3rd Apr 2023, 8:00 AM
Cross the bridge and take a break
Will Schrag | Snervalton | Skullrama | John Wood | Tom Axon | David J Wu | Sekwel | Mochi | arbit | Travis Whittaker | Avasraali | Nicolas Arboleya | Trent Brossman | Clotty Cola | TacticOwl | SomeRando | Cyrene DuVent | Swagner | thatbloodypaladin | Opunny | Kat Dixon | Harmony Petersen | ActionKermit | Scott Johnson | Loose Cog | James Nichols | Leafia Barrett | everentropy | SpoopyLaundry
Fuck it. Fuck it, fuck it you run and Kate is right behind you
WHAT IS GOING ON
WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF???
why does it feel so exact, not quite the crushing atmosphere of a miasmatic wound or the distorted sense of hostile reality you normally get from a panic attack but instead a single pinpoint location somewhere close behind you but also a good ways below you like the farther you get down the bridge and away from the church the less you feel like you're on top of the anxiety
also you're so familiar with anxiety that you can narrow down all these subtle differences in the tone and intangible shape of fear itself and when you think about it, that's pretty fucked up Plaire
WHY DOESN'T IT FEEL LIKE THE SATELLITES ARE CAUSING IT
IF IT'S NOT THE SPONTANEOUSLY SPAWNING SATELLITES THEN WHAT IN THE EVERLOVING FUCK COULD- you make a very important but very terrible mistake.
Specifically, you peek.
Though doing your best to maintain your smaller, shittier form, you feel the need to leave some mana in speed so you can cross the bridge faster and some of that mana sort of accidentally spills over into your senses because you're cursed with curiosity at the most inopportune times and like Lot's wife, you are punished for the glimpse backward because you learn that
are not appearing spontaneously at all.
Knight Commander Parabolic
Fraternal Order of the Pallor Parabolic
The polite but shady gentleman with the radar dish for a head
is making them
out of thin air
with a touch
while he zips across the sky
like a god damn anime character.
Physically: you continue to shrink and run your ass off.
Mentally: you're going into lockdown, DEFCON 1.
Parabolic. Banana nana no nolic.
Fe fi fo folic.
He is moving so fast that you can barely track him without mana. To what would be more or less your real human eyes, he's not even a blur--he's like the brief hint of a blur. If your real eyes blinked they'd miss him entirely.
He is making satellites and then jumping off of them, what has to be multiple city blocks at a time, to propel himself to where he makes the next satellite to jump off of.
He is setting up what looks like a massive, coordinated sub-orbital bombardment of the entire zone you're leaving.
You didn't even see him exit the building. You thought he went downstairs-- he did go downstairs he blew his way out with laser beams and then ninja'd up out of the building in the commotion
he had to be lying or wrong
he had to have been, he said it himself not to trust anybody he had to have been lying
he had to be lying or wrong because he
he said Vainglory was dropping knights fairly regularly
and that he was the weakest of the knights
but now he's blasting through the air like a supersonic jet and manifesting elaborate killsats like that's just a thing he does and that would suggest
it would imply
You are a pillar of salt.
You thought you could fight Vainglory.
"Plaire, snap out of it!"
The satellites flash, catching Kate's attention; she joins you in gawking, slack-jawed and idle, at what amounts to a live demonstration of your own insignificance. You don't know if Kate sees everything you do. You don't know if she can crank her senses that high.
The satellites come to life all at once. They turn, aim, fixate. Beams, bolts, missiles, waves, every last one of them concentrated solely at Vainglory.
None of it matters.
She explodes through the smoke and rips the lowest hanging satellite in half.
She leaps off the debris and into the next one. And the next.
She is the anxiety.
She is the thing you were afraid of.
Are. Afraid of.
You understand what Parabolic meant now--about condensing your total mana pool to hide. You can feel how powerful Vainglory is. It's god damn palpable. She is dangerous. She is a threat to you. She is a wild animal and you are prey. Your brain is screaming it.
She tears through Parabolic's massive orbital weapons like they're paper.
She's destroying them faster than he can generate them.
She's face-tanking the entire orchestra of attacks from every direction and she's not even slowing down, it's not even fucking her hair up
Over the span of less than one whole second you are fully convinced that Parabolic is going to die. In terms of real time passed, it takes roughly that long for the majority of the satellites hanging over the sanctuary to turn into dust clouds. They almost go out simultaneously, it's that fast.
Parabolic visibly panics. Starts to build outward, just trying to escape.
Toward you and Kate. Probably not on purpose.
It prompts you to resume running, Kate in tow.
Might be more efficient just to jump off the bridge and drown yourself.
You thought you could fight that.
YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD FIGHT
Parabolic was right. You got lucky. She could kill you. She could kill you without a fucking thought. She knows ways to kill you you don't even understand and she's faster than a real human could react to, why in the name of god did you ever think you could just strongarm Vainglory into answers, she would obliterate you holy shit
The bridge shakes as you cross it.
The explosions around you and above you are loud but you just,
You run until you hit gray.
You run until you hit the ground. You trip on a vine sticking out of the pearly grass, like a child, which is appropriate because you look like a weird toddler and are starting to feel, like, a weird toddler
"The hell WAS all that?!," Kate finally shouts. You can still hear the fight going on behind you.
You don't even know how to start explaining it. You're outclassed. You're... ridiculously, incredibly, impossibly outclassed.
"I saw smoke an' laser beams and shit down that hole," she explains,
you're just fucking numb. You're getting stronger and better at this but you're not growing that quickly. You could do this for years and be nowhere near the speed Vainglory or even Parabolic were demonstrating. You're bad at math but you're not an idiot--you literally cannot reach anything even vaguely resembling Vainglory's level in terms of physical abilities within the timespan of your doomsday bloodletter countdown, wounds or not. It isn't achievable. It isn't feasible.
The talisman will be available shortly
Unless you can vibe yourself into a faster level up chart, it doesn't matter. You can't touch her. You can't beat her. You're not going to learn anything from Vainglory, or from any of the other Pallor knights if they turn out to be hostile. You're helpless against anyone that can bullshit physics itself like that. You have NEVER seen a person move like that in real life.
You're nothing to them.
Maybe you're missing something. Maybe if you could figure out the Fool/Hanged Man thing, or--
but that's what you wanted to hassle Vainglory for, to find shit out, and now it turns out you fucking can't because she could breathe too hard and you'd instantly implode DJK;LFJDSGFUCK DO YOULOOOVE MAKING PLANS D;FAJSDFJD;LFJ SHIT ASS PISS
"...Alright," Kate concludes, "you oughta at least pull yourself up off the ground."
"It was Parabolic," you finally mutter into your helmet, and the yellow seal on your helmet, and the dirt "and Vainglory. Kate, we're fucked."
Her silence immediately following does not make you feel any better.
"...So we're not outgunning them."
"No we'renotfuckingoutgunningthem--" you lift your head at least enough to stare at her. You know she can't see your face but you're sure she gets the idea. "Kate, I had to mana boost my sight like Cici taught me JUST TO SEE WHAT WAS HAPPENING. I have grotesquely overestimated what we're capable of--we aren't shit! The monsters aren't shit. Mustachio jumps? Are not shit. That boss fight we were just sweating over? GUESS WHAT, BIG NEWS IT AIN'T SHIT--"
"Yeah," Kate interjects, "yeah, I got it." Crossing her arms tightly as she hovers in mid-air, Kate seems to ponder it all for a moment.
The sound of satellites firing and exploding in the distance just ... suddenly stops.
"So we keep it low-key," Kate decides. "We do what Dishface said. We sneak. We hide. Guerilla shit."
"I don't like our chances of being able to just sneak through this whole thing. We can try to sneak through tonight, but sooner or later--"
"We burn that bridge when we get there," Kate replies.
. . .
You sit up.
Shoulders slumped, resting on your sad chibi ass.
You don't hear anything. It's not just the explosions that are missing...
...The weird banging noise from last night is gone.
There's an alcove nearby, you recall--a treasure chest sort of wedged into a cave under the landmass you're sitting on, and there was a lot of other weird shit you spotted but didn't really have time to investigate--
You take a big breath and force yourself to your feet.
There's still plenty you can learn about what the alcazar is and how all this nonsense works. Maybe there IS some stupid trick you're missing. You're not dead. You're not dead, and you still have options.
You nod. Kate nods back.
You quietly lead her north, to the chest you and Marlow found last time you were here. You were out of keys last time, but not THIS time (motherfucker).
You point down at where the big vine meets the lower end of the platform, and pass Kate the key you got from the mimic earlier...
. . .
. . . . .
You can't tell if she's taking too long or you're just being impatient because you're nervous but really, uh, it should not take very long to open a chest sooo
. . .
"It's a bunch of rope." Kate's sudden re-appearance from the cave below almost makes you
shit your pantsshout.
"And like, a grappling hook?," she adds, "but I tried gathering all that shit up and uh nah, it's not happening. Not with these hands." She wiggles her tiny ... fffingers (?) at you, almost eliciting a smile.
A grappling hook and too much rope. Great.