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Incident Off a Mountain Road
(2013-08-11 - 2013-08-17)
No description.
Avira A month ago, Avira had followed Isaac Hanlon into Castle Oblivion and was shown horror. From his memories, she witnessed the death of a world and the death of the man that had become her true love. In experiencing these memories, a plan had been set into motion to free the "Blot," which alleged that it was a part of Chaos and gave mention to Garland. Were the two connected? For a month, Avira has been trying to find out.

Information about Chaos was few and far in between. Curiously, during her search there had been a well-dressed man looking for the same information some time before her. Nobody could remember his face but she is pretty certain that this person was not of the TDA. Nobody in the TDA is that for Max. Would Max busy himself with research of Chaos? Would he investigate like a detective?

Her journey lead her to the library of Mount Bur-Omisace, delving through dusty tomes and scrolls. Her research was rewarded with very little, all seeming to point at an esper also referred to as the 'walker of the wheel.' Though the references to dying and being reborn made her worry. Was their struggle really for naught?

Avira is not in the best of moods as she leaves the library. She's making haste upon her mount-which, in fact, is not a chocobo but instead a giant Steelclaw Beetle. She's even fashioned a custom saddle and reins for the insect. Her departure is made with haste as she direly needed to return to the Golmore Jungle and continue to fight against the current seige of undead against their campsite.
Garland Chaos consumes. Chaos breaks and crushes and devours; Chaos destroys itself, and all its legacies, for legacies are not of Chaos. Chaos lurks and hides in the shadows and the darkness, and wherever there are shadows and darkness, wherever there is pain and suffering, there is Chaos.

Bur-Omisace is a long way from pain and suffering. It's a temple to the Light, a place of sanctuary. It's a place where the people feel /safe/, freed of the nightmares that plague the world around it. People come here for that feeling of safety, that escape from the world.

There is no escape. There is no safety. Darkness must exist where there is light.

Garland has not been to Bur-Omisace before. Therefore, he has been forced to walk up the mountain like a common human; infinite patience and an infinite lifespan may make that...meaningless, in the long run, but it leaves Garland unhappy. Garland did not like wasting time. Garland certainly did not like wasting time doing nothing.

Still, the whispers of darkness urged him to do so. Though Garland did not know why, he did not question the murmurs in the shadows; they had led him to power and godhood, and he did not need to ask them what it was they sought of him now. He was no puppet, of course...but Garland made a policy of not turning away good advice.

Soon, Garland ascends the mountain - just as the beetle passes him. Garland's terrible, unmistakable red eyes swing as Avira passes him; there is dark amusement in that soul-breaking aura of malaise that lingers about him. Whatever it is that he finds so entertaining as he continues on towards the library, it can be nothing good.
Avira Avira feels the sheer presence of Garland before she sees him. Experience in encountering the Ironclad Nightmare has taught her that a very specific feeling comes to her before he appears. It has been this feeling in the past that made the difference between what she assumed was life and death.

Not really, though. If Garland had wanted her dead, he would have already accomplished such. No, she figured, he'd keep her alive until he witnessed her break.

With the faint scrape of metal on leather, Avira pulls the Spine from its sheath on her back, her reins held tightly in one hand as the beetle continues lumbering down the snowy mountain path. Her senses tune in on a second plodding sound approaching, taking this noise into account as she waits to hear for other signs of Garland's approach, expecting a lunge from behind or perhaps the ground beneath her to explode as he rises forth. Instead, she sees him steadily marching up the path, walking like a person would. No tearing holes in reality. No flying. Was it because this mountain was holy ground? Did the light of Kiltia repel him? Was he actually weaker here?

Avira tugs the beetle to a halt and watches him walk by, her brown eyes remaining fixed on his the entire way. Once he's passed, Avira gives a tug on the reins and turns the Steelclaw beetle around to face the walking Garland. "...what are you doing up here?"
Garland Avira was right. If Garland wanted her dead, he would've killed her long ago. No, she had become an experiment. She had become something of interest to him...and arguably, that was worse. Death was easy. Death was fast and swift and sweet. Garland didn't like killing people; he didn't even like having people killed. It was an ending. Garland hated endings.

It was all about the cycle.

Avira turns and stops; Garland does not. He continues up towards the temple, apathetic to the Light of Killita. He simply walks.

"And what business is that of yours, child?" Garland inquires calmly as he carries on up the path. "The Light of Killta is open to all, is it not? They accept all...pilgrims...into the /shelter of the Light/."
Avira Garland continues walking.

Avira follows, slowly formulating her next moves in her mind. There's a look of consternation on her face for a few moments. "Curiosity. Would you really consider yourself a pilgrim here, Garland? Now I don't think you've come here seeking shelter but I believe you are seeking the light."

She really is curious now, eager to see if the holy ground would effect him in any way. Risky, especially since he could choose to eject her into the corridors of darkness between worlds again at any time. risk, no reward.
Garland Garland takes a step onto the holy ground - or rather, his foot hovers above it for a moment. He pauses, as though considering something, then sets his foot down...just on the edge of the monastery's grounds.

Garland tilts his head backwards to look at Avira. "And why would I seek the light, child? What do you believe the light could give me that I cannot gain for myself?"
Avira Avira freezes when she sees that foot lift, then hover right over the threshold of what would be considered the monastary's land. The huntress's beetle stops shortly after at the rider's behest.

"I don't think there's anything the light can give you. You are a light-devouring abyss. I've seen this. I think you seek the light because you want it destroyed."
Garland Garland turns, away from the holy ground. He stares at Avira calmly, clawed gauntlets disappearing under his cloak as he looks at her, completely silently. Once again it is as if he is some sort of predator calmly considering his prey, a great beast ready to strike at a moment's notice - a snapping, uncoiling moment.

Finally, Garland speaks, his voice like an avalanche rolling down the hill. "I am flattered that you believe I am capable of ending the Light personally," he notes, tilting his head downwards, "But if I were capable of doing such a thing merely by destroying the Light of Killta, do you not think that I would have done so a long, long time ago?"
Avira With him turned towards her, Avira's muscles have visibly tensed. Her postition has shifted to one where she could quickly leap off her mount in a lunge at Garland's head if she wished to. Though she struggles to keep these prepatory cues unnoticed, for someone as long-lived and experienced as Garland in the ways of combat, he would surely notice.

She is sileny as he speaks, waiting until he poses his question to answer or provide commentary. She composes herself before speaking, "I don't think it'd be that simple. It feels like a step in a path with that as the goal. Even then, why would you have ended it so easily years ago? Without the light, your timeless life would be incredibly boring. You would have nothing to struggle against. You cannot practice the samsara of battle if there is no batttle."
Garland Whether Garland notices or not is impossible to tell. He comports himself with millenia of control; his reactions are so minute as to be virtually nonexistant, /atomic/-scale. She may be tensed, but he is, as ever, utterly calm. And why not? She doesn't have a keyblade. She hasn't fully realized her power. She is not Unlimited. He does not fear her yet, nor have reason to fear her yet.

"And what, then, do you believe my goal to be? You have piqued my curiousity, child; few in my long life have ever bothered to sit and speak at length with me about such things. Few have the courage, the tenacity, to bring such topics before me. Do continue." The amusement is easy to hear in his voice - but buried beneath it is a layer of genuine curiousity, a fascination. Is it some strange self-examination? Is he looking into the mirror, metaphorically, for the first time in millenia?

Or is he simply wondering if someone has figured it all out?
Avira In this form, Garland is also very lacking in the number one thing that Avira would use to gauge the reaction of others. There is no face. Eyes are but pinpricks of red light within his imposing helm. It's hard to read human emotion from something that is wholly inhuman. For the sake of her own non-maimed state, motion is what Avira is primed to act upon.

"I think your goal..." Avira looks pensive, though it would be a lie to say she hadn't considered that subject before. Her research into him had revealed nothing. " to stir up battle and prolong it. If you have lived as long as you've said before and heard the words of countless heroes, you've seen those same people extinguish their own lights. You can weaken that light, yet someone will always come to replace it and start the fight with you all over again."

She keeps her eyes on him but falls silent as she gathers her thoughts. Satisfied, she continues, "It isn't just about you, is it?" There was so little about him in history and legend, "You aren't, as Kuja would put it, the leading man. You are an architect and an enabler."
Garland Garland tilts his head to the side. It is the only human response to that thoroughly inhuman face, the only acknowledgement of fascination Garland ever truly gives besides his voice. He takes a step forward, staring at the Beetle.

t "And why am I an architect? Why do I enable? Pray, do not stop now; you have come so far on your journey, far too far to simply stop at the edge of the tower. Carry on - ascend to the top." Garland's eyes glint dangerously as he looks up at her, as though waiting to see if she'll /dare/.
Avira A Steelclaw beetle is the size of a small car. With Avira perched upon the back, people usually have to look up to be at eye level.

This particular encounter proved unusual from the start and continues to grow even stranger as seconds pass with no attack. Garland seems unwilling to take advantage of a target of opportunity today, to Avira and as she thinks about this, she finds a part of her disappointed. There's a part of her craving their violent encounters and as she becomes aware of this, it terrifies her. Garland will see horror flicker across her face for but a brief second.

"Your role in this is something I'm trying to figure out." She says, sounding cautious now. "But I think you've made yourself the overseer of the samsara of battle. You keep the cycle going and it brings change. Maybe even /improvement/. Maybe it's..."

She hesitates. "Maybe it's something the world needs."
Garland 'Maybe it's something the world needs.'

Garland throws back his head and laughs. It is one of the most violent displays of emotion he's shown during the entire encounter; his bleak and mocking laughter echoes through the mountain, dark and cold; soon, several monks come out to see what exactly is causing such commotion. That dark amusement rings on even as Garland's head tilts back down, and his terrible red eyes lock back onto hers.

'Maybe it's something the world needs.'

"The truth of this world is chaos." Garland starts walking forward; his hand curls into a fist, his blade simply spawning out of thin air as it is wont to do, no weight but what Garland allows it to have, no light but what Garland allows to touch it. He moves forward, raising the blade. "The truth of this world is battle. Humans are no more than beasts that have taken their battles to a higher level."

Garland swings the blade to the side as he advances; the monks begin to panic, shouting for guards to come and aid them. They are completely beneath his notice; his focus is singular, complete. "Art. Music. Science. War. Friendship. Love. All of them are mere expressions of the beast within you, taken to new levels by the gift of intelligence." The blade begins to burn with darkness; where it touches, plants die, a scar burned into the earth that looks black and twisted. "The human race is nothing more than beasts, exalted by the random chance of this world to worship and serve the will of Chaos. Competition, are nothing but servants of the darkness, tricked by the flickering light from the stars into believing that you are better, that you are stronger, that you are /special/. You are animals of war, striving to outdo each other wherever you can, even as you support those you recognize as your herd to do the same, like any other beast."

Garland's laugh rips through the crisp mountain air again, and the guards running forward suddenly pause as they see what stands before them. Few people have the faith to stand against the Devil when he makes himself present, after all. "I am no overseer, pitiful mortal child. The Samsara of Battle needs no ruler. So long as there are two creatures in this world, so long as there is strife and misery, battle will live. So long as there is a world, Chaos will rule it."

"You cannot deny it. Even now, in your eyes, you want me to leap at you with this blade. You want me to strike you down, to break you, to destroy you utterly; you seek death, because you have seen that upon that threshold is strength...and strength is what you desire, beast." Garland raises the sword to point at her; it cleaves through the air, a trail of shadows in its wake like nothingness, as the Heartless begin to spawn from Garland's cape - pureblood, purebred Heartless as black as the abyss inside that helmet. "As it should be. As all humans truly desire."

"Let go of these pretentions, and become an honest beast, and you will find true strength."

Garland does not strike; he drives the blade deep into the ground as the Heartless begin to circle Avira and her mount. The place he stabbed the blade in immediately begins to crack, darkness pouring out of it in mockery of the light of Killta that stands right next to them both. The terrified monks quail; they start to chant, holy words on trembling lips, as Garland's troops surround Avira...
Avira "Without light there is no shadow..." Avira murmurs, even as Garland laughs mockingly in her face. "Without adversity there is no growth. Without challenge there is no triumph. Without chaos there is no prosperity. I have been to the void. Nothing can exist in a vacuum." She speaks steadily and firmly, regardless of whether or not Garland can hear him.

She sees motion from beyond the agent of Chaos as monks from the massive chapel she just left start to exit. Her stomach twists and fear flickers in her eyes, a silent scream at them to return to their holy confines where they might remain safe.

Now he moves and Avira responds in kind, shifting only just slightly, her gloved fingers tightening around the hilt of her weapon. It's a very little change from before because she knows it is foolish to sit there and assume that he wouldn't come at her, even in this chance encounter where he obviously seemed to have other goals in mind today. It would be a lie to say a part of her didn't crave an attack. But as the darkness starts to gather around him, something else squirms in the pit of her stomach. Raw fear. That darkness-exactly like the darkness she had wandered in for days, struggling to resist. Would he condemn her to that space again, knowing that she might not escape a second time?

She does not back down as he laughs at her and condemns her to a beast serving in the darkness-but as he continues, something in his posturing draws an immediate narrowing of the eyes from the scarred woman.

"No." she says, raising her voice. Avira shifts, first crouched, then standing upon the back of her beetle. "I do not seek death. Today I sought enlightenment. And by God, you have given it to me. Thank you. In light of this I have decided..."

The air around her shimmers with slight silver. "...that my strength will not come from serving Chaos, but from resisting the will he and his agents try to impose. On me. On others. On the worlds."

As soon as this declaration is spoken, she acts. Rider and beetle immediately split, the mount beneath her suddenly becoming violent as it spins in place, reminiscent of the twisting, dangerous sliding motions Adamantoise can accomplish. Avira leaps into the air, briefly landing atop the hilt of the blade that Garland has inserted into the ground, then jumping off again. One hand reaches out to grasp for Garland's helmeted head while the other slams the spine downward, aimed at one of the cavernous eye-holes in his helm.
Garland She leaps; she strikes, defiant, bounding off the blade Garland has struck deep, daring to pass through the curtain of shadow to strike at the swordsman himself. Avira's hand goes to his head; she manages to get her hand around his helm, yanking it forward as her blade comes upwards.

It is probably about at the moment that the blade slides out the back of Garland's head that she will realize something is horribly, wildly wrong. Garland collapses, his knees giving way; his head slides down onto the Spine, thumping at the hilt. His arms dangle limply at his sides, loose and helpless; armored claws spread outwards as the weight of that immense plate mail suddenly catches up with the fall, time speeding up once more as he plummets to the ground.

The Heartless make no reaction. They stand there, little yellow eyes staring up at her as they chitter.

The monks, however...they stare. They stare in shock at the naked violence displayed; at the sheer efficiency with which Avira apparently dispatched her opponent; at the horror that has apparently died on their holy mountain.

Garland's sword continues to burn with dark and terrible nothingness. No blood pools on the ground; where Garland bleeds, shadows ooze, the plants dying at the mere touch of it.
Avira The motion is fluid, clearly premeditated and thought a step ahead. As soon as the weapon breaks through the back of the helmet, Avira is already pulling it back to her, knowing (and fearing) what would happen if Garland disarmed her and took the Spine up in hand. Only once the weapon has been drawn free does she realize she has not been met with swift retaliation and/or annihiliation.

Garland falls to the ground beneath her and, too shocked, Avira falls with him, landing perched atop his motionless armor like a vulture. The Spine is held up behind her, poised for a second strike as shock slowly begins to overcome her. Did she just...?

No she couldn't have. Could she? Numbly, she scrambles off of the fallen armor and looks to the sword, then to the surrounding Heartless. They weren't attacking...

She turns to the staring monks as she retreats towards her beetle. The creature is snapping at the surrounding Heartless but leaves her untouched. "...q..quick! Get a priest or...I don't know, somebody...somebody that can purify a piece of land! This area needs to be warded or something-" she looks over at the sword still stuck in the ground, hesitant to go near it.

As per a suggestion, she pinches herself.
Garland Garland continues to simply lay there. The Ironclad Nightmare does not move; he simply continues to bleed on the ground, that terrible, oozing black shadow. It spreads slowly across the ground, pooling around the sword. Soon, the sword...breaks apart, disappearing as though it was never there.

The monks flee into the temple. They must have a priest somewhere in here who can cleanse this horrible taint, right?

Avira Avira starts to grow even more anxious as the sword vanishes and the tainted blood of Garland begins to spread further. Having seen what that blood can do to things, Avira is careful not to touch it and backs away from the fallen form of Garland.

The Spine is brandished at the gathered Heartless. "Herbie! Go!" Dilligently, her beetle resumes clearing out Heartless since if those priests do come back, they will need some Heartless-free areas to work in.
Garland The beetle, and the Spine, make short work of Garland's little pets; they go scampering away, down the mountain, vanishing in puffs of dark smoke. Garland's horrible black blood slowly begins to stop pooling, as blood is wont to do; if nothing else, she needn't worry about the entire mountain becoming soaked in darkness. It's...blood. It's horrible, bubbling, smoking black blood that gives her a horrible feeling and disintegrates plants, but beyond that, it appears to be blood.

The priests have not yet returned. The guards, however, are certainly making their way towards Avira. Armed.
Avira Dutifully, she makes short work of the Heartless. It's early in the fight, she's not exerted herself THAT much so far. Still, she steers clear of the blood, looking back to where the monks disappeared to every now and then.

She spots the guards approaching, seeing no priests among them. Hastily, she climbs back atop her mount which at least gives her some high ground atop the car-sized insect.

Nudging the beetle, she backs it away down the mountain, "You're all here to secure the area, right? You all need to do that. Careful with the blood." Avira laughs nervously, inverting her grip upon the Spine and switching it to be held in just one hand.

She nudges Herbie again and he continues backing down the mountain.
Garland "We need to ask you to come with us," the guards inform Avira after a moment, nervously. They shoulder their weapons.

Several monks are moving to deal with the problem of the blood, as the guards move to surround her. "You brought violence onto this mountain as our guest."

One of the monks makes his way over, setting his hand on one of the guards' shoulders. He looks over at Avira. "You have done a great service in slaying this monster...but this is still a holy place. We were protected here, by our faith; your weapon was not necessary, your actions extreme."

"Please. Leave." He pats the guard on the shoulder, then looks back at Avira. "Please. And do not ever return, until the violence in your heart has been quelled."
Avira "...why is it necessary that I come with you?" she asks with, perhaps, equal nervousness. Though after a moment, they explain, and a frown comes upon her face. "The mountain was being threatened by an agent of Chaos." she tries to explain.

The monk interjects. Not necessary? Deeply, she doubted that and a hurt look is upon her face.

"Alright." she says after a long breath. There wasn't any need for her to come back anyway, not when the research she needed to do was done. With heaviness in her heart, she turns her mount away and continues down the mountain.
Garland Avira disappears; the monks move to clean up the mess; Garland remains quite firmly, thoroughly, unmovingly dead.

The monk closes his eyes and nods sadly as she leaves the mountain. "Faith, child," he whispers after her as he turns to get back to the arduous task of purifying the taint of Chaos.

This scene contained 24 poses. The players who were present were: Avira, Garland