Monsters And Misfits Chapter 1: Tides and Turbulence

coolpool2

Savage AF
The Original Gangster
#41
The albino girl pauses to look at the scene, before tugging on her companions sleeve. “Looks like things are getting more interesting, still we should retire now. Besides, I don’t want you to get caught in any crossfire.” The two of the head out of the mess deck, the young man pausing for a moment, as if contemplating whether or not to intervene before following his friend.

However, Lily walks towards the two in conflict, her footsteps thumping on the floorboard. “Even if you are upset I hardly think this is the time or place.” There’s a hint of something in her voice. Whether it’s annoyance or contempt it’s hard to say. Something about her presence is different from before. Her eyes are serious, intimidating even. “If you want to throw around spells or duel to the death feel free to do it after you’re off the ship. But if you take things too far I will stop you both.”
 

Easy

Right Honorable Justice
Member
#42
"There, there, not to worry, dear. I have no intention of killing him, or even banishing him to the Lower Planes for a while. I am an archmage, after all."

Azureoth didn't take his eyes off the other man for an instant, and therefore failed to register Lily's newly-imposing presence in the slightest. He spoke gently and soothingly, as if reassuring a child, with his newly-applied enhancement spell lending a rich, full sort of weight and body to his ordinarily shrill, wheedling tone. "No, I'm just going to teach him a thing or two about drawing false equivalencies. Arcane oblivion will not be required."

In fact a few raps with the flat of his blade, such as he intended to give Adellon, could easily kill an ordinary man, although a trained warrior should be fine; unless that sword of his was enchanted, as Azureoth was somewhat concerned it could be. If that turned out to be the case, he might have to start fighting seriously after all...
 
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Tirin

God-Emperor of Tealkind
Moderator
#43
The delightful speech that Gilgaloth had prepared for the terribly smug mage was never to reach Azureoth's mind - or so it seemed as he stood, his eyes narrowing slightly. He listened to Azureoth's challenge, Lily's concerns, and the lich's terribly overconfident rebuttal in silence, then reached over his shoulder with one hand to draw Phoenix. The massive sword's waved blade did little to reassure any in the room that it was nonmagical; the elegant and flowing celestial runes engraved on it left Azureoth absolutely certain that it was, to his great consternation.

"No, Lily. It's quite alright." Isonzo said gently, his voice almost entirely calm and even, though enriched with another emotion - determination, by the sounds of it. "If Azureoth has decided that he should prove himself a superior warrior to me, he is welcome to test his... conspicuously new sword... against mine. I think that he'll find I'm not so easy a mark, even if he is enhanced by magic. His age shows a great deal more, but I've been practicing my swordplay since before he was born."

That boast, true though it was, was less wholly accurate than Gilgaloth thought, being he suspected that the mage before him was at most in his early sixties - though, on the other hand, far moreso than Azureoth would assume. The aasimar set a second hand on Phoenix's hilt and held it lifted at an angle, a grin on his face as it revealed just how severe a differential there was between the two fighters' reach. Though it would certainly be painful, the devil was entirely confident that he could win this clash of swords, perhaps even without using his own's magical fire: the lich was banking on fighting a cocky but ultimately inexperienced (and mortal) mercenary, not a nigh-invincible infernal killing machine that had been warring for over a century.

Azureoth was also, no doubt, leaning heavily on the the suddenly-apparent skill, fortitude, and perhaps strength that whatever spell he had cast granted him, but it was unlikely that it would provide any real tactical acumen, nor make a reasonable substitute for experience. Gilgaloth already knew his first move: cleanly shattering the shield in the mage's hands, to push home just how outclassed he was in strength - perhaps followed by using Phoenix's weight to strike the cutlass from Azureoth's hands, or even to destroy the blade entirely. Oh, that would do nicely for teaching a lesson... but the devil's eyes slid over slightly to look at the "girl" across the table from him. He wouldn't put attacking from behind past that one, especially not in defense of her master or... whatever she might address Azureoth as. Playing nice it was, then, at least relatively speaking.

Isonzo's face spread into an overwide smile and he spoke, still holding his weapon high. "From beating the minion to facing the monarch, it seems! Since you're so sure of yourself, Azureoth, I'd like to make another little wager on this match's outcome. No gold, or I suppose silver in your case. Instead, if I win you acknowledge me as your equal, and if you win I'll become your minion - abandon my quest and listen to your orders, for as long as you're around. The caveat is nobody else," He gestured his head towards Saya, "gets involved or the person they're helping forfeits, and we can only fight using what's in our hands right now. Lily can even referee to make sure we play fair! You know, unless you're afraid you'll lose because you can't throw balls of light at me. Really, it'd be sad to have to rely on something like that after going to so much trouble to get yourself ready to fight... though if you admit you need it to hold a candle to, ahem, your better, I suppose I can permit it. If we're agreed, show me what you have - sorry, what your magic has."

The words were sincere, on the whole, though now Gilgaloth's taunting was totally unconcealed - "Isonzo" seemed quite irritated by Azureoth's actions and demeanor, though was channeling it quite productively into hitting his opponent psychologically (or so he thought). Gilgaloth knew that the mage would resent the implication that he needed the spinning orbs about his head to have a chance at victory, and hoped that he would make the mistake of agreeing not to use them for the sake of his petty pride. That much would be a victory in itself.
 

Easy

Right Honorable Justice
Member
#44
If Azureoth was any further provoked by the taunting than he had been already, it only slightly seemed to show - and even then, the frown was more in response to the sight of Phoenix's blade than anything else. In fact, the more Isonzo talked the more relaxed and reassured he seemed, until, ultimately, he laughed aloud at the end of the cornugon's offer.

An aasimar that 'was and was not' an aasimar. The casual duplicity and smug satisfaction of half-truths well delivered. The brute strength and manipulative nature. He'd ruled out shapechangers and lycanthropes when the silver had apparently been well tolerated - physically, at least - but now it was clear that it had, in fact, grated on him quite substantially. Still, it was the offer that really gave it away. Obvious in retrospect, really.

"What specific terms you've crafted, 'Isonzo Adellon' the somewhat-aasimar," he scoffed, "but amateurish. I've been turning down more tempting offers since before you came into this world."

He smiled broadly, enjoying the view from his newfound position of supremacy. Much as it seemed to completely contradict what 'Isonzo' had just told him, he didn't doubt his adversary would know just what he meant.

"You were wrong to take me for a fool, Adellon," he went on, quite inaccurately. An impartial analysis would readily find that it was his intellect and experience that Gilgaloth had underestimated, not his wisdom. "The arms I bear are simple wood and steel, though magically conjured. The blade you hold is enchanted. Hah! You had as well ask me to fight with one eye closed and one hand tied behind my back, instead!" He laughed again, briefly and humorlessly, and then just as suddenly turned serious again.

"If you wish to battle without magic, then let us both agree to fight with mundane steel alone; no enchanted weapons, and no spells - or even cantrips. Alternatively, feel free to fight me with any means at your disposal. I'll do the same, and even refrain from casting any new spells for the next... approximately eight minutes, now. Either way the victory condition for each of us will be for the other one to yield, and we both agree to keep the battle between the two of us. Those are the terms upon which I'll accept your wager." His eyes narrowed, hard now.

"After all, if you require any further handicaps to challenge me... then how could I possibly ever consider you my equal?"
 

Tirin

God-Emperor of Tealkind
Moderator
#45
"So be it. Any means at my disposal it is; I hope you take better to this loss than you did to Saya's. Prepare yourself!" Gilgaloth said with a self-assured smile, as a chilly, scathing voice wormed its way into Azureoth's mind, sounding all too pleased by the offer that the lich had made. Of course... cantrips are still considered spells per both mortal and extraplanar law, as exemplified by the historical case of Kikaisha v. Essum. I wouldn't want you to get the wrong impression and get yourself into a real bind, now, would I? After all, you should know well the dangers of a breach of contract.

The devil didn't wait for a response, nor did he care if one were given. Instead he took a step forward, hefting Phoenix high - in fact, deliberately so. Azureoth's magically-enhanced body sprang forward to strike him twice in the face with the flat of the cutlass, and though the actual strikes seemed a far cry from difficult for the warrior to deal with, the apparent pain in which he recoiled made it clear that the force imparted was far greater than the smaller of the men could have hoped to generate solely through his frail body.

The lich's attempt to circle past Gilgaloth, however, was stopped by the motions of the magic sword. Better still, and as expected, he lifted the wooden shield in the hopes of protecting himself from Phoenix's meteoric descent. It was an unparalleled success - or would have been, were Gilgaloth actually aiming to harm his opponent. Instead, the enchanted steel shattered wood like glass, delivering a shock to the lich's arm that would be solid enough to break most, and sprayed splinters about the room while the straps fell to the ground. A second weighty strike sent the cutlass clattering to the floor several feet away before the wizard could get his bearings, and "Isonzo" grinned in triumph. Even empowered, Azureoth was not a real swordsman - whatever else he may have lain rightful claim to.

"Ialpon, Phoenix!" The devil boomed the celestial command word in a resonant voice that called to mind Azureoth's earlier spell, as magical fire sprang up the base and to the tip of the sword. With speed that seemed impossible for so large a man he lashed out at Azureoth, even as he pivoted so that he stood atop the fallen cutlass. The weight of the first two strikes were lost to a magical barrier - but a careful observer could see cracks webbing out from the planes of impact. The third, however, left Azureoth's robes sliced and smoking, along with some of the dead flesh beneath - which, conspicuously, didn't gush blood as one may have expected. The fourth slashed cleanly through the faded cloth and burned it as well, but to Gilgaloth's surprise seemed to scrape along Azureoth's skin instead of piercing it it outright.

"That magical defense of yours is finished, Azureoth - and at this rate you'll be soon to follow. Give it up, you took on a fight without knowing what your opponent is capable of. There are far worse things to live with than acknowleging me as your equal." He said gently - though his eyes, narrowed and burning, told a very different story of how he felt. Gilgaloth didn't give a damn whether or not Azureoth yielded; he was happy just for the chance to hurt and humiliate him.
 

Easy

Right Honorable Justice
Member
#46
Indeed. Azureoth had not at all been prepared for this.

Well, not entirely prepared for this.

"Everyone get back!" With speed partially motivated by terror at just how swiftly he'd been disarmed and had his barrier stripped of him, Azureoth took nearly no time at all to spare a thought which sent one of the orbs of light about his head flying at Gilgaloth, exploding in his face with searing radiance. At the same time, the cold grasp of death clutched around his adversary's heart as a burst of negative energy erupted into him from the lich. A lesser being would have taken it rather harder, but even a greater devil couldn't just ignore such an occurrence...

As the 'aasimar' roared in pain and stepped back, he bent over and snatched the cutlass from the floor as quickly as gravity would allow, and then, instead of attacking the fiend with it, simply turned tail and ran. Be careful, Adellon, ran his frightened thoughts as he sprinted full-tilt towards the narrow corridor with the stairs leading up to the main deck, gripping the cutlass with both shaking hands as he went. If that fire- ah!

A moment of searing pain, as the heat of several bonfires scraped across his exposed back mid-step, cutting away another section of burning cloth. If that fire harms anyone else here, you'll lose by default! He didn't even turn around to look at his assailant, instead opting to reach the stairs with maximum expediency. Cutlasses were favored among seafarers for a reason, after all. The greatsword's longer reach and higher weight would only serve to put that devil at a disadvantage there. Particularly since a single wrong move could have the entire mess hall up in flames within moments, to the so-called Isonzo Adellon's loss and detriment.
 

Tirin

God-Emperor of Tealkind
Moderator
#47
Gilgaloth let out no more than a grunt of pain after being struck in the face by the tiny, hot-burning star, though it left a painful burn mark on his cheek and seemed to have badly singed part of his beard. He recovered remarkably quickly, though, leaving another deep cut running across Azureoth's back and scorching his robes further. He was hardly surprised that the lich had chosen to turn tail and run instead of surrendering; no doubt attempting to work out a plan. It was foolish of him, then, to point out that the burning scraps of his clothing which were falling to the ground could have given "Isonzo" a loss.

Every step that the aasimar took was carefully measured, his heavy leather boots snuffing out the now-mundane flames that threatened to set the mess hall ablaze. He was far from impressed by Azureoth's showing so far, that much was obvious - and he moved to stand at the base of the stairs facing the revealed lich, Phoenix held close as though to parry blows instead of threaten them, which required far less space with which to maneuver the massive blade. "Come, now. There's no need to draw this out; you're going to lose this fight, even with all of those fancy tricks." And you're not cut out to face me anyway. Even with those overblown spells of yours, it would be a hard fight. If you keep up throwing around the negative energy, you'll lose by default yourself.

His eyes narrowed and locked on the motes of light that shone on the other man's thinning hairline and overstated crown. It was pitiful, really, to see somebody who styled himself as royalty but couldn't quite live up to such a lofty title - whether that was for his appearance, various weaknesses of character, or poor sense of style. The part of Gilgaloth that was still Vishkeos Teshrad decided that it was time to give Azureoth a very harsh lesson on the importance of the last, and his muscles relaxed slightly. The orbs weren't evenly spaced, for whatever reason, and he took but a moment to pick out what he thought would be the next to come his way. He would have one shot at returning it, and it wouldn't be easy given that he was using the full length of his sword - but it would be damn impressive if he managed.

Azureoth twitched and the second sphere tore itself loose from his brow towards Gilgaloth. It was hard to tell whether it was the lich's unfortunate tell or the warrior's skill (or both) which was the deciding factor, but the results were spectacular: Isonzo lashed out with perfect timing to volley the star back at Azureoth, his sword loudly slicing the air while the projectile impacted the lich squarely on the shoulder, searing him with the radiative energy that only magic (and the sun itself) could bring into the world. Phoenix was held high to parry anything else that may come but a moment later, not that he expected much. "Color me surprised... perhaps because of those fancy tricks, at this rate! You've made this one eventful evening, Azureoth." He said with a chuckle that the lich found all too casual.

We don't have to be enemies, you know. My appearance aside, I think we have more in common than you might realize - and a forfeit spares you more fear and embarrassment. Show that minion of yours that you know when to give in, and it will trust your judgment all the more. You've already tested me more than it could have. Why not gain something from this?
 

coolpool2

Savage AF
The Original Gangster
#48
The floorboards shake and creak with their battle, the lantern swinging back and forth on the ceiling. Some splinters spray across the room as cinders float through the air. The horned woman who had been watching them silently up to now steps forward. “I think that is quite enough, we wouldn’t want to wake anyone or cause more damage than you already have.” Her voice sounds tired, but her face does not say why, hiding her emotions.
 

Easy

Right Honorable Justice
Member
#49
Azureoth glowered and trembled with impotent fury at the remarks, but didn't answer. Partly because an objective analysis suggested it was more likely to help his enemy than himself, and partly because of how much it had hurt last time he'd done so. Instead, he turned tail swiftly and kept on running, reaching the mainmast and pausing. He hadn't conjured a scabbard along with his cutlass, which, come to think of it, was something he absolutely could and should have done while he was at it.

Reaching a decision, he quickly hiked his robes with one hand and stabbed the cutlass into them with the other, opting to sheathe the sword in his own guts and pin the cloth to it at the same time. To his relief, this process was painless as he'd theorized it should be, confirming that what preserved flesh remained on his bones was simply dead weight now, from a functional standpoint as well as a literal one. The fiend had chosen correctly in taking magical combat over mundane weaponry, no matter how bad it might have made him look to the observers at the time. Had he known all along, that he was challenging a lich? Just what sort of devil was he, anyway?

All this having transpired in an instant, being the work of a single motion and a fleeting thought, Azureoth was scrambling up the mast before anyone else had the chance to do or say anything to stop him, with his patchwork robes held up and out of the way by the blade of the cutlass now conspicuously protruding from his back. The last thing he needed was for them to get tangled in or tripped upon the rungs, after all.

In a matter of seconds he was already high enough that trying to stop him was far more dangerous than not, even if any of the crewmen or passengers were feeling compelled to do anything of the kind. (Most were undoubtedly just glad that he had pants on underneath the robes.) The lookout stationed on duty jumped to his feet as Azureoth climbed up through the Crow's Nest, but froze in place and made no motion to interfere as the lich turned glowing yellow eyes on him and ordered him back. Still higher he climbed, until he reached the next boom and then, carefully, grabbed ahold of it and clambered on.

Gripping tightly to the wooden post with his legs, as it swung to the wind, and steadying himself against the mast with one hand, Azureoth carefully now drew the cutlass from his belly with the other, and then reached down and struck the topmost handhold from the mast below him. Another blow took out the one beneath it as well, with him leaning down as far as could be reached, and then another orb of light flashed out and struck the one below that, crumbling it to ash.

The view below him would have ordinarily made his head spin, even in this undead form, but the reflection of a warrior's soul burning inside of him pushed aside such trivial concerns. The main thing was that Isonzo Adellon was still well behind him, climbing rather more slowly than Azureoth had climbed himself. Fortunately, it seemed all that heavy armor of his slowed the fiend down a great deal. The last ten feet of climbing would be no easy feat with the rungs taken out, either, but even so...

Taking his time now, Azureoth gripped his now-soiled cutlass in his teeth, like something out of a childish stage act, and began to inch his way backwards along the boom, bending low and gripping tightly with both hands and knees. Even as he approached the end of it and stopped, he didn't let up, holding fast as the sturdy oak shook and swung in the breeze. Not that he could reliably sit up with the sail flapping right atop of him like this, anyway.

A minute later, the fiend was finally catching up. He kept that damn sword of his in one hand and was moving carefully as he approached, opting for slow, safe progress over a swift resolution. Smart. But it meant that he relied on his off hand to grip the mast with; hardly a challenge for someone of his strength and stature, but then... not without its own drawbacks, either.

"That's far enough, Isonzo Adellon!" Azureoth shouted, as the devil approached the last remaining rung of the mast, and the nature of his dilemma became evident. As uncannily capable as he'd proven to be at evading the lich's blasts himself, the handholds he clung to were another matter entirely. And working his way up the last ten feet of turning, shaking, stripped wooden post would be difficult even for him, especially under fire.

"Hold where you are!" The wind picked up again, shaking both men's supports and drowning out any further attempts at speech as the sails snapped above and below them, so he switched to telepathic communication instead.

Why don't we have a little talk? There is no limit to how long I can draw this out, you know.
 

Tirin

God-Emperor of Tealkind
Moderator
#50
Gilgaloth remained still and vigiliant for a deliberate moment as the hero spoke her objection, letting Azureoth escape without pursuit for just long enough to answer her. It was difficult to answer her calmly - not due to fear, but because of the excitement and sadistic pride he felt at overpowering the lich. Such bloodlust was fuelled by his murderous legacy as Saint-King and the brutal "piety" it would showcase for Rakoth; it was quenched by infernal discipline and an overriding sense of purpose. "Lily," he said gently, "I've met men like him before. They can do awful things when their pride is challenged - worse when it's overcome." He glanced back at her, eyes burning but expression sombre. "Trust me, it will be settled safely. Suárela." The last word recalled the intense flames from his sword, though the aasimar didn't released it as he stormed up the stairs to the deck.

By then the sun had dropped below the horizon, leaving only the brightest stars in the sky visible as the ship and seas were cast into twilight. Thankfully, the darkness impaired Gilgaloth's sight even less than it would the average aasimar's, and he followed the fleeing Azureoth towards the mast at a slower pace that made him seem all the more on control of whatever was happening. A reasonable decision though it was, given the circumstances, the devil nearly laughed aloud at the image of the lich impaling himself with a cutlass. It was a wonder, and an ironic one at that, to watch the man debase himself for the sake of pride and appearances that he had already discarded. Undead or no, he would find himself in the Hells one day were he to remain on that path - especially with such little success.

Unsure of when and where the wizard would cease climbing the mast, he proceeded with due caution by carrying Phoenix one-handed and held slightly beneath him. It was fortunate that Azureoth had disturbed the lookout so loudly, for it allowed the devil to call out a warning to the man to make way (and so, with ease, to avoid drawing the man into the conflict accidentally through an unlucky scrape with Phoenix). Thus, instead, he was surprised by Azureoth's strategy as he looked up the length of the mast to see him destroying the last of the rungs. It was a reasonable plan, though one with a few potential drawbacks - which he, having far more information about his physical capabilities than Azureoth, could see cleanly through. Even so, it would be a narrow thing in either direction, and Gilgaloth could hardly afford to turn to his true form in front of the crew, useful though it would have been to do so.

He sheathed the magical blade before reaching the last few rungs, not even bothering to pretend that he was unsteady despite the wind; Azureoth knew far better by then that he was only narrowly less sturdy than the ship he clung to. And, as "ordered" just before a gale struck he stopped, hand on the last of the wooden rungs that lay between him and his foe. Very well, Azureoth. We will talk, but I advise that you listen to me, and think on this fact before doing anything foolish: I am far from worried by how long you draw this out because of everything I can do to make you regret it. The last two words were laced with nearly nauseating hatred, and his golden eyes locked onto the lich, threatening to burn a hole in him from sheer, unconcealed fury and determination.

The diplomacy, if it could be called such, was entirely earnest - and, yet, a mask to disarm Azureoth and subvert his expectations. After a moment of seeming to hear the lich out, the devil launched himself upward in a single smooth, powerful motion, away from rather than towards Azureoth, arms outstretched. He ignored the lights orbiting the lich's reflective scalp, and even whether or not one was cast towards him (though, in doing so, he hoped the man wouldn't risk striking the mast or boom). Between his momentum and monstrous strength, Gilgaloth was able to hook his forearms about the top of the boom and haul himself up to cradle it with both arms and legs. Ah, ah! He cautioned, more than cognizant of the desire to cast another brilliant sphere at him. If you miss and bring this down, you're surely going to harm one of the crew... or more. And I don't mind, really, but that would be a terrible mistake on your part. Now - forgive the rudeness, but I refuse to negotiate on uneven and thoroughly threatened ground. Speak.
 

Easy

Right Honorable Justice
Member
#51
Azureoth had been ready for any sudden movements, and - whether it was because of his current arcane enhancements or because numerous prior encounters had greatly dulled, for him, the innate sense of fear most people (rightly) held for demons, devils, and other outsiders - was rather less intimidated by the devil's threats than he would have been earlier, back when he still thought the fiend had just been an especially pompous and irritating mortal. Nevertheless, his next shot flew wide when Adellon suddenly jumped the next ten feet in one go, and an unfortunate gust of wind hit the sails just in time to shake the caster about and throw off his aim.

Though he had been prepared to simply jump from his perch and into the seas below when his opponent inevitably tried to keep on pursuing him, Azureoth stopped himself just in time as the devil jumped away from him instead. He stayed vigilant, waiting, ready to follow through with the plan at the slightest provocation in any case, but still..

Stay where you are! And provoke me no further, went his thoughts, somehow both as a demand and a plea.

You cannot kill me, Isonzo Adellon. Fire and magic can destroy my body, and even bring me pain... but I'll recover. I'll return. I would not have made a bargain with one of YOUR kind if there was any way I stood to lose. My magic could vanquish the mightiest pit fiend in all your Hells, if I so wished it! No, I draw this out because of what I have to GAIN.

A bit of a stretch about the pit fiends, granted, but not entirely untrue either. Any post-doctorate worth half the paper his spellbook and credentials were written upon could do that, given just a solid day's worth of preparation for it, and Azureoth was no exception...

At least, not anymore.

Accept a draw, Isonzo Adellon. I'll acknowledge you as an equal, and you'll join me as an ally, not a minion. One sworn to never betray me or to sabotage my cause. In turn you'll have my assistance as well, when it does not run counter to my own ambitions. I don't know what you're doing here, fiend, but I'm quite sure of this: Sooner or later, there WILL come a time when you will find yourself in need of an archmage.

Left unsaid, of course, was that it wasn't in an archmage's nature to suffer the worldly existence of any fiend that wasn't directly useful to them. Though unsure of whether the devil was truly aware of this fact or not, he left it out deliberately: Adellon had been firm about not negotiating under threat, and while everything Azureoth had claimed about his power was more or less quite true, winning the battle outright wasn't necessarily the best-case scenario for him anymore. What good would a rebellious and resentful minion even be to him, after all? Impressing a single boat full of raving simpletons would hardly make the whole thing worthwhile...
 
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