|a.k.a. A [White Wind] Blows|
While the dragonborn is not particularly interested in human history from places that aren't her homeworld, she does have more than a passing interest in how human technology has developed. The idea of humans accomplishing almost anything on their own, and without magic no less, is a novelty to her, still. She'll have plenty of reading material for the parts where she only needs one hand. Which is roughly ten of the sixteen hours that lie ahead of her.
The red-haired woman doesn't actually wait to see if Chiffon will show up, so if he isn't already present when she arrives at 6 AM, she'll begin without him. It's not as though she's in a particular hurry, but she recognizes that he might be. And while few would actually call Liyara /considerate/, she isn't *completely* self absorbed. The other fire lion may well be in mortal danger. Time is of the essence.
So, it begins small; Liyara simply traces a single burning sigil into the surface layer of the ground beneath her, just enough to leave a mark but not enough to otherwise damage it. But while it starts small, it will not end small. What starts with a single burning finger eventually becomes a full-hand exercise, with Liyara's fingers each contributing depth, detail, embellishment, and interwoven connections to a complex array of patterns that don't quite sync up.
As if there's anything that would make Chiffon be late, short of a catastrophe. Liondostrophe. He takes this whole matter with an unusual amount of seriousness, and he's only accountable for bringing two things.
One, his lunky self to... whatever end. And a lunch order. There's the hiss and clunk of a convoy truck rocking as it pulls down the street, weighted down by... something. The smell is probably obvious, too, reminiscent of a butcher shop after a long day.
The vehicle pulls to the side of the road, the door opens, and Chiffon hops out, minding a foreleg. There's a little bit of a limp and--did he drive himself here? No, probably not, from the small bag of coin he wings across the cab to the driver. And with a proud strut, pops the tailgate. Under the canvas is what remains of several auroch, recently deceased and MOST of which properly broken down. There's one in the back that has a distressingly sized hole in the flank, cauterized, that looks more reminiscent of a ship's cannon than any conventional hunting gear.
"If we need to cook, I guess it'll give me something to do while you're... um...." His eyes follow the patterns, and then up to Liyara with a tired smile. "Doing what you do best?"
As she carries out her (entirely too large) task, Liyara will occasionally have herself a bit of a giggle at something she's reading. She'll also put the books away entirely for many parts. And, well, time will pass.
Eventually, Liyara will look up and see the food. When she does, her eyes will light up, and she'll ALMOST break with what she's doing. Almost. "Oh my, you did not disappoint." With food provided, Liyara will take a minute every half hour to literally spit-roast and consume a frankly impossible-looking amount of food. The woman is neither tall nor wide, in fact she's quite slender, but every half hour or so she's putting away enough food for a man three times her size. And quickly, too.
Yet somehow, she's not increasing in size, or even getting so much as a distended belly. People with comically large appetites are not foreign to Twisted, but unlike them Liyara doesn't seem to be showing any signs of slowing down. At all. Other women must hate her.
She seems to be pacing herself based on the amount of food Chiffon brought - but ... amazingly... it looks like she could actually eat more.
"There's no half-assing things where friends are concerned." And course--of COURSE he's mutedly curious about the aracana all abound, but there is perhaps an even more pressing question after seeing all that voracious activity. ".... do you do contests? Would you get banned from contests?" Thoughtful critter..
It's definitely a roach coach, as some call it. The truck pulls over, idles for a moment, then cuts the engine. After a moment more, the shutter on the side of the truck opens up and a counter inside slides out. There's a kitchen inside the truck and a menu on display. Only then does the name of the man's business become apparent. It's simply called We Got Beef Bowls. Now You Do, Too! Prepping the inner workings of the food truck, the man goes about a well-practiced routine.
After about twenty minutes, at her next food interval, she looks to the truck, then her left eye twitches at the name. "...Beef Bowls. Of course." She glances to Chiffon, and furrows her brows. "...Tell him to just... keep making food and don't stop. If he's here and mine for the day, I'm going to eat him out of everything he has." And so she is. Once the food starts going, she'll adjust her intake to be exactly as much as would last the rest of the time.
As the day goes on, the circle begins to take shape. Sixteen hours is a long enough time that it remains abstract, and the progress hard to follow, but as the tenth hour comes and goes, the circle is starting to draw together in a fifty-foot crescent that will obviously close by day's end. It's quite a spectacle.
And it's not without incident. People are walking through the area, sometimes disrupting things just a bit, or just distracting Liyara with mundane questions like "Do you have a permit for that?" Or "Are you planning to kill us all?" Or even "What're you doing Saturday night?"
Liyara takes it all in stride; she seems to be more than accustomed to tiny setbacks in day-long circle casting by now. But then, she's done this a lot lately.
So Chiffon does what he does best, and gabs up the crowd, steering some away, spinning tales where needed and adding just the right amount of just-so without presuming authority to, hopefully, get them through this without getting into major trouble.
"'n if you happen to have a big monster problem, or a little monster problem..." The latter.. well, no one wants to bring Howie into this.
As it turns out, the amount of food increasing has the opposite effect one might expect; instead of slowing Liyara down, the food increases her speed, if only a little. She's up to, with the slain beasts and food truck, a football team's worth of food every half hour. At this point, she's starting to actually not leave the Auroch bones, either. Is she digesting them straight? Grinding them into dust?
As the hour grows late and dark, the circle finally begins to close, and Liyara begins making small flying passes over it, her wings fluttering here and there. There are calculations that couldn't be made until the circle was complete, variables that have to be tweaked, and layered runes that connect other runes. But... Eventually Liyara slows down in her movements, and then stops, alighting outside the circle. She takes a moment to look things over. The day did not exactly fly by - it's almost 10 PM.
"Alright. Done." She announces simply, then looks around to make sure Chiffon hasn't wandered off out of sheer boredom. Not that he seems the type, but she basically wasn't paying attention to much while she was working.
Hmm. Yarn. Ideas for later. For now, he's inspecting, careful not to step on any of it, or get too close, or... well, as he does. "That was... wow. Either a ritual or some very convincing street art. So...." He leans back and looks up. "What do we do now?"
It's a slow process, and as each drop of her firey orange blood pours in, the runes and matrices begin to light up, the smaller circles within begin to spin, and the entire fifty-foot circle lurches bit by bit into brilliant orange life. Particle effects. Irridescence. This isn't like her smaller circles. Runes and intricate patterns meld up into the sky as they receive power, and the ground positively begins to rumble. Of course the Usual is fine, but people start avoiding the area she and Chiffon are in VERY quickly.
Within the sights and sounds, Liyara speaks her twenty five words. "...Chiffon's looking for you. If you accept, he and I will find you. If not, stay safe, help's on the way. Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers." She really did add that at the end. What a crock. After what can't be less than a *PINT* of her blood, the rumbling ceases, and the orange light reaches a peak... And then fades away. There's a low sound, and a wooshing of air, and then the entire circle she spent all day on disappears almost immediately.
"Well, easy come, easy go." Liyara quips, hand on her hip. She doesn't seem to have her human phrases down right. That did not come easily. As if on cue, she goes and polishes off her last small mountain of meat for the day.
"... that's your *favorite* part?" Chiffon's ears tilt to the side. Well, dragonkind are just... all sorts of extra special, aren't they? "Definitely can't copy this... I get beat up enough as it is." He looks at his paw pads, and flexes his claws a few times while watching the fire glow.
A step back, then another, a little hop here and there. He mouths the words as they're being spoken and quiets down from his cheerful demeanor. Tail twitching in anticipation as it all just... vanishes. "It worked though, yeah? It sounded like it worked."
Nothing. Absolutely nothing comes in response. The spell doesn't allow Calwa to reply.
HOWEVER! There is the arcane inclination of acceptance, permission granted almost -immediately- so, and all that comes with it. Calwa is, in fact, somewhere within Twisted. He is not, however, within the city of Mabase. He's quite a distance out, actually. While not a trip that would necessarily take hours to traverse, it is rather out of the way and almost suspiciously so.
Chiffon would be aware from Calwa's stories of the Black Hand that cities were the most dangerous to be in when pursued by the group and that open areas where Sanuye landspeed can be used in full optimization was the best option to get away. However, Twisted is a place that can get downright bizarre too far outside the city. He may have been too confused to have a distance advantage if he is still being hounded by the same people. Who are those people anyway?!
He looks antsy, though, ready to get an answer and ready to go on enough notice. "There's... no reason you have to get on their bad side, though. We've already caused enough trouble for you as it is. I am..."
Ding. He looks at Liyara, looks at the directions, and his ears perk up simultaneously. He starts a step and glances back. "... I've got all I need. Strange? Strange just comes with the business." Now, it's not like he's disinviting Liyara by any means, nor trying to leave her behind. It's a convenient out for someone who does't want to put it all on the line for random firedoggos.
"Fastball... special?" The reference, off as it is, still falls flat on Liyara. Sounds baseball-y. She doesn't know a lot about baseball. She definitely hasn't read any X-men comics. Mostly DC so far. Yes, she HAS read some DC comics. They were OLD though. Long story. She shakes the reference off.
"...Get on THEIR bad side?" Liyara's tail flicks left, then right. "...No, friend." The tail flicks left and right harder. "...They're on MY bad side." Tail flick. Tail flick. "I'm emotionally invested in this journey, now. They're making me have... FEELINGS." Tail Thump. Crack. Crack. Crack. Splinter.
Liyara looks down at the concrete below her, seeing a spiderweb of cracks. "...Alright. We should go." Once more, this is totally not her fault. She is innocent. But best not to be around when Jack asks her why the road needs to be repaired. "Race you?" Liyara doesn't actually wait for the answer - she literally just bursts off straight in the direction she was pointing. There's a car in the w-- scratch that. The way looks clear.
"I'll get back to you on that one." Chiffon offers with a slight tilt of his head, and a smile. "... then, by all means. Once we're clear of the city we don't have to worry too much about catlateral damage..."
We should go. We should go? Yes! The challenge back to Chiffon is met with a half-chuckle and a nod that Liyara... likely misses. But if the way is clear, and if she's clearing the way, even with the earlier damage to his forepaw he still bolts full tilt. A red and fuzzy streak that makes up the distance in a hurry. He's got his game face on here, and has no intention of stopping until they get there, one way or another.
The Road to Nowhere
The farther one journeys down this road, the more broken and miserable it seems. Eventually, there's no real road to speak of, the only trees in sight are bone-dry husks, and every building looks neglected or derelict, except perhaps one; a gaudy tin diner, slumped on the edge of a dusty lot dotted with rusting vehicles.
At road's end, the remains of its demise seem to have been cobbled loosely together into a highly suspect bridge, which arcs up into the almost literal nothing between one floating hunk of rock and the next. Leading from Twisted City to... Nowhere? Yeah, that feels right. This is fine.
Beware. Here be dragons.
Well. Now, at least.
The Middle of Nowhere
The farthest away from civilization you can get is the arid, empty area once known as the Wastelands. Dry and overcast, Nowhere is a maelstrom of chaos and sand. Sane people won't venture out this far from the axis of the world, due to the instability equating to suicide. A desert and a dead land, they mirror the Wastelands of Hell, broken trees and expired brush lightly specking the view.
Eyes ahead, ears perked, Chiffon's putting all his senses to use.
If it's on fire tomorrow, that's fine, as long as they've pulled the Calwa out.
This part of Twisted lies some distance away from the more ordered city of Mabase. This small area appears to be reflections of a different city, a few scattered ruins that don't fit in with anything else, providing a sense of desolation and post-apocalyptic sobriety. The ground is a cobbled patchwork of concrete, asphalt, and soil. Shells of long-abandoned buildings dot the area providing a sense of dire gray atmosphere while displaying what might pass as streets. Doors and windows have long ceased to be or function. Strangely, this place must have been like this for a very long time before it ever wound up where it is now.
Where once the foundation of a larger building sat, an open space is presented in the now soil-covered floor with only the hints of load-bearing walls present around the perimeter no more than five feet tall around it. Metal beams and rebar that once reinforced concrete forms a sparse and chaotic pattern that extends above the open space while any scattered chunks of vertical walling that remain provide places to be out of sight. That isn't the most striking thing about the location, however.
"That's not yours!" cries a strained voice.
In the most open area, in the center of the remains of the building's defined foundation, is a gathering of six people. Most of the people are dressed in form-fitting all black. Faces also covered, their eyes are enhanced by goggles that glow an eerie red. Every single one of those people are armed with high caliber automatic ranged or technological melee weaponry. One man stands alone and apart from the others by appearance alone. This man might pass as the leader, if his size and physical might are any indication. He wears a similar outfit as the others yet his head bears no hood or mask. His face is heavily scarred and one eye might be damaged beyond use. His expression is a mix of disdain and smugness. When he speaks, his words are thunder while the muted peal of laughter from the others that follows is much higher.
"Shut up, beast. Know your place," booms the largest of the group before swiftly bring his leg up into the side of the animal chained next to him. This elicits a roar of pain that is followed by laughter. Sinking back in recoil from the blow, the red-furred creature seems to try to catch his breath. This quadruped, once easily recognized as a shy pacifist with a touch of refined dignity, now looks anything but.
Calwa is disheveled and filthy. His fur is caked in a mix of mud and, presumably, blood. More of the latter cakes his dried and cracked nosepad as testament to the abuse endured by his captors. He is clearly chained up, the massively heavy chain winched into place and hung over a thick metal beam, all connected to a massive metal shackle which serves as a collar that is still too tight to be anything but very painful. It would explain the difficulty in Calwa trying to breathe. The fur underneath the collar has worn away to leave a nasty bare ring that looks just as cruel as the face of the one standing near him. His tailflame is notably dim.
Calwa lunges at his captor! Though the act may be in futility, there is an underlying level of rage and defiance that fuels the act. It is not a controlled attack. It is the swiping, gnashing, raw flailings of a caged animal ready to tear away flesh and crack bone between powerful jaws. With a strained roar, he viciously throws himself into the direction of the larger man, claws extended and jaws snapping. Like a feral animal in danger, so acts he. For the moment, there is nothing else that rules his mind. Stopped only JUST short of being able to make contact, Calwa finds himself jerked quickly away and upward.
One of the other minions is nearby the presumed boss, turning a crank that further shortens the chain with each click. The anger in Calwa's eyes turns to desperation as he is forcefully raised upward by the neck. Only just able to stand on his hindlegs to support himself, his forelegs and tail flail even more. He's clearly being choked. The wear on his neck may be a clue as to how often this has happened recently.
At a strongbox not far away, a minion places a courier bag and harness into the thing; they've stripped the candletail bare! He doesn't even wear his glasses. "Enough of this," speaks the large man. "We have what we came for. This filthy animal has been too much of a pain to simply let loose." With a gesture to the one at the winch, he moves his hand upward a few times. With glee, the crank gets turned another click and the goons laugh in sadistic glee.
"Bye bye, kitty!" bids one.
"I'll enjoy the target practice!" exclaims another while switching the safety off of their gun.
While the minions of the Black Hand organization are scattered and randomly patrolling, nobody will be able to get close to Calwa while the big guy is standing nearby and chances are it won't be easy to deal with the big guy until most of the others are dealt with. Time is clearly of the essence here, but these people are dangerous. There are many blind spots where other dangers could be hiding. You only get the element of surprise once, yet the time for action is now!
[Battle start! Cue the Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JP7rjW5jAb8]
Liyara has pretty poor passive perception, but when she's actively looking for things, she has a distinct height advantage over Chiffon, being mostly aerial. When she spots the men, all roughly where her ritual has pointed her, she assumes exactly what further observation would tell her - these are the bad ones. She shouts quickly to Chiffon. "I see six, one's alone and big. And... a chain. The animals chained him." She growls a bit, which has a much lower rumble than her voice might hint at. It reverberates, even. "...I'll handle the chain, you start the party." And then she's off.
The dragoness spirals up into the air, circling quickly and taking a deep breath as she goes twenty, thirty, then forty feet straight up, and off to one side. And then she just seems to explode in bright light and sound, a giant signal flare pointedly NOT in the direction Chiffon is approaching from. Sometimes you get TWO elements of surprise. The first one? Someone is flying in the air, burning like the sun, and...
Oh, she's gonna get that chain. But first, distraction!
The pain is barely contained, shielded in preparation and barely contained within trembling muscles. He flexes his sore paw once and then stalks into the shadows. Six with guns and a strung out target? Those guns obviously need to be focused somewhere else.
The finds a dark spot, and then charges. Rapid sprinting feet, almost more flying than sprinting by the time he takes a coiled leap airborne and throws himself square between the shoulders of one of the armored minions. There may be teeth. There may be claws. Wet crunching like someone went a little overboard with the celery. Execution isn't the intention, but he doesn't want this one getting up anytime soon.
And if the struggle wasn't enough, Chiffon howls to the heavens in one log, drawn, three-tone bellow.
A beat later he's flashing onto the field, jaws dripping with blood, eyes white with glow and claws tearing dirt.
Jesus Christ It's A Lion Get In The Car
The arrival of meddlers is one thing, but to see that one of them is the same kind as the captive Calwa brings a sadistic smile to the big guy's face. First pushing his shoulders up and tipping his head to the side with a crackling pop, the apparent boss puts two fingers to his mouth and blows. The result is a shrill whistle that alarms and alerts, but serves a very different purpose.
Two hounds, similar in size to Chiffon (only slightly smaller, but definitely more trim in build), come to heed their master bounding from their own shadowed resting place. These large guard dogs have very short sleek hair, enough to show off their strong musculature, but notably have a single large tentacle that extends from the middle of the shoulder blades backward. In exchange, they seem to have very short docked tails.
Immediately, one of the hounds responds by a short howl. The glitter of magicka shows an energy-based triangular pyramid forming around the large man as the beast itself seems capable of magical ability! This shield is capable of greatly reducing all physical damage done to the one protected. The other of the pair follows suit and releases a growl and another type of protection forms around the man. This effect appears to be more of a sphere in shape and it is a spell designed to greatly reduce magical damage. Big Guy doesn't play around.
The minions mobilize with deadly intent, but are generally unable to react to the surprise attack by ground due to the aerial display. Bursts of fire kick up dirt and soil and chip away at the walls as one soldier alone lays down blind suppression with his rifle in Chiffon's direction.
Not one to let the distraction pass without some personal action, Calwa -- still forced to stand on his hindlegs with great difficulty breathing -- flails and wobbles and begins, with great effort, to get a bit closer to the release device. If he can reach that unimpeded, he should be able to get free on his own.
[!] Ebony Hound casts Barrier on ????
[!] Ivory Hound casts Shell on ????
[!] Calwa draws closer to the Release Device
"Barriers! Aww, look who thinks he's people~!" She calls out from the sky, and then holds both hands above her. "I changed my mind! I have a much better idea!" Does she? Does she really?
The sky fills with a low rumble, that one could easily mistake for thunder, until they realize the booms are cracking in the form of words. Words in the form of skyquakes. Neat.
"Bathed in radiant light - I am the gate that opens into the Nine Hells." The woman's hands light up with brilliant white fire, and she grins. "And I overflow with..." Her eyes flash a brighter green than exists in the visible spectrum. Somewhere, a mantis shrimp cries. "INDIGNATION!"
She brings her hands down and throws them towards each of the hounds, and the burning sun-fire around her brightens, growing hot enough to slag steel in an instant, before she sends it down towards the puppies, not worried about silly things like buildings or people in the way.
"Oh come on, now, that's hardly a fair fight..." Chiffon dances on his paws in a quick jolt back behind some rubble. Long enough to either draw out a pause or the end of a magazine before considering his next move.
Think quick. Don't think too much. Calwa's already dealt with this much, now is your turn to take some of the heat. And even if this guy has his number, he's not hesitating.
Back into the line of fire. The Sanuye clears back over a line of rubble even as bullets splinter off pieces of stone and hisses of dirt. There's a primal twist of of magic in his guts, a flash of sky-blue in his eyes and a bristling of fur. There aren't any incantations, just the evocation of some unseen muscle twisting, arcane circuits and his gullet swelling before he... uhh.....
A rather unpleasant sound, splattery, sputtery, and guttural with a thick miasma of rotten green gas from his mouth towards the shielded individual. [Bad Breath], magic meets chemical warfare meets nature's worst idea meets.... eww. Mundane filters aren't enough, and though the spread dissipates beyond a single plume it gets. In. Everything. Becoming tar-like as it reacts with the open air and conjuration.
Chiffon sputters. No, it's not nearly as cool as the dragon witch above; someone get him a breath mint.
Ebony Hound and Ivory Hound leave their master's side to join the fray even as death begins to rain from above. Agile and quick, they seek to close the distance fast to engage the other quadruped. Side by side, they dip and dart as they growl and weave back and forth through the ruins to give chase. It could become much more difficult to avoid crossfire with two hounds harrying your every step. One gunner winds up in the way, but the hounds neatly go around. What hits the thug doesn't come from the side, but from above.
The white dog, throughout this mad chase, is struck from above and bares a yelp before going down. It's not pretty, but it's quick. The black one barrels forward, leaping over slag and fire and the fading remains of its partner, to meet the heels of the Sanuye. Ebony Hound's tentacle glows red and, with its added reach, aims to slap Chiffon with what some might call a vampiric effect. It's able to draw strength from a foe to grant itself greater constitution!
The spewed attack-and-run aimed at the Big Guy isn't trying to strike a moving target and the magical protections on him do little to prevent against such a nasty miasma. He's faced down fiends that have used such attacks before, but experience alone isn't enough to prevent the wave of dizziness and nausea that follows. He grunts loudly at this, hand moving to his face for a moment with a shake of his head, but this act brings his attention to the chained prisoner nearby inching away on two legs. Scowling, his thick leg is brought swiftly upward again to strike the nearby Sanuye. Despite his dizziness, he connects.
Calwa's attempt is interrupted and this leaves him off his feet, hanging only by his neck, as he flails around to try to find support on the ground once more. His progress is not only reset, but he's completely stunned and unable to do anything at the moment other than struggle. There's no way he can reach the trigger for the winch so long as the Big Guy near him remains unengaged directly.
There is no additional gunfire just yet as the gunners move to take up full positions behind cover to protect themselves from direct aerial line of sight while keeping out of the open where the free-roaming beast has an advantage.
[!] Black Hand Mage casts Cometeor
[!] Ebony Hound attacks Chiffon with Tentacle Drain
[!] Calwa is Dazed and cannot act
[!] ???? is afflicted with Poison and Confuse
...And the woman's suddenly behind the thug that appeared to summon the things in the first place. Her skin has a light patch of frost on it, but it looks like she actually escaped everything but that initial contact with her. Somehow. Is that a thing dragons do? Just teleport out of harm's way in mid-hit?
"Interesting toy. Mine's better." The woman drives her dagger towards the thug's seventh vertebrate swiftly, but she's not looking at him. The big guy kicked Calwa? That won't do. And one of the dogs avoided her blast. Decisions, decisions. Liyara drops her dagger, potentially INSIDE the thug's spine if he didn't dodge, and sinks into her own shadow.
...And pops out from the Ebony Hound's shadow, reaching up to give the puppy a nice big hug with both hands. It's ok, she's just a slender young thing, there's probably not much danger. Right?
There's a lot of danger. That is a danger hug. Run, puppy, run.
The heavier Sanuye is fleet enough to avoid the worst of it, but chaos still takes its toll. A bullet shearing through fur and hide here, a tentacle slap there. Even an extra little bit of singe to top it all off from magic colatteral. The smack of the tentacle off-centers him, leaving him dazed. More than dazed. He shakes his head, bracing himself for a still moment while his pupils shift and his fur twists. There's a *snap*, a contort that looks like an ephemeral tentacle burrowing into his shoulder blades but it doesn't seem to hurt.
His gaze dances over towards Liyara joining the fray, and a look that's--horrified? Grateful? Furious? Just raw adrenaline pushing from one flurry to the next, but he's not going to waste the opportunity now that the beast is restrained. He needs to give Calwa a chance to free himself, keep eyes off a little longer. "We don't need to kill them all. Just get him and get out." Didn't they steal something? Probably he's not thinking straight. He pins towards ???? and hunches down. Red fur, now starting to resemble a bit more his smaller companions in its mussed state, shines and bristles up as shackles run from head to tail. They start to resemble... needles. A whole lot of them. , if you're counting, and he's pincushioning the 'beastmaster.' "Eyes on me, you son of a man."
This obscuring cover, however, is only an advantage for the enemy team, though. Their enhanced sight allows them to detect heat and movement even through such a screen. Anybody directly in the line of sight from the now dug in gunners risk having bullets shot at them.
The Big Guy turns and stumbles a bit before regaining his composure the best he can. Opening his mouth, he barks a command to his hounds -- or at least the one remaining -- but the command is slurred. Realizing how bad his speech is, the apparent boss man finally manages to shake himself out of the confusion and mind funk. He still looks green about the gills, though.
This strange command actually spells doom for Ebony Hound as such a thing causes it to actually stop chasing and turn its head to listen for some clarification. Limited intelligence, but fantastic training. Still, the ceased movement makes for an easy target to grapple.
Hindlegs finding purchase once more while the swirling dust and engine smoke obfuscate, Calwa once again begins to strain at the shackle and chain, forelegs and tail jerking about in his careful attempt to balance and walk without choking himself more than necessary. It's incredible painful, but after a point it all dulls together and peaks; it only matters if it becomes too much and the mind shuts off. He's not there yet. Not yet. Close, but not yet.
The name-unknown Big Guy flinches at first, then stomps his foot to the ground out of annoyance and anger. The pins and needles from the attack strike away despite his magical protection; this leaves him bruised and distracted and extremely pissed off at anything Sanuye-related. Gaia's Guardians need to just all die!
[!] The Battlefeild is covered in a potentially Blind-inducing smokescreen
[!] ???? is no longer Confused
[!] Calwa draws closer to the Release Device
After a long moment where she just looks disappointed at the fragility of the puppy, Liyara looks back to Chiffon. He's not doing well. Well, he was injured when they started, that stands to reason. And that's when she notices the thugs on bikes putting up some smoke screen - well that's just silly, how will *they* see? And she gets a flash of memory. She's read up almost exclusively on human technology since she's been here - because the idea that humans could even function without magic amuses her. Heat tracking. Like the flaming arrows fired from that mechanical bird she saw. So ambitious. Let them track something, then.
The woman takes in a deep breath, and rumbling fire builds within her. Flows through her veins. Fogs out of her pores. Surrounds her. Is her. She is the fire. And it's quite a fire. How hot will their heat sensors read before the entire area is simply unreadable due to the ambient noise? The surface of the sun? She'll start there as she tries to put herself between Chiffon and the minions, hoping to keep them from interrupting, or at least interfere dramatically.
It worked in that historical documentary, Top Gun, after all.
"Come on boys, am I not hot enough for you? Who wants a free hug?"
The barrier might take the worst out of the impact, but it's still five hundred pounds of flying fur and fury.
This isn't pounce and pin, though. This is pounce, roll, release. Hit and run. Stay on top. And see just who wants to throw bullets and black magic at a tousling pair.
It's a gamble, if this bloke is used to tangling with beasts up close. But it'll serve.
Chiffon's move to confront the Big Guy within the cloud of dust and exhaust is a bold one, especially with the loud motorcyles zooming around that perpetuate the loss of visual clarity. One moves ahead of his direction, perpendicular and beyond, while after a few steps more another zips by so close behind his charge that it nearly touches the trailing flame of his tail. Through the motor stink and dry soil in the air, his nose leads him to a dark shape that is revealed only at close range.
Furthermore, Chiffon's charge puts him in the spotlight for scattered rifle fire whose shells strike so close to his form and feet that they help kick up more dirt than his footsteps would on their own. This gunfire trickles to a lesser degree, though, as a different target presents itself: a massive heat signature.
The sudden heat has an added effect, though. The air begins to whorl and whip about as the increase temperature causes a sudden chaotic shift in local atmospheric climate. This does not clear out the machine-driven smokescreen; at least, not all of it or immediately. It does cause great turbulence which, in itself, adds to the difficulty in seeing. There is so much dust and dirt and dry soil at present in this set of city ruins that all easily gets picked up. Conversely, the whipping winds do push away this obfuscation from the dragonborn's position.
The sudden sandstorm rages as Chiffon leaps into the air to throw his full weight against the apparent boss man providing a greater sense of dramatic introduction as his solid form appears in the air, paws first, before crashing into the brick wall of a man. He falls back onto the ground while the heaviness pushes the air from his lungs, world spinning briefly amidst ground and claws, yet before he can react Chiffon has moved on. In reaction, the Big Guy gets to his feet from the knockdown and growls off in a direction away from the struggles of his captive behind him.
Calwa continues to strain against his bindings. His eyes water as he forces them to stay open despite the blowing sand and filthy exhaust that stings the senses. He can see the winching device, although it's a dark blur just ahead of him, and his ability to support himself upright grows more difficult the further to the side he walks. The choking manacle about his neck digs into his hide while the tension and pull of the thick metal chain threatens to topple him over with the slightest misstep. Almost. Almost.
"Stupid beast!" calls out the large man in a taunt over the roar of the engines and the howl of the wind and the crackle of gunfire. "I'll leash you as my prize once we've disposed of the runt!"
Liyara's move to blind the thugs using heat-sensing gear may provide just enough definition that one with it turned off might get a lucky shot in. There's not much safe ground at present, or safe air, as many bullets are all too happy to try to find a mark.
[!] Calwa has nearly reached the Release Device
Liyara grins at that, just in time to take another bullet straight to the shoulder. She gasps a bit in surprise as her entire torso is twisted back from the momentum, and her fiery blood spurts out behind her. Fortunately for the attackers, Liyara's fiery blood is quite far away from them, presenting no risk to them as it would to a melee attacker. Unfortunately for Chiffon, the splatter is going right in his direction. And if it gets on him, it will most certainly burn.
The dragon woman grits her teeth, raising a hand to the fresh wound, and then turns her grimace into a grin before digging into the wound just a bit with her fingertips, and then intentionally splashing that blood out towards the armed men shooting at her. Her heat signature dies down to normal as the liquid fire that runs through her veins now flies towards her attackers, but then she snaps her fingers, and her blood just *ignites*, setting ablaze anything it touches. Like objects. Or people. This will unfortunately include Chiffon, if he didn't manage to avoid the splatter.
[!] Liyara uses the monster skill: Burning Spray
"You're outgunned. You're outmuscled. And dare I say you're outsmarted." It's around this time that the area gets washed in a *wave* of heat. Chiffon snarls as he's hit by the Spray; he's no stranger to powerful attacks, but pain is pain. Fire is fire and his fur blazes on the end, giving heat and silhouette and an immolation that sets in deeper than physical. There's a fire kindled in along with that Sanuye blaze. That might be a problem with the infrared. But it does make a cool silhouette as he unleashed another shotgun spray of [Needles] at the big boss.
"You severely underestimate my dear companion. I'll be taking him back." Rough words, though made through labored breath and effort to stay upright with all of the fire.
If any people caught in the rain or the ignition scream, the sounds are incredibly muted compared to the noises created by the hellscape. In reality, most of the remaining thugs are pulling back into a tactful retreat and the motorcycle drivers are now finding the local landscape conditions too hazardous to safely navigate. As such, the gunfire mostly dies off and one by one, the motorcycles take one last pass or two before leaving.
Chiffon's words are met with dark laughter even as the man has to pull off his upper clothing to toss aside since it has caught on fire and not just a little bit. The skin of his back is already blistered from the limited exposure, but the bared revelation of his form shows that it's not just his face that is heavily scarred. This man looks as if he's battled countless beasts with his bare hands, for what one might actually get to see of it.
"Your kind are nothing but animals waiting to be put to heel! If you think you can best me, /BEAST/, then try! You'd make better use of your freedom by tucking your tail and fleeing while you can, but ask the RUNT how much good that did."
A blast of 1000 Needles in the man's direction yet again, much less done in the raging madness and low visibility, comes at the cost of being predictable. Instead, the Needles mostly miss the human monster with the threat of striking the struggling one behind him. In turn, there comes another loud crack, but it isn't a gun. Rather, an extremely long and thick whip is uncurled with the sheer intent of striking Chiffon to tangle about his neck even as the sound of a motorcycle speeding beside the Sanuye and Big Guy can be heard.
Fire and needles, fire and needles! Calwa's slow dance of desperation allows him no room or time to dodge anything. Somehow, miraculously, the dangers so very close to his position only ever just miss him. He does have to shuffle in a way to avoid a patch of burning, a sudden danger that causes his to widen his eyes in surprise and nearly topple over backward in a way to would upset his attempt a second time, yet a skillful recovery of balance is just enough to keep him progressing. He has no hands and his forced upright position affords him no real means to disengage the winch. Forelegs and tail working together just to keep him steady, he has only one option.
Calwa does the dangerous thing and pushes with his hindlegs against the ground to swing the center of his gravity forward toward the winch controls. This temporarily alleviates all the weight pulling on the chain and, for the moment, his choking ceases. His spine rolls starting at the shoulders and in fluid motion this change of bodily orientation follows all the way down until it reaches his hips. They rotate midair and an extending hindleg focuses a sharp kick right into the device knowing that less than a second later his body will awkwardly fall and put all of his weight on his collared neck.
The winch itself needs to be powered down before disengaged so as to avoid mechanical failure. Getting kicked with the force of a speeding car does little to help this terrible event from not happening. There is a grinding of mechanical parts -immediately- followed by smoke and a loud bang of explosion that sends the coiled chain within in many directions at once. Some links shatter, most do not, and hardly any of this catastrophe can be visually witnessed. The shrapnel causes crazy collateral damage to the ruins of the buildings as well as anybody caught in the snapping flail of the thick metal braid.
The motorcycle rider near Chiffon and the presumed bossman is clotheslined in a brutal way yet the bike keeps going. The chain coils around the armor of the back wheel while the other end flies around in an arch. The bike sways its path some at this but remarkably stays steady.
The Big Guy attacking with his whip finds a thick length of chain suddenly wind about his off-hand and, without further warning, is jerked off his feet to the ground. Chiffon may or may not become a part of that deadly ground-dragged chained-chain if he isn't careful or cannot loose the tangle of that whip if it hits its mark.
There is an uncomfortable tug at Calwa's neck as the chain breaks off and leaves the metal collar as the only thing left attached to him. This happens before he even touches the ground. Even so, finally able to be on all fours again, the smaller Sanuye has to quickly roll aside in the fall to keep from landing in that groundbound fire that was near his feet. Is he free?
Calwa's eyes narrow.
[!] Calwa has joined the party
"Yes! Hahaha, yes!" Liyara is either in some way directing the fire tornadoes as they whip up, or just a really, really big fan of them, since she's waving her hands back and forth like a conductor to her orchestra. "Burn! BURN!" They don't seem to be chasing down the fleeing people, but they sure are scattering them. Maybe that was her plan. Certainly, that is what she will claim when she composes herself. But right now? Right now she is just having the time of her life. She flaps her tiny little wings, carrying her ever so slightly aloft as her vividly glowing green eyes pierce outward into the smoke and fire and ash and wind and dust. She's not blinking. She wants to see every single microsecond. Maybe... maybe someone might need to remind her she came here to help.
Chiffon smirks, and licks his bloodied lips. Exploit the anger, exploit the pride, whatever it takes to keep him engaged. Because he's not alone in this fight, and it's one that's steadily dwindling down on one side. "I won't run, because I'm not alone." He might have [ze magicks], but he's also a brute by necessity and taking a punch, a bullet, a bite, a flame, that's just the price of admission.
So of course his manner of dealing with the whip is just to Not. He takes the lash and the coil and grunts as it pulls taut, levelling a glare of challenge at the man. For a moment there's a wonder who might come out on top of that perverse tug of war, the beast or the master. Then there's the matter of the untimely interruption as a third, unexpected force daisy chains the whole scene across the ground.
The whip is probably built to take a beating, a biting, anything creatures can throw out. Chiff knows what kind of punishment one might expect, and be built for. But he also knows it's awful hard to keep a precise grip when you're being dragged at such velocity. So he just needs to get a good turn. He *slaps* the ground with a paw, the battered, burned ground starting to tremble. There's a roar of ground, rocks parting and dirt spilling as broken sections of ground rise up with the localized [Earth Shake]. The right slope, the right *slap* in the middle of the arc of the whip, and a twist as he's dragged up a newly formed slope... tilting to the side and falling free, tumbling a few times before finally springing up onto his paws and taking a stance.
"Calwa! Liyara! Can you see me?" No, he's not vogueing this time. If they're free... it's either time to finish this or get out of dodge. His ears swivel to the laughing dragon-witch and he half-grins. "... if you're not too busy!"
Calwa, while free, isn't the most combat capable in his current state. While he knows restorative spells and focus abilities due to his training and learning, he hasn't had a chance to rest and fully recover his ability to use most of them in a long while. Legs trembling with each step, the Sanuye keeps low to the ground as he slowly tries to find his way out of the dangerous area. He walks with a limp, only seemingly with every leg, making for a fairly pathetic sight. If seen.
During this, the driverless motorcycle continues peeling away while dragging the man behind it out of sight through the smoke and dust and fire. It can't be comfortable by any means. The Big Guy likely already has many scrapes and gashes and abrasions to match his scars and burns and poisoning. He says nothing throughout this damaging display, even when his whip is forced loose from his hand due to an eruption of ground, and instead pulls himself along the chain closer to the bike itself.
"Chiffon!" calls out a cracked and parched voice that has little strength to it, especially compared to the goings-on around him that have gotten entirely out of hand. Calwa can barely see. He trips over the remains of a box and takes a tumble to the ground and, for the moment, there he stays. He isn't sure he has the strength to try standing again. Maybe if rests there the fire won't spread closer to him. He can regain his strength. He just needs to close his eyes for a minute since they won't stop stinging.
When the motorcycle breaks free from the fiery cloud, the unnamed man is driving it. He looks extremely roughed up but clearly has the fortitude to take as much as he can dish out. He's leaving. Just like all the others. Apparently they have no more use for fighting right now.
[!] Black Hand Gunner is fleeing the battle
"That seems... unhealthy." Liyara remarks when the ground erupts around Chiffon. But the leocanid recovers somewhat gracefully, which pleases Liyara, and she smiles for a moment. It's a toothy smile, but it's a smile. And then she sees that the humans are fleeing. Or rather, she sees them further and further away between each break in the multiple plumes of smoke now surrounding them. She could try chasing them, but the lessers are no concern of hers, and she can't catch that motorcycle anyway. It's out of her range almost the moment it peels out of the smoke.
Well. Out of range for her to chase it down.
Liyara's green pupils dilate, and she takes in a deep breath of nice, freshly singed, smoke-filled air. So refreshing. To her eyes, the billowing smoke seems to slow, going from a chaotic mess into a lazy, easily distinguished and predictable flow. Liyara knows smoke - has spent lifetimes knee deep in the fire - and she can read its movements easily. So she focuses, clearly, waiting, for that agonizingly small window, when the empty spot in all the plumes of smoke line up, and she has a single, fleeting glance of the motorcycle, now so far away.
[!] Liyara uses 1 AP.
Time halts. That window, so vanishingly brief, is held open as everything around Liyara just stops for her; there is no more sound, no more heat. In fact, there is no more breathing. There is just Liyara, and that tiny hole in the flames. And the motorcycle. Liyara casts one open palm out towards the space between her and the vehicle. Energy approaching but not-quite reaching the heat of the sun gathers around her hand, a magnificent achievement for most fire mages, but just a basic attack for Liyara. Her hair lifts up on the thermals, whipping above her before it ignites in white-hot blaze, along with the fire around her hand. It blazes brighter than the sun, now, and hotter too. It would be a heck of an impossible shot to hit the motorcycle's gas tank now. So she takes it.
The elemental bolt courses through the intervening space in an instant, aimed directly at... the inventory box on the side of the motorcycle. What? Liyara doesn't know what a gas tank actually looks like - she's only read about them. Her hair slowly drifts back down to its normal position, and she exhales as time resumes its normal function, looking disappointed that she didn't blow the entire thing up. That was certainly her intention. Ah well.
Chiffon's ears continue to tilt to the side. 'Watch our back!' he seems to want to say, but she's already. Uh. Going above and beyond the call of duty. With them in, for the moment, retreat, the larger Sanuye's attention turns solely to Calwa.
He sniffs, listens, and peels his way through the dark with what is now a much more measured gait. A stroll, almost, or a more powerful limp than he was showing this morning. The need for valor is almost passed, the need for discretion coming on swift. He is almost blind to Liyara's world class snipe, because he's going to keep going until he finds Calwa.
A paw is pressed on the smaller lionwolf's back and it's like the universe bites into a peppermint patty. A cool breath of fresh air without, like, the breath or anything. An aura of [White Wind] passing over--a bit of a better use than dealing with headaches and hangovers. Spending down his arcane and mundane stamina rather thin, he slumps down for a moment. Maybe magic won't magically fix everything, but it should take the edge off. Maybe be enough to get home.
The man on the motorcycle is heavily injured, but a sudden interruption forces him to react quicker than he would like. Some sort of energy strikes the side of the bike near his leg and the box blows open. The contents eject into the air like a jack in the box without a tether. A first aid kit, a pack of rations, a box of ammunition, and many papers are a part of those that shoot into the air from the attack. Amongst them chiefly is a jade and gold statuette of some sort of anthropomorphic creature. It almost gleams with internal light as its seemingly fragile form gains weightlessness.
The man twists to grab at the statuette, but his knuckles glance it and pop it higher into the air and off to the side. He bolts up onto the saddle and kicks off of it. The motorcycle careens out of control with a wobble before the front tire turns sharply and the entire motor vehicle cartwheels forward. Each strike against the ground looses more parts free that probably should stay where they are. Airborn, the large man makes one more grab for the statuette...and succeeds. However, he does not hit the ground. His form, and the form of the creature so crafted from precious stone and metal, suddenly vanish into shadow. The barest hint of surprise on the man's face is the only clue that this isn't expected. The motorcycle lay crashed and smoking, a complement to the now battleless battlefield scene not too far away.
[Battle End! Cue the Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5h5SsQ_C90]
[!] Gained EXP and AP
[!] Gained Gil
Calwa's eyes suddenly open, then his ears perk up, and rolling to his side and into the side of the broken box he wiggles onto his back with forelegs held spread far apart. The expression on his face is a mix of pained relief and bittersweet joy. He says something, almost managing the first syllable of Chiffon's name, before his voice cuts out and he reaches to grab and pull the big lug into a hug with a sob. Strange when tears are a mix of pain, sadness, and sudden happiness, and colored with an outburst of longing-fulfilled hope and love. His heartbeat races.
Beside him, his personal effects are present in what remains of the container. His bags are there. So are his enchanted glasses, although one lens has a nasty crack in it. Aside from some Gil and a few mundane bottled drinks, however, the bags are empty. Clearly. They are all turned out and nothing could remotely be hidden within. That's not good.
It is also a problem that will need addressing later. Chances are that neither Sanuye are in a condition to go blindly chasing down fleeing minions for clues. Hugs and reunion come first for now.
The events that happen to the motorcycle rider cause Liyara to look surprised, but then, she was expecting a LARGE explosion, not a loot explosion. "So..." The redhead puts a hand on her hip, before looking over to Chiffon and Calwa. "...I think that went well." You murdered people, did unspeakable things to puppies, and unleashed a fire maelstrom, while your companions choked, burned, and bled. "Very well, if I'm being honest." So she just doesn't have a lot of empathy, apparently.
Now that the dragoness has a moment to look over the firelions, she purses her lips together, and then tilts her head to one side; this gets some fire-blood from her wounded shoulder on her cheek and she grimaces. The firelions are having a moment - she should probably let them have it. Probably. But she doesn't. Instead, she gestures back the way she and Chiffon came from. "Joyful reunions later. Medical attention now." Well - someone's off the Valentione's Day List.
The odds are seriously unfair when worlds start whisping away, collapsing, and all that madness. Chiffon blinks when Calwa grabs him, and returns a tired foreleg around the smaller one's shoulders. Then the other. Right, he should probably take the leaning, otherwise they'll both end up on the ground in a heap.
That's fun sometimes, but not now.
"Looks like you're stuck with me, buddy," he manages, before his voice drops, his head lowers, and he presses his chin between the Sanuye's ears. "Sorry it took so long, Calwa." That's about as much reunion as he manages to squeak in before Liyara gets a word in. Chiff looks up and gives a little nod. "... yeah." We can argue about who needs what later. Chiffon is more durable than he looks, but, he only went through a fight or two; Calwa has been dragged out for longer than he would like. "Can you walk?" The Sanuye asks. If not, well, he's got a shoulder. And a back. And he'll scoop you up if you make him.
Chiffon will likely have to endure having some tears wiped away on his pelt as Calwa takes a moment to just take in the presence and voice. He wants to take in Chiff's scent, too, but his nose is dry and cracked and hurt. All he can smell at the moment is what lingering pain that hasn't been quelled by the help offered from the larger Sanuye.
Calwa nods a bit and looks away in the direction of Liyara's voice. His vision is still greatly hampered, but he can hear just fine. That's not a voice he's familiar with. Calwa doesn't question it. "I have to find my things, though. They.../took/ them." He doesn't even know they're right there. Due to history, Chiffon knows about Calwa's troubles and about the artifact being carried, guarded, until it can be safely delivered. Chiffon also knows what it looks like: Calwa described is as an Icon of Weapon. Not -a- weapon. A /Weapon/. At this point, though, Chiffon's adventuring partner expects the worst, but he hurts too much to be able to hurt any more over the possibility or reality. After enduring such great trauma, what's another load of straw on the pile?
Before Calwa lets go completely, though, he shudders and whispers, "I won't let you leave me again." Untangles are completed and the notably smaller of the two pushes achingly up to his feet. "Please lead the way. Don't go...too fast."