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  • Winterdime got up and cleaned the dust from his clothes.

    -"I beliebe we told you this place was dangerous"- he grunted.

    Summernickel gave him a look and aproached Nate.-"Don't worry, we'll find her, she couldn't be that far away"-he reasured the nervous goat-"Even here there are rules and although time runs in strange ways I don't think she's been absent for more than we have noticed"-he added patting Nate on the back.

    -"Ok, bring the Sccissors, Winterdime!"-the goblin ordered aproaching the thorns were Jessica had dissapeared-"We have some trimming to do!"

    The steed was convulsing on a syrupy pool of its own strange blood and The Hunter was next to it, trying to get up using the spear as a cane while holding his own wound with the other hand. The horn hanged by his side on a strap of leather and the howls that have answered the call, after a brief moment of silence, sounded closer and closer by the second.

    -"Hahahahahaha"-The Hunter laugh echoed from his cowl as he got up-"Very, VERY, nice. That's more like it, Max"

    As if his name was the sign, a dozen wolf-like figures entered the clearing positioning between Max and the Hunter.



    I'm So Meta Even This Acronym

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    • Scissors?! This was ridiculous. Sure, it was believable for goblins to use that sort of cartoony stuff, but it didn't make sen... Hold on... It does actually... This realm, the whole plane, world or whatever seemed to have very strange rules, nothing was logical here but rather... fake. That was why the Ma--The Keeper was so... evil, why he had no redeeming qualities and couldn't be swayed by any remotely logical arguments or even emotional pleas... Or maybe you're just a terrible liar. Yeah, that was also a possibility, but it didn't lead anywhere. The Keeper was as wicked as a Disney villain, or a fairy tale monster : he was a dick to them just because he could. That's how this whole place works, there are no explanations for anything here, it's almost random...No, that's not right. It works on symbolism, but nothing else. Was this why the Keeper was so obsessed with having people to fulfill roles, like the Goat for instance? Because this... this is just a giant story. That's basically it...

      The snap of the cissors brought him back to 'reality' : maybe he was entertaining a foolish idea, but it seemed like a good insight. However, this didn't help in the slightest : what could he do now? He had been assigned with the Goat : sure, he could eat the thorns, but he didn't want to bleed profusely from the mouth. What else could he be of use? He didn't have a weapon, and was just an animal... Although... he had something else. Max showed them the way : sure, he hadn't listened to the spirit of the Pig and refused to pass a contract with it, but it seemed he had gained mastery over plants. Damn, he even fits the story as the unlikely hero. He had flipped the script, and broke the labyrinth's walls in the process, showing them that they could, in some way, improve their own role...

      And i'm not gonna be the pathetic buffoon anymore. If Max could do it, well so could he, dammit! Nate stomped his hooves on the ground, taking a solid stance, and raised his arms to the bushes. "Hold on, I'm gonna try something." He had no idea if wizardry moves could help, but he was already covered with mud, plants, and half-goat, so who would ridicule him? How did max do it again? "Hem... Spirits of the Wild," he calls out with his bleating voice, "I... I ask you to uphold our pact and... er..." And what? WWMD, What Would Max Do? "...And provide us a path to Jessica, the Ox!"


      "And for my next trick" I said, "anvils!"

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      • Still lost, Jessica heard no answers to her cries, and had fallen silent in despair. Not long after that, she stopped struggling against the thorns. She came to believe that she had reached the exact place where she was going to die. More than a part of her was glad it was almost over. Then she felt the thorns gently pulling away from her. Dazed, Jessica got to her feet, and started to walk along the new made path. She somehow knew which direction to go to meet Nate and the goblins. Walking soon turned to running.

        Before long, she was again with Nate and the two goblins. She noticed the scissors, but them little attention. It was Nate that was the focus of most of her attention. Somehow she knew he had saved her from the thorns. "Thank you," she said, before surprising the goat with a kiss.

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        • Nate's mind was currently busy with three thoughts : "It worked! It fucking worked! I'm awesome!", then "Oh thank god she's okay", and finally a very loud "WAIT WHAT IS SHE DOING". The old him would have immediately enjoyed the attention and even reveled in it, but the Goat now was more confused than anything. And worse, he was starting to feel his lust rising, reminding him of his time at the pond and in the vinery. He gave into it for a quick moment, reaching a hand to Jessica's face (which, admittedly, was quite weird with her bovine features), before he abruptly stopped, breaking the kiss and gently pushing her away.

          "Er... Glad you're okay," he said, clearing his throat and stepping away. "Let's stick together next time, alright? I caught sight of some ruins nearby, that's where we're going," he added, eager to change the subject, at least for the moment. It wasn't that Jessica wasn't attractive (although with this ox body, she was certainly unusual), but he didn't want to fall prey to his basic instincts, fearing that they would drive him back to the M-- Keeper, or at least, not before finding a safe haven. Plus, he didn't feel very sexy covered in sweat and dried mud... "So... shall we?"
          Last edited by Evilmarmelade; 08-27-2015, 04:55 PM.


          "And for my next trick" I said, "anvils!"

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          • Jessica blushed. "Yes. I look forward to seeing this city."

            As she and Nate followed the two goblins, Jessica pondered why she had kissed Nate. Was it only that he had saved her, or was it something more? She shook her head, unsure. She had to get a better grasp on her emotions. She had no doubt that she would need her wits in the ruins ahead.

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            • Glaring, Max snorted. He had hoped his sneak attack would completely debilitate Aries, at least disable a limb or two. Much as part of him took pride in (and another part felt sick at) the deep injury he'd dealt the Westerner, it would be of only so much use unless the fight dragged out. That was something the Boar preferred to avoid. Still, he couldn't be too disappointed: he could have been spitted, after all, and he'd cost Aries his mount. Max hadn't expected the fierce brambles -- though couldn't deny they felt right -- and regretted the beast's death. For all he knew, it had once been human as well. He put this from his thoughts: he needed to survive this. They were counting on him.

              As much as the hunter was going to be on his guard, the element of surprise might not be completely lost. Max hadn't allowed himself any time to plan something more precise, and still wasn't quite used to his new body -- much less to goring someone. He had practiced his martial arts as the Pig, so there was at least some familiarity with fighting in a porcine shape. But there was a vast difference between practice and combat, and, he found, between being a domestic hog and a wild one. It distantly struck him just how reckless it all was. Even so, now with a better chance to get the hang of his form, it seemed he'd come out ahead.

              Well. Except for the pack. Max sniffed the air, taking their measure -- tinted by Aries's blood all over his snout. He found their eyes unsettling. He willed himself to stand firm, despite how much he wanted to bolt. This was a hunting pack, after all, and letting them harry their prey just as they'd been bred and trained seemed unwise. Not that this occurred to Max at first, mind: the Boar's simmering fury at that affront was what kept him from running. Only then did he get a chance to size up the situation. And with those numbers, never mind Aries... running was starting to look wise. 'If the Wilds runs interference, maybe I can reach the end before they--'

              Max stopped suddenly. A thought struck him. And not just that he had no idea where "the end" was. He saw another way, and one more on his terms. Rising to two legs, he set his hooves and bellowed a warning cry to the beasts. And his commands to the Wilds. The first briarwolf that made a move forward was going to be removed from the fight by the land itself. Max would use the moment of surprise to fall on the closest one and likewise disable it. Then his plan would really get going.

              Not a mind in that clearing could doubt that he would soundly crush any of the briarwolves if they came at him singly -- they needed their pack tactics. So he was going to take those off the table: the Wilds would raise writhing, thorny barriers at his back and sides. They would move around the clearing as Max moved, and leave an opening just wide enough at his front. Their numbers meant much less when they could only attack one at a time. And of course the Wilds would keep whichever one stood before him off-balance, harrying it, and making disposal all the easier for him. If for some reason they showed reluctance to approach a cornered boar in a bottleneck, the Wilds were also welcome to nip and strike at them, unless they actually fled the field. Not very sporting, all told. But Aries could talk to Max about "sporting" when he ditched the wolves and spear.

              Speaking of Aries, the Easterner was going to do his damnedest to keep an eye on the Westerner at all times. That spear could put a big ugly hole in his plans -- and his hide. And that was if the horned hunter had no other tricks up his white-furred sleeves.
              Last edited by Gaius; 08-29-2015, 09:27 PM. Reason: Minor wording tweak.


              The EX3 What We Know Wiki, courtesy of Marin and JMobius
              Nishkriya, the EX3 Freelancer Quotes Tracker, courtesy of Anathema and Moonwolf
              The White Wolf Forum Archive, courtesy of The Dark Wizard and Sanctaphrax (see its Patreon)
              Arrghus: There's also the Shepherd of the North Star, busily guiding the one thing in all the heavens that doesn't move.

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              • The air was tense and charged, like filled with static electricity ready to arc at the merest change of pressure. Max the Boar and Aries the Hunter stared at each other from opposite sides of the clearing, measuring their rival, looking for a weakness or an opening to strike true.

                The briarwolves growled with impatience, muscles tensing like the cord of a bow, eager to pound and bite and shred. But not yet.

                Max's mind rushed, animal preservation instinct and human logic working in unison to prepare for the incoming fight. And then it started.

                One of the hound's bloodlust overcame its loyalty and darted towards the Boar like the proyectile of a ballista... but Max was ready. The Wilds answered his command and a thick wall of thorns sprout from the ground between him and his attacker. The strength of the hound proved its bane as it impaled itself on the wood's barbs.

                One less, thought Max. Five to go.


                -"Should we give them some time alone?"- Winterdime asked his partner.
                -"Don't be ridiculous"-he answered packing the sccisors back-"We don't have time for this, everything is already in motion"

                Without waiting for anyone to react, Summernickel started to advance towards the ruins. Winterdime shrugged and smiled to the two beasts before following the other goblin. Nate and Jessica quickly rushed behind the pair, trying to concentrate on finding a safe path to ignore the sudden akwardness of the situation. Fortunately, the path and the thorns provided plenty of distraction even if you weren't actively looking for it.

                The vegetation seemed to change every now and then. Sometimes vibrant and verdant. Others dry and arid, but always thick, though and sharp as knives. The Sccissors proved neccessary more than once to open even the slightest hole in the packed hedge. But finally, they reached the ruins.

                The first thing that caught their attention was the size. It was gargantuan, way bigger than Nate had anticipated. He wondered if he had misscalculated the distance that they have traversed and that if his original assesment of the ruins size was a trick of proportions.
                The ruins were basically a round plaza, the whole floor a single disk of stone, polished but matt. Distributed all along its circumference were several tall arcs of the same polished stone and encased in each one a metal-rimmeed mirror. There were thirteen of them in total.

                The mirrors were weird, looking more like vertical ponds of quicksilver than cristal. Nate, curious, dared to touch one with his finger and was shocked when it efectively created ripples on its surface. He steped back and realized his finger felt numb and impossibly cold, but the sensation faded before he could panick at the idea of loosing it to frostbite.


                I'm So Meta Even This Acronym

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                • If Nate had been well-rested, he would have been wary of Summernickel's last comment. But the prospect of reaching a new and possibly safer place was his first and foremost concern, especially since it could possibly be the exit they had desired for so long.

                  Shaking his hand to get rid of the numbness, he stepped back, awed at the majesty of the place. Their hooves had made quite the noise when they walked in, as the ruins were otherwise eeringly silent. Looking back at the mirror, Nate noticed that it didn't seem to reflect his person very well, the image was blurry. A glimmer caught his eye, and he looked up on the arc, to a small emblem embedded in a little disk of black obsidian the size of a grapefruit. It seemed to be the symbol of a snake, which wasn't especially helpful, Nate thought. It could easily look like a dragon as well, and a very obscure part of his mind reminded him that the Western Zodiac had thirteen signs, including the Ophidian.

                  "Are we still in the Keeper's realm?" The Goat wondered out loud, "it looks so different..." He slowly started to walk around the ruins, looking for a portal with a goat symbol on it. Maybe it would be his, maybe it would be Aries'... But he wanted to find it. He was drawn to it.
                  Last edited by Evilmarmelade; 10-08-2015, 03:50 AM.


                  "And for my next trick" I said, "anvils!"

                  Comment


                  • The Boar didn't hesitate. Just as planned, once the first beast brought about its own end, Max blazed a trail at the closest briarwolf in the confusion. Goring it, stomping it, hurling it at the wall of thorns... His human side hesitated at the brutality, but instinct guided him with a fearsome squeal. The creature scarcely got to react; drunk on adrenaline, Max wasn't sure if it even managed to attack him. He couldn't feel it, anyway

                    The bristly Easterner then turned and ran off on all-fours, exposing his back as he made a large circle. The pack would surely pursue; even if their instincts and training weren't to dart after prey that ran, the Wilds lashing at their heels would do the trick. Max's ears stayed pricked and alert as he ran. Snarls, pawsteps, hoofsteps, even the telltale whistle of a spear in flight... All kept the Boar abreast of every actor on the field, informing his own moves. After the first one, he didn't expect any to leap at him, but the Wilds were ready to spring up for a repeat impalement if the wolves did -- and he deliberately picked a slower lope of a run to tempt them.

                    If allowed his circuit, Max made sure to note where Aries was, and took the measure of the wolves around him. He threw himself at the least wary of them if removed enough from its fellows, hoping to remove it from the hunt. If at any point they surrounded him, wherever he was, he tried to whirl and get Aries in line of sight. Either way, when the time was right, he went with his plan. The Boar called on the Wilds to guard his back and sides, forcing the beasts to attack from his front -- and hopefully slashing at them if they'd tried to nip at his heels. The thorns lashed them forward and as the challenging bellows called to them. 'Come on! Come at me!' Human swept up with the animal in the rush of battle, the Boar that was Max thought only of inflicting every injury he could on the fools that came at him.


                    The EX3 What We Know Wiki, courtesy of Marin and JMobius
                    Nishkriya, the EX3 Freelancer Quotes Tracker, courtesy of Anathema and Moonwolf
                    The White Wolf Forum Archive, courtesy of The Dark Wizard and Sanctaphrax (see its Patreon)
                    Arrghus: There's also the Shepherd of the North Star, busily guiding the one thing in all the heavens that doesn't move.

                    Comment


                    • Jessica watched Nate study the mirror. "Be careful," she warned. "We have no idea what that thing might do."

                      After making this warning, Jessica looked around, surveying the city. She wondered how long it been abandoned. She wondered why it had been abandoned. Yet, oddly, she felt as much wonder as dread. Was this place built by people, or something other?

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                      • (Rest In Peace, Zodiac Beasts... *puts flowers by the grave*)

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