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Author Topic: Coryn's Saga Arc 3  (Read 11681 times)

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Offline legomaestro

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #105 on: August 28, 2014, 08:11:11 PM »
Well goodluck with that. Novellas are always nice for lightish reading, and I'd recommend physical copies than ebooks if you ever have the chance.

Offline Coryn

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #106 on: March 18, 2015, 05:41:29 PM »
*Enters topic. Sings to story and fans of said story. voice blows away the dust*

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfTMl8Fc554


Oh man oh man. started writing and stuff started happening. the only problem is that I have a bunch of homework and studying to do despite it being break and damn i really should get on that. so I wrote a chapter and change but I have to stop for the sake of my grades but here's some progress!

personally I think it's some of the best stuff I've ever written. at least at times. trying to write descriptions in a way more befitting some of the great writers out there (here's looking at you Neil Gaiman)


ALL WASHED OUT

Everything had changed in an instant. Kyle’s vision blurred, and soon he wasn’t seeing at all

anymore, not with his eyes at least. He possessed a faint, yet brutally powerful awareness of

what was transpiring around him. Katsumi was holding back the massive power of their enemy,

Jaska was bearing down with every last ounce of strength he had. She knew she was nearly

beaten, and so did he. And he knew he was nearly tapped out, but prayed she did not notice

before the end. But the rage he felt in each of them was equal, both were committed, ready to

tear into the other with only their teeth if they had to. The two were the same, but neither could

see it. Their dedication blinded them to their similarity, to their mutual truth, and nothing they

could do would ever change that.
   
   Neither could Kyle though. The realization slowly came upon him that this strange

second sight was not his own. He felt drunk, lost, like he was sitting on the edge of sleep, just a

moment’s notice from falling off into the black. There was another rising from the darkness.

They also were the same, but they were distinctly set apart. Kyle sensed that he was a part of the

other. No, the other was a part of Kyle, two parts of a whole, one to sleep, one to dream. They

too were equal. No matter the greatness of the other, nor the smallness of Kyle, in the eyes of the

universe, both were equally insignificant.

   Kyle felt his hands tighten into fists, they were only half his, but half was enough, one

last yawn, one last breath, one last sting of pain through his tired muscles. They weren’t two, not

really, they were just opposite sides of the same coin, still in the air, free falling towards an

unknown fate. He sensed it was enough, and slipped into a deep sleep once more.


   It was no longer Kyle that stood behind Katsumi in that dilapidated school. This was a

different man, a man who savored the pain shooting through his nerves, the air in his lungs, the

sweat stinging his eyes. Coryn Sken walked free in the universe once more, and before him stood

an old friend who needed his help, and an old foe which could use it as well.

   He breathed in, his eyes adjusted to the light, pupils tightening. Air left his lungs, hot and

moist, pouring back out into the world. Coryn raised his arm, and energy poured from it, fast,

and free and fluid. It cooled his skin as it moved over it. He didn’t even bother to concentrate his

power, he didn’t feel the need to. It flooded out from every pore, crawling up his arm until

finally falling upwards towards the sky, a wave of light to push back the menace above. Coryn

breathed, and it was as if his whole body was melting, defrosting for the new spring after a long

winter.


   From Katsumi’s perspective, there had been no great scene to behold, she had sensed

Coryn, only it was Kyle, and then Kyle had ceased to be, and only Coryn remained. A moment

later she felt the great weight of Jaska’s attack lift off of her, and a blinding light was building

behind her back   

With the force of the spinning blades no longer bearing down on her, Katsumi could only

let her arms fall and dangle useless at her sides. There was no power left in them, and she could

hardly believe that they had lasted as long as they did. She turned to confirm with her eyes what

her other senses had told her. Coryn stood behind her with an arm stretched out, the limb

glowing white with energy. Katsumi had never seen nor felt anything quite like it. She had

always thought of enix as something that was to be concentrated, controlled, and concise. But

looking at the way Coryn was using it in that moment, she couldn’t help but feel that that was the

correct way, the only way that it should be used. It was smooth, fluid, free. Coryn was

controlling it as much as it was controlling him. He was imbuing it with no great force of will,

but it moved as it needed without command. Both of them were in symbiosis, working in a form

of harmony that she had only read about in old scrolls.

Katsumi tried to pin down his emotions, but his face was ambivalent, somewhere

between rage and joy. Then quite unexpectedly, to Kastumi’s mind at least, he spoke to her.
   
“You’re looking good Katsumi, nice outfit. Was starting to worry you had forgotten

about me.”

Katsumi shrugged her tired shoulders.

“Oh believe me I wanted to leave you here, but Jack insisted. ‘He wouldn’t want to miss

out on this’ he said. ‘He’s probably too busy creepily hitting on high school girls’ I said.”

“Geez don’t pull any punches would ya?”

She smiled at the ground.

“Just kick his ass and let’s go home.”

“Right-o”

Coryn’s arm flashed and a pulse of energy travelled up and slammed into Jaska’s saw.

There was a great shrieking of metal on metal, and Coryn took the opportunity to fling himself

into the air, straight through the weakened blade.


Jaska had been blinded from the bright light that was building up around his saw. It felt

like he was trying to cut through sand, the deeper he pushed, the more resistance he met. He

puzzled over what was happening, as the shear mass of the blade blocked whatever was below,

until finally his senses caught up with him. It had taken him a moment to detect the subtle

change in his prey’s energy signature, but when he did it shook him to the bone. Coryn had

returned, but he had already used up almost all of his reserves fighting the damn girl. The

realization that Jaska couldn’t continue the fight took hold of him, yet he knew equally well that

he wouldn’t be able to run either. He had seen Coryn in the avenging mood before, and it was

not a force he wanted to contend with at that moment, but unfortunately he soon found that he

had no choice in the matter.
   
His saw blade buckled, and then shattered completely in half as Coryn jumped straight

through it, a blanket of energy shielding his body. The blond warrior was bare fisted, but even

unarmed as his opponent was, Jaska knew he had already missed his opportunity. Coryn had

closed in too fast, he was already inside of Jaska’s defense. A blow to the chest sent Jaska reeling

backwards. His sternum was shattered, and the wind blew out of his lungs. He began to fall, and

the rest of his energy reserves left him. Jaska could no longer hold his own transformation, and

as he fell he could feel himself reverting to normal size once again. Halfway down however,

Coryn caught up with him once again, and taking the now shrunken spider by the collar, towed

him behind himself.
   
The two collided with a building, and Coryn slammed Jaska’s back against the glass side.

Jaska’s spider limbs were sheared off nearly immediately by the jagged glass. The pain was

horrendous, but he knew they would grow back given time, but looking up, he wondered if that

time would ever come. Coryn’s mouth was smiling, happy to be awake, but his eyes told a

different story. They were wide and furious, filled with fire and anger. A beam smacked into the

back of Jaska’s head and it directed his vision downwards. Coryn’s feet were hemorrhaging

energy, burning his skin and propelling him forwards like a rocket. He wasn’t concerned with

precision, only power and speed.

Jaska’s stomach flipped as Coryn latched onto a flag pole with one hand and sent the

Spider sailing up into the air with the other. As Jaska flew up he lost sight of Coryn, but as he

began to fall and his vision once again turned towards the Earth, Coryn appeared from

nothingness directly below him. He immediately launched into a volley of blows with both arms

and legs. Jaska made as many moves to defend himself as he could, even managing to launch a

few explosive blasts with his one still functioning cannon, which thankfully hadn’t been

destroyed with Coryn had broken the rest of the saw. After landing a blast directly to Coryn’s

face, Jaska found his vision blocked by a thick field of smoke, but it quickly gave way to

Coryn’s own face, hardly scathed by the impact. Jaska braced himself as Coryn’s head impacted

his face. The blow separated them, but Jaska found that they had fallen quite far, and noted that

they were both about to impact with the ground.

Turning his cannon towards, The Spider fired at the last second. The blast scorched him,

but it was successful altering his trajectory, deflecting him off to the side and away from Coryn

who smashed down not a second later. Sailing over the roofs of abandoned cars, Jaska craned his

neck to regain sight of his opponent. Coryn was still blasting energy from his feet to propel

himself along, but he seemed matched with Jaska’s own velocity. But Jaska’s lead was quickly

dying off as gravity dragged him back down and into the pavement. Not wasting the opportunity,

Jaska flipped in the air, leveled his cannon at Coryn’s approaching form, and waited.

When Coryn was within half a foot from Jaska’s canon, he pulled the trigger. The

cigarette lighter like barrel flared with yellow energy as excess power was vented along its

porous shaft. But before the blast could hit him, Coryn disappeared. The explosive sailed

harmlessly away, and Jaska felt a gust of wind as Coryn reappeared just a few feet below Jaska’s

outstretched arm. His eyes swiveled down just in time to watch Coryn uncoil, launching a

powerful uppercut to Jaska’s chin, sending him flying up towards the sky. He blacked out, and

Jaska had ascended several hundred feet before he regained consciousness. Already however he

knew Coryn was behind him, holding him in a grapple. Jaska knew that the battle was over. A

sliver of sun broke through the clouds, illuminating him in what may be his final moments. He

breathed in, tried to relax, and began his conjoined descent with Coryn still gripping him tightly.


Katsumi had been barely able to keep up with the battle. She might have done better were

it not for her high level of exhaustion, but even then, it would not have been easy. The two

combatants had nearly disappeared after leaving the school, only appearing to her as clouds of

dust thrown up into the air or flashing points of light in the sky. Finally however they seemed to

slow down, starting up high in the air, and beginning a sharp descent towards the Earth.

   
Katsumi used kuupu to transport herself to where she figured their approximate landing

site would be, and she found that her estimate was spot on. What had become nearly a single

dark figure slammed down in front of her, a wave of force blasted out from their landing, and

Katsumi finally got a clear picture of the action. Jaska was on his knees, Coryn was behind him,

grappling his right arm, still gripping his remaining canon, against The Spider’s back. What

happened next Katsumi could not see, but the results were undeniable.

With one instant Jaska was on his knees, Coryn stood behind him, and in the next Jaska

was flat on the ground, but he had lost his right arm. Coryn had relinquished his hold of him

completely, but in one hand he held Jaska’s right arm aloft, its now randomly firing nerves

causing the cannon to fire sporadically into the air. In his other hand Coryn held on of his

swords. It was devoid of blood, and Katsumi had no idea where he had gotten it from, but it was

almost certainly what Coryn had used to sever Jaska’s arm from his body.

Tossing his blade aside, Coryn gripped Jaska’s arm with both hands, and slammed the

still hot barrel against the side of Jaska’s head, pushing the right side of his face hard against the

ground, scratching his face and grinding dirt into his features. Katsumi took in the putrid smell of

burning hair and flesh, and recoiled as she heard a slight sizzling. She was about to speak out in

opposition to executing their opponent, but Jaska beat her to the punch.

“Alright, alright, alright, let’s not get hasty Coryn! You wouldn’t want to do something

you’ll regret right?!”

   Coryn adjusted his hold on the arm and what seemed to be small bolts of electricity

crackled on his finger tips.

   “You know if I just give the right muscle a little jolt, I could blow your head clean off. So

tell me Jaska, what’s one good reason that I shouldn’t do that?”

   “You’re a good guy remember! You’re supposed to be the big damn hero! Heroes don’t

just go around executing people right?!”

   Coryn screamed directly into his ear.

   “Try me!”

   Katsumi yelled out at him, her voice breaking slightly.

   “Coryn!”

   He looked up at her and some of the rage drained out of his eyes. Coryn took a deep

breath before turning back to Jaska.

   “You killed a lot of people today Jaska, good chances are that I can’t fix this mess, that

this day can’t be reset. They can’t be brought back to life! What do you have to say to that?!”

   “What do you?!”

   Jaska’s reaction caught Katsumi off guard, but Coryn seemed unfazed. The Spider

continued on.
   
   “You know why I’m after you Sken. You know why I can’t stop until I kill you. It’s not

just what you’ve done to me personally. It’s about everything you’ve done your whole damn life!

I can’t stop until I reconcile that!”
   
   Katsumi couldn’t make sense of Jaska’s reaction, but it caused Coryn’s body to slack,

and for a moment it seemed like he was about to pull way. But then a bolt of energy leapt out of

his fingers and into Jaska’s severed arm. The cannon roared to life, and blasted straight down.

Dust and dirt clouded Katsumi’s vision, but as it cleared she could see a small crater now existed

before her, Coryn stood in it above Jaska’s body, silent and still. But as the dust continued to

clear observed that Jaska’s head was still attached to the rest of him, and he was still perfectly

alive. Coryn had altered the barrel’s aim at the last second, and shot right next to Jaska. The blast

had burnt the back of his head, but otherwise he seemed unharmed.

   Coryn tossed the arm into the air and with a flick of his and an orb of concentrated enix,

turned it and the cannon to dust. Jaska slumped into the crater, breathing heavily, on eye swollen

shut, the other focused on Coryn.

   “Just going to leave then? Not ready to finish me off yet?”

   “Doesn’t look like it.”

   The Spider smiled. “Guess I can’t complain.”

   He lifted up his remaining arm to his ear, and seemed to speak to no one but himself.

Shortly afterwards was looked to Katsumi like a flying brick appeared swooping down from a

nearby building. It was shedding off some sort of invisibility field, and Jaska took no time

clambering inside as fast as his broken body would let him. The craft lifted off before closing its

rear doors, and Jaska shouted down at Coryn as they slid shut.

   “Dasvidaniya ublyudok!”

   The doors shut and the shuttle rocketed off into the atmosphere, quickly disappearing into

nothing. With the threat gone, Katsumi turned around to find Coryn. He was sitting quietly on an

upturned vehicle, smoking a cigarette as his features aged back to a man of his early twenty’s.

None of the clothes he was wearing fit quite right anymore, but they were so torn to hell that it

didn’t seem to matter to him anymore.

   Coryn looked down at Katsumi, who was eyeing him suspiciously.

   “Wondering why I let him go?”

   “Among other things.”

   He took a long drag of his cigarette and let the smoke billow out with each word of his

response.

   “Jaska and I share a rather intertwined past. As it just so happens though that’s only half

of the reason.”

   “And the other reason?”

   Another long drag.

   “Killing people isn’t what makes someone evil. It’s why they kill people. I’ve killed

people, you’ve killed people, and not all of them have necessarily been evil people either.

Sometimes they’re just unfortunate.”

   Katsumi wasn’t satisfied with the answer she was getting so far. It wasn’t like Coryn to

be so callous when it came to death.

   “So what about the civilians who died today? Were they just unfortunate?”

   Coryn eyed her.

   “Yes! But their blood is on my hands, not Jaska’s! Jaska is a monster, the way he fights

causes destruction on its own. I can’t blame the predator for being true to its nature, but I can

blame myself for putting others in the way of the predator.”
   
   He smashed his cigarette butt against the car to extinguish it.

   “I should have chosen a better place to hide.”

   Katsumi shifted her weight, carefully calculating Coryn’s current mindset.

   “So  you’re saying that Jaska really isn’t evil because he’s just another animal and it’s all

your fault because you’re a *censored*ty planner.”

   “Well I-”

   “Get over it Coryn!”

   Coryn was about to say something but cut himself off as Katsumi clearly had something

to say.

   “He’s a monster! You said it, I thought it, he confirmed it! People kill monsters because

they are monsters damn it! That’s just what you do with them! And don’t give me some *censored*

about you being a pour planner! I know you well enough to know that you considered the fact

that you would be putting all of these people in danger, and that you thought what you were

doing was important enough to risk all of their lives! I know what all of that is just a big excuse

so that you don’t have to tell me what is really going through your convoluted head, so just come

out with it and tell me!”

   Coryn was taken aback by the verbal onslaught, but it seemed to ease his mind, and he

cracked his first genuine smile all day.

   “I think Jaska has the potential to do more good for the universe than he ever did bad. He

just needs to figure a few things out first. I just want him to have good direction.”


   Katsumi fell back onto the ground. She couldn’t stand to keep holding herself up, but at

least she had finally gotten a straight answer out of Coryn.

   “That’s good enough for me. I may not like the idea of unwilling sacrifice for the greater

good, but I get it.”

   Coryn lit another cigarette and collected his thoughts as he smoked it. Katsumi remained

quiet, save for the sound of her heavy breaking slowly returning to normal. After a few slow

minutes, Coryn finally asked what was weighing on his mind.

   “So then, why did you come to get me?”

   Katsumi lifted herself back up, and met Coryn in the eyes. She wanted to put a positive

spin on the news somehow, but she couldn’t find the words. Finally she resolved to simply say it

as it was.

   “The Kurousen is open. We failed.”




Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline Echo_River

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #107 on: March 20, 2015, 10:20:57 AM »
He Has Returned!!

Awesome part Coryn!
I felt a surge of excitement at the transformation part. Great to have him kicking again.

...
He let the 'bad guy' go. 0_0

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Offline Coryn

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #108 on: March 20, 2015, 01:04:13 PM »
Thanks River! (Hiver?) Echo!

I've realized that in the past I dealt with pretty much nothing but characters who are objectively good or objectively evil. So I got to mix that up a little.

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline legomaestro

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #109 on: March 28, 2015, 07:57:08 PM »
The fluidity of the writing really just took its own element this time around. You totally enjoyed writing this chapter didn't you? It was a very exciting read and quite awing actually. Really great work Coryn. It was strange to see the titular character fight bare handed but it seems he really can just hold on his own. I'm thinking Jaska was going to win this one until he resurrected like that.

I was also strangely thinking than an execution headshot would have been more evil and deliberate than actual killing during the heat of battle, which is really strange. I'm interested in the sort of path that they're talking about.

That last statement was chilling and quite shocking. Isn't that like a super major thing to happen? So I guess the sacrifice was in vain... I wonder who was responsible for that happening.

Great chapter, Coryn, really fun writing inspiring and fun to read.

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #110 on: March 28, 2015, 10:12:47 PM »
You're askin' all the right questions man.


The fluidity of the writing really just took its own element this time around. You totally enjoyed writing this chapter didn't you? It was a very exciting read and quite awing actually. Really great work Coryn. It was strange to see the titular character fight bare handed but it seems he really can just hold on his own. I'm thinking Jaska was going to win this one until he resurrected like that.

Yeah, I got a nice good mood when I wrote it. Like old times. The action felt good to write for once, quick and punchy. Actually reading other books and studying them has helped me a lot I think. There are so many better ways to write combat then to be cut and dry about all the stuff is happening. In the past I was too concerned with quantity, not enough on quality.


I was also strangely thinking than an execution headshot would have been more evil and deliberate than actual killing during the heat of battle, which is really strange. I'm interested in the sort of path that they're talking about.

You're thinking isn't so strange though, execution style head shots are definitely more evil than a kill in the heat of battle.

That last statement was chilling and quite shocking. Isn't that like a super major thing to happen? So I guess the sacrifice was in vain... I wonder who was responsible for that happening.

Or was it? bum bum bum!

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline Coryn

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #111 on: June 01, 2015, 07:07:06 PM »
bits away



THE SHATTERED GLASS

Coryn nearly swallowed his cigarette.

   “What?!”
   
   Katsumi was back up on her feet, and paced slowly back and forth between the impact

crater and where Coryn’s sword at embedded itself in pile of rubble.
   
   “I know, I know. We were all very surprised.”

   “But we closed it! I closed it! I should remember, it nearly tore me down to atoms!”

   “Yes I remember I was there.”

   Coryn was exasperated.

   “Damn it! I thought killing Shiro and pulling it closed would be enough, but that must

mean my own energy was keeping it open even when it was suppressed as deeply as I could get

it. Katsumi that only leaves one option, you have to kill me!”

   “I’m not killing you!”

   “That’s the only way to keep it from-!”

   “It’s stable!”

   Coryn found himself dumbstruck. “Huh?”

   She stopped pacing. “Colt was doing a routine check up on it. It’s open again, but it’s

entirely stable. No chance of the universe imploding whatsoever.”

   Coryn slipped off of the car, and started pacing around in Katsumi’s place.

   “But that doesn’t make any sense! The four of us couldn’t even close it when we worked

together, and that was when it was tiny! And I can understand that if I failed to close it that it

would have popped open again right away, but it’s been what, a year? It would have broken open

again much sooner than this, and it would have definitely not become a stable portal. If someone

did stabilize it they would have to have been monstrously powerful. Some sort of godly

intervention do you think, demonic possibly?”
   
   Katsumi put her hands up in a stopping motion to try and calm Coryn down, but it only

seemed to cause him to start mumbling to himself under his breath instead of out

loud. She sighed and ignored him.

   “Look Coryn I’m not really sure right now. But we’ve all agreed that since it’s stable we

shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth and concentrate on the actual problem, which would be

the stuff that has or will come through it.”

   Finally Coryn seemed to collect himself and process the situation.

   “Right, right, what has come through so far?”

   “Do you have to ask? It’s the nega-us, Alexis, Alina, Kalya, and…” Katsumi almost

gagged as she said the last name. “Naomi…”

   Coryn seemed concerned, but not as concerned as he probably should have.

   “Are you having trouble with them? You did a pretty good job last time around, and I can

tell you’ve leveled up since then. You guys should be on equal footing at least.”

   “It’s more about their tactics Coryn. It’s all very hit and run type stuff. They only ever

seem to strike when one of us or the rest of The Five aren’t around. It’s like they’re teasing us.”

   He shrugged, which pissed Katsumi off, but she could understand the gesture.

   “Sounds like they’re just sore about losing, but I really don’t think they’re much of a

concern. I’m more worried about what stabilized that portal, and what else might come out of it.

We have enough trouble dealing with the crap that comes from our side of the multiverse.”

   Katsumi studied Coryn for a moment as he paced around. Sirens were getting closer, but

were still appreciably far off. The city was still in hiding.

   “If it was just that Coryn, we wouldn’t be worried. They’re too smart. They come in,

strike, fall back. One of The Five always go after them, but somehow they always lose them in

some backwater dimension. I’ve tagged along a few times, they don’t leave a trace when they

disappear, it’s uncanny.”

   Coryn nodded at her, rubbing his chin gently.

   “Shiro was exceptionally gifted at such a technique. It’s likely that they picked it up from

him.”

   “Then how come they didn’t demonstrate it before now?”

   “Perhaps they didn’t need to. Perhaps they only learned afterwards out of necessity. If I

had caused the same kind of trouble they did, hiding would become my top priority as well.”

   Katsumi smirked. “Sorry to break it to you, but it kinda did.”

   Coryn chuckled back. “So it would seem.”

   The sirens had become quite loud, no farther than around the next block. Katsumi gazed

off in their direction and contemplated the day’s events. She had come here seeking Coryn, and

she had succeeded, but she had also been reminded where he went trouble always seemed to

follow. Though at times it occurred to her that maybe it was actually Coryn always arriving

where trouble was. The causality of it all was troubling and confusing both, and perhaps that was

just the way of things, some truth of the universe that didn’t need explaining.

   Katsumi wiped the dirt off of her face the best she could and broke her transformation,

but it only reminded her just how much she wanted to change out of the now ruined school

uniform. For a moment she contemplated changing back, but decided against it, there would be

no use in garnering more attention to themselves.

   “You ready to go yet Coryn?”

   Upon turning around Katsumi found that Coryn’s clothes had been mended into shape,

and that his shorts had extended down into cargo pants. He had also replaced his bare feet with

the customary white Nike’s. Katsumi reflected on her own disheveled state.
   
   “You really have got to teach me that one.”

   Coryn smirked. “I don’t know, The Regenerating Clothes Technique is highly advanced,

you’re probably not skilled enough for it yet.”
   
   He put on his best *censored* eating grin, Katsumi wore her best ‘I’m going to punch you’ face.

Coryn took the hint.

   “But yes, I’m ready to go whenever. Let me take us off, wouldn’t want you to lose your

legs.”
   
   Katsumi blushed out of embarrassment and a little rage. “I got here just fine didn’t I?

Leave my legs out of it!”

   He saluted. “Yes Ma’am!”

   “Prick.”

   “You know you missed me.”

   She smiled just slightly. “A little.”

   Coryn gave her a light bump on the shoulder then clasped his hand down on it. With a

short flash of light they disappeared, and left a broken city to piece itself back together.


   
   Dirt, dust, moon-light. Naomi Amano’s vision was filled with these things as she sat

upon just one of the inverse pyramids filling the desert, each one supported by its own pillar of

soft blue light. All the leftovers of an ancient civilization, long ago lost to the sand.
 
        It was beneath her.

        Humans were pathetically mortal. Everything about them was destined to waste away.

Their structures, their art, their writings, their very histories, even their worlds. Nothing would

ever survive, nothing ever could.

         Not even Shiro.

         The one man who actually stood a chance of delivering her the destiny she desired, the

one path she had, was dead. Naomi didn’t feel sad for him of course. Shiro had only ever been a

means to an end for her. But what he had promised her was a more serious loss. Power, real

power, and the knowledge of immortality, everything was gone. Even if, she realized, it may

have only been a part of an elaborate lie.

        It had only come to light after the events in the palace, after they had discovered Shiro’s

corpse, after they had buried him and set out to take revenge. Through the few words they

exchanged in battle, she had pieced together something resembling a complete picture. Shiro’s

only motivation was to get back at his friends who in his mind had wronged him deeply, and to

do it he was going to wipe away existence itself. The plan was of course ludicrous, but somehow

to Shiro it seemed that it was the greatest payback of all. In a way Naomi could follow his logic,

but every time she thought about it, her own instinct for self preservation kicked in, and

dissolved her train of thought into a blurry mess. Still, she wasn’t sure if she quite believed it

herself. It seemed entirely likely to her that their alternate selves were making up the entire thing

as a way to place them off-balance.

        Then again, if she couldn’t trust herself, then who could she trust?

        The other her, Katsumi, seemed so adamant in what she said, so certain. And after all,

were they not the same person? Even in the grand scheme of the multiverse, they were merely

flipsides of one coin, directly mirrored. In an infinitude of alternate selves, Katsumi was the

closest one to herself. But regardless of the truth, Naomi found herself needing another plan. And

the more she thought, the more she realized the one option she had left.

   “Could it really be possible?”

   Another voice rang out above her. “For you to stop being an angsty bitch? Probably not!”

   Naomi glanced up at another inverted pyramid that was slowly drifting next to the one

she occupied. Alina was lying on her back with her head drooped over the side. Kalya stood next

to her, silently blowing bubbles of bright pink gum.
   
   “Honestly you’ve been like this for months. It’s seriously starting to bum me out!”

   Naomi’s eyes flicked back down to the bottom of the narrow pyramid, and briefly

wondered about the power source that kept it afloat, specifically what kind of force it would take

to cause it to detonate.

   “Caving in your face might help some.”

   Alina chuckled in response and rolled over onto her front. Placing her arms on the edge

of the stone platform she rested her head against them.

   “Well I suppose having you like this isn’t so bad. What’s really pissing me off is

spending all of our time on some backwater planet. Why can’t we just go in, kick our flip-side’s

asses, then take their place? I miss our old temple.”

   Kalya popped another bubble above her. “Because since you’ve obviously forgotten, they

have Shiro’s old posse keeping them company nowadays.”

   She sighed. “I know that Babe, it was more of a rhetorical question.”

   The thought had been on Naomi’s mind as well. Her life had been much neater before

Shiro had showed up. She had a home and some sense of place. But when an omnicidal maniac

shows up and kills most of the people you’ve ever known, you can start to resent the place in

which it happened.
   
   “We don’t need it. We’ll build a new place for us, one that’s our own.”

   Alina yawned and nuzzled her head deeper into her arms. “Sometimes I miss when you

were the leader y’know?”

   As if on cue, Naomi felt a pulse of energy as Alexis arrived behind her. Of the four of

them Alexis had taken Shiro’s death the hardest, and she had been hell-bent on retaliation in any

form she could find it ever since. Her arrival had roused Alina’s attention however, and she lifted

her head back to a vertical position.
   
   “Did you have a fun trip? Please tell me you brought us back something to eat.”

   Alexis was stony faced. It had been her only expression other than rage since Shiro’s

defeat, and she only cast Alina an icy glare.

   “I’ll take that as a no…”

   She came to a sudden stop. “We’re going after them again.”

   Kalya broke her silence. “We just did that! What’s changed now?”

   “Their Naomi is gone, and so are the rest of Shiro’s friends. All we have to contend with

are the other three girls and the usual retainers.”

   Naomi twisted around and looked up at Alexis.

   “And just how did you find this information out?”

   The two stared each other down for a moment before Alexis finally responded.

   “I was just there, they couldn’t tell I was there, couldn’t sense me…”

   She paused for a time, finding it hard to say what she wanted to.
   
   “Learned from Shiro-sama, how to perfect the technique...”

    Alexis practically choked on the name. It pissed Naomi off. She had never approved of

the closeness Alexis shared with Shiro. Even if Naomi knew it was a primarily one way street.

Alexis had been proud and independent once, but Shiro had made her into something weaker,

something lesser. However, Naomi was not about to share this sentiment with Alexis, or even

Alina and Kalya. She could not afford to sow seeds of discontent after all, not when there was

business to be done, and destiny to be achieved.

   Naomi smirked, truly excited for the first time in over a year.

   “Alright then Alex, lead the way.”

   
   
   
« Last Edit: June 01, 2015, 07:09:47 PM by Coryn »

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Offline legomaestro

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #112 on: June 02, 2015, 11:41:30 AM »
I forgot Coryn smoked for some reason, also the fact that he wore nikies, that's pretty interesting.

More of a transitionary chapter than anything, but it was good to get the descriptions, just not clear what Coryn meant about Katsumi's legs? I suspect that's just me having the attention span of a goldfish though.

I wonder what the heck the other Five are doing. And for some reason I also forgot where in the world their flip sides are.

Sort of a troll move, not repairing the city, but I imagine that would've been a pain in the backside...

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #113 on: June 02, 2015, 02:54:56 PM »

He let the 'bad guy' go. 0_0

Heh- you do that with fish! I wonder . . .  ;D

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #114 on: June 02, 2015, 07:44:46 PM »
I forgot Coryn smoked for some reason, also the fact that he wore nikies, that's pretty interesting.

Pretty sure I haven't mentioned those facts since arc 1. maybe a small reference to white nikes in arc 2.

but hey, if you've found your favorite shoes, you don't let them go.


More of a transitionary chapter than anything, but it was good to get the descriptions, just not clear what Coryn meant about Katsumi's legs? I suspect that's just me having the attention span of a goldfish

That goes back to a reference I made a few chapters ago (which is like a real time year, so it's forgiven). would be better if you were actually reading this thing in proper series.

which itself is a reference to like 5 years ago in something that never even got finished. basically: It's a well known law of self-powered dimensional travel that if you perform it wrong, you'll end up at your destination with having left your legs behind at wherever you started from.

Which is why when Katsumi first shows up, she desperately checks herself out to insure that yes, her legs are still attached.


this time.


I wonder what the heck the other Five are doing. And for some reason I also forgot where in the world their flip sides are.

You probably shouldn't remember where the Nega-Five are, since I have never made reference to them, nor do I know myself.


Sort of a troll move, not repairing the city, but I imagine that would've been a pain in the backside...

Let's just say that it would be beyond Coryn's power to fix that wrong.




He let the 'bad guy' go. 0_0

Heh- you do that with fish! I wonder . . .  ;D

You have to let the occasional bad guy go in order to not decimate the population. That way next Bad Guy Season there's still enough bad guys left for everyone.

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #115 on: January 01, 2018, 09:09:16 PM »
It's a crying shame when your own story topic tells you just how long since it's been posted in as a warning. That's some serious shade it's throwing at me. :/

But I digress. It has been a long time, and that's my fault. I apologize sincerely to anyone who is still interested in reading this thing of mine. To make it up to yah, as a special New Years surprise, I got two fresh chapters for y'all. Well, one fresh chapter and one I never got around to editing/posting back in the summer when I actually wrote it.

Here's to a new year, with reinvigorated writing energies!

Enjoy~!



DANCE DANCE TANGO
DANCE DANCE TANGO

Coryn touched down along the stony path leading up to the castle. Verdant forest stretched out in

all directions around him, and he found himself leaning into the light wind. “Ahh…Such a nice

day.”

   Katsumi stood beside him, picking at her half burnt, half shredded uniform with some

concern to its remaining structural integrity. “It will be once I get a change of clothes. What are

the chances of you teaching me that clothing technique again?”
   
   Coryn shrugged as he started walking up the path. “I don’t know. I’ll need to pencil it in

to my schedule. Right between figuring out this new mess and catching up will the news from

the last year. Do you have any idea how long it’s going to take to read my email?”
   
   Somewhat incredulous, Katsumi asked. “You have an email?”
   
   He scoffed. “Who doesn’t? I may have some fancy tech but I don’t get messages beamed

straight into my brain. Too many side-effects to be worth it. I just have Moon sort through it all.”

Coryn stopped and turned. “Speaking of, how is the little man?”

   Katsumi brushed past him. “Happiest he’s been since I’ve known him. Keeps telling

everybody how this is ‘the best year of his life’ and how ‘he’s never gotten so much work

done’!” She smirked. “Truth be told I thinks he misses you. He makes too big of a deal about it

not to.”
   
   “Yeah, that sounds about right.” Coryn replied. “I’d chalk it up to Stockholm Syndrome,

but he’s too cold and calculating for such heavy emotions as ‘friendship’.”

   Katsumi caught herself laughing at their mutual IT man, but kept herself from getting too

carried away. It was easy to forget Moon was an actual human being, even if he lacked the body

with which to prove the fact. His constant complaining was generally good natured after all, and

as Sam had explained to her; Complaining was a basic fact of life for the British, like poor

weather and a love of queuing. She herself had only managed to overcome it by strict upbringing

and good manners.
   
   The sun read that it was only late morning, but the two had experienced a jump in their

point of reference for time when traveling across the dimensional planes. So, each was

experiencing a bizarre form of jet lag, known only to time travelers, and people who take

knockout drugs on nonstop flights from London to Hong Kong. Katsumi was fast

coming to grips with the fact that her lunch of granola bar was not high enough in calories to

offset destroying half of downtown Miami. Coryn too was experiencing a strange hunger in

which he could only remember eating over a year ago, but with an odd sensation that he

needed to burn off a series of saturated fat laden school lunches.

   A silence had broken out between the two as each was consumed by their own thoughts.

It was only interrupted by the occasional creaking of tree branches and windblown leaves, but

even the ambient sound of the forest had its limit. Every few minutes, the pair was treated to a

few moments of blissful silence.

   That was until one such lull however, when bolt of gleaming energy erupted from the

foliage in front of them.

   Coryn stood straight in its path, but leaped into the air as it closed the distanced. His arc

flipped him completely around, and as he came down his foot landed along the projectile’s shaft.

The kick sent the arrow to the ground, forcing it to explode between himself and the stone steps.

A force wave rocked the area, sending Katsumi off to the side in a flurry of blackened leaves,

and Coryn rocketing straight towards the probable source of the attack.

   For a moment all was silent, but Katsumi’s ears registered the high pitched wine of a

kuupo teleport, immediately followed up by a loud smack far off to her right. Instinct kicked in,

and Katsumi ducked low as the ragdoll like body of Kalya was flung over her head, once again

disappearing into the thick forest on the opposite side of the path.

   Coryn reappeared, gently massaging his right shin. “I got a good kick in, but I doubt

she’s out for the count. She’s probably already conscious again.”

   Katsumi transformed in a flash, relishing the change in outfit. School uniforms were

never her style anyways. “Where there’s one evil doppelganger…”

   “There’s fire.” Finished Coryn. “We should get going.” He turned up the path, but

Katsumi turned down it. Kalya was standing against a tree, bow at the ready.

   “Not so fast dip *censored*s!” Her right pauldron was smashed in, likely from Coryn’s kick, but

her shoulder seemed unbroken. “You aren’t done with me yet.”
   
   Coryn shoved his hands into his pockets and sighed. “Come on now. It’s two against one,

and one of those two happens to have just got a whole year of R and R. Are you really looking to

have this fight?”

   She faltered for a second as she considered the idea of just retreating to some isolated

corner of the multiverse to live out her days. But Kalya quickly fell back on the rage and need for

revenge festering inside of her. She loosed another arrow at Coryn, but this time he dodged to the

left. It sailed harmlessly past him. He looked more disappointed than anything, which only

served to enrage Kalya further.

Coryn was already heading in her direction with alarming speed, and Kalya dropped to

the ground in order to avoid another swift kick to her abdomen. As she popped back up, Katsumi

was already on top of her, swinging down with a sword engulfed in flaming red energy. This too

Kalya escaped, but not without singed armor and the sickening smell of sizzling human flesh.

She thought to herself. “Damn it! When did she learn that!”

The only response she received was an elbow to the back of the head. Kalya had lost

track of Coryn already, and paid the price as stars filled her vision and she felt her footing slip.

She knew she was going to the ground, but managed to somewhat salvage the situation by

turning it into a roll back down the stone steps. “Not yet!” Mid bounce, Kalya disappeared with

a high pitched whine. She was moving through the trees once again, quickly circling Coryn and

Katsumi, randomly changing direction and orientation, teleporting rapidly to keep them off

balance. “Not yet, not yet! I just have to hold them off, stay alive! Just until the others finish up

above and realize what’s going on down here! Just until then!”


Kalya began to fire, filling the path with bolt of exploding energy. The dense foliage was

quickly transformed into a bombed out clearing. She could no longer see her opponents through

the smoke, but Kalya could sense their moments, and knew for a fact both were stuck in

defensive postures. The archer probed for an opening in their defenses, and finally found one.

Coryn let his arms slip open just an inch too far, and Kalya took her chance. Letting fly a few

more red-herrings, she took her ultimate position, and readied an extra powerful arrow, pouring

the last of her remaining energy into it. “Checkmate Sken!”

The arrow went exactly where it was supposed to. Right through Coryn’s arms, right to

his neck, but by the time the deadly energy finally reached it, Coryn, and his neck, were long

gone. Kalya’s eyes widened as she watched Coryn close the distance between the two of them in

an instant. Time dilated as she watched his sword materialize, and begin an arc which would

terminate with her own termination. Kalya closed her eyes, thought of how Alina would take the

news, and resigned herself. “Damn…”

Kalya found herself pleasantly surprised then, when the next sound to reach her ears was

not the noise of Coryn’s blade smoothly freeing her body from her head, but the characteristic

sputtering screech of steel clashing against an energy field. She chanced a peak at her savior, and

to Kalya’s relief, she found Alina between Coryn and herself, with strings clenched tightly

around Coryn’s sword.

With their momentum gone, all three dropped to the ground, landing among the

splintered and felled trees of the forest. Alina spoke to Kalya, but didn’t dare break eye contact

with Coryn, who to his credit, also appeared pleased by the turn of events. “Sorry I’m late babe. I

just couldn’t get away from work.”

Kalya finally collapsed to the ground. “I’ll forgive you, but only because I’m in a

forgiving mood.”

“That’s the spirit.” Replied Alina, before addressing Coryn. “What’s the matter Sken?

You seem a little rusty. A year ago you would have sliced right through both of us.”
   
Coryn shrugged with his free. “What can I say? Maybe I’ve gone soft?” Alina replied by

bunching up the strings from her left hand and delivering a solid punch to his face. Coryn was

dislodged by the attack, and sailed back a few feet. Landing, he slashed away a few strikes

before retreating back to Katsumi’s side.

Katsumi had maintained her guard, but was obviously still too worn out from her battle

with Jaska to be able to continue the fight. Coryn noted his and put his hand on her shoulder,

slowly applying pressure to get her to relax her muscles. “Just leave this one to me Katsumi.

You’ve had enough for one day.”

She shrugged him off. “I’m fine enough to defend myself. You just keep your

concentration on Alina. I’ve known Eva long enough to realize that her powers are the trickiest

of the bunch.” Coryn opened his mouth to retort, but was cut off as Alina engaged him again. He

leapt to the side as the strings began to attack him from all sides and angles. Coryn found himself

in an ever changing three-dimensional maze of energy. The tip of a string would come from

behind, only to double back as soon as he dodged it to try and impale him once again. Even

brushing against the side of one would singe his skin, and more than once he had to contort

himself to avoid a slash from a section of one of the strings changing direction without warning.

There seemed to be no end or beginning to the strings from Coryn’s perspective within

them, but he knew that each one had to eventually lead back to his target. The inherent weakness

of the gauntlets was that they could not be so easily discarded if the situation called for it, and

that if one could withstand physical contact with the strings, then disrupting the user was merely

a matter of finding the right time and place. With this in mind, Coryn began to watch. When one

string moved, it necessitated moving the others. While this meant the mass was ever changing

and ever moving, which would overwhelm most who fell into it. But, if one could survive and

observe for long enough, then they could eventually determine the relationship between the

‘bars’ of the prison.

Luckily for Coryn, he met all of the above criteria, and when he saw his opening, he took

it. Dashing towards a string near the center of the cage, he gripped it firmly, and yanked. His

flesh was scalded by the pure energy he found himself holding, but to his relief, he felt both

ends of string give way. He had taken Alina by surprise, and pulled her off her feet. It wasn’t a

drastic change, but her lapse in concentration allowed Coryn to escape into open air once again.

Coryn broke out near the top of the tangled mass, and Alina quickly clocked him. It

would only take Coryn a moment to get reoriented, and Alina knew that she wouldn’t be able to

surround him again before he could catch up to her. Fortunately for Alina however, she never

planned attack him in the first place.

She had considered the fact that Katsumi would attack her while she was engaged with

Coryn. But Katsumi had stayed back during the conflict, keeping her defenses up, but otherwise

content to remain on the sidelines and let Coryn handle the two girls. Alina saw this flaw in

strategy, and took her opportunity. Instead of retracting her jumble of strings, Alina broke them.

With their connection to the gauntlets severed, the existing strings shattered into millions of

globules of energy. The effect was like that of aluminum chaff dropped from an airplane. Coryn

lost his line of sight with Katsumi and Alina, and Alina gained her chance to strike.

The silvered hair girl took off like a bolt. Straightening out her fingers, five short threads

formed on her right gauntlet, and Alina had every intention of using them to rip right through

Katsumi. “No one to stop me this time girl!” Alina plunged forward, Katsumi raised her sword to

parry, but Alina could see that her guard was too wide. Katsumi was open.

It was with this belief in mind, that Alina struck. And so it came to her great surprise,

when the cloud of green light above her was blasted away, blowing out into a wide ring. This

gave her some pause, and as she looked up she was just in time to watch a dark shadow lance

down from the heavens and strike her forearm.

The force of the impact drove Alina to the ground, and before she knew it she was stuck.

To her great displeasure, she realized that the object was a tri-pointed spear with a long blue

handle, which meant that its user could not be far away. Alina cast her gaze about to see where

her new attacker was, which made it all the more surprising when two sounds met her ear. The

first was a heavy metal boot slamming into her flank, freeing her from her pinned position, but

also sending her bouncing against the torn up pathway. The second was the sound of Samantha

York’s voice reverberating through the air. “Get away from Kat!”

Sam stood tall before Katsumi, armor gleaming in the sun. Coryn was still watching the

scene play out from above, and was himself shocked by the leap he had witnessed Sam perform

when attacking Alina. Looking more closely at her now, Coryn also noticed that both her legs

and arms were covered in plate armor. When he had last seen her, Sam had only a light covering

of chainmail to protect her extremities. “It really seems like they’ve been gearing up for war

since I was last around.
” Coryn thought. “I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Far below, Alina was inspecting her arm. The curved inner edge of the spear had gone

right though the armor on her forearm, and cut dangerously close to the bone. Alina’s right arm

was shot until it could be bandaged up, and she knew it. Kalya was barely standing, and she

knew it. Samantha’s arrival meant that her other two fellow sisters-in-arms had failed, and she

knew it. The enemy’s forces had closed around her, and given the choice between surviving with

Kalya and a glorious last stand, Alina knew which she was going to choose. “Bastards…”

Alina disappeared to the shriek of kuupo, and reappeared at Kalya’s side. Grabbing Kalya

with her one good hand, Alina stared down their mirror’s compatriots. “Don’t think this is over!

We’ll be back, and you’ll be dead!” With a flash of light, Alina and Kalya exited that dimension

for their own.

Sam planted her spear in the ground and leaned against it, armor clinking as it settled into

place. “That girl just doesn’t know what’s good for her eh Kat?”

Katsumi laughed quietly in response. “I’m not so sure we do either Sam. How are things

above?”

“Can’t complain. No worse than usual Love.” Replied Sam as Coryn finally touched

down next to her. Leaving her spear stuck in the churned up earth, Sam jogged over to Coryn and

hugged him tightly. “Good to see you again old man! Seems like Kat pulled you out in one piece.

Though it looks like she went through Hell to do it.”

Coryn reciprocated the hug and chuckled. “You should see the other guy.”

Sam released him. “Other guy?”

   The ‘old man’ patted Sam on the shoulder as he went to help prop up Katsumi. “I’ll

explain on the walk up. Just be glad this isn’t a competition, cause if it was, Katsumi would be

winning pretty hard right now.”

   Sam threw her hands into the air with just a touch of melodramatic exasperation. “She’s

winning? I just saved the poor girl’s life! What kind of points do I get for that?” She winked at

Coryn, who got the joke and gave her a smile in return.
   
   “A solid second place I reckon. But only until we get to the castle and Camarin and Eva

tell me about the cool stuff they’ve done in the past year.”

   Sam gave him a light punch in the shoulder and plucked her spear from the ground.

“Good to have you back Coryn.” It prompted another smile from Coryn, who turned up towards

the remaining path.

   “Good to be back Sam.”



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Offline Coryn

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #116 on: January 01, 2018, 09:14:21 PM »
And the exciting conclusion to what I'm calling Coryn's Saga: Arc 3: Act 1, because I think I'm basically throwing out the traditional three act structure for this last book. But this still effectively ends act one. And to think, this thing is already as long as Arc 1 was. I'm slightly concerned I'm creating something beyond my scope  :ohmy:


REUNIONS AND RUINATION
REUNIONS AND RUINATION

The returning fighters found the castle grounds to be abuzz with activity. Rank and file

guardsmen and support staff bussed wounded and wreckage to their designated locations. From

the looks of things, it wasn’t the first time they had run through this procedure. Some of the

damage was obviously no longer fresh, but several areas still glowed dimly from being caught in

energy blasts, and a faint stink of ozone hung in the air.

   Coryn digested this as he handed off Katsumi to a pair of medical staff, but his thoughts

were cut of as a pair of arms wrapped around him from behind and lifted him up into the air in a

tight bearhug. “Coryn, bro, you’re back!” Proclaimed Jack while still holding his buddy airborne.

“Glad Katsumi managed to track you down. Felt you fighting on the mountain side. Didn’t wear

you out too, badly did it?”
   
   Finally released, Coryn turned gave Jack a light punch to the ribs. “I’m not that out

of shape. In fact, I feel refreshed and well rested. Got that full eight hour feeling.”
   
   Jack beamed at him. “Good to hear that! Then you won’t have any objections to going off

to kick some ass?”
   
   “What did you have in mind?” Coryn queried.
   
   Jack continued. “Well, those girls have been ghosting us after each attack, so we haven’t

been able to track them, but this time…” Jack brought up his hand with a quick flourish, and

Coryn spied a few small shards of ice floating just above his fingertips. “I got the blonde one by

surprise, and left her a parting gift of my patent pending never-melt-ice shards in her side.”

   “Say… just what agency are you trying to patent that with anyways?” Mused Coryn.

   Samantha interrupted Jack before he failed to finish his own joke. “More importantly,

what does that do for us.” Her question was earnest, but earned a self-congratulatory chuckle

from Jack.
   
   “They may be able to hide their own energy signatures from us, but they sure as hell can’t

hide mine. So, unless they have a pair of forceps on hand, we have a way to track them.” He

beamed.

   “I’m legitimately impressed.” Replied Sam. “When do we leave?”

   “’We’ aren’t going anywhere.” Interjected Coryn. “As in, ‘Sam, Jack, and I’ aren’t going

anywhere, but ‘Jack and I’ most certainly are.”

   She protested. “I’m strong enough to help fight them too, Coryn!”

   “I know you are, but right now your house is literally full of holes, Katsumi is in

desperate need of a week of bedrest, and judging by the lack of energy signatures, you’re the

only one in fighting shape here right now.” The perceptiveness of the response took Sam by

surprise, but she was admittedly not as attuned to such things as the Five were. Point of fact, Colt

and October were wrapping up training sessions with Camarin and Eva, and Fuji was out doing

his own research into their Kurousen problem.

Jack could read the disappointment on her face, and offered what he hoped would be a

satisfying explanation. “Look, I totally get it. Bad guys are running around, you want to stop

them. But, someone should stay and guard the place. October and Colt are both due back today

anyways, so as soon as they get back, grab them, the other two girls, and send them after us. That

should give us a reasonable amount of time to catch up with the nega-girls. If push comes to

shove, we’ll race them back, but after that last attack they won’t be ready to counter us for a

while.”
   
   Sam seemed mostly mollified, but Coryn followed up with one last caveat. “There is also

the problem of what exactly got that portal to stabilize. I already discussed it with Katsumi, but

we are talking an amount of power that’s in excess of anything you girls have fought to date. If

that thing happens to be in league with the nega-girls, then it’s far better that Jack and I are the

ones to deal with it.” And with that Sam finally gave her acknowledgment, with the

understanding that she would only come after them harder if they came across whatever had

created the stable portal. Coryn and Jack acquiesced to this, and sent Sam off to see how

Katsumi was doing. Finally alone, Coryn turned to Jack. “So then, just how bad do you think

this is going to turn out?”

   He shrugged. “Depends if we find whatever or whoever stabilized the damn thing. But

I’ll tell you this: it wasn’t us, and it sure as hell wasn’t one of those girls. If you want to know

my opinion, I think it’s someone who’s invested in that god-war that Odin told us about. Maybe

having it open makes it easier for them to move back and forth themselves?”

   “They’re already damn near omnipotent. But maybe. Even a lesser god could have stored

up enough juice given time. Still…” Coryn stared off into the middle distance. “A true god-war

is not something I want to get involved with.”

   “Amen.” Nodded Jack, and he winked at Coryn. “Let’s get going. I want to be back

for breakfast if we can swing it.”


   An hour later, the pair stood at the Kurousen, gateway between two halves of the

multiverse. And they weren’t the only ones. Coryn could detect over a dozen residual energy

signatures. Some were familiar, Colt and October stuck out, but by and large they were strangers

to him. Jack confirmed a similar prognosis. So, it seemed even the infinity of the void could not

hide a secret forever. Then again, the multiverse was a large place, and after more than a year of

being active, some being or another was bound to come across it. Coryn reached out with his

awareness, but was unable to detect if any of those who had visited the portal had crossed it as

well. The white sphere felt like a hole in the very fabric of reality. Everything came to an abrupt

halt at its edge. “Have you noted anyone traveling across it Jack?”
   
   “Haven’t seen a thing. We did let a few of our more trustworthy acquaintances in on

the secret, but nothing in the way of the actual location. Anyone who’s made a visit did so on

pure chance. But if anyone of them was stupid enough to hop across, then they deserve whatever

they found over there.” It wasn’t an entirely satisfactory answer, but it would do in a pinch.

“Ready to go?”

   “As long as those ice shards work as well as you say they do.”

   Jack mocked offense. “I’m hurt Coryn. Don’t you know me better than that?”

   Coryn rolled his eyes at his friend. “I do, that’s what worries me. After you.”

   Jack replied, “Oh no, you first, I insist! Age before beauty after all!” for which he

received a slap on the back of his head as Coryn passed him on his way through the portal.

The far side of the Kurousen reflected the normal side. This side too had experienced

several unfamiliar visitors. Coryn pondered on them for a moment, but cast the thought aside.

“Got a feel for where they are?”

Jack seemed to be concentrating on something hard. His brow was deeply furrowed, and

his head rocked from side to side. “I think so. They're moving pretty fast though. Lots of random

jumps y'know? We'll have to keep on their path.” And with that, Jack disappeared, taking Coryn

off with him.

Together, Jack and Coryn took to the pursuit. They passed through new dimensions, each

seemingly stranger and more treacherous than the last. Their initial destination was the ruins of

Shiro’s fortress. There was little left but a blackened pile of rubble, but that was to be expected.

From there they visited a world of poisoned mega-fauna, a moon consisting of a single mass of

molten tungsten, and a planet covered by an alcohol based atmosphere which tasted ever so

slightly a raspberry. Pressing on, they passed a dead world of floating pyramids, an abandoned

space station orbiting between binary stars, and a junkyard planet for a civilization that appeared

to be enamored with the color yellow.

All in all, the duo passed through more than three dozen dimensions. At each step along

the way, Jack confirmed that their quarry grew closer. Finally, they stood at the summit of a

mountain which loomed above a raging methane sea. Jack confirmed that they had at last caught

up to the four girls. He no longer detected any movement. They had either come to a stop, or had

found a way to remove his splinters. Either way, their journey would come to its end after their

next jump. Coryn said a quick word about 'getting it done’, and they disappeared in a flash.

Had they known what they were about to find, they would have taken a little more time to

plan.

   Coryn and Jack touched down in the center of a cobbled courtyard. Battered stone walls

surrounded them, and a shattered gate stood to their rear. They knew that beyond the remains of

the gate was a forest covered mountain, a long flight of stone steps, uncountable small ruins. The

dimension they stood in was connected to a dead world. A world which had long since lost its

overseers. They knew all of this without ever turning around, because in front of them lay the

crumbling remains of Tomoshibi Castle.

   Alexis and Kalya were laid out on the steps to the main entrance. Alina kneeled beside

them, in the middle of tending to their wounds. Finally, Naomi stood between them and their

pursuers, sword drawn. She appeared resolute, but it didn’t take an expert to realize that she was

still recovering from her fight earlier in the day. For a group who had always portrayed

themselves as indestructible, they looked like they could turn to dust. Coryn took this into

account, and stepped forward. “I guess that’s the chase then. You girls are out of places to run

to.”

   He and Jack weren’t putting up an aggressive front, but Naomi tightened her grip on her

blade. “So that’s it then? This is the part where you kill us?”

   A small voice came from behind her. “Naomi…”

   “Shut up Alina!” Naomi spit back.

   Coryn took another step forward. “That’s not the plan unless you want it to be.” He began

to ease into another step, but Naomi began to move to match him, and he stayed put. “We only

want two things; information, and a guarantee.”

   This caught the attention of all four of the girls. Naomi’s face flicked with a hint of

interest, but she quickly caught herself. Kalya tilted her head to see him better with Alina’s help.

Alina herself showed genuine interest, while all Jack or Coryn could see from Alexis was distain.

“And what information is that?”

   “The Kurousen is stable again.” Coryn said, the implication clear in his voice. “Tell us

who did it, and where we can find them.” At first, he was hopeful, but after a moment it was

clear what the answer was. “You don’t know?” Coryn was struck with true surprise. “How did

you know about it then?”

   Alina replied. “Same as you lot. We checked it out regularly after you killed Shiro. One

day it was just open. We got lucky I guess.”

   Naomi turned back towards Alina, almost like she was pleading for her not to say

anything after the fact. But Alina was far more concerned with Kalya than their secrets.

Eventually, Naomi turned to face Jack and Coryn again. “So, what’s the guarantee about?”

   Coryn shrugged and relaxed his posture as much as he could. “That’s simple. All you

four have to do is stay on your side of the multiverse, and leave ours alone.”

   Naomi was clearly incredulous. “That’s it? You must think I’m stupid Sken! Aren’t you

and your ‘Eternals’ on some quest to rid the universe of evil or some nonsense?”
   
   Now Jack intervened. “It’s really not like that y’know? Sure, we fight bad guys when we

find ‘em, but y’all are somethin’ of a special case. We weren’t ever meant to see this half of

things to begin with. No harm in letting you run amok in your own sand pit. That’s the balance

of things.”

   Naomi’s brow furrowed. She studied the pair intently, working out just exactly how they

were going to betray her if that was indeed their play. It was by all metrics a better deal than they

deserved. But none of Shiro’s former associates had ever seriously tried to kill any of them

before. Ultimately, it was a deal they could not turn away from. “Fine, we’ll take it…”

   “Like hell we will!” Shouted a voice from behind her. Naomi turned just in time to see

Alexis bring the blade of her halberd up to her neck. “You can’t be serious Naomi! They killed

Shiro! They murdered him!”

   Naomi swatted the pole-arm away with her sword. “Shiro was a madman Alexis! He

wanted to destroy the universe and us in the process! Look what he did to our world, look what

he did to our home!” She threw her arms out, pointing wildly at the ruined castle. “We were

pawns in his game and you know it!”

   Alexis let out a scream. Uncomfortable truths were coming to the surface from where she

had forced them down, even as tears streamed from her eyes. “You’re wrong!”

   “You’re still brainwashed! He never intended on letting any of us live, and he never

loved you!”

   A line had been crossed. Alexis struck out with her halberd, and swept Naomi out of the

way. He angered had instantly refocused, right onto Coryn Sken. Right onto the man who had

killed her lover.

   Coryn didn’t have time to dodge. Alexis slammed the whole of her body against him,

carrying and smashing them both through the double walls surrounding the castle. As they flew

past Jack, he could sense a level of power from Alexis that he had never seen from any of the

nega-girls before. He was not given the time to reflect though. Alina hadn’t clearly agreed with

either side of the argument, but one thing was certain in Jack’s mind: No matter the outcome in

the fight between Alexis and Naomi, Alina was on the side where she and Kalya survived.

Negotiations had broken down, fighting had commenced, and Alina was not a defensive player.

   
   It quickly occurred to Coryn that he was not dealing with the same Alexis that he had a

year ago. In fact, he very much doubted he was dealing with the same Alexis he had been dealing

with a mere five minutes earlier. As they smashed through the thick inner wall, Coryn had felt

the bladed tip of her halberd pierce his right shoulder, and it pushed out through his back as

they slammed into the stones of the outer wall. Coryn could feel the stones begin to give way,

and a web-like crater grew around him. He put his feet down and began to push back. Alexis’

first push had run out of momentum, and she was thrown off balance when Coryn grabbed the

end of her weapon with his good arm and yanked the blade from his flesh. Coryn hadn’t had time

to draw his own weapon, and ripped one of his blades from their pocket dimension. He could

feel the muscles and bones of his shoulder beginning to knit themselves back together, but it

would take time before his was back to full strength. But this was time Alexis was not willing to

give him. She pressed her attached hard, and Coryn was forced to go on the backfoot through the

trench that lay between the castle’s walls.

   He could hear a crunching sound with each step he took, like dried leaves. It wasn’t until

his chanced a look down that he realized what he was surrounded with. The trench was ankle

deep in the bones of the castle’s previous defenders. Most were already completely scattered, but

those that remained somewhat intact clearly displayed horrendous damage. Coryn was beginning

to parse the history of this place. Shiro’s work was on display in gruesome fashion. In a way,

Coryn imagined that the nega-girls were lucky. They had survived to serve his former friend. It

was a shame that they were so intent on throwing away the life they had held grasping on to.

   Coryn’s shoulder finished its mending, and he went into action. Alexis came from above

with her pole-axe, and Coryn bashed it to the side with a wide swing from his sword. His

opponent was left open, and he followed it up with an uppercut into her gut. Her armor buckled,

and Alexis was sent flying a dozen meters off, but her enix output had softened the blow

significantly. Coryn prepared for her to rush back at him, but was surprised when she paused.

Her breathing was deep, and Coryn caught himself wondering if she might be rethinking her

resolve to fight. “Give it up Alexis! You can’t win this one. You’re just going to get yourself

killed!”

   She snapped back at him. “You’re a murderer Coryn Sken! And I won’t be stopping until

I get the revenge I’m looking for!” She pointed her weapon at Coryn, braced it with both hands,

and began to howl. Blue energy circled at her feet, climbed upwards, and ignited into a burning

tower which disappeared into the sky above. Bones and rubble struck Coryn as he dug his feet in.

Alexis’ power level rose higher and higher. It quickly surpassed her previously displayed limit,

and continued to grow unchecked. Her anger was fully fueling her now, and before long Coryn

was witnessing a level of strength he hadn’t expected to see except from and immortal like

himself. Finally, the plume of energy broke, and Alexis stood before him. She was iridescent, her

own power barely kept in check by her physical body. Coryn had witnessed this level before

many times, as it was something he and the rest of the Five reached regularly. However, they had

ways of pushing past even that limit, allowing their powers to grow exponentially. No matter

how strong Alexis had grown, she could not have learned that kind of control in such a short

time. Regardless of how Coryn looked at the situation, he could only reach one conclusion: If he

could not convince Alexis to abandon her cause in time, she would be quite literally consumed

by her own power.

   
   Jack was taken aback when Alexis began her power up. The thick wall between them was

holding, but he could plainly see the pillar of energy she was projecting into the heavens. “Holy

crap!” He spun around towards Alina. “Since when can she go all beast mode like that?!” Part of

him wasn’t surprised when the girl in green’s face showed she was as clearly shocked by her

comrade’s outpouring of strength as he was. If anything, he surmised that she was likely more

shaken by that turn of events. He had only sparred with Alexis on a few occasions, not enough to

get a full measure of her power by far. But Alina had spent years around her, if anyone was

going to figure it out, one of them would have been the one. “Speaking of…” Jack chanced a

peak around while Alina was still recovering her composure. Kalya was still splayed on the

stairs, breathing heavily, but evidently stable. Naomi was missing, although Alexis hadn’t tossed

her that far. She had evidently fled the field, or more likely, was setting up for an ambush. He

hoped she had taken the hint and split, but Jack wasn’t feeling optimistic. For a moment, he

considered re-offering the offer to Alina, but the moment passed as soon as he turned his head

back her way. She was already on him. Alina spun through the air, strings extended around her.

   Her tornado attack hit Jack head on, and launched him into the air. She followed him, and

Jack caught of glimpse of the twisting figure at the center of swirling energy while he recovered.

“How does she not get dizzy doing that?” Jack did a single quick spin, and set off a twirling

storm of ice and wind around his body. The two collided, and soon Alina was swatting chunks of

ice from Jack’s storm. Shards of ice shot in all directions, turning the battlefield into a frigid

pincushion. Alina maintained enough control to not hurt Kalya, but this left her with an opening

just large enough to exploit.

   Jack waited for the gap to come around again, and struck. His arm shot through both his

own defenses and Alina’s, and he took hold of her by the neck. Alina quickly caught on, and

latched onto his arm before she inadvertently snapped her own neck. She was still processing her

turn of fortune as Jack raised her above his head. “Sorry.”

   Alina couldn’t process the travel time. She was smashing into the stone courtyard with

enough force that she wasn’t sure if her spine would shatter before the stones did or not. It was a

hypothesis untested however, as Jack was already dropping down on her with an ice spike she

was sure had not been there a moment ago. She reached out with a Hail Mary from her strings.

They found purchase, and Alina whisked herself away from danger right before Jack’s impact.

   Alina brought her head up, forcing it against the wind resistance, and saw that she was

dragging herself towards one of the trees in the courtyard that had miraculously grown back after

Shiro’s attack. Just as she was about to thank some higher deity for her luck, a crescent blade of

ice came down and severed her strings. She brought her feet down to stop, but only managed to

send herself rolling into the base of the tree. This time she knew she had to get off the backfoot,

and ripped the tree from the ground while she still rested against it and tossed it at Jack. It was

his turn to be surprised, and took the upturned flora on the chin, quickly followed by the rest of

his body.

   The tree landed on the far side of the courtyard, and as it bounced, Jack found his footing

and held firm. Branches struck him as the tree bounded away from him, but finally free, he

realized he had been set up. Alina had closed the distance between them, and stood only ten

meters away. Her hands were clasped above her head, strings extended, intertwined together. She

had formed a ball of energy above her, feeding it directly with her gauntlets. At this range, it

would do significant damage to Jack, despite their usual power distance. Even if she missed, Jack

worried about the greater blast. Coryn had been fighting a powered-up Alexis for a few minutes

now. He couldn’t afford to be distracted. Jack made his decision.

   Long, dagger like fingers formed on his hand. The ice extended up to his elbow. It was

time for Alina’s poor decisions to catch up to her. Jack dipped low, braced himself on the ground

with his free hand, and let his blades fly.

   Alina saw the blades coming, and knew that it was over. He had aimed all five at her

center of mass, there was no avoiding them in her current state. She couldn’t throw the energy

orb fast enough, and if she dodged without releasing it, it would explode directly above her. All

Alina saw before her was her death. She decided to spend her last moment gazing at the woman

she loved, but when she looked for her, Kalya wasn’t there. Confusion and fear temporarily

overcame her, until she heard the piecing shriek of kuupo in front of her.

   Time slowed for both. Kalya was standing in front of Alina. The two caught each other’s

looks. Alina wanted to scream at her, to tell her to get out of the way, to throw her out of the way

if she wouldn’t do it herself. But Kalya’s eyes were resolute. She would rather die to save Alina

than live on herself. It was so selfish, but Alina knew she could never voice her grievance in

time. Together the two turned their eyes towards the icy death heading their way.

   Perceived time sped back to its normal flow. Kalya and Alina braced themselves. One

braced to die, the other to lose the one they loved. But neither came to pass. They watched in

disbelief as the shards split apart, sailing harmlessly past them. Together they refocused on Jack.

He was still down, his free hand still against the ground. Finally, they grasped the truth behind

his action. A thin layer of ice flowed out from his hand against the paving stones. It widened, and

encompassed the ground directly beneath the pair. Alina tried to release her attack in this last

second, but Jack cut her off. “Far too late.”

A flash of light rushed from Jack’s finger tips and lit up the thin layer of ice. Alina’s blast

was snuffed out without resistance as the two girls were encased in a jagged block of ice. Their

eyes were faced forward, bearing a gaze that betrayed their astonishment, and would for a long

time to come.

   Jack stood up and relaxed. The two nega-girls were solidly frozen, and while he harbored

no doubts that they were still alive, he knew it would be a long time before they could even think

about doing anything else. He strolled up to the ice mass, and took a deep breath. Jack breathed

slowly over the smooth surface before him, creating an opaque patch directly before girl’s eyes.

He extended a single finger, and wrote three words in bold capital letters, reversed so that they

could be read from the inside.

   NEVER.

   COME.

   BACK.

   The immortal briefly regarded his work, and then, ever so gently, tapped the block. A

flash of light, and it was gone, sent off at random into the multiverse. Jack didn’t care where it

ended up. Even if it landed on the surface of some distant star, those two would have a long time

to process his message before they would be set free. In that time, he had few doubts that they

wouldn’t reach the conclusion he had asked them to.


   Within the castle’s walls, Coryn was feeling less sure of himself. He had been in three

fights in quick succession since waking up. But, none of those fights had pushed him even close

to his standard level cap. There wasn’t any playing around to do with Alexis. If he didn’t take her

seriously, he was liable to be seriously hurt. Unfortunately for him, Alexis did not take the same

kind of care. Her’s was a true berserker rage, and it wasn’t going to end if he stayed on the

defensive. “Piss off Alexis!” She had been coming in for a stab with the pointed tip of her

halberd, but Coryn ducked past it, and leveled a haymaker into the left side of her face. Alexis

lifted off the ground and smashed through the outer wall. Smoke drifted off from his hand, a

result of coming into direct contact with her pulsing energy. Coryn hoped the concussive impact

would bring him a brief respite, but she righted herself in the air, and flew upwards. She

continued to ascend until she disappeared into the sun high above, and Coryn chased after her.

   He found her several hundred feet up. Alexis had been readying to come down on him

with a powerful smash attack, but his sudden arrival sent her spiraling back. Both quickly laid

down a layer of enix to stand on, and their blades clashed again. Coryn took a few steps forward,

and she stepped back. Alexis pushed on, and Coryn gave. For a moment, the two traded invisible

ground, locked in stalemate. But soon Alexis released her left hand from its task of holding the

shaft of her weapon, and within it built a pulsating mass of energy. “Eat *censored* Coryn!” Blinding

blue energy burst forth from the orb, striking Coryn in his midsection. Alexis found herself freed

of the pressure of Coryn’s sword at the immortal flew back across the sky. Fortunately for

Coryn, the blast was not fatal, but it still left a blackened hole in his shirt, and he could already

feel the skin on his stomach blistering as he smacked down into the roof of the castle.

   Coryn quickly brought his body back up from the prone position. As he did so, he swung

his free arm wide, scooping up roof tiles with telekinesis as he did. He let them fly at Alexis in a

scattered pattern. But, while he had only hoped the projectiles would cause her to pause, she

pushed through them. Tiles simply exploded into dust as they impacted the shell of energy

surrounding her form. Before he knew it, Coryn was being smashed through the castle tower and

through the other side. Alexis however continued her assault, and together the two slammed into

the ruined garden on the far side of the compound.

   Thankfully, Alexis had underestimated the strength of her own attack, and sent herself

careening into the castle’s wall. Coryn had slipped from out beneath her, and landed in the soft

soil of the garden. Before Alexis could recover, he rose to his feet and roared at her. While

energy erupted from his feet, it burned away the overgrown foliage around him. He could

sense Alexis already returning for another attack. His power-up had been short, but had brought

them to and equal footing at last. The rest of the fight would come down to skill alone.

   When they next clashed, they clashed as giants.
   
   Coryn swung up from below, Alexis came down from above. Each fighter stood resolute,

and the world around them gave way. Surrounding paving stones scattered and broke,

perforating the area with rock shrapnel. As their blades grinded against each other, sparks flew,

and the energy released cleaved trees from root to sky. Coryn released his sword with one hand,

and grabbed the shaft of Alexis’ weapon. He moved to rip it from her grasp, but she failed to

relinquish her armament. As a result, the girl flipped right over Coryn’s head. Alexis’ feet

slammed into the ground behind Coryn. This time Coryn was the one who refused to let go, and

Alexis responded by slamming him against the castle wall. Finally, Coryn relaxed his grip, and

allowed Alexis to prepare for another attack. As she opened herself up, he leaped beneath her

arms, and kneed her in the chest. She only skidded back a few feet. Alexis used her staff to brace

herself, and thrust out a hand.

   Debris from their battleground hurtled at Coryn. For a moment, he found himself

struggling against the full force of her barrage. His skin and coat looked like they were being

attacked with an industrial sander. Coryn roared, and brought up a sheet of white Enix in front of

himself to blunt her attack. He pushed forwards, but the half-dozen feet that separated them

might as well have been one-thousand. Coryn took one laborious step after another, and yet it

was like walking into a blizzard. For every two inches he propelled himself, friction would fail

him, and he would drop an inch back. Through his shield, Coryn could see Alexis. She was

hiding it as best she could, but her current output was tearing her up. Alexis’ face was red and

slick with sweat. The arm bracing herself on her halberd was shaking. It wouldn’t be long.

“Alexis! You can’t keep this up! You’re going to destroy yourself if you don’t stop now!”
   
   She snapped at him. “Leave me alone Sken!”

   “Your body isn’t strong enough! You can’t fool me!”

   Alexis shook her head in defiance, but to Coryn it looked like she was forcing every

muscle to do what she wanted it to. “I will endure it! Shiro would have endured it!”

   “Shiro was stronger than you! He could handle that kind of power, you can’t!”

   Coryn reached Alexis, and with a final push, bashed his energy barrier against Alexis.

Her telekinetic attack broke, and she shot off, as much under her own power as from Coryn’s

retaliation. She stopped in midair, and flew back at Coryn. Coryn flew back into the foliage

before she could reach him. They began a series of feints and dodges. Each would approach the

other, and then pass by the other’s attack. Slowly they acclimated to each other’s attack pattern,

and soon they were clashing, pulling away, and clashing again. The garden was torn asunder.

Within a few minutes, no plant or stone stood over six inches from the ground. Deep gashes were

torn into the stone walkways.

   One last time, they impacted each other, each headed in the same direction. They passed

through the inner of the two castle walls without paying it any heed, and came just short of

completely shattering the outer. Four feet rooted themselves amongst the bones and rusted armor

carpeting the interstitial space, and there they stood. They rained blows against each other. Blood

spattered against the cold stone. Sweat salted the earth below their feet. The two stayed locked in

stalemate, until finally, Coryn caught Alexis from below, and his sword sliced through her

halberd even as she defended herself with it. The tip of the blade carried through, taking Alexis’

face in its steely embrace. It passed through her jaw, up through her cheek, claimed her left eye,

and then finally finished its cruel work at her brow.

   Alexis wailed. She dropped to her knees, the remains of her weapon falling besides her.

Her remaining eye watched in horror as blood rushed from her face onto the ground as her knees

impacted it. Still, she refused to come down from her empowered state.

   Coryn came to a standstill. His sword rested easily at his side. Pity and sadness played

across his face. Despite it all, he hadn’t wished to maim her. “It’s over Alexis. Pack it up and go

home.”

   Alexis looked up at him. The anger on her face was gone. Instead, she stared at Coryn

with a dull surprise. She was going into shock. “Why did you kill him?”

   The words gurgled as they left her throat. Blood was building up in her mouth. But she

was still coherent enough to be understood. Coryn found himself wanting to look away, but

couldn’t bring himself to. He answered Alexis straight to her ruined face. “Because he was my

friend.”

   “That…”

   Coryn cleared his throat on reflex. “I killed him because he was my friend

before…before what happened to him. And despite what Shiro turned into, the man he was

before that wouldn’t have hesitated to do the same for me.”

   “You thought it was a kindness.”

   Coryn turned his back on her. “I did it because it was the right thing to do.” He began to

walk away. But once again Alexis’ energy swelled. She was pushing her powers right to their

bleeding edge, and Coryn could feel it killing her. He no longer needed to see her to know that.

Coryn knew it in his very bones what would happen to her in a few moments. Even as he sensed

Alexis pick up the axe end of her bisected halberd, Coryn slowly passed his sword to his left

hand and gripped it such that its blade protruded out behind him. “Don’t do it Alexis.”

   “You broke my heart Sken… Split it right in two.”

   “So I did.”

   It happened quickly. Alexis surged forth with the last of her strength. Coryn gripped his

sword with both hands, and held firm.

   Coryn watched as the blood dripped from his shoulder. Alexis had sunk it all the way

down to the bone. He knelt, the weight on his back forcing him to a knee. Coryn wondered if she

had even noticed his blade as she closed in. If nothing else, Coryn was made acutely aware of it

as it penetrated through the back of her armor. His other knee hit the ground. She weighed so

much more than she had any right to. Far too much.

   Coryn kneeled in a ditch filled with the dead. The body which had belonged to Alexis

York rested on his back. And he swore that she would be the last death that Shiro Kimura would

ever cause.


   Coryn emerged from the side of the castle and into the main courtyard. To his surprise, he

was greeted with the sight of Colt field dressing a few of Jack’s wounds as he sat atop a piece of

rubble, while Camarin and Eva milled about around them. Upon catching sight of him, the two

girls waved at him cheerfully, and he gave a small wave in return. Coryn had left Alexis to rest

with her fallen comrades. His single sword sat sheathed at his waste. He greeted them all with a

weak smile. “Boy am I glad to see you guys. What happened to the rest of them Jack?”

   “Oh, you know” Jack tested how secure a bandage was with an ungraceful tug. “Locked

the green and yellow ones in an inescapable ice prison, flung ‘em off somewhere to cool their

heads. Red one ran off somewhere. October is out looking for her.”

   Coryn sighed. “In good hands, then.” He took up residence on an adjacent piece of debris

and peeled off his coat while Colt busied himself with his knew patient. Colt said nothing, but

Coryn knew what the look on his face implied. “Alexis is dead. I stopped her before she could

burn herself out.” He looked up at Colt. “There wasn’t much of a choice.”

   Colt responded with a snug bandaging of Coryn’s shoulder. “I didn’t say a word.” The

gunslinger took a slow breath. “But, better this way. No point in a long death.”

   They continued in silence. Colt saw to the rest of Coryn’s wounds, Jack reclined on the

rubble, and the two girls kept watch for anything suspicious. After ten minutes had passed, they

finally heard a noise coming from inside the castle. They looked to the main doors, and saw

October emerge. Slung over her back was her coat, which from a distance seemed to be

squirming far more than most garments usually would. Upon closer inspection, they could tell

that the vampire had used her oversized outerwear to constrain a captive Naomi. The extra length

of the sleeves were bound not unlike that of a straightjacket. Although Naomi didn’t appear to

have put up much of a fight, it appeared that October felt extra precautions were needed for

transport. “Hi Coryn! Hi Jack! I found her!” October let Naomi down and untied her. Although

she appeared to have stored her sword away, her demeanor remained defensive.

   “Where are the others?”

   Coryn caught her gaze. “Dead or gone. Is that going to be a problem?”

   Naomi glanced back at the castle. Her brow knitted itself into a tight furrow, but when

she turned back, she relaxed it. “As I said before. I’m done hassling with you lot. If they couldn’t

accept that, it’s their problem, not mine. Not anymore.”

   For the first time, Coryn thought he saw past Naomi’s outer defenses and glimpsed

something of the girl he knew as Katsumi. He felt that she had finally admitted openly to

something she had long believed. But just as soon as it had opened, the gap closed, and Naomi’s

hostile personality shown through. “So, can I get out of here now or what?”

   Coryn rose to his feet. “Not just yet, first I want to-” But he would never finish his

thought. The pressure in the air rose, a cold and wicked wind blew past the castle gates and

blasted the assembled warriors. Pebbles on the ground began to dance, slowly increasing in their

manic movements. Coryn felt his stomach drop. It was as if the world itself had turned against

them. But while he didn’t suspect that the three girls knew it, the four members of the Eternal

Five most certainly did. They knew what was coming up those stone steps, and none of them

were prepared for the path this moment would send them down. “No! This isn’t real! That’s

impossible!”

   Coryn’s exclamations fell flat, like the very breath was being sucked out of his words.

And slowly they came to the full understanding of why. Step by step, a man appeared at the

landing. Dark brown hair, pushed over to the side by a head half covered by burn scars. Red

jacket, pulled open to reveal a bare chest, and on that chest, a wide and jagged scar. It began with

a patch of depressed flesh above the heart, flew down across the abdominals, and terminated out

the side, forming the shape of a backwards ‘L’.

   The man came to a rest, and smiled at the group with a smile far too wide for a human

face to comfortably accommodate. His eyes did not smile however. Those dark eyes betrayed

only sickened rage. Shiro Kimura smiled, and no one smiled back. “Tell me Coryn? What do you

know of the impossible?”

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline legomaestro

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #117 on: January 07, 2018, 07:15:46 PM »
Spoiler
Here I was about to write a long review because yes, yes yes a new chapter of Coryn Sken, but that frakking ending was so frakking amazing like DUUUUDE. Yes. So much yesssss. So much f yes. So much.

Damn what is english. MOAR. PLZ. NOW.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA Frakking a man that chapter. Okay. Okay calming down and writing a semi review.


typos
(From Dance Dance Tango. Reread it to get in the flow for the latest chap)
1. Coryn shrugged with his free. “What can I say? Maybe I’ve gone soft?” Alina replied by  - shoulder

(From Reunions and Ruination)
1. Coryn had left Alexis to rest with her fallen comrades. His single sword sat sheathed at his waste.
*waist


short review

What the hell did you eat man, the action-action fruit? Well, as cheesy as that sounds, your trend of making great fight scenes has become much of a beast. Do you have any idea how boring ice-elemental characters can be? How cliche and simplistic colour coded sword battles can end up to be? I've seen ecchi anime with the most mellorine of dames and awesome of effects have such boring snore-fests of fights despite how unique they're trying to be, and you still manage to keep a weird mix between traditional shounen shunpo-clash-powerup-clash and weapon-gimmicks, and then add some unique aloof narrative voice of sorts. Damn I suck at reviews, it's hard to express.

Long story short this was really amazing man. Jack seemed a lot more mature (btw great to see The Five again! And to hear of Fuji that old mysterious bastard.) but I always pegged him as a jokey type, and to be honest I expected only comic relief from him, but damn it was a cool (pun intended) contrast to see how he dealt with the same strings that Coryn faced off of. He was also a lot more stompey and 'I will end you' than I'd expect. Quick side note - I never give Coryn enough credit for how much he's willing to take a beating and talk, at least sword to sword rather than do some shady one-hit-kill tactics that I'm pretty sure he can. - Jack's transdimensional ice tracking, the fact that they have a 'community' of sorts who they let in on the Kourosen and that eternal ice prison bit was amazing. His ice can withstand the heat of a sun? What the hell! Wait, can the girls survive that?

I'm really just going off in a dense stream-of-consciousness thing here so you don't need to answer every question, but that was some fun stuff.

Love the explosions, the effects with the debris, and the cream and crop of this chapter, which brings a satisfying or at least sort of catharsis to my question - Why did Coryn kill Shiro. I've been harbouring this grudge for edges, but seeing what became of Alexis and thinking of all the crap Coryn was still willing to go through to explain this to her - dude got a stabbed shoulder and still didn't just say 'you know what screw this' - and even gave her a sort of poetic death. That sword gore though. You get caught up in the animated explosions and forget what steel can do to a face. Brutal. But realistic in a way, and necessary.

I actually have a lot more thoughts on the Coryn fight than anything. What are the mechanics involved in healing ones' self? With superjuiced biological cells or literal reknitting of matter in the body? Flying roof tiles is awesome an all visually with telekinesis, but do they really pack a punch? What happens when Coryn gets shot in his shoulder and he can't be bothered for some reason to block or heal it, will it take time or is he automatically immortal enough to just walk it off. Are his clothes impervious?


It was pretty cool to see that some of the nega girls were willing to see reason. I might have a weird Naomi crush now. Naomi is kawaii when she mad. Don't kill her October!

Dude it was great to see Colt. Gunslingers are awesome.


And damn... I clap hands Coryn. Damn what the hell. What the hell is HE DOING HERE ALIVE AGAIN YESSSSSS WAIT NO HE'S EVIL BUT YESSSSS HES BACK BUT NO HES EVIL DAAAMN

So looking forward to the next chapter man. This was a real treat. I mean a legit real good treat. It's been a while since I enjoyed a story on MR that I've been following and I felt a good spark of that fun I get from reading stuff on the interwebs and of course well crafter stories. Narration on point.

I'll need some time to form any useful critique I guess? Seriously I just enjoyed it too much. I suppose it'd be nice to see a bit more of the multi-verse community, and some actual conversation between The Five. But on the other hand I like how seamlessly Jack welcomed Coryn, because these guys have lived for ages and they don't need to be sentimental or deep about everything. I really do think the chapter delivered on what it shouldve delivered, and the Act closed well enough. If you have the time sure, stuff in more info, I love this world! But this chapter on itself was fun as hell.


In case there were too many random questions I just want to know these ones

1 can the girls survive being near a sun?
2a does Naomi like african war orphans (jk.)
2b Is Coryn recovered from his slumber or still shaking off its effects?
3 Did Alexis power up from trauma or is something sinister at work?
4 Are we going to see Jaska again?
5 Where's Moon!?


Also if I don't see a new chapter like tomorrow or a week from now

   NEVER.

   COME.

   BACK.


Haha. I just really wanted to say that.

Cheers Coryn, this was really well written man.

Offline Coryn

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #118 on: January 07, 2018, 08:30:32 PM »
Thanks for all that Lego! If you could do a more technical review it always helps, but I'll let you do that in your own time.

Let me try and answer your questions and address your comments.


-Fun gimmicks make shounen go round if you ask me. That's where most of the fun come in these fights. It can't be all roid rage all the time.

- While Jack is very much a comedic personality, I've always pegged him as being serious below the surface. He's the kind who tells jokes at a funeral, but will still get down to business when it's time to.

- Jack's ice isn't just ice. It's more like magic ice. So the stronger he is, the stronger his ice. So yeah, it can survive a star for a while. As for the girls, well it's really comes down to comic book logic on that one. Frozen in ice = Immortal, in this case.

- I'm glad my sword gore is appealing. Sometimes you just got to damage a character after all. (And I have to say it felt kinda good to write. But I'll leave the sadist stuff for another conversation)

- think of it as a literal reknitting of matter. Flood the wound with Enix (which is the building block of existence remember), and coerce it into putting your arm back in one piece. Same basic concept for all healing thus shown in the CS universe.

- The ceiling tiles were just on hand, but would have probably hurt at high speed.

- Coryn and other immortals have a general healing boost regardless. So smaller injuries will heal on their own, while major ones need concious effort. Bt that takes energy, so it's often advantages to just bandage it up and let it do it's own thing. Although they could certainly fight through the pain if the injury doesn't negatively impact their movements too much. Pushing past the mind's normal limits is a part of the job, and that means shutting out pain.

- his clothes can definitely be damaged, but for the most part, they are damn fine clothes. They're created via magic after all. Although his coat is definitely more rugged than the rest of it.

- Naomi crush eh? Careful now. If you get too involved, I might just end up breaking your heart.


- Yeah he's back. Although a little worse for wear, if that didn't come across.


- So for your actual questions:

1. See above. Yes.
2. I'm not sure she really likes anybody.
2b. He's back to fighting shape by this point. Think of it as coming out of a really deep sleep. A few fights will wake you right up.
3. 1 part training, 4 parts rage.
4. That's like asking me to post the last chapter first. I make no promises either way in the interest of keeping things spoiler free. But he's still alive and kicking, if that's what you really want to know.
5. Back at the castle where we left him. I'm sure we'll get him back in here in a few chapter's time.

- rest assured that work on the next chapter is already under weigh. Honestly, having a strong diet of shounen anime again has helped. Seeing big fights makes me want to write big fights.

But I have to say, I think I some how surpassed my old limit when it came to fight scenes. When I started work on the most recent Great Raid I could feel something there, and when I wrote the last chapter something just fell into place like it hadn't before. There's a smoothness to it I guess? I found a flow that feels good. Like a comfortable groove to slide down. Hard to explain. But I think my days of scratching my brain for fights might be behind me. *Fingers crossed*


As always, thank you for your patronage. See you next round.

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline Coryn

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Re: Coryn's Saga Arc 3
« Reply #119 on: April 01, 2018, 06:24:34 PM »
Sorry for the wait! Got another long chapter for y'all's reading pleasure. Eighteen pages this time. I'm a little worried it might have gotten a little messy there in the middle, so you'll have to let me know.

I'm anticipating the next two chapters will come pretty quickly, since they won't be big sprawling battles like these last couple were. Please look forward to them!



OLD SCARS INTO OPEN WOUNDS
OLD SCARS INTO OPEN WOUNDS

Between the four of them, Colt, Coryn, Jack, and October had led what could be described as

long and eventful lives. In all this time, they had each encountered, been a part of, or otherwise

witnessed many events that could be classified as ‘miracles’. The definition of what constituted a

miracle changed of course. Certain species would classify flying as a miracle, but such a

classification would make little sense to a people born with wings. Because of this, miracles

depend entirely upon the observer to determine whether they deserve the distinction. Despite this

limitation, it can be universally agreed upon that resurrection from the dead will classify as a 

miracle in almost every case.

   Some universes have special attributes which make resurrection less of hurdle of course.

But even in these rare places, bringing one’s self back from the dead is no Sunday drive.

Conditions must be met, sacrifices must be made, rules must be followed. Whatever the

mechanism, some price must be paid. But even these universes, miraculous in themselves, could

only affect so much. A being not tied to them, for instance, would have no hope of taking

advantage of their life-giving properties. For a creature such as Shiro then, who existed outside

the time and pull of any single universe, it should have been absolutely out of the question to

drag himself back from oblivion. By all accounts, Shiro should have been as dead as Coryn had

left him over a year earlier. Obviously, that was not the case. Now, the oncoming storm clouds

took on an ominous tone they had not possessed just a few minutes earlier.


   Naomi took a few hesitant steps towards Shiro. Disbelief spelled plainly across her face.

“Just what the hell is this?” She murmured. In front of her, weapons were being quietly drawn,

even as Shiro continued to hold still. Power levels slowly ticked upwards, and open palms

tightened into fists. Naomi moved to grasp her own sword, but was cut off by a curt command

from Colt.

   “Eva, Camarin, restrain her.”

   Naomi’s arms snapped to her sides as Eva’s strings closed around her midsection. She

cocked her head back to see an arrow of yellow energy pointed squarely at her back. “Don’t

make a move.” Said Camarin. Whether Naomi would try to return to Shiro’s side or not, she

wasn’t going to be given the chance.

   Coryn’s sword fell lightly at his side, and his piercing eyes bored straight into Shiro. It

was without doubt Shiro’s energy that he felt, but there was something wrong to it. He felt like it

was coming from far off, like his body had come ahead of his soul. The feeling was deeply

unnerving, but none of the Five were intending to let Shiro live long enough to find out what was

producing that notion.

   October was the first to move. She appeared directly in front of Shiro with a shriek of

kuupo, and sent a massive beam of energy into him. The stone gates crumbled to dust, the stairs

leading down the mountain were replaced with a groove in the earth which glowed red from the

heat. The very ground on which Shiro stood was destroyed, but Shiro himself had escaped before

the energy had touched him. He soared high into the air and put his hands together. As he drew

them apart again, a chain of white energy stretched out. On one end formed a short sickle, on the

other a great weighted blade in the shape of a diamond. It was a crude version of the technique

which he had spontaneously invented in his last battle with the Five, but those below did not

doubt its ability to kill. Coryn and Jack assaulted him in tandem before his descent had even

begun. Blades of ice and steel came at him from above and below, but a twist of the chain sent

his own blades on intercept courses. The pair were forced to fall back, but Shiro was hit in the

back with a blast of energy from below. It seared a hole through his jacket, and he pointed his

eyes at the source. Shiro spied Colt braced against the ground, letting loose with a plasma

throwing rifle.

   Shiro gave the chain another yank to slam his great blade down on to the sharpshooter,

but was stopped short as October grabbed on to the weapon at a link farther up. She held firm,

even as the crackling energy seared her palms, and Shiro was snapped to a stop midair. He began

to retaliate, but October’s interference had bought Colt enough time to zero in on his target, and

he rained fury up at Shiro. The madman pulled his arms up against himself to mitigate the

damage, but it was an untenable position. Shiro released his grip on his weapon, and it dissipated

into the air. He blasted off out of Colt’s reach, but was intercepted by Coryn. The swordsman

was already swinging down his blade, and Shiro only managed to form a small sheet of enix in

his hand to catch the sword without bisecting his arm. “I see you haven’t been resting on your

laurels Coryn!” Shiro said. “Even if you have been asleep of the past year. Once I’m done with

you, I’ll be sure to pay that nice little dimension a visit!” Coryn spun a kick into Shiro’s side

while he was occupied holding the blade back. The blonde would have to worry about how Shiro

had known what he was doing later. Their fight was going to require their full concentration for

now.

   Shiro neared the ground for the first time since the beginning of the battle. He was about

to touch down when he noticed a tale-tale shimmer on the paving stones, but it was too late to

avoid it. As his foot made contact, ice erupted forth and grew and his leg. Shiro broke free of the

ground, but the ice which had encased his lower leg remained, and forced his movements into

and awkward cadence. He wanted to land somewhere safe and bash the ice off himself, but

everywhere he looked the ground was coated in the same glimmer. Shiro spied Jack with his

hands against the ground on the far side of the courtyard. He was feeding it from there, so Shiro

made a bee line for his opponent. As he approached, great pillars of ice erupted around him,

attempting to slam him back into the open air, or otherwise encase him. They grew in frequency

and size as he approached Jack, and finally he was forced to concede. Shiro broke for the clouds

above, but he quickly realized he would never make it to them.
   
   Coryn, October, and Colt had already caught him in a pincer. Their coordination was

perfect. The timing was impeccable. Shiro’s eyes darted back and forth as he searched for an

exit, but no matter where he looked, he couldn’t find one. As each nanosecond passed, the

attack closed in. If Shiro didn’t extricate himself soon, he would wouldn’t be walking away.

   From his opponent’s perspectives, Shiro was done for. By now they had all picked up

upon Coryn’s original deduction. Shiro’s power was like an echo. There was no real substance

behind it, and now they were going to punish him for thinking he could fight them in such a

state. As he realized this, a wave a rage crashed through Shiro’s body. “You think you know

everything? I’ll show you what I really am!”

   By the time they realized what was going on, it was too late. Where the moment before it

had been distant, Shiro’s power sprang forth, present and fully realized. White enix blasted out

from his body in all directions. The Five were sent reeling from the release of power. Eva,

Camarin, and Naomi, still on the ground far below, were themselves pushed almost all the way

back to the base of the castle. Coryn slammed into the stone courtyard, but used the momentum

of his bounce to achieve a perch on the castle wall. His eyes narrowed as he stared up a Shiro,

who was still releasing energy above their heads. The madman was only a dark speck amongst

the white deluge. There wasn’t any outward indication that up until a moment ago, Shiro had

been low on power. Coryn didn’t know what any of this meant, but he knew he didn’t like it one

bit. Colt and October may have been fresh, but Jack and himself were still not fully recovered

from their previous battle. The three girls were in relatively good shape to fight, but he still

didn’t trust Naomi, and even diminished as he had first appeared, Shiro would not have trouble

with Camarin and Eva.

   As Shiro’s power up faded however, the Five once again sensed the distance of his

power. They hoped that his increased power would fade as well, but he remained as strong as

when he finished the blast. Whatever had happened to him, it was not going impact his ability to

perform, at least not in the short term.

   The dark-haired man looked down at his assembled foes. A chuckle escaped from his

impossibly wide smile, before breaking out into a full on laughing fit. He spoke sporadically

though the bursts of amusement. “Not too bad for someone back from the dead huh? Lots of

things have changed in the last year you know.” Shiro pointed at each of the Five in turn. “You

four have been on my mind a lot lately.” His kusarigama slowly formed again in his hands.

“Lots of time to change. Lots of time to think. Oh yes.” Shiro raised an arm above his head and

began to spin his scythe. Bit by bit, he let out more length, until the torque of his spinning

weapon began to pick up dust and debris on the winds it created. “I have contemplated all of the

ways in which I will kill and dismember each of you. Call it petty revenge if you want, but I had

time to kill! You may have stopped my attempt to destroy the Kurousen, but the God War has

broken out, and you sure as hell can’t put a stop to that yourselves!” He let the blade fly loose. It

headed for October, who had found a place to rest atop one of the castle’s towers. She

maneuvered around it, but the tower she left behind was bisected cleanly. Dust spread at is

slammed into the ground, obscuring the battlefield, and sending the fight into a zone of

speculation.

   To an outside observer, only sounds could be heard. Steel and flesh clashed against

screaming energy. Guns discharged, and the electric whine of kuupo was ever present. Coryn

could only see a few feet in any direction, and he fell back on his other senses. Shiro’s great

blade burst forth from the gray cloud. He dodged to the left, and raised his blade right where he

knew Shiro would approach from. Sure enough, Shiro appeared as well, his own energy

signature preceding his movements. He brought his retrieved blade down on Coryn sword.

Together, they stood locked in time. The dust clung to them. Colors dulled beneath the matte

gray, and their skin tones were matched in a deathlike pale. Only their eyes retained an untainted

shine, and those lay squarely pointed at the other. Shiro let his smile melt away, replacing it with

an unwavering look of disappointment. “You make me so sad Coryn. You can’t see the bigger

picture of things.”

“And what would that be Shiro?” Asked Coryn. “Right now, I’m having enough trouble

seeing past the fact you’re even here!”

His enemy chuckled. “I’m not just here to kill you Coryn. I come to you no longer as the

ranting madman. My path has evolved to that of the prophet!” Shiro pressed harder against

Coryn, forcing him to bend his knees into a squat.

   “A prophet? I’ve known you to suffer from a lot of things Shiro, but religious mania was

never one of them.” Coryn let his legs give out. “But it doesn’t matter!” Shiro was caught

unawares, and he flipped headlong over Coryn’s back. As he did so, Coryn swiped downward

with his sword. Blood sprayed across his face, but he did not let it distract him. Coryn rolled to a

knee, and let loose with an energy blast into Shiro’s back before he could recover. As the attack

ran its course, Shiro was revealed. He once again stood near the entrance to the complex. His left

arm was extended out, turned black from having evidently caught the blast bare handed. It

remained firm and malleable however. Shiro gave the hand a few test stretches to confirm it was

still usable. He found it to be to his satisfaction, and let it rest at his side. It was with distain

however, that he looked at his right arm, which lay thirty yards ahead of him at Coryn’s feet.

Blood was pooling there, flowing down through the cracks in the stone, but he paid it little heed,

and turned back towards the Five, who were gathering at Coryn’s side. A light rain began to fall,

and it cleared away the dust covering the combatants and the battlefield. Their noses were filled

with the scent of earth, and Shiro breathed deep before addressing his opponents.

   “You four are the first to bear witness to my prophesy. Before I am through, you will lay

dead upon these stones.” His tone was grandiose, and Coryn couldn’t make heads or tails of his

actions. Losing an arm usually caused more alarm in the one who lost it. Shiro may have been

criminally insane and manic, but he wasn’t immune to pain any more than the rest of them were.

At the very least he should have been grimacing, but he showed no signs of agitation. Coryn

studied him closer. His attention was drawn towards Shiro’s wounds. They bled. Red blood

oozed from the opening like one would normally expect. Shiro could have already begun healing

them, but even the fastest of healers couldn’t escape the initial pain. Coryn opened himself up

more, reaching out with the expanded senses which he had developed over millennia. An

image began to form in his mind as he stared at Shiro’s shoulder, he could almost see it with his

naked eyes.
   
   It was on the tip of his tongue, but Coryn’s concentration was broken when Shiro noticed

his gaze. Suddenly the air was cut off from Coryn’s lungs. His windpipe collapsed inwards as a

great pressure was applied to it. Coryn dropped his sword and clutched at his neck, only to find

the treated leather of Shiro’s jacket, and below that, the muscles, tendons, and bones of his

severed arm.

   Colt moved to intercept, but Coryn acted before he could be reached. Pressing the tips of

his fingers firmly against Shiro’s arm, he pumped his own energy into it. He quickly exceeded

the meager capacity of the separated flesh, and the assembled fighters watched in astonishment

as the white energy leaped from the arm, arced through the air, and bounded back into Shiro’s

main body. It seemed a threshold had been passed. The traitor writhed in pain, but as he fell to

his knees, something even more remarkable occurred. Coryn’s energy traveled out from Shiro’s

body, soaring off in tight bands in all directions. It was as if Shiro was being tethered by reality

itself. Some strands disappeared straight into the ground below him, others were lost in the sky

above. They passed through architecture and plant life alike, without any visible effect. Finally,

Shiro’s arm relaxed its grip on Coryn’s neck, and he swallowed massive gulps of air as the path

to his burning lungs was restored. With Coryn’s loss of contact, the tendrils faded from view.

Without them, Shiro’s arm seemed to reattach to his should as if through some unknown and

invisible force. Shiro knelt on the ground, panting and smoking, but across from him, Coryn

regained his weapon.

   Eva, Camarin, and Naomi had watched these events from afar, but had been unable to

grasp the nature of the phenomenon which they had borne witness to. Each puzzled in their own

way, trying to reach a conclusion about what was going on. But finding none, Eva yelled out in

an attempt to satiate her curiosity. “What the hell was that?”

   Coryn made no movement to answer them. The thing which had sat at the edge of his

mind had been brought into stark, visible reality, if only for a moment. But that moment had

been all he needed to reach the conclusion he had been dreading. Coryn’s voice was raspy, but

filled with pity and empathy. “Shiro…you haven’t resurrected yourself at all. You’re still dead.”

Shiro looked up at him with distain. He tested out his restored limb as he spoke.

   “A very astute observation.” He pitched his voice so it would carry to the girls behind the

assembled Five. “You did a very good job of killing me Coryn, but you failed in a very important

way. You failed to destroy my body, and so I just reached out, and took it back!” Shiro belted out

a staccato laugh. “My soul may still be chained in Hell, but now, I barely feel a thing!” He

gripped his right hand into a fist, and dug into his own flesh with his finger nails. Slowly, blood

began to drip on to the gray stone. “Not even my own body can slow me down anymore.” Shiro

began to reform his blades. “Best chance you got, is to rend me down to cinders.” With a

flourish, Shiro flung his large blade straight through the Five, directly on course for the three

girls behind them. “And baby, there ain’t no way I’m letting that happen!”

   Naomi was nearly thrown to the ground as Eva unwrapped the strings which had

restrained her. Even as the strings were reforming into a lattice in front of them, Naomi knew

that no amount of hurried workmanship was going to keep out Shiro’s blade. This realization

dawned on Eva a moment later, but she was too committed now to change her course. The blade

closed in to within a few feet, and Eva shuttered her eyes. Her heart skipped a bit as she

imagined the heavy blade penetrating her barrier and piercing her chest, but when the moment

passed in her mind, and she remained standing, she reopened her eyes. Colt was out in front of

them, his great-sword out in front him. He had struck the chord with the blade, and forced it to

wrap around his sword. Together they engaged in a short tug of war. Shiro was hauled forward

by a few feet, but ultimately the blade was his weapon. He sent a wave flowing through it with a

quick flourish. Being made of his own energy, Shiro’s kusarigama had a tremendous impact not

belied by its form, and Colt’s grasp on his blade was broken. The cowboy was sent flying into

the air, and Shiro turned his attention to those closest to him.

   Jack and Coryn came at him at once. Shiro let himself fall back as Jack swung a newly

formed blade at him. His palms hit the cold stone and he pulled up into a flip as Coryn stabbed

out to spear him. The tip of Coryn’s sword skirted past its target as Shiro twisted, and was

knocked clean of its owner’s grasp as the glowing chain whipped back around and caught

Coryn from the side. Coryn had slid across the courtyard and slammed into the castle wall by the

time Shiro completed his maneuver. Shiro turned his head up and expected to see Jack suffer the

same fate, but was caught at a disadvantage when Jack snapped Coryn’s blade from the air, and

with his own ice saber, met Shiro’s energy-form with both weapons. The white energy was

cleaved through, and Jack turned to his opponent.

   His first attack came from a high stance, and Shiro spread out a sheet of energy in front

of himself. When the slash came down, the three distinct materials clashed and sparked against

each other. For a moment it was unclear who would win the contest, but Jack had made a

mistake. In his inexperience with the weapons, he had not gotten close enough to Shiro. Shiro

only had to catch the tips of the blades, and he exploited his opening. With a flourish, Shiro grew

out his energy net, and wrapped it around the two swords. He placed Jack to his back, and

constricted his net around the weapons. Both ice and steel were wrested from Jack’s hands, and

Shiro sent them flying into the air. Jack’s surprise left him open, and Shiro sent a kick into his

gut. Jack keeled over, but before Shiro could attack him again, October appeared over Jack’s

back, and descended upon her foe. This time, Shiro did not have the opportunity to defend

himself with enix, and resorted to blocking October’s rain of blows with his bare flesh.

   With every blow, the ground behind Shiro was blasted away. Each strike of October’s

fists grooved out a spray of dirt and rock, and soon Shiro was being forced back and down.

Despite the weather, powdery black soil was being forced into the air. It coated the two

combatants, and stung their eyes. It turned quickly to mud and was washed off by the rain, only

for fresh dirt to replace it. Shiro squinted to keep out the worst of the debris, but October seemed

unbothered. Her singular focus was wearing the monster down, and he could feel each impact

slowly turning his forearms to a bloody mush. Shiro cast his glance around for a way to escape,

but his back was now firmly against the ground as October buried him with her fists. Invariably,

Shiro’s muscles turned to paste, his bones fractured, his tendons were pulled and stretched to

their breaking points. Despite his new-found resilience, Shiro screamed in agony. If the assault

kept up, there was little to no chance he was going to retain the use of his arms, and that would

decide the result of the battle then and there. With no other recourse, Shiro took a gamble. He

concentrated as much energy as he could just above his solar plexus. October’s view was

obscured, and when she realized what he was planning, Shiro had already completed his work.

   The energy blast erupted from Shiro’s chest. It was a messy and unbridled piece of work,

which would not distinguish friend from foe. His own arms were caught in the blast, and were

flung to his sides unceremoniously. But, Shiro had caught his target in the attack, and he settled

for the results he could achieve. It was now October’s turn to defend herself by hastily throwing

up her arms, and while Shiro could see that the burning energy turned her sleeves to cinder, he

knew it would only serve to make some space between himself and October. It was with a sense

of failure that Shiro road the backwards force of his attack up the slope that had formed behind

him and back up to ground level. Shiro was lifted a dozen feet up into the air, and deposited

forcefully onto the paving stones. Without his arms to break his fall, Shiro’s face bashed against

the ground. Blood gushed from his now broken nose, but Shiro ignored it, and forced his

attention to regaining control of his limbs. His arms were initially numb, but a fuzzy sense of

feeling was returning to them. Flexing his back, Shiro forced himself to his knees. The rest of the

Five were still scattered, and the battlefield momentarily experienced peace.


   Across the courtyard, the three girls watched as the battle ground to a halt. Having moved

instinctually to protect the group, Eva had left Naomi free of her bonds. Naomi, for her part, was

making no noise about her change in fortunes. Even she could see that leaving her free was the

smartest move given the circumstances. Eva could not both contain her and fight back in case

Shiro turned his ire towards them. Of course, she considered the possibility that Alina’s alternate

had simply forgotten about her in the heat of the moment. In either case, she didn’t intend to

make so much as a peep until the battle was decided one way or the other. That was a vow she

intended to keep to, but soon found her resolve questioned as Eva and Camarin argued in front of

her. She was keeping an ear towards them, while keeping her eyes firmly trained on Shiro as he

recovered. They both clearly wanted to enter the fray, especially now that Shiro was vulnerable,

but were obviously frightened enough to stay their hands.

   For what felt like hours, but couldn’t have lasted for more than half a minute, Naomi

watched them argue. She could feel her own feelings getting mixed up in the current situation.

Without a doubt, they weren’t the people Naomi had grown up with, but their faces were still the

same. They bickered in the same way. How they carried themselves felt the same. Naomi

realized she was biting her lip, and eased the pressure on it, but could already taste the warm,

copper taste of fresh blood sliding down the back of her throat. She wanted to yell at them, but

what came out was hardly a whisper. “He’ll kill you…” Camarin and Eva stopped, turned to her,

and for the first time since the fight had begun, fully recognized that Naomi was even present.

Naomi felt a pang of something like relief, but it faded as she recognized the looks on their faces.

Contrary to her intentions, Naomi’s words seemed to have galvanized the resolves of Eva and

Camarin. The pair paused for just a moment. Camarin spoke a few words, and together, they

sped off towards the recovering Shiro.

   Naomi took note that Shiro had recovered enough to fend the two off with telekinesis,

and even that the rest of the Five were beginning to converge on him once again. But these

thoughts barely registered. Instead, Camarin’s words were ringing in Naomi’s ears. They were

all too similar to what she had told her own friends years earlier. On the day they had first

encountered Shiro. They were utterly defeated, and forced to watch as Shiro slaughter everyone

they had known growing up. When the chaos had ended, and Shiro offered to let them serve as

his guard, Alexis had said much of the same as Naomi just had. There was no other hope for

their lives, and when it had come time for Naomi to decide for the group, she had taken the same

path. “He’ll kill us all, either way…”

   At the time, Naomi had reasoned it would be better to live long in servitude, than die

quick, but free. She began to pound the stones below with her fist. With every impact, the

blood stain from her knuckles grew larger, and with each blow, her rage grew. This Camarin girl,

who wore Kalya’s face like it was her own, had followed the exact same logic, and taken the

exact opposite course. Even if Shiro had ultimately been the reason Naomi’s own team was

eventually destroyed, they had got to live. Even if Alexis had been brainwashed and raped. Even

if Alina and Kalya couldn’t live the way they would have liked. Even if Naomi herself had to

watch her friends destroy themselves. At least they had gotten to live. At least Shiro had been

killed. At least…

   She looked up. Shiro was back on his feet, and fighting like a cornered animal. But there

he was all the same. Whether or not he was truly ‘dead’ or ‘alive’, it did not matter. Shiro was

here, he was still killing. She could no longer take solace in the knowledge that Shiro had been

punished. Naomi sat at the scene of the lowest moment in her life, and the man who had brought

her there had barely suffered at all. No, Shiro had not suffered one ten-thousandth of what he

deserved, of what Naomi intended to put him through.

   Naomi forced her foot to get back flat against the ground. As she pushed herself back up,

her black katana formed itself in her hand. As she straightened her back, she caught fire. Scarlet

energy roared around Naomi, and as she dropped into a rushing stance, she concentrated every

inch of it into her blade. It poured out from the black steel, it burned her own hands as she held

it. Through the hilt, Naomi could feel the blade quivering under the pressure. She pushed deeper,

until every last drop of her power rushed from the sword like an enraged torrent of flame.

“Shiro…” Naomi’s feet left the ground, and she exploded directly at Shiro. Red fire fueled her

speed, and like a rocket, she closed in. Shiro was distracted by one of the other fighters, but

Naomi’s anger blocked who it was from her mind. She was going to rend Shiro to ash, and it

didn’t matter who else was caught in her net. If she had to choose between and innocent life and

Shiro’s, she would make the same decision a thousand times, until not one iota of his being

remained. “I’m going to end you, Shiro!”

   They were no more than two yards apart. Naomi began her swing. As she moved, so did

Shiro. He had knocked his opponent away, and as Shiro turned, Naomi caught site of his left

hand. Within it, he held a pulsing orb of white energy. “I have no time for you, Naomi!”

   She was already committed. He blade was already in motion. But try as she might, Naomi

could not match Shiro’s speed. His blast caught her midway through her swing. First, the light

blinded her. She could feel the blade resisting, but then, that resistance failed. Naomi let loose

her ruined armament, and put her arms up to resist the beam as much as she could. But there was

nothing to be done. She had spent her reserves. There was nothing left to pull on. Naomi

reflected on her life, decided she ultimately regretted most of it, and disappeared.


   From the outside, Coryn had only seen Naomi rushing in after it had become too late to

stop her. Shiro’s blast, which had been intended for someone else, encompassed her, surpassed

her, and ultimately slammed into the front of the castle. At first, he could see her, darkly

highlighted against the raging white. Her flame was visible within it, but then it was

extinguished. Without that to protect her, so too, was Naomi’s dark silhouette banished. As the

attack finished, Coryn felt an object bounce off his foot. He looked down, only to see the grip of

Naomi’s katana. The blade had been melted all the way down, and only the half-charred hilt

remained. It was the only thing which remained to mark her presence on that battlefield. Coryn

picked it up with a ginger hand. The metal glowed softly from the intense power which had been

running through it oh so recently. He pulled his gaze away from the remains of the weapon, and

took in Shiro. Their old friend was panting from the exhaustion, and he had pulled his own

energy-form weapon close to defend himself. Shiro was clearly out of energy, and the look on

his face told Coryn that he knew that his opponents knew as well. The madman glared at him for

just and instant, and disappeared in a flash of white. There was no winning the fight, and Shiro

knew it. He still had enough sense to retreat when what remained of his life was threatened it

seemed.

   The rest of the party took Shiro’s retirement from the battlefield as a sign of temporary

victory, if not a final one. Eva and Camarin collapsed. They had exhausted themselves, even

over such a short time, but they were relatively unscathed. Jack squatted, breathing heavily. Colt

carefully inspected his weapons, making sure they were ready in case of a surprise second round.

Only October caught Coryn’s gaze, which was focused on the hole which Shiro’s last attack had

opened up just above and to the right of the castle’s main doors. “What are you thinking Coryn?”

   Coryn did not meet her directly. Instead, he waved the ruined grip in October’s direction,

and started to wander towards the castle gates. October followed quickly after him, and together,

they arrived at the grand doors. Together, they pushed them open, and let in the rain. Within,

pale light shown through the fresh aperture above them. They followed the wide ray, and it led

them to the diverging paths of the great staircase before them. From the door, they could not see

the top of the landing. But as they approached, Coryn grew more and more certain of what they

would find. Shiro’s blast had slammed into the wooden reliefs above them. They had been

reduced to charcoal, but it seemed his attack did not have enough power to pierce the wall behind

them. A dark streak of soot was drawn below the images, leading to the obscured landing. The

pair stepped onto the lowest steps, and began their ascent. Ash fell on their faces from the slow

burning wood above, replacing the rain. Finally, they crested the top of the stairs. Before them,

laying crumpled at the base of the ruined woodcut of Amaterasu, was the burnt form of Naomi

Amano. No movement remained. There she rested, blackened, and still.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJISG67FjeM
« Last Edit: April 01, 2018, 06:27:24 PM by Coryn »

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