←index

Still majorly under construction, sorry!
I havn't written several of these characters in years, and I'm having trouble finding some of them again. I expect slow progress.

Before you start reading, you should know that I'm in a better place today than I was when I wrote the original version of this; I've delt with my parent's divorce (and the years growing up before it mostly), I'm figuring out my gender, and I'm getting better at interacting with people.

Book 1

Prolouge

Everyone meets at a fast-food resturaunt.
I never liked the beginning I had originally, so I'm going to make sure I have it perfect this time around.

????

*A suspicious person sits on the opposite side of the diner sipping tea, wearing a trenchcoat and hat.*

Those three have strong potential for people in this world's modern age...
hmmm...

No, they aren't the irregularity. They're certainly why I was drawn here though.

. . .
She reads almost exactly like she's half-airsprite.
No; that's impossible. a fool's hope...

I can't linger. I'm not dressed right for this climate at this time of year, and people are noticing.

hmmm...maybe I can get one of these "Milkshake"s first... no, best not. I shouldn't leave the keep unattended for longer than necissary...

Volume I

Chapter 1

A simple picnic. What could possibly go wrong?

in a park, a horshoe-shaped hill with enormous limestone blocks laid out in widly spaced arcs. an artificial river made of gabbro flows down the hill, set off to one side. The canal is flanked by concrete sidewalks and rushes. small stair-stepped waterfalls and babbling rapids end at a small trough around a circular platform made of granite and andesite. the platform mesures several meters in diameter, and contains concentricly-placed fountains. many ornamental trees— Flowering Cherry, Silver Lime, Japanese Maple, and Bradford Pear— line the walkway and busy street at the lip of the vally. an ancient sycamore stands halfway down the hill away from the river. at the bottom of the vally, connected to the stone platform, is a walking path lined with various types of saplings and flowers.
important lines from the original story

???? - She's...A telepath?


*Jane spins around like somone startled her by tapping on her shoulder*

Daisy - Hmm? Something wrong?
Jane - No; I, uh, thought I ...`heard´... something...

Enter the Villain

Name is self-explainatory

Chapter 2

"So, to recap: Magic is real, You are all powerful casters, You've all been marked for death by an Elderitch Cosmic Horror, come with me if you want to live, you have 2 hours to pack. Any questions⸮ No⸮ Good."

"It's bigger on the inside!"

Steve

...hey, what are all those looks for; don't tell me you weren't all thinking it...

The entire place seemed to be cut from volcanic rock by some master sculpter of the past. The room we entered was seven-sided, with a star made of arquerite set into the polished kimberlite and peridotite floor; the points touched each corner. young Tilia, Rowan, and Laural trees grew in a large, round dirt circle in the center. I looked down one of the main hallways; it seemed to go on forever...

"How big is this place?" I heard Daisy ask
"about 100 kilometers in diameter; it is a Poincaré Dodecahedron, so if you keep walking in a straight line, you will end up back where you started. Architectural illusion and artificial gravity accomidate for the rotational aspect of the tesselation."

I don't think I understood half of that...

"This portion of the keep is only a few hundred thousand years old. most of the construction is more recent than that, built during the Godslayers' Revolution, to serve as temporary housing after my homeworld was destroyed; some of the deeper parts are much, much older, and of unknown origin."


added 31/DEC/2020

modified 13/JAN/2021

Groundskeeper

I wrote on the large slate slab with the chalk turned sideways. Not that I needed to; but it emphesised the point.

"Unified Hyper-dimensional Ætherial Magic Theory is what I will be teaching you;
not everything, not really even enough to be considered a proficiant caster; just enough to keep you alive."

"Why not?"

One of those groups then. eh, they usually learn better.
"Your species simply doesn't live long enough."

"So... are you an elf or something?"

"erm, or something.
and don't call me an elf.
ever."

"...Well Excuuuuuse me."
...must be a cultural reference...

"But, if we're done:

"It deals with Omni-Diminsional forces— the most well-known and least understood of which is Gravity, how to use them directly or convert them into Intra-Diminsional forces— like the Strong force for Alchemy or the Electroweak force for most other useful things, and how to do so without blowing yourself up or splattering yourself across the Ætherial Hyperplane.

"The last aspect is the most important for applied magic, and will be what I teach you first. There are primary aspects about each caster that they must know about themselves. these fluxuate over time, and they are—"

"Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma?"

"No." I've heard that before; at that exact part, too.

"Attack, Defense, Speed, and Special?"

"No. May I continue?

the base parameters most important for keeping yourselves alive are Resting Source Rate, Maximum Ground Capacity, Leakage Curve, Redline Capacity, Peak Discharge Rate, and Magic Permeability Tolerance. If you are familiar with an electronic camera flash, then you will be familiar with the principle of operation.

The one that kills you is the Magic Permeability Tolerance; this is how much magic your body can take before you loose your lunch and pass out; if you're lucky. More likely, you start getting random second-degree burns on your skin...and internal organs. It's also possible to burst into flames, explode, implode, begin spontanious fission or fusion, self-annihlate, de-phase, or worse."

By this point, everyone was writing (or doodling), so I continued.

"The next most important parameter is your Redline. This is the absolute maximum total amount of energy you can hold at any given time without bad things happening; if you hit this, it should only be because you are in combat and preparing to dump most of it right then. If you exceed it, then all the energy you've stored is expelled into your body, and you end up as either a crispy critter or worse. There are certain spells that must be activated in this manner, but there are ways of triggering a breakdown-discharge without actually exceeding your redline; and in any case, I will not be teaching you any of these spells, regardless of any aspirations you may have to be one of these "Video Game Bosses" I've seen on the internet.

"the next things are the Resting Source Rate, Maximum Ground Capacity, and Leakage Curve. When you source energy, there's a bit of area in which you can ramp up before you start bleeding off energy; the line at which the bleed-off starts is your Maximum Ground Capacity; the rate at which it increases is the Leakage Curve. However, sourcing energy is not always a conciouss action; the amount of energy you source when you are not trying to is your Resting Source Rate, and altering this amount in either direction causes a porportional drop in your Tolerance. These Parameters are used to calculate your Equilibrium; If your Equilibrium is above your Redline, you will either be sinking the excess into a forcefield, or covered in ionized plasma, at all times. The latter is not fun.

"The last parameter is your Peak Discharge Rate; this is usually an Unknown once your body becomes accustom to magic, as testing this would quickly become both fatal, dangerous on par with natural disasters; or even astronomical events in some cases. If you can't push any harder, don't worry about it. What this mesures is the maximum amount of energy you can convert into an instant of work.

"Now, this all may seem tame at this point, but keep in mind we're talking about Omni-Diminsional forces. So; Who here has some background in Surreal Numbers? Anyone? ...Transfinities? ...okay, just any Set Theory at all? Okay, so not starting Entirely from scratch..."


Added/Modifyed 12 13/JAN/2021

Groundskeeper

"What is your angle in all of this?"

I looked up. The quiet one, Arthur, was standing in the doorway, giving me an icy glare.

"You lead us to believe that you were going to teach us some sort of self defense. This place is geared twords something much bigger than that. You have enough rooms and weapons here to outfit a massive army. What is your real reson for bringing us here?"

"... I've already explained; your magic aptitude is the reason that they targeted you. I was simply in the right place at the right time to keep you from getting killed.

"This isn't a prison. This isn't a militant cult. You are free to leave anytime you want. However, this pocket dimension is shielded. If you leave, you would be discovered quickly. You should stay at least until you are able to defend yourself from the lower level grunts.

"...look, I'm not going to claim to be Apolitical. And if that makes you think less of me, I would point out that Wernher von Braun claimed to be apolitical. Need I say more? When somone says they are Apolitical, more often than not what they mean is they have no remorse when their actions hurt others.

"And I will not say that the time you spend here will not change you. Everything somone does changes them. If you stay here, it will change how you view your world, and maybe even yourself, forever. But unless I've missed my guess about what kind of people you are, I don't think you would have serious objections to the kind of person you will become."

"And yet you say that this isn't a cult and that you have no agenda."

"I suppose anyone can call anything a cult if they don't like the microculture of the group. I know that some in your world call institutions of higher learning `Cults´ because they give people the tools to cut through their rhetoric and circuses. You could even go so far as to call teaching them an agenda. But it is not my intention to create a parasitic enviroment. I've gone to great lengths, within the confines of the pourposes which this place is to serve, to try and make it a safe enviroment. I'm only teaching you how to survive the road that lies ahead of you; it's up to you, as a group, to choose that road; if you want to mearly survive, or if you want to do more."

"But you would prefer if we did more?"

I tried to hide my agreement. Tried.

"...So what would your version of 'More' entail?"

"... ... ... ...long ago, in another world, I swore to help protect those who were persecuted and oppressed. to avenge systemic injustice. I suppose I try to edge people to a similar path, but I will not force you to make the same sacrifices I have. However—"

"ah. here it comes."

"It is common in your world for groups who have power and influence to decide that they are above common morality, and appoint themselves to enforce their `Grand Design´ across all they can reach. I think the term is `Übermensch´. If you choose this path, then our mandates will be at odds, and I will be forced to take action against you."

"... ... ...so, that's what you want us to do, then. Vengence for the Oppressed, Overthrowing the Burgoisie, that sort of thing⸮"

"Now hold on a second, I didn't say—"

"...This... ...this could be fun."

Arthur gave a cheeky grin and a giggle as he walked out the door. A sense of deja-vu flashed at that; but I couldn't place it. After I couldn't shake it, I decided I had to ask something. I caught up to him fairly quickly.

"Arthur, I'm sorry if this is too personal, but would you mind telling me what it is that your parents do?"

"... ... ...uhh... ... ...Archæology. Pre-viking Scandinavia. They sent me away for school after their most recent discoveries provoked a bunch of hatemail from some wingnut racists. People don't like it when you challenge their preconceptions."

hmmm...
...nah, too obvious.
"Nevermind; you reminded me of someone I knew a very long time ago."

"You know, some pagans believed in reincarnation."

on second thought...
"I had heard about that, yes/s"


Arthur

I tried to hide my panic as I exited the room and headed back to bed. I can't believe I just did that! I...I don't act like that!

not while I'm awake, at least.

...then again, why don't I act like that? just speak my mind, throw caution to the wind; and if people don't like me for who I am...

Jane always says I need to loosen up and be my own person. Is that who I want to be?

I popped my head into Jane's room as I walked past. She was still reading a book on telepathy.

"Hey, Jane?"

"Yeah, what's up?"

"...Nevermind."
Yeah, what was I even supposed to ask her? 'Yeah, so I know you want me to be my own person, could you tell me who that's supposed to be?' pfft.



Groundskeeper

Once I was sure everyone was asleep, I wandered through the familiar Granite and Basalt corridors of the keep. I looked in a few of the tens of thousands of empty rooms that had, once upon a time, held soldiers and refugees; A great many, but still only a small fraction, had been demoted to storage; crates, barrels, and amphora strewn about within. I walked past the dozens of great halls that had seen merry feasts and tense stratigic meetings; all but a few were now coated in a thick layer of dust; etched-gold maps of a world that no longer existed and pewter figures of armies whose names had faded into the sands of time still sat in one of them; still engaged in the fight that we never could have won.
Some day even I wouldn't be here to remember them.

I walked Deeper into the keep, to the library; one of the older sections. Much of the knowlage here hadn't been computerized or translated yet. There were all manner of Books, Manuscripts, Palimpsets, Wooden Slips, and Clay Tablets; collections of Engraved Jewelry and Pottery; Scale reproductions of Monuments— Some of the volumes were from lost advanced civilizations, such as the etched Tungsten-Iridium-Osmium alloy Formes that were used for storing and copying important information in my homworld's brief age of prosparity; or the synthetic quartz crystals, with microscopic rutile needles sealed inside forming glyphs of a dead language, seemingly as old as the center of the keep itself.

Am I doing the right thing? If I don't intervene, their deaths will be certain... but will teaching them how to defend themselves give them a chance, or make them more of a target?

It's not as if I'm taking away their choice to live a ‶normal″ life; I gave them a choice. An informed choice.
He didn't.
He just sees them as a potential threat to be eliminated.
Now they're in this up to their necks, and the only thing I can do is try to make sure they survive.

I grabbed the texts I needed to review and left for my quarters. I didn't know what their specialties would be yet, so I had picked up a little of everything and sat it on the levitating iron-and-pewter cart: some rolls of wooden slips detailing Wind-element casting tecniques and calculations, a palimpset detailing the deeper theory and higher order calculations for general case Night-aligned sourcing, a few clay tablets on Fire magic, a bound manuscript on Earth magic and Transmutations, several copies of a widly produced textbook on Telekenisis, Shields, and Spell Projection Fields... I hesitated as I picked up a crystal that detailed processes by which you can violate the Second Law in a local reference frame using Void Magic and the Ætherial undercurrent; That should not be in the beginner section.

...I'll refile it later. For now, I should brush up on this stuff so I can make a half-decent attempt to teach them.

Several chapters

Miniboss

Trial by fire


Uh-oh...


Groundskeeper

I havn't prepared them enough.

This is what I needed to know;
This is why I engineered this encounter.

With little more than a thought, I ionized a potential accross the space that the low-level grunt I had tricked into coming here was currently occupying. Several small lightningbolts raced accross the 4-meter gap; one of them piercing his shield. He collapsed in a smoldering heap.

"I wasn't...expecting...You..."
All of my students turned to look at me.

"We could've finished—" "Daisy, stop. you're bleeding."

"I am surprised that the child of your last protogés...or were they the ones before last, you've had soooooo many...is not here as well. You stopped looking for her so soon after the fire; perhaps you gave up on her? In any case, we've been sure to make her life hell in your absance hahahahaHAHAHAHAHA*cough*huuurkpbf*

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
No. ...it's not possible.
... ...What have I done?

I raced forward to interrogate him, but it was too late.
I had killed him too soon.

Could she really still be alive?

Volume II

Chapter 1

Groundskeeper

I took them back to the keep quickly.
I ignored their questions.
I had to check; I had to know.

The room I was heading to was in the old section; at the very center of it, protected by a maze of confusion. A solid lead weapons rack sat just outside, in the mausoleum. Weapons that were too dangerous to keep in the armory were stored here. I took off my sword and hung it in it's place, beside a dimly-glowing longbow and a flugerite-tipped javalain. a spark jumped out of the polished glass point in my direction and struck an aluminum faraday cage installed especially to deal with the cantankerous thing...

I looked at the shards of Onyx and Obsidian that once formed a spearhead which now lay in a small black urn on the bottom of the rack. Perhaps it's about time I reforged the handle...
I could do that anytime though. I had been putting it off for decades, but now, I might have a reason.

Modified 30/DEC/2020"

The octagonal room lay within a Kimberlite piller in the center of the mausoleum. the walls and coupolaed ceiling were a single solid clear diamond, to which were anchored the spells and constructs that held the keep together in the void of hyperdimensional space. an octagonal pool was set into the ground in the center of the floor, filled with layers of water and mercury. An arched bridge made of Wrought Iron Spanned the pool. remenants of Naitive-Brass leafing were scattered around the edges of the decking, and the railing was decorated with Pewter and Electrum. I stood upon it, and lowered a thin platinum chain into the water, until it sat upon the mercury.

I cast a simple passive scry out twords a world I shunned long ago; the return signal was faint, but it's nature was unmistakible. Like a bright blue star hidden behind a nebula.

She was alive.

She wasn't the only one I sensed though; many other signals I recognised from the destruction of my homeworld were there, including...

"I see you, feather-peasant..."

. . . ooooooh fuck
I yanked the chain up out of the water and vaporized it.

"What happened‽"

Jane and Arthur had followed me through the maze, apparently.

umm...They shouldn't be able to make it through the maze without imprinting their auras into the core first...
unless one of them already had...?

Jane

ow ow ow ow OW my head still hurts.

When we got back, the groundskeeper had been acting...off. she had been off since that whole shitshow where we were ambushed by that ...creature. so when she slipped out to go deeper into the keep, Arthur and I followed her.

We were right behind her, and then we turned a corner and she disappeared; and so did the path we had come from.
but then Arthur got this confused look and started pulling me down this all these twists and corridoors that I didn't even notice before. every turn it felt like somone was pounding a nail into my head.

eventually, we ended up in some kind of crypt; Artificial moonlight streamed its way up from the ground, from enchanted crystal deposits of olivine and ...moonstone. just not gonna touch that one, too obvious. a dense fog hung in the air, and the ground was covered in pete moss. Marble and Granite statues were all around; we almost ran into a bluestone statue of a woman about our age.
A sword with black and orange stripes of rust was thrust into a crack in the ground. A masked helmet, rusted compleatly through in places, was hanging on it; disintegrated maille hung loosely around the hawk-like faceguard.

it was the sword that the woman the statue depicted was holding, I was sure of it.
does that mean these are all graves?

Arthur seemed almost entranced by the statue. I tried to make sure that everything was all right.

«Is everything okay? you seem kind of out of it...»
{Yeah, fine.}
«do... you know where to go from here?»
{I... think so?}
«uh... do you know how you know where to go from here?»
{I... uhh... remember that thing I told you a few months ago?}
«about the recurring dream, or the other thing?»
{The dream...both, actually. Are you still willing to help with that?}
«sure. ...so, which way do we..?»
{this way.}

it wasn't much further until we saw a massive black pillar rising out of the moss and into the dome above. it was covered in frost; I could tell from what we had been taught that it was forming because something inside the rock was sucking up heat and recycling it. a large wrought-iron gate at one side had been left ajar. as we walked past a rack with some weapons that looked like endgame loot from some RPG*, a spark jumped out of one of them at us.
spooky.

several chapters
Lily

Modified 30/DEC/2020

She was holding her own. it wasn't pretty; but it was efficiant. Her stance was too narrow as she clambored around in an ocean of spent shells and discarded clips; her face held a genuinly bored expression, and the way she swung the pointy rebar was irradic. the sudden, stiff jerks didn't look pretty, but it confused and intimidated the mob of soldiers.
A normal person would be liable to dislocate something if they yanked a heavy rod of steel around like that.

but...

There was no living tissue left in her body at all.

She had replaced everything with hydraulics, pnumatics, and metal. Her brain was made of intricate patterns of sapphire and multicolor diamond; her nerves were glass, graphene, and copper.
I recognised instantly what she had become, even if she didn't.

. . .

or at least, I thought I did at first.

Any lich would be envious of the body she had constructed. but, upon as close an inspection as I could stand, she didn't feel undead. nor unalive.

the Dusk, Night, Daybreak, and Void magic inside of and flowing through her was blindingly strong, and uncorrupted. Had my leaving her here forced her to take such a drastic path? Or...
no; can't be that.

The regular soldiers scattered as a fresh team of elite soldiers rolled up. She seemed ...slightly less bored?

I couldn't tell. Her mind was a vault that even I couldn't penatrate; it hurt to even try.

— ∗ ∗ ∗ —
??? - oh no/s You have me surrounded/s What ever am I going to do⸮
Soldier - TAKE THE SHOT! NOW!
??? - ...wait, what?
*All the lights on the block flicker as a loud WHINE~ can be heard in the distance. A sniper on a rooftop that overlooks the square fires a railgun at the young woman*

Chapter n - 1

Nemesis

I didn't want to die. I wasn't afraid to; but I have things I have to do.

After everything I've seen, maybe that means I'm a coward. Or selfish. But I'm not ready. I feel like I can make a difference; and if I can make a difference, even a little bit, I have to try.

And if the people I'm fighting for think I've gone too far; if the world I'm trying to build has no place for somone like me... then that's fine too.
I will have served my purpose.
I never really planned to stay after that anyway.

...I'm wasting time, and don't have any to spare. The shot came from... ... there. there's the projectile. I need to dodge left.

It almost grazed me.
hmm...
Maybe I can catch the damn thing for extra effect...

You can go read Nemesis' backstory now
— ∗ ∗ ∗ —
Nemesis - When will you learn...
*She crushes the metal dart with her "bare hands"; a shard cuts her and a silvery purplish liquid drips out momentarily before the cut quickly heals.*
Soldier 1 - I didn't sign up for this! *deserts; gets shot in back*
*Soldiers fire Buckshot at her. it ricochets off her back and hits one of them in the leg.*
Nemesis - That tickled. What exactly was your plan there⸮
Soldier 2 - Get clear!!
*A small plastic cylinder wrapped in coils of silver wire with a few blinking red LEDs clatters to the ground at her feet
Nemesis - uh-oh.
*A massive brush discharge envelopes her body for a moment*
Nemesis - ...huh. I thought that would hurt more.
Colnel - The artillery is inbound, Nemesis. It's—
Nemesis - It's over⸮ aww, again⸮ it seems to be ‶over″ about three times a week with you; I'm not buying it.
Colnel - What are you even trying to accomplish; a revolution can't just be one person. All the plebians hate you; it is so easy to control the mob with a few well chosen words.
Nemesis - I don't care about their twisted ad-hoc ‶morality″ and justification fantasies. Let them hate me. more more are waking up and realizing your lies!
Colnel - That's what they all say. Fake news!
Nemesis - ...why don't you just stop, and think about what you just said for a minute. If I'm not the first, I won't be the last


Chapter n

Home?

Nemesis

I never thought I would be here again. I ran my fingers accross the manuscripts and tablets on the shelves...

So many memories... They felt like a lifetime ago.
Things were so much simpler then.

...Hang on a minute. This part doesn't look familliar at all...
nope. I'm lost.

I looked at the tablets. They were strange— futureistic looking. I carefully picked one up. It was clear, and had little crystals stuck in it... The straw-colored glyphs seemed to almost make sense...

Then, all of a sudden, something in my mind clicked, and I understood them compleatly; not just the words and their meaning, but their intent.

V O I D · M A G I C :
  • Using the Ætherial undercurrent to manifest and destroy matter
  • Creating shields and directing spells by bending the fabric of reality itself
  • Inter-planer teleportation
Theory, Methodology, and Dangers, as compiled from the elders of the Keres.
...wtf. I sat it down, but it felt like the crystal was still calling out to me. I remember my parents telling me that there were volumes in the library that shouldn't be messed with; I felt like this was one of them. But... I had never been affected by magic, Unless I cast it myself.

I picked up the crystal tablet and slid it in my bag.
What's the worst that could happen⸮

As I worked my way back to a familliar section, another book caught my eye. It was in a glass box, like all the other books in this row, and seemed to be falling apart. I wasn't about to touch it, but it seemed to be in the same language. it's title jumped out at me, and I don't know why:

K N O W N · A S C E N D E D · B E I N G S · of · the · Æ T H E R I A L · P L A N E S


Broken

CONTENT WARNING: Emotional Gut-Punch
— ∗ ∗ ∗ —

Groundskeeper - Why are you keeping yourself isolated? You havn't talked with anyone since you came here.
Nemesis - It's better this way.
Groundskeeper - Why?
Nemesis - You know why. my scars run too deep.
Groundskeeper - That's not true.
Nemesis - Everyone around me either gets hurt, or hurts me.
Groundskeeper - you never give people a chance. This place...it's basically your home. nobody will hurt you here.
I'm worried about you. You need to let people—

Nemesis - Why didn't you come sooner?
Groundskeeper - ...what?
Nemesis - you-- YOU COULD HAVE SAVED SO. MANY. PEOPLE!
*beat*
Groundskeeper - Nim, that's not fair; You can't save people from themselves. Sure, we could have overthrown the government. but then what? without changing the egocentric culture, you can't actually effect any change without becoming the monsters you seek to destr—
Nemesis - YOU COULD HAVE SAVED MY PARENTS!
you could have... saved... me.

*beat*
Groundskeeper - ... ... I'm sor—
Nemesis - It's-- it's too late. I've been fighting all my life. it's more than what I do; it's become who. I. am. I'll... I'll never be anything else!
*beat*
*beat*
*beat*
Groundskeeper - I looked, for what it's worth. I looked for years. I thought you were killed too.
*Door thumps closed softly*
Nemesis - It... it should have been... me...
*She buries her face in her hands and drops to the floor*
Nemesis - I'm the reason they're...


Nemesis

I never knew.
I just assumed she had abandoned me.

I found her in working in a forge; hundreds of tools and dies of a bygone era were strewn around a room the size of a gymnasium; a large reverberatory furnace was behind one wall, with several openings to put iron ore in through; a cementation kiln sat behind another. the third wall was lined with mechanically diriven machines— a few autohammers, grinders, drills, die presses, and saws. they engaged with a massive overhead steel shaft. The weights that regulated the speed were spinning quickly, with the tungsten flywheel almost up to speed. three hearths were placed across the room, each one circled with anvils. I remembered this room well; spell crystals hanging above kept the atmosphere clean, ripping polutants out of the air and teleporting their base atoms to another pocketspace. there they would be accreted back to a natural state and teleported again to the storage room accross the hallway.

She was pouring some kind of alloy into a clay mold; I could pick up signatures of Gold, Silver, Copper, Tin, and Lead from here for sure... maybe some other constituants; Antimony or Bismuth? some Recycled Aluminum? Wierd... I wonder what it's for...

She turned to me once she had finished
"I tried to stop what happened. But the Malstorm was waiting for me. I barely survived"

how typical;
their deaths were just part of a larger scheme.
"I'm sorry. I didn't know."

"You should still try to make more freinds; maybe try joining them for dinner?"

"...I guess"

Groundskeeper

"You know I never would have left you behind if I knew—"

"It's okay. I'm fine now." But she wasn't.
She seemed so confident and devil-may-care when she was fighting, but I could tell from the first moment I saw her that it was all an act; a fortress she hid away in to protect the scared, damaged child that grew up too fast.

edited 8/JAN/2021 (Formatting)

∿«Is their invented concept of "money" so important to them that they will let people-- even children-- die to protect it's illiusion‽»∿ ∿«You can't save people who don't want to be saved, Lily»∿ ∿«But we can try, Grandmother. We have to try.»∿

When had I become the cynic?

After she left, I changed back to my base form, revealing my injured wings; Bones broken by an enchanted blade long ago. I had made a promise to her parents, that if anything happened to them, I would protect her.

...I should have looked harder.

Chapter n+1

Freinds

Nemesis

modified 30/DEC/2020

Why is everyone staring at meee?

"uhh... did you want something to eat? Do you eat?"
One of the guys was talking...* Names are hard.

"I, uhh, I need powdered metals sometimes, but I'm just here to socialize. Aunt Lily thinks I need—"
"Wait... your aunt? She's your aunt? ...and her name is Lily?"
The girl with the fluffy blue-and-purple dyed hair that was cut so that it looked like feathers was talking now.*

"I...uhh... I don't think we're actually related, but I've always called her that. I grew up here (mostly) until..."
I wasn't ready to tell them that.

"Until wha—ow!" One of the others was talking. the colors in her clothing were literally screwing with the γ-correction of my eyes*. The quiet one* had obviously just kicked her in the shin like some old comedy sketch.

"Your body looks cool...uhh...you know what I mean"
The fluffy-haired girl was talking again.
"uhhh... Thanks. I spent a long time tweaking different aspects of it; the internal skeletal structure is a MolyTungsten alloy; the external plates are Beta Titanium Gold
Nerve signals are transmitted by Fiberoptic wires, with Graphene and Copper redundancys; Diamond-on-sapphire circuitry in my head emulates a human brain...
uh...well, it used to emulate a human brain. The emulation doesn't have the same biological constraints as an actual brain. I don't forget things, I can use a system backdoor to remember anything instantly; I can see infrared and ultraviolet, I can feel LiDAR and Magnetic fields...
so my brain isn't really human anymore...

"heh You talk really fast. I don't think I understood half of that"
"I did! it sounds really cool!"
The other girl and the less-quiet guy were talking. Did they want me to say something?



Nemesis

I couldn't sleep.
That's not entirely accurate; I don't need to sleep yet. I only have to sleep for a few hours every couple of weeks.

I didn't belong here. I wasn't part of their group. and why would they want me? I'm too guarded; too volatile.
I'll never be one of them.

there was somone else up ahead.
who else would be this deep in the keep?

"I don't give a shit if you—
I'm not— It's not—
OH JUST SHUT UP!
The world doesn't revolve around you!
I'm my own person, with my own life; not some object for you to use to curry favor in your little Racist Wives sewing circle!"
*click*
...
*sob*

I walked around the corner. Daisy was collapsed against the wall, holding an old 2G phone. I sat down beside her.

"Go away! I'm fine; see⸮ Everything's fine... This is me...being...fine..."

several chapters

Catastrophe

CONTENT WARNING: Graphic depictions of Violance; Blood; Major Character Death; Dark and Callous Villain Humor

Soliloquy

Lily

I suppose this day was always coming. I've been ready for a long time. But, now at the last moment, I feel like I might have needed a little more time. Are they ready for this? Was there more I could have done with the time I had? It doesn't matter now, I suppose.

Incursion


Tragedy

— ∗ ∗ ∗ —

High Priest - See? No matter how many times; No matter how many you foolishly lead to their deaths, I will still win. I hold all the cards now.
Lily - *cough* This is chess, Priest. Cards mean nothing.
High Priest - Checkmate, then.
Lily - you still don*cough cough*...don't get it, do you?
I'm not the important one. not anymore. not this round.
*cough pffbth gurgle*
You have been the architect...of your...ooowwn

High Priest - Well, that took forever.
...Oops, missed one...

Unleashed

Nemesis

I was the only one concious. Th-the only one alive for all I knew...

n-no. dead people don't bleed like that.

I could have stopped all of this from happening if I just...
no; that would have just gotten everyone killed faster.

The groundskeeper's sword was stuck in the floor a few meters from me— The high priest wasn't looking this way. I wouldn't let him take everything from me again.

I moved as fast as I could. I had it in my hands before he finished turning around. It felt lighter than it should... nearly weightless, in fact.

that would just make what came next easier...

"Something about you seems familiar"

I'm. going. to kill you.
My voice sounded strange. Maybe my wavesynth chip was fried...

"Oh, you can try; see how well that worked out for your teacher⸮"

"You took EVERYTHING from me!
NEVER.
AGAIN!

"I've taken everything from a lot of people, you'll have to be more specific..."
He was baiting me.
Poor bastard

"THIS IS FOR MY FAMILY!"
I lunged; the blade met empty air. Just as I was expecting.
I smoothly pivoted and whipped the featherlight blade around and sliced through his thick cast iron armor. a black, oily substance began to leak out.
it reeked of death.

"Ouch/s.."
"...wait. You're... that complicates things"

I thrust the sword forward for another blow; he parried. He wasn't on the offensive anymore.
he was terrified.

I didn't see him open the portal; he jumped through it before I could stop him.
COWARD! COME BACK AND FIGHT ME!

I could see the other side briefly.
My homeworld. Where he was worshiped; and I was despised.
I could have followed him; finished him then and there.
but I froze.
I wasn't ready to go back...

Aftermath

Arthur

"You're awake‽ o-okay...uhh... What are you doing-- Don't try to stand up! You've lost too much--"

It was the same dream. again. I was about to complain about it to myself, and then I realized that I wasn't actually experiancing it. suddenly, it fell away in shards; like somone had taken a hammer to a piece of tempered glass...

Was that me? wait, no. That's not what I look like; I'm not a girl. I forget, I guess. ...is she bleeding

And... what is that thing?

— ∗ ∗ ∗ —

??? - You can kill me here, but—
� - But WHAT, mortal?
??? - ...I will come back.
� - Your failure to grasp the finallity of death is amusing.
??? - I will see you destroyed. in this life or the next.
*she raises her sword twords the billowing purple monstrosity as she starts to collapse*
� - You're not strong enough to carry out that oath; your people believe that there's a special underworld for oathbreakers, do they not?
Lily - I think they do; but I doubt that will be an issue for her. You should be careful, though.
� - You...What sorcery? Where are you? no matter— You can't fight me again; you're not strong enough anymore. Living on borrowed time for a hundred thousand years... and now, a broken wing too... HAH!
Lily - That girl reminds me of somone I once knew... once upon a time, you underestimated her too.
� - and where are all of your freinds now, feather-peasent?
Lily - ...just ignore him. rest for now. we will meet again someday. all of us. And then you will have your vengance.

Volume III

Chapter 1

Jane

I hope it was okay to tell them. They were going to try to turn her back; but she's wanted this for so long...

How did it even happen? the only curse on the blades was one to prevent healing...as long as that cut was, if it had been any deeper...

She had been dreaming about something earlier; but I couldn't tell what. I was blocked out.

Oh no, she's waking up! Nim isn't done with the stitches!

Astrid

"Hey, Arth-- Astrid! hold still, I'm not done stitching your wound yet!"

Who is she talking to?

...that's the name I had picked out, for if I was a girl... but...does that mean...

I opened my eyes and tried to sit up; but Nim held me down.

"HOLD STILL! YOU'RE GOING TO START BLEEDING AGAIN!"
oh. right. I almost died.

Several chapters

Abduction


Volume IV

Several chapters

Chapter x - 3

No Good Deed

CONTENT WARNING: blood and gore, unnamed supporting character death
Daisy

we ran through the red basalt corridors. deposits of yellow sulfer made the whole place stink.

I didn't have any trouble running on my new legs; in fact, I think I was moving faster— even though my feathery wings were catching the air and creating drag. Steve didn't seem bothered by his change either; he kept reaching up and touching his pointy ears. If this was supposed to break us, I don't see how. But the inquisitors seemed just as surprised as we were...

we entered some kind of alter room.
The first thing I noticed was the smell that overpowered even the stench of rotten eggs in the corridor.
Then I saw the alter.

it was made of Basalt Columns, with several bashed-in and punctured skulls around the top. not all of the skulls were quite human— most had horns, or tusks, or fangs.

upon it sat a fresh human (or humanoid) corpse. The heart and liver had been removed and burned on seperate granite pedestals, both of which sat in burning fumerols; other organs spilled out haphazardly. blood drained away in channels that formed some kind of symbol;
more than 5 liters of it.

a menacing statue wraped around the table. the creature had thirteen massive tentecals, carved out of Jet. a central eye made of Galena and Fluorite was in the center.
It sent a chill down my spine.

"What happened to her? What's that statue?" I asked.

Steve

"I have no idea..."
The way my voice sounded now still startled me.

Everything about this body felt... I dunno.
Less tired?
nevermind. I'll figure it out later.

...I recognise those tattoos...

"It's the woman who tried to give us extra food.
They killed her."


Chapter x

Home Again

— ∗ ∗ ∗ —

Steve - Do you think I'm like Astrid?
Nemesis - Well, do you want to be a girl?
Steve - {Do I want to be a girl?} I mean, maybe sometimes? but not really? I dunno...
Nemesis - Do you want to change ba--
Steve - No.
Nemesis - Well, remember: you don't have to choose; it's perfectly valid to be non-binary. If you want to use a different name or pronouns, just tell us.
Steve - o-okay.

Nemesis - ... ... Daisy, stay out of the chandelier.
Daisy - but...
Nemesis - It's not ment to support your weight; have you seen Phantom of the Opera? Down.
*she flies down and lands in the laural tree. she sticks out her tounge and stifles a laugh.*
Nemesis - *facepalm* ...okay, that works. ... ...I'm glad you're feeling better, Daisy.


Added 4/JAN/2021

Steve

Lazily, I drifted back into conciousness. My dreams from last night stuck with me; like most dreams, they made less sense than Through the Looking Glass, but something was bugging me.

I had been a girl in my dreams before; a human girl, but a girl, so it wasn't that different. Even if I was some sort of...Elf? Fae? Nymph?

We'll figure that out.

It wasn't that unusual for my appearance to change throughout the dream.
But... something was off.

right before I woke up, I had settled into a look that was similar to Daisy; Big wings with Vibrant blue feathers that seemed to change color depending on how the light hit them, a wide swallow-tail, and long, fluffy plumes of a matching color replacing my hair that came down to my shoulders. I could feel the wings; not just the main limbs, but I could feel how each individual primary was rotated.

Ironically, it was Daisy that startled me compleatly awake by knocking on my door.

"Hey! are you okay? you missed breakfast"

...The proprioceptive feedback of the wings hasn't dissappeared. I opened my eyes and brushed a blue feather out of my face.

...feather...?

The door opened and Daisy stepped in.

"Can I get you anyth... ... ...woah."

Astrid was walking by at that point. She rewound herself a few steps to peek into my room

"um...Is this a joke or a bad omen?"


Steve

"I would say that a Döppleganger is one of the few things we can rule out. We havn't run into any pointy-eared folk since Otherworld, and that was before whatever happened to you on the Elemental Plane of Fire. Although, if this is just some kind of instinctive spell that you've always had, and not something that was done to you, I guess... ugh.

"Shapeshifting is one of the most sought after magical skills, composing one of the larger sections of the main library, an entire shelf in the forbidden library, and being inherant to ...10 different races of beings off the top of my head."

"How did you find so much information so quickly?"
I had expected to have to wait to get any kind of clue as to what was going on; but, Nim seemed to have some answers right off the bat. And she seemed entirely unphased by my second sudden change in as many days. It was hard to get a good read on her; It was rare that she seemed to be compleatly engaged in a discussion, and this was no exception. her eyes tended to wander around the room as she talked, and she fiddled with things (currently, the massive hand-and-a-half sword that, when anyone else tried to pick it up, would decide at random if it was going to knock them accross the room with a jolt of electricity, make them hallucinate an excruciating burning pain wherever their skin touched it, or just pretend that somone had stuck it in a stone-and-anvil), but her input never left any doubt that she was perhaps the most attentive one in the room.

"I don't sleep, remember? plus, a good portion of the library's books are digitized; maybe as much as 15%. I've been slowly working to increase that number, but with my particular set of skills, I just have to throw some regular expressions at that database and we can find a lot of preliminary information.

"um um um...dangit I can't think of a pun using the word 'Taken'"

"Plus, I'm getting a lot of the basic books and some of the forbidden library memorized"

"...okay, aside from the fact that it's the forbidden library, aren't those only good if you can use magic?"
She just gave me a hand-wave gesture and mumbled something about assumptions and oversight

"It's not like a book can melt your mind...well, okay. A book with a sufficiantly nutty agenda might, but that's not what I'm talking about. The danger is that the subject matter is complicated and the consequenses of not compleatly understanding it before you use it are...dire. Well, that and then there's the Faustian Phonebook. several of the summoning spells in it are crossed out and listed as 'target no longer answers summons from keep', but unless you've got experiance in corner-cases and loopholes, I wouldn't recommend messing with it.

"How many did you try?"
I was only joking

"okay, I tried one, rated as particularly gullible, but the Imp took a look at me and just said 'Nope.', turned around, and jumped back into the firey wormhole."
...well, that's ominous. I'm not sure exactly how yet, but in any case, it's ominous.

Several chapters MAJOR SPOILERS
— ∗ ∗ ∗ —

Edited 5/JAN/2021

The portal dumps Nemesis and the High Priest out on Olympus Mons.

the High Priest holds a bubble of air around himself, bound by a thin combat shield. He lands on his feet, and spins his black, wavy swords around at his sides. the tips cut small trenches in the ground.

Nemesis almost lands face-first, and slams her fist into the ground. the slight blue glow around her sword increases in the low atmosphere; loops and whorls leaping up off of the metal and traveling to the tip. She glances at it breifly.

High Priest - Such a dramatic place for a battle... and an ironic place for you to die, isn't it?
Nemesis - ...I don't get it. I mean, if you're going for drama, there's a few saturnian moons with a better view.
High Priest - Because it's named... and you're... nevermind. With you out of the way, none of the others will stand a chance.
Nemesis - They're stronger than you give them credit for. And you're still assuming that you can kill me.
High Priest - Oh really? You can't use magic— how do you expect to defeat me?
Nemesis - I can't use magic⸮

Nemesis
"There aren't any tunnels for kilometers in any direction; just let loose"
"Are you sure? what if..."
"You don't have to be afraid."

I placed my hand on the wall. I pulled in the energy that had been with me for almost my entire life; I felt it instantly refill from somewhere...

I reached out to that place. I could feel vaguely, it was... somewhere outside the keep.

...it wasn't a place. it was between places.

I pulled as much of the energy as I could hold at once, and fired it into the wall. There was no sound in the immediate moment; for an instant, I was standing in a vaccume cavity. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that aunt lily had a look of terror on her face; and a combat-strength shield raised. In front of us, a wave of blue-hot fusion plasma jumped at us, and expanded into the wall; melting and consuming it.

I didn't think. I reached out to the small star that was forming in front of me, and took back the energy I had pushed into it. I shoved the energy back to where it came from.
A ball of bubbling, murky water splashed to the ground.

"... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...well. I know where I need to start now: control."

High Priest - You think we wouldn't figure it out? It's the only reason we didn't kill you— you were never a threat. Even after you joined forces with ...her, you still never used it.
If you could use magic, you would have saved her.

Nemesis - That's what you think‽
I can't use magic normally because I can't control it well enough.

High Priest - Yes, Yes... give in to the Void...
Nemesis - but I'm getting better at it. plus, you just brought me to a lifeless planet.
*the ribbons radiating off the sword get bigger. they start to crawl over Nim's body.*
Nemesis - It's just you and me. I don't have to hold back.
*a cloud of Feldspar, Pyroxene, Alumina, and Titanomagnetite coalesces behind her, taking the shape of wings the color of a starlit sky. the building energy arcs through them like a thundercloud. more dust starts circling her in a highly eccentric orbit, then bending and contorting to resembal the seam of a baseball.*
High Priest - ...You're not a human.
Nemesis - duhoy.
High Priest - You're... one of them.oooh fuck
Nemesis - ...one of who?

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