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Content Notices: Violence, Birth Scene


Location: Espadas School of Self Defense and Swordsmanship! 

Date: July 19, 2016


Talya was very good at suppressing the potential consequences for her actions. Leaping off buildings, after all, was much easier if one didn't think about what missing a handhold might mean. Unfortunately, ignoring the eventual ramifications of the biology of how a baby (or two. Two!) would enter the world did not actually prevent the event. The cramps and back ache had only gotten worse despite her refusal to acknowledge that it might not just be late term pregnancy aches and pains. Although, she'd not admitted (and likely never would), it was fairly clear to those closest to Talya that the ex-spy was at least unsettled by the impending birth. Perhaps even frightened. 


At the moment, though, she was mostly just holding up the relocation to Sanctuary as if not stepping through the portal might some how prevent the next several hours. 


"I've changed my mind," Talya announced mulishly, her arms crossed over her chest. "Perhaps I could just be unconscious for the entire thing, after all. They still do that, don't they? If we went to the hospital instead, could they just knock me out?"


Unlikely to say the least with her magical ability to shake off most things mundane and Talya's mystical biology did not often play well with other magics. Intellectually, she knew that but at the moment, logic was not high on the spy's list. "I'd bounce right back from a c-section. Probably. Almost certainly."

Edited by alderwitch
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"If you want to have a hospital birth, we can absolutely arrange for that." Stesha Madison was in full cheerful mother-hen mode today, ready to cluck and fuss over the new mother-to-be. She was happy to attempt to ease the last minute jitters with encouraging words. "Miss Americana was my doctor while I was pregnant with Amaryllis, and she has an excellent facility over at ArcheTech for superhuman physiologies if that'll make you more comfortable. Unfortunately," she added, "I really don't think they knock women out to give birth anymore unless it's absolutely necessary, since they found out it isn't great for the babies. And sedation and epidurals for women like us aren't always reliable anyway." She gave Talya a smile of commiseration.


"But you liked the birthing center on Sanctuary when you took the tour, right?" Stesha reminded her unwilling guest. "We have a private room all set up for you, and the midwife is going to be there if you have any trouble at all. We'll get you into a warm bathtub and I think you'll start feeling quite a bit better. Are you ready?" 

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"Archetech was felt to be unsuitable," commented Caradoc laconically, the armored tech-knight already in full holographic regalia for the trip to Sanctuary. With the threats that so often came this family's way when children were in the offing, he was taking no chances. Which was why he'd pushed quietly for a birth in the most secure facility he knew of in Freedom City - but the decision was not his to make. And surely, he had conceded, a whole other dimension was safe enough from all but the threats that he himself was uniquely prepared to fight. 


"Ah, you're better off without German engineering!" declared Comrade Frost, a bright smile on his face as he stood protectively alongside Talya. With his black leather doctor's bag under one arm neatly fastened, he looked ready for anything. He'd avoided his usual banter with Fleur de Joie, instead focusing in closely on his best friend in the world and her imminent delivery. "And center was so nice, better than cold sheets and cold doctor's hands, eh?" Joke or not, Dimitri was rather glad Talya was giving birth in a place with midwives and women all about her - he knew it was an attitude of a certain generation, but he still had no desire to be physically present when his friend was in labor. "You have best companions in world here - and soon best in that world as well." 

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"Didn't want to impose on Miss A. You, we don't mind imposing on, Sprouts," Erik called, lopsided grin pasted on his face. Everyone present recognized that he was slipping into his Jack of all Blade's voice but the last hour of nonstop pacing probably would have given his anxiousness away regardless. Archetech had been a strong option, admittedly, but even with the change in management years ago he had trouble feeling comfortable putting his family under that particular roof. Besides, unlike Eden and Mia's births Min was going to be in fighting trim this time around and the idea of having a forest around her was a comfort even if it was almost certainly overkill.


There was almost certainly nothing to worry about, he reminded himself. There had been a few uninvited guests when Mia was born, yes, but for the most part his father's side of the family had apparently learned their lesson the first time they'd attacked directly. He hadn't been thrilled to explain the situation to Ace and ask a favour but at least the adventurer's contacts had been able to confirm that the official position from the House of Swords' higher-ups was that the Espadas clan was off-limits for the time being, probably until the kids were old enough that one of them might be more receptive to an offer. That was most certainly an issue for another day. He barely even had room to panic over the notion of twins.


"Te amo también." Ellie tucked the phone into her back pocket and walked over to where Min was preparing. "Mama and the girls are settled in at Mara's old warehouse, off the grid and off the books. Chris and Buffy are keeping a lookout along with more drones than we should probably be comfortable with anyone owning. Safe as houses." Talya had outdone herself covering her tacks over the past nine months but gathering a small army at the school and shoving everyone through a portal still might have raised a few eyebrows. She almost pitied anyone stupid enough to try something while they were on Sanctuary. Almost.

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If Erik was a storm of pacing and anxious energy, Min was its eye.  Outwardly calm the final member of the Espadas triad had a near unlimited capacity for destruction which was tempered and controlled by her fierce streak of protectiveness.  It was the look in her eyes that betrayed her wariness, how she kept glancing over at Talya to make sure everything was OK before turning her attention outward.


She took a deep breath that she didn't need and slowly exhaled.


"That is everything, then?" she asked, eyebrow raised as she shot the question to Erik.

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Even displeased and in pain, Talya couldn't fight the pull of Stesha's soothing. "It's a lovely clinic." Talya agreed after a noticeable pause for yet another round of cramping pain. Her fingers squeezed Dimitri's parka covered arm, despite the ambient chill of doing so. "With lovely people."


It was on the tip of her tongue to complain further but she paused as Min's gaze turned on her with palpable concern. Talya sighed. Heavily. "I think so," she agreed with Min, even if the question hadn't been asked of her. It was as graceful a surrender as the former spy was capable of, considering the circumstances. Letting herself be coaxed towards departure, Talya ran through her mental list of 'must haves', short though it might be. 


"No, wait, my knitting bag," whether irrational desire, or one last delaying tactic, she turned towards the back bedroom as if to fetch the object in question.

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"You're never imposing," Stesha reminded Erik. "The bees miss you when you're gone too long. You're godfather to another crop of larvae this past month, by the way, and some of them hatched out as drones. You're going to have to train up the next generation pretty soon." She put her fingers to her hair as though to open the portal, but hesitated at Talya's words. "Oh sure, you'll definitely want to have that," she agreed, as though there were any real possibilty of Talya wanting to knit during or immediately after labor. "Could one of you grab that for her?" she asked the others. "You've already got enough to carry," she reminded Talya with an encouraging pat on the arm. "Here we go." Removing one of the yellow daisies from her hair, Stesha tossed it to the ground, where it began growing, sprouting new leaves and flowers and runners until it formed a rough square about seven feet high. Green light shimmered in the portal, and the air suddenly smelled of springtime. 

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"I will bring the knitting bag," said Caradoc, turning and heading for the back bedroom. He rarely ventured into the family quarters of the school, but this was certainly an occasion that called for it. "And message Miss Americana that we have departed." Gina liked to know things like that - and he preferred to make sure they were done. "Do you require anything else?"

"A missing bag..." Dimitri snapped his fingers and looked around for a moment before settling on Ellie. "Ellie, would you be so kind as to fetch my red leather bag from table in downstairs? It has, ah, important supplies for once birthing is finished." He paused barely a beat. "Yes it is indeed vodka and cigars but they are top quality and people in Sanctuary will be delighted! I would go myself, but you know, a physician and his patient, eh?" He winked. 



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"You're a vet," Ellie reminded the thermovore flatly, wearing an unimpressed look that had been practiced and honed over the years to a razor edge. Dimitri had been around the school and apartments above more frequently of late, to keep Talya entertained if nothing else. He and Ellie had been able to bond somewhat over their shared experiences in medicine and to the concern of those around them had proved to have fairly compatible senses of humour.


"Please just get the bag," Erik sighed, dragging both hands down his face. He walked over to flank Talya near Stesha's portal, firing himself to stand still and giving the green haired woman a grateful nod.Everything was going to be fine, he reminded himself. He'd just feel a lot better once everything was over.


Only partially succeeding in suppressing an eye roll the med student reminded him, "Breathe, hermano. I'll get the bag. Be right back."

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"Thank you, Steve, you're a dear," Talya said with genuine appreciation before gritting her teeth through another contraction. They were hard and coming faster and they bloody well hurt. Talya switched her grip to Erik's arm and with some palpable reluctance shuffled her way through the portal. Shuffle. Talya had never shuffled before in her life. Glaring down towards her feet as if they were responsible for yet another indignity before she turned her displeased gaze back onto the glowing portal. "This is awful and I'm never doing this, ever again."


She fixed Erik with a glare and added, "Ever." As if he were the one most likely to want more children. Really, she should have directed that in the dryad's direction but Talya wasn't at her most rational at the moment - and Min was behind her rather than a convenient target at her side. Still, despite her grouching, she leaned into the arm he provided to make her way through the portal. 


It was as normal as traveling through Stesha's flowers ever could be, but once the Espadas passed through, with Dimitiri, the once vibrant flower began to decay rapidly before those left on the other side. It had to be potent energy indeed to decay Stesha's transport, withering the flower and causing the portal to turn sickly and gray before snapping shut abruptly. For those within, the vibrant green glow of transport was shot through with threads of angry, malevolent red veins, twisting the path abrutply away from their destination and deposting them with painful abruptness in barren fields of some place unknown. 

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On Earth Prime, Stesha cried out in shock and sudden pain as control of her portal was suddenly ripped away, a sensation that burned the tips of her fingers and left the taste of rotting vegetation in her mouth. The green light went a sickly gray and winked out, then the vine border itself seemed to disintegrate all at once, falling to powder before her horrified eyes. "No!" she cried out, digging into her seed pouch with trembling fingers, throwing half of its contents to the floor in her haste. A dozen vines sprouted at once, twisting together, clambering over each other and up the walls, hastily forming themselves into a much smaller portal. The green light returned, pleasant and unthreatening as before, along with the inviting smell of flowers. Stesha leapt through the portal without hesitation, but was back in seconds, her face very pale. "They're not there!" she announced frantically. "The portal opened where it should have, but they're not there!" Her voice dropped to a whisper. "I don't know where they are." 

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On the other side of the portal, Comrade Frost didn't hesitate, didn't so much as bother with a curse or exclamation as he realized their situation. Instead, he pulled out a Freedom League communications unit from his parka pocket. "Hello, Fleur de Joie? Can you hear me?" He tried again, this time calling Freedom Hall, another time calling the Lighthouse. Now the League communicator went back in his parka pocket - and from the other pocket came another comm unit, bigger and bulkier, looking more like an old-fashioned cellphone than anything else. He pulled up the antenna and put to his head. "Privet, Moskva? Nam khana! Ty menya slyshish?" He held the comm unit to his ear for a long moment - then put that one away too, the air around them growing distinctly more chilly as he pulled up his parka hood. 

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Where Dimitri's decades of experience had him reacting with efficient practicality Erik acted on piano wire taught instinct. His lighter was out of his coat and in his off-hand before he had time to form the thought, flame leaping into his outstretched hand with the sound of greedily devoured oxygen and a low growl from his own throat. It wasn't until he had the sword at the ready and his back protectively to Talya with Min flanking on the other side of their partner that he took in their surroundings.


They been deposited in the middle of what had once been a grand hall but now was made of crumbling stonework and the remains of furniture worn by weather. Much of the roof of the castle had collapsed some time ago, leaving great piles of rubble that blocked most of the entrances to the room and exposing a grey sky threatening rain overhead. The most intact of the tattered tapestries on the walls bore a crest prominently featuring an abstracted sword set against the antlers of a stag.


Suppressing the urge to swear profusely, Erik instead tersely barked, "Everyone in one piece?" His mind raced even as he forced his breathing to remain steady. A House of Staves mercenary had interfered with his powers and those of most of the Interceptors present for Eden's birth but if that had been a punch delivered by a trained professional the wrenching of the portal away from Sanctuary had felt like the energy equivalent of a side collision with a speeding truck.

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"Can we never make it through a portal without things going horrifically wrong?" Talya said as she stumbled into Min with their abrupt exit from the portal. Not even the ex-spy's polish and poise could entirely quash the panic and legitimate pain rounding her normally crisp words. She gave a small shiver as the temperature started to drop but didn't complain about the temperature, nor the precautions. Frankly, Talya was fighting hysteria and she was never, ever hysterical. She wasn't about to be now despite the universe conspiring against her. 


"This place is dreadful and their decor is tacky. Moldy castle is so very fourteenth century," She tipped her head up towards the air, "Skylight's a nice touch, I suppose." 


Whatever other snark she had was cut off with a hissed breath as she put her hands on her belly for several long moments. The pain was getting to be a truly legitimate sort of pain and Talya had been decapitated before. When she could inhale, Talya hesitated over her word choice, "I don't mean to hurry anyone, but....

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Min caught Talya mid stumble and held her close, giving the blond a faint smile at her quip before shifting her attention to their surroundings.  The former thief could feel the ancient guardians muscles tense up, even if her outward expression was calm, before Min gently directed Talya into a secure looking stairwell.  "Inside, both of you," she said, looking over at Dimitri with an expression that would allow no argument.


A second after the thermovore crossed the threshold thick vines ripped out out of the ground and formed a lattice like barrier across the entryway with sharp thorns pointed outward.  A moment or two later, Min was suitably armored.

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"Hm." Dimitri looked around the stairwell, taking in the scene at great speed. Taking off his parka, he laid it out on the floor, stretching it flat for Talya's benefit. No longer bothering with English for the benefit of Min and Erik, he set his medical bag down beside the parka. "Come on, Natalya, I know this is awful but you need to lie down  before you are injured - and so we can prepare for labor. I have ether, and forceps, and all needed tools." He had a scalpel and alcohol, too, but he wasn't about to dwell on that. "Trust your lovers to defend us. If anyone comes in here who is not Erik or Min, I will rip out their bloody jugulars. If Fleur de Joie shows up, we will transport you directly to the birthing room." The air was warm yet, Comrade Frost watching his powers closely, but Talya could see the banked fires of the thermovore's rage in his eyes. 

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This was not the soothing and peaceful experience that had been planned, but Talya would have to save her fears and frustrations to be dealt with later. At the moment, there was work to be done. Fortunately, Talya's training was very good for focusing on the task at hand. 


"I'm not worried for myself," Talya's Russian was usually flawless but for once, the faint flattening and rounding of her native tongue creased the edges of her words. She had little desire to lay down but couldn't argue the truth of his words. Lowering herself to the ground carefully, Talya cast a glance towards the doors and whatever unknown foe lay behind it, "Nor for Erik and Min. My mother had twins at home, you know. Miracle they all lived. Promise me, Mitya. No matter what, the babies live. Whatever that may take."

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Dimitri looked Talya in the eye as he said, "You and your children will survive what comes. Though Hel should bar the way." It was no small oath - even if he already knew perfectly well that his dread mistress had nothing to do with this kidnapping. He knelt on the floor at Talya's feet. Then he snapped open his doctor's bag and began laying out his equipment, keeping an ear on the combat outside. He had no real idea who had been fool enough to kidnap them - but he had his sanity, his mobility, and a quick check revealed he still had his powers, as did those outside. _Anyone who comes into this room will live long enough to regret their arrogance._ "Now, let's get those pants off," he suggested. "You will want them later.

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As soon as the stairwell was protectively sealed off Erik dropped into a simple sword-and-shield formation with Min, stepping forward slightly while she placed herself implacably between the wooden barrier and the rest of the ancient hall. There was a long moment of still silence and the fencer narrowed his eyes. "That power," he began without looking behind him, "in the portal--"


His thought was interrupted by the sounds of crumbling stone overhead as a lithe silhouette appeared on the lip of the ruining ceiling. Black pants with obvious protective plates built into the knees might have suggested special forces but the ostentacious fuchsia sash at his waist and the pair of preternaturally sharp hook swords he used to swing himself inside and hand from one of the better persevered pillars left little doubt to his actual affiliation.


Not a moment later the doors of the hall crashed open, rotted wood splintering out of its frame with a thunderous crack to make way for a mountain of muscle at least eight feet tall and wider than any natural human. The faintly rust hued woman wore ripped gear that similar to her spindly comrade while oversized katar daggers topped her knotted knuckles. Three more figures followed behind her - a weathered man at least twenty years the senior of any of the others wielding an equally worn kopesh while electricity sparked about his eyes, a young woman with a shock of red hair and a crooked nose holding a butterfly sword in each of her six hands, a tall figure wrapped in swirling darkness that obscured everything apart from the occasional glint of steel - and the group quickly fanned out with practiced precision.

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All of their flesh was riddled marked with varicose veins, pulsing faintly with poison apple green light. It rolled over Erik's metamagi senses like an out of tune chorus, five variations on the same theme. The smell of mildew and rot, the texture of squeezing overripe fruit, the taste of curdled milk. Corruption. He leaned back slightly in revulsion but held his ground. "Dios, what did you do to yourselves...?" he breathed mostly to himself.


The wiry man hanging spider-like from the pillar above all of their heads laughed, a harsh bark that seemed to get away from him before he strangled it in his own throat. "We made ourselves more powerful than you can even imagine, Jack!" he called back, flipping through the air before latching onto the top of a mostly ruined tapestry, baring his teeth. "We're the real House of Swords and once we kill you and your xiǎo sān it'll prove--"


"You dumb @#$%s," Erik cut in with a low growl, all semblance of pity drained from his face in an instant. "You couldn't take me on your best day and this time I'm not even the one you should be worried about." He didn't recognize any of them from the attack on his family home during Eden's brith but that group hadn't had to contend with Min. With mercy he didn't feel he snarled, "One chance. Run away."

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Until now Min had remained silent, just another physical barrier between their assailants and her as yet unborn children.  But the more she studied their attackers, the more concerned she became.  It was then, she decided, that they could not be allowed to walk away.


"No," she said, shooting her husband a small look and shaking her head.  "The House of Swords has been given more than sufficient warning.  And these... these can not be permitted to leave this place."

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Talya settled in as instructed, scooting back on the parka. In between the pains, she grimaced, "This is ever- so- much worse than throwing up on your boots." Talya's humor was a thin veneer, and for once easily recognizable as such. Not even her training could account for poise under these particular circumstances. It wasn't often that Talya felt fear, but it had been a constant companion during the war and Dimitri would see its ghost under the pain on her aristocratic features. "I'm told that eventually the memory of this unpleasantness fades and the experience becomes palatable once more. Do remind me of these moments in the future..."


In the face of the many indignities of labor, though, and another round of pain had her adding, in her native English with what humor she could muster, "Actually, lets not speak of this ever again."

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The alcove fell away - and they were no longer alone. 


Hel sat on her throne, face cast in half-shadow, braziers of eternal flame rising to either side of her. Talya betrayed no reaction - which told Dimitri this was all in his head. This was not the first time this had happened. 


She smiled her terrible smile at Frost, the one that was all bone-white teeth on both sides. "Frost. You seem preoccupied." 


"This is a poor time for a test," said Dimitri, who by his tense posture and tight voice was betraying to Hel that he was not in the mood for a game. "I know those outside are not your work. I would smell it in the air." He had the impression, in the darkness of the stairwell, of eyes watching them - the faint glow that betrayed the restless dead that were Hel's attendants forever and ever and ever. 


"This is no test, my champion, but a boon. You forget, I know what lies in your heart of hearts." Hel demonstrated by making a gesture in the air and summoning a red, pulsing thing that Dimitri Peshkov knew only too well - the organ that had been torn from his flesh on the day he died. "I see two children, the heirs to the Browning-Espadas future. Scions of power and bravery, the very image of their parents. And I know what shames you in the night.


"That-that is many things," said Dimitri, hesitation catching in his voice. "You will have to be more specific-" 

With a sneer, Hel threw the heart into the fire, summoning up just what she had promised in images in the fire. A boy and a girl and their three parents and manifold siblings and cousins and kin - a proud legacy and an honored name. And...and..."If Talya Browning is your sister by choice, then what are her husband and wife to you? Those who would take your sister from you. You have seen it when you close your eyes. What place will Talya Browning have for you when she is surrounded by your betters? Your ice will melt beneath the flame of their love - and nothing can stand between the love of a mother for her children." 


"Should I feel regret that the one I love the most has found finer and greater loves than I could give? I am not so monstrous as all that, Lady Hel." Frost rubbed his eyes, feeling a sense of great and terrible fatigue, sitting back on his haunches on the cold stone floor. Despite his best efforts, his eyes fell on that domestic drama playing out amid the flames, again and again. "...I am not a child consumed with jealousy over a new sister, Hel, I-" 


"YOUR SISTER IS DEAD!" declaimed Hel, the braziers on either side flaring up to terrible life. "Your mother, and your father, and all you have loved are dead and gone! You know this! You have known this since before your sister's lover stirred in his mother's womb! And you know that if this family remains together, the sole remaining star in your sky will turn away - and never again look back as it once did. You play a hero now, Peshkov, but I know you for who you truly are. Not the coward who ran, no longer, but the monster who gave my cold, bloody vengeance to all of the nation who slew him and dared seek to imprison me. I know what lies in your cold, dead heart." 


"This is rather poor temptation, don't you think?!" demanded Frost of his patroness, rising to his feet in his mind even though he knew intuitively he was still there with Talya, still going about his work with her. "As if Talya would not wonder how the children happened to be born like ice?" He knew immediately it was wrong - he knew immediately that Hel was not so unclever, but the terror he felt at her presence on this terrible day was making him stupid. 


"Please, Frost, do you think me so uncreative? Perhaps you need a lesson when your task is done." She was suddenly beside him, leaning close to his ear, her breath stinking of death. "You have seen the man and the woman fight. You know their weaknesses against powerful foes. It would be so easy to have Talya rise and find her husband and wife tragically slain defending her children - with only her brother now by her side, forever and forever." Her tongue was against Dimitri's ear, soft and sweet like a lover's. "If you lack the courage, I could do this for you, my champion, because of what you will do for me when Ragnarok comes. You have but to take my name in vain again." 


And then she was gone. 




Dimitri felt Talya's grip on his wrist slacken as the contraction passed - and realized all had happened within the space of that single instant of pain. 


"We-we will tell the twins it was tedious hospital birth," said Dimitri with a smile Talya's way. "Full of boring old doctors with terribly cold hands!" As he spoke, he was pulling on a set of rubber gloves. "You have begun your work. I will begin mine."

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For a moment, in the look Erik sent back toward Min, he looked so very tired. She'd seen that expression only a handful of times, when he had a fight on his hands he legitimately did not want to have but couldn't see any other solution. Then is jaw set and he nodded slightly, exhaling through his nose as he turned back to their attackers. "Yeah. Had to give them a chance, though." Gripping the hilt of his sword with both hands he shifted his weight to his back foot. "You're going to want to back up."


Without any further warning he threw himself forward, fiery blade arcing overhead. As it slashed forward it grew, first to the size of a two-handed claymore then larger still to impossible size. Its tip tore through the ruins of the castle ceiling before crashing down upon the grouped swordsman. The six-armed woman and the sparking kopesh wielder dived to the left and right respectively, tumbling awkwardly into falling rubble in an effort to avoid the falling wall of flame. The talkative on with the hook swords swung out of the way with a shout of surprise and the shadowy figure simply winked out of view an instant before being hit but the hulking brute who had knocked down the door simply stood her ground, weathering the unnaturally solid fire with a grunt. The wall behind her did not fare as well, torn into raw chunks of stone that smoke and glowed with heat, piling up and blocking the way out.


Faster than any of them could regroup the construct snapped back to rapier length and thinness, held at the ready. Whatever they thought they'd been prepared for this was not a Jack of all Blades interested in toying or testing. "Let's make this quick."

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Whatever else could be said about them, the House of Swords members evidently did not startle easily. The redhead recovered first, rushing forward with a flurry of swipes from all six of her weapons, disregarding her own defences in favour of a full-on assault. "We're not going to stop until we prove-- gah!" Tying up Erik's rapier with all three of her left handed butterfly swords she'd thought herself free to attack with those on the right but the more experienced fencer simply allowed the flames of his sword to loose coherence and pass effortlessly through, deflecting the attempt as surely as forged steel.


With a clink of metal links the swordsman hanging overhead revealed some sort of mechanism built into his hooked blades, allowing him to kick off of a crumbling pillar and launch himself in a downward swing toward Erik. His other blade lashed out at his target's ankle but missed by a wide margin; by the time he's reached the floor Erik had smoothly placed the redhead between them. Undeterred, he allowed his momentum to carry him back upward, ready to try again.


While what looked to be the youngest members of the group focused on the target of their anger the older man with the kopesh seemed to have the foresight to recognize the threat posed by the dryad. He shot forward in bursts of unnatural speed, trailing blue lightning as he ducked passed the melee and swung at Min. His blade surged with similar neon blue energy but though it struck home it was repelled soundly by Willow's wooden armour. Up close she could see that the crackling blue clashed with the pulsating green visibly pumping through his veins. His lips tightened into a thin line behind a coarse beard but he held his tongue and continued his assault.


Finally, shrugging off chunks of rock the size of mailboxes from her shoulders, the red-tinged woman lumbered forward, looking almost awkward in her own frame compared to the refined grace of her compatriots. That didn't stop her from levelling a two-handed blow at Jack of all Blades, forcing both he and the six-armed woman to jump backward as the attack left a sizeable crate in the ruined hall's stone floor. The giant roared inarticulately, spitting flying from the corners of her mouth. Erik couldn't help but notice the reek of corruption was strongest coming from this one.

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