Table for Two
Table for Two
The Rising Dawn: Canteen
Mio | Leoric
"Ohhhh, you think me some fool?! I've slain you and everyone on this ship time and time and time and TIME AND TIME AND TIME AND TIME AND TIME AND TIME AND TIME AND TIME AND TIME AGAIN!!!" The Skeleton King barked, slamming his mace into the ground every time he said that damn word.
Leoric shivered with rage and frustration as his minions slowly backed up, while he didn't have true discipline over his men, he did have fear. LOTS of it.
"No, Young Captain. You know not what transpires here. You th-think you can bring order?! None of this matters! Any of it! I kill you! You defeat me! I bring you into my cause! You seal me away! BUT! NOTHING CHANGES! This vessel is cursed with demonic magic you can't even comprehend! YOU HEAR THAT?! I'M ONTO YOU! YOU WILL NOT KEEP ME TRAPPED IN THIS DAMN LOOP! I HAVE BESTED THE PRIME EVILS BEFORE AND YOU WILL NOT BREAK ME NOW!" He begun to shout, pacing around the room as if someone was listening.
His breath(?) shuddered a little before he craned his head back to Mio, scoffing as he added "Ohhhh, you think I'm mad don't you? Y-you always do! But I have proof! PROOF! I-i-i-i remember! I can recall events that have yet to pass. Like the foreign doctor sending her thoughts into your mind! She'll speak of escape and tell you that the arbalest wielder (David) is securing the prisoners. I know! I've seen it before! And she'll do it right about..."
An uneasy silence filled the area as even the Skeletons seemed a bit un-nerved by Leoric's behavior. (One of them did take the chance to raid the breakfast fridge for a milk carton)
...W-wait for it....
"Attention anyone who can hear me. We're going to try and make our way to the bridge so we can get out of here. Regroup as soon as you can, those skeletons will overwhelm you otherwise. David is going to head to the brig, I'll be in the living quarters. Meet up with one of us as soon as you can."
Right as Leoric predicted, Jenny's words begun to sink into Mio's head matching his description disturbingly accurately.
"SEE!? SEE?! Y-you heard it right?! You believe me, don't you!? Y-you didn't think I was crazy the last time I told you this!" The Crazy King barked in an almost desperate manner, almost hoping up and down as his skull shook like a bobblehead.
Table for Two
"The one thing that stands out to me about Miriam the most is her endless compassion. She has a unique way of putting herself in someone else's shoes. It really stands out, almost like she's desperate for people to like her."
- Teresa Goldhollow
Miriam stood silently before Nina and Philip for a time. The azure sand blew around them like a swarm of locusts. There was a gentle sweetness to the air they touched, a lingering taste of the dreams that they gathered. Miriam answered Nina in a soft, almost motherly voice, "Anazorzia is sick. The worlds so haphazardly sewn together are coming apart at their seams and not because of some event that you or I have caused, but because the world has reached it's limit. I killed the Matron because it was necessary.
There are things that my younger selves do not tell you, either because they do not know or because of selfish reasons.
I built Anazorzia with my younger selves to create a world that was a mirror of our home. Unlike the first of my paintings, it would be a world of disparity, of conflict, and through the contrast of colors it would become beautiful in its fleeting nature.
For a time, it worked. Anazorzia was all that I could have asked for. Yet as we continued to weave this place, my younger selves grew greedy. Each of them created new worlds to add to my painting. Their disregard for balance left Anazorzia in flux. Each color radicalized and cannibalized everything around them until there were no grey spaces.
Instead of working together to make something new, my younger selves had cut out pieces of my painting to call their own. For a long time I acquiesced. I spent eons in silence, holding my painting together in the face of their infighting.
Several cycles ago I decided that it was enough. It had come time for Anazorzia to die. We needed to move onto a new painting. A new work. Our world had grown stale, inaccessible, and masturbatory in its routines. The worlds that my younger selves tried to add were worked in with much difficulty, forced into places where there was little room. They conflicted each other in their laws of nature and overwrote the authority of one another.
Yet, when I did so my younger selves stopped quarreling among themselves for the first time since creation and stood against me. They did not believe in the truth that I spoke and instead sealed me away in a tomb of my own creations. They took the weight that I bore and forced it onto one of my oldest children, and bound her with ancient sorcery to the very fabric of Anazorzia.
They believe that even if I could break free of my prison, I would not have the heart to kill my first friend.
They were wrong. Yet, the karmic destiny that my daughter carried made it difficult to kill her. It was difficult to wholly remove her from the painting. For that purpose I required a special tool that did not exist in Anazorzia. So when I broke free of my prison, I kept hidden, pretending to be in bonds so that I could move against the precautions that my younger selves had created.
I weakened Anazorzia's defenses to the outside, enticing as many outworlders as I could with the treasures of our cobbled painting.
And they came. Many at first, but then the number of visitors dwindled. I set upon Ensay a madness to research the outworlders in order to discover the means of their travel. Ensay sired many children with the blood of the outworlders and upon them he researched the nature of their spark.
Of them all only one held that ephemeral nature to traverse worlds. That daughter did suffer greatly for my purposes. And from her body I was able to see and reproduce the same manner of ability in my servant. My servant left this world for the realm of my most abrasive sister and retrieved from her the blade you see before you. And through my servant I killed the first of my children to set the events you have witnessed in motion.
It is of this matter that Anazorzia is no longer a place for any person, it has become corrupted by the hedonistic tendencies of not only my younger selves, but of their haphazard creations. Lust and gluttony run rampant in the world. Humans are bred and consumed as both toys and livestock. Things refuse to die.
The natural order of this painting is in this way disrupted.
To maintain this realm is to enable their rampant perversions, doing a disservice to all that lives within. The beings born of the Anazorzia you see today are imbalanced, created by amateur hands and a representation of adolescent dreams. You of all people should understand the necessity of removing such ugly things from a painting."
Miriam finished speaking and brushed her hair to the side with her right hand. She looked toward Nina, but those pools of liquid gold seemed to peer through her. The azure sand grew still.
"You talk like you're the original goddamn Miriam Lockstar, Green," Black growled. "I was so fucking sure that the killer was the weird human girl that showed up uninvited, but after all this it's you. I thought I left you rotting in subspace outside of Anazorzia."
"It makes sense that it was Green." Blue said quietly. She hid behind her taller, darker self. She was still wearing the white-gold chef's uniform she had donned to work in the kitchen.
"If ya knew, then ya shoulda said something you big-breasted idiot." Red was standing next to Black. Now that they could see Red and Blue side by side, Red was definitely more muscular than her more bookish counterpart, though the two looked nearly identical.
"That's not nice." Blue said meekly.
White was farther behind them, her petite form protected by a teenage girl dressed in black ribbons.
"Honestly, all of you are idiots." Cuelle said frankly. "I can scarcely believe that my world is run by a group of such irresponsible gods."
"Oi, that's fucking rude half-pint."
Miriam snapped her fingers and Reign stepped in front of her, brandishing the golden sword. "I am more whole than all of you combined. I alone remember the painting before Anazorzia, and I alone am willing to burn away this rotting world."
"That's kind of out of character for you though... I always thought of Green as a sort of nurturing color." White said.
"No, Green is the color of nature. It is more hands-off than any of the other colors. Green represents the cycles of life and death as well as the facets of the natural world." Blue answered.
"Do not attribute me to such things as color," Miriam spat, "I am not like you. I am Miriam Lockstar, the Painter of Dreams. I am above such things as color."
"Besides, burning things is sort of my thing, y'know?" Red laughed. "It's too late for Anazorzia anyway, I say we drop the pretenses and just beat the shit out of Green while we still have a universe to exist in."
"Alright, let's do this. Just like last time." Black took off the ring on her middle finger and her headband glimmered to life. A giant slate tablet appeared behind her, inscribed with strange symbols. "One banishment spell coming right up."
Blue flexed her fingers and countless threads suddenly appeared from the shadows. Red stepped forward, creating fire from where she touched the fleshy ground.
White tapped the sides of her headband and began to radiate a gentle light. "I don't remember what I did last time, but... this feels right."
Miriam furrowed her brow in anger. Then she snapped with her left hand. The azure dust suddenly started to blow to the left in a whirlwind, sweeping the four Miriams behind Nina of their feet and slamming them against the wall. Miriam snapped again and the dust reversed, throwing the group into the right wall.
"Sealing magic is so much worse when you don't have the element of surprise, trust me."
The world spun around and suddenly everyone was standing on the ceiling. Miriam threw the group to the ground and flipped the world again. The dust glowed brightly in strands from her bloody left hand. The dust started to rush downward as gravity grew intense, forcing everyone but Nina and Philip against the floor.
"Try to understand, I am not Green. I am Miriam Lockstar," Miriam said slowly, "You are aspects of me, understand? BlackHarte abandoned me in the darkness. BlackHarte destroyed my world. All of your feelings are born from me. I am the artist, you are the creations."
Miriam walked forward, now she had let loose, her strength was beyond overwhelming. But she seemed fixated on the four girls plastered against the ground by her sorcery. "This hurts me so much more than any of you could know. The last thing I want to do is to be alone again. But every story needs to know when to end. Every painting needs to be finished. We must make room for new things to be created."
Miriam passed Nina and...
The Rising Dawn: Canteen
Mio observed Leoric and let him ramble on for a while before chiming in: "You are no fool, Leoric. I've experienced things much more dangerous than a mere 'time loop'. You can just sit this one out, maybe drink some tea, and let things run their course. Don't you see the opportunity? You have all the time in the world! Much more than you would have otherwise!
Anyways, you'll go mad if you just continue on doing the same thing over and over again. Just chill, relax, and we can work something out. Look, your skeletons might be a bit stupid, but I am sure they can still help out." She sat down and crossed her legs, observing Leoric all the while. "What do you even want to do? Slay me again? But why? What does that get you? What's your actual goal here? I don't have any riches on me. Just sit down, take a deep breath or whatever you do, and chill."
The Rising Dawn: Canteen
Mio | Leoric
Leoric expected many things but-...this-...this was different.
His form trembled as he stood there, almost unable to process what he was hearing.
A few of his minions brought a chair over for him to sit-well, fall onto, before he slowly brought his hands to the sides of his head.
"I-I-....I just can't let them win again. Make no mistake, young Captain. This is no opportunity, this is-...this is a Trap! They last time the demons-...they turned my mortal flesh into this-...."Thing" you see before you...They couldn't best my spirit before so they-...just discard me into this endless cycle." The Black King explained, his hands shaking a little as he did so.
"...I don't know how many times it's been now. I don't know what to do to stop it. I don't know if any of this is even real! I don't know if you are actually trying to help me or-or-or a construct made by the Lord of Lies to ensnare me further...I just feel so-....so-.....helpless...." He practically sobbed but from the looks of things he was starting to finally calm down.
"...Forgive me, I-....I just don't know what to do any more...." Leoric sighed in a defeated manner, one of his helpers handing him a bottle from the bar with perfect timing before he poured the contents down his boney jaw.
"...You-...you mentioned things more dangerous then being trapped by time itself....what could such a thing be?..." The king then asked as many of his minions seemed to become calmer or at least confused by their kings sudden lack of bloodlust. (Bonelust?)
Table for Two
...Felt something grasp her wrist.
"That's enough." Nina said, not looking at Miriam for the moment, simply shaking her head in disgust. "We get it already, they stand no chance against you." Nina stated, looking back to Phillip who was in the process of setting Blue down to the ground.
His strength alone wasn't able to keep her from hitting the walls, but compared to the other three, Blue had been given a far softer treatment. Not that Phillip had made a big deal about doing so as he casually pulled out that jar of black eldritch ooze from his interior. The contents slowly sloshing around and pawing at the walls of the jar like some discount Venom.
"It just... it frustrates me that you've let this go this far. That you've gone this far! Every story needs to know when to end? Every painting needs to be finished? I can't even believe how full of yourself you are?!" She said sternly, letting go if Miriam wasn't going to keep advancing towards her creations. "Paintings can be finished without throwing them into the fire, stories can be written without shredding it upon completing it. And you forget the biggest point here!!" She thrust her arms towards Faea and Mnemonyse. "THESE AREN'T FIGMENTS OF YOUR IMAGINATION ANY MORE!! They're real people!" She shouted, frustrated at just how obvious this was to her.
"Faea's arm, Mnemonyse's life, The Matron's death that affected practically everyone in this universe! That is real pain you've caused because you couldn't be bothered to sit down and talk with the other Miriams!" Nina argued, sweeping an arm towards the other Colours. "No you took the easy way out of this; sit back, let things fester and when things got too much, when you finally decided to do something, you went with the most drastic option you could honestly do! No wonder they acted the way they did to you, you were taking away everything they'd ever made, that they felt they'd put all they had into. Of course they'd fight back!"
"You said that I'd understand removing the 'ugly parts of a painting', that it was necessary. You couldn't be more wrong. Allowing those amateur hands to create and show their work to the world allows them to learn, allows them to grow. Being locked in here for so long, they haven't been able to have that step, nor have you been the one to help give feedback so that they could maybe grow as a creator! I've certainly gotten it, tons of it, and I'm a better artist because of it. Even Phillip's not perfect because "Huh?" even though I feel he can cook with the best of them from such a young again "Naturally." he still needs to learn about plating, which might not be part of getting the food in someone's belly, but it sure as hell matters if he wants to become a chef Gordon Ramsey's would appreciate! "...She's not wrong..."
"And that's not even getting into a gigantic pet peeve of mine. Too many times I've seen artists go back into their archives and destroy pieces that they'd done. It's the usual, not liking how their old stuff looks and that they 'need to clean things up'." She said quoting her fingers in the air. "But they forget the art they've sent out to the world, that's in their archives, isn't exactly their's any more. HeartGear put it very well when she said 'That part of you is stuck there indefinitely and as people come to view it, they in turn keep it alive as that art inspires new things." Nina said as she turned back to Phillip who was shaking that glass jar of his aggressively. "Phillip, can I have my tablet? "Ya whatever..." Thanks!" She said, grabbing it as Phillip popped it out effortlessly. "We all come from somewhere, it might not look the prettiest but it's also a means of new creators seeing that even the greats started out as stick drawing amateurs. This gave birth to this. Ibenz improved from this to this. And let's not forget the myriad of memes!"
"When I look at what's been made here, I'm not blinded by that utter contempt you seem to be so fond of. Sure it's got it's problems, but it's got its merits. What Faea's done with my clothing, the wonders, the lore. And that's just the surface. I've seen the monsters here, both the ones of this world, and the ones you personally have made. I'm not going to like everything that I find out there, and I can work to help change what I can. It's what I wanted to do when I thought Black was the one behind all this, let her have a long look at this, but now I get to have that conversation with you." She says as she waves the tablet.
And then she stopped, the flurry of words halted so ceremoniously. All those grievances, had been more of a pet peeve, something to chastise. What Miriam saw coming however was far more painful, what had driven Nina to push herself this hard to make it here. "But all that, all those reasons... I still don't believe that this has to be the end for Anazorzia, for it and its people, but what you've done to do this. That you would willingly inflict something so heinous on... these people. Do you not understand how... sinister Stardust is? How it slowly eats away at someone's very existence, but not only their's but anyone who's ever known of them?! To watch someone you love, who's been with you for your whole life, slowly just disappear in front of your face?!" Nina shook, holding her hat close to her chest. "It's fucking terrifying!! How it takes piece after piece, you think it's just a bad nap, he'll get better, and sometimes he might. But then one day you come to visit, and he just stares at you, happy to see a new person." Tears slowly rolling down her face. "When I was younger, I wondered why god would have ever made something that would take my Grandad away from me like that, he was supposed to be good, just, merciful. To cause that much pain flew straight in the face of that idea. And yet, here I am standing here today, in front of someone who somehow found a way to one up that bastard, and make Alzheimer's a family event!" She roared, glaring at Miriam. "You think it's merciful to sweep what horrors you rot under the rug because no one will remember it? Well I have news for you! You can take that mercy and shove it because I'm not going to stop until I know this nightmare of an ending will never get the chance of happening again!" She proclaimed defiantly, fully committed to the idea that if she couldn't take this stand against this amoral critic how could she hope to face her own maker if that day ever came. This wasn't just for herself, or for the people of Anazorzia, but the next Anazorzia. Erasing Anazorzia didn't solve the backwards logic Miriam harbored, and only meant that the next painting would eventually find a similar fate one way other another. People may think for themselves, but they also think for their fellow man, in the hope that in their time of need someone would step up to help them, as they did for them.
The Rising Dawn: ArmouryHillary the Slime
| David West | Jenny
"I think... Hillary should go with Jenny. I want to see how everyone else is doing. She also didn't see Miia in the fields outside, so perhaps maybe she's still locked in her room?" Hillary asked back to the group. "But will it be okay for everyone to split up like that? Didn't you tell Hillary we should stick together?" She added, looking down at the scrapped mess of platinum on the ground. She brought her hand down to pick it back up, which she was able to do but with considerably more effort than what normally was needed. "I'm also not sure Hillary will be able to become shiny again from just this, not with how much lemonade is in me now. Unless, would you like to share some with Hillary?" She asked offering a hand up to the trio while she stuck her other hand in her mouth.
Although Hillary didn't explain it well herself, Jenny could easily pick up on the fact that Hillary was more than happy to let them have a sampling of her. David and his encyclopedia knowledge of the PCs would also have an idea of this, that not only was this not harmful, but actually beneficial for her overall health.
Table for Two
"Hands off of my lady!" Reign shouted as he stepped forward, his sword flying out of it's sheath like a bolt of golden lightning. The blade crashed into Nina's skin and shattered, sending small shards of God-Slaying sword flying off into the shadowed darkness. The servant took a step back, astonished.
An aura of darkness grew out from Nina as she spoke. It was a soft and gentle darkness, like that of a starless night. It wove itself in cascades over Nina's body the more impassioned she grew. As her emotions swelled, so did her aura, and it overflowed out of her heart and into the the train car.
Miriam's eyes grew wide.
As Anazorzia crumbled under the weight of the destinies of it's thousand constituent worlds, the space around the train car had reached the critical point where reality and dreams had begun to blur. This shadow was the manifestation of the Nina's overflowing emotions, her memories, and her hope.
"You..." Miriam said softly as she tugged at her own hand. "You're just like her."
The train suddenly stopped, jerking everyone forward onto the fleshy floor. There was an explosion and the world went white.
When Nina opened her eyes the world was a colorless white. But as she blinked the sand and dust out of her eyes, things began to become somewhat more clear. She could see the shapes of the five other women on the floor. Philip was pooled a little bit to Nina's side. The world around them was blank and utterly flat.
Reign, Faea, Mnemosyne, and Cuelle were nowhere to be found.
Nina sat up. Small colored marbles floated in the air around her in hues of Blue, Red, Green, Black, and White. They held small tablaeux of some worlds she recognized and others she didn't. One held a scene of a train speeding through space, flanked by glimmering lights. Another had a group of women sunbathing on the canopy of a vast sea of trees. A older woman was sitting in a crystal world reading slowly through journals of the past. Nina knew instinctively that these were the worlds that made up Anazorzia.
Nina looked down. Her shadow turned the ground below her from a blank white space into a wooden floor. Where her hands touched the same occurred. She was bringing color into this empty world.
Where was this? Nina's thoughts echoed in the empty space.
"This is Anazorzia," came a reply. The voice was high and sweet. Full of innocence. When Nina turned to find the source of the voice, there was a small girl squatting next to her. She had red hair held back with a blue headband. Huge blue eyes smiled at her, glimmering like oceans in this white plane. "My name is Miriam Lockstar, and you're Nina! Nina Zack- Zat- Zachk-... Just Nina!"
Miriam grinned. She had a set of pretty white teeth, but she was missing an incisor. "Would you like to have tea with me?"
The shadow of the little girl painted the ground beneath her, but it expanded, reaching out to each end of the white space until Nina and Miriam were in the lobby of a cafe. Gentle beams of sunlight filtered through stained glass windows and tables set with checkered cloths hosted phantom guests. There was no one there, but there were the sounds of hustle and bustle, the tinkling of ice in cups, the scrape of knives against plates, and the warm nostalgic chatter of people going about their day.
Miriam grabbed Nina's hand and helped her up. "Welcome to Cafe Anazorzia!"
The little girl was wearing the uniform that Blue had on prior to everything happening. "How many will be dining here today?"
Table for Two
Nina definitely needed help getting to her feet and even as she stood there in this cafe her legs wobbled. Despite her abilities, despite what she had just survived, she was still only human. Not a deity, a cyborg or even a well trained athlete, she was with some noteworthy exceptions a normal human that frankly spent too much time sitting down at her tablet. There's a limit to how many times one could continue going on stubbornness and adrenaline alone, and that time had been a long time coming.
"I... think it'll be three? You're sitting with us right, you wanted tea?" Nina asked, honestly shouldering Miriam with a bit more weight than she meant to until Phillip grabbed her a chair to park her tush. "T-Thanks Phillip." She exhaled, leaning forward with her arms resting on her knees.
"You certainly dealt with that blade better than Faea did. Wonder who's holding her arm up now." He commented, surveying the area, specifically for a kitchen. "Why didn't you tell me you could do that?"
"I, I didn't know I could do that, but..." Nina commented to Phillip as she lifted her head up to look at Miriam. "We'll see how this chat goes, there might be more than just the three of us coming." She added to her original answer, taking a moment to look around the cafe weakly as she wiped her eyes, quite red from her final stand. "Do, you know what these are?" She gestured to the remnants of Anazorzia, the orbs, loosely wondering how much this Miriam knew of what had happened.
A Painted World
"They're marbles," Miriam said matter-of-factly. The small glass orbs danced around her like planets around a sun. Light flowed through them and splintered into colored light which pooled around Miriam in thick paint-like orbs. The little girl drew her fingers along the paints and from them created a small notepad. She wrote down on it some scribbles. "But a table of three is coming right up!"
Before Nina and Philip could react they found themselves seated at a booth. A cloth laden table before them set with plates, knives, forks, spoons, and three cups of iced water. Sunlight dribbled through the window at their side. Nina looked out and could see a world outside. They were in the downtown of some city. The streets were empty, a painted scene of lamps, plants, and buildings, but she could hear the rumble of cars passing by and the footfalls of an intersection during lunchtime.
Miriam sat down next to Nina. The little girl smelled of blueberries and vanilla.
A blank-faced waitress came to take their order. She was silent and her movements were stiff, but the entire ordeal was not entirely uninviting. Miriam ordered an earl-grey with milk and sugar.
The drink came almost immediately, delivered by some phantom waitstaff out of the kitchen doors. Philip saw that the kitchen was empty when the doors swung open. A blank and cold room filled with pots, pans, stoves, and ovens.
Miriam took a sip of her tea. She had a solemn look on her face.
"You've been through a lot this past day," Miriam said. Her voice was as sad as it was cheerful. Her eyes faced forward and she held her cup gingerly in both hands. The fragments of Anazorzia kept their orbit around her person. "I don't blame you if you want to leave. It's not like you wanted to come here in the first place."
A Painted World
"Heh..." Nina couldn't help but smile at Miriam's comment, her head resting on her arms. She knew this was terrible edicate and likely breaking several rules of fine dining but she really didn't have the energy. "It's gonna take more than that to get rid of me unfortunately. I'll... sleep better when I know my job's done here." She answered.
Phillip for his part was very enamored by the sighting of the kitchen, but seeing the waitress and Nina's current state he shrugged. "Given Nina's current state, matcha tea would be a good start for her. Although I can't say why I'm participating here. I would much rather be in the kitchen."
Nina lifted her head up sluggishly as the cup of tea was placed swiftly on the table, the smell of the aromatic lime green tea. "I, just don't want to lose you too." Nina said as Phillip propped her up and put the tea in her hands. "Well, there are more things to learn from you, so as you said, you won't get rid of me that easily." Phillip answered back as Nina blew at her tea before taking her first sip. "Oh, that's kinda nice." She smiled and took another sip.
"Will you be destroying the recipes and ingredients that exist in those 'marbles' as you put them Miriam?" Phillip asked curtly, causing Nina to nearly choke on her third sip of tea. "Phillip, we're trying to save a little more than just recipes here..." To which Phillip pondered a moment. "Techniques would also be useful too, yes more than just those two." To which Nina held her head with one hand, admittedly looking a bit better now that she had something in her belly. Feeling her bare hand against her forehead made her feel a guilty, the gloves Faea had crafted were gone, and very possibly never to be replaced.
A Painted World
"You're here to save Anazorzia then?" Miriam asked softly. "Do you stare into these worlds that I have created, so full of life, and feel pain for their passing?" She shook her head. "Of course you do. Who wouldn't? To you they all seem so very alive - so real. For a time I also felt like they were real. Anazorzia is special in this way - it grants the deepest desires of those who inhabit it. Those who live fear death, and so in Anazorzia, death does not exist. At least, not in the way that mortals understand it."
Miriam smiled, "The idea of mortality is enough to shatter their entire world. Did you see what happened when Anna died? Everyone was shook to their core. I want to be free, Nina, but I am bound as a custodian to this world I painted. I simple cannot leave them, for if I did the world would grow cold and dark until even time itself ceases to pass. To me, that is a fate worse than death."
"Can you imagine? Being born and then left behind by your creator in a dark place with absolutely nothing. A timeless oblivion where it is neither hot nor cold, dark nor light." Miriam chuckled to herself and finished her tea before conjuring a buffet of small cakes before herself. "Well, I do not need to imagine. That was what this place was before I created Anazorzia."
"I fear death. There is nothing more frightening to me than returning to that colorless oblivion. Yet, now I understand more than ever that death is necessary. Without it, the living can not move on because they are eternally weighed down by the older generation." She produced a vial from nothing, this time not even using the paints that she was so fond of using. It was full of purple dust. "I cannot leave these worlds, but Violet could. Neither her obsession with Shuwa nor her friendship with Syl were coincidence. Han Ankhem, the pollen of Everlasting Stargazers. My older sister, Syl, created the flowers so that she could lose her own immortality and memories. She did not like to take the mantle of God. She loved to discover, to research, and to explore. So she could not stand to know everything in all of her creation."
"My world has stagnated. It's filled to the brink of breaking. I know you mean well, but it is at this point it is a matter of the limits of my own powers. I do not have the ability to maintain a world any larger than Anazorzia is right now. And you have seen with your own eyes that even my own avatars have fell to the corrupting influence of eternal life. They thought themselves untouched - but each of them had grown radicalized by their unending vigil.
White grew guilty, burdened by the uncountable sins of the world. She was forced to shed pieces of herself in order to stay sane.
Blue grew distant, weighed down by the information she yearned to gather. In doing so she lost her spirit of invention.
Black grew arrogant and sought to extend her own influence, going so far as to attempt to expand Anazorzia using her dampening slates.
Red grew hedonistic, falling into pleasure-seeking tendencies and losing her aptitude for art.
Green grew destructive, unable to see any deviations from the natural cycles as beauty."
Miriam touched Nina's hand. Her skin pale skin was as cold as death. White paint flowed around Nina's hand and formed the silken glove that Faea had once woven for her. "Was it right for me to seek to destroy Anazorzia? To create what my children fear, what I fear, for the sake of the future? Is it wrong that I yearn to leave this Labyrinth and seek the world outside, knowing that if I leave, Anazorzia will cease to be? In the end, what should I do?"
The Rising Dawn: ArmouryHillary the Slime
| David West | Jenny
"....Errrrr-....I'll pass...." David remarked, being able as open to the idea of "Drinking" a living being as much as any other average guy.
"And while I did say that, we have weapons and objectives now. Gotta adapt to the situation. And if those bastards get out again, lord knows what they'll do." The Irishman added while Violet attempted to fix Hillary's mass issue.
"Here, try using these. Military Ceramic Plates. Designed to stop rifle rounds. It's not as heavy but it should be strong enough to keep you safe." The Doctor explained as he began to use a knife to tear apart some of the bulletproof vests left over.
Each time, he yanked out the protective plate and left it in a pile for the slime to consume.
Jenny herself slipped on one of the remaining vests before David checked the hallway.
"Alright, do your check then head straight for the bridge. Engagements at a minimum. Still outnumbered and not immortal like they are."
"Alright then. Hillary and I will do one quick sweep then we'll meet up." The Gardevoir said before David held up his hand, doing a quick countdown before both groups silently split up, making a dash for their objectives.
Jenny lead the way to the airships crew quarters, a somewhat fancy part of the ship designed for the comfort of any and all crew who live on the ship.
She kept up a small Reflect barrier up at all times, using it almost like a riot shield as she advanced onwards.
There were some slight skeleton presence here and there, mostly just finding out what having beds made out of modern materials and experiencing the comforts of the living.
"Attention anyone who can hear me. We're going to try and make our way to the bridge so we can get out of here. Regroup as soon as you can, those skeletons will overwhelm you otherwise. David is going to head to the brig, I'll be in the living quarters. Meet up with one of us as soon as you can." She spoke out to anyone in the area over and over again as she attempted to have them sneak though the area without causing a fight.
Thankfully, the skeletons seemed pretty distracted, I mean, the light switches alone were blowing their minds (Skulls?).
They seemed rather happy with themselves, even if they were the enemy, it was hard for Hillary to see that as they jumped up and down on king sized beds and other such childish actions.
A Painted World
"Well if I'm really honest, I don't know why I'm here. Saving the people of Anazorzia is just what I want to do now that I'm here." Nina answered back, recoiling a bit as Miriam's ice cold hands touched her. Goosebumps ran along her skin as the silky fibers wove themselves back together and reattached with the remaining threads that connected them to the rest of the outfit. Touching at her arm with one of her hands, she couldn't help but look a little pained. Sure it felt real, it looked real, but... this wasn't Faea's, it was Miriam's.
Nina set her cup down after another sip, being greedy about it, but she was nearly done. "Honestly, I don't know how well off I am to comment on that now, this tea is helping but... Nina started to explain, rubbing her temples with those soft silky hands of her's. "I'd be lying if I said I was drawing with a full set of crayons."
"You're not wrong to want to leave, and... you aren't wrong in introducing death. It's the way you've done in and the need for such an utterly complete deletion of this place that bothers me." Nina answered, not able to hide the head fog she was starting to experience. "The best I understand this is like a computer program or a picture file. There's only so much you can put on it before the whole thing starts collapsing in on itself. Wouldn't have thought I'd make that comparison in my life but, here we are I guess." Nina said awkwardly, trying to wrap her head around this problem. "I just don't understand, where I come from the universe is supposed to last for... well a crazy amount of time. I don't know exactly what happens by that point but it's so far in the future, and there's so many things to do in the meantime, even if it does end like that, I'm here, from there, talking to you now." Nina said, eyeing the different selection of cakes, eventually picking up a marshmallow creme filled one.
"If we're dealing with size issues, with a bit of sleep I know I could help you out. I'm pretty good at meshing things together for an audience. As for the people... I hate to say it but some just won't want this at all, and be stubborn, but even I have to admit something needs to be done here. You can't stay trapped here just for their sake, that's not right either. Even if Anazorzia is reduced to a memory, if the people who wish to move on and make something for themselves with the limited time they have, I think that'd be fair. Let the people decide if they want to move on with you to see the world outside at a bare minimum." She said her piece. Nina was still under the impression that if people were allowed to enter Anazorzia like Green had allowed, then that should be more than enough life to drive the narrative. Like a piano string vibrating another by sharing an octave. Trimming the fat, reorganizing the headcanon and retconning some aspects is what they needed, a good old fashion defrag. Nina's priority was trying to keep everyone who wanted that second chance in tact regardless of how Miriam ended up deciding to go through with this. Raising the cake up to her mouth, she took a bite and smiled. "Mmm, this is nice~" She said softly.
"But, if you could, why is it that Anazorzia will be doomed the moment you leave. You don't need to go super in depth, seriously please don't, I'll definitely fall asleep if you go into full techno babble. Try explaining it like you would a kid. It's not like I haven't heard the 'In the beginning, there was nothing' story before so why is Anazorzia different?"
Phillip for his part had mostly been remaining quiet through this little exchange, not really concerned with the people for the most part. Miriam seemed to be capable of making whatever she wished, so getting the ingredients and such from her would be easy enough. Nina nearly falling asleep despite the tea was another thing entirely, and this annoyed him. He had assumed the tea alone wouldn't have solved the problem, Nina was too far gone for food alone to help her, or at least, normal food. "Is a senzu bean on the menu? Either the whole or used in a pastry, it doesn't matter." He asked, figuring such a thing was fiction but, perhaps Miriam was able to weave even fiction into reality.
A Painted World
Miriam picked up a small cheesecake and popped the entire thing into her mouth. She looked at Nina, blue eyes shining brightly in the steady light of the painted sun. "You mean that thing from Dragonball?" Miriam spun green paint around her fingers and dropped three of the small beans onto the table. "I have only kinda sorta remember what they are so don't go blaming me if these don't work exactly like they do in the show."
The girl leaned back in the seat, the leather creaked under her body weight. "The reason why I can't leave and why I can't let more people in is pretty simple. I'm too weak. Labyrinths are maintained by their weaver and the further away we are from it, the more difficult it is to keep the strings tied together, so to speak. The more threads we have to maintain and the farther we have to do it from, the more taxing it is."
She smiled, "Having outsiders in my worlds are already pretty taxing you know. For every person that enters the world, I have to spend extra energy counter-balancing their presence. It's sort of like how a Minecraft server has to render extra blocks for each person that logs in. Actually, that's a pretty good analogy. You can think of me as the server itself and my avatars like operators."
"But that's a discussion better held some other time." Miriam chuckled. "You might be wondering why in the world you ended up here after hearing that. After all, how did someone like you end up breaking through all the barriers around this world if most planeswalkers can't? Answer's pretty simple."
"You and Philip were more or less dead. I found your souls drifting in the eternity right outside of Anazorzia, cast out who knows how long ago to drift among the ambient chaos of infinity. You had essentially done the inter-dimensional equivalent of washing up on a deserted island." Miriam put her hands on top of each other. "Besides, you have spent far too much time here already. Though it seems like it has only scarcely been a day, more than two years have passed since you originally arrived here."
"Ah, I'm all over the place today. My head's not on straight. I'm jumping from one thing to another." Miriam picked up another cake and stuffed it in her mouth. She chewed in silence. She swallowed. "Nina, be truthful with me. Do you really believe that someone like you can pass judgement on all of Anazorzia? Your solutions has simply been to tell me that I should make everyone happy and give them everything that they want. That might work in an truly infinite universe with an all-powerful god, but my universe is finite and my powers are limited. Many of the people within can never leave. They aren't strong enough to withstand the journey out. Anazorzia will be their one and only home."
"I am not unreasonable Nina, and I do not think my avatars were either, even given their eventual decay into madness. If there was a simple and obvious way to make everyone happy, I would not have sat here agonizing over my inaction for so long." Miriam turned toward Nina and leaned forward. "I mean, after all, you and I, we're not characters in a story. Our choices have consequences as real as us."
The Rising Dawn: Living Areas
Hillary the Slime | David West | Jenny | Violet
Hillary's featureless eyes looked from David to Violet and Jenny, her form rippling gently as she moved her arm tentatively to the two before slowly withdrawing it."A-alright." She said, her fingers hooking her jaw in a self conscious manner, and with a closed mouth dragged it down to sit in her lap. The move impossible for a human given their jaw, but Hillary obviously didn't have that issue. "Hillary was just trying to make sure she could help you guys." She said, looking down moreso at the floor.
When offered the plates, Hillary looked up with a look of confusion. She couldn't switch over with the amount of material currently inside her, but Violet was trying, so she should as well. Scooting over to the slowly accumulating pile, she picked up each plate with a bit of difficulty, and pushed it into her midsection and pseudopod. It was quite apparently by looking at her that Hillary was actively needing to hold those plates inside her body, otherwise they'd just fall to the floor. Even still, after the eighth plate was pushed inside, Hillary shook her head and let go of the plates, each plate falling to the floor as she moved away from them. "I know you are trying to help, but until Hillary gets rid of most of the lemonade inside her, she won't be able to switch what she is made of. She should be fine to go with Jenny like this, but I know she won't be as helpful as she was getting here." She tried to explain her situation better to these people who obviously had never seen a slime before. Before the group split up, Hillary made sure to at least grab one of those plates, holding it like a football as she tried her best to keep up with Jenny.
Jenny likely wasn't able to go at her full pace with Hillary following behind her. The slime tried her best to keep up but an occasion check at her six resulted in Jenny seeing Hillary was leaving a trail of stained floor behind them. At least she was quiet, Hillary wasn't breathing heavily, or breathing at all. Her air pocket had shrink to the size of an apple by her collar bone.
Getting closer to the bedrooms, she was cautious to look around to make sure the skeletons weren't too close before turning to Jenny. "Is it okay if we check a bedroom before we go to the bridge? She's probably somewhere outside, but Hillary didn't see her figurine there. It's very important to her." She requested of the psychic, the tone she used indicating she wasn't kidding. Whatever this item was, it was very precious to her.
A Painted World
"The very same." Phillip answered as Miriam described the origin of those holy magic beans. "As long as they have the same rejuvenation quality, it shouldn't matter." He commented as she weaved the beans into existence. "Hmm, yes those appear to be the beans..." Phillip started to say as he looked over them as Nina took one and brought it to her mouth, and took a bite. "... Hold on..." Phillip started to say as he realized what was about to happen as Nina swallowed.
Almost immediately, Nina's eyes widened as the tiredness that had plagued her was swiftly swept away. But that wasn't what had gotten her attention, or Phillip's annoyance as Nina put on a good 10-20 pounds and all in the right places! "Oh..." "I..." "My!" "Here it comes..." "GOD!!" "I should have seen this coming..." Nina stood up as best she could inside the booth while Phillip recoiled, pulling out a blanket from within in some fruitless attempt to hide. Thankfully the silk was able to stretch as her new chest was now a chest! The extra energy reserves of the beans had to go somewhere, and now Nina was looking quite a bit like Mnemonyse if a bit smaller. Sure she was getting squeeze hard in her outfit, the lines of the silk that wrapped around her whole body were far more noticeable.
"Phillip! I never knew these existed!" Nina squealed like an idiot, reaching out as Phillip tried to jump away only to be squeezed into that awaiting bust. "ACK! Nina, let go!" He whined as his tendrils flailed around while Nina hugged him like a teddybear. Nina listened to Miriam describe the limits of her powers, up until the point that Miriam dropped the bombshell that the duo had died in some form or another.
"W-What?" Nina remarked, visibly stunned as Phillip got dropped back down onto the booth's seat. What did she mean she was dead, or that two years had gone by already?! That made no sense! But she just continued talking like that wasn't that big of a deal or anything, and instead handed her a question that rated right up there with 'What is the Meaning of Life?' "That would explain why there's an odd difference with some of my tendrils..."
"I-I don't know!" Nina exclaimed, scratching at her hair vigorously as she dropped herself back down to the seat. "You're right, I really can't but fffff-" Her fingers fidgeting violently as she tried to make sense of the myriad of directions she could take this. "How the hell do you know we're not, you and I could just as easily be in the same boat as them, some characters in a story about... fuckin' pants! Who cares what! We could be side characters for all we know, and you're just like "Come on Nina, stop being such a bug and let's move on." but I can't help it!"
"I'm just trying to save anything I can of this place. You and your avatars have made it sound like I'm some big hotshot here, super smart with some fancy PHD in badassery, but honestly I've just been bumbling my way throughout this mess this whole time! I was just supposed to be going to this party but now I'm being told we somehow died and got sent to an entirely new place than the place we got taken to... well yesterday technically! I just don't want them to be completely lost." Nina explained, burying her face in her hands. "She does get like this from time to time... It's grating on your patients but the amount of times she's stayed up well into the night in some last ditch effort to archive someone's tasteless scribbles is far too numerous... She's stubborn to a fault and will continue to move the goalpost until something goes her way. It's troublesome, but she does manage to make cooking for me easier, so it is tolerated..." "Not scribbles, wholesome art..." She corrected through her hands.