33 – The Tiger’s Mouth

You close your eyes and focus on controlling your fear.   Chiyoko has no reason to lie to you.    The Lunar is using your fear of Blood Apes against you.  There are no Blood Apes in the cave.  Erymanthoi are just tools used by Sorcerers; the sorcerers themselves are the real threat.   Your hands stop trembling.

“Aiko, we need help, not unbound demons.   Go back to the school and get the Chuzei or Masaru, if you can’t find the Chuzei.   Get them to bring back help.”   You empower your words to encourage Aiko to go along with this plan.  You do not have time to argue with her right now.

Aiko nods and you let her go.   She races towards the cave entrance, but the Lunar, dripping in bloody claw and bite marks, blocks her way.  With a powerful blow of her paw, the Lunar knocks Aiko to the ground.

“No!” Chiyoko charges the Lunar with her flaming sword.

“Wait!” You focus on the Lunar’s thread and steal some of their martial ability.   When Chiyoko reaches the Lunar, the Lunar is slightly too slow to avoid Chiyoko’s blow.    Chiyoko’s blow connects and the tiger’s fur ignites in flames.   The tiger rolls on the wet floor to put the fire out and gets back up on her feet.

Where is Wanahton?  You look over at Wanahton and see that he is motionless on the ground.  His anima is still glowing yellow, so he is alive.   Next to Wanahton, you see the headmaster’s sword.  The Sky Blue Jade Sword is awkward and unwieldy as you pick it up.  It reminds you of the few times Sasha let you handle her sword.  Instead of your anima’s usual green, it erupts in a violent flush of scarlet essence.  Now the sword feels slightly less awkward.

You hold the headmaster’s sword defensively as you approach the tiger.  The Lunar attempts to attack Chiyoko, but she dashes away before the Lunar’s claws can reach her.  The Lunar is about to close in on Chiyoko again when you say, “Hey!  Ugly!”   The Lunar turns towards you.   You stand blazing red and raise the headmaster’s sword. “Come at me, bro!”

The Lunar cocks her head, confused.  Chiyoko cautiously approaches with her flaming sword and flanks the tiger.  Out of the corner of your eye, you see movement as Aiko gets up and checks on Wanahton. She gingerly approaching the man, in case his anima burns her.

You parry the tiger’s first attack and almost lose your footing on the slick cave floor from the tiger’s second blow.   As you recover, you see Chiyoko slash at the tiger again.  This time, the tiger’s wet fur does not set ablaze.

Both you and Chiyoko circle the tiger.   You can hear Aiko begin chanting, you glance back and see the Earth Aspect in the ritual circle.  “What are you doing?! Go get help!”  You yell at the girl.  Aiko ignores you, but the Lunar does not.  She takes advantage of your momentary distraction to tackle you to the ground.

The tiger leans down to rip your throat out, but you raise the headmaster’s sword blocks the death blow.   With her claws, the tiger rips the sword out of your hand.   You are almost deafened by the tiger’s roar of agony as Chiyoko blinds the Lunar with char from her sword.   You punch the tiger in the face and attempt to scurry out from under her.  The tiger blindly smacks you in the face with her paw, stunning you.   Then the Lunar puts her mouth around your skull and starts to squeeze.

You can feel the tiger’s saliva run down your forehead and hear the sickening sound of tooth grating against bone.    You try to turn to relieve the pressure, but the Lunar holds your head tight.  Suddenly the tension eases as the Lunar is violently torn off of you.  You agonizingly sit up and see the tiger wrestling a blood ape.

As the blood ape and the Lunar viciously fight, you retrieve the headmaster’s sword and check on Wanahton.  He is unconscious, but still alive.   You approach the fight as the blood ape pins the Lunar down.  Chiyoko stabs the Lunar though the heart, further immobilizing the Anathema.    You whack at the Lunar’s neck with all of your power.   The green glow of your normal anima over takes the red of the Battle Maiden’s.  After you make a bloody mess of her neck, you take a step back, breathing heavily.   You watch for the Lunar’s anima to fade in death.

Instead, the Lunar’s wounds glow with a silver light and close up.

“Dragons,” Chiyoko breaths.  She pulls her sword out of the tiger and retreats to your side.

“That’s not fair,” Aiko says, from the ritual circle.

“Shit.”  You watch the Lunar bite the blood ape in the shoulder and throw the demon off of her.   She turns to you and licks her bloody chops.   You sway on your feet as you raise your sword.   The Lunar might kill you, but will go down fighting.

As Lunar crouches to leap, you hear a new voice say “Here, Kitty Kitty Kitty.”

You see Akachi standing in the entrance of the cave.   The elder Sidereal rushes up to the Lunar and punches the tiger in the face with a fist wreathed in golden light.   The tiger slides across the slick floor, stunned.   Before the tiger can regain her footing, Elder Kejak steps back into fate and neatly takes her head.   The silver light of the Lunar’s anima abruptly snuffs out.

The blood ape stands up and sniffs in your direction.  Your arm is steady as you raise the headmaster’s sword.   You face the blood ape not in fear, but resignation.   You are worn out and wounded and do not want to fight the demon, but you will if you have to.

“Stand down! “  Aiko appears from behind you, her yellow and white anima shifting like desert sands.   The girl has a bruise forming down the side of her face.  “The Anathema has be killed.   Be grateful for what you have!”  The blood ape turns away from you and runs towards the Lunar’s corpse.   Chiyoko’s sword dissipates in a puff of smoke and she sits heavily down on the floor of the cave, her eyes are unfocused.

“I told you I could bind the blood ape.”  Aiko says proudly.  You try to ignore the slurping noises coming from the direction of the Lunar’s corpse.

“That’s nice.”  You reply half-heartedly.  The fight is over.   Blood drip down your forehead and into your eyes.   Your head is pounding.  You are beginning to feel lightheaded.   The headmaster’s sword slips from your hand and hits the floor with a clang.   The cave begins to spin around you.

“Whoa!”   Akachi catches you as you fall.   You notice a green glow reflect in his worried eyes.   You know that the glow is bad, but you cannot remember why.   You can hear voices in the cave, but cannot make out what they are saying.   Everything goes black.

 

You wake up in a bed, feeling sore but otherwise fine.  Looking around, you realize that you are still in the school, but not in your dorm room.  The morning sun shines through the window.  You see Akachi sleeping in a chair by your bedside, covered in a blanket.

What do you do?

  • Wake up Akachi, grateful that he saved your life
  • Wake up Akachi, angry that he left you as this shitty school
  • Let Akachi sleep and quietly get out of bed and leave the room

(( OOC:  So apparently, you don’t need to shed the Quiver in combat situations.  I read on the internet that Anima Flaring reduces the RD’s Endurance.   I found the forum post that gave me that idea, but couldn’t find any reference to this in the Sidereal book. ))

((I have rewritten this post so many times.  Very complicated fight scene.  I was planning on spreading the damage out more equality between Svante and Chiyoko. However when I wrote it out sequentially,   it made more sense for the Lunar to focus on one of them.    ))

((I didn’t forget Fist of the Daystar!   It just fit with another character’s background better than Svante’s .  😉 )

((Next post will finish the chapter.  ))

 

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32 – Fear

“There is no point in killing us.  We already told our superiors what your secret is.   You are finished.   Anything you do from this point on will not help your case.”    You explain reasonably.   This worked on the lizard guards when Nanny was kidnapped.  You see no reason why it wouldn’t work here.

You meet the Headmaster’s eyes and begin to slip into her mind.  The headmaster’s mind is a wild and untamed place filled with rage and cunning.   Her surface thoughts almost tumble from your grasp, but you manage to hold on to them.  When you examine the headmaster’s secret, your heart skips a beat.

“An Anathama!”  You scream, backing away.   There will be no reasoning with the false headmaster.  “She’s a Lunar imposter!”   Wanahton’s eye widen and he throws his knife at the Lunar.   The Lunar quickly recovers from the confusion you caused in her mind and casually parries the knife with her sword.

“Run!” Wanahton shouts as he throws another knife at the Lunar.   “I’ll keep her busy.”  With a flick of his wrist, the parried Starmetal knife returns to his hand.

You race to the entrance of the cave, but the Lunar blocks your way.   “Stay put, Cnead.  I will deal with you after I’m done with your friend here.”   Something about the lunar draws your eye to them and you are rooted to the ground with terror.  The smell of rotten blood fills your nose.  Blood apes!  There are blood apes in the cave!   Where are they?

The Lunar and Wanahton circle each other.   “You didn’t know I was here.  You were just here for the Sorcery girl.” The Lunar muses.    “Not the kind of task I’d expect two agents of Fate to be send on.  Unless…”  She smiles, showing her teeth.  “Perhaps Karma really does exist.   Your people have killed so many of our young.   Now it is time for your elders to feel that same pain.”  The headmaster throws her sword at Wanahton.

Wanahton ducks the sword, but it was a distraction.  The Lunar leaps across the cave to Wanahton.   As she leaps, the glowing silver symbol of a No Moon caste mark blazes on her forehead and she transforms into a sleek orange striped tiger.    The tiger catches Wanahton off balance and knock him to the ground.  She digs her claws into Wanahton’s side.   Wanahton grabs hold of the tiger and attempts to throw her to the ground, but the lunar sinks her teeth into his shoulder.

While Wanahton is wrestling with the Lunar, Chiyoko and Aiko run back into the cave.   Chiyoko, her anima still flared, stands between you and the brawl.   Aiko goes to you and shakes you. “Svante?  Svante, snap out of it.”

“Watch out!  The Lunar summoned blood apes!   Can’t you smell them?  They must be dematerialized!”  You ignore the itching scar on your leg and mentally prepare for the blood apes to appear.

“What is a Lunar?” Aiko sniffs the air.  “I don’t smell anything.”

Chiyoko comes over to examine you.  “It’s the Anathema.  My father told me that Anathema are a capable of parading your greatest fears in your mind.”

“So he is useless.”  Aiko declares in disgust.

“I’m not useless!”  You counter.  Don’t they smell the blood apes in the cave?   Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

The two girls ignore you. “Should I even suggest we grab the idiot and run for help?”  Aiko asks Chiyoko.

Chiyoko turns to assess the battle.  Instead of a tiger, Wanahton seems to be fighting a fury of teeth and claws.  In spite of the Lunar attacks, Wanahton has few injuries.  Yet the tiger still has Wanahton on his back.    Wanahton tried to throw the Lunar off of him again, but cannot summon enough strength.   His caste mark appears on his forehead.  “I don’t think Svante’s friend can take on the Lunar alone.”  With a wave of her hand, Chiyoko summons a flaming sword.   “We can’t let the Anathema run free.”

“Of course not.”   Aiko’s mouth spreads into a fierce smile.  “I can still summon the blood ape.  With the battle, there will be plenty of blood to offer it.  It won’t fight the binding.”

“No!” you shout.  “No more blood apes!”   You grab a hold of Aiko and hold her in an arm lock.   “I won’t let you summon any more of those monsters.”

“Wait!  Don’t flare your anima, Aiko!  Svante!  Let Aiko go!  The Anathema is the real enemy here!”   Chiyoko walks over to face you.

“The Anathema is messing with your head, Svante,”  Chiyoko stands as close as she can get without her anima burning you.  “There are no blood apes in the cave.  If we are going to survive this Wyld Hunt, we are going to need every advantage we can get.”

“We don’t have time for this!”  Aiko cries out as she struggles in your grip.  You hear Wanahton scream in pain and out of the corner of your eye, you see the yellow glow of his anima.  Your terrorized mind processes Chiyoko’s words, but can you really take the risk of her being wrong?

“Svante, look at me. “  You meet Chiyoko’s gaze.  Her lovely scarlet eyes reminded of you of that moment back on the beach.  “I need you to trust me.”

What do you do?

  • Overcome your fear and fight the anathema as Cnead Svante with the headmaster’s sword.   It might be unwieldy, as you are not attuned to the Sword, but even now you cannot break your cover.
  • Overcome your fear and the Anametha as Svante Vissher.   Shed your False Identity, activate Blade of the Battle Maiden, and fight will full access to your power.
  • Stop Aiko from summoning the blood ape. If she fails to bind it, then you will have two enemies to fight.
  • Run and get help.   There is no way the four of you can take the Lunar down alone.
  • Other

((OOC:  Not Svante’s proudest moment, but welcome to the Station of Battles or as it is better known as the Trial of Fear.    The last two options aren’t particularly heroic, but they are options.   ))

(( When this chapter is done, I’ll do a “man behind the curtain” post.  ))

((Wanahton gets all the best fight scenes.   ))