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Songs of the Compass Roses - One Wild Weekend

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2 years 5 months ago #61314 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Songs of the Compass Roses - One Wild Weekend
Part 47

Hidden Cave - Hesperus Peak
La Plata Mountains, Colorado
9:37 AM MDT
POV: Zhen-yu Chen, Rose of the North

I parried another block from Laoshi Wujing, granted that this was far more difficult given that the match we were fighting was in my transformed human state. How ironic I was worried about losing my humanity while I was transforming, now I saw how much of a disadvantage I was at. The reality was that while being was better to move around in public without causing a panic it also meant that I was slower, weaker, softer, and lacked the advantage of a fifth-limb to help either parry with or try to trip the divine monk.

Fortunately, this was weapons training rather than hand to hand or in the case of my normal state hand to claw. The two of us were training with wushu gun, similar to quarter-staves, granted my weapon of choice was closer to that of a mace but I was looking into ways to modify it to give me more options in a fight. But while having a wider range of options in combat would be great all it meant was that I'd need to train how to use them first.

"Gaah," my train of thought was soon broken by a staff strike that had slipped past my guard and hit me on the outside of my right thigh. I tried to get back into the rhythm of the dance but soon my teacher got a solid hit in against my left ankle in the process.

"Dammit," I keeled over and cradled my ankle while losing the focus on my shape-shifting and transforming back to my normal self in the process. Somehow though the pain that I felt from that sparing match lingered even through my tough hide, and that realization made a smile cross my face. "So, I can still feel everything, I can still feel like I was as I am now."

That sentence soon descended from a moment of realization into a hollow fit of laughter at everything that was going on in the world, as if everything that I had been feeling since transforming just boiled over and as leaking out in that fit of irony that after everything that I had gone through over the course of half a year yet fundamentally I was still the same person I had been the day that rat bit me.

This realization had to end though like all moment do and that came when I felt a modest bop on the head right between my antlers, I looked up and saw that Laoshi Wujing was looking down at me with a knowing look on his bearded face.

"I take it that you have had a moment of epiphany Zhen-yu while this is good, we are still training at the moment," Sha Wujing continued as he rested his wushu gun on the ground like a walking stick. "Now I would suggest that you return to your human form now, that is what we are working to hone after all."

"I know Laoshi," I admitted as I stood back up with a bow as I tried to transform back into a human using chi magic, but for some reason I just couldn't focus right now. "I apologize Laoshi, but it seems like assuming human form is beyond me at the moment. Would it be possible to focus on something that would more benefit my normal self-right now?"

"I understand my student," Laoshi Wujing conceded while he went to collect our wushi gun to place them to the side, "while martial-arts are meant to help one push past their preconceived limits, they are also about helping one find one's-self and it looks like you are finally beginning to become comfortable in your own skin. That is good because like finding the courage to leave the safety of these caverns- this too is a step in your healing journey."

"Oh gee, another step," I fumed, "really how many steps is this going to take? I mean don't tell me this is like AA because there is no way in the nine-hundred and ninety-nine hells that I will ever forgive those bastards!"

"You don't have to forgive them, you just don't have to let them have power over you." Kelsey chimed in as she sipped a cup of tea in the corner.

"I am free of those bastards Kelsey!" I all but shouted at her, "They will never have any power over me ever again!"

"But they do Zhen-yu, they may no longer have direct control over you through your fear," Laoshi Wujing explained, "but they now have the ability to incite your fury and that can grant them power to blind you to their intent and herd you like a charging bull to the slaughter."

"You have to remember Zhen-yu the only power the Cult of Blood-stained Gold have over you is the power that you give them," Kelsey added into the conversation, "and as those warlocks are beneath you the only power that you should offer them is your caution, they are a scorpion pit steer clear and eventually they will eat themselves."

"Okay I may be safe but what about my friends and family?" I objected to the matter, "I mean the only thing keeping them safe is that none of them know where I am, and the Cult of Blood-stained Gold doesn't know how to get in touch with me to demand that I surrender myself for their safety."

"No what keeps your family safe is the fact that the Cult of Blood-stained Gold was only able to target you because no one had any idea that they were after you." Kelsey interrupted, "The moment that they clued everyone into their interest in you as well as the value that you hold your family became a subject of interest to a lot more groups then human-supremacists. Your friends and family are now under surveillance by agents from five different governments and seventeen multinational concerns not to mention operatives of the DeVille Academy, the Yama Dojo and The Syndicate to name a few; any intelligence that your friends and family hold on your whereabouts will be of interest to a lot more people than just a group of Black Market Brokers with a history in the occult."

While that was good to hear that my family was safe it made it more apparent than ever that going home wasn't going to be in the forecast for me anytime, looks like my earlier assumptions were right on the money. Yes, the best thing that I could do for the people who I cared about right now was to stay as far away as possible. I really want to get back to my art, it's so much easier to relax when I'm knuckle-deep in soft clay- or in the case of the new me that would probably be molten rock.

Iris's Suite - Scarlet Sands Resort
Las Vegas, Nevada
8:42 AM PDT
POV: Iris Seguin, Rose of the South

I will have to admit my new life was taking some getting used to, back when I was Paul Ledoux I was used to doing everything around the house that I needed to keep things running- it helped to let me keep things in perspective but here there were djinn and djinni whose actual job it was to keep the resort running. Granted that this place was my House's home but at the same time it was also a resort with guests, we just kept the places that weren't part of the true in places that normal people were unable to access.

It was just all so surreal how much my life had changed, I mean I even had a djinni inside of ring on my hand that was dedicated to serving me and I was the type of person who was used to serving other people, I wonder if there was a councilor here at the resort because I was really needing some help getting my bearings in life especially since I was now in the care of people who weren't human. I mean don't get me wrong the djinn who I had met were all friendly and from what I had seen their society was much the same as what people would be considered normal. Actually, in some cases djinn society at least that of the Kingdom of the Blazing Disc was rather progressive for an upper-class household.

It was odd that for the most part everyone in the household went about their business during the daytime, yet all came together in the evening baring special events. My dad had even told me that hosting my friends like that had for the last two days was something special since the daytime was the time reserved for productivity or activity, the evening was all about coming together to reinforce bonds an activity particularly symbolized by Dinner and the evening proclamations by the Head of the House such as her Grandmother Nephthys. There was also the fact that there was no one her actual age around- "Maybe I will take a look at that School Bea and Randi go to after all." I muttered under my breath as my hand knocked against my desk.

"Uh- I am so clueless," I face-palmed as I laughed in embarrassment, "I need to talk to someone for advice and I have a councilor on hand 24-7."

Carefully I rubbed the jewel on my ring and recited the password that I had set with Zesiro's instruction, "Miss Zesiro- can you help me?"

"I still don't understand why you decided to be so formal in your command to summon me Iris," Zesiro stated as the cloud that constituted her being billowed out of the ring to gradually materialize in front of me, "while you instructed me to address you by your given names you are still my mistress, there is no need to be so formal with one who has pledged themselves to serve you."

"You trust me with your very being Zesiro, the least I can do is show you the respect that you are due." I explained, "Besides I need some guidance, I mean I think that I'm going to take up an offer to go to that boarding school that the other maidens are at but what about in the meantime. I know that I'm going to receive tutoring to cover my schooling for the rest of the year but there is still the fact that half-djinn or not I'm the only human...the only teenager here and I can't leave because the Cult of the Black Pharaoh might still want me for whatever."

"You are saying that you need a way to fill your empty time or at least socialize beyond what you can manage to do in the hidden areas of the resort." Zesiro surmised hitting the proverbial nail right on the head.

"Exactly- I mean everyone has been so welcoming to me here but its- just too much compared to what I am used to." I deflated feeling a little release again, it was great to have someone to talk shop with.

"Well from what I know there are occasionally people your own age who take advantage of the amenities, but that won't be until the schools let out in May." Zesiro explained as she pondered my predicament, "Maybe this would be the time to learn about your mother's family."

"But my dad told me mom was from Mexico-" I objected to the thought, "any family that she has is down there! And I can't even leave the resort right now let alone the country."

"True but there is nothing to say that you can't reach out to ask them to visit," Zesiro spelled it out, "after all there shouldn't be too much trouble to find out about them and get your grandparents a tourist visa."

"Do you really think that they'd be willing to put up with the process to get a passport and apply for a tourist visa just to come to the United States all to meet someone who says that they're the granddaughter of their own daughter who disappeared a decade and a half ago?" I asked really hoping Zesiro could counter my own logic, because part of me really wanted to learn about the human half of my family especially since it was likely to be similar to what I grew up with when compared to the little that I knew about Djinn culture- something in which Zesiro was also supposed to help tutor me.

"What I believe is that any human parent who has a right to call themselves that would be beside themselves with joy to learn that the child who they hadn't heard from for a decade and a half was actually alive and well." Zesiro countered my logic as best that she could, "They would also be interested to meet their granddaughter and learn about the effort that is underway into rescuing their daughter."

"How are we going to do that again?" I asked clearly curious about the matter, "I mean the Cult of the Black Pharaoh are bound to have precautions in place to keep intruders from hurting them."

"Maybe against the djinn and maybe humans too, but there is no such thing as a perfect fortress." Zesiro began to explain, "there are other races besides those whose blood flows through your veins, and apparently you have met many of them."

My mind drifted to my dream last night and the conference on the Astral Plain that I had shared with my fellow maidens. That was when I went over what I knew about them and their non-human halves: Bea was half mermaid and I remembered that her people who weren't of royal blood like her had to stay in otherworldly refuges to avoid being transformed against their will into soulless monsters. Randi was half faerie which supposedly covered a lot of different races with a wide range of abilities, they were supposed to be fairly diverse and numerous although I knew from Miss Bliss that only a few were on anyone's side but their own and Randi was just connected to one such group. Finally, there was Zhen-yu who was part dragon, I knew little about dragons other than Zhen-yu was descended from one of the Chinese dragons who were supposed to be one of the more benevolent groups of them as opposed to their western cousins who according to stories view mankind as either threats, toys or pests.

"I really doubt that we'd have much to offer the dragons to get them to stick their noses into this, so I assume that means faeries will be taking part in the rescue effort." I gave my best guess.

"I would wager that your guess would be the best choice Iris," Zesiro responded, "The dragons of the Orient while benevolent also rarely involve themselves in the affairs of others beyond their own domain, the numbers that the merfolk could provide us with are either too weak on land or too few to be of any real effect. That leaves the fae who are rather adept at both magic and subterfuge, they would be ideal for such an offensive especially if they could send dwarves to the battle."

"Faerie commandos will be freeing my mom," I all but laughed at the thought, "I can't believe how absurd that sounds."

"The Southern Court might have some of the physically strongest beings in the Four Courts however the Western Court possesses the greatest versatility." Zesiro continued to explain, "sometimes being generalists is better than being specialists or masters. You really need to keep this in mind with your training, there may come times that you have to face an opponent who your main specialties won't work against- that is when having a more varied set of skills may come in handy."

"Zesiro- I thought that you were a servant," I replied with some trepidation, "how do you know all of this."

"Your grandfather establish when he married Lady Nephthys that all members of the House were to be versed in combat and tactics in case of emergency." Zesiro replied back promptly, "Despite the rule of the Black Pharaoh being imposed being imposed over our people through Ra the rules of the House of the Shimmering Oasis put into place by him still applied and I learned as was required. Also, your grandfather and father are both clear examples of putting this into practice, your grandfather is a seasoned warrior in both armed and unarmed combat as well as a practiced elemental wizard with both Earth and Wind elements. Your father is likewise skilled in unarmed combat as well as armed combat, archery and seasoned with the use of the Earth element."

"From what I have heard you like myself are a wind elemental and a seasoned pugilist and desire to learn about grappling, also if you take part in the operation to free your mother then you might also have the opportunity to learn fae military tactics in the process." Zesiro finished with her main point, "Just remember the more skills you learn and the more you work on the skills that you are already familiar with the better off your chances are when it finally comes time to confront your destiny."

"Actually, those aren't all my skills," I retorted catching Zesiro's interest in the process, "my captor wasn't much of a caretaker, anytime that I needed to do anything growing up I did it myself and usually for myself. I was the cook, custodian, handyman, plumber, accountant, everything that I could do to stretch the budget or take care of myself and her I have been doing ever since I was able to do so."

"Then you have your other answer on how to avoid boredom," Zesiro smiled as she shrank until we were eye-level with one another, "just ask to help out with the house staff as well. I am certain that you'll be able to learn all sorts of skills as well as other applications for your powers outside of combat."

"Such as?" I asked curious about where this was going.

"Let's just say that the vacuums that we use around the resort aren't working models," my tutor replied, "why need a motor when you can just focus a miniature cyclone spell inside a container and let it provide all the suction that you need.'

Olson Household
Campo, Colorado
10:05 AM MDT

Anton Olson looked over the equipment that his children brought back yesterday having been escorted home by members of Shuffles Sweepers, some of whom spoke in glowing terms of their actions and professionalism on their actions that night in the battle against the Merchants of Suffering's men. A few hours later he had gotten a call from Erzebet Scratch herself, she had spoken well of the children's aid and responsibility in contacting her men and helping thwart both the ambitions of the Merchants as well as their mercenaries the Masterson Brothers.

Part of him was still angry with Tobias for the risks that he had taken and the danger he dragged both him and his sister into by getting involved with the world that had taken him years to drag himself out of and cost him an arm in the process. However, Anton couldn't help but also be proud of his boy, he had shown the kind of imitative and ambition that had died in himself a long time ago.

Looking over his old equipment, something his son had modified he couldn't help but be proud; Tobias had taken his ramshackle work at turning the fragments of Ymir's Tear into something that was actually credible equipment. Taking a moment to set the blasters down, Anton then went to inspect his daughter's Permafrost equipment, "Honestly- what had Tobias done to adjust this thing, Ingrid's in college now and the last time that she wore this she was twelve."

"Still, doing all of that and getting brownie points with both Erzebet Scratch and Shuffle's Sweepers all in one mission," Anton shook his head in disbelief before going back to his old equipment, something that had cost him most of his right arm and the boy had actually figured out what he did wrong and fixed it while adjusting it for his use. It was hard to believe that the kid was just in high school, and he knew from the blood work that he did on his kids that neither of them were mutants- yet his son Tobias had actually fixed his Blizzard Wizard gear and gotten the stuff to work right.

"Maybe it's time to start looking into tech schools for him," Anton mulled over the matter and knew it was the right call. Tobias did show the talent for it and it was better than throwing his life in the toilet like he did, plus Ingrid was ready to move out once her second year at Trinidad Junior College and transfer to Adams to pursue her Theater Degree.

"Face facts Anton, the kids are growing up; I only hope that I was a better father to them than mine was to me." Anton observed as he stared at the plastic claw that served him in place of the hand that he lost to his own foolishness.

"And I hope that Tobias is willing to put all of this behind him." Anton observed as he began to pack all of the Blizzard Wizard and Permafrost gear up, "Being a super-villain is no way to live- all it brings is pain and regret."

Warning the Following Scene Contains Graphic Violence and Mature Content. Reader Discretion is Advised.
Warning: Spoiler! [ Click to expand ]

La Puesta de Sol Rosada
Mexico City, Mexico
12:37 PM CDT

Rosa Fátima Seguin was going through the daily motions of running her family's restaurant, something that she'd been doing ever since her father passed it on to her when her brothers chose to leave the restaurant business. Not that she could complain too much Milagros married the daughter of an Agave farmer and he always gave them a good deal on the first batch of tequila to be brewed on their land, and her younger brother Savid became a police officer and he always sent plenty of business her way during and in-between peak hours, during the evening most of her booths were occupied by out of uniform officers either with their wives or girlfriends to enjoy a nice night away from home.

Not that she had too much of an issue running the restaurant itself, her husband Hernando picked up bartending from her father Xavier long before the man passed, and her son Alberto and his wife Elisenda helped out waiting tables in the restaurant itself, too bad her youngest Liliana never took well to the business and married a mechanic from Toluca. She also never visited even after the birth of her son Leo.

That absence hurt Rosa especially given the disappearance of her other daughter Angela almost a decade and a half-ago, and in a decade and a half she still hadn't learned a thing. What made it really hurt was that her daughter found out that she was with child a month before she disappeared, a revelation that caused a fight to erupt over the matter with her Hernado insisting that the man would either assume his responsibilities and take Angela to the alter or else he was going to be dodging the man's twelve-gauge- a threat that was not an idle one especially since Hernado usually kept the thing loaded with rock-salt instead of buck-shot.

Some including her younger brother Savid thought that her daughter ran away with her lover, however there were some things about the problem that didn't add up. For one if she did chances were that she would have written home in hopes of mending fences by now- even Liliana who never visited still wrote or called. There was also the state that Angela's room was in when she left, the place had been tossed and while some clothing was missing it was nowhere near enough for a pregnant girl to consider leaving home with. There was also the matter of keepsakes, there was no way in hell that Angela would have ever considered leaving home without the cross that her grandfather Xavier passed on to her for her Quinceanera not when she knew how hard that he worked to by the thing.

Still it had been nearly fifteen years, and while it hurt to do so eventually Hernando convinced her to put Angela's picture up on the ofrenda. Despite the fact that their eldest had no marker in the local cemetery, they still told everyone who cared to hear the stories of Angela to keep their daughter's memory alive. Not that it mattered to Rosa, not a day went by that she didn't think of her children- not a day went by that she didn't think of Angela or the grandchild
that she had never gotten to know.

Not that any of this was directly on her mind at the moment, but instead rattling around in her subconscious, thoughts for when Rosa actually had the time to afford to drown in melancholy...and a little pulque. No at the moment she was concentrating on making sure that the turkey molé came out the way she wanted, after all there was only a slim amount of time between when the sauce was silky instead of greasy or burnt. That was what made the phone ringing all of the more annoying, "Can someone get that, I have my hands full!"

"Yes Auntie Rose," Alberto called out from the front, "Hello this is La Puesta de Sol Rosada how may I help you?"

After a few moments of listening Alberto all but dropped the receiver as the color left his face, taking a moment to pick up the phone, the man called out, "Mom- you really want to take this, it's a family matter."

Having finally finished with the sauce and finished plating the turkey molé, Rosa cleaned her hands off then came to the front. "Has Liliana finally decided to talk," Rosa huffed, "it figures that she would choose to call during the lunch rush. Hello this is Rosa Seguin!"

"Misses Seguin," the voice of a customer that she hadn't heard in years began, "I don't know if you remember me, but this is Greygus, I used to frequent your establishment back a few years ago when I had business in the Capital."

"I remember, you also seemed to be very friendly with my-" Rosa paused as the dots began to connect, "my daughter Angela. You monster, what did you do with her? I should have known you were the one who took her innocence, you were the one who took her away!"

"We saw each other if that was what you mean, but I just found out a few days ago what became of our relationship." The soldier of fortune explained over the phone with a sigh, "Unfortunately some enemies of mine found out about it before Angela could give me the good news."

"And they came to kill her," Rosa snarled, "all because of you!"

"No, they didn't kill her, but they did take her," Greygus continued, "I do have two points of good news, I am certain that Angela is still alive, these people are not the kind to...waste resources."

While Rosa did not like the tone or connotations of the man's message, the news that Angela was very likely still alive was cause for celebration. But that left a mystery he sounded like those who took her daughter still had her, "What is the other good news?"

"My daughter would likely want to meet her grandparents!"

That bit of news almost turned Rosa's legs into jelly, "How?"

"The group was holding her in a separate location not far from where I call home, likely some matter of sick joke. She didn't even know that the woman who was raising her was connected to the group that kidnapped her real mother." Greygus explained, "However kids would be kids and she strayed near enough to my home that when she ran into trouble my brother saved her and saw the resemblance."

"I have another grandchild," Rosa numbly parroted, "my Angela has a daughter!"

"Yes and thanks to her and some work that's being done by a contact of mine, we are narrowing down the place that your daughter and others are being held." Greygus explained giving her more hope than ever about seeing her Angela again, "But in the meantime, I can only tell Iris so much about her mother, but surely her grandparents would be able to better fill her in on her mother."

"And just where would Hernado and I need to go to meet her?" Rosa asked, "After all if they could take her mother it would be dangerous for her to travel."

"Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States," Greygus stated, "I'll see if I can pull some strings for a couple of tourist visas."

"There is no need," Rosa laughed, "we just need to renew our passports, we went to New Mexico two years ago on a third honeymoon. We went to Carlsbad to tour the caves; the brochure really didn't do the Queen's Room justice."

"Wonderful," Greygus replied about the situation, "just call me at 1-725-###-#### when you have your passports renewed, see to all of your travel needs."

"I will," Rosa smiled, "and thank you!" Rosa hung up the phone, dear I have the most wonderful news!"

Kitchen - Scarlet Sands Resort
Las Vegas, Nevada
11:42 AM PDT
POV: Iris Seguin, Rose of the South

"Now it is important that you gradually add the water to the dry ingredients as you whisk them in," Chef Bellacosé explained as he looked over my shoulder.

Carefully following the man's instructions, I slowly gradually whisked the increasingly lumpy mixture as I went and added the water.

"No, not so slowly," the pâtissier continued to explain as he supervised my work, "for this dish you actually want the gluten in the flour to activate, you want to make sure that it is chewy in the end."

"Thank you for your patience Chef Bellacosé," I complimented the man as I continued to work.

"Not at all," the man chuckled, "honestly it is refreshing to see one of our guests take an interest in the culinary arts beyond that of being a connoisseur or gourmand. And your technique clearly shows that you are no stranger to the kitchen."

"Honestly I am new to the high-life," I laughed back as I kept working, "and the person who raised me was averse to actually cooking (or any menial labor for that matter) so I taught myself."

"It is sad that so many have no true love for the culinary arts," Chef Bellacosé sighed, "Good you are done with the water, now you want to take the bowl and put it into the steamer basket, just remember to always wrap the lid in a towel for this you want the steamer to help remove the water as it works. Then steam for about fifteen minutes while stopping to stir at seven minutes, after that the dough should be ready to roll out and refrigerate."

"Yes sir," I replied as I set about following the chef's instructions as I continued the preparation work. Making sure to watch the clock as I did so, soon the dough was ready and after I starched a piece of parchment paper, I rolled the dough down thick since again this was supposed to be chewy and placed it in the refrigerator. "I never thought that Japanese deserts would be on the menu."

"Special order," Chef Bellacosé explained, "a Tokyo businessman is staying here and has a sweet-tooth."

"Are we going to make the filling too?" I inquired curious about the next step.

"No, we are actually going to use store bought for that part," the pâtissier sighed, "that part takes hours to turn out right and it doesn't make sense to do it for a small order. I will give you the recipe though if you want to take a crack at doing it yourself."

"Sure," I responded, before looking at the clock. "So, what comes next?"

"Cutting out the pastries like a cookie, brushing off the starch, putting in a little of the red bean paste and then pinching the whole thing shut before adding powdered sugar." The chef fired off the rest of the instructions, "You can come by later if you want to help out some more, it is nice to be able to teach an eager student."

"Thank you for the invitation," I said with a bow since shaking hands in the kitchen is a no-no, "I believe that I shall take you up on that offer. Now if you excuse me- I believe that my math tutor will be here in a little bit."

After cleaning up I made my way back from the public part of the resort to the secret part to find myself actually in a small classroom with about three other djinn around my own age. Ouei, Semut and Ufa with Ufa being even younger than I was at only twelve, at the head of the class was our teacher Khu-oer of the Order of Toth.

"It is nice for the newest lady of the House to join our humble class and so close to the start of lessons, " Khu-oer observed, "I know it is your first day but please keep in mind that your station is no excuse for failure at being punctual."

"She was just in the kitchen," Ufa commented, "the echoes of the fire spirits tell me that she was in there and they tell that her hands are reek of sweets. She was probably helping herself to the desert line."

"Actually, I was learning how to prepare daifuku from Chef Bellacosé," I defended myself against the accusations of the ifrit who seemed like he was trying to either get me in trouble or get on my nerves. "Cooking is a hobby of mine and I thought that since the resort has so many properly trained chefs why not partake of culinary education as well as traditional education."

"While I have no issues in students pursuing their hobbies please keep in mind class hours," Khu-oer stated, "now we are taking up where we left off with trinomial equations."

Just my luck...algebra.

Hidden Cave - Hesperus Peak
La Plata Mountains, Colorado
1:32 PM MDT
POV: Zhen-yu Chen, Rose of the North

With lunch taken care of as well as morning training I decided to once again try my claws at honing my powers with that slab of basalt. I looked at the rock it just seemed so much like the clay that I had enjoyed molding ever since elementary that it was as if it was mocking me, telling me that I would never be skilled enough to sculpt with the dexterity with my powers that I used to be able to do so with my formerly human hands, that I just needed to give up working flux and instead go pick up a hammer and chisel.

No, I refused to bow in to pressure like that, I would dig my hands in and mold this rock, I would sculpt again no matter how long it took me and given that I was part dragon now there was a good chance that would be a good long time for me to work at refining my abilities. But before I could run my flame-coated hands through molten rock to mold it into my ideal vision, I needed to practice doing something that all sculptors- no all artists did, signing my work.

Following Laoshi Wujing's suggestion I let the flames flow across my right-claw until the sharp tip of the index glowed not with the reddish orange glow of a fire but with the shinning iridescence akin to that of the filament in a lightbulb. In all it was hard to look at the glowing claw, but I focused on the digit and the feeling that was going through me as I let the white-hot light burn coating the razor's edge like some mystical nail polish.

Calmly I continued to focus on the exercise letting the rest of the world slip away as I did so, before Kelsey's voice stated, "If stare at it too hard you might start to go cross-eyed."

I turned my concentration broken and the exercise surely going to waste, "Kelsey I swear that I had almost done this I was just about to get to the point where I would hold a fire hot enough to sculpt with," I snorted in frustration, "I was even going to write your new suggestion for a codename of Furnace Dragon in Chinese characters to sign the pillar just like this-" I motioning with my gaze still focused on the mystic who liberated me just a few weeks ago. "But you had to interrupt me before I could!"

"It seems to me that you did just fine right now," Kelsey smiled as she pointed to the rock with her staff. Sure enough, there one the rockface as if etched in like a child's finger would do so with mud was the characters 爐龍. I had actually done it and I had done it without even noticing that I was doing so, I smiled in realization I was ready to start sculpting again.

Grinning even wider as I noticed how my finger still glowed with the same heat that I had used to sign the rock with my code name, I let that fire flow like liquid until my talons were coated with the white-hot fire as if they were like lotion. Then I pressed my talons into the rock and began to feel it give under my weight, I could do this, I could sculpt with my own two hands once more.

With glee I began to dig into the rock like it was clay- no more like it was playdoh. I could feel the magma in my hand trying to cool as if too spite, but I kept working I could see it I could see a work of art in my mind's-eye and by the blood of my ancestor's I was going to bring it to the light of day. I don't know when I began to do so, but I started laughing, this was just like that party this was what it felt to feel alive this is what it felt like to be the real me.

I was here I was in the zone, I continued to work and mold the flux that my heat had turned the rock into and I was going to keep at it until this was finished. I don't know how long I was working but eventually I knew that this work of art was finished, that was when not only that I not only extinguished the iridescent fire of my hands, but I also absorbed and extinguished the residual heat on the statue. The work of art now complete I stepped back, closed my eyes and allowed my breath to catch up with me, if I was still human or at least in human form I would have been dripping with perspiration from the effort, but at the very least I was shaking from the surge of adrenaline.

"Well I have to give it to you Zhen-yu," Kelsey commented, "it certainly is poetic! And I doubt that anyone could argue that it isn't art, so what are you going to call this work of your renewed talent?"

That was when I opened my eyes and saw the picture of my imagination drug kicking and screaming into reality at long last. The statue was an amalgamation, it had features of my old self and my new self, my old face with fangs born in a smile of triumphant joy with my antlers bracketing my old longer hair, scales accentuating my old figure, scutes drawing further attention to my chest, claws and tail bursting forth from my egg dripping with goo dripping off of her like water as she emerged. One scaly-claw rested on the side of the egg to prop her up akin to what one would do when they got out of the bathtub, yet the side was cracking to highlight such a folly however that did nothing to detract from the grasp of her other hand which was reaching as if to grab hold of something that was just beyond her reach with her tail innocently draped over the opposite side of the egg.

I took one look at this reality that I had created and knew what it made me feel. Yes, that settled it, only one title was worthy of what this piece of work symbolized to me, "Rebirth! This is titled Rebirth, and it symbolizes a new beginning for me, for Zhen-yu Chen- a new beginning for the Northern Maiden Lulong!"

"Nice to know that you like my change of name," Kelsey smiled at me warmly, "Duanzaolong was a bit of a mouthful."

"Yeah," I laughed as I wistfully looked at my work, "but it was all a part of a necessary phase for me at the time."

"Does that mean you've started to grow out of your brooding phase?" Kelsey wistfully inquired.

"It means that I took your and Laoshi Wujing's advice," I smirked, "but like any masterpiece I'm a work in progress."

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2 years 5 months ago #61484 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Songs of the Compass Roses - One Wild Weekend

Children of the Night's Hideout
Boston, Massachusetts
6:17 PM EDT

Lady Darke breathed a sigh of relief when the synthezoid S.T.I.T.C.H.E.S. proclaimed, "The patient is currently stable, and my scans show that the nerve-endings are successfully reconnected to his reattached extremities."

"So, he is going to be fine?" the psychic inquired wanting the artificial being to leave as it's almost human mind's presence made her nauseous."

"If he does not attempt to use his arms right away, he should show signs of returning to normal in three weeks, however he will still need to undergo some physical therapy." The synthezoid continued showing that this was a being who did not believe in bedside manner. "I will connect to your printer with the instructions for Charles Darrow's physical therapy regimen, see that he follows it."

"I will try," Sandra recoiled in disgust of the artificial being, "Arch-Fiend you have a look over those, I need to freshen up."

"Like I can argue," Wilbur huffed, "until The Necromancer resummons my other half I'm sidelined, since Vamp stabbed us in the back, Nightgaunt's in jail, and Jabberwock and Arcane-Knight are who-knows-where the Children of the Night are down to you and Lycanthros in the meantime."

"Yeah, I'll try not to let it go to my head," Lady Darke made her way from the meeting area and into the restroom of their hideout. Taking a moment to set aside her professional persona, Sandra clenched her arms in fear of everything that happened last night with the events of Roxbury C and then Saturday Night which the News Agencies were starting to call the Boston Blitz the Children of the Night were now likely going to be the focus of national law enforcement and National Level Capes at a time when they were at their most vulnerable.

This new threat combined with the fact that their leader's actions had guided him into conflict with a very alive and even stronger Obsidian Circle meant that if they didn't tread carefully then the Children of the Night's days were numbered. She began to count on the possible ways that they could survive until the four of them were back to fighting form, Compulsion and Obsession still owed Darrow for helping the later break the former out of Roxbury C and a siren and a Mind-Controller could be useful but that was Darrow's call.

There was their little guest Hekate, while she couldn't leave the safety of Darrow's heavily warded study due to getting the freaking Curse of Three thrown at her by that elf Fey of all people, she still had connections to her master. While Sandra didn't know too much about the man maybe he could be convinced to cough up a couple of mercenaries to help the Children of the Night out while her host recuperated. This sucked, while Lycanthros was technically second in command he was no thinker, that meant that until the Necromancer came off his pain medication, she was the de-facto leader holding the team together.

That was when she noticed someone in the mirror behind her. Turning and not seeing anyone there, Sandra washed her face off then looked back up to see that instead of her reflection Mister Domino was staring back at her from the mirror. What the hell, was she seeing something?

"Oh I assure you Miss Darden you are not hallucinating, I am very real." Mister Domino replied in a voice that echoed throughout her head.

'But I thought that you disconnected from me after you curb-stomped us?' Sandra asked the image although the words failed to come out of her mouth.

"Oh I did; however I left a souvenir of our date behind when I did," Mister Domino cruelly explained, "I left behind a piece of myself intertwined with your gray matter, I can use it to do so many things too. I can read your mind like a book, see and hear everything as you do, and learn everything as you learn it- how does it feel to be my spy.

'I won't- I'll do something to get rid of you!' Sandra cried out in defiance.

"That is where you are wrong, you see this encounter won't go into your long-term memory and you will forget me being here soon enough." The masked warlock laughed at the women's distress, And even if you did I could kill you with a thought, and given that a part of me is physically connected to your brain I have so many ways to do so."

'Then if I am not going to remember this then what is the point of all this?' Sandra grit her teeth in defiance.

"Because I enjoy telling my victims what they are in for," Mister Domino laughed at the super-villainess's futile resistance to his control of her body, "the despair and desperation that it makes you feel is exquisite. Now I will be seeing you in your nightmares, not that you'll remember those either."

Against her will Mister Domino made Sandra turn on the faucet and stick her head under it. Almost immediately this sensation as well as bumping her head on the way back up startled Sandra and broke her concentration.

Yes, she hoped that she could get Hekate's Master to send some mercenaries their way, after all as things stood, they would have trouble keeping his servant safe.

The Rust-tic
Chicago, Illinois
5:41 PM CDT

The Rust-Tic was preparing to open for the evening when they heard screaming outside, not long after Mister Brea himself and several of his enforcers stormed through the front door, "Sikes get down here this minute!" Mister Brea shouted while his enforcers motioned for everyone to move against the wall. "Your crew failed me and it's time to pay what you owe me- pound for pound."

"I don't think so Tarpit," Leroy Sikes called Mister Brea by his old codename as he descended the stairs with a drink in hand, "you see while we were doing that job for you, I was scoping out your new competition in town and they were very interested in your lakeside business. They even made me an offer to help develop and expand The Rust-Tic, help me go even more legit."

"A lot of good that will do you when you are dead." Mister Brea shouted in fury as be began to smoke and glow, "boys' ice everybody, I'm burning this place down to the foundation!"

To his surprise slender hands emerged from the concrete below their feet, grabbing his guards and causing them to fall over. Once the men were on their backs even more hands emerged from below the slab, first pulling their weapons into the concrete and then the men themselves until there was no sign that they had ever been there.

That was when a woman in an expensive Italian pantsuit and a feathered domino mask literally appeared out of thin air, pointed at him with her splayed right palm and proclaimed, "Sanguini calore!"

To Mister Brea's shock he began to cool down at a rapid pace, as his body both stopped smoking and glowing as well as it became hard for him to move. "Mister Brea let me introduce myself, I am known as Harrow and I represent the interests of Erzebet Scratch in Chicago as well as the state of Illinois as a whole."

Suddenly it wasn't just her spell that was chilling Mister Brea down to the asphalt this was what Grae-clops warned him about, this was the reason that he needed to break and harness DeFrank's power.

"While we usually turn a blind eye to mundane criminal ventures such as yourself, in going over the books of the prior regime of the Chicago Chapter of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom we found that you brokered a lot of business through them with a group that is on our radar, a group that you continue to do business with." Harrow continued to explain in a nonchalant manner as if this meant as little to her as picking up her dry-cleaning, "To that end you will have to come with us, we have some...things that you need to clarify for us, while we go over your holdings. We do need to see what assets we could repurpose and what we need to liquidate after all."

Mister Brea could barely feel the pairs of slim arms of the Reverents begin to pull him under, on to be interrogated at the whims of Erzebet Scratch.

Once Mister Brea was out of sight, Harrow motioned with a wave of her hand and with a simple statement of "Splendente!" the entire club was spotless and ready to open for the evening. "Sorry about not taking care of him sooner Mister Sikes," Harrow stated, "you have our apologies for the commotion to your establishment."

"Not at all thank you for helping me with those...loose ends," Leroy Sikes responded with a smile and a sip of his cognac, "now how about we resume negotiating our details for expansion in my office. Believe me it doesn't look like it, but I can assure you that it is sound proofed."

"Yes, if you would be so kind," Harrow answered with a smile.

Parlor - Chalet Noir
Isla del Monstroso
4:11 PM AKDT

Within his the parlor of his chalet the man known to the world as Professor Id waited with quiet anticipation, surrounding him was his Dark Guard and servants (both who were mainly dopplegoons or loyal minions), as well as the now fifteen-year-old Maria Lucinda Diego awaiting the arrival of his wife and son from the Temporal Compression complex that they had been in for what was just shy of two months to the outside world but for them was almost fifteen years.

Not that the boy had been without the guidance of his father, Professor Id made sure to equip the room with a decantation chamber for his own doubles- all of which shared his mind and personality. Professor Id took a moment to drift in those memories and experiences that were now available to him, something akin to what he received from his copies who he had constantly reading up on research and papers that were being constantly being submitted by experts and novices alike in dozens of fields.

"Well you must be happy," Maria remarked as she continued to stand at attention, "You create an in-roads with one of the groups from the Waldorf=Astoria incident, and now your son is taking his first steps into the world outside of his bubble."

"Oh, don't be ridiculous Maria," Professor Id chuckled as he looked at her with a wicked grin, "that is far from the only thing that I have been up to over the last week. I am always one to multitask, one doesn't operate an organization at this level without having a great many irons in the fire."

"Big surprise," Maria huffed, "you have acts of larceny and depravity going on while I'm asleep, why am I not surprised."

"Because Miss Diego, I have seen to supplementing your previously inadequate education during your acceleration through adolescence." Id remarked as he reminded Maria of the childhood that he took from her, first with his weapons and then with forced education and training in a temporal compression room. "You may not be a genius, but you are no fool."

It was painful knowing that the only moment that she had to look forward to during that time was Professor Id letting her out once every year of time in there to celebrate her birthday with her father, who had the horror of watching his girl grow from a seven-year-old girl to a fourteen-year-old teen in the span of a month. At least there was the chance that they'd be able to hold a true Quinceañera on her actual birthday given that she was now chronologically synchronized back with the outside world again, just seven years older than she had been and robbed of the childhood that she would have by the man within striking distance of her- or the other way around.

"Anyway, this is a happy time, soon you will be relieved of your duty of directly serving myself as well as the need to come back to this island that you so loath," Professor Id remarked in vague terms.

"I doubt that you are granting my father or myself our freedom from our indentured servitude so soon," Maria observed, "so I assume that my eventual departure of this den on nightmares is only a side benefit to something darker."

"You might say that it is something darker from your perspective," Professor Id glibly turned aside her insult, "My paramour will soon exit the temporal acceleration chamber with our son, who you will serve as his companion, servant and bodyguard."

Soon the sound of "Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D" began over the PA and the Major Domo of the Vila, a clone of a man who served faithfully in spite of how many times Id temped him from 1924 until his death in 1969, announced, "Presenting Chief Consort of Isla del Monstroso Anwen O'Neil and heir-apparent Roderick Black!"

Soon the terrifying woman who Maria remembered from the day years back that Id used her to stop her father's assassination attempt on Id (although now she knew that was only a couple of months ago) had been dining with her with Id. That woman Anwen entered with a boy who had Professor Id's dark-brown hair, features akin to Anwen as well as orange-eyes.

"Hello to a much larger world son," Professor Id proclaimed with a smile.

"Hello father so nice to see the real you," Roderick replied with a wicked smile, "Dark Guard override Chi-Rho-Omega-Gamma I fought the crown and the crown lost. Target Professor Id and prepare to execute."

At that order all of the Dark Guard turned, trained their weapons on Professor Id, however instead of holding on the order to fire all of them trembled and dissolved into protoplasm. Professor Id rather than be furious that his son just tried to have him murdered by his own men stood up and applauded with a smile.

"Well done for your first assassination attempt on your old man," Professor Id congratulated the boy, "it ran a little weak at the end but well done figuring out how to override my commands on the dopplegoons."

"And yet you are not going to attempt to do the same to me?" Roderick observed slightly taken aback by the developments, "that is most peculiar?!?"

"No, you are acting every bit like the young man we raised you to be," Professor Id stood up walked over and patted his son on the back, "why would I be mad when we raised you to try to kill me and take over my criminal empire."

"You are saying that you would like me to kill you?!?" Roderick observed, "I did not take you as the suicidal type."

"No, just the type that is rather bored with maintaining the global black market," Professor Id sighed in weariness of his own success. "Besides if you did actually kill me the doomsday devices that I have secreted throughout the world would randomly trigger and destroy the Earth a dozen times over."

"Then what is the point, other than wanting me to destroy the world," Roderick mulled it over for a moment, "wait what you want me to do is place in in a scenario where you have no way out but to surrender, because if I do..."

"Then I will know you would have become cunning and crafty enough to take over my operations for me," Id continued still beaming with pride, "after that I will retire to my labs and even continue to put out inventions for you to market. Now though while you have more than enough education than any your age could ever hope to accrue, what you need is real world experience. To that end I will be sending you to school this coming fall with Maria as your bodyguard."

"Father I doubt that they could teach me anything that I do not already know." Roderick all but scoffed at the suggestion.

"I know however this will also give you the opportunity to establish a reputation, showcase your abilities as well as network with future clients," Professor Id continued to explain, "it will also give you the opportunity to recruit some fresh talent for when you do take over. To that end we will be attending Parents and Perspective's Day on May the 27th at the Whateley Academy, I wonder what Elizabeth Carson will take of the two students that I will be introducing to her?"

Tuesday April 24th, 2007
Tiewan Triad Base
Eastern District, Hong Kong
10:23 AM HKT

Lady Zhi 'Yilong' Chen shook with rage the foreign-born upstart was not only alive and free, but she was actually reveling in the status that she felt rightfully belonged to herself. Here she was fighting alongside some of the greatest heroes in the lore of China in some dot on the map in that cesspool of Western Arrogance that actually laid claim to the name of two continents as its own. Ordinarily such news would make her need to afford herself some time to delve into her more private practices, of incinerating or burning those who displeased the head of her triad, but today they had to receive a guest, the sorcerer Qingtong-heshang (Green-bronze Monk).

From what little she knew the man was a centuries-old Daoist sorcerer who had managed to survive the falls of dynasties and even the rise of the Maoists, yet always was able to re-enter the favor of the new government. The fact that he had chosen to do so while being able to survive the enmity of the new regimes spoke volumes to the man's cunning. She exited the antechamber and stepped inside the meeting hall to take her place alongside Zhen Jia the head of the Tong with her fellow bodyguards. At least it beat the last such guest that they needed to receive she still held a grudge against Professor Id for revealing the fact that her foreign-born relative received the blessing of Zunyan Qianbei before her and thus the title of Northern Maiden, a title that Zhi knew was rightfully hers.

Before she could collect herself Qingtong-heshang, entered the meeting room flanked by men in suits whose demeanor screamed Ministry of State Security, while not of the Party this man was deeply tied to Beijing and was not afraid to flaunt his power.

"I welcome you into our organization's humble office Great Qingtong-heshang, might I offer you and your men some humble refreshments to accompany our talks," her master Zhen Jia stood and bowed as he struck the small gong to his side letting the servants know that it was time to begin the tea service which for their organization was a hybridization of Yum Cha (Chinese Tea Brunch) as well as British High Tea. Soon the Yixing clay tea pots were brought out with some chestnut dumplings to serve as appetizers, this was the time for the pouring of tea between host and guest as well as the show of trust.

Master Zhen Jia poured a cup of oolong tea for Qingtong-heshang while the man in the turquoise robes did the same with the pot of green tea for his host. Both waited in silent composure for their tea to cool before drinking, that neither was affected by any substance in their drink conveyed the sign of hospitality and spoke that negotiations were to move forward.

"Let me be honest with you Zhen Jia," Qingtong-heshang spoke up, "while you have done wonders with consolidating and streamlining the Underworld here in Hong Kong, what I am here regarding concerns a certain individual in your employ who is empowered."

"Ah so you are here to take custody of my bodyguard on behalf of The Party," Zhen Jia observed, "While you are welcome to do so I am afraid that you will find the loyalty scrolls that your ambassadors use to enslave foreign-born empowered individuals of Chinese descents to be most- ineffective against her, but if you would feel comfortable inviting a trained assassin into your midst whose loyalty you cannot guarantee then you are welcome to do so."

"I am afraid that you mistake my intentions Zhen Jia, I was not asking on behalf of Beijing, and your bodyguard is far too precious to waste by adding to an already growing powder keg." Qingtong-heshang shook his head with none of his bodyguards so much as blinking in response to his words. "You see I am here on behalf of another organization, one who is fully aware of the possibilities that a potential replacement for the Northern Maiden would bring."

As if on cue two of Qingtong-heshang's bodyguards near the door opened it with an individual of western descent wearing a baroque-styled three-piece suit and a carnival-style domino mask stepped inside. He took one look at me and smiled, "It was as you described Qingtong-heshang, she is indeed of the lineage of those who are fated to produce the Northern Maiden, and from what I have observed her powers are close to those desired for the prophecy as well."

"I am sorry foreigner, but you appear to be lost," Zhen Jia raised his hand in a signal for us to be ready for a fight, "but this is a private meeting and you are not invited."

"I am sorry, but I came as Qingtong-heshang's entourage and therefore I am," the man explained with an even tone and a patient glare, something told me that this man was both familiar with the criminal underworld as well as dangerous. "But it is rude to enter the room without both a gift and introducing myself, for the former I bring a Lambrusco from my own reserve to enjoy at your leisure, as for the later I am Conte Enigma of the Obsidian Circle and my offer is to have her join as an operative. Naturally as for yourself Zhen Jia you will be rewarded with access to our own underworld network and connections, as well as some operatives to take her place in the interim."

"I have heard whispers of the Obsidian Circle here and there, I also heard that you disposed of Hanshou-reifujin," Zhen Jia stated clearly trying to regain footing in this negotiation veiled as a grandiose offer, "this means that you are likely looking to reestablish your presence in the Orient."

"Unfortunately, Hanshou-reifujin was a traitor from the beginning," Conte Enigma sighed while maintaining his composure. "And while it is true that her connections to the Underworld of the Far East will be missed, she was more importantly a source that we could use to leak misinformation to our enemies. As she outlived her usefulness in the later, we were willing to bear the loss of the former, your organization however lacks such a leak and would bring to us the possibility of a replacement for the Northern Maiden, should the current one prove to be a problem."

"And I take it that such a replacement would be an asset to have," Master Zhen Jia observed, "and likely my access to the resources of your own organization would be to ensure the loyalty of my bodyguard."

"Her loyalty would indeed be an asset to the Obsidian Circle, as the connection that the current Northern Maiden to the Wayfarer could be an issue especially when she is to be soon trained by the Handmaiden of the Tao." Conte Enigma continued although he began to flinch at those titles as did Master Jia.

"I see your point, but there is still the matter of Qingtong-heshang," Master Jia's gaze locked on his true guest of this morning repast, "what is your stake in such an alliance?"

"As I explained the current party method of recruitment has led them to complacently gathering a powder keg," Qingtong-heshang sighed, "Gathering an army whose loyalty is enforced by a specific set of Taoist spells is a recipe for calamity. All it would take is one of those recruitment scrolls to fall into the hands of an individual or group with access to the knowledge of Taoist Sorcery and they could at best unravel the enchantments over those enchanted mutants and enhanced individuals, or at worst support the control of an army of super-powered soldiers who are located throughout China. Knowing history as I do this is not a matter of if but when. As for what I chance to gain for brokering this alliance it is a seat on the Obsidian Circle itself, which I hope this will afford me."

"It will be a good first impression for me nominating you to my fellow Council-members, but you still have a ways to go for me to stick my neck out of you just yet." Conte Enigma continued, "However the matter at hand is negotiating an alliance with the Tiewan Triad, so what say you Master Jia?"

"It will take time to properly negotiate such an alliance," Master Zhen Jia explained, "Fortunately this repast has just begun, now please take a seat while I pour you some tea- Black I assume?

"Indeed," Conte Enigma replied as he gracefully sat down to the left of Qingtong-heshang while handing the bottle of red wine to one of the servants to take to the cellar, "fortunately time I a luxury that I can afford."

Entrance to the City of Dis
Fifth Circle of Hell

Phlegyas looked on with a mixture of shock and horror as the gates to the City of Dis that encompassed the lower third of Hell's nine circles flung open facing outwards completely opposite of the hinges which were showing cracks from the force that had been exerted against them. It was a rare occasion that anyone was actually able to make it out of Dis as the city was meant to take in those guilty of the more nebulous of the sins those being the various degrees of Heresy, Violence, Fraud and Treachery. The City of Dis was indeed responsible for containing those who were irredeemable, with a massive dome covering it to ensure that none were ever able to see and take pity on them.

Yet someone was leaving Dis and Phlegyas looked on in fear to see that it was someone who had made such a journey before, this was a man whose soul had been born rotten, whose conception itself was the result of a man whose existence was an insult born as a result of a spiteful witch's curse committing one form of every sin upon a woman of the cloth.

This abomination was wrong from the moment that he was born into the world of man and whose actions towards mankind only grew in cruelty until he met his end dancing on a noose. However, that act was hardly the end of the man's curse upon the world; that action itself lead to the creation of another abomination that still walked the Earth when his corruption damned the soul of his executioner, moreover the man himself had escaped Hell before rising to torment the living before a group of heroes sent him back.

Behind the damned soul was a twisted raft that was fashioned from branches hewn from the Forest of Suicides and bound with ropes of hair and skin from cut and flayed from the bodies of Heretics. The man glared at Phlegyas who continued to watch in fear as he dodged a swipe from the axe that the damned soul had stolen from the minotaur but not before it took his right leg halfway below the shin.

As Phlegyas laid bleeding and writhing in pain upon the ground he watched his assailant moved his raft towards the waters of the Stygian Marsh, only for the furies who stood watch upon the walls of Dis to swoop from the skies to take revenge against the man's prior escape. The man met their attack with the freshly severed head of Medusa which lead to the trio turning to stone and plummeting into the Marsh bellow. Returning the head of the gorgon to a pouch made of horse leather (likely taken from one of the centaurs), the man pushed his raft into the churning waters below.

Phlegyas could only watch as the once man, boarded his gruesome raft and using the blade of the Minotaur's axe as an oar paddled across the Stygian Marsh a journey of a month with the blade cutting the souls of the Wrathful as it moved the raft across the waters towards the entrance to the Fifth Circle and the exit of the Fourth. That wretched vile soul was once again making his way across the lands of Hell to the world of the Living once again and may God have mercy on those who stood in his way once he did.

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