Upon remarking this, Ortza looked at Eiryk puzzlingly, however, Eiryk shrugged it off knowing that Ortza couldn't comprehend this entirely, continuing to speak, "But no matter... We came here for one thing."

At her feet was a solid gold slab, engravings which once housed magic now dull, as pieces had long since been broken. But something curious was about this raw gold slab. Not the fact that underneath was a solid black surface. He expected a monolith to be under the slab, but the fact that it had changed once again.

"This was... Not the prophecy all of Cyndar, let alone all of Jungalore... Was told..." Eiryk uttered. Ortza, noticing this was well spoke.

"The slab... Changed again!?"

Instead of its depictions of the egg hatching over a period of time, now it depicted something entirely different. Now it depicted figures most, if not all, knew; Eiryk and Mikkael, back to back, in a singlular engulfing flame. In Eiryk's hands was Excalibur, his eyes closed silently upon the blade. Mikkael with his buster sword in both hands, but it was different, it was far different in fact.

"Arondight..." One person remarked in the back, "The Meridian King is to wield Arondight!"

"You fool, that isn't Arondight!" Another remarked.

"Well, remember you two, that sword is supposed to be in Mt. Mindar's crater! No one has seen it since it was used by the mer known as Lancelot, and that was thousands of years ago!"

What was more curious was how Mikkael looked upwards towards the clouds, whereas Eiryk looked downwards towards a series of three graves. What was this? A premonition? Was this the prediction that Eiryk would be one to die a king? A ruler? That Mikkael would rise as a god, perhaps? In a way, Eiryk felt envy. Nonetheless, he knew, one day, he would surely die.

Along the sides, a temple-like structure was to Eiryk's side, with Karliah, Ortza, and three others whom he had not met standing at its diamond-shaped doorway. Its rooftop standing in front of the suns. To Mikkael's side was Philena, standing to the front of Mt. Mindar, and angelic beings blowing trumpets adorning the Meridian's flag. Not only that, but his son held the crown being worn by his mother.

"So the boy is destined for greatness, as is Mikkael... And my purpose has to do with this temple, I suppose." He ooked over, "Ortza, do you know anything of this?"

"Not a clue. But it seems our duties are not done in this world, even after this."

Behind them stood one man and two women at his side, and a figure in darkness behind him of his same shape. Yemhelch, Kazeko, and Hiroko. Somehow, Eiryk remembered the two women from a time before this world, though he did not let this on. What was curious was about Yemhelch who stood at the center. What role would he play in all this?

Eiryk finally turned his attention to the black part of the slab, he could not see the circle. In fact, he saw no beasts, no angels, no demons.

"Hear no evil, see no evil, huh?" He said.

Ortza responded, "I'm certain that's the wrong context."

"Still, usually something pops out and says, 'BOO.' Thus forcing me into a battle... Well, only after I touch the circle."

"Haven't you figured it out?" Excalibur finally spoke after all this time.

"Excalibur? Something you're not telling me?" Eiryk asked, unsure of what she meant.

"Yes, but consider your journey up here, consider everything you know about this place..."


Link


Then it dawned on Eiryk. His eyes widened, "Excalibur, you..."

"You're the final trial!?"

Sure enough, the spirit of Excalibur manifest itself. A ball-joint doll with green eyes and long blonde hair, a flowing white dress. But what was curious to him was...

"No... You aren't just any sword spirit... You are the spirit of her!"

Excalibur took a bow with a smile. "Yes, I am Cynthia Darien Altena, at least, I was three times. Every time, we would be drawn together, you would never figure it out. But for once... I can finally say you've learned the truth of who I am, who I was, and that our story dates back too many years to factor."

"So the final seal..."

"I cannot let you open it, Eiryk. Not until I know you, and the rest of this world, are ready to handle its consequences."

"What would those be?"

The ancient queen smiled once more, "Can you imagine a world where your will was all your own? A world where the gods have long since disappeared. A world where magic was... Erased? It's already happening."

The queen walked around, "Would you potentially forsake the Elvyn people? The ones who rely on the will of their pendants to keep them from succumbing to the curse?"

"Would you forsake those who could easily be cured by the healing magics? Would you forsake people the freedom to practice magic? Ostracize them across the ages?"

Eiryk shook his head, "You're saying, if I activate that slab, I will erase will?"

"No. I'm saying that magic will be impossible, lest people seek the magic of this world on their own volition." Cynthia corrected, "Even then, they must first have the inner comprehension of our tongue, of the tongue of the ancients."

"... And you as queen would keep this world cursed by evils?"

"That is not the point."

"Why is this slab tied to you, even? Why would will disappear?"

Excalibur looked at Ortza, then at Eiryk, remaining silent.

"... You can't tell me, can you? Or perhaps, you can't tell us."

"I can only tell you some things, Eiryk. I can only tell you these or else we will all be in peril. You have to make a decision."

"Go with your gut." Ortza said, his arms crossed, "That's what she's saying."

"... A world without will..." Eiryk repeated to himself.

"Remember, Eiryk, you may not have been the one to draw Excalibur... But you are still the rightful owner of my vessel."

Eiryk thought about it for a moment, and then realized the implications of such. He knew that she could simply be directed by some greater force. That was when he had to think outside the box.

"Something is being hidden from plain view. I can tell. There is a reason you don't want me to act on this."

"I cannot answer that remark." Excalibur stated.

"Ortza, we were all wrong. All of us were wrong about everything regarding this world. This runs... So much deeper." Eiryk turned his gaze back to Excalibur, "And you want to prevent the same mistake from occurring a fourth time."

"I, again, cannot confirm or deny this. I can only say that by activating this slab, you will erase the majority of will from this world."

"... I see..."

"So what will you do, Eiryk? Forsake the people, or activate this slab and forsake them?"

Eiryk smiled, and Excalibur knew exactly what he was to do. She transformed back into the blade as he struck the slab of destiny, causing it to open and reveal the monolith. He was to strike the monolith, but Ortza grabbed his arm.

"Wait! You fool! What are you doing!?" He angrily shouted, as the Elvine people held their weapons at the ready.

"No, you have to trust me Ortza!"

"You are going to cause my people to go insane because of her descendant's curse! You are going to cause so much suffering! Don't do it!"

"I must... I... I can't tell you why, but I realized everything when I thought back to Demeter, and to the church days... I can tell you after."

"I will be a fearsome beast when you strike it! There will be no talking!" Ortza shouted again, pulling at Eiryk, but he shook his head.

"No, you will be safe."

With a single, powerful strike of the blade, the final monolith activated. In that singular moment, the whole world changed before everyone's eyes as the final elemental awoke.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eiryk awoke in the Yuunlands once more, as Ortza stood beside him.

"Hey... We... We're in the heavens?" Ortza suddenly realized, perplexed by this turn of events.

"Yes..." Excalibur spoke, "Worry not Ortza, you will survive."

"But... I don't understand, I don't feel any different... You said the will would be gone." Ortza stated, looking himself over.

"That's because... There was a bigger threat all along. Excalibur needed this to be able to face it."

They proceeded to walk towards the central palace, and upon entering, they saw it happening. The elementals were fusing into their respective gods.

"Of fire and air is born a new Lumbra..." Excalibur remarked.

"Of water and earth is born a new Umbraria..." Eiryk finished. "We must stop it, lest the world end once more."

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
The things had eventually breached past the fortified barrack layer, and into Avalon proper. The great beast that had led the onslaught lay dead, it's body even now disgorging leeches and maggots the size of a man. Despite having lost the outer wall to their inexorable advance, the knights, backed by Selk sailors and a handful of ninjas and samurai from Vel Da Ir fought on through the streets and alleyways, occasionally helped by those still hiding in their homes.

Under the sinister light of the full moon they fought on despite being outnumbered by unnatural enemies that felt no pain or fear.

"What's their deal...?" Yemhelch grunted as he stabbed an eyeless, still-screaming corpse in the head and flung it across the alleyway.

"Impossible... the Cyndar Knights are all men of honor..." Irven muttered as he swung his broadsword, easily knocking aside a horde of winged beasts that tries to overrun him. "There's no way anyone would have betrayed her..."

"Betrayed who?"

"The Queen of Selk... she's here." Irven mumbled. "The way they're fighting to get to the palace... these creatures are here to murder the Queen and end the Taltanis legacy..."

"Abunyai!" Kazeko managed to shout out a warning to Mikkael, as one of the skinless horrors tried to charge him head on. Mikkael, displaying an incredible amount of battle reflexes, swung his steel sword right into the creature's mouth - tearing open the skull and smashing through the brain, letting his steel-lined gloves take the bite. The tell-tale sound of metal cracking echoed through the alleyway, as his steel sword cracked under the sheer onslaught. Ticked off, Mikkael threw the beast overhead and into a pile of leftover construction material - skewering it on a steel pole, and scattering the debris.

It was then that his eyes shone with a moment of recognition as the next wave rounded the corner. With Yemhelch covering him - Mikkael picked up a loose steel beam with one hand, taking the large 6-ft piece of metal and grinned. With one brutal swing, he smashed through the horde and struck them with such force, they were thrown out of the alleyway and into the thoroughfare. Using this opening, Yemhelch, Irven and Kazeko followed.

That was when they saw another of the giant siege-beasts headed straight to the palace - more coming in from south of the main road.

"This isn't good." Irven shook his head. "Both my men and the palace need immediate reinforcements..."

"Mikkael and I will go to the palace." Yemhelch said. "You and Kazeko should head down to the barracks and help them out."

"No, but to split our forces..." Irven countered.

"We can't all be in two places at once." Yemhelch replied, then turned to Mikkael. "Come on, we need to save your kid and your wife."

"My... child?... wife?"

"Pretty much. Anyway, wanna grab a new weapon?"

"No... I... I don't know, but I sort of like this heavy steel bar." Mikkael looked at his impromptu weapon, giving it an experimental swing. "It feels so... familiar."

Looking back, Yemhelch smiled at Irven and Kazeko heading south, and then he turned his attention to the palace. "We're gonna have to intercept that thing. Think you could do a little climbing?"

-

Philena kept behind the phalanx of knights, occasionally firing off a fireball or gust spell that threatened to overcome their defensive formation. The palace courtyard was nearly won, when she began to register what felt like a stampede.

Before she could shout out a warning - from the gates it burst, a creature with a sneering - giant of a face even now marked by the valiant assault of knights that had tried to stop its berserk charge. Arrows poked out of its 'face', blade wounds gouting black blood, and its triple-jointed legs slammed down on the cobblestone as it entered the palace garden, before letting out a roar, bloodied pieces of armor hanging from its fangs like an obscene set of braces.

Before she could rally her troops, the sound of hard steel on steel echoed across the courtyard, as if a beast had roared in defiance, shouting back a challenge to the skinless horror that now stood before her. A second too late she recognized the sound of the grates... as it slammed down upon the monstrosity with enough force to break its skull and pin it to the floor like some kind of insect in a collection. In shock, she managed to look up at the two figures standing atop the gate, their faces hidden by the brilliant red moon behind them. One wore a cape, bearing two swords - the other was a knight with... a large weapon.

Hope filled her being, and her mouth opened to call for them, but what came out of her was a warning shout. "LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU!"

-

It was Philena's shout that had made Yemhelch twitch, barely avoiding the jaws of a giant, winged worm slamming its jaws shut with enough force to rip his head clean off. Mikkael jumped into action instantly, delivering a downward strike with his steel beam, splattering brains and sending the worm's teeth flying this way and that, then kicking the lifeless monster off the wall.

"Thanks, Mikkael..."

"... it's fine. We need to move, though. More of those winged beasts are coming from the south."

"Alright. Let's go."

Glancing back, he saw Philena's guards start taking apart the pinned beast with their blades, and satisfied that Philena was safe, they began to run across the rooftops in pursuit of their next target.

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
As soon as the words escaped their mouths, the two deities emerged from their fusions, complete and whole as they should be. Lumbra, who had emerged first in his glowing white glory, spread his six wings and six arms as seven halos adorned his head alongside seven eyes upon his face and many more upon his body. Truly a being of light, but terrifying in his splendor. He spoke with a voice that echoed throughout the chamber.

"Thank you, Eiryk, for you have given us the powers we have sought since a time immemorial. With this, we can finally recreate the world over, create one of purity. We would ask that you join us in this endeavor, and be labeled a hero in the texts of this new world."

"Indeed." Umbraria spoke next. Hers was a form that was drenched in pure will, emanating from her white, cracked skin, eyes of pure red, like the blood that flowed through the mortals upon the land, and hair, flowing from her back as dark as the hour before the dawn, "You have done what others have failed, and have ensured your place in history."

"No." Eiryk said with a stern look upon his face, "This isn't at all what I was seeking. I refuse the power you present to me."

"What?" The new Lumbra questioned, "But do you not realize the implications of what you are saying?"

Excalibur spoke next, "The world of old is over, Lumbra, Umbraria... Your world ended the moment the third of your kind died. We intend only one thing, to bring forth the new world, by our own volition!"

Silence filled the room as each of the mortals, mere ants to the gods, readied their weapons for battle. The gods looked to one another and then back at the young assassin and the elder ranger. Lumbra was the first to laugh.

"You fail to realize that you cannot win this battle..." He assured them with full confidence, "After we helped you both, after all that has transpired, you would dare challenge us? Your creators, the swords of the nullverse?"

"We do."

"A pestilence upon your kind!" Umbraria spoke, readying herself alongside Lumbra, within their hands, each, were a new set of artifacts of heaven. In Umbraria's, the goblet, the tome, and the crown. In Lumbra's, the brooch, the scepter, and the cloak. Adorning these and equipping their red lances and forming them into divine blades, they were at full power, invincible before, incomprehensibly powerful now. Eiryk could sense the sheer power emanating from each of their forms. He snapped his fingers, focusing on Eris' position. Instantaneously, she appeared alongside them.

"So... This thread of destiny is coming to fruition, then?"

"Quite. Are you ready, Eris? Ortza?"

"As ready as we can be..." Ortza questionably responded, uncertain of his fate.

Eiryk faced Lumbra alone, where Umbraria would face Eris. Ortza provided support from the back. Simultaneously, both battles occurred...

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The initial stare off was intensely burning each soul that stood there, before the fight truly began.

In Eris' fight with Umbraria, they were perfectly matched, despite the advantage of the weaponry. Eris was of extreme power, not due to the spear, however, for her power came from the years of paladin training, looking towards fighting this very same evil. Now, as godlike as she was, she could evenly match the goddess.

In Eiryk's fight with Lumbra, it was all close quarters, the healing powers of the artifacts ensured he would be eternally living, depite any damage. Yet, he sensed in himself a familiarity with fighting the god, for in him, he sensed the soul of a paragon long since passed.

"So you realize it now, do you?" Lumbra grinned, "Eternal Paragon Elsaiel... Or should I say, Eiryk Advento?"

"Call me what you will, for I will call you no god of mine!"

Excalibur sundered his fleshy body as he bled from each wound, and yet the battle progressed so little. Even so, Eiryk came to realize, he was not alone, and not acting alone. Ortza's arrows and Excalibur's mental guidance ensured he knew how he would win. Yes, this sword was his own. He finally found his purpose which he was seeking across three lives.

"I can't let you recreate this world yet AGAIN. I will make them happy... Those people who live in this world, good and evil, I will give them a chance to lead this world in the right direction!"

"Feh, you are of no match! Umbraria! The tome!" Lumbra shouted.

Umbraria did initially attempt to use the tome against the three of them, yet...

"Y-You three... You're immune to the tome's power!? IMPOSSIBLE!"

Eris smiled as the two of them exchanged blows, "It is not impossible, for in us is more than one soul, in us is more than one name, names which transcend eternity!"

"Transcending eternity...?" Ortza came to question as he encircled Umbraria with a volley of arrows and sliding shots.

"You can sense it, can you not? You are one of many born of a time long passed."

The tome, useless as it was, still was of use to Umbraria, and so with her spear, many times the two of them would be surrounded by attacks, but they dare not be hit, for the implication of even one scratch was quite severe. To be harmed would be to lose the souls inhabiting their forms. Thus, they would often choose to take environmental damage from falling ceilings and ornaments. With his potions on hand, Ortza not only provided ranged damage, leaping over the fallen pillars and aiming for the eyes of Umbraria, but sharing healing benefits with Eris and Eiryk.

Eiryk's blade would strike at Lumbra, and even if he could use his multiple arms to fight, Eiryk had within him a will that surged forth with all the hopes of the future, a will that transcended space and time. His body surged with sheer magical goodness, a light which would blind Lumbra in each swing of his blade.

Umbraria was a spellcaster, through and through. She would surround the area with fire and ice, creating explosive balls of flame alongside her spear strikes and throwing the two of them to the walls, ceiling, and floor with wind magic. Due to one explosive spell, the sky became completely visible, allowing for lightning strikes on the whole area. Yet the heroes did not relent. Their strikes upon her were fierce, and soon...

"Umbraria! This is your final stand, you and the old world... Are through!" Ortza exclaimed, piercing two arrows through her eyes as he leapt over her head.

The goddess wailed in agony as her blood spilled over the floor of the palace.

Eiryk, similarly, realized, in the blinding slashes, that the weakness of Lumbra was his sheer ego, and in one swift cut, he leapt over the god and cut all seven of his halos in two. The god screamed in utter pain as he fell to the floor.

"And that ends it..." Eiryk stated.

"Impossible... You are all but mortals!" The two of them said in unison, fusing their forms once more.

"So the texts were true after all..." Eris uttered, "There was only one god..."

"This takes us to the skies then..." Eiryk stated, looking to Ortza who fully realized his Gargoyle form.

"Say no more. I will use this curse to ensure the safety of all peoples."

"This is... A long time coming, old friend." Eiryk stated as Ortza took him upon his back.

The god, Lumbraria, was a collossal being, so colossal that the heavens could barely contain him, and emanating sheer magical power that drained Jungalore of its will to manifest them all back to the planet. Standing in the ocean at the center of the Corisca mainland, the towering form of Lumbraria, with six arms, a genderless body, seven halos and seven horns, alongside seven eyes and many more eyes and mouths adorning its body, gold and platinum pieces adorning the whole body of the god along with the fused spears in one arm of six.

"So... The true form of god shows itself." Eris remarks, "Eiryk! You take the head, I will aim for the heart."

Flying about the god's body were angels and demons alike.

"God wills that this world return to nothing, as intended, let it be so!" The angels chanted.

"Let us return to nothingness, mortals!" The demons bellowed. Yet with everyone working in unison, no minions of god or the devil could face against the heroes. Lumbraria itself was powerless as Eiryk landed upon the spear and would climb its body and drag his blade through the flesh of the being. Eris herself would pierce holes through the body of the god as she flew throughout the field of battle.

"Mortals, the time for redemption is nigh..." The god bellowed.

Beams of pure light would shoot from the eyes of the god as dark gas would ooze out of its many mouths, poisoning the waters around it and poisoning parts of its flesh that would dissolve anything said flesh would touch. Yet the heroes, agile and powerful as they were, they knew this was not a battle they could lose.

Eiryk pierced each eye along his warpath, and Ortza himself also contributed with his claws cutting at each eye. Eris herself knew that tearing the flesh of the god would be the best way to maintain damage.

Lumbraria would alternate its body around to throw off the heroes, and would cast spells from each of its mouths and eyes. Spells including ones no one had seen before. Some spells sundered entire angel and demon bodies in holy, and yet, unholy fires, melting them down to masses of flesh, blood, ash, and bone. There were times where lightning would completely destruct entire beings in attempt to halt the heroes.

She found no trouble in piercing the chest of the god, yet it turned out that this god had seven hearts in a field which she could not enter. For the true heart of this god was in the null, a realm only theorized to exist, and so, how Eris would enter was beyond her. But in her hands was the key to the null, and she was intent on winning. Thus, she risked her very life to step into the null field surrounding the true heart of the god.

At the same time, Eiryk stood by the neck of the god, and with Excalibur, began to slice through the neck, beheading the god as it began to fall into the sea. From the chest emerged Eris, drenched in blood. As it began to sink, Ortza grabbed the two spears and Eiryk and flew them to the coastline. In that final moment, the world had been purified of all cursed waters, the clouds broke, and the sun began to rise upon a new world.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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Link


Everyone tended their wounds on the coast near the Velian mountains. Eiryk was the first to stand with one spear, tossing it to Ortza.

"Yours, friend. You are the next paragon alongside Eris."

Ortza looked at the spear and nodded, "We... Are paragons?"

"Yes, we must protect this world. I myself am not a paragon, truly, and I may never be a true paragon, but perhaps... In a new time... I too will rise to become a true paragon."

"And if not? What will you do?" Eris asked, looking at the dead body of the god as it slowly sank further into the sea.

"... Then I will be a real hero. Too many were sacrificed with the wish of the necromancer, too many were forced to suffer through these end times. With this new world, you will each be gods for the future. Perhaps more will also become as gods, as the slab predicted. Perhaps, even... I could be the champion chosen by you in a time to come?"

"We will remember that, but what is the first task you have for us as the new gods?"

Eiryk thought for a moment and answered, "Let them all know, that this world, it is theirs to make of it what they will."

"This new world, governed not by gods, but by mortals... It almost feels heretical." Eris mused.

Eiryk laughed, "But see, a god cannot be artificial, it cannot be something made, it must have a level of humanity... To sacrifice humanity, we lose our true selves."

"The will is gone, Eiryk, yet I am no different." Ortza commented, not feeling any will in his body, as did each of them.

"Well, that's because, quite simply, you are what you all should be. Let your people rejoice, and let them be as they wish. Beast or man."

"One final question, Eiryk." Eris asked as he began to walk away, one extra spear in hand, "What shall we call this new world."

Eiryk smiled and answered. They agreed, it was a good name. For now, he had a new quest, to pursue the remaining paragons. To unite them, to name them as the new gods, and then, to one day pass on to the next life.

This was not destiny, for he knew, destiny was forever ended on the world of Lorias, and the people were finally free of the will of the gods.

He could hope for nothing less, and nothing more, and so, with a final wave, he walked into the dawn, ready to face his next challenges.

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Post Re: Chronicles of Jungalore
"You noticed that, didn't you? How they charged in with their backs to the setting suns?"

"Aye... What are you planning?" the knight grunted as he hefted a heavy lance.

"Dawn is less than an hour away. If my estimates are right, we can push an offensive force surrounding Queen Philena and breach towards reinforcements from Frenga."

"My Queen..."

"It'd be a splendid way to break this stalemate." Philena nodded at the tactician's analysis of battle. The fight had gone through the night and pre-dawn tinted the sky. And if things went to plan, they'd all survive. "Very well! Sound the signal for the charge at hand!"

"To arms!"

-

"This feels familiar, doesn't it?" Yemhelch grinned as he stabbed a giant walking torso in the 'head' made of skulls and kicked apart the rotting body, ducking out of the way as Mikkael followed up with a heavy strike with the massive steel bar he had picked up. The force of the onslaught crumpled apart the flesh-hewn monstrosity like a wet paper bag. Rolling into Mikkael's blind spot, Yemhelch intercepted and stabbed a winged, screaming head in the eyes that swooped in to deliver a lethal bite to the Meridian's throat. He didn't reply - but his body moved with familiar motions. He surprised himself at his own agility.

"... why?"

-

The first sun rose - red and majestic against a few wisps of cloud in the distant horizons. And that was the signal - with the rays of the sun, they smashed open the gate. The burst of sunlight had the desired effect; blinding the creatures used to fighting in the dark, their lidless eyes screwing up in agony - effectively blinded and unable to counterattack against the desperate cavalry charge.

"Crush those demons and ride through!"

"We'll show'em the power of the Triad Alliance!"

Philena rode on a disciplined war-steed, but for one moment her eyes wandered to the gate where she had seen - no, she was sure she had seen her lover. The trail of fleshflayed bodies decorating the castle walls was proof that they had not yielded. Could it have been Mikkael? There was no confusing the knight's stance with the greatsword...

Hope restored in her heart, she rode roughshod through the screaming demons the knights, vagabonds and even townsfolk providing cover fire and pressing the attack. Taken by the moment, she let out a war cry, joining her voice with the furious roars of her vanguard as she drew a rapier.

-

"Why what?"

"Why does this seem so familiar?" Mikkael mused. "I really don't know who you are, but my body moves like this..."

His voice trailing off, he swung his impromptu greatsword into the jaws of a serpentine beast that had attacked from below, sending teeth flying everywhere. The next serpent leaped to deliver a bite while Mikkael was recovering from the swing... only for Yemhelch to counterattack with a booted foot - crushing its skull, sending rotted meat and still-twitching flesh flying.

"I guess it's because we're friends." Yemhelch grinned. "...you're alright with that, right?"

Mikkael's eyes followed the shapes forming in the dawn sky. More of those winged, eyeless worms - now looking like a swarm of crocodile-sized hornets dive-bombing their position on the roof. Once more, Yemhelch and Mikkael settled into a back-to-back formation, ready to attack this second wave.

"Yeah... I'm alright with that..." Mikkael finally nodded.

-

The ground attack force had been completely scattered by the surprise attack and the war of attrition delivered by the walled city, but the airborne force had regrouped - distracted as they were from the attack, they circled the sky like vultures - driven back by archers and sling-shots from peasants. It was to this force that the royal knights arrived.

"Reinforcements from Frenga!" a rough-and-ready blacksmith turned war captain greeted the knights. "Lets form together!"

"Form together, protect the Queen!" the head knight yelled. "We'll take back our land!"

The dawn painted the sky a gentle velvet, and the airborne forces were stripped of their ability to hide in the darkness.

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