Title: Sandstrewn Maze
Sephiroth - December 14, 2010 05:56 PM (GMT)
Located to the northwest of Rabanastre are the desiccated bones of ancient hills. Between the walls of dark unyielding rock are winding corridors choked with sand. It is very easy to get lost here, and there is no water until one comes to the Nebra River tot he north. The only life commonly seen here are Cactites and Cactuars, as well as carrion birds waiting for unlucky travelers to die (and sometimes helping them along). Other predators lair here, however, and sometimes minotaurs patrol the area.
Sephiroth - December 18, 2010 09:55 PM (GMT)
[-> Kelaj from Rabanastre.]
Kelaj knew the tales of people getting lost out here, but he was not worried. As long as they kept moving northward, they would eventually reach the river, and the ford. Although they did hit a few dead ends, he was able to keep track of the layout of the Maze, and make steady progress.
Simply passing through the area was not what he had in mind, however. They had not seen any significant monsters since leaving Rabanastre -- just a few hyaenas that Kelaj had dispatched without really thinking about it. He was determined not to leave the Maze until they ran into something that he could use to test Niniane's abilities.
His ears perked up as he caught a whiff of a rank, bovine scent. His lips curved upward slightly as he halted. They were at another dead-end, although the rock face in front of them rose in a series of steps that would not be too difficult to climb. He could also smell water -- so he guessed that beyond this ridge lay the river. "Perfect," he muttered, lifting his eyes.
On cue the minotaur appeared on the rock above them, a pick-axe in its hands and an unfriendly shine in its eyes. It snorted as it looked down at them, then jumped down the steps to land before the two Espers.
Kelaj stepped back. He lifted his halberd, then struck it into the ground, the counterbalance planted deep in the sand. "All right, kid," he said, folding his arms across his chest. "You said you'd be fine. Now prove it."
Seoras - December 23, 2010 04:38 AM (GMT)
[-> Niniane, also from Rabanastre.]
Niniane wandered, mostly silent, as her Esper partner lead the way through the vast maze. She was amazed at his intelligent and perseverance - without his assistance, she would most certainly be lost in the maze, without hope of finding her way through. Kelaj said little, and she reciprocated - though she was excited to be traveling with another of her kind, it had been such a long time... She hardly knew how to keep a conversation with someone of his lifestyle, and she was quickly realizing that they were bred very differently.
They stopped at what the Esper first assumed was a dead end, before noticing the step-like protrusions in the rock wall. Her heart dropped to her stomach as... well, as something with a pickaxe showed itself at the top of the ridge, before jumping down to face them. She was sure her sickness could be seen as she heard Kelaj plunge his weapon into the ground - and offer the monster to her, as proof she could fight.
Ah... I knew it would happen sooner or later, but I was hoping for later.
She shook her head and took a somewhat more grounded stance than her walking stance, pulling her hair behind her shoulders so she wouldn't obscure her vision. She had been involved in fight scenes in the Opera - and while they were hardly the same, the ideas were very similar, as live weapons were used in all of their performances. A clear view would be her best friend - along with a calm head and a steady hand. She glowed with a red aura for a moment, as she caste a Haste spell on herself.
The beast seemed to watch them for a moment before setting its sights firmly on Niniane. With a swallow she was sure could be heard from miles away, she watched him raise his pickaxe and rush her, the roar coming from him raising the hair on the nape of her neck. He took a large swing with his Pickaxe, and Niniane gracefully strafed to the right before bringing her right arm around, intending to bash the creature in the back of the head with her bracelets. It seemed, however, that he had expected a counterattack - the Esper felt her stomach clench as the butt of his weapon found its mark there, and though she was tempted to crumple, she steeled herself from the pain and continued to the monsters right, placing herself at the bottom of the ridge.
She paused for just a split second - she realized with a bit of a start the her attack had found its mark, but it was so ineffectual that the signs of it had already begun to fade.
It seems this beast has a thick hide... Perhaps magic would be a better choice?
Before the beast could finish turning itself about, Niniane leapt to the first of the rock steps, her Haste wearing off just as she did so. She extended a hand towards the beast and a shard of ice appeared above him before falling to the ground.
The beast had seen her extend her hand however, and raised his pickaxe above his head, shattering the chunk of ice into smaller shards. Some of them found their mark, however, and the beast roared in pain as they found their mark. He looked at Niniane, new anger in his eyes, before roaring again, louder this time - the ground shook, and dirt swirled from the rock wall behind Niniane before extending itself as a skewer of rock.
The Esper barely had time to move before she was impaled on the end of the rocks - and in her haste she slipped, falling back to the bottom of the maze, with the minotaur, and Kelaj.
He... He really isn't going to help me? It was a bit late for regrets - but in the heat of the battle, Niniane hadn't noticed his inaction. I guess I wouldn't be proving myself if he helped. This thing is too big... I need to end this, quickly.
The Esper took a deep breath and found her footing, her hair forgotten and around her face from her hasty retreat. A large bruise could be seen at her midsection from the beast's pick-axe, though the clothing was still intact above it and so it was shrouded in a light sea green. The Minotaur had pieces of ice still protruding from its flesh, though some of the shards had melted already in the desert heat.
Niniane stood, her breath steady and her stance somewhat relaxed. She threw her right hand downwards, allowing two of her bracelets to slide past her wrist and into her palms. They began to glow slightly as she imbued them with a bit of her power, before quickly throwing them as hard as she could at the beast's face - and while she did so, she began running past him, hoping to put some space between them to give her more time to respond to his actions.
The Minotaur seemed surprised by her attack - and one of her bracelets landed square in his cheek with a light thunk. Realizing that her weapons were bladed just a moment too late, the beast raised its arm and the second bracelet sunk itself into the flesh there, but not far enough to do any real damage. Both of the bracelets fell to the ground, their glow fading as they did so. But Niniane's ploy had worked - she had distanced herself from the beast by a fair margin. He roared at her, raising his pickaxe and rushing at her again - if he reached her in time, it was obvious he planned to pummel her with blows in his anger.
But Niniane just smiled.
With all this space...
Niniane kept her face and body still and relaxed, but just in front of her an icy mist began to gather, almost invisible except as a gleam as the water particles reflected the sun. Just as the beast reached the mist, Niniane raised her hand, and a large spike of ice extended from it, stabbing straight through the beast's torso. His momentum continued however, and he crashed, dead, to the ground just in front of Niniane. His scent, along with the scent of death, assaulted the Esper's nose, but she just looked away and again extended her hand - a Fire spell engulfed the corpse, and in a moment it was but ash, with a small scent lingering.
She looked silently at Kelaj before moving stoically to where her bracelets at touched the ground and picking them up. There was a hint of disgust as she noticed the beast's blood on them - and she let them fall back to the sandy ground.
"So?" Her voice wasn't angry, no - but she was upset. She didn't enjoy fighting, but she could do it - and while she would never deny the newfound rush of excitement during the fight, killing was something she was never proud of.
I just hope I won't have to fight alone again... If there was more than one of them, there's no way I would've been able to do that... But perhaps I'll learn.
((WALL OF TEXT. Sorry. D= ))
Zell - December 23, 2010 09:24 PM (GMT)
Gospel walked through the maze amazed by the natural structure of this place, he wasn't worried about getting lost he just had to keep following the scent coming from the river that laid past the maze.
"I can't believe something like this was made naturally." Gospel walked without looking at the ground and suddenly tripped over something, Gospel raised his head spitting bits of sand out of his mouth. This seems oddly familiar. Gospel looked back at what he tripped over and saw a couple small cactus'...that began to move and then hopped from the sand and they were really angry.
"Oh no, Cactuars!" Gospel began to run as the two angry cactus' chased after him firing needles at him, Gospel had climbed up the wall and over into the next section of the maze and then the Cactuars finally left as they couldn't get to him. "I made it! OW!" Gospel had needles stuck in the back of his legs and he painfully pulled them out.
Once he removed the needles Gospel sniffed the air again to see if he had headed the wrong way running from them, the smell of the river was stronger now but he also caught a familiar scent like the one from the cave but different from Lone Wolf's. "Its that other scent. I caught it in the cave but only Lone Wolf was there." Gospel stood thinking as the path ahead of his forked; down one the river was strongest and down the other drifted the scent of the other person from the cave.
"Screw it. The River isn't going anywhere." Gospel ran down the path the the scent lingered from, the closer he got to scent the stronger it got. Gospel then heard a loud roar from the distance and hurried his pace, Gospel ran for what seemed like forever and finally got close enough to where the scent might as well have been under his nose and then the faint smell of fire mixed with it.
Gospel popped from around the corner and slid to a sudden stop, the scent was at its strongest right here. He looked up and saw a another furry person like Lone Wolf and then a very attractive women with him. "Found you! Your scent lingered all the way from that thief's cave!" Gospel pointed at Kelaj panting slightly from the continuous running.
Sephiroth - December 24, 2010 02:39 AM (GMT)
Cold blue eyes tracked Niniane's movements impassively as she fought. Only once did Kelaj show any emotion, and it could well have been irritation: when the girl slid down the rock face after narrowly dodging the earth attack. He really thoguht that was it, and was about to reach for his halberd. However, he quickly saw that she was still game to fight, so he kept his arms folded.
Finally, the minotaur fell. Kelaj nodded. "Not too bad," he acknowledged, feeling he should say something encouraging. She was new, but she did have potential -- and she was an Esper. He reached out and yanked his halberd free of the sand. "Though I hope you don't intend to burn the corpse of everything we beat."
One ear swivelled back at the sound of somebody running up behind them. Tail flicking, he took the Black Crescent in both hands, then turned around. He lowered the blades, however, when the oddly dressed youth skidded to a halt in front of them.
Kelaj smirked sourly at the boy's words. He took his left hand off the weapon, letting the head dip down until the haft pressed lightly against his back. "And I smell wolf's blood on you, though not just the thief's." He quirked a brow. "No human has that kind of nose; are you more than you appear? And why'd you trail me all the way out here? I asume not to return the money he stole."
He flicked his ear toward Niniane, but nothing was preparing to jump down on her while they were distracted.
Seoras - December 24, 2010 11:01 PM (GMT)
Niniane listened intently as Kelaj ranked her fight - it was short, but it was good to know that he was capable of at least accepting that she hadn't done too badly.
"Well, if they all smell as bad as that one did, I won't make any promises." She smirked at him, but before she could say anything more, another man appeared. He seemed to just be a normal human, but it seemed Kelaj thought otherwise.
Niniane was prepared to fight, but she didn't want to give it away too much - Kelaj hadn't attacked, and so neither would she.
"Do you two have some business together?" She was naturally curious - it didn't seem that Kelaj would have business with anyone, let alone someone who seemed as... rambunctious as the man before them.
Zell - December 25, 2010 02:56 AM (GMT)
Gospel eagerly watched as Kelaj placed the weapon against his back but still readied it seemed. "No he didn't have a dime left on him when I got him. Its just that your scent has been everywhere I have, what are the chances that you would also taking the same way as me?" Gospel was shocked slightly when this fox man could tell the difference between his blood and Lone Wolf's.
Gospel smiled before speaking again. "Yeah, that coward happened to get a few hits on me. That other Wolf's blood is indeed mine." Gospel then sniffed the air again slightly. "I'm an Esper. And from your scents you know exactly what that is. No use hiding it, nothing evades the nose of Fenrir's son!" Gospel playfully smirked again at the two new Espers he had found.
He then turned his attention to Niniane. "No we don't have any business I just wanted to know what this scent was that I have been following." Gospel then shifted around a bit before clearing his throat. "My name is Gospel Fenix! Hero of this wounded world!" Gospel struck a bit of a dynamic pose as he introduced himself. Yeah. Nailed it.
Sephiroth - December 25, 2010 04:27 AM (GMT)
Another Esper? That was almost too good to be true, but Kelaj didn't doubt the youth. It made complete sense. Besides, this Gospel didn't seem bright enough to come up with that kind of lie.
"Who's hiding?" he retorted. "Even if I could, I'm not one to hide." He gazed coolly at the newcomer. "I don't suppose it occurred to you to look through the caves? It's not like he had anywhere to spend the money. Phuh."
He turned around and started to walk towards the rock face. "It takes more than the death of a pickpocket to make you a hero, wolf. This lawless world needs a lot more than that before it becomes a decent place to live." His ears were tilted back, both to hear any response, but also in show of how unimpressed he was.
The fox bent his knees, and sprang up to the first ledge. However, he then looked back over his shoulder. "So, if you want to do some real good ... come with me." The guy had to be a good enough fighter, to beat Lone Wolf, even if he was a bit heedless. Then he looked at Ninaine; "Assuming Niniane doesn't object to having a knucklehead like you along."
He would have been worried about her ability to follow him up this path, if she hadn't demonstrated her agiltiy during the fight. He still felt somewhat protective of her, though.
Seoras - December 25, 2010 06:00 AM (GMT)
((Christmas gift for you!))
Niniane watched the somewhat entertaining exchange between Kelaj and the man who introduced himself as Gospel. Kelaj seemingly accepted him, which wasn't that surprising, considering that he was an ESPER. Niniane reveled in their luck at finding yet another of their kind - it was a culture shock for her. She was still so surprised at finding the first Esper, and now here was another? It was as if all her wishes were being granted at once.
She allowed herself a laugh at Kelaj's comment about knuckleheads - it was true, Gospel seemed a bit hotheaded, and referring to yourself as a hero... In the Opera, it never seemed that anyone referred to themselves as a hero. It was always posthumously, or after some great feat of strength, that you were referred to as a hero...
Niniane put her right hand on her hip and gave Gospel a slight smirk.
"Well, I don't know about the hero bit... But I'm always happy to see another of our kind!" She dropped her somewhat judgemental stance almost as quickly as she had taken it, stepping forward and putting a hand on Gospel's shoulder. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Gospel. My name is Niniane." With a well-natured smile she turned away from Gospel and to the wall before them - Kelaj had already begun his ascent, and Niniane followed suit, bending her knees slightly before leaping to the first rock step.
This trip is shaping up to be even more fun than I thought it would be... And maybe Kelaj will get less prickly, if there's more people.
...It was a nice thought, anyway.
Zell - December 25, 2010 08:23 AM (GMT)
((One from me too!))
Gospel let out low growl as the fox pocked fun at him. "I've done more than take out that loser! I've helped the villages I've passed through with their problems!" Gospel watched as Kelaj jumped up the wall, he thought he was so cool. I'll show him I'm a hero!
Gospel then turned his attention to Niniane as she agreed to him joining them, she then walked up and placed her hand on his shoulder, for some reason Gospel's heartbeat raced a little and he felt his face get flushed. "Very nice to meet you, Niniane."
Gospel watched as she walked off and jumped to the wall, he then shook the weird sensation away and had a determined look on his face; he then ran after them before dropping to all fours and jumping up the wall, he hit the first perch and then jumped from perch to perch until he was three above them. "Don't underestimate me Fox!" Gospel crouched down on the ledge he was on in a wolf sitting pose as he waited for the other two to catch up.
Sephiroth - December 25, 2010 09:55 PM (GMT)
Niniane had agreed to taking Gospel in. That was what he wanted to hear, and he didn't waste any time just hanging around. He jumped up the remaining ledges, wondering to himself what he would have done if Niniane had repulsed the newbie.
What does it matter? She didn't, and he's with us now. Having gained the top of the ridge, he began stalking across it, his eyes on the river, which could now be seen. Only a few sand dunes and small palm lay between them and their goal -- the Maze was at an end.
"My name is Kelaj," he informed Gospel, the only sign that he was paying any attention to the new recruit at all. He waited at the north peak of the ridge until he heard Niniane gone the top, then started jumping down.
[Kelaj -> Wood Village, unless one of you really wants to chat with him.]
Seoras - December 27, 2010 04:02 PM (GMT)
Niniane laughed her tinkling laugh as Gospel raced to the top of the ridge, leaving herself and Kelaj behind. He was certainly spirited, if nothing else - he would be an interesting addition to their group.
She easily leapt up the remaining steps, taking a moment at the top to brush some stray sand off her sheer gown. This was already more work than she had expected, but it was fun - she was enjoying the company of people who understood her better, she felt anyway, and maybe Kelaj and Gospel could learn a thing or two from her.
More likely they'll be teaching me, though... But that's alright.
Niniane surveyed the space at the top of the ridge and saw that they had found their way out of the Maze, and it was a clear shot to the forest from there.
"Well, Gospel, lets see if you can keep up, hmm?" With a smirk Niniane started jumping down the other side of the ridge, heading towards their destination.
[Niniane -> Wood Village.]
Zell - January 4, 2011 03:02 AM (GMT)
Gospel mocked Kelaj behind his back as he tried ignoring him. "Well, nice to meet ya but I'll stick with Fox for the time being!" Gospel playfully turned to follow after Niniane as she passed him and began down the ridge.
"Oh, I'll keep up alright! Last one down buys dinner!!" Gospel bounced from ridge to ridge, gaining a bit on the Fox. I'll show this jerk! Gospel felt a rivalry with Kelaj but deep down felt better to have found his own kind.
At least they might understand some of his esper like habits.
[Gospel --> Wood Village]