Level 9 Tora (10/90) (+3)
Level 8 Poppi (79/80) (+3)
Level 3 Red (4/30) (+3)
Level 2 Laharl (3/20) (+3)
Location: Sandswept Sky - Al Mamoon Cistern
Tora & Poppi’s @Lugubrious,
Red’s @TheDemonHound, Laharl’s @Dark Cloud
Word Count: 2,815 (+3)
It seemed the battle was far from over, that didn't bother Laharl even a little. In fact it excited him even more, now that the Custodian decided to reveal it's stony form to the group. As it slammed it's fists onto the ground Laharl jumped back, nearly crushed by the Custodians blow "FINALLY A REAL CHALLENGE!" His skin was splattered with the eyes yellow viscera, but he wasn't worried about being covered in his foes essence.
Tora was right about the giant stone creature being a 'tough customer', it's whole body was composed of solid rock but even the toughest stones crack and the Custodian was no exception. Laharl once again threw himself at the enemy, still suffused with the power of fallen foes and fists burning white hot. The fire would be hot enough to melt the stone creature, the flames also fuelled by his foes defeat greatly increasing its intensity.
Laharl flew at the Custodian, unafraid of it striking him with it's mighty fists as he would survive the blow. He struck the creature in the head with all his might, the blow hit it square between it's glowing eyes. "Surrender to defeat you useless rock," Laharl growled winding his arm back to throw another punch, oblivious to the Custodians state "Or I'll simply make you serve me after your defeat!" punctuating 'defeat' with another blow to the creatures head.
Red wasn’t entirely sure what to make of the custodian, it was certainly tough looking but she was certain she’s dealt with worse. She was more interested in that kid that evidently followed them down here. She had seen him around the group during and after Parnasse and mostly dismissed him until seeing now that he actually seemed to be much stronger than she had originally assumed. Well she couldn’t let him have all the fun.
With Laharl taking on its head Red was intent on finding another way to help hinder this creature. And with a quick look she noticed the joints connecting its arms to its body looked much smaller and weaker than the arms themselves. Hopefully while it was getting its face beaten in she could come around and bring her axe down on the joints from behind.
Tora waved his wings in alarm as the boy jumped into action before Poppi could finish her mode change. "Meh!? Why not wait for Tora!?"
A hundred percent extra power did a lot for Laharl, but if he imagined himself standing in triumph on the husk of a foe slain in a single heroic blow, his fantasy would have to wait. His fist smashed into the hard wedge between its eyes, shattering stone, but his impetuousness was almost his downfall. Overlord's Dignity increased the damage taken along with the damage given, and striking a surface much harder than himself would have dealt equal and opposite destruction to his arm if he didn't cut short the follow-through. That also meant decreasing the injury inflicted to the Custodian, however, and when it reeled back its head was intact. Laharl did, however, get a momentary glimpse of what was beneath the head--a thick, squirming mass of corruption in the golem's core.
Red's plan to not fight the colossus head-on and instead strafe around for a better angle would have worked if not for a couple miscalculations. First, now that the Custodian had immersed itself in the cistern canal, it had nothing but water on either side, and getting behind it meant one needed to get across the entire canal.
Second, as the golem brought its arm around to attack, it separated from its body connected by extendable tentacles of corruption. The entire weight of its arm swept across a ridiculously large area, dealing a heavy blow to all four exterminators and smacking them into the canal. Tora wailed in surprise as he splashed down, but once in he flailed his wings in fear rather than pain. A dive in sewer water, after all, had bottomed out his to-do- list. Luckily, as implied by the relative lack of vile smells in the cistern air, this canal didn't have sewage. But he could scarcely afford to breath a sigh of relief. In the water he was a sitting duck for the Custodian, just begging to get slam dunked. "Poppi!" he yelled, treading water as the Custodian pulled its arm back together to prepare for another strike. "Freeze the water!"
Red’s plan unfortunately didn’t work out too well in her favor. Getting behind the creature was harder than she thought and what she assumed to be a weak point was actually far less of a weak point than she hoped. Meaning the monster had far more range than it seemed and she got knocked aside. She growled in contempt as she came up for air. And then she heard Tora’s plan. It was probably time to get out of the water.
After a worrying second the artificial blade burst from below the water with the help of her thrusters, having sunk in her Alpha form's thick armor. She held out her sword for Tora to grab hold of and haul himself from the drink. "...Roger, roger!" She took hold of the Drill Shield, extended its bit, and started to channel the power built up during the fight. "Noponic Storm!" Freezing energy whirled across the water, but it would be a moment before the battlefield was usable again. In that time the other two would have to survive and find their own ways to turn the situation to their advantage.
As Red saw the artificial blade pop out of the water she started swimming even faster. ”Shit shit shit shi-“ She pulled herself out of the water fast enough to not get caught in the freezing snow storm. ”Alright I’m getting REAL tired of this damn thing! Let’s get this done.” A red aura flared up around her as she started getting real mad at the creature causing her problems. She started firing bullets at the creature while she waited for Poppi’s attack to subside, mostly aiming for the head but also testing how susceptible the rest of its body was to damage.
Her gunfire struck the golem at various points across its body. Most of its component stone turned out to be just as solid as it looked, with her bullets doing little more than chip damage. It only reacted when she shot its head and the magic-imbued sphere its upper body rested on, which developed glowing cracks every time it got plugged. When Red paused for a moment she saw that Poppi had finished frosting over the canal, and realized what the artificial blade had been trying to do. By freezing the water she effectively bridged the two canal walkways and created a single battlefield all around the Corrupted Custodian, giving all four exterminators enough space to move and fight without having to worry about falling into the drink. Poppi heard the ice groan as she landed, but seeing that it held beneath the weight of her armor, she passed Tora the Drill Shield and let him hop down. The Custodian turned its full attention on the driver and blade, who faced the golem with shield and sword at the ready. It roared, but the brave Nopon laughed in its face. "Hah! Tora fight far worse! Come on everyone, lay on damage! Let's get this over with!" The pair burst forward, and the Custodian swiped at them.
As the enemy's extended arm swung their way, Tora slid low along the ice with his shield raised for protection, while the Poppi went high with a jet-assisted leap. At the peak of her jump she brought her new claymore down to open a new crack in the Custodian's body. After sliding into range Tora popped out his shield's drill bit and allowed its rockets to push its tip into the golem's bulk. It skittered along the surface until it lodged in the crack that welled corruption, and there it ripped messily into the dark matter until the golem knocked him back. "Armor hard, but mucky-muck soft! It what bring stone to life!" Poppi observed. "Aim for black goo!"
Red laughed almost maniacally as she scanned the battlefield one last time and readied her weapon. As long as she could effectively utilize the ice for mobility she had the terrain advantage as well as having scouted out this things weakness with her and Tora’s attacks. She slid into action. Quite literally as she used the ice and her momentum to slide under an attack from the stone beast. Her attacks would struggle breaking through that armor. Given enough time and effort, she could probably get the job done. But it’s best to let Tora with his drill handle that. Instead she sliced at as much corruption as was visible to her. She also made sure to hack, slash and shoot the sphere the body was connected to. Hopefully with Tora as a distraction and the ice for mobility she could keep her damage to a minimum, but she wasn’t completely counting on it. She’d have to push through the pain like always regardless.
The mercenary's axe found little resistance in the lengths and tendrils of corruption that reached out from within the Custodian's body. Piece by piece she whittled those unclean extensions down to size, leaving them to sizzle and disintegrate once separated from the whole. When she put in work against the sphere, however, she found it paid dividends. Every strike against it produced a visible reaction that seemed to destabilize the golem. Only the ice that blocked access to most of the sphere and her enemy's swings halted her offense. With Tora well-equipped to occupy the Custodian's attention and defend himself, Red took only a couple errant pushes and glancing blows from wide-range strikes. Laharl getting decked forced her to put in overtime, but Red got it done.
Her efforts soon came to a head. In a fit of rage the golem smashed the ice again and again with its fists, breaking open dangerous holes, but Red wove between the slams and the pitfalls alike. Her next strike broke through some kind of damage threshold, and with a wet roar the Custodian fell forward onto its arms. Its head sagged a touch from its shoulders and corruption dripped from it.
Tora saw his chance. He took aim with the Drill Shield and fired a Boom Biter from its middle, sending the explosive cannonball right into the golem's face. "Poppi, pull head down to give Red clear shot!"
The artificial blade nodded and boosted forward. She discarded her claymore, dented and bent as it was from repeated impacts against solid stone, and jumped to grab hold of the Custodian's head with both hands. Her strength pried it farther from its shoulders, exposing a mass of corded corruption to the air. "Now Red, time for execute!" Tora called.
Seeing Poppi and Tora putting the custodian into a good position she prepared herself and her weapon. One Poppi pulled away its head, exposing what looked like a critical weak point, she lept into action. ”DIE ALREADY!!” She yelled out as she brought her axe down straight through the corruption connecting the head to the stone.
Red's axeblade fell like a guillotine on the Custodian's neck, parting head from body in one brutal stroke. With the damage already done by a few minutes' worth of cutting away at its extremities, the corruption had nothing else to fall back on. The infestation withered, a dying plant, and the Custodian fell apart. Its stone chunks hit the already fractured ice field and send cracks snaking across its surface as they slowly started to turn to ash. Though breathing heavily, Tora hightailed it for the edge of the canal, pausing only to scoop up the golem's spirit with his free wing. "Ice breaking! Move feeties if not want get wet, meh!"
He and Poppi made to to the edge just before the ice broke apart and began to drift downstream, with Red following right behind them. As beat up as this area looked, it was free of corruption, with only dark stains proving that the putrid mess had ever been there. Tora sat down against the wall, still panting. "Huh...huh...huh. Tough nut to crack, huh, Poppi?"
His companion nodded. She figured that now would be the perfect time to wipe her brow or something, having seen the others perform such gestures before, but she suppressed the needless urge. "That for sure. When we took job Poppi thought it just rats. Not gross moldy snakes."
”And here I thought this job would be boring!” Red stretched her arms out while they celebrated their victory. She saw the thing that Tora grabbed and it instantly caught her eye. ”Oh is that one of those spirit things Midna told me about?” So this thing could potentially be a major upgrade depending on how you used it. She was debating on if fusing with it would actually be a good idea or if they should use it in a different way. ”I actually haven’t really seen one of these before. What do ya think we should do with it?”
As Red spoke Poppi had been trying to focus, channeling ether to construct a new claymore in the same manner she did with her other weapons. Although substantially more difficult and draining, she finally managed to pull together the replacement weapon just after the mercenary's question. "Poppi guess we should take to palace as proof of clearing infestation," she ventured, her voice slightly garbled by her overall ether depletion. Her eyes landed on Laharl, laid out unconscious along the stone floor. "We should...carry him, as well. Can you do it, Masterpon?"
Tora almost protested, with excuses of comparative strength and fatigue on his lips, but in the nick of time he realized both the condition Poppi's reconstruction left her in and that she was asking a favor of him, however obvious that might be. He immediately felt bad that his first instinct was to get Poppi to do his work for him, and cleared his throat. "Sure, meh! Poppi earn break." He waddled over and hoisted the demon child above his head with his wings. He then turned to go, retreading the path that brought him here. "You know, this actually pretty nice for sewer. Neat carvings, good light. Even flowers with lilypads, meh."
As the group returned to the cistern's main chamber, Tora struggle a little with his burden. While he shifted Laharl around to a more manageable position for long-term carrying, he happened to see a big, green pipe that protruded from the floor of the basis and emerged from the water by one of the circular stone terraces. Its style and broken-down appearance stuck out from the surroundings, but even if it seemed useless Tora couldn't shake the feeling that he'd seen this kind of pipe before. He waddled over. "Meh...Tora get feeling this important somehow," he said aloud, going off the feeling in his guts. "Maybe mention to Mooglypon and see if Alcamoth guys know about."
Shaking her head, Red turned away from the pipe that the other two were looking at. ”Not touching that unless I know what it does. If something looks out of place like that, it probably wants to kill ya.” She has had plenty of experience with things of that nature. She loved fighting weird creatures but when it came to objects that could do any number of things with no warning it was best to leave it alone.
His impetuousness was in fact his downfall, arrogantly charging into battle blinded by visions of a triumphant victory only to miss the bigger picture and ultimately get himself knocked out cold. It was a miracle he sustained moderate injuries and survived, due to his empowered state during the fight. Slowly the demon boy regained consciousness, stirring slightly. Laharl groaned as his muscles burnt with searing pain, and his arms were sore.
"Ugh I demand to be put down! Unhand me!" he growled squirming a little looking rather helpless, he was embarrassed that he failed to bring down the behemoth himself and more than a little disappointed in his foolhardiness. Tora was only too happy to comply, and let the kid go free without a word of protest.
Red scoffed at Laharl as he finally came too. Normally she’d tell him to shut his trap or something to that extent but this kid definitely seemed.. interesting. He had way more strength in that body than it appeared, even if he did act immature despite it. She smiled under her mask as they kept walking. Hopefully everything here was as interesting and exciting as these past couple days had been. If so then this place would be paradise to the battle hungry mercenary.