Bearly In Charge
Smoke and flames choked the skies around the normally placid Isle Elysia; the clanging echoes of steel meeting steel merged with the dying screams of good men and women in an ode to the perils of hubris. The once utmost indomitable bastion of a world spanning order dedicated to everything that was right—indeed the literal center of virtue in the world—was faced with imminent destruction, an annihilation borne from a failure not of arms, but of heart.

They thought themselves the ultimate paragons of righteousness, that merely by their proclamation the war was won; they felt that vigilance and alertness was something reserved for their enemies, the ones that time and time again they had vanquished.

Peace was theirs, had been theirs, for generations that were increasingly harder to count. No harm could come from enjoying the fruit of long fought labors, no reproach to be found in a well earned rest upon one’s laurels.

They were wrong.

The air crackled and shuddered with raw energy as the fierce fighting continued, magic coursing through arcane channels seeking to rend and tear on one side, to bolster and protect on another.

They were losing, and their wards were nearly exhausted. Aeldric stood upon the ramparts above the inner courtyard, eyeing the horizon during a brief interlude in the frenzied slaughter of old friends turned hostile. Blood and sweat ran down his graced armor, and he could not be certain how much of it was his.

He felt them out there, reaching closer; a mass of malevolence and disdain so pure as to be tangible. Aeldric intended to use his particular powers to reinforce their wards, his hands already moving towards the sky as his mind turned to beseeching thoughts, but it was too late.

A world rending crash reverberated through the temple of the Elysian Vanguard, accompanied by hair raising harmonics just outside the threshold of sound as the leylines of power in the wards were severed. An unnatural twilight—here and now at noon—darkened the sky, as a hush briefly fell upon both the righteous and the wicked Vanguard members.

Out of the silence came a sound out of everyone’s most primitive nightmares. An antediluvian keening that spoke of more than death, more than decay. A sound that resolutely refuted the existence of hope and happiness, a roar that mocked thoughts of warmth and comfort. The sound was a death rattle wrapped in a mocking laughter covered in a wrathful roar. It was the cry of a horror beyond comprehension, an invitation unto madness.

Out of the aberrant noon-time darkness came what could perhaps be called a creature, provided that the mind behind the declaration be not quite sane, and was not at all versed with the natural order of a just and orderly world. It’s features revealed themselves in flashes, as if the light surrounding it was loath to illuminate it’s frame. At least six-legged or perhaps armed, for on three pairs of corpulent appendages it stood. Each one seemed not quite the same: matted fur on one, dirty scales upon the other, yet another covered in ineffable slimy secretions. Some cloven, some clawed, one revoltingly similar to an old man’s feet.

Atop it’s impossible extremities was a roughly cylindrical trunk laid on its side forming it’s torso. Roughly, because it was not quite possible to properly distinguish its shape beneath a roiling mass of what could be short flailing tentacles, or tongues, or something else entirely that did not invite deeper thought.

A triangular head strangely devoid of features save a gaping razored maw protruded out of its body, with skin the tone and texture of rotten letter. It might have had two eyes, or perhaps eight or as many as a hundred; It was impossible to count them, for they seemed to never be in the same place second to second.

Upon its back were two outstretched leathery wings, easily filling the extensive courtyard and brushing against the ancient walls. Behind it dragged the barbed tail of a scorpion, it’s venom leaking and melting the stone it fell upon.

Ground to head it measured fifteen feet of height, screaming void of a mouth to barbed tailed stretched on for roughly thirty-five feet.

That was all that Aeldric had time to measure, as it suddenly jumped towards him and his companions, Taro and Rolando.


Adorable Homewrecker
Another time, the creature’s hideous and in places bizarre visage might have prompted a witty remark from Taro upon its ugliness. But as the abomination loomed towards them, the only thing to pass through the young warrior’s mind was to wonder if this would be the foe that finally claimed him.

He moved without thinking, the shadow of the unnatural gloom giving him an escape route. His form became blackness, then sunk into the dark, only to reappear by the creature’s flank as it crashed down a great limb where he had been moments before, rending the stone asunder.

Taro’s grip tightened on the bloodstained sword in his hands. It felt heavy with the weight of the lives of those he had lived, laughed and loved alongside for years. It was their blood that dripped from the cursed blade and stained his face alongside tears.


Would it be so bad, if he died now? What was left for him if he survived? What was left for anyone? He took in what was left of the battlefield - those comrades in arms that still lived. That still fought.

He grit his teeth. As long as the people that had taken him in fought on, he could not let despair claim him. If he fell, it would be fighting to the last by their side.

This time, when a horrific tendril swept by towards him, he met it. His form flickered as it passed, and in the next moment he was upon it. Shadows from his body clung to the rubbery flesh, keeping him locked in place even as the appendage swung around. With a snarl, he slashed outwards with Kuroakuma, and severed it.

The tendril fell to the ground with a crash, cut clean in two at its midpoint. The half that remained writhed and flailed upon the creature’s torso, before it shrivelled away into a dry, withered husk and disintegrated.

Taro rose again from the shadows a few feet away from the severed section, which still wriggled and twitched where it had fallen. In the next moments, it began to warp, its tip splitting into a serpentine pair of jaws while a pair of nightmarish antennae erupted from it. But before the newly forming serpent-creature could finish its metamorphosis, Taro thrust his blade forwards. In a tide of darkness, a beast of spectral fur, teeth and claws rushed outwards from the weapon, forming a horrific maw that extended around the fallen tentacle and snapped down upon it. An instant later, the shadowy beast was gone, shrinking back into the blade and leaving not a trace of the tendril-creature behind.

The young swordsman’s eyes flicked back to the aberration from which it had come. It hardly seemed to notice the wound. “You’re gonna take some killing, aren’t you..?” Taro muttered, heaving a sigh before launching back into the fray. “Watch out for anything that comes off of it animating!” he yelled to the two others engaging the beast.
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Demon Goat
As Taro shouted his warning, a twisted claw erupted from the abomination's body to replace the tentacle that had been severed. And even before it had fully formed it came crashing down towards the rampart where Rolando still stood. This time the powerful blow brought the length of rampart beneath his feet down in an explosion of stone and dust that momentarily obscured Rolando's fate.

The swift swordmaster was already clear of the crumbling debris though, and he appeared seemingly from thin air only feet from the towering behemoth. And no sooner had his feet touched earth that he let loose with a single upward sweeping slash of his rapier.

Though the blade never struck its mark the air itself seemed to extend the slash, and those closest would feel the gust of air and power behind the blow as the invisible force struck the abomination and ripped open a long gash down one side of it and severing two tentacles along its trajectory.

The spray of vile fluids turned acidic almost instantly, but Rolando was already gone seemingly vanishing once more only to appear in the air above the behemoth. The moment he flickered into view he brought his rapier back down smoothly sending another cleaving slash toward the creature.

Despite the sheer speed of his movements being all but invisible to the naked eye, Rolando's perception of that moment in time slowed to an almost surreal crawl, and he could swear that the creature raised countless eyes to look up at him with a deep guttural laughter. The sensation was for a moment only, and no such laughter had been uttered out loud by the beast, but the soul shaking sound lingered and pierced straight to the heart of the stony warrior. It was almost enough to shake him from his focus. Almost.

Another spray of bodily fluids fell short of their mark as he vanished once more and the sizzle of acid could be heard spattering the earth around the beast.

This time Rolando appeared beside Aeldric.

"Those blows should have left it quartered," he warned grimly.

Beside the creature, the two severed tentacles writhed and lashed the air with frenzied intentions.
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Bearly In Charge
In the scant moments before the end of his life, Aeldric was reminded of his purpose.

Throughout the entire ordeal of the day, he had fought like a blind man as his world collapsed around him. Unable to reconcile the fact that his failure in leadership had led to such a decline, he fought former brothers and sisters in arms with a heavy heart. Where once in his youth stood a fierce warrior, a hesitant bureaucrat had settled.

He had barely been able to defend himself, coasting on the reflexes of long held experience, his will not enough to summon even the full power of his armor, let alone channel the Light.

In the scant moments before the end of his life, Aeldric heard two voices.

One seemed to whisper from a distance, in a tongue he’d never spoken before. In it he heard gleeful enjoyment for the sorrows of the world, and a triumphant exaltation in a mission about to be fulfilled.

The other was the mild reproach of a parent who expected better, wrapped in the comfort of endless forgiveness. It spoke clearly and loudly. It reminded. It kindled.

Just as Taro’s warning reached him, and Rolando vanished from view, the abomination lashed out towards Aeldric’s battle stained form with it’s bestial stinger, aimed to pierce him through and end the once fearsome avatar’s life.

An explosion of light surrounded Aeldric’s at the moment the horror’s appendage connected with his armor, and as it faded it revealed the fully armored form of Aeldric the Lightbringer.

Gleaming and burnished otherworldly plate mail swirling through with ethereal hues, shined with a light that did not come from the unnaturally darkened sky as the creature retracted it’s now stingless tail, the end of which now ended in a cauterized stump.

Aeldric indulged in a few experimental small stretches—needless, as his body confirmed that the power of old coursed through him once more—while in his head the faint voice roared in mild displeasure.

A hundred spiked tentacles burst from the horror’s back and flew towards the ramparts where Aeldric stood, moving with an unnatural writhing grace as they sought to block all possible angles of escape.

As the manna of the gods of light coursed through his body gracing him with fortitude beyond his mortal ken, he raised his notched and pitted greatsword. A nearly broken weapon, blunted with the day’s use and two strikes from shattering. A pitiful showing against the demented force headed his way.

With some trepidation, Aeldric dared to call, and The Light answered. A power as far removed from the power in his body now as his strength was to that of an ant’s, Aeldric’s sword ceased to be a sword, and became an instrument of smiting retribution.

In an explosive flurry of motion, Aeldric fended off all of the attacks the creature aimed his way. Never wavering, never slowing, never tiring. Eldritch tentacles were consumed in bursts of light as they were cast into non-existence. Aeldric sliced through them now with a sword made of pure Light, a blade whose edge ended far beyond this world, fashioned of a power directly anathema to the horror’s substance.

Yet for all that, the creature didn’t seem particularly perturbed with the loss of a hundred tendrils. A brief look in between assaults confirmed to Aeldric what he feared. The same uniform mass of flailing seemed to cover the thing, all of it naught but a light probing to see if Aeldric was paying attention.

“It’s directly manifested...here in the world, how. Light’s love, how,” he thought in dawning horror. He’d incorrectly assumed he faced a mere, if particularly twisted, voidkin. But with a renewed connection to the Light, he knew better.

He couldn’t feel such raw power coming from himself, such unfiltered Light, if it wasn’t diametrically arrayed. The thing wasn’t made from the void, it was a channel to the Void.

Something or someone was channeling it whole cloth from Void, just as he channelled the Light through his blade, and they seemed far more adept at it than him.

With grim determination not to fail his charge, he launched himself from the ramparts in a superhuman leap, an explosion of light smiting the almost casual tentacles in his path as he landed before it in the courtyard.

In his usual barely perceived flash, Rolando appeared almost at the same time as Aeldric saw the fruits or lack thereof from the fleet footed warrior’s efforts. Aeldric nodded at Rolando’s grim proclamation. As he quested his eyes seeking Taro, he replied.

“It’s far worse than it seems, than the thing that stands before us,” he frantically said. “TARO! Come, we have to hit–”

Aeldric’s shout was interrupted by a disgusting old man’s foot suddenly darkening the feeble light above him and Rolando as the abomination moved to crush them underfoot.


Adorable Homewrecker
The darkness cast over the light, however, also provided an avenue for the shadow to rejoin it. As the hideous appendage descended, the dark beneath it rippled, as Taro emerged from it as though breaking the surface of water. The very shadow itself rose with him, it seemed, as once more a manifestation of fur, fangs and claws erupted out from the sword at his side in a rush of blackness.

Forming a colossal shadowy maw filled with nothing but writhing shadow, Kuroakuma - glutted on the darkness of dozens upon dozens of corrupted souls within a short span of time - surged up with a mighty, echoing roar and engulfed the descending foot. For a few moments, the darkness of the creature seemed to blend with the darkness of the spirit, but then with a horrific crunch, the maw snapped shut.

The void beast reeled to the side as its limb came away a stump, the entire lower half of it cleanly severed and utterly consumed by the spirit that then rapidly shrunk back into Taro's blade. It lingered only long enough for a pair of gleaming red eyes to cast him a withering look, as though to say: 'I can't believe you made me eat that', before it was gone entirely, leaving only the still-rippling shadows about his sword in its wake.

"Uhg," Taro grimaced, muttering to himself. "That left a foul taste in my mouth."


Demon Goat
While Taro took care of the imminent overhead thread, Rolando was swift to react to the secondary - though far from lesser - threat of the abominations ever shifting and writhing form. With seemingly effortless ease the swordsman ducked and weaved through an onslaught of rending claws, flailing tentacles, and acidic blood. Every attack of a striking appendage was met with the blade of his sword cutting clean through. Those aimed for him where smoothly dodged, while those aiming for his companions where struck down mid-air.

Brute force had failed to fell the beast, so Rolando's strategy swiftly shifted to one of defensive countering to free up his allies to suss out a weakness or to formulate a more concerted plan of action that would be more effective than hacking the thing to piece, bit by bit.

Overhead there was a brief glint of light and the hiss of acid spattering upon the metal hilt of his rapier - the only warning given before the barbed tail suddenly struck down through the flailing mass. Rolando's fighting style that relied heavily upon reflex and instinct left him leaping backwards in a cloud of dust and stone as it crashed into the flagstone where he had been standing moments before. It bought him a moment of counter attack though as the tail embedded itself so deeply in the earth that it had become stuck.

As Rolando's slid backwards, his boots dug into the ground to launch him back forwards once more. As he closed the distance between himself and the barbed tail, his sword served as a conduit and became sheathed in the warriors own life-force energy so as to greatly enhance it's offensive capability, while also warding it from the corrosive acids that coated its surface.


Bearly In Charge
Aeldric didn't get the chance to acknowledge Taro's pithy genius in the face of death before the creature was upon them again. Upon seeing the beast's barbed tail strike at Rolando—the same barbed tail he had burned out of existence—He knew things were dire and he desperately needed to confer his strategy to his teammates, or else they would be overwhelmed. The speed with which the creature imposed it's own reality in their space was beginning to frighten him, as perhaps the only person in the world who truly understood that this attack wasn't even really focused upon them.

They were not even significant enough to be considered mere ants within the true arena that the fight took place upon. This wasn't just an attack on them as an organization, some menial evil but still firmly terrestrial threat. Or at least a threat from a realm they could hope to stand against. He'd fearlessly take on a devil or god of Void. But not the thing itself. If he'd been asked before today, he wouldn't have thought it possible for so much Void to actually directly manifest in the world. Something deeper and beyond his understanding was under way, and he was beginning to fear for his ability to measure up to it.

He could feel it just on the edges of his perception, the titanic struggle as the axis of existence teetered in the impasse between an immovable object and an unstoppable force. The grinding roar of the engines turning the world threatened to drive him mad as he felt It cry out to him, demanding he do his duty.

The Shard of Light beneath the temple, the literal embodiment of the Light intersecting through the world called out to him to take his place in It's name. But all Aeldric could feel was the approaching tide of Void. An ocean of nothing, a roiling abyss, the final death of hope was descending upon him, and his meager Light.

With a bestial roar, Aeldric threw his great-sword ahead of Rolando, it's infusion of Light having it not merely fly true, but fly as fast as Light itself can permeate the world, instantly obliterating the horror's tail in a burst of light.

It only took a second for Aeldric to turn his gaze towards the aberration's main body, but in the time he saw it before it launched itself upwards on outstretched wings he noted that it's quite intact tail was lazily swinging from it's backside.

As bizarrely egg-like sacs began to detach from the monster's underside to land all around them, Aeldric motioned for his comrades to close the ranks.


Demon Goat
as written by Dashmiel, Tiko, and Script

Scowling, Taro fell in at Aeldric’s side, eyes tracking the void beast as it flew. “This thing is rejuvenating faster than I can even notice it’s injured,” he hissed. “How are we supposed to fight that?”

Rolando too was swift to trust and respond to Aeldric’s direction and fall in close. It went against his instincts to keep moving, but his trust in Aeldric was great.

“It’s almost like time winds back, or stops,” Rolando answered Taro.

He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but something wasn’t right.The abomination moved with discernible limitations on speed, and yet it seemed aware of Rolando’s movements that typically far exceeded the capability of most creatures ability to track him. It was almost as if the creature wasn’t perceiving the world the same as its physical actions suggested.

As the three stalwart warriors united upon the battlefield, the egg sacs around them began to burst, disgorging their vile contents even as more sacs continued to fall all around them.The air surrounding them was thick with a fleshy miasma as more and more of the things fell down from the main creature. Their falls being punctuated by unnerving splattering sounds as some of them simply burst into malformed putrid puddles of half-imagined stillborn horrors. But from most, things stood up.

Out of them came all manner of unheavenly spawn, in a myriad of shapes and forms that only a madman would find reason in. Some of them didn’t even seem possible under the universe’s rules, nevermind the question of how they were managing to move towards the trio with murderous intent. Tentacles galore of course, but also claws, beaks, hair, far too many appendages, not enough appendages. The only uniformity to the things seemed to be the fact that none was alike.

“We can’t kill this thing the way we’ve been attacking so far, it’s not strictly real,” exclaimed Aeldric as a thing looking like a mosquito crossed with a blood clot launched itself upon him. With his sword out of his reach, Aeldric simply punched the thing somewhere roughly in it’s centermass, causing it to explode into a flurry of light.

“It’s not a voidkin! It’s literal Void, being shaped, we mus–,” Aeldric continued, having to stop mid-breath as he felt another creature dash up from behind.

The creature - a clattering monstrosity seemingly composed entirely of serrated bone blades - was intercepted by a blast of shadowy magic, launching it backwards before a volley of further such bolts slammed into it midair, tearing it to shreds. Taro lowered his hand, that briefly still smoked with traces of magic, before looking Aeldric’s way. “We must..?” he prompted hurriedly, turning to parry away the lunging spines of another creature in the same moment.

“We must,” replied Aeldric within the midst of an explosion of light that marked the demise of yet another creature. This one he decided not to look at too closely in a misguided attempt to force his brain to decipher the mess it was.

“Seek out whoever is weaving them. But to do that, we have to get a second to breathe,” he continued as he dodged an attack, confident that the thing’s path towards Rolando behind him would take care of it. “I can’t gather enough Light to dispel that hideous thing up there with all of these constant attacks, we need to mop up these small ones and then you and Rolando need to damage the big one quickly enough that I get a pause to end it.”


Adorable Homewrecker
“Clean up crew, got it,” Taro nodded swiftly, slashing a wave of black force out through a charging creature before spinning his blade in his hand, reversing the grip in order to plunge it into the flagstones below. “Hear that, Kuro? Make us some space.”

The sword in Taro’s grip fluctuated with darkness, pooling around the ground where its blade met stone, then rolling up in a tide. As the swordsman crouched, one of the void creatures - a raging bull with what looked like the back of a metallic porcupine for a head - barrelled towards him in a charge. Instants before it reached him, the darkness erupted outwards, once more forming a great maw that closed around the beast and swallowed it whole.

This time, though, the maw didn’t dissipate. Instead, it was followed by a great mane, as a creature that was part leonid, part goat, with a skeletal face and bony black wings, poured forth from the sword. Standing near fifteen-foot tall, it loosed a frightful howl, spreading its wings wide as it lunged forth into the fray, claws savaging through more of their foes. In the next instant, rolling blackness erupted from its maw in a cone, the shadows consuming several more creatures in their path.

‘Ah, chaos abounding and a lax leash. Were these meals not so devoid of content as to be pointless, I would claim this day a glorious one,’ the rasping, echoing voice of Kuroakuma played directly into Taro’s head.

“Stop enjoying yourself and just clear the way!” Taro snapped, drawing the sword up to fend off another attacker.

‘By your command,’ came the reply, dripping with sarcasm. But as bidden, the yokai drew back onto its hind legs, and let forth a piercing howl. From its cry, crackling chaotic energy radiated outwards across the battlefield like ripples. Where it passed harmlessly over Taro and his companions, the void creatures it touched had barely a moment to react before their bodies seized up, and whatever passed for a head upon them burst, scattering their forms to the wind.


Demon Goat
Rolando said little as the swarms of void creatures continued to erupt around them. Attempting conversation would only lead to disjointed sentences with words seeming to originate from various directions. Given the stakes at hand, and the dire nature of the battle they faced, the distraction to his comrades wasn't worth the normal quip and humor his allies knew him prone to in moments of seriousness.

The sharpness of his narrowed eyes, the flash of steel, the billow of cloth, a sudden rush of air. His movements became little more than momentary flashes that swiftly gained momentum and created a vortex of death around his allies. Many egg sacs seemingly burst open before they ever touched the ground, helping to stem the arriving flood while Taro and Kuro thinned those closest.

Even the joint effort could only hold back the onslaught for so long though. As corpses of mangled and mutated bodies lay twitching and writhing in a ring, those beyond the swirling vortex of blades only grew denser until they appeared little more than a sea of black writhing forms clambering and throwing themselves forward with rampant disregard for the grisly end they met.

While Rolando held back the sea, and the last of those within the vortex fell to Kuro, Taro had perhaps a moment to redirect his attention towards the monstrosity above to distract it for Aeldric.


Adorable Homewrecker
The swordsman took his chance. Darting forwards, he leaped into the air in the same instant that Kuro swerved around to catch him, simultaneously providing a launch pad to send him flying further towards the monster and dissipating into smoke that was reabsorbed into Taro’s blade.

Mid-air, Taro brought the weapon around, muttering a phrase beneath his breath as he flew. Moments before one of the void creature’s great limbs intercepted his flight, he vanished.

In the next instant, six shadowy copies of him appeared around the beast, each of them sweeping outwards with their copy of Kuroakuma. The blades of smoke and shadow seemed to extend outwards as they struck, each carving a swathe through the monster and leaving behind a smoking trail. Black magic crackled around the impact points, as an instant later the six deep cuts exploded outwards, hemmoraging the creature’s essence.

Taro reappeared on the beast’s far side, skidding to a halt on the ground and spinning about to extend a palm towards it, launching a barrage of bolts of dark energy into its flank, each exploding on impact and blasting it a few feet away, great extremities carving gouges in the ground as it skidded.

The creature’s focus was momentarily drawn to the far side of the battlefield where Taro was crouched, panting and readying the last of his and the sword’s magical reserves for if this plan didn’t work.

Aeldric had his window.