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A Vicious Trial by Fire, Love Chaos
(2013-06-09 - 2013-06-15)
No description.
Avira Gossip was alive and well in Rabanastre's Lowtown. Archades had fallen.

Archades had fallen in the literal sense-upper Archades specifically, leaving the impressive half of the city floating in the water. This was to say nothing about the hole created in the governing bodies of the mighty country. Rumors flew fast, up to including that a certain someone was responsible for doing in Emperor Gramis himself. Could the fires of rebellion be brewing in the anexed city? Perhaps...were the main military force opposing Archades's enroachment not locked away into the darkness.

Avira takes no part in spreading the rumors, despite knowing a thing or two more about what went down than the average citizen of Rabanastre. Here, she is merely a consumer of information, drawing on the atmosphere and getting a feel of the reactions. She ached to know if Rabanstre would be subsequentially destablized, or worse, next to be targeted by Alexandria. What would they gain from attacking this fair city, though?

The scarred huntress pushes through the thick crowds now clogging the allies and stalls of Lowtown. Little kids squirm and push their way through, tearing off to play or run more errands for merchant contacts. Avira appears to pay them little heed.
Garland Garland cannot help but appreciate his own handiwork. It's a masterpiece of Machiavellianism, a masterstroke of malevolence, a multitude of murderous machinations and malefic magnificence; the suffering of an entire city, the death of an emperor, the installation of a man far more pliable in the face of power, and the beginnings of a war that would sweep out and consume not merely this dessicated World of Ruin, this patchwork remnant of his own lands and others so very much like them, but all the worlds across all the stars in all the skies. This was merely the beginning, but even at this overture, the rapturous sounds of torture and sorrow are all around him, filling the Soul of Chaos with a dark and terrible joy. This is a satisfaction Garland cannot help but enjoy, a black, monstrous satisfaction. Here, a starving refugee, escaping from Archades in the closest city they possess to a home; there, a homeless family scraping together, as though their love would make everything alright when the Alexandrian Alliance comes to rip them to shreds. Their pain is his food; their sorrow his delight; he feeds, and feeds, and feeds, as he makes his way among them. He does not need disguises; to all and sundry he appears no more than a simple Judge, a soldier of the Archadean Empire. For a brief moment, Garland takes a grim amusement in the echoing of such motifs - the manner by which the Judges adopted their code of dress so very coincidentally close to his own, the iconography of terror and order so universal. He could take credit for it, in all likelihood; he could state that it was his ascent, and the reverberations thereof, that cast the image of terror throughout the worlds, and he might even be right. Who could say?

It was not relevant. He was not here merely to admire the malevolence of his own plan, nor to feed and grow stronger amidst the misery of the dispossessed. He had a purpose here; he had reason, a monstrous and terrible reason, but reason nonetheless. That was the problem with Garland - nothing was ever random, always purposeful, always wheels turning ever onwards. Perspective was the greatest gift of age.

The children suddenly part; a hush falls over Rabanastre's Low City as Garland enters the market. Several soldiers salute; Garland gestures for them to stand down. "Detain that girl," the dark god orders, gesturing at Avira. "I have need of her."

Immediately, Archadean soldiers begin to close off the ranks. There's likely a brave, foolhardy child about to make a very brave, foolhardy mistake of defiance; with all the rebellion brewing, such an open act of oppression might just provoke something horrible.

Is Avira willing to risk the poor, innocent children for her freedom from the dark god?
Avira Any time. Any place. That is what the manifestation of Chaos told her months ago. She was quick to learn that the presence of other people wouldn't stop it. If anything, he seemed to take delight in having bystanders in the mix.

A chill overcomes Avira before the crowd begins to quiet. The prickling feeling upon the girl's skin is immenently recognizable to her and right away, she stops, scanning the crowd around her quickly. Her left hand immediately moves down to her hip and withdraws her serrated weapon, awkwardly working it free amongst the thickly-moving bodies around her. Just this motion attracts some undue attentiont to her-and for good reason. These people are already on edge. Having someone draw a weapon nearby only heightens their restlessness.

Like cockroaches fleeing from a sudden light, the children move from the predicted path of what is assumed to be a Judge Magister. Avira feels her stomach turn because she knows the convenient misunderstanding that Garland's armor creates here. She doesn't hear all of what Garland says to the Archadean soldiers nearby, but based on the way they respond, it's not hard to imagine what he's said.

Cringing, Avira points the tip of the Spine to the ground. Her right hand lifts to gesture wildly, "Wait!" she calls out, "Don't listen! He's not really a Judge!" She could fight them, she realizes, but all of these people around her would get caught in the crossfire.

Running could be a better option, she reasons, but that would provoke Garland to action and those around her, those she's just spent brief /seconds/ looking at, would undoubtedly suffer.
Garland It's not really wise of Avira to shout such things in the middle of Rabanastre. The people who believe her are not the people she needs to believe her - the people who believe her are the downtrodden, the dispossessed, all too willing to believe that Archadeans might take advantage of the situation. The soldiers, however, are well-trained to follow the orders of those in armor; they react immedately to protect Garland as the various revolutionaries and rebels, the would-be heroes, rise up against their perceived exploitation. They struggle against the heavily-armed guards, but the spark is already lit; chaos erupts through the undercity, the powderkeg erupting. Flames dance through the city like wildfire.

Garland's mocking laughter rings over it all. Here are the results of your handiwork. Here are the results of resisting - others will always, always, always pay the price.

Someone gets close enough to Garland to harm him; the 'Judge' simply ignores the fellow's attempts to stab and strike, allowing the misguided guards to deal with it for him. As though he were in any actual danger.

"How daring," Garland declares calmly as he passes through the crowd virtually untouched, the few who dare beaten down by the guards. "To shout against authority in a city in the throes of rebellion. I see you have learned well."

"Perhaps I ought to...reward you."
Avira "Damn it." Avira swears under her breath as, not only does this not seem to sway the guards, but it seems to immediately spread violence throughout Lowtown. What also does not help this situation is that Avira was not an unknown figure amongst the denizens of the sewers. Clan Dagda had made their home here for months before they moved out of Rabanastre to parts unknown. To some, this is an upstanding, normal citizen being thoroughly oppressed by the Archadeans. This is the perfect reason to take up arms.

It is times like this that make Avira realize that Garland's seemingly 'random' attacks are anything but. The deck is always stacked against her.

Eyes narrowed, Avira approaches Garland freely now, purpose in her walk. "I sought to deprive you of the advantage you used against me last time. It seems I've made a miscalculation." A small part of her does not feel that bad though-Dalamasca and this city were spoils of war. But at the same time, with Ivalice the way it was, the Archadeans at least protected this city when it was being assaulted by the forces of Darkness. Right this moment notwithstanding, at least.

"If you want to reward me..." Avira says heatedly, "...then you can do so by taking our impending fight out of here."
Garland Of course the deck is stacked against her. Garland plans. Garland plots. Garland plays the field. Garland knows what he does; he's had ten thousand years to deal with these problems, ten thousand years to work on the art of forcing people to suffer. Ten thousand years is a lot longer than most people really give it credit for.

By the time most of these people realize that Garland was never a Judge, or a Judge Magister, or any kind of true authority, the blood and pain will have spread like wildfire. The rebellion would be calmed, eventually, but the cost of his passing had already come.

"How interesting," Garland observes with that cold, impassive, apathetic air. It's almost worse than his malice; when Garland looks upon you with malice, he hates your existence. When he looks upon you without's like you aren't even there at all. "You call it 'fighting'. Is it a fight, little Light in the Darkness, when a fly attacks a man? Is it a struggle when an ant is placed below a boot? You do not fight me. You survive me. You flee me."

"And if you wish so to flee, little Light In The Darkness, then I will send you somewhere you will never need fear me again."

The world opens up behind Avira, a scar in reality. Darkness whirls behind her; darkness, shadow, shade, nightmare, it yawns behind her, a tear in the natural world that the light flees and rejects. Garland moves forward, as if to pin her against that darkness.

His hand snaps out.
Avira Though Avira glares up at the towering Garland, shame burns in side of her. The apathy is palpable. It's obvious to Avira that this ancient being doesn't see her as a proper opponent but an occasional diversion. An amusement. Even after all these months. "Survive or die. Those were the parameters." In spite of the soul-crushing, depressing reality of the moment, she stands her ground, moving her right hand to clasp around her weapon tightly. He was coming at her, though no weapon raised.

"No, I'm asking for us to take it outside!" she calls back, a hint of panic in her voice. It's clearly the thought of being sent 'somewhere she will never need to fear him again' which she immediately equates to being dead or trapped somewhere so unpleasant that even Garland wouldn't venture there.

She hears a strange noise behind her and, turning quickly, she looks to find the yawning abyss. Her eyes immediately widen and she turns back to Garland, lifting the Spine, standing her ground and jabbing it out at him.

But there is little contest here. Avira is shoved backwards and disappears into the darkness.
Garland Those are always the parameters. Those are the parameters for real life. Fight Or Die. Survive Or Perish.

And right now, as the world opens up around her, as Avira plummets into the Corridors, Garland's mocking laughter follows her. When she finally lands, there he is - in the middle of the shadows, the writhing misery of the Corridors, the dark pathways. Within this twisting maze is power, yes - but it is evil, corrupting, tainting power. For those like Garland...that is meaningless. For someone like Avira...

"Now, little Light In The Darkness, we will see if you truly understand what it means to survive or die."
Avira Her hand reaches up, as if to grab onto something-ANYTHING-that will keep her from falling. There is nothing, the fingerless-glove protected-hand grasping at air and darkness. She finds herself filled with anger for a fleeting moment, the thought that he finally got bored of their little game and decided to just remove her from the picture for good.

It takes a moment, but Avira does realize where she is, especially upon landing on what feels like solid ground. Through Angantyr and Skoll, she's passed through corridors before and every single time, she's hated it. Every fiber of her being screamed with rejection of this space between worlds. It was straight up anethema.

Within, Avira stands out a little more than usual. The silvery sheen that occasionally manifests itself in the heat of battle is everpresent upon the scarred woman. It gives off the sickening sense of not-belonging here. Avira can see this effect, should she look at her hands, but right now there are other things on her mind. This place hurt. It hurt exactly like it did when she resisted the darkness that had come with her mutate form months ago. It would tear her to pieces.

Avira looks around frantically for some semblence of a way out.
Garland There is none. Of course there's none. As if Garland would give her an escape to this place, where his power is at its strongest. Garland doesn't even draw his blade; he simply walks, the darkness appearing beneath his feet as he strays off the paths without a second thought.

"Survive. Escape, if you can." Garland's voice is rife with that dark amusement again, that cold and distant /notice/ that is neither his wrath nor his complete apathy...but is his cruelty. It is the cruelty of a child with a magnifying glass over an anthill, and it is petty and cold and all the things that cruelty always is...if a touch more...*imaginative*.

"If you cannot...I suppose you shall have to wait for *rescue*. Perhaps you will go mad from the sounds, first. They gnaw at the back of your head, reminders of your sins." Garland holds up his fingers like an errant, absent-minded professor, ticking down the dangers. "Reminders of your failures. Or perhaps it will be the shadows that drive you to insanity, the flickering visions at the edge of your eye that dance harmlessly, drawing your attention and leading you onwards. Or perhaps..."

"Perhaps it will be something that kills you."

"Who can say?"
Avira Nothing. Avira sees nothing. There is no light here except for Avira herself-in this single moment, she is ALL the light that exists in the corridors. In this single moment it feels like the entirety of this place was out to snuff it. Avira shudders in pain, nearly dropping her weapon.

Survive? No, this was a death sentence.

Anger brews in the back of her mind again as 'rescue' is mentioned. It could happen. She could wait for Angantyr to use a portal and try to piggyback on him out of here. But she'd have to find him first and that would take time. "" she says quietly, taking a step forward, "...there's not going to be any rescue."

Shaking, she lifts the Spine with both hands and stalks after Garland. "Because you're going to take me out of here." Avira must've snapped because she's actually attacking him now. She's attacking him in this place where he's clearly at his height of power and Avira is at the biggest possible disadvantage.

Maybe this wouldn't be a problem for a whole Dusk Princess, but Garland's condescending nickname is pretty spot-on. Her light is small compared to before which meant she didn't have a lot of time in here. Ultimately, that didn't matter right now. Stabbing Garland in the back with the Spine was what mattered and Avira forces every fiber of her being to do just that.
Garland Garland laughs. He openly, actively laughs as she tries to follow him; she'll notice in a moment that he's not standing on anything like solid ground. Here, the rules of physics apply to Garland even less than they did in the normal, real world. Garland simply walks upwards, circling her as he moves away. "Your threats are utterly meaningless to me, little one. Do you really believe you can challenge me here? I am darkness. This place is my dominion, my heart, my soul. Your light does not shine strong enough. There is only one way out of here."

"In your heart, you know that. In the little black spot in your heart that all humans possess, you know the only way to escape with your mind intact. How long, I wonder? How long before desperation overwhelms your resolve? How long before you give in?"

"I shall be eager to see what it takes to snuff the light in your heart."
Avira Avira feels the 'ground' give way under her front foot and stumbles, turning it into a frantic leap after him instead. She manages to soar for a few moments until the oppressive darkness crashes down upon her and she falls. A startled gasp escapes her and she drops until she hits solid 'ground' again, far below where Garland is 'walking'.

Shuddering, she forces herself to stand again and tightens the grip upon the Spine. If it was impossible for her to effectively fight him in the real world, what about here? There really was no chance. This really was it.

With a frustrated cry, she swings her weapon upwards, summoning a cutting force of will that seems to peel itself off from the silvery light around her. "No! I'll never give in to the darkness! I'll never let it into my heart!"

She lets out a long breath and chokes back a sob before forcing herself to move, staggering her way around terrain she can't even see. Maybe it was just like after Brooklyn was destroyed. She remembered stumbling through the darkness then. Maybe she could replicate that. Liking this idea, she clings to it privately, desperately, while Garland taunts her from afar.
Garland Garland hovers there for a long moment, silently watching her as she stumbles off into the shadows. Eventually...her resistance might be worn down. He might return, to taunt her; he might return, to mock her. He might come back just to watch her from afar, though he hardly needed to do such with the Heretic's Mark branded upon her from their first meeting. Who knows? Garland would hang there for a few moments more, then rip the sky asunder and vanish.

Enough play. He has work to do.

This scene contained 14 poses. The players who were present were: Avira, Garland