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Thread Description
A HeartGold nuzlocke twisted into a fantasy setting. Updates sporadically.

Henrily

Mate what the heckin' bullshit
Pokédex No.
609
Caught
Aug 1, 2019
Messages
24
Location
Vietnam I guess
Nature
Bold
Pronouns
"He" is fine
Pokémon Type
Water
Pokédex Entry
Your daily (not really) dose of dampening dallies.
Hoo boy I just caught up
On one hand, leaving Lyra and Ampharal against Claire seems terrifying
On the other hand, the shipper deep inside me is squealing with delight
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
335
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
Just Lyra and Amphy taking on Clair? That's going to be interesting, for sure... but at least Lyra’s confident they can win, and I hope she's right!
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
75
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #103
Henrily - Lol, yep, just a little bit terrifying and definitely not ship-related in any way whatsoever. 😛

cyndakip - Yeah Lyra's not lacking in confidence. Time will tell if her confidence is well-placed...


I want to believe Lyra. It wouldn't be hard to. She's stronger than any of us - probably stronger than all of us combined, in terms of sheer magical power. But Ampharal's fight with Silver made it very, painfully clear that Champions aren't invulnerable. They're susceptible to magic, he'd said. And if there's ever an Aspect that's going to wield true magic like Ampharal's, it's an Imperial Aspect.

And House Blackthorn is filled with them.

Admittedly, Lyra's Champion power gives her an edge over Imperial Blessed - a little-known facet of Blessed that I discovered in one of the many scrolls in the Kogane Temple, which reassured me a little. But whatever advantage that might give her, it's more than compensated for by the fact she doesn't have the resilience to pain the rest of us share. Even after all our training, she's still just as delicate as she always was.

I want to trust Lyra. But...I'm the one who taught her to fight in the first place. If not for me she wouldn't - couldn't - have stepped up. And now I'm terrified that she's going to die because of me.

We're leaving Kogane tomorrow - although it might be 'today' now. I'm not sure how long I've stayed up, poring through old scrolls in the hope of finding something that might tip the fight in our favour.

I glance up when the door opens, but it takes me a couple of seconds to recognise Lyra.

I've never seen her heraldry before - like Gaius and Magni, she never wears it, though in her case it's because she came from Hoen originally. But now, instead of the blue robes I'm used to seeing her in, she's wearing a white gown and a long blue cloak with a black strip running down its centre, and she's tied her hair back with a long ribbon of satin, blue on one side and red on the other. It doesn't exactly look practical, but I've long since gotten used to the weirdness of Blessed heraldry, and it definitely suits her.

Lyra sees my puzzled look. "Given our situation I thought it would be appropriate to don my heraldry," she explains. "Hoenese traditions are a little different to Jotan ones."

"Yeah, you said it was for formal duels only, right?"

"You remembered." She gives me a slightly surprised smile.

I put the scroll I was reading through aside. "So...uh, what are you doing here?" It sounds harsh to say it like that, but it's the best way I can think of putting it.

"It's the middle of the night," she points out. "Carlei told me you were here. Trying to find something to help us in the duel against Lady Clair?"

"I didn't..."

Lyra chuckles. "Carlei's not the only one who knows you well, you know."

"Apparently."

She sits down opposite me. "Are you worried about me?" she asks, quietly. "Because I'm...weaker than the rest of you?"

"I'm worried about you because you're my friend!" I protest, trying to ignore the part of me that points out that her vulnerability is exactly the main reason I'm worried about her. "And this stupid duel is just you and Ampharal against God knows how many people because of Clair's arrogance."

"If I hadn't volunteered," Lyra points out, "it would've been just Amphy."

"I know that. And I get that you want to protect him, but..."

"You don't 'get it,' Ethan," she interrupts me, surprisingly firmly. "It's not just Amphy I want to protect."

Water starts to swirl around us, but not like the violent whirlpool she'd unintentionally manifested yesterday. This is softer, gentler, like the faint lapping of waves. I'm not even sure it's really water at all so much as a manifestation of pure magic. I reach out one hand, idly, and let it flow over my fingers - it shimmers into glittering specks of pale blue around my hands, and although my fingers feel wet they're bone dry when I withdraw them. Lyra's eyes are glowing blue as well.

"Magni, Deanne, Gaius, Carlei...and especially you. You've all been protecting me. Now it's my turn to protect you."

"You don't have to..."

"It's not just the few of us here, either. This matters, to more than just the half-dozen of us." And I can feel her power...changing, in a way that's difficult to describe. I'm not sure it's getting stronger, exactly, but it's getting...deeper. Like the difference between an inflatable paddling pool in someone's backyard and an Olympic swimming pool. The colours spiralling around my fingers grow more vibrant and varied, deeper blues mixing with turquoise. "The Divines put us in the position to change things. Time and again we've found ourselves confronting Lance's minions, and time and again we've emerged victorious." It's kind of nice to hear someone else say it aloud, but at the same time hearing her say it I can't help but think it sounds...unbelievable. But Lyra's voice is confident and assured in a way I could never be talking about all this. "I'm a Blessed Warrior and Champion of Kyogre. It's my duty to obey their instructions. But more than that...I want to. All the people out there that are being hurt, by the Imperials, the charologists - by Maximillian's soldiers." Her aura blazes angrily, but the water around us stays perfectly still and calm. It's an impressive - if perhaps unintentional - display of control. "All those people deserve someone to fight for them. Why not us?"

"You've been thinking about all this a lot, haven't you?" I ask her. It's strange. In the face of Silver's Champion power it's sometimes a struggle just to speak. And yet Lyra's much, much stronger than him and her power doesn't feel the same at all. The water starts to fade, dissipating into the sparkling flecks of magical power that had formed it, and the glow from Lyra's eyes dims a little. But they don't go back to normal entirely, her eyes catching the light from my ever-present motes of energy where nothing else does, and I can feel the oceans in her eyes spreading out as I hold her gaze - but it's not an intimidating feeling, not like the light of the Divines I'd seen in Enju. It's...safe.

So this is what a Champion's Ascension feels like. I don't think Lyra's even realised.

"I have," she answers me. "Since long before this, in truth. I just...never quite found the right moment to say it." She pauses, studying my expression. "What is it?"

"Uh..." How do you go about telling the most powerful Blessed you know that they just got even stronger? "Let's just say you might want to find some sunglasses from now on."

Lyra tilts her head on one side, curiously.

"Sun...glasses?"

Ethan - Togetic, Serene Grace, Relaxed, Scatters Things Often
Carlei - Typhlosion, Blaze, Relaxed, Likes to Thrash About
Gaius - Golem, Sturdy, Bold, Alert to Sounds
Magni aka Muscle - Machamp, Guts, Lonely, Proud of its Power
Deanne - Dragonair, Shed Skin, Careful, Impetuous and Silly
Lyra - Azumarill, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Stubborn
Amphy - Ampharos, Static, Timid, Often Dozes Off
Bradon - Bellsprout, Chlorophyll, Timid, Somewhat Vain
Shayne - Sandshrew, Sand Veil, Gentle, Likes to Fight
Haneka - Skiploom, Chlorophyll, Mild, Thoroughly Cunning
Micha - Magnemite, Magnet Pull, Hasty, Good Endurance
Erewan - Unown (E), Levitate, Brave, Likes to Fight
Nichol - Nidoking, Rivalry, Brave, Somewhat Vain
 

Xita

Moo
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
186
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
93
Location
Germany
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Water, Dark
Hope the battle goes okay. The writing’s really hyping Lyra up but... well, water is inherently weak to dragon types so who knows how it’ll go 😅
 

Henrily

Mate what the heckin' bullshit
Pokédex No.
609
Caught
Aug 1, 2019
Messages
24
Location
Vietnam I guess
Nature
Bold
Pronouns
"He" is fine
Pokémon Type
Water
Pokédex Entry
Your daily (not really) dose of dampening dallies.
LYRA ASCENSION LYRA ASCENSION LYRA ASC

Hoo boy I love me some sweet sweet character development
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
75
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #106
Xita: Eh, she knows an ice move of some sort or other. I'm sure it'll be fine!

Henrily: Thanks! I've been kinda looking forwards to getting to Lyra having some character development for a while.

As an aside, apologies for the slightly smaller/haphazard chapters of late; everything going on out in the real world has left it...a little difficult to focus on writing stuff at times.


The journey to Fusube is slow going. We don't want to risk travelling back to Asagi for the Ryusei, not when we still have no real idea whether or not Jasmine would be on our side now. For all we know she might have impounded the boat (or whatever the nautical version of impound is), or just sunk the thing to prevent us using it.

So the only option is to go there by foot. And that's a long, slow journey. We're all more than used to surviving out in the wild by now, and our Blessed nature helps, of course, but that doesn't change the fact that we're having to trek pretty much across the whole damn kingdom.

By mutual - if unspoken - agreement, we don't get too near any major settlements. But the small villages we pass through on occasion make it very clear that Joto isn't in a good way.

Just as we'd feared, the announcements from Kuni and the Kogane priests reached every Temple in the kingdom, and it didn't take long for word to spread to everywhere else. And the reaction was exactly the same as what we saw in Kogane. The nobles are being swarmed with demands to do something about Lance - but none of them are willing to overtly act. Even Floria, who's still holding Ariana and the other high-ranking Imperials in the dungeons beneath Goldenrod Manor, hasn't done anything more than that, despite plenty of calls for them to be executed.

They're all scared, and not just of the Imperial soldiers. I don't know how the rumours got out - though I'd feel pretty confident betting it was Petrel - but people are starting to talk about the destruction of Mahogany Manor, and more importantly to attribute it to the King. And fundamentally it doesn't matter whether they can deal with the Imperial army. Logically, no matter how powerful Lance is, he can't fight an entire army on his own. If the Jotan nobles rallied against him, their forces could defeat him and his army alike.

But Joto doesn't work like that. The idea of pitting an entire army against one man is absurd. To have to resort to something like that because they don't want to fight Lance directly would be all but an admission of defeat. But evidently, to the nobles, actually duelling Lance would feel like a death sentence.

And honestly, I'm not sure they'd be wrong. That explosion of power at Mahogany Manor was far, far beyond anything I've seen before. The closest comparisons I can find are the old tales of the ancient heroes. Lance's Chaos is very different to mine, because I have a reason to fight it.

All he has is reasons to give in to it.

And the longer this awkward stalemate lasts, the longer his kingdom will be in a state of disarray. And so the more he'll let the Chaos take over.

We all know it. The others might not have the same link to Chaos I do (although as an Imperial Blessed I'd guess Deanne has at least an inkling), but they saw the carnage at Choji first-hand. And they know me well enough.

We push ourselves harder, trying to shave as much time off the journey as we can. But avoiding the settlements forces us into difficult terrain - some difficult enough that without our Blessed strength and stamina I doubt we could have made much if any progress at all.

One night, when we're getting close to Fusube, camped on a precarious mountain pass - something that definitely wouldn't be safe for ordinary humans to do - I realise something.

"What is it?" Carlei asks quietly, when she feels as much as hears me chuckling.

"I just realised something. I...think it's my birthday today."

"What?" Carlei's surprised exclamation is louder than she means, and we both pause, sheepishly, listening for any sounds from outside our tent that would suggest we disturbed the others. "You should've said something!" she protests.

"Right, because it'd be really easy to make me a cake up here," I retort, playfully. "Besides, I'm not even sure."

"But you think so?" Carlei chuckles slightly. "Well, I have no idea what day it is, so I'm not going to be much help there. Let's just say it's your birthday. Though it won't be much of a celebration."

"I'd prefer this over any kind of party," I murmur, quietly.

"Flatterer," Carlei teases me. But she kisses me anyway. "I suppose this isn't exactly how you envisaged your next birthday happening," she observes, drily.

"Yeah, I expected less magic and more college. But...this is better."

"You don't even know what your life you be like if you weren't here," she points out. "It must have been six months since you were brought here. Anything could've happened to you in your world."

"I know. This is better. Maybe it's petty, but...I feel like I mean something here. Back home I was just Jake's kid brother. And then 'the missing guy's kid brother. I was just...average. Average grades, average friends, average life. But I can make a difference here."

"It's not petty," Carlei says. "Everyone wants to mean something. Not everyone manages. But you do. To me, even if to nobody else."

"And that's the other reason this world is better," I add, leaning up to kiss her back. No matter what might have happened to me on Earth if I'd never been brought here...there's nothing that could compare to Carlei being here with me. "I love you." It still gives me a little thrill to be able to say that.

"You too," Carlei whispers, quietly.

Ethan - Togetic, Serene Grace, Relaxed, Scatters Things Often
Carlei - Typhlosion, Blaze, Relaxed, Likes to Thrash About
Gaius - Golem, Sturdy, Bold, Alert to Sounds
Magni aka Muscle - Machamp, Guts, Lonely, Proud of its Power
Deanne - Dragonair, Shed Skin, Careful, Impetuous and Silly
Lyra - Azumarill, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Stubborn
Amphy - Ampharos, Static, Timid, Often Dozes Off
Bradon - Bellsprout, Chlorophyll, Timid, Somewhat Vain
Shayne - Sandshrew, Sand Veil, Gentle, Likes to Fight
Haneka - Skiploom, Chlorophyll, Mild, Thoroughly Cunning
Micha - Magnemite, Magnet Pull, Hasty, Good Endurance
Erewan - Unown (E), Levitate, Brave, Likes to Fight
Nichol - Nidoking, Rivalry, Brave, Somewhat Vain
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
335
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
Lance's Chaos is very different to mine, because I have a reason to fight it.

All he has is reasons to give in to it.

And the longer this awkward stalemate lasts, the longer his kingdom will be in a state of disarray. And so the more he'll let the Chaos take over.
...Oh. Yikes.

On a brighter note, happy birthday to Ethan! I'm glad he's happy in this world, and that scene with Carlei was cute.

As an aside, apologies for the slightly smaller/haphazard chapters of late; everything going on out in the real world has left it...a little difficult to focus on writing stuff at times.
No need to apologize! I think we're all having some trouble focusing. I certainly am, at least. It's okay to post smaller chapters or just take a break for a while, we understand.
 

Xita

Moo
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
186
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
93
Location
Germany
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Water, Dark
Happy Birthday Ethan!

And don’t sweat it, these times are hard on all of us at the moment. Don’t think anyone would fault you for taking a break.
 

Thirteenth

Number XIV
Writer
Pokédex No.
14
Caught
May 20, 2019
Messages
171
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Ice
Pokédex Entry
The reason she guides people all the way down to the mountain's base is that she wants them to hurry up and leave.
I finally, finally, finally caught up! I'd caught up months ago and then fell behind again before I was able to leave a comment, but I put an end to that today.

I started reading this because I looked over SilverDoe's feature for it before it went up, got big 👀 about it, and immediately downloaded the AO3 pdf lol This run has been such a joy to read, whether it was on train rides or on short breaks at work or while just playing Pokemon. I think what initially intrigued me so much was the setting. I'm not usually one for "I got dumped in a different world" narratives, but the world you've created here was so compelling and developed -- and I think Carlei grabbed me right from the start too -- that I enjoyed it anyway. I think the emphasis on the cultural differences between Joto and the real world have helped make characters' actions more believable, and it's certainly nice to connect with Ethan in those moments where he has trouble understanding or accepting those actions.

Speaking of Carlei, she's probably my favorite of the current cast. She's got this fortitude to her that I admire. But she's also playful, and all her moments with Ethan are adorable. (Which, on that subject, I always love when stories continue beyond the moment when people get to together and we actually get the see the development of their relationship.)

I think the dynamic between Carlei, Ethan, Lyra, and Ampharal has been the most interesting one to me. They pretty much all have deeper ties to each other than everyone else. Ampharal in particular interests me because he's smug and has an edge to him that no one else really does, so seeing how he gets along with anyone is pretty fun.

Really eager to see how this confrontation with Clair goes, and then the final showdown against Lance, what the Wardens end up doing (if anything beyond being cryptic), and I'm assuming Ho-oh will come play a part in all this at some point -- I'm just really excited to see how the rest of this story goes. Do take your time, though! I'll be here patiently awaiting the next chapter.
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
75
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #110
Okay, finally back in some sort of writing-feasible headspace. Hopefully. Thanks for the comments! (And for the birthday wishes for Ethan; I'm sure he'd say thankyou if he knew you existed. 😛)


We eventually arrive in Fusube nearly two months after we left Kogane. It's the first big settlement we've come near, and seeing the state of it makes our journey feel so incredibly painfully slow and drawn-out - especially when we know we could've made the same journey in just a week and a half or so on the Ryusei.

The city is situated in a mountain pass, nestled with mountains on three of four sides (and on the fourth, for that matter, albeit with a travelable pass between the mountains on that side), backing on to the tallest of the mountains - and more importantly, onto the cave within it, Noana - that made this place once a holy site, like Deanne had mentioned back in Kogane.

The mountain pass is the only way into the city - or, technically, climbing over the mountains the pass runs between, though that ends up in about the same place anyway. Climbing the other mountains is impossible; they're holy places, and even if anyone dared trespass, no-one's ever made it to the peak. The Divines' protection would kill even the most powerful Blessed.

So Fusube is quite probably the best-protected city in the entire kingdom, maybe even more so than the capital. And yet even here, people are scared.

It's obvious long before we get into the city proper. The pass is regularly patrolled by squads of a dozen soldiers - mostly Blessed - who make random inspections to check what purpose people are coming to Fusube for. In fairness, they don't seem particularly harsh about it - the only time I see anyone get ordered to turn back is when they got pissy about being told to submit to an inspection and try to pick a fight. We get stopped a few times just like everyone else on the pass, but between the three nobles among our party (we don't risk revealing Carlei's identity, despite Kuni very publicly singing her praises) and our claims that we're seeking an audience with Lord Choro, they let us go fairly quickly each time. But there's always that little element of fear I can feel prickling in their minds. And I don't entirely understand why until Ampharal points out that since they're guarding the only way a hostile army could reach Fusube, they'll be the first to die if Lance attacks.

And when we get to Fusube itself, it becomes quickly apparent that the whole region is on a war footing. Most of the outlying villages and land in the small area around the city between the mountain ranges are occupied by Blackthorn soldiers training, maintaining their equipment and...whatever else it is soldiers do to get ready for war. Looking down at it from the pass makes for an awe-inspiring sight, and it's pretty obvious why everyone keeps saying House Blackthorn is the one house with the power to stand up to the Imperials.

And yet, for all that it should be confidence-building, I can't help but find the sight a frightening one. We came here because we want Choro to send these people into battle. For us. And not all of them will survive if he does.

The city itself is guarded by yet more soldiers, most of them Blessed, their heraldries incorporated into their uniforms much like Silver's was. Deanne's name - and her summoning her mithril sword, which seems to serve as some sort of proof of identity - is enough to get us inside.

The city is so, so different inside the walls. It's...incredible, and again a reminder that while House Olivine might be the wealthiest noble house, Blackthorn is far and away the most powerful. It isn't quite as neatly laid-out as Asagi, and the buildings don't quite have the same ornate architecture - but almost every building features some sort of impossible architecture or construction that could only have been created with magic and Blessed powers. "Even for a member of our house, one cannot simply pick a plot of land and order a building constructed," Deanne explains, leading us through the city. "A building tells a tale of its builder, and very few are ever destroyed. Far more often, a new architect takes up ownership of an abandoned building and expands it, or makes some minor alterations, to suit themselves. But to cast down the history of another is a grave insult."

And it isn't just the architecture that makes it obvious that this is a Blessed-focused city. Almost everyone I see is in their heraldry, and there are a lot more Blessed here with Manifestations than I've seen even in other Temples. And the entire city is enchanted with the same magic that is used in Temples to protect combatants in a sparring match from injury, meaning duels of honour can break out pretty much anywhere. On more than a few occasions we have to detour to go around a battle that's just sprung up in the middle of the road.

The Blessed here are strong, too. For a while now it's felt like we're big fish in a small pond, but there are quite a few Blessed here who I wouldn't fancy my chances against one-on-one. It's...honestly almost weird, and yet oddly comforting. It reminds me of how things used to be, back when I first got my Blessing. Back before...all of this.

But at the same time, it just seems so...foolish, so in contrast to the war preparations outside. If you lived in here, you could be forgiven for thinking nothing had happened at all.

Eventually, Deanne leads us to an absolutely enormous building. Most of the noble manors have been pretty big, of course, but this must rival the palace itself for size - although just like most of the other buildings in Fusube, it sprawls, going through a dozen subtly different architectural styles as it spreads out from what must have been the original manor in both directions. "Our House is...extensive." Deanne looks like she's trying not to grin at our expressions as we gaze at the manor. "And each and every member of the House is welcome to reside within our manor, accompanied by their family and, um...similar...close ones." Magni smirks and whispers something in her ear and she blushes furiously. "Um..a-anyway! Thus the rather expansive nature of Blackthorn Manor."

It doesn't take us long to get an audience with Lady Clair, which isn't exactly surprising if she insists on being beaten in a duel before doing anything for anyone. Although considering how few people she must see, the audience chamber is weirdly ornate, all beautifully-carved walls of some sort of shiny stone that varies between blue and purple and two massive columns on either side of the ornate dais - and then, in what seems like an afterthought judging from the difference in style, behind the dais is a large spout like you might get in a water feature - except rather than water flowing down from it into the channel behind the dais, literal fucking lava is flowing from it and round the edges of the audience chamber, only stopping (and presumably disappearing into a drain of some sort) just before the doorway we came in by.

This is uncomfortably hot, even with my protection against fire from my bond with Carlei. There's no way any normal human - hell, even weaker Blessed - would be able to cope with this. And what makes it even more frustrating is that I can feel the magic surrounding the dais, even from here. For anyone up there, this would be no more than a pleasant summer's day.

There are two guards, one standing in front of each column, much like Jasmine had had when we met her, sweating a little in the heat. But the other two individuals in the room are lounging on what appears to basically be a gold sofa with plush purple cushions for comfort.

The two women look fairly similar, almost down to their heraldry - both wearing beige robes with long blue cloaks over the top, and tiaras made of the same blue stone as the audience chamber. It's easy to tell which one Clair is, partly because her hair is the same colour as Carlei's (or, well, the same colour as Carlei's was before she dyed it black) and mostly because of the cool, contemptuous look in her eyes and the disinterested irritation in her aura. The other woman is basically lying in Clair's lap, eyes closed, letting Clair stroke her hair as though we weren't there at all.

After a moment of waiting for them to do...something...Deanne steps forwards and raises her voice. "Lady Clair, please forgive my lack of attendance at your wedding to Lady Gabrialla. Unfortunately, at the time, I had been imprisoned by former Lady Whitney of Kogane on the orders of L - of His Majesty, King Lance - on false charges."

Her rather...pointed...apology gets a reaction from Gabrialla, who opens her eyes and twists her head slightly to look at Deanne before lying back down. Clair just raises an eyebrow. "Your apology is accepted," she pronounces, with an air of magnaminity. "Now who are they?"

If Deanne is bothered by Clair basically dismissing everything she'd been through, she does a damn good job of not showing it. "May I present Lord Ampharal of Kirameki and Lady Lyra, ward of the throne, and our companions. It is our wish to receive audience with Lord Choro, and per the ancient laws of our House, they shall challenge for the right to it."

"Hmph." Clair looks like she's about to say something else, but Gabrialla sits up, swivelling so she's sitting properly on the sofa, looking directly at Lyra for a few moments, then glances back to Clair. I almost wonder if they have the same telepathic power that Carlei and I share, but I think their unspoken communication is of a much more normal sort. "Very well," Clair agrees. "The duel shall take place in this chamber in one week's time. Prepare yourselves well, challengers...for your lives shall be imperilled should you lose."

Ethan - Togetic, Serene Grace, Relaxed, Scatters Things Often
Carlei - Typhlosion, Blaze, Relaxed, Likes to Thrash About
Gaius - Golem, Sturdy, Bold, Alert to Sounds
Magni aka Muscle - Machamp, Guts, Lonely, Proud of its Power
Deanne - Dragonair, Shed Skin, Careful, Impetuous and Silly
Lyra - Azumarill, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Stubborn
Amphy - Ampharos, Static, Timid, Often Dozes Off
Bradon - Bellsprout, Chlorophyll, Timid, Somewhat Vain
Shayne - Sandshrew, Sand Veil, Gentle, Likes to Fight
Haneka - Skiploom, Chlorophyll, Mild, Thoroughly Cunning
Micha - Magnemite, Magnet Pull, Hasty, Good Endurance
Erewan - Unown (E), Levitate, Brave, Likes to Fight
Nichol - Nidoking, Rivalry, Brave, Somewhat Vain
 

Xita

Moo
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
186
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
93
Location
Germany
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Water, Dark
Welcome back! Seems like it was easy enough getting a chance to duel Clair, now to see that hopefully they survive! I remember having a pretty rough time with Clair when I played. Also I enjoyed the town description and how everyone just oozes coolness.
 

DistortionLocke

Conqueror of the Fuchsia Gym
Writer
Pokédex No.
623
Caught
Aug 3, 2019
Messages
46
Location
U.S.
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Dark, Ghost
Pokédex Entry
Anxious, sweet-toothed writer who hides amongst the papers. Only attacks when provoked.
Finally caught up again! 😤

Man, your build-up to this battle is so intense. And I love how you covey Clair’s personality through so few words and actions. I’m rooting real hard for Lyra and Amphy to succeed!
 

Thirteenth

Number XIV
Writer
Pokédex No.
14
Caught
May 20, 2019
Messages
171
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Ice
Pokédex Entry
The reason she guides people all the way down to the mountain's base is that she wants them to hurry up and leave.
Aaaa I can't believe I almost missed this! Seconding what DistortionLocke said, Clair's personality comes across very clearly so quickly, not only in the way she's introduced but even in the room itself and how she leaves her guards to swelter in the heat.

I'm worried for Lyra and Ampharal. :')
 

csidvuL

Conqueror of the Goldenrod Gym
Writer
Pokédex No.
31
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
238
i'm overjoyed that my favourite sore loser has an extra ass lava chamber; it's a really charming translation of her gym. Also, Lyra's ascension was amazing! What a pleasure to read.

A very very big welcome back! I've missed your regular updates, even if I haven't always had time in the moment to catch up with them. What I have appreciated about this latest batch of chapters is the larger view of the world around them that they take, as time passes and tensions continue to boil over in the region. The depth of lore in your world is wonderful.

Call of the Divines has such a comforting rhythm to it. Written Story Runs isn't quite the same when it's not going. Looking forward to Lyra and Amphy's big duel! I think this essentially being couple-on-couple (all aboard the ship!!!) battle really really escalates tension in a fun way. I'm looking forward to how you play with the concept!
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
75
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #115
Xita - Thanks! And yeah Blackthorn City always struck me as this weird kinda town full of badasses, so I tried to stick with the theme.

DistortionLocke - Can you tell I don't really like Clair lol?

Thirteenth - Thanks! Yeah Clair never really struck me as a particularly fair person. And I'm sure there's absolutely no reason to worry about Lyra and Amphy...

csidvuL - Thanks! Glad you're still enjoying it. And yeah it being couple-vs-couple was not intended at the time I originally played the game but I like having the opportunity to focus on a couple other than Ethan and Carlei lol. (Also I have to think super hard about your name each time I write it. 😂 )


Even though Lyra and Ampharal are the only ones who are going to be fighting in the duel, we all spend the week training. Part of it is, of course, because we know we'll have to fight eventually - maybe Silver, maybe some of the nobles still loyal to Lance, maybe even Lance himself - and we need all the help we can get. Honestly, though, the main reason I throw myself back into training is that it's just...nice.

This is the first time we've been able to spar and train with other Blessed since Suribachi - and even then, I spent most of the time we were there training with Lyra, so the last time I had the opportunity to spend any real length of time training was all the way back in Enju. Literally months ago. We've all been sparring with each other since then, of course, but any of us could predict our moves almost with our eyes closed, even Ampharal's and Lyra's - the most recent to join our sparring matches - at this point, and it doesn't really help us improve much.

But it isn't just our natural Blessed urge to test ourselves. It's more than that. My guess that we'd have a hard time taking on some of the Blessed here one-on-one was right; in many cases, Carlei and I have to team up against our opponents just to hold our own. And being back in a state of being able to lose - without fear of anything more than a little wounded pride - is so deeply comforting that I'd never entirely realised how much I missed it.

It also helps that Fusube has a massive supply of old tomes and scrolls, like Kogane - though unlike Kogane, these scrolls aren't under the control of the Faith, but rather in the possession of various Blessed families willing to let others peruse them, so I spend most of the time I'm not training studying them, looking for something - anything - that might help us figure out some advantage we can get over Lance.

Oddly, I don't see much of Lyra the whole week. I suppose I can't really blame her - I can't see the Blessed of Fusube thinking much of her 'flawed' Blessing, Champion or no - but I might have expected her at least to go through some of the old scrolls with me or Ampharal. But on the rare occasion I do bump into Ampharal, he hasn't seen much more of her than I have - though he does mention that she told him she might not be around all that much and not to worry. I'm glad he's finally starting to treat her more reasonably. If she'd done something like this when we'd first met him he probably wouldn't have let her out of his sight.

The week goes by fast. And as it does, people start to talk about the upcoming duel. Word gets around that Lyra's a Champion - which doesn't surprise me all that much, given how many Imperial Blessed live in the city - but also, significantly more worryingly, so do rumours that Princess Carlei is in the city. Some people have even started calling her De Jure Queen Carlei, but even among those that don't I don't hear a single person calling her anything but Princess, despite the fact that she's still technically exiled. I suppose after Kuni's announcement I shouldn't be surprised, but the fact that everyone has so quickly turned and started supporting her is...disconcerting.

Eventually, the day of the duel arrives. Deanne comes to collect us from the Temple we're staying in almost before dawn, even though the duel isn't actually meant to happen for another few hours. It becomes rapidly apparent that this is because of the utterly ridiculous amounts of etiquette and protocol that the duel involves.

First there's a whole ceremony involving Lyra and Ampharal petitioning Clair for the right to duel her and her chosen allies, even though they already did that once. Clair, unsurprisingly, agrees, and names Gabrialla and her two guards as her allies. No-one in the audience seems surprised at Clair giving herself an advantage in numbers. Then comes the matter of heraldry. Even though Ampharal, Lyra, Gabrialla and Clair were all wearing theirs already, they have to take most of it off and then have each bit cleaned or replaced before having it ceremonially put on them by the Temple priests (who I would have thought probably have better things to do.) One thing that does become apparent, though, is that Clair and Gabrialla weren't wearing their full heraldry when we met them the first time, because Clair ends up wearing a mask rather like Carlei's while Gabrialla has a dragon helmet like Silver's - which does at least make it easier to tell them apart, although now they're both standing up it becomes obvious that Gabrialla has about six inches of height and a lot of muscle over her wife, so that wasn't much of a problem anyway.

I'm not the only one getting impatient. Most of the audience members are shifting irritably, waiting for all the protocol to be done with and the actual important fight to get underway. I can't help but feel like Clair insists on all this just so she can rub her authority in everyone's faces. I'm just glad the preparatory ceremony doesn't happen in the damn lava chamber.

The fight itself does, though. When - finally - everything is finished, the duellists are led back to the chamber while the audience splits three ways - thankfully, as part of the 'challengers' party even if we aren't actually duelling, we get taken to a viewing gantry, so at least we can see what's going on. Clair apparently has a couple of guests too - two hooded figures who've obviously masked their auras with magic, because I can't sense anything from them, and...another Warden and Paladin. Why am I not surprised?

Almost in perfect unison, the six duellists conjure their weapons - Clair and her guards have a sword like Deanne and Carlei, while Gabrialla has a massive spiked maul that reminds me of Whitney's weapon - though she seems a lot more skilled with it, holding it out one-handed so the tip is pointed directly at Ampharal and Lyra.

Just as with so many Blessed fights, there's no real signal to begin. Gabrialla just suddenly leaps forwards, blue flames gathering on the tip of her maul, and she spins it around and hurls a fireball at Ampharal before following up with a massive swing - that leads her right into one of his magical electro-mines that erupts in a blaze of golden light and drops her to the floor in the blink of an eye. I think he's as surprised as the rest of us how well that worked.

Lyra doesn't have as much luck. She sends a shimmering-blue arrow at Clair, but she raises her sword up like she's saluting and literally slices Lyra's arrow in half, sending each half into the wall behind her, where they promptly erupt into a wave of water that cools the lava down enough to harden an entire segment of the channel into solid rock. There are more than a few surprised gasps from the audience - both at how powerful Lyra's attack was, and at Clair managing to deflect it. I've seen Deanne use countermagic like that before, but Clair's a lot more practiced at it.

Clair doesn't react visibly to Gabrialla's fall, but her aura turns fiery and angry like the lava around her, and she totally ignores Lyra's attempt to attack her, and instead traces a circle of runes in the air with her free hand, launching a wave of blue flames towards Ampharal, who ducks and returns the favour with another lightning bolt that she spins aside from.

As the two magicians duel, neither of them able to score a hit with their magic, Clair's guards advance on Lyra as she tries to aim at Clair again. She barely sees them coming in time to turn and block a fireball with a shield of water, snuffing it out easily, but then the other one gets past her and hits her with the same spell Ampharal had used on Silver.

And it's just as frighteningly effective. Her bow clatters to the ground and dissolves into water as she struggles to raise her arms enough to block another twinned blast of blue flames, and I realise that the guards had deliberately used a weaker attack to trick her into lowering her defences against the real danger.

Ampharal glances over to her, his concern obvious even without my powers - and Clair darts closer and totally switches things up from her constant barrage of magic while he's distracted. She drops her sword and grabs his arm instead, vaulting over him, and springing off his back, taking advantage of her strength and momentum to knock him to the floor. Even before she's landed, she traces another circle of runes, but this time with both hands, and it begins to blaze with blue light that swiftly turns pure white as she pours more power into it, and she lands, pirouettes - and then gives Ampharal a smirk and adjusts her position so she's aiming at Lyra.

This is exactly what I - what we all - were scared of. No matter how much we might try to train Lyra, her vulnerability is easy to exploit. And that makes anyone fighting alongside her vulnerable too.

But she knows that. She always did. And she never tried to try to counteract it by toughening herself (though Gaius was always pointedly suggesting it.) She learned to deal with it.

Her Champion aura flares into full brightness, and blue light blazes from her, washing away the paralysing spell and healing her wounds. She doesn't move in time to dodge Clair's blast, and it hits her full on. But when the light dies down from the most powerful spell I've ever seen, she's still conscious - though she drops to one knee for a few moments, panting.

Even Clair's anger is suppressed for a moment, replaced with a grudging respect - and Ampharal takes advantage of her focus on Lyra to get back to his feet and hit her with a powerful spell of his own, sending her sprawling pretty much right on top of Gabrialla.

But that still leaves the two guards, and they quickly conjure another massive ball of blue flames, working together, before Ampharal can turn to aim at them, raising their hands to bring it down at Lyra -

And she gives an angry, desperate yell, and raises both hands in a sweeping motion, and a wall of ice erupts from the ground, taking the guards with it and flowing over them, pinning them in place halfway to the ceiling.

We never taught her that move. None of us can even use ice magic.

The two hooded figures in the other viewing gantry turn and leave.

Turns out Blackthorn Gym basically feels like a bullet hell game. Dragon Pulses and Hyper Beams, oh my!
Ethan - Togetic, Serene Grace, Relaxed, Scatters Things Often
Carlei - Typhlosion, Blaze, Relaxed, Likes to Thrash About
Gaius - Golem, Sturdy, Bold, Alert to Sounds
Magni aka Muscle - Machamp, Guts, Lonely, Proud of its Power
Deanne - Dragonair, Shed Skin, Careful, Impetuous and Silly
Lyra - Azumarill, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Stubborn
Amphy - Ampharos, Static, Timid, Often Dozes Off
Bradon - Bellsprout, Chlorophyll, Timid, Somewhat Vain
Shayne - Sandshrew, Sand Veil, Gentle, Likes to Fight
Haneka - Skiploom, Chlorophyll, Mild, Thoroughly Cunning
Micha - Magnemite, Magnet Pull, Hasty, Good Endurance
Erewan - Unown (E), Levitate, Brave, Likes to Fight
Nichol - Nidoking, Rivalry, Brave, Somewhat Vain
 

DistortionLocke

Conqueror of the Fuchsia Gym
Writer
Pokédex No.
623
Caught
Aug 3, 2019
Messages
46
Location
U.S.
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Dark, Ghost
Pokédex Entry
Anxious, sweet-toothed writer who hides amongst the papers. Only attacks when provoked.
Fuck yeah, Lyra!
 

csidvuL

Conqueror of the Goldenrod Gym
Writer
Pokédex No.
31
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
238
GETTEM LYRA

I highkey love how Ethan has these competing instincts -- both to dote on and protect Lyra, in a sort of kid-sister way, mixed with the sharp reminder via her actions that she is arguably the strongest of the gang when she lets fly. Watching him both worry and remind himself that he doesn't necessarily have to worry, but then decide anew to worry because as strong as she is, what if Clair outguns her tactically was really fun to read.

also, gabriella is likewise my ideal wife, bless Clair for her good taste
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
75
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #118
DistortionLocke - 🤣 I have been looking forwards to writing Lyra getting a proper chance to win a fight for so long.

csidvuL - Yeah Ethan's (and actually most of the others') relationship with Lyra in terms of flip-flopping between protectiveness and being protected is a lot of fun to write. I think Lyra might have ended up being my favourite character lol.


I was so focused on the fight that it takes me a few moments to realise the crowd are cheering Lyra and Ampharal's victory. I can't help but wonder how much of it is the typical Blessed recognition of a good fight and how much of it is them enjoying seeing Clair get her ass kicked.

Magni's cheering too, unsurprisingly, and Deanne's clapping if not outright cheering, and even Gaius is smiling slightly, approvingly. Somehow celebrating is a bit beyond me at the moment, though. The best I can do is sigh in relief, releasing a breath I didn't realise I was holding. I'm so used to Carlei's presence and touch that I don't realise we were holding hands tightly until she slips her hand out of mine and wraps her arm around my waist instead.

After a moment, Gabrialla sits up, carefully lifting Clair onto her lap. For a moment I think she's still planning on fighting, but Ampharal lets his book dissolve into crackling sparks that fall from his hand like rain, moving over to help Lyra up, letting her lean against him while she catches her breath. He reaches out and taps the wall of ice with one finger, curiously. Despite the oppressive heat, it's not melting - just the opposite, in fact. The lava beside it is beginning to cool and solidify. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. The last time we saw magic like that it was only Deanne's countermagic that broke it.

Gabrialla conjures her maul again in one hand and uses it as a crutch to help herself up, cradling Clair in her other arm. Traditionally Blessed are expected to acknowledge defeat in a duel before it gets to the stage of them being beaten into unconsciousness, but evidently Clair wanted to win too much. Somehow I'm not surprised - though I am a little more surprised that Gabrialla did give in. Maybe even before she really needed to. "Well, come down here, if you want to see Lord Choro!" she calls up to us.

But there aren't any Blackthorn courtiers to lead us back around - and I doubt we'd have much luck getting through the crowds anyway. So the only way to get to them is to jump straight into the audience chamber, in full view of everyone. It's totally contrary to...pretty much everything we've been doing ever since Carlei and I escaped from the palace, and my instinctive response is to back off. But at the same time...we want House Blackthorn and Lord Choro to support all of us, not just Lyra and Ampharal. It wouldn't be fair to demand they support people they've never even seen.

I wonder if that's the point Gabrialla's making.

I'm a little surprised that Magni isn't the first one to leap down. It certainly seems like her kind of stunt. But instead Carlei moves first, hopping up onto the railing of our little viewing booth and jumping down, and I match her movements almost without really thinking about it, and it isn't until we land that I realise she's still holding me.

I probably don't really need to use telepathy to talk to her given the noise of the crowd, but it's become something of a habit when we're around other people. <So...I guess we're okay with everyone knowing about us?> It's something we've discussed, of course - obviously, Silver already knows and thanks to him so do Lance and the charologists, but there's a bit of a difference between letting a dozen or so people know we're dating and letting basically an entire city (if not more) know. I've always said I'm fine with it being public, and I am, but...I suppose I just never really thought it would get to that stage.

Carlei flexes her arm slightly, pulling me closer against her. Somehow her aura of heat is so much more pleasant than the heat emanating from the lava, even though she's a lot hotter. "I guess so," she replies.

No matter how many other people are watching, I could just gaze at her forever, those beautiful grey eyes sparkling with life and holding my gaze effortlessly. The amusement prickling in Gabrialla's aura distracts me more than the sounds of the others leaping down after us, and I glance over at her. Thinking about it, I guess she and Clair must have had exactly this conversation at some point and come to the same decision as me and Carlei.

I feel a sudden spike of magical power, and a part of the back wall swivels down to form a drawbridge over the lava, smoothly and without a sound, revealing a long corridor just like the passageway under the palace and the ruined Shrine in Enju. Gabrialla beckons us on.

It's cooler in here - more magic stopping the heat of the lava leaving the audience chamber, I guess. "So this is the Shrine of House Blackthorn," Deanne murmurs, quietly. "Or at least the path to it."

"Have you never been here?" Magni asks.

Deanne chuckles. "Only Lord Choro and those he invites may come here. Even Clair isn't allowed here without permission."

"Not that that's stopped her trying," Gabrialla adds, over her shoulder. "Lord Choro told her once that the day she can make it to the Shrine without aid, he would abdicate his title to her. But that door can only be opened by a master of Imperial magic. Lord Choro's the only one strong enough. No matter how much Clair tries."

"I can heal her, if you want?" Lyra offers. She's mostly recovered from the fight, despite the massive hit she took. (Though knowing her I suspect she'd offer even if she hadn't.)

Gabrialla dismisses her maul - she wasn't really using it for support all that much anyway now - and produces a healing totem from somewhere in her heraldry, showing it to us before stowing it again. "Better to let her rest. She could use it," she adds, more quietly.

"You're less...Blackthorn-y than I expected," Magni points out, after a few moments of quiet walking.

Gabrialla chuckles. "Well, that might be because I'm not. I was born on one of the islands of Nanashima, and came here as a child to train. And then the Exile King declared war, and my home was lost." She goes quiet for a few moments. "But Clair and I have been...rivals, I suppose you could say...ever since we first met. I'm sure you know of her idea that noble blood makes Blessed superior by dint of their connection to the Divine right to rule. We fought duel after duel. And..." She gives a small shrug. "At some point we stopped seeking each other out to fight and started...just seeking each other out to spend time with."

"Why are you telling us all this?" Lyra asks, quietly.

"Because..." Gabrialla sighs. "I know how Clair looks to people. How people call her cruel, and arbitrary, and unjust. And with any luck, you're going to be our Queen soon, Princess." Carlei still flinches slightly at the use of the honorific, even though almost everyone in the audience chamber must have known who she was. "I just want you to know...there is good in her. I wouldn't have fallen in love with her if there wasn't."

I try not to pay too much attention to auras normally, but it's pretty hard to miss Gabrialla's right now. I wonder if this is how my aura looks, whenever I'm thinking about Carlei, all pastel shades and pinpricks of light like a new dawn. It's...beautiful.

Gabrialla clears her throat and straightens up a bit, and I realise we've come to another door - a normal one, this time, not a magical drawbridge. "May I present Lord Choro of House Blackthorn, and the Imperial Shrine of Fusube."

It's the first time I've been in a true Shrine since Kikyo. The Grand Shrine of Tanba was pure, wild energy - though shackled by the Imperials for their own purposes - and it didn't feel anything like this. This is like being buoyed aloft on a tidal wave of fizzing soda, bathing me in a power unlike anything I've ever felt before and yet so familiar. My motes of light cluster around me, drinking in the energy of the Shrine greedily, and I feel like I could do anything. Never mind opening the drawbridge - I could tear the whole manor out of the ground. I can still feel Carlei through our connection, but aside from her the only thing powerful enough to register to my senses is Lyra's Champion aura.

It takes me a long few moments to regain even the slightest focus on the real world. And I'm not the only one drunk on the energy of the Shrine. "Woooowwww," Deanne laughs, languidly. "I like this."

"Apologies." After a moment of concentration I realise the voice belongs to an Imperial Blessed - powerful, easily stronger than anyone I've met except maybe Evena, but not even close to the kind of energy Deanne and I are drinking in. "Our Shrine has long been the greatest of the Shrines of Joto, and being so close to it does tend to leave one a little...befuddled. The effects will pass soon. Though..." I feel something poking at my aura, curiously. "I admit I have not seen an Air Aspect react so strongly to our Shrine before."

It's an old man - for a moment I think Jisan has somehow made it here - but this guy is a little taller than Jisan and has a much longer beard, and he's wearing some elements of the same heraldry Clair and Gabrialla are, though his is mostly beige instead of blue, with two long, trailing streamers in his hair that remind me painfully of the ones Haneka wore.

"Mmm," the old man - Choro, I presume - continues. "Allow me to introduce my other guests - Warden Sayo and Paladin Julian of the Faith."

The surprise helps me focus, though I suppose I probably shouldn't have been surprised since they were there while we were fighting Clair. And of course the damn Paladin is staring at me. I'd really hoped they might have gotten over that by now.

"Well, since we're all present and...mostly...correct, please do sit down," Choro continues, gesturing to the table he's sitting at and a multitude of chairs and cushions around it. "Tea?"

Ethan - Togetic, Serene Grace, Relaxed, Scatters Things Often
Carlei - Typhlosion, Blaze, Relaxed, Likes to Thrash About
Gaius - Golem, Sturdy, Bold, Alert to Sounds
Magni aka Muscle - Machamp, Guts, Lonely, Proud of its Power
Deanne - Dragonair, Shed Skin, Careful, Impetuous and Silly
Lyra - Azumarill, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Stubborn
Amphy - Ampharos, Static, Timid, Often Dozes Off
Bradon - Bellsprout, Chlorophyll, Timid, Somewhat Vain
Shayne - Sandshrew, Sand Veil, Gentle, Likes to Fight
Haneka - Skiploom, Chlorophyll, Mild, Thoroughly Cunning
Micha - Magnemite, Magnet Pull, Hasty, Good Endurance
Erewan - Unown (E), Levitate, Brave, Likes to Fight
Nichol - Nidoking, Rivalry, Brave, Somewhat Vain
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
335
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
Really enjoyed these last few chapters! The duel was great, and I'm super proud of Lyra. Gabrialla's definitely an interesting character and I'm excited to see what's going to happen in the shrine!
 

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