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The Wastelands Rumble, Pt. 2; Personal Saga
Topic Started: May 19 2018, 10:38 PM (190 Views)
Tien
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THE WASTELANDS RUMBLE, Pt. 2

Following the events of The Wastelands Rumble, Pt. 1

Tenshinhan had been spending even more time than usual in the library of the dojo complex belonging to the Paladins. Following his mission to the village of Kekil, the human found himself consumed by something one of the wasteland scoundrels said, something about a relic. This peaked Tenshinhan's interest and as soon as he bested the brigands who took over Kekil, he immediately went back to Ganr to find out if such a thing truly existed. When he reported back to the Paladins about the mission, he briefly mentioned it to them but they seemed to shrug it off, as if they had no knowledge of such an item. His time in the library didn't yield much in the way of results either, which in turn caused him to think that such an item may never have existed at all. He thought it might have been a folk tale, one passed across the plains. Something to give people hope and purpose, regardless of whether or not it truly existed.

In his research, the human warrior learned about many items of that nature; Avalon was apparently host to many tall tales, fables, and legends about particular items. Be it swords, shields, or armor, Avalon and the Paladins in particular were no strangers to objects of the mythological persuasion. Despite his skepticism, such was evidence that this magical macguffin might feasibly exist. It wasn't as if Earth didn't have its fair share of mysterious objects, the legend of the seven magic dragon balls, for instance. This factoid had occurred to Tenshinhan well into his studies, but all it did was make him want to figure out exactly what it was he was looking for, regardless of its existence. The easy explanation was that it was a myth, a legend that he just hadn't happened upon yet. A fabled artifact capable of giving its user great power and the ability to return the plains to glory, or something like that.

However, that also seemed too convenient. Whatever Volta and his horde thought they were after, they were under the impression it was real and they thought they were hot on the heels of it, too. They might not have found it in the village of Kekil but if they carried on, who was to say they wouldn't find it somewhere else? By that logic, Volta Bryn and his group of scoundrels were certain to strike again. Then it occurred to Tenshinhan that, if he could figure out where to look for this supposed item, he could beat Volta and company to the punch. Hypothetically, he could stop them before they even had a chance to do any damage to another piece of Avalonian civilization. The only problem was where? Where would they strike next? If he knew more about this nondescript thing he was looking for, he might have a better idea of where to look.

There was one person that came to mind in Tenshinhan's desperation to learn more about this supposed item, and that was Cole Custer. Cole had been on Avalon since he was a kid, the human preacher of Israel's Lot would almost certainly have heard of some mystical relic, if there was one. Being the sole contact Tenshinhan had made outside of the Paladins since he arrived, it wasn't like he had much of anyone else to turn to. Thankfully, the human warrior had developed a rapport with the man and felt he could easily turn to him in this time of need. Strangely enough, both parties felt as though their short team up to defend Israel's Lot wouldn't be the last they saw each other. The individuals were right, that wouldn't be the last they saw of one another. The road ahead was one comprised of multiple interweaving paths, in which many different individuals would come into and leave Tenshinhan's life.


WC: 650
Edited by Tien, Jun 14 2018, 10:52 PM.
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Tenshinhan headed for Israel's Lot to seek out the council of the towns preacher, Cole Custer, which meant leaving the dojo complex and heading into the badlands. When the martial artist first met Cole, the preacher told him all about the badlands while they made their way to Israel's Lot. The badlands were a mostly desolate wasteland on the outskirts of the Cougon Plains, which was really saying something considering how empty the plains themselves could be. It's what made the badlands prime territory for marauders and abominations of other kinds. The warrior didn't expect any trouble, but he found it best to stay on his toes out here. Though he had only been on Avalon for a couple months, there was much Tenshinhan had learned of this world. Yet, it seemed he had hardly scratched the surface, as evidenced by his current mission.

Before long, Tenshinhan arrived at Israel's Lot. The ramshackle town didn't look much better than the last time he saw it, but he supposed that was just how it looked in general, dilapidated and decrepit. When he walked through the towns broken down entrance, he immediately received some strange looks from the townsfolk who were out and about. Some recognized him from when he came to town to help Cole defeat the abominations that had overran the town, but those who didn't, didn't seem very welcoming. The human warrior guessed that could be said for most everyone he had encountered on this world. Other than the Paladins, the people on Avalon didn't seem very interested in tourists. So disinterested in fact, that Tenshinhan had been called 'nomad' more times than he could possibly count. That said, it wasn't necessarily an inaccurate descriptor and he had come to wear the moniker with some degree of pride.

When he arrived at the preachers congregation at the far end of town, Cole Custer was nowhere in sight. Tenshinhan suspected he might be inside the church, as he remembered Cole mentioning that he also resided there. When he knocked on the white double doors of the church, they squeaked open, having never been completely shut in the first place. The human warrior let himself in to the old, tattered chapel. Inside, there was smoky haze and musty smell that accompanied it. Truth be told, the place of worship looked more like a bar room than anything else. Beams of sun poured through the cloudy windows of the establishment, lighting Tenshinhan's way as he strolled through the church. After a few moments, the human warrior arrived at the podium where Cole presumably did his sermons for Israel's Lot. Above the podium was the effigy of a man, Tenshinhan assumed a religious figure of some sort, though he wasn't sure who.

"I see you met Ganr himself. You believe I found that thing out in the middle of the Cougon Plains? Must've been blown in during a dust storm or somethin'. Finders keepers, as they say." Cole said, suddenly appearing from a back room of the church. The preachers sudden appearance caught Tenshinhan off guard, as he was still entranced by the icon before him. "Good to see you, nomad. What brings you back out here?" Cole asked as he stuck his hand out for a handshake. While he didn't mind Tenshinhan's surprise visit and he certainly expected to see Tenshinhan again, he didn't expect it to be so soon.

Tenshinhan took Cole's hand and gave it a firm shake. "Likewise. I thought I'd come by and ask you a few things. There's something I've been looking for and I thought you might have an idea of where I could find it. If it exists, that is." Tenshinhan explained, unsure of how else to preface his search for this mystical macguffin that may or may not exist. Though Tenshinhan thought it all sounded strange, Cole was no stranger to items of this nature and wasn't phased by Tenshinhan's rather odd sounding proposition. He was instead intrigued.

"Oh, is that right? Well, you've got my attention, pal. Come on back and let's talk, it feels a bit too pious out here for my blood." Cole stated, waving Tenshinhan to come with him to the back room of the church.

Tenshinhan followed Cole into the back room, where he and the preacher sat down together at an old table, a bottle of whiskey in between them. It was clear to Tenshinhan that, before he had arrived, Cole had taken to pouring himself a drink. He couldn't say he blamed him after hearing how his day to day life in Israel's Lot was. Not only was this place downtrodden and bleak as it was, the people here were desperate for hope and Cole? Well, Cole was their north star. A man who'd fight to his dying breath, a gifted cleric with abilities most couldn't understand, and a silver tongue with only the best of intentions. Or at least that's how Israel's Lot saw him, in their own thick headed, romantic sort of way. There was some truth to all of it, he was gifted and he was a tough a customer, the rest? Well the rest couldn't be further from the truth, Cole was a troubled man with more problems than he let on.

"So, let's hear it. What is it you're lookin' for, desperado?" Cole asked as he poured himself and Tenshinhan a drink, whether he wanted one or not. It didn't matter to him, Cole would be drinking with or without him.


WC: 920
TWC: 1,570
Edited by Tien, Jun 14 2018, 11:12 PM.
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"It's a long story." Tenshinhan confessed, before taking a sip of the whiskey Cole had poured for them. The moment the drink met his mouth, you could tell he didn't imbibe often. Despite this, he powered through. "It all started when the Paladins enlisted my help. The first thing they did was send me to Kekil to get rid the brigands that had taken over the village. I get there to find this oaf, Volta Brynn, and his horde. Trouble was, they hadn't just taken the place over, they had turned it inside out looking for something. When I pressed Volta's right hand, Dirge, for what it was? He alluded to some sort of item, a relic. Something powerful enough to change the fate of whoever had it, maybe even powerful enough to change the fate of Avalon altogether..." Tenshinhan explained, giving Cole as much context as he possibly could so he would have a better understanding of the situation.

"I tore apart the library at the dojo looking for something — anything that seemed like it might be what I was looking for, but came out empty handed. I figured, as long as you've been on Avalon, maybe you've heard of something." Tenshinhan continued, imploring Cole for any information he may or may not have.

"Well, one thing I can tell you for sure, is that Dirge cannot be trusted. He's a wiley sonuvabitch, take anything he says with a grain of salt. I've tangled with him and the only time you'll hear that boy tell the truth, is when he's staring down a barrel, and maybe not even then." Cole said, after finishing the last of his drink. "That said, there are a few things Dirge could be referrin' to. You see, Avalon isn't just knights, cowboys, and aliens. There's a mystical underbelly to Avalon, a world of supernatural and spiritual machinations." Cole explained, pushing his glass away and instead grabbing the whole bottle. "As a man of clergy, I've studied the sacred and the profane of this world. I will be the first to tell you, that there are things out there. There are things and entities out there beyond our understanding." The preacher said, before springing up and grabbing a black book off a nearby book shelf.

The human flipped through the book, before finally flinging it on to the table. "What you're lookin' for, if you can't find it using the Paladins resources? It's bound to be of an unholy nature, something profane that goes against the Paladins and their beliefs. Lucky for you, I know a thing or two about blasphemy. Now, tell me again what they said this thing could do?" Cole asked, ready to start turning pages in an effort to find it, or at least something resembling it.

"Right. That Dirge guy didn't say much, but he called it a treasure, a relic 'powerful enough to sustain them and the rest of the wasteland'. That's all. Volta acted like he had said more than he should've, though I can't imagine how." Tenshinhan replied, wishing he knew more. The description he had been given felt incredibly vague, but unbeknownst to him, it might have been more on the nose than anticipated.

"Alright, alright. Let me see." Cole responded, nodding his head as he flipped through the large, jet black book in front of him. The book was one compiled by the man who took Cole under his wing after he arrived on Avalon at a young age. As his sole apprentice, it was one of many books Cole inherited after the man's passing. "I've heard of something like this, my magister, Gideon Bedlam...he once told me about an artifact that could do something like that. Whoever obtained this...thing, would be granted not only strength, but the power to alter the Avalon landscape how they see fit. At least that's how the story went." Cole said, rigorously flipping through the book looking for the item. "But it wasn't forged with Ganr's hand, no. It was forged in darkness. Brought into existence for the sole purpose of playing god, against Ganr's will. The Paladins and their revisionist history would tell you it never existed at all..." Cole explained, before finally hitting the page he had been looking for all along.

"The Jewel Of Kalavaris." Cole said, pressing his finger heavily into the yellowed page. "There's a lot of things they could be lookin' for but none could do what they want better than this baby. How they found out about it, I don't know. You'd be hard pressed to find much of anyone who see's the jewel of kalavaris as anything more than a folk tale. Hell, its been hidden so long, a lot of the younger Paladins have probably never heard of it to begin with. May as well be lost to history..." Cole rambled, thinking out loud more so than anything else. "But, if these goons you mentioned are after it, I guarantee they know something we don't. I'd also venture a guess that they aren't the only ones after it, either. Something's definitely goin' on here, nomad." The preacher assured him, as he began to pace back and forth, unsure of what to make of the situation. "Lucky for you, I know where it is."


WC: 883
TWC: 2,453
Edited by Tien, Jun 14 2018, 11:13 PM.
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"Lucky for you, I know where it is." Cole said. "Longwall City." The preacher added, referring to the walled city built around a massive mining site. It was there that the jewel of kalavaris had been contained for many years. The reason Cole knew that was because of Gideon Bedlam, his teacher. When he was under Gideon's tutelage, Gideon was the sole protector of the jewel. The Paladins might have made it seem like it never existed, but that didn't mean it couldn't fall into the wrong hands. Gideon was among the few entrusted with the knowledge of where it was kept, solely to protect it and keep it exactly where it was. Trouble was, Gideon was long presumed dead and couldn't protect the Jewel anymore. As his sole apprentice, that responsibility would logically fall to Cole. Unfortunately, Cole never got that memo.

Cole's words stuck with Tenshinhan as he left Israel's Lot and began his journey back to Ganr. This time, he took to the skies in an effort to get back quicker. He now knew both what he was looking for and where it was. Based on what Cole told him, this jewel of kalavaris had to be what Volta and his men were looking for. Sooner or later, they'd find it too, if they kept hitting places like they hit Kekil. Tenshinhan showed them mercy but this revelation regarding what they were after, almost made him wish he hadn't. When Tenshinhan faced the moral quandary of showing mercy, it often made him wonder if the life of an assassin would've been easier on him. In the end, he knew the path of least resistance wasn't always the right path. Though he'd be lying if it didn't call to him from time to time. Despite turning his back on that life, he sometimes felt it suited him, more so than he liked. Unfortunately, it would be something he'd wrestle with for the foreseeable future.

Within minutes, the nomad had arrived. It wasn't often he used his ability to fly, as it was about the journey, not the destination. Now though, when there was so much potentially at stake, he felt it appropriate. A much faster trip back than it was to Israel's Lot, Tenshinhan touched down and proceeded inside the dojo complex. As he strolled down the long white hallway, he was almost immediately joined by General Elderlas and Brigadier Kasei, the same two Paladins who had enlisted his help and given him the mission to save Kekil from Volta and company. The human warrior had much he wanted to say to the men, but he couldn't get a word in edgewise before Elderlas started in on him. As it would turn out, there had been a new development. Volta Bryn and company were evidently at it again, doing exactly as Tenshinhan suspected they would.

"Master Tenshinhan. We've caught word that Volta and his men have returned. After ransacking a series of towns, we've been told they've arrived in Longwall City. We can't allow them to proceed any longer. While we applaud your decision to show mercy during your first encounter with Volta in Kekil, the time has come to take action. Given your closeness to the cause, we've opted to enlist you once again. As always, our forces are spread thin but I'd urge you to take a paladin with you." General Elderlas advised, sternly sharing the new development with Tenshinhan while also imploring him to take a different course of action this time around.

"In trying times like these, we cannot show hesitation. Longwall City is a profitable mining export, we cannot afford to have it compromised. If we lose Longwall City, we put ourselves in an inopportune position to lose what little footing we have. If Longwall City falls, what's next? The capital? We can't let that happen." Brigadier Kasei added, a clear panic in his gruff voice. He knew the logistics of something like this. While it seemed like a minuscule threat on paper, affairs were fragile enough right now that they could be seriously compromised if they made one wrong move. They had to act accordingly.

"I'll take care of it." Tenshinhan stated, plainly. What he feared had in fact come to pass and now he knew what he had to do. While the Paladins might not acknowledge the jewel of kalavaris, that didn't mean he didn't have to. He'd go to Longwall City and get the jewel himself if he had to. "I faced them once and I'll face them again." He added, acknowledging where he went wrong and that he would make this right. Maybe not how the Paladins anticipated he would, but he'd do it. "I know exactly who I'll be taking with me..." The human martial artist eventually conceded after a few moments of walking and talking. "...and her name is Alysse." Tenshinhan finished, making his decision known. This would be the first time the two had worked together since Tenshinhan had lost his arm in his duel with Deschain Kreel. It was time they cleared the air.


WC: 847
TWC: 3,300
Edited by Tien, Jun 14 2018, 11:13 PM.
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Tenshinhan and the two Paladins continued their conversation in the high council chamber, where they had more privacy. For all intents and purposes, the three of them were the only ones aware of what Volta Bryn and his horde had been up to. The rest of the Paladins had jobs and missions of their own to tend to, so they hadn't been bothered with this yet. If the situation continued to escalate, the Paladins would be forced to take action and involve others. If they could avoid that though, they would at all costs. General Elderlas had faith in Tenshinhan's abilities and felt he wouldn't let the order down. Brigadier Kasei, on the other hand, had other thoughts. In fact, when he heard Tenshinhan say he wanted to take Alysse with him to Longwall City, he was outraged. His initial feelings in regards to Tenshinhan were only reinforced by such a seemingly reckless decision.

"Strategically speaking, Longwall City is a vital asset and whatever Volta and his henchmen are doing there, they must be stopped. While unfortunate, we can call the other towns and villages a wash as long as Longwall City stays intact. That said, Volta and his horde are clearly going to keep doing this. Years previous, the riders might have intervened before we had the chance to. Now, some of the surviving members of that defunct organization have become part of the problem." Elderlas said, acknowledging how things have changed across the plains in the last few years. "The time for a peaceful resolve has come and gone. Keep that in mind going forward, Master Tenshinhan." General Elderlas explained, forcing himself back to the present. "I trust you'll share my sentiment with Alysse?" Elderlas asked.

"Speaking of which...Master Tenshinhan; surely you don't think Alysse, a paladin-in-training, is the best choice to bring with you to Longwall City. She's but a teenager, don't you think you'd be better off with someone of rank?" Brigadier Kasei questioned, unsure why the human martial artist insisted on having Alysse accompany him to Longwall City. "We're in no position to be making foolhardy decisions. If this gets out hand, there will be hell to pay, nomad. Remember, you're just a guest here." Kasei threatened, his patience with the hired gun growing thin.

"With all due respect, Brigadier Kasei, I've seen what she can do first hand. Do you know what she's capable of? We may not have worked together long but I can assure you, there's no one I'd rather go into this with. She's not to be underestimated." Tenshinhan insisted, unwilling to change his mind on the matter. "She may have been out of line in seeking my help to take down the Kreel brothers, but don't let that blind you from her potential. Give her a chance to prove herself." Tenshinhan pleaded, urging the Paladins to reconsider and reevaluate their feelings in regards to Alysse. He had seen the unmistakable power Alysse had, a power that wouldn't do well if it was stifled.

"It's been decided, we will not speak on it any further." General Elderlas declared, shooting a critical glance at Brigadier Kasei before turning his attention to Tenshinhan once more. "The young paladin will join you on your mission. It will be good for her to get experience on the front lines, on a mission of this nature. Truth be told, even if we succeed today, we will still have a long road to triumph. The lower ranks and the younglings are the future of this order, our future success depends on them and them alone." The general stated, letting his stance on the matter be known. "I'll supply directions to Longwall City, as it will take you some time to arrive. Debrief Alysse on the mission at hand and set out immediately. Show no mercy." Elderlas ordered before abruptly leaving the high council chamber. The general definitely had a bit of impatience in his voice as well, though not as much as Brigadier Kasei.


WC: 667
TWC: 3,967
Edited by Tien, Jun 14 2018, 11:14 PM.
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After Alysse and Tenshinhan confronted Deschain Kreel only to be forced to retreat to Ganr, Alysse expectedly found herself at the mercy of the Paladins. She expected praise for her ambition, commendation even if she succeeded in her plight, but what she didn't count on was a reprimand. Fortunately for her, the order couldn't afford to do anything more than slap her on the wrist. She received some choice words from a few superiors, but other than that, it was business as usual. At least as much as it could've been, after all that had happened. In going after Deschain, a part of her shrouded past revealed itself to her. It was something she had unknowingly locked away for years, yet now it had been brought to the forefront of her mind: the slaughter of her parents at the hand of Deschain.

She had spent the time since then coming to terms with the revelation, while also struggling with the fact that she had needlessly involved a stranger in paladin affairs. A stranger which wound up losing his arm in a duel with Deschain Kreel, no less. That stranger was Tenshinhan and she felt wholly responsible for what had happened to him. If it wasn't for her, he'd still have his right arm. That was exactly why she hadn't spoken to Tenshinhan since, she didn't want to serve as a reminder of what had happened, nor did she want to confront the reality of what she had done. As a teenager, it was a natural response to want to turn her back rather than forge ahead. As it would turn out, she wouldn't get much say in the matter and would be forced to work alongside Tenshinhan again. This time, she had orders.

The orders came from General Elderlas first, followed by a visit from Tenshinhan himself. Tenshinhan informed her of what was going on and explained that, when prompted to involve a paladin, he opted to enlist her specifically. This came as a surprise to Alysse, expecting Tenshinhan to harbor at least some negativity towards her for what she had done. Despite the fact that he clearly had no ill will towards her, it didn't change how she felt about herself and what she had done. She would help Tenshinhan because she had her orders but it didn't change what had happened. Tenshinhan might have been able to forgive and forget, but it didn't seem to come so easily for Alysse. She had altered his way of life, because of her, he had lost something and he had to live with it. Luckily for her, Tenshinhan would prove that he was still entirely the warrior he once was.

Alysse and Tenshinhan had departed from Ganr and set out, not for Longwall City, but for Israel's Lot. Unbeknownst to Alysse, Tenshinhan had a plan parallel to what the Paladins had asked of him. While General Elderlas and Brigadier Kasei had ordered them to immediately proceed to Longwall City, Tenshinhan had something else in mind. The Paladins paid no mind to what it was Volta and company were looking for as they went from place to place ransacking. In truth, Tenshinhan knew that they were presumably looking for the jewel of kalavaris. Thus, he formulated a plan that strayed a bit from what was expected and that instead centered around what he knew. With his mind set on seeking out the jewel of kalavaris and protecting it from Volta and his men, Tenshinhan felt Alysse and him needed one other person before they headed to Longwall City.

"...Where did you say we were going again? This doesn't seem like the way to Longwall City at all." Alysse inquired, breaking the intermittent silence they had faced since the duo had left the dojo. While he had caught her up on what Volta and company were doing, Tenshinhan hadn't yet let the young paladin in on what he knew or his plan.

"That's because we're not going to Longwall City. Not yet. We're going to Israel's Lot. There's someone we're going to bring with us." Tenshinhan explained. "Cole Custer." He continued, sharing the name of the young preacher that had proved to be a valuable ally thus far and hopefully would again. His hope was that Cole would accompany him and Alysse to Longwall City, as well as fight alongside them. He thought he'd prove valuable and not only for what he knew. He had seen what Cole was physically capable of when him and Cole went toe to toe with the monstrosities that had overrun Israel's Lot a while back. Cole had also made mention of having unique 'gifts' that Tenshinhan had yet to see in action.

Alysse didn't bother answering at first. She didn't know who Cole Custer was exactly but she vaguely knew of Israel's Lot. She also didn't mind having someone else to take the tension away from her and Tenshinhan, so she played along. If Tenshinhan thought he'd prove useful, he probably would. "Understood..." She said, treating Tenshinhan as her superior, since she wasn't sure what else to say.

"Before today, we hadn't spoken since what happened back in Avalon City. I hope you've been well." Tenshinhan observed, finally acknowledging the elephant in the room. "If it's me you're worried about, I want you to know that I'm fine. I hope you are too. I might have lost my arm that day, but you lost a lot more than me." Tenshinhan stated, referring to the memory of her losing her parents to Deschain. "I'm sorry we couldn't defeat him, you know. I did my best but it wasn't enough, he's something else, something beyond evil. One day I might have the strength to defeat him, but for now, while I'm here? I'm going to try and protect this world. One armed or otherwise." Tenshinhan explained, establishing that he wasn't going to be so easily stopped by what had happened.


WC: 992
TWC: 4,959
Edited by Tien, Jun 14 2018, 11:15 PM.
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Alysse didn't respond to what Tenshinhan had said, though it had put her somewhat at ease. If Tenshinhan really had come to terms with what had happened, with what she had inadvertently done to him, maybe she could begin to forgive herself. The rest of their trip to Israel's Lot, Alysse went back over all that had transpired in her head. She had done this often since, believing that if she faced what had happened, it would make it easier to get through. While the logic may have been sound, all it resulted in was a growing obsession with Deschain Kreel. She had a hard time understanding why he was so vile, why he was the way he was, why he did what he did. She had acquired a morbid curiosity about it all, in spite of, or maybe even because of all the pain it had caused her. No matter what she was supposed to be focused on for this mission, she doubted anything could pry her away from that. Of course, that would certainly be put to the test.

The continued silence that followed Tenshinhan's words to Alysse were eventually broken by their timely arrival in Israel's Lot. Alysse was unimpressed by the ramshackle town, though she would admit that it lived up to the little she had heard about it. From what she knew, Israel's Lot was little more than a badlands settlement with a reputation for open hostility. It was like a smaller scale version of Pronghorn Village, which she spent a considerable amount of time in a few years back. Pronghorn was a decrepit little town with a declining economy perpetrated by incompetent officials and crooked businessmen. Israel's Lot was similar — with the added detriment of being located in the badlands, of course. Tenshinhan hadn't yet revealed who this Cole person was, but if he was from around here, it sure didn't inspire confidence for Alysse. Nothing good could come from a place like this, Israel's Lot may as well have been the bottom of the barrel as far as she was concerned.

Rather quickly, the duo made their way through the settlement and arrived at Cole's congregation. The two of them didn't even have to go inside the rickety chapel, as Cole stepped out before them almost immediately as they arrived. The preacher stepped out, lighting a cigarette as he walked. The man, clad in his usual black ensemble, looked up to find a nomad and a paladin on his doorstep. He was friendly with Tenshinhan but the teenager with him was another story. He didn't know her, but he could tell from her garb and the blade she carried on her back, she was clearly a member of the order. Cole didn't think very highly of the Paladins; he was naturally hesitant to give the one before him the time of day, regardless of who she was traveling with. That said, Cole had an idea why the two had arrived. It wasn't a social visit, it was business again. He had a feeling things had gone south for Tenshinhan and the men he was after. He'd bet money they were in Longwall City. He was right.

"Back again already, nomad? We've gotta stop meetin' like this. Lemme guess, new development with that Volta fella and his men?" Cole assumed, squinting as he took a quick puff of his vice of choice. Well, one of them anyway.

"That's right. Not long after I left here, I got word that they had made their way to Longwall City. They're going to find the jewel and even if they don't, they're going to rip the place apart. We need to stop them." Tenshinhan said, hoping to inspire Cole to help them without much hassle.

"We, huh? Look, Tenshinhan, I was happy to help you earlier. I told you what I know about the jewel of kalavaris, but I don't think I've got a dog in that race." Cole said, though with a bit of hesitation in his voice. Part of him felt obligated to help, but he chose not to listen to that gut feeling. At least no immediately. "I'll say this much, if you get the jewel before they do? Let's just say there won't be much of a fight." Cole explained as he walked between Tenshinhan and Alysse, carrying on as he was.

"Cole, you know more about this thing than anyone I've met so far. I want you to come with us, help us save Longwall City. Help us protect the jewel of kalavaris. If this thing gets in the wrong hands, who knows what will happen. Wouldn't your old teacher want you to protect the jewel? Gideon, right? He's the reason you know what you do, right? Not only do you know more than anyone, I've seen you in action, you've told me about your gifts. Fight alongside us, Cole." Tenshinhan persisted, refusing to leave without Cole in tow.

Cole stopped in his tracks and took another drag from his cigarette before flicking it to the side. He thought for a moment about what his master would've wanted, only to come to the conclusion that he would've wanted him to do the right thing. Finally, the preacher took a deep breath and turned around to face Tenshinhan and Alysse. "Alright, nomad. Have it your way. We'll go to Longwall City. Only because I owe you one for helping me save this sorry little town of mine, got it?" Cole begrudgingly conceded, knowing full well that he'd be remiss if he didn't help protect the jewel. "It's a long way to Longwall City, if we're going, I'm driving."


WC: 944
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Edited by Tien, Jun 14 2018, 11:15 PM.
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Cole, Tenshinhan, and Alysse loaded into Cole's landspeeder and took off toward Longwall City. Believe it or not, this particular method of travel was the quickest they had available to them. Tenshinhan was the only one capable of flight and carrying both Cole and Alysse wouldn't be at all conducive to their situation. The road to Longwall City would still be a long one, it would take the better part of the day to get there. The trio would be lucky to arrive by sunset, but given Cole's lead foot, they might make better time than any of them anticipated. No matter when they arrived, Tenshinhan hoped they made it before it was too late. It wasn't Volta or his horde he was worried about, it was what they were after. Jewel of Kalavaris or otherwise, he wasn't interested in finding out what would happen if they found what they were looking for.

"Tell me again, why did we need this guy before we went to Longwall City, exactly?" Alysse asked, a persecuting tone to her voice. She was clearly unsure of Cole and what exactly he brought to the table. She didn't know why Tenshinhan wanted his help, of all people, before leaving for Longwall City. Could some preacher really be that vital to all of this? She wasn't sure.

"Heh. Listen to that snark. You wanna bring the girl up to speed, nomad? Or should I?" Cole inquired, though clearly more interested in driving than going on at length about what the situation was.

"Allow me...there are some things you don't know, Alysse, things the Paladins won't tell you. Since we've got a long way to go before we reach Longwall City, I'll start from the beginning..." Tenshinhan stated, preparing to go into great detail about how they had wound up here, as well as what he and Cole had concluded.

"General Elderlas and Brigadier Kasei enlisted my help some time ago. The first mission they sent me on was to save Kekil after it had been overran by Volta Bryn and his horde. When I arrived, it was clear to me that they had been looking for something. They weren't taking over the town, they were tearing it apart trying to find something. What, I wasn't sure. When I pressed Volta's right hand, Dirge, he let slip that I was right. They were looking for some relic, something powerful enough to change everything for them — and maybe even the plains, too." Tenshinhan said, recalling his time in Kekil.

"After sending Volta and his men packing, I scoured the library of the dojo for days, trying to find something — anything that could do what they wanted. It was no use, I didn't find anything. As it would turn out, there was a reason for that..." Tenshinhan said, alluding to the Paladins and their revisionist history. "In a last ditch effort to try and find out what it was they could be looking for, I turned to Cole. We met some time ago, when I agreed to help him save Israel's Lot from the demons of the badlands. I remembered that Cole had been here for most of his life and I thought maybe he had heard something along the way; a story, a legend, a folk tale, anything." Tenshinhan established, slowly getting to the point.

"Sure enough, he had a pretty good idea what Volta and his men were after. We think they're after the jewel of kalavaris, a powerful relic that had all but been erased from history. Which is why I couldn't find anything on it in the library back at Ganr. Now? After hitting a handful of towns just like they did Kekil, Volta and his men have arrived at Longwall City, where the jewel of kalavaris is held. I don't think that's a coincidence." Tenshinhan stated, bringing Alysse up to speed.

"...Okay, that's a lot to take in, but I think I've almost got it..." Alysse admitted, still processing all that Tenshinhan had laid on her. "I guess the only part I don't get, is why this guy would know about this jewel of calabasas or whatever it's called." Alysse said, once again expressing her doubt in Cole.

"It's kalavaris and if you must know, sweetie, me and the jewel have a...history, I guess. You see, the man who taught me everything I know, the man who took me under his wing not long after I wound up here? His name was Gideon Bedlam and as it would turn out, he was a protector of the jewel. Had been for years. Of course, one day he died. I don't know who was s'posed to take over once he was gone, but the fact that it might not have a protector? Might very well be why we're in this mess..." Cole explained, wondering if he could have somehow done something to prevent this from happening. It was a passing thought however, as he had mostly left that life behind. He was just a preacher now, a preacher with gifts, so to speak.

Alysse sat in silence following the long winded explanations from both Tenshinhan and Cole. While she understood now why they had to stop Volta and that the jewel was why Volta and his men were in Longwall City, that wasn't her main takeaway from what she had just been told. What she gathered, was that the Paladins weren't the morally upstanding warriors that they thought they were. She had her doubts and suspicions over the past three years of being with them and now that she had some semblance of confirmation that they had done something shady; such as rewriting history, her doubts were now at the forefront of her mind. This distrust in the order, combined with what she was dealing with personally, would prove to be a bad combination. Alysse was beginning to think about deserting the order and though she'd take some time to reconsider, her mind had already been made up.


WC: 998
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Edited by Tien, Jun 14 2018, 11:16 PM.
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As eventide slowly fell across the plains, the trio finally pulled up in front of Longwall City, or at least the walled exterior of the mining municipality. The journey to the city was a long one, punctuated by periods of silence and discussion concerning the foes they intended to face, as well as the mystical relic they were after. Now that they had arrived, the trio disembarked and began making their way toward the half circle that served as the entrance to the city. Being a municipality of their own, two armed guards belonging solely to Longwall City were often stationed at the entrance. However; given that Volta and his men had already come through and taken care of the guards, there was no one to stop them from proceeding inside. Presumably, any guards who would've have been enlisted to take the place of the ones stationed at the entrance, already had their hands full inside the city.

Tenshinhan, Cole, and Alysse slowly drifted into the walled city. As they made their way in, the structure of the city became clear to Tenshinhan and he began to understand why this city in particular was so vital. Longwall City was built around a super massive mining facility, the facility standing directly in the middle. If this city was overly compromised, it could in fact be a major detriment to the current economy. Which would in turn, only put the Paladins and the protectorate in an even more inopportune position than they already were. Exactly what Brigadier Kasei had said to him, only now he saw for himself just what he meant. Tenshinhan and company had to find Volta and company as quickly as they could. If they got their hands on the jewel of kalavaris, Longwall City could be destroyed altogether. Tenshinhan couldn't let that happen in good conscience, he had to do what he could, not only to stop Volta but keep the jewel from him and his horde at all costs.

"If they're looking for the jewel, they'll be in the center of the city, near the minin' facility. I guarantee it." Cole said, leading the pack into the city. It was clear to Tenshinhan that he had been here before and while he had, the truth was that Cole hadn't been here in years. Not since he was a teenager in fact, a young one at that. Hardly into his adolescence, he and his master, Gideon Bedlam ventured out here. Gideon insisted on showing him the jewel, as he one day might be the one to protect the jewel when Gideon was gone. That is, assuming he followed in Gideon's footsteps. That's where the fairytale took a turn, Cole didn't exactly follow in his dead masters footsteps. Instead, he used what he learned and became some caricature of a clergyman; a clergyman resigned to a meager little life in a place called Israel's Lot, where he smoked and drank his days away.

Tenshinhan and Alysse followed Cole as he strode deeper into the city, the metropolis enveloping them as they progressed. Surrounding them was a technologically advanced city, though not as advanced as Avalon City. Longwall City instead occupied some sort of rare middle ground; landing somewhere between the destitute towns and settlements strewn across Avalon, and the few technologically inclined megacities that dotted the planet as well. The walls surrounding the city often cast a shadow over it, particularly in the morning and evening hours. Where there wasn't paved street, there was dust and dirt. There weren't any skyscrapers or high rises; just a myriad of businesses, storefronts, and housing complexes that were all more or less connected. Some were even stacked on each other, resulting in a second, mezzanine-like level to the city in certain places.

The group knew they were hot on the heels of Volta and company once they started seeing the destruction they had left in their wake. Businesses ransacked, tenements broken into, all in the name of this jewel that they might not even find. Hell, a jewel that might not even exist, as far as they know. Tenshinhan half admired their dedication to their cause, though it was obviously marred by foul ambition. More so now than ever, he seemed to have a grasp of just how bad things were on Avalon. While the denizens of the larger cities seemed to live lives closer to normalcy, at least by earthly standards, the rest of the planet was seemingly doomed to some sort of struggle. Some were forced to plunder, some were forced to live small lives where they were just getting by, others? Well others took advantage, exploiting and exacerbating the lawless nature of so many places across Avalon. From what Tenshinhan had learned, it had always sort of been like this, though not so extreme. In recent years, much had happened, both in and outside of Avalon to cause this slow societal degradation.

Volta and company were an excellent example, as they were products of this societal decline that Avalon faced. Volta Bryn for instance, Volta was one of many territory based warlords who rose to prominence following the fall of the rider organization just a few years prior. The rider organization was an antithesis to the Paladins in the some ways, but they both brought justice to the plains and to a lesser extent, Avalon as a whole. When the rider organization collapsed, justice couldn't be upheld the same way it was before. There was no one to keep particular individuals in check, so those individuals came to the forefront. Others, like Volta's right hand, Dirge for instance; they were among the stray few who survived the collapse of the rider organization, only to take up a life of crime. For them, they weren't the bad guys. It was desperation, survival, kill or be killed. They were exactly what Avalon made them to be. As for the jewel of kalavaris, well right now? It seemed like the answer to all their problems.


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Edited by Tien, Jun 14 2018, 11:17 PM.
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Volta and his men had arrived in Longwall City hours ago, though it had taken them till sunset to figure out where to go to find the treasure they were after. They had done exactly what they had to every other town and settlement they hit prior to Longwall City. They pillaged, ransacked, destroyed, and killed when they had to. All in the name of the jewel of kalavaris, in an effort to find it, at any cost. The road here was long and arduous, even before the nomad stood in their way back in Kekil, they had been traversing Avalon for weeks in an effort to find the jewel. Volta and his right hand, Dirge, never lost hope. The same couldn't be said for his men, as some of them simply didn't think the jewel existed, it was nothing more than the stuff of legend. Finally, it became clear when they reached Longwall City, they had found the place.

Believe it or not, the seeds of this journey were sewn years ago, when Volta first heard tale of the jewel of kalavaris. Before he rose to prominence as a warlord on Avalon, he too was a lapdog, one of the many under the notorious Gran Blanco. Gran Blanco was one of the best riders on Avalon but he also betrayed the rider organization every chance he got; embezzling money, using their resources, and using members of the organization for his own bidding. Volta wasn't a rider, but was instead a pawn of Gran Blanco's, one of the many. Gran Blanco had put together a hunting party of sorts, planning to seek the jewel of kalavaris out for himself, shortly before he was killed. Volta was a member of that hunting party. With Gran Blanco dead, Volta was free to strike out on his own and that's exactly what he did. While he might have been the master of his domain, he hadn't forgotten his past, and he hadn't forgotten what Blanco said about the jewel of kalavaris all those years ago.

That's what brought Volta and his men to Longwall City today, it had all been leading up to this. Sooner or later, Volta and Dirge found themselves deep inside the mining facility at the center of Longwall City. Evidently, this was where the jewel was held. Hidden in plain sight, supposedly protected. At the core of the facility, between floors was a single chamber where the jewel was held. The chamber was chrome colored with black walls, steel beams, and a single platform that lead to the jewel. The jewel was suspended in a cylindrical glass case and covered in a transparent black substance that resembled an orb. This black substance was a unique alien artifact in its own right, a living defense mechanism of sorts. Whoever touched it in an effort to get to the jewel, would become bonded with the parasitic substance and would eventually be eaten alive. At least that was the idea. Unbeknownst to Gideon Bedlam, who employed the use of the mysterious substance decades ago after discovering it on an alien world, it was also possible for a victim to survive the effects of the substance and instead begin a symbiotic relationship.

Wanting to save himself in case there was some sort of booby trap set, Volta forced Dirge to retrieve the jewel of kalavaris from its container. The armored oaf pushed the leather clad miscreant onto the platform in front of them, forcing him toward the relic. Naturally, many thoughts crossed Dirge's mind as he inched ever closer to the jewel. He mostly thought about turning on Volta, taking the jewel for himself. There would be no stopping him if he had the jewel, but of course, a different fate awaited Dirge. A much different fate, indeed. Dirge closed in on the jewel, sliding the cylindrical container open. The former rider stuck his sickly green hand in, it shaking with trepidation as he eased it inside the container toward the jewel. When his finger met the black orb that surrounded the jewel, it instantly reacted to his touch, springing onto him. The shock of the trap sent Dirge stumbling backward, the substance quickly spreading across his body.

With Dirge occupied by whatever horrible trap it was that was sprung on him, Volta moved beyond him and plunged his meaty fist into the container. The armored warlord retrieved the jewel, carefully grasping it in his large hand. As he did, the jewel shimmered and he felt an overwhelming power surge through him. Suddenly, he felt he could do whatever he wanted. He had more power than he possibly knew what to do with. Of course, small minded as he was, he didn't use the jewel to its full potential. Instead, he thought to make himself gargantuan; bigger, stronger, and more powerful than he had ever been. No one could stand in his way, he would topple any and all who dared try to oppose him. He was a titan amongst mortals, the king of detritus, a true god of the wastelands he hailed from. It was time he looked the part.

Back with Tenshinhan and company...

"The jewel is gonna be in the mining facility. We've just gotta keep movin' and we'll get there. With any luck, those goons haven't found it yet..." Cole remarked, his stride growing significantly faster as they closed in on the mining facility in the distance. Alysse and Tenshinhan were quick to follow suit.

As the three hurried toward the center of the city, Tenshinhan suddenly came to a standstill. Something had caught his attention, enough to make him stop and analyze his surroundings. Alysse and Cole on the other hand, didn't seem phased by whatever it was that Tenshinhan felt, that is until it got worse. "Wait, guys. Do you feel that?" Tenshinhan asked, in an effort to get Alysse and Cole's attention before they left him in the dust.

By the time the two stopped and turned their attention to Tenshinhan, it was clear why he had stopped suddenly. The ground beneath their feet had begun to inexplicably shake, at first it was but a low rumble, but that rumble quickly turned into a quake. It wasn't at all clear what was causing the world to shake under them, but Tenshinhan had a sneaking suspicion that it couldn't be anything good. The human warrior feared that this could be the work of the jewel of kalavaris. Perhaps they were too late, maybe Volta got his hands on the relic after all. It would take a few moments, but the trio would soon find out what was causing the ground to tremble and convulse, and they wouldn't like what they saw at all. As it would turn out, the jewel had been procured, but it itself was nothing more than a catalyst.

In addition to the trembling ground, an explosive cacophony of destruction suddenly erupted from the mining facility in the distance. Tenshinhan's gaze lifted in time to see a massive arm come jutting out the side of the mining facility, in turn destroying the leftmost side of the establishment. In awe, Tenshinhan and company watched as a colossal figure began to break out of the facility, leaving nothing but ruin in its wake. When the head of the hulking giant unfurled and exploded through the top of the building, the beast was revealed to be none other than Volta Bryn. He had somehow grown to a massive size, towering over the entirety of Longwall City. Tenshinhan knew just by looking at him, he had acquired the jewel. While it was undoubtedly capable of much more, Volta had foolishly abused its power. Now, he thought he would be unstoppable.


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Edited by Tien, Jun 14 2018, 11:17 PM.
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Volta laughed maniacally as he thrashed and flailed, destroying his surroundings with every movement he made. With a single swing of his arm, five buildings came crumbling down around him. The men he had brought with him had all surely been crushed, caught in the growing devastation. Volta clearly didn't care, too enamored with his newfound power. Soon, there would be nothing left, Longwall City was in grave danger. Tenshinhan and company had failed to arrive in time to stop Volta and now, if they didn't act, the city would be a lost cause. Somehow, the trio had to bring Volta down. Tenshinhan wondered how they could possibly bring down such a massive foe, but then it occurred to him; if they could just take the jewel away from Volta, maybe his power would diminish and he'd return to his normal size. Even if Volta didn't return to normal, they'd at least have a better chance of stopping him, once and for all.

"My god. What have I done? We're too late, that devil got what he wanted and it's all because of me, I could've stopped this..." Cole whimpered, overcome with defeat and guilt. Unbeknownst to Tenshinhan and Alysse, Cole was the next in line to protect the jewel after Gideon Bedlam. Shortly before his death, Cole turned his back on Gideon, and in turn turned his back on the jewel of kalavaris. He didn't want the responsibility, he couldn't bear the burden. The jewel had been fine for this long but in the back of his mind, he knew this day would come. Now he felt like a fool, now he faced all of his remorse and regret. He had made his bed. "If only I had listened..." He mumbled, lamenting the death of his master and his failure as an apprentice.

"I don't know what you're on about but now's not the time, Cole. Pull it together, because we've got to get that jewel, understand? The only chance we've got is to strip Volta of the jewel and use it for ourselves." Tenshinhan shouted, unsure what Cole's sudden change of heart was all about. Sure, Volta's transformation into this towering abomination was scary but Cole was hardly to blame. If anything, Tenshinhan thought he was. If he hadn't spared Volta in the first place, none of this would've happened. If Longwall City fell, it would be on him and him alone. He dragged Cole and Alysse here with him, if anything happened, it wouldn't be because of them. "Cole, I've got a plan but I'm going to need you to make it work, you hear me? When we met, you told me that you had a gift. You could make people do things, bend them to their will with just a few words. You've got to work your magic on Volta." Tenshinhan continued, still shouting over the raucous destruction going on before them.

"Well, I-uh, haven't used it in a while but I'll do what I can! What the hell do I say to him!?" Cole asked, putting his internal struggle aside in an effort to try and fix this. It was the least he could do.

"Tell him to stop, freeze, anything to get him to stop moving! He can't keep destroying the city!" Tenshinhan ordered, hoping to stop Volta from turning the city into dust. That was step one.

Cole nodded and turned his attention to the super massive behemoth before him. "Hey Volta, I've got one word for you! STOP!" Cole shouted, his raspy voice echoing throughout the entire city. When he reached the word 'stop', a deep edge cut through his voice, an effect that was also mirrored in the echoes of his voice.

Suddenly, Volta's body froze, causing him to cease his fit of destruction. The hulking warlord hadn't the slightest clue what caused the strange occurrence, though he had heard what the small little ant below him had said. He didn't know who the small man was, but he knew he was traveling with the nomad who had ran him and his men off in Kekil. The feeling that overtook his body was strange; he could see, hear, speak, and feel, but he couldn't move. "What have you done to me, you insect? You dare try and stop Vooooooltaaaaa! Free me, you rats!" Volta's voice boomed, shouting down at the small individuals below him.

Tenshinhan was amazed, Cole really was gifted. Just like that, he had stopped Volta dead in his tracks. He didn't know long he had before Volta would break free, but he knew they had to act fast if they wanted to take the jewel of kalavaris from him. "Brilliant, now tell him to drop the jewel. If we get that jewel, it's all over!" Tenshinhan insisted, moving on to the next step of his plan.

"HAND OVER THE JEWEL!" Cole shouted, only this time, his manipulations didn't seem to work. Volta may have still been frozen, for now, but he was resisting Cole's further commands. "It's not working! He's resisting me, likely with the jewel of kalavaris. We've got to figure something else out..." Cole explained.

Just then, Tenshinhan and Cole watched Alysse leap off a building in the distance, bringing her blade down onto Volta's massive wrist. While Cole and Tenshinhan were trying to bring Volta down, Alysse had a plan of action all her own. With all her might, the young paladin sliced clean through the wrist of the beast, causing his massive hand to fall to the ground below with a mighty thud. His hand fell limp, opening up to reveal the tiny jewel. To the disappointment of the trio, Volta didn't shrink whatsoever. In spite of this, Tenshinhan was ecstatic, Alysse had acted in the nick of time. No matter how this all went down, she and Cole were the true heroes of the day. When the young paladin landed, she snatched the jewel from the lopped off hand, disappeared and reappeared next Tenshinhan. There, she handed the jewel off to the human warrior. They had done it, but the fight wasn't over yet.


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Edited by Tien, Jun 14 2018, 11:18 PM.
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"You fools! What have you done!" Volta shouted, still trapped in his suspended state, only now he had lost a hand too. While he might have lost the jewel of kalavaris, he had retained his size. If he could break free, he could rain terror down on the fools who dared challenge him. After all he had been through to get here, surely this couldn't be the end of him.

Down below, Tenshinhan firmly grasped the jewel of kalavaris for the first time after Alysse had retrieved it. In his palm, the precious stone glowed just as it had in Volta's hand, only in Tenshinhan's it had an even greater shimmer. Holding the jewel, the human warrior was at first overwhelmed, consumed by the power emanating from it. The martial artist didn't fight the influence of the jewel, instead allowing it to briefly envelop him. When he did, an overflow of purple energy came seeping off of him and his body emitted a blindingly bright light. The unusual occurrence came and went, ending nearly as quick as it began. When it did end, Tenshinhan felt the power of the jewel had been bestowed upon him. While the jewel was in his possession, the power was his. Unlike Volta, Tenshinhan was given more control over the jewel's wealth of power. The relic had judged him and deemed him a more apt fit, granting him more power than Volta.

"Now, Nomad! Strike him down now! I'm not sure how much longer my words will stick, if he gets loose, we're in for a world of hurt!" Cole shouted, ready for all of this to come to a close. He had a lot to think about when he got home, but that wouldn't happen if Volta got loose and decided to step on him.

"We won't have to worry about that. I'll hold him if I have to. In fact, I'll bring him to his big, ugly knees!" Alysse interjected, sticking both hands out and pulling Volta down to the ground telekinetically.

Volta fell down to his gargantuan knees, pulled down with a mighty telekinetic sweep of the hand from Alysse. With an explosive thud that shook the ground, Volta was not only grounded but still frozen, too. The giant had been bested but he refused to believe it, with all the will he could muster, he fought to regain control and be able to move again. It was to no avail, the warlords small mind was too weak to overcome the manipulations of Cole's powerful spoken word. Only with the power of the jewel would he have been able to combat Cole's otherworldly gift and even when he had it, he couldn't quite use it to the full extent of its ability. Despite this, Volta wouldn't face defeat. "No, no, no. Y—You haven't bested me yet. You might have the jewel, nomad, but I'll break free and when I do? You and your little friends are done for. I'll crush you and that little jewel! I am Volta and I'll never die! Long as these wastelands speak my name, I'll live FOREVER!" Volta ranted and raved, hysterical at the thought of being defeated.

"That's where you're wrong." Tenshinhan stated, peering up at the towering beast before him. "You're already dead, Volta." Tenshinhan said, grasping the jewel tightly in his hand.

Drawing up all the power he could, from within both himself and the jewel, Tenshinhan launched into the air. Flying up toward Volta with his one arm, grasping the jewel of kalavaris, he prepared to end his fight with Volta once and for all. He had showed mercy once and Volta had taken his kindness for weakness, that's where he was wrong about Tenshinhan. As he fast approached the herculean colossus before him, beams of purple light sprouted from the small cracks in his closed first. His mighty punch smashed into the chest of the giant, but the assault didn't end there. Tenshinhan hit the warlord so hard that he plunged clean through, flying through the interior of the gargantuan and surging out the other side in a vulgar display of gore. When he emerged, Volta screamed in agonizing pain, only to explode in a fit of purple light. The beast had been vanquished and what remained of Longwall City, was saved.

When Tenshinhan descended to the ground following his explosive attack on Volta, he looked worse for wear, still covered in the entrails of the behemoth warlord. That said, he was still in better shape than the city, which had faced a great deal of devastation. The mining facility had been lost and a few of the surrounding buildings were damaged in the onslaught, too. Any other damage was negligible, what wasn't negligible were the lives that had been lost. Most had vacated the premises in time, but some didn't. This thought weighed heavily on Tenshinhan's mind and he would undoubtedly spend the next few weeks in Longwall City, simply rebuilding. For now though, it was time for him and Alysse to head back to Ganr and for Cole to head back to Israel's Lot. Tenshinhan would report back to the Paladins, while Cole would return home and think long and hard about the life decisions that got him here.

As for the jewel of kalavaris, well, Tenshinhan decided to keep the jewel for himself for the time being. History said the jewel didn't exist and it didn't seem to have a protector, so he doubted many would miss it in Longwall City. He'd hold on to it for a while, protect it in case anyone else came after it. The jewel was a powerful relic that couldn't fall into the wrong hands and while Tenshinhan hardly thought he was the perfect protector, he did think he was better than nothing. Tenshinhan thought that Avalon had enough problems as it was without some mad man on an unimaginable power trip running around. He was right about that, because there was more trouble on the horizon for Avalon than he knew. The gauntlet had only just begun.

Later the next morning in Longwall City...

As dawn broke in Longwall City, the day following the inimitable destruction Volta Bryn had caused, something squirmed beneath the rubble of the destroyed mining facility. Underneath sheets of metal, pipes, and coal, a man came crawling out. As he emerged and slowly slunk into the morning light, it was none other than Dirge, Volta's right hand. Somehow, the lackey had survived not only the alien substance that served as a booby trap around the jewel of kalavaris, but also the fall of the mining facility. As it would turn out, the alien substance that latched onto him had saved him, protecting him from certain death. As the miscreant pondered his new lease on life, he was quickly reminded that it came at a price.

The substance re-emerged, crawling across Dirge's skin just as it had the first time it attached itself to him. This time, he watched it happen with less shock and fear. In fact, this time it felt different, almost good. Dirge kind of liked it, even. The outlaw stopped before a pane of broken glass just in time to see his reflection and see what he looked like. Only his head was left exposed; from the neck down, he was covered in a light shade of black and an even lighter shade of green, almost the same color as his skin. Whatever this thing was, it had taken the shape of some kind of armor, or costume. Dirge liked the looks of it, it was almost like a biker outfit from another planet. It was all well and good, that is until he heard it talk. Not out loud, but in his head. As it spoke some kind of alien language to him, he moved closer to the pane of glass he had been looking into. When he did, the substance suddenly wrapped around his head.

"W-What are you?" Dirge asked, his voice muffled and shaking at the sight of what had overtaken him.

"What am I? You mean what are we?"

-FIN-


WC: 1,357
TWC: 11,564
Edited by Tien, Jun 14 2018, 11:19 PM.
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