15 Mar 1998. The Plaguebringers attack Rephidim during Candlemass.
(Airship) (Bassai) (City of Hands) (Jynx) (Necropolis) (Rephidim) (Sabaoth's Wrath) (Savan) (Spheres of Magic) (Zoltan)
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(OOC) Fri Mar 13 1998 05:04 PM by "Rory" at "Holodeck -->

The Intimidator approaches Rephidim, the goal of this journey. Night has fallen, quickly shrouding the sky island in shadow, for high-flying clouds blot out much of the Procession.

The city of Rephidim shines like a diamond necklace laid out on a black kerchief, its many gas and fire-lights showing its position plainly, and echoed by a few firefly-like wisps that glide in and out of the Docks.

Zoltan watches quietly from his position on deck, his expression a somber one for such a cheerful holiday. His pack hangs at the ready across his shoulders while a gleaming chitin blade rests at his side. The wind rustles through his feathers.

Bassai is by a window in one of the view rooms, watching the lights of Rephidim City approach. The temperature outside is a little too chilly for the snake, and even though he prefers to be on deck for landings and lift offs, he has passed on the opportunity this time.

A noise reaches Zoltan's ears. It sounds like a bug is flittering about … but at this altitude? No … the droning is too deep … too loud … too far…

The Eeee among the crew are quick to respond … as do some apprentices of some of the mages who rush to report to the officers. It would seem something has been detected.

The Vartan's head twists in the direction of the noise… his eyes begin scanning the skies for the source.

An alarm sounds, drowning out the noise … but a break in the clouds betrays something off in the distance … many shiny somethings, flying through the sky, without benefit of envelopes, bearing on an intercept course with the Intimidator … an intercept course that would meet at Rephidim itself.

Inside, the Naga is unaware of the activity on the decks, but the silvery glint catches his eye. He sets aside his drink and stares at the distant forms.

( It begins… may the Star protect us all. ) Zoltan grabs his crossbow and rushes across the deck, ready to join the Champions and their lancers.

The Lancers are saddling up on their Rakhtors, and the battle mages belowdecks are no doubt busily at work with potent rituals started hours before.

With whining and creaking noises, panels slide open on the sides of the Intimidator's envelope, revealing long barrels … giant muskets, many of them with multiple barrels bundled together.

Bassai watches the transformation of the Intimidator, as the ports open along the sides and the guns emerge. "The Baron was right then… " He hisses to himself. At the moment, the threat feels distant, almost academic.

The Intimidator continues to approach Rephidim. Many of the street lights have been shuttered, it appears. Smaller lights become visible, lining the major streets that cut through the heart of the City, all the way to the Temple. Citizens are lining up, bearing candles, forming an echo of the Procession far above … knowing nothing of the approaching danger.

Waves pass through the lines of lights … as citizens put their hands or shutters over their candles … then remove them, as the next person carries on the motion. The ripples are not perfect or symmetrical, but it's still a dazzling sight from above … to anyone who is not distracted by more pressing matters, that is.

The Champion of Roses rides her large warbird just past Zoltan, and pauses to give him a salute. Nothing is said, but she holds that salute for a long moment.

Zoltan pauses to rustle through a wrapped bundle he'd set aside for himself and begins to quickly draw out pieces of armor. He puts it on as quickly as he can and then pats himself down, checking the straps for tightness. As the Champion of Roses rides past, Zoltan raises his sword to her in a mimic of her own salute. "For Rephidim, and all of Sinai." he says softly.

With a cry that pierces the air, the Rahktor of the Champion of Roses snaps out her wings, braces, then leaps off of the deck. The Magenta Lancers follow suit, forming a formation that cuts away from the ship, toward the unseen enemy.

Feeling somewhat helpless in the face of the approaching conflict, Bassai still has the need to be doing something. The sight of the Rose Lance launching, stirs him to motion. He slithers over to the door and calls down the hallway, "Assisstant Undercoil, we are under attack. Gather Bash and the paperwork, and be ready to evacuate."

The garter hisses, "Ah … yesss, sssir! At oncsse!" And then he zips off to gather belongings and the Rokuga.

The Vartan picks up a helmet resting at his hooves and straps it onto his head. He casts a quick glance down at Rephidim… and then leaps off the deck, following after the Champion.

An apprentice in yellow robes swoops past Zoltan, squeaking for one of the Lieutenants. "There are more! More coming behind us!"

Flattening his ears inside of his helmet, Zoltan glares out at the area behind the ship. He pauses in his flight.

Alone in the room, the Ringneck Naga slithers over to the observation window. His eyes rise from the departing flyers, and the distant silver specs up to the processsion arcing overhead. His voice is quiet as he says, "Great Serpent, guardian of the night that leads us to dawn. Give the Templars venom in their strike, and hold them safe your coils as they fight for us all."

Other tell-tale glints hint at the presence of another flight of the enemy craft far behind the Intimidator. It would seem that the first flight is likely to reach Rephidim – and the Intimidator – several minutes before the latter. But that's just based on a quick and error-prone survey of the situation.

( Bah… what a choice. The first flight could be a distraction to let the second slip in. ) The Vartan rises up a bit, looking between the two enemies.

Zoltan squints his eye at the shape off in the distance and then resumes his flight towards the Champion. He notches an arrow into his crossbow as he flies.

Four flights of Lancers and all the flight-capable warriors of the Intimidator join Zoltan – none staying back to defend the Intimidator. That doesn't even seem to be part of the equation right now.

"Keep you eye on whatever it is behinds us. Could cause trouble laters." Zoltan scrawks, and then slowly angles his flight to meet the oncoming attackers, or whatever it is that they may be.

The Lancers and flight leaders exchange scrawks and arm-signals … and the Cobalt Lancers break off with a contingent of Vartans, joining Zoltan on his flight path.

Safe, for the moment, back inside the warship, Bassai takes out his pad, and starts recording details. He lists the flyers vanishing from his sight, their targets in the distance, the time, and anything else he notices. Looking down at Rephidim, and it's waves of light snaking through the streets, he starts to wonder. {Could they be warned? Would it help if they were?} He flicks out his tongue.

The Cobalt Lancers – Titanians in cloaks of blue – howl loudly, making even louder noises with their bizarre instruments. Stealth is NOT their strong point, alas.

Meanwhile, down in Rephidim, a ball of fire lights the air … over where the Collegia Esoterica should be. Several ghost-lights shoot up from the campus, weaving about in the air, and shooting outward toward the distant attackers. Perhaps some word HAS gotten to the city.

Zoltan sets his jaw continues on his slow intercept course (keeping out of the direct line of fire from the Intimidator as he does.). He winces a bit at the noise, but then something strikes a cord inside of him. Well, if stealth is gone… might as well go all out! The Vartan draws his blade and shouts at the top of his lungs, "For Rephidim!!"

As the attack force from the Intimidator falls upon the enemy, it can be seen more clearly now… the enemy ships look like gigantic bugs.

Bassai slithers around the observation room, searching the shelves. He manages to locate a telescope, and raises it to his eye. Focusing on the far battle, he lets out a hiss of surprise. "Insects!"

No … wait … maybe these things ARE giant bugs! They are unusual for airships, not having any envelopes. Instead, they fly upon translucent wings that can barely be seen. Their chitinous hides glint faintly in what of the Procession's light filters through, and reflections upon pieces of metal can be seen as well.

"Plaguebringers… ?" Zoltan whispers to himself. His ears flatten a bit more. "They probably armored. Aim for wings and eyes." he scrawks and trains his crossbow on one of the closest bugs, waiting to see wether or not the bugs look to be moving in for an attack.

Most of the airships heading for the docks – or away from them – begin to veer away from the giant insects. Some unfortunate to be close to the giant bugs give Zoltan a chance to see the monster-craft in action.

Several of the great insects have tails like those of horribs … and swing up, over the bugs' backs. However, before those tails can be employed, smaller, more maneuverable bug-ships zip in toward the airships, taking the simple approach of slicing through their envelopes with razor-sharp claws and mandibles. Arrows and flame-darts bounce harmlessly off of their chitinous hides.

Zoltan quickly puts his crossbow away and grabs up his flintlock. He trains the weapon on one of the larger bugs and fires.

Far from the conflict, the Ringneck Naga adjusts the eyepiece on his spyglass to keep it in focus. "What are these things?" He asks, as he witnesses them shredding through the unlucky airships.

Sparks fly from where the Vartan's shot impacts on the bug's shell. There is no visible damage to reward the effort, but it appears that he's gotten at least that one ship's attention. Seeing the limited effect of arrows on the bug-ships, the other fliers with firearms follow suit … but so far with similar effects.

Zoltan slows his flight. He turns to the Champion while his hands fumble with reloading his weapon, "I hear you can breaks glass with right noise… you think you could try and break bugs same way?"

There appear to be some other airships closing in on the bugs, rather than avoiding them. These ships seem to be CHASING the bugs, actually, and are coming up from below! It's a rather odd assortment, really. One of them looks like it's crafted to look like a giant Creen, with great wings of all the colors of the rainbow. A few of the bug-ships split off to face the new attackers.

The Champion of Sound makes an exaggerated nod to Zoltan, then howls, leading his Lance into an attack formation. Zipping through the midst of them, they let loose with their weapon-instruments. The cacophony can be heard from even this distance!

Alas, no bug-ships explode to reward the effort. However, several of them seem to be flying fairly erratically.

The Vartan nods… at the very least perhaps the bugs will attack one another or crash. He focuses his attentions on the Creen ships… are these friend or foe?

Funny … one of those ships … a black one … looks a whole lot like that illustration that Bassai's assistant was waving around.

Bassai trains his telescope on the ships rising to meet the bugs. The Creen ship draws his attention, but it is swiftly pulled away as he catches a glimps of the black one. He focuses in on it, hardly believing what he sees.

The bugs are much closer now, and they've split out of formation as the Lancers and individual fliers begin to engage them. It's not looking good for the home team …

Zoltan's eyes light up! He points to the bug-ships that broke away and plummets after them. ( Please… ) He aims his flintlock at the eye of one of the insects and fires again.

"YES! YES!!" the Vartan screams out as he zooms after one of the bugs.

The flintlock explodes in a flash of light! Fortunately, the Vartan closes his eyes against the flash in time, and his gauntlets protect his forearms from any burns, but the weapon shatters! However … with a loud screech, the bug-ship flies erratically, a crack in its hide spewing green goo. One of its wings rips free … and the craft hurtles helplessly downward.

Zoltan winces and shakes his wounded hand. He eyes the path of the falling bug, praying that it's not falling towards the airships.

As Zoltan shakes his wounded hand … he can't help but notice that he can barely even SEE it.

The bug-ship, meanwhile, spins out of control, its useless legs flailing. Its head splits open … and an armored bat flies out!

"Where's the Baron! Has he blown himself apart?" Bassai searches, but can find no trace of the Vartan after the distant flash.

"Ryaaaaaaaar!" the Vartan yells, drawing out his sword and diving out after the bat.

The armored bat frees himself from some sort of harness … but is completely caught off guard when black screaming death cuts through his form. The bat's remains hurtle helplessly into the darkness of the Desolate Band far below.

Frowning, Zoltan quickly changes his path to intercept the next 'bug'. He tries to hack at it's wings with his sword.

"What?" Bassai hisses to himself, wiping the end of the telescope on his robe. It looked like the Eeee warrior split in half as soon he was free of the dying bugship, but nothing attacked it… He raises the scope again, and watches more carefully.

The Vartan's shadowy sword plows into the bug's delicate wing, shredding through membrane and vein … and another bug-ship hurtles downward, spinning terribly out of control.

With sounds like thunder that rock he Intimidator, the main guns finally start firing, as the enemies have at last closed within range.

The Lancers seem to be distracting some of the bug-ships … but many of them are still making their way to Rephidim. The candle lights are most certainly dispersed, as the city has now received ample warning of impending danger.

Zoltan quickly angles his flight to meet the bugs nearing the Sky Island and slashes at their wings with his sword.

Again, a bug-ship is crippled as its wing is cut into. As it falls, its thorax emits a greenish gas that quickly spreads outward, threatening to engulf the Vartan.

Zoltan holds his breath and backpedals, trying to avoid the gas. ( If these ARE plaguebringers… I don't want to breathe that in. )

The vibrations of the guns are a soothing sensation under the Ringneck's scutes. He keeps his telescope trained on the enemy bugs, hoping to see their shells cracked under the onslaught.

The Vartan's wingbeats stir up the gas, but he manages to avoid its deadly grasp. Behind him, several of the bug-ships are consumed in balls of flame! With unearthly shrieks, spectral beings whip through the air on translucent wings like those of birds of prey, garbed in robes and bearing wickedly-curved scythes.

Another bug-ship's thorax opens … letting loose swarms of … horribs!

An idea forms in the Vartan's head. He quickly dives down below the cloud of gas and holds his sword out so that it reflects the glow of the firelight. "Hey! Stupid bugs! Here! HERE!!" ( Maybe I can get them to gas themselves… )

Several of the bug-ships, having reached the sky island, spread out, some heading for the city, others borne for the docks. Arrows launch up from the city, and other flying warriors rise to meet the attackers as well.

The horribs, no tribute to their intelligence, seem to go for the Vartan's ploy!

As they run into the greenish gas, en route to Zoltan … they start falling out of the sky like … well … flies.

The Vartan grins and moves on to the next closest bug… this time he tries to stab it through the eye.

Alas, the first bug zips by too quickly. But the second one to come along is not so lucky. With a sickening *schlorp*, the Vartan's unseen blade shoots in through the eye … and a high-pitched shriek can be heard from within the head!

Zoltan narrows his eyes. He had wanted to save using his strange exile weapon… but the situation seems dire. His hand rummages through his pack and pulls out another strange weapon, this one also resembling a flintlock. He trains it on the bugs in the distance and begins firing.

It's hard to tell if the Vartan hit or not. A bug comes closer … ping … ping … then one must have gotten through an eye! "*SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE!*" The bug-ship flies madly out of control.

Bassai watches everything from his distant place in the Intimidator. Strange translucent forms with scythes, firey deaths of some of the ships, and wounds appearing from no where; Scenes which cannot simply be explained by mundane means, only magic. He looks for the Champion of Roses, or the Cobalt Champion, amidst the fray.

With the flurry of flying shapes, it's nearly impossible to pick out individual fighters from Bassai's vantage point. The telescope set within the viewing deck is of great use … but only really when viewing some of the slower-moving ships … such as the airships involved in this, and some of those falling out of control.

More explosions rip through the air, and the clouds above Rephidim swirl violently. A cyclone touches down upon the Desolate Band … and rips along, back toward the direction that the Intimidator came from, away from the current fray!

Continuing his efforts, Zoltan fires the remaining shots in the gun at the closest bugs.

Three more bug-ships fall under the Vartan's unseen onslaught … and then the gun just makes a disappointing clicking noise.

Bolts of lightning shoot out from the general vicinity of the Collegia Esoterica … and an ethereal clown face rises from the campus as well, gliding toward a swarm of horribs and going "BOOGABOOGABOOGA!" Not very damaging, but at least it keeps the bugs occupied.

The Ringneck trains the telescope on each airship falling out of control, trying to note their names or a brief description. He searches for the late arrivals, the Creen, and the Black pirate vessel, to see how they fare.

The black pirate vessel appears to have sustained some damage, and is slowly sinking down toward the Desolate Band. The Creen ship is cutting a swath of death through the bugs, however, as any bug-ships unlucky enough to approach it explode inexplicably into balls of flame or sparks.

The armored hippogryph quickly puts away his weapon and zooms onto the midst of the distracted bugships, hacking away at wings and stabbing at glassy bug eyes.

Just as Zoltan flies toward the remaining bug-ships … he sees a flash of something … his own weapon! With a flicker, he returns to the realm of the visible.

Nonetheless … it appears the tide of the battle is changing. While none of the Lancers are to be seen, the bug-ships are greatly diminished in number … and the second wave that was coming behind the Intimidator seems to have been hit by that conveniently-forming tornado.

Zoltan quickly slows his approach. ( Thanks… ) He fumbles for his crossbow and takes careful aim at the remaining bugships as he begins to slowly fly towards the strange black ship.

"Yess," Bassai hisses, pleased to see the destruction surrounding the Creen Ship. After the experiences with the Chiga, the success of the airship which resembles the Naga's messenger spirits provides him with a sense of hope. He searches through the remaining fighters, trying to see what is left to hold back the assault.

Suddenly, one of the bug-ships zips by, flying as if out of control, borne for the black ship. It looks as if it's trying to slow to avoid a collision … then smacks soundly into the rigging, entangling its claws.

The Vartan's eyes widen… and he quickly goes from a slow approach to a powerdive.

The black ship is off-kilter, and Zoltan can see several feline forms clinging to rigging and railing, trying to keep from falling to their deaths.

Zoltan takes careful aim for the bugship and fires off a bolt… hoping to at least kill the thing before it tears the ship apart with it's struggling.

Just as Zoltan fires, he hears a voice from the bug-ship. It sounds like a shout. "Zoltan?"

*CRACK* The shot impacts the chitinous shell of the bug-ship, and a greenish goo begins oozing out.

"Yes! Hang on!" the Vartan shouts back, diving for the bug and trying to disentangle it.

Funny … there's a HOLE in one of the bug's eyes … much too large for Zoltan's weapon to have made.

A voice cries out from the head of the bug-ship. "Don't shoot! I'm with them!"

"Wait… that's the Baron," Bassai says, catching a glimpse of Zoltan's form as he trains his telescope across the Black ship for one last look.

Zoltan pauses, drawing his sword. "Come out then… and hurry. Before everyone fall to they deaths." He quickly glances at the teetering side of the ship, praying that nobody has fallen yet.

Just within the hole in the bug-ship's eye … a black feline head can be made out. Meanwhile, the bug's wings keep beating, making a whirring noise, as the ship slowly continues its spiraling descent.

"Just don't shoot!" The black Khatta checks the controls of the ship one last time, and awkwardly crawls out from the eye, "It's me, Jynx!"

There's no real way to tell who has fallen yet. Anyone visible is clinging on for dear life, and the light isn't very good. This ship has no torches on it, apparently going for more stealth, though the Creen-ship (and its wake of destruction) doesn't evidence the same strategy.

"Feli!" Zoltan scrawks. "Quick… can you get you ship to pull airship back up before it crash?"

The cat gazes up at the Vartan from the hole in the eye, and shouts, "I was trying to land it! I don't know how to control this bug thing completely, but I can try and bring it back up!"

"Hold on… I be rights back." The armored hippogryph jumps from his perch on the bugship and flies to the other side of the airship, doing what he can to help the felines back up onto the deck before they plummet to their deaths.

"What is the Baron doing with that one, why doesn't he just kill it?" Bassai asks, equidistant from the scene both physically and in his comprehension of it.

Jynx ducks back inside the hole and glances at the controls nervously. How do the Eeee fly these things without going mad?

It looks like Zoltan is none too soon as he helps several … Savanites … get to better positions on the deck. All of them are Savanites. Even the one with the third eye in the center of her forehead and the really frizzy black hair.

She's too busy clinging onto the railing to sign anything to Zoltan.

Alas, there's no way Bassai can see this from his vantage point.

The controls have no labels. Perhaps the Eeee ARE mad.

Zoltan smiles and grabs the Savanite, helping her to the deck. "We gots to stop meeting likes this… " he scrawks.

The Savanite manages a faint smile, as she grabs onto some sturdier rigging. She nods in response.

The black Khatta pokes his head back outside, "Hello? What should I do?"

The Savanite leans around, upon hearing Jynx's voice, and waves her free hand in a sign of "ANYTHING!"

After seeing that the Savanite has found a sturdier place to hold one, Zoltan quickly moves back to the bigship. "Make it wings flap… hard!"

A flaming bug-ship hurtles past … thankfully well clear of the leaking envelope.

Zoltan looks to the Savanite. "You think I could hold tear in envelope shut while bug flaps?" He glances at some of the goo leaking from the bug.

The Savanite signs, "No. But worth trying!"

"Right, makes the wings flap… " Jynx darts back inside the head, "Now how do I do that?" Looking around at the controls, the Khatta flips some of the levers that he had earlier gotten the wings to work.

*Whirrwhirrwhirrwhirr* The wings beat frantically, almost knocking the Vartan off-balance with the sudden down-blast of air … but not quite.

The end result is that the ship is not going up … but at least its descent is slowed considerably!

The Vartan grabs a double handfull of some of the goo leaking from the bugship and then vanishes overboard… only to reappear on the other side as he flips up towards the envelope.

The goo is incredibly sticky and stretchy. Strings of the stuff fly from the Vartan all the way back to where he grabbed some from the bug-ship's wounded shell.

Jynx, who had been bracing himself with eyes shut, peeks open an eyelid. Seeing that what he did actually worked, he pokes his head out again, "Like that?!"

Zoltan quickly gets to work. He smears the goo onto the torn envelope and then holds the tear together, waiting for the stuff to dry. "Is any way to refill envelope enough so we can go up again?" he shoults down.

Alas, there's no way for the Savanite to shout back up … and hand-signs only travel by line of sight. If only Zoltan had the assistance of an air mage or maybe a few hydrogen globes…

The goo, meanwhile, does a wonderful job of adhering to the envelope … and to Zoltan.

The Ringneck finds he was holding his breath, as he has the sudden urge to breath after watching this scene for so long. Zoltan's actions are still inscruitable, the fate of the Black Ship still uncertain. It's difficult to make out anything in the darkness.

It looks like the ground is getting closer … closer …

Zoltan acks, and tries to un-adhere himself from the envelope.

"What should I do now?" Jynx yells back to the others. He'd like to land the thing, but he'd also like to rejoin the battle. The Khatta decides to let his elders make that decision.

*schlorp* Bug-goo sticks to Zoltan, gluing him with only a modicum of freedom to the envelope.

The Vartan pauses in his struggles… and then starts flapping his wings madly, trying to add his own strength to that of the bugship in an attempt to pull it up. "Fins some way to refill envelope!" he shouts back down at the Khatta.

And then … the ship hits! *scuff* Actually, it's a fairly anti- climactic crash, as the Vartan's impact is absorbed by the envelope.

The bug-ship's wings still beat fiercely … as the Savanite crew hastily scrambles down from the topsy-turvy deck onto the solid ground.

Zoltan tries yet again to disentangle himself. "Rawwr!"

With a loud *RIP* the Vartan pulls himself free … along with a section of the shredded envelope. He now has … a bug-goo-encrusted … poncho.

The Khatta just blinks. Refill the envelope? How in the heck is he supposed to do that? "I think that's beyond- ack!" Jynx jolts as the ship hits ground, his reply cut short.

The wounded bug-ship rips free of the rigging.

Zoltan flutters to the ground, pulling his armor off. "Is everybody alrights?"

A frazzle-haired Savanite rushes up to Zoltan, hugging him about the waist. *schlorch* Uh oh. Well, her hair was a mess anyway.

Bassai loses sight of the pirate ship, trying to make a note of where it fell. He focuses on the Creen, a much easier object to find. He searches it's decks and around it, looking for anyone he recongizes, and trying to judge the state of the battle.

Seeing that they are now aground, Jynx attempts to escape his buggie surroundings, climbing out of the hole and down the bug's body to solid ground.

Funny. The Creen ship seems to be crewed entirely by … Savanites? Then, Bassai's view is blocked by a blinding flash of light. Another one of those fireballs!

The bug-ship bounces around a bit, until its wings finally stop flapping, and it settles down… then rolls over, its legs sticking up in the air. Jynx, however, manages to scramble clear.

Zoltan chuckles and hugs the Savanite back. "You do Rephidim great service. Thank you… " He looks over at the strange (and now quite dead) bugship. "So this is plaguebringer?"

The Savanite nods … and then tries to extract herself. She frowns … and at last realizes the inevitable. She takes a knife and carefully cuts a few strands of her hair free. Her ears flatten back.

Jynx quickly runs from the bugship, then slows down and turns to take a look. Eeee are just plain weird. Turning back around, he tiredly makes his way over to the Vartan and Third-Eye.

Zoltan works on removing his armor, hoping to take most of the goo with it. "So how you ends up in one of those things, Feli?"

The cat plops down with a sigh in front of the two. "I dunno, I stabbed its eye and got sucked inside. I think the Eeee are a bit morbid, that thing was creepy." He looks over to Third-Eye, and his head cocks sideways, "What is that all over you? At least you can't blame me this time!"

An avian-sounding cry of pain emits from somewhere amidst the shadows of the tangled warpwood trees that grow on parts of the Desolate Band.

Third-Eye scowls at Jynx … but relents … and runs up to him to give him a BIG hug. *schlorp*

The Vartan opens his mouth to reply, but then hushes at the noise. He peers closer into the shadows… after all, it could be one of his own kin wounded in the battle that could be crying out.

"ACK! Okay! I'm glad to see you too!" The Khatta returns the hug, now being a bit… gooeier. His ears perk up at the cry, "What in the name of the Star?"

It looks like a wounded rakhtor lying on the ground. Given how big a rakhtor is, it could almost pass for a small hill.

Jezebel grimaces as she pries herself away from Jynx, and then looks toward the source of the noise.

Zoltan gasps and runs over to the side of the bird, inspecting its wounds. "Any of you good at healing?"

Jezebel shakes her head. "I can try some herbs … but I haven't enough for a … patient this large."

Jynx follows the Vartan, "N-No, not me." He looks around, "maybe one of the Twelve-times-Twelve?"

Pinned underneath the large bird, Zoltan's keen eyes pick out something shiny. Like armor.

The Vartan's ears shoot up, he gently tries to nudge the great bird out of the way while pulling the armored figure out.

As the avian moves just a bit, Zoltan is able to extract the limp form of a white-armored feline, with a cape of magenta.

It looks like it's not the Champion, but one of the Lancers, given the relative lack of decor, and the plantigrade stance.

Although the Lancer is hurt, Jynx keeps his distance from her. After all, he hasn't had the best of experiances with them before.

Zoltan carefully drags the Lancer out and removes her helmet. He checks for signs of breathing or a heartbeat.

Removing the helmet reveals the face of a black Khatta. She's out like a light, but still breathing.

"She still alive." the Vartan looks at Third-Eye. "Get you herbs, quick now."

A black Khatta? Jynx peers at her from around the Vartan. There's only one black Lancer that he knows of, but she isn't a Lancer anymore… is she?

Jezebel nods and rushes for the toppled airship.

Funny. It sure LOOKS a whole lot like Blossom. Even if Jynx only got to see her briefly. Maybe it's her sister.

Zoltan scoots back a little and removes his breastplate, revealing the translucent 'scar' (as he's begun to call it) that slashes across his chest. "Is probably no good if I gets her all sticky… "

"Sh-she looks familiar… " The Khatta sighs and inspects the face closer, but still with a little hesitation. This can't be Blossom, she was kicked out of the Lancers!

Jezebel hurries back up with her satchel of herbs and potions and salves. A couple of other Savanites rush up with strips of cloth for bandages.

"She look like she you sister or something." the hippogryph replies, and then notes Jynx's expression. "You not gets along well with you family?""

"M-My sister?" Jynx looks at the Vartan puzzledly, "No, she's not that. If she's who I think she is, then she tried to kill me! But I didn't think she was a Lancer anymore. The Champion kicked her out."

Jezebel sets to applying salves to the black Khatta warrioress's wounds, with the assistance of her helpers.

From just beyond the trees, there's a lupine howl … soon echoed by a couple more.

"She WON'T try to kill you." Zoltan says to Jynx. At the sound of the noise he jumps to his hooved feet and draws his sword.

Jynx's ears perk up, "What's that?" He stares around the woods, trying to find the source.

*SPRANG!* A dischordant sound reverberates across the plains. "BUMMER! OUT OF TUNE!" a lupine voice shouts.

The black Khatta (the male one that is) glances at the Vartan, "Oh, you have no idea… " He then turns back to the lupine voice.

The Vartan lets out a sigh of relief. "Sound? That you?"

A few more shapes limp into view. A big armored Titanian hefting something that only looks remotely like a lute (and more like a weapon of war) supports the weight of one of his comrades, with the help of a red-armored Lancer. A few other fliers start limping over toward the downed ship, or dragging each other. "We won!" an Eeee – a Rephidim one, apparently – squeaks.

Jezebel's brow furrows, but she continues working on the wounds of the fallen black Khatta.

"How Rephidim fare?" the Vartan scrawks, moving towards the approaching warriors.

The Champion of Sound sees the upside-down twitching bug-ship that Jynx abandoned. Promptly dropping his comrade to the ground ("OW!") he charges the craft, shouting, "BUUUUUUUG!" He flails his instrument around like a club.

The aforementioned Eeee limps over toward Zoltan and squeaks, "Victory is ours! Congratulations, Baron!" He points up at the docks, where the Intimidator can be seen mooring. "I take THAT to mean they're doing the cleanup now."

Seeing that the others are friend and not foe, and setting his ears back at the antics of the loud lupine, Jynx makes his way over to Jezebel and the Lancer. ( Funny, she actually looks halfway peaceful when she's not trying to gut me. ) His expression softens a bit, "Will she be okay?"

Jezebel finishes with her work, and signs to Jynx, "She'll hold until she can get better treatment."

Meanwhile, it looks like a few airships are coming down toward the crash site … including the big "creen ship" and a few disc-shaped oddities that make thrumming noises.

Zoltan looks up to the sky island. ( I hope the children are alright… ) "Good to hear. And congratulations to you as well, we all fight very well."

At the sight of the strange disks, Zoltan suddenly bristles up his feathers and backs up towards Jezebel and Jynx. He holds his sword out almost as though he was planning to defend the group from an attacker.

Jynx gives the black Khatta warrioress one last look, almost a worried one, then turns his attention up to the ships.

"What are you doing Zoltan?" The black Khatta gives the Vartan a strange look.

"Hissssssss!" is the only responce the Vartan offers.

The Creen-ship slowly lowers, and a loading deck lowers from its belly. As the deck touches down on the ground, it's evident that several Savanites are on board, including many in robes … and one with jade-green eyes.

"Wow," offers the Eeee warrior. "I've never seen airships like THAT before. But then… " He indicates the twitching bug-ship that the Champion of Sound is reducing to chitinous goo. "… I haven't seen one of THOSE, either."

"AAAA!" shouts the Champion of Sound. "STUCK!"

"It seems Jade-Eyes is alright," Jynx signs to Third-Eye, "Do you think you should go? There's no telling what all these Rephidim people will do!"

Zoltan keeps quiet, simply watching. His sword still clenched tightly at the ready.

Third-Eye nods to Jynx, then looks to Jade-Eyes … also known as Azhtar … as she approaches. Azhtar looks to Zoltan and bows her head in greeting, frowning at his demeanor. Then, she turns her attention to Jezebel.

The Vartan lowers his sword… just a bit. "YOU is Jade-Eyes? The missing first sister?" he signs, releasing one hand from the sword.

Jynx looks to the Vartan, "She's the one I told you about. You know her already?" The Khatta looks perplexed.

Azhtar turns back toward Zoltan and nods, then signs to both him and Jezebel, "Yes, as Tears-of-Blood revealed to me. But my fears have been allayed. My sister, you could have let Rephidim and Babel fight each other with hopes of destroying both of them some day. You did not. My misgivings are no more. I will not challenge your place."

Another armored warrior walks up, standing silently beside the Vartan. This one is armored much like the black Khatta, but with stylized roses and thorns decorating her helm and armor.

Zoltan slowly moves himself closer inbetween Jezebel and Azhtar. "But… but… Running-River told me… you was taken, and… and prophecy… ". His tail lashes back and forth.

Jezebel bows to Azhtar.

The Champion of Sound, strings of goo dragging broken bits of chitin behind him, trudges up. "NICE SHIP!" he shouts.

Azhtar's ears flinch at the yelling of the Cobalt Templar, and she signs to Zoltan, "I am not clear on the details of my history."

Jynx just stands back and watches the scene. Poor Zoltan, it seems that for once someone is more lost than he is!

"I am," Zoltan responds. "Running-River tell me what happen to you… and I be honest in saying it make me fear you, and what you mights do. But you also been trustworthy friend. I no sure whats to think!"

Azhtar looks around, then signs, "For now, you might think of getting back to Rephidim?" She looks to Jezebel as if for approval.

Jezebel nods. "Let's give them a ride to the sky island. Zoltan, we're making some changes. The coronation will be a bit ahead of schedule."

Azhtar keeps a wide berth of all the bug guts.

"Cor-" the Hippogryph begins, and then hushes. He smiles and nods, looking tired for the first time. "Lead on," he scrawks, and makes an 'after you' gesture.


Some time – and several unanswered questions by bewildered Templars – later, Zoltan and the grounded fighters are deposited at the docks of Rephidim by the strangest-looking airships seen there for quite some time, and Temple ships have been left to go down to retrieve the wounded rakhtors that couldn't hobble onto the landing deck.

On the deck, Jezebel looks to Jynx and Zoltan. "I had best be going. There will be enough questions already. I am fortunate everyone is too busy to deal with some strange Savanites."

A few Vykarins gallop past, chasing an angrily-buzzing horrib.

Jynx frowns, "You mean we don't get to watch the coronation?" The Khatta shoulders slump, he had been waiting for that.

Zoltan takes a step forward. "Wait… " He clenches his fists, and nods at Jynx's words.

Jezebel smiles, and signs, "No. You'll get to see it. You'll get proper invitations, I assure you."

"Then takes care of youself. What abouts Jade-Eyes?" the Vartan signs.

"Invitiations?" The Khatta still looks a bit displeased.

Jezebel signs, "I will need to sign with her some more. We haven't had much time to discuss matters. After all … she's only been my sister, so to speak, for a week."

"In any case, we'll issue invitations to representatives of all the major powers. Nagai. Rephidim. Himaat. What's left of Himar. … " Jezebel pauses, then adds, "… and Paradys."

"I feared she was in league with Necropolis," Zoltan signs, drooping his ears. "Is long story… and I no gots time to tell you."

Jezebel frowns. "I'm quite sure she has no such allegiance."

The hippogryph smiles a little. "I hopes you no mind three noisy cubs there as well."

"Mind? I EXPECT them there," Jezebel signs, ears wiggling. Then she looks at Jynx, and signs, "And the Kurai family is most certainly welcome as well."

A Ringneck Naga watches from a darkened section of the docks. His surprise at seeing The Creen ship, and the passengers who disembarked is compounded by the signs he is witnessing now. He debates revealing himself fully, but for the moment stays concealed, hoping some truth will reveal itself instead.

Jynx smiles, "We'll be there. And if they come, you can expect four noisy cubs!" That reminds the Khatta, "Please have someone check on little Sunny for me, and make sure she minds her manners"

"Safe travels then… " Zoltan signs, and then in full sight of everyone on the dock… he drops to one knee, takes Third-Eye's hand and kisses it.

Jezebel's ears blush, and she bows her head to Zoltan. With her free hand, she signs, "Until we meet again, Baron of Paradys."

Jynx blinks at the duo, he knew they were close, but not this close.

Moon-Brow walks up to Zoltan, glancing at Jynx and at Jezebel, then back to Zoltan again.

The Vartan stands up and takes a couple of steps back. "I should go as well. I needs to find out of Master Nicodemus is better… I hopes he is… "

Jynx sighs, "I guess I should too. I have to get my room back, and make sure Dominic hasn't started selling my bedroom furniture yet."

Jezebel signs to Jynx, "And farewell to you, too, Jynx, Snow-Fur, Slayer of Bromthen Forest-Hogs and Plague-Bringers!"

The Khatta blushes at his titles, and inside is a bit reluctant to go back home.

Jezebel seems a bit reluctant, too, as she withdraws … but walks back to the waiting loading platform of the Creen-ship … and rides back up, watching the black Vartan and Khatta – and her sister – as she ascends.

Moon-Brow signs, "I expect to be told the whole story when you get the chance."

Zoltan pats Jynx's shoulder. "Listen… that job at the Shoppe I offer you still stand, once I get shoppe built again that is." He looks up after the departing airship and waves with his free hand.

Bassai puzzles over what he's seen. It doesn't support his theory that the Creen ship belongs to the Collegia Esoterica. All of it has the hints of a much deeper discovery, so he keeps watching, hoping for more.

The Khatta waves as well, heaving a sigh, "Well, it's notlike killing forest hogs, but it sounds good to me."

Once the platform slides into the belly of the Creen-ship, it begins coasting backward … and then turns and sails away from the docks. As it drifts away, it is joined by the remainder of Jezebel's 'fleet', such as it is … and glides away out of sight.

The Vartan grins at Moon-Brow. "Feli… you shoulds show Star you scar that you so proud of."

Moon-Brow raises an eyebrow suspiciously.

Jynx looks up at the Vartan, than at Moon-Brow embarassedly.

"A scar? From falling in the fountain?" the Savanite signs.

"No, f-from killing a hog… I'll tell you about it if you want?" The black Khatta starts his way off the docks.

Grinning, Zoltan makes a grab for the Kattha and slings him playfully over his shoulder. "C'mon… I going to buy you two best dinner you ever hads over at Bromthen Heaven. We earned it."

The Ringneck Naga looks around for a visible place to emerge, one a little ways back that will make it seem he was just arriving on the sceen and missed the earlier conversation. Slipping towards it, he slithers towards the group, calling out loudly, "Baron! It's so good to see you made it through alive."

Jynx gives out a startled 'Mew' as he is hefted up, "Please, I've had enough ham for one day… "

Zoltan spins around to face the Naga. "Likewise, Minister. You see I mean whats I say when I tells you that Intimidator was safest place to be."

Suddenly, a garter darts up, with a Rokuga. "Sssir! THERE you are! Sssir! You mussst come with usss! The Rephidimitesss! They're SSSAVAGESSS!"

Alas, Bassai is distracted from his opportunity to bombard the Baron with questions by the insistent demands of his assistant, Undercoil. While he's virtually dragged away (with the considerable help of the Rokuga, Bash), Jynx and Zoltan hastily make their getaway.

And as Jezebel's airships head back to the City of Hands, their crews are treated to the sight of lines of candlelights along the major streets running from the docks to the Temple, as – even after the battle – Rephidim's citizenry, in defiance of the Sabaoth's attempt to crush them, pays tribute to a holiday of ancient tradition.

---

GMed by Greywolf

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Today is 20 days after Candlemass, Year 25 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6124)