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Silent Woods of Stone
(2013-03-26 - 2013-03-29)
The first stop on Riku and Avira's most excellent adventure...the Forest of Evil
Avira Dark and forbidding this forest certainly is not.

Frequent breaks in the canopy let in streaming sunlight to dapple the forest floor littered with vibrantly colored bushes, thick carpets of moss and wildflowers bloom in riotous color and variety over the uneven terrain.

'Evil' as the forest was nicknamed by the local and regional populace didn't seem particularly apt either because there are no immediate signs of heartless or monsters despite the trouble that seems to be stretching outwards from the woods in strange, semi-isolated tendrils.

It was actually Mimir who had pointed this place out and Riku has quickly picked up on the idea that the talking cube form some unknowable lost civilization was helpful in way that Reize or Sora were sometimes 'Helpful' and that meant keeping an eye out for what exactly they might have missed in their eagerness to be of help.

However. He had stared and stared at this list for long enough and now it was time to go out and fetch things from it. They were all generals, really. It was his choice exactly what to bring to the table of these various types. It was Mimir who suggested the sunstone.

The cube had an archive file on it. A rock formation deep in the heart of this area that soaks up the sun energy. It was not magical in and of itself, but the rarity of the stone and it's composition would go favorably with a Synthesis. (Or so says a talking box.) Riku often wondered why his life was full of things like this. Talking ducks with chainsaws. Singing Detectives. Confused Immortals. Mirror universe selves and... talking boxes.

It was a riddle to baffle the gods.

Riku wore an outfit (oddly reminescent of Sable, and with an armored glove besides) and trekked through the forest, boots crunching on the leaf litter as he navigated a small bend in the trail.
Avira Now when Avira thinks "Evil Forest," she pictures a perpetually dark area choked with twisted trees and thorns in every direction. She expects to be hounded by wolves or Heartless at every turn-or worse, some variety of man-eating plant. This place seems to be the exact opposite of that.

At first she starts to think that this was some kind of error from Mimir but the sentient device -insisted- that he was absolutely never, ever wrong! Data corruption apparently didn't count as being 'wrong.' Though to be fair, in this case the sunstone information seemed...legit?

Avira HAS heard of the sunstones before-they used to be scattered throughout the Giza plains right outside of Rabanastre. She does, briefly, remember a time when the Giza plains existed there. Now, though, not anymore! 'Seems like when the world shifted around, the Sunstones got moved' she'd commented.

Prior, of course, to coming here there was a small detour to track down one Kamon Lionward to retrieve the Spine. Avira insisted that they do this since she apparently felt 'naked' without it-and let's face it, there was something kind of awesome about beating things to death with a piece of her world. The unusual-looking "sword" remains sheathed at the small of her back.

Somewhere along the way, Avira opted for some pants instead of her usual shorts. No battle skirts here-Avira always doubted the utility of those things. A hooded cloak of a dark green color was also a more recent purchase, though with only Riku here, there was no real need to conceal herself.

Occasionally, she does try to make quiet conversation as she silently moves through the forest. Her footsteps are a lot more muted and she seems to be taking care to not make needless noise as she walks in this environment. "I see you kept the gloves." she notes with a bit of mock resentment, easily alluding to how Riku fooled her with his Sable persona all those times.
Avira "Well. You never know when you might have a wild Reize drop out of the sky onto your back." he smirks slightly. "I needed something more suited to throttle him with." And there is nothing like having the world in your hands so you can beat something to gooey mush and oatmeal with it. It's very cleansing, so the tales go. Riku doesn't seem to handle actual true forest every well, maybe just a lack of experience with it, because he ends up stepping wrong practically every couple of minutes or so.

He doesn't actually seek OUT brambles to get stuck by, or sharp rocks to be scraped on or even moss to slip over but it seems to find him just the same. If these small and frequent lapses of dignity severely irritate him, he keeps it to himself. He seems a calm and determined traveling partner right now although he swears very softly under his breath when he jams his foot on a stone. A lone goose gives a plaintive cry from the 4th wall as they consider into the wilderness.

Fighting a slight scowl, Riku rubs the back of his head and looks up at the shafts of sunlight filtering through the trees. "I'm.. sort of wondering where all the monsters are. Or.." he slowly crunches to a stop and listens.

It's eerie but as they get further into the forest, there are no animal noises. No monster sounds. Just silence and the creak of the forest and the sound of their passage.

"..or anything else for that matter."
Avira "Oh gosh, don't even joke about that." Avira glances over at him with a mortified look. "If you say his name he might somehow appear. Literally popping out from behind a tree with a map in his hand." Knowing the luck of everyone involved, it definitely would happen too. Riku would be fallen upon.

Each step is a new opportunity to cringe inwardly. The lessons that Skoll had given her meant she was far more senitive to the noises around her. It wasn't just Riku's noisiness she noticed but the distinct lack of noisiness in the rest of the forest.

After that jammed toe, she murmurs, "Keep an eye on your feet."

He points out an astute observation, confirming what her own ears had been telling her. "It's a good question." she says, turning her attention to the foliage and trails throughout the forest, looking for /other/ signs of wildlife. "Unless every animal within a decent radius has fled far, we should be hearing something. This bothers me-though it would explain the 'evil' part of this forest."
Avira Riku looks at Avira for a moment and starts to glower before he sighs through grit teeth and attempts to pick his way through the forest while looking where his feet are going. It doesn't help very much. Riku lays a hand on the stiff ashen wood of a nearby tree looking across a small clearing of wildflowers that extends in a gently sloping ravine across the terrain. A large tree that has long since fallen acts as a bridge across the two sides of the low depression.
Avira Riku looks at Avira for a moment and starts to glower before he sighs through grit teeth and attempts to pick his way through the forest while looking where his feet are going. It doesn't help very much. Riku lays a hand on the stiff ashen wood of a nearby tree looking across a small clearing of wildflowers that extends in a gently sloping ravine across the terrain. A large tree that has long since fallen acts as a bridge across the two sides of the low depression.

"Yeah. And the map will be upside down." Riku attempts to smile, mostly fails. He snorts softly at himself and closes his eyes, tucking his head down. "Just a second." he takes in a few steadying breaths and cracks his knuckles idly as he stands there with his hand on the tree.

When he opens his eyes again his view shifts towards the southeast, somewhat past the ravine where the view of the land stiffly dropped off into a small, flower choked gully that wound downwards into a larger wooded valley some distance off. "Well. We're not alone here. The heartless .. are deeper into this forest. That might explain where everything else went."
Avira For now, Avira ceases looking for animal signs to watch Riku move through the forest. Still no good-maybe there was an element of impatience holding him back here? She recalls her own intense focus when she first started practicing this skill at Skoll's instruction. Inwardly, she shakes her head. With no animals around, there wasn't anything they'd need to provoke or avoid, so less than good stealth could be excused.

She follows after him onto that log, balancing easily after a moment spent finding her footing. "Of course. That's exactly what'll hap-oh, right." As he concentrates, Avira watches on curiously. She couldn't fault him for hanging on to these dark powers. As Angantyr had demonstrated to her, they were just tools to be used in the right hands. Corrupting influences in the wrong hands.

Slowly, she nods, "Heartless scare off all but the bravest of wildlife." Meaning the forest was probably full of nothing but wolves and honey badgers now. "I suspect that's where we need to be since Mimir did say it was pretty deep in the forest." Still balancing on the tree, she started off southeast. "Have you...been around Heartless since Manhattan?" she asks him carefully.
Avira Even wolves and honey badgers have to leave trails and signs of their passage. Spoor and the leavings of kills. There must be something to eat after all but shrubs and low ferns and pretty flowers. But as they venture deeper into the woods, there is no sign of animal life. There is not even the sign of insects as they move southeast into the valley.
Avira Even wolves and honey badgers have to leave trails and signs of their passage. Spoor and the leavings of kills. There must be something to eat after all but shrubs and low ferns and pretty flowers. But as they venture deeper into the woods, there is no sign of animal life. There is not even the sign of insects as they move southeast into the valley.

BUt there is something.

At the edge of the larger wooded valley, the fallen tree trunks and moss strewn relics become more prevalent. Large stones thrust up from the earth clothed in vines and flowers. No buzz of insect. Just a hush of wind and the rubbing of trees against eachother in the almost entirely still air. "As well they should. Heartless would pretty much scare anybody." he smirks almost in self-deprecation, murmuring softly. "Unless they never pick up the knack for it. Then things are awkward." he snorts very softly and then looks up, shaking his head as he answers her question in a slightly louder voice.

"No. I've been.. trying." he snorts again. "not always succeeding but trying to keep away from them, and even to.. simply not use my.." he pauses then adds. "abilities as much as possible. So I guess, you might say, the only think I took back from my disguise is my name. For what good it will do me."

Riku shakes his head again. "Sorry." he rubs his head with chagrin. "I'm not very good at this." he forces himself to smile. "Which is why I usually do marks by myself. Sora tends to push his foot down his throat unintentionally. I.. usually know when I'm trying."
Avira This little detail hadn't gone voiced yet, but it bothered her a lot. There should be signs-animal tracks, droppings, maybe a stray feather or hair, that indicated the presence of wildlife. Beyond plants, there was nothing. "Riku, I have yet to see an insect here. That's not..right."

Silently, she spends those moments of silence as they travel in deep thought, considering what the implications could be. Her worry only builds as they find the area overgrown with vine and moss, "It could be man-eating plants."

Riku explains that he hasn't been using his powers otherwise, meaning he definitely wouldn't be using them to turn Heartless away from them. A fight was inevitable, but probably for the best. She had brushed into him as the Light of Manhattan was being restored. What she felt in that moment was not good.

"Tch!" Avira snorts, "No apologies. You can get us in deep <GOOSEHONK> first, then you can start apologizing for screwing up. C'mon..." she motions for him to follow a little faster, "..working with other people isn't that hard. If Angantyr can pull it off given his attitude, you can to."
Avira "Yeah, right." he rejoins with a little more spirit than he's shown so far. "I've done more than enough of that, thanks." he tries to pick up the pace, keeping his eyes out and scanning the terrain but. Not looking at his feet.

The larger valley winds back and forth, the tumbled and ancient plants becoming now a labyrinthine maze of giant fallen logs, vine choked ravines and a river choked with a layer of greenish slime that stank of vinegar and something chokingly sweet. That smell was in the slime (no longer moss) covering the rocks and trees now and they started to find the first signs of movement amongst the trees.

There was a scraping noise of wood against stone and something skittered through the trees. "Heartless." Riku announced very quietly. "...and something is controlling them." There is another scuttling chitter of motion and a giant spider, crafted entirely of plant matter with a carpet of wildflowers and petals growing out of it's thorny carapace lingers at the edge of sight, yellow orbs watching them with curious hunger.
Avira "I mean it! And this wasn't some smug reference to Manhattan. I think it may be time to start letting all that go. I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I want to talk about Manhattan during our little trip."

After all, Avira knows better now than to force someone into introspection. Oh Angantyr.

As they approach, Avira eventually switches the subjects, telling Riku about the "Gaia Sisters" harassing Skoll. Two were still out there and the last one she saw left a legacy of man-eating vines behind. The persistent overgrowth had started to remind her of that, but the slime in the river she couldn't quite explain. She guesses at 'algae' for that.

At the first sound of movement, Avira's already pulling out her sword. Heartless skittered, but rarely made more sound than that. Falling still, she listens carefully.

Her gaze is slowly drawn to the movement, then, the spider. Avira freezes up. Strangely enough, she doesn't charge at the creature, appearing to slowly back away. "Please don't tell me that...that is controlling it." The scarred woman says, her voice tight with fear.
Avira "Not everything is a veiled reference to Manhattan, Avira. And I will /NEVER/ forget." he sighs. "And it's just as well that I don't. Besides, you are the one that brought it up. I was.. I was thinking about something else." Riku rolls his eyes, mostly at himself than at Avira. "Besides. This 'little trip' is about putting my past behind me, not right back in front."

He listens to her story about the Gaea sister, nodding occasionally and appearing to take it in. "Man eating plants." he snorts faintly. "Well. Haven't seen that.. no" he pauses and then chuckles. "Yeah. I have. This giant plant was digging holes underneath the desert of Fluorgis while Reize was still trying to get the shard seekers established. He fell right on top of it."

Riku eyes the spider with cautious wariness, then draws a little closer as there are more scuttling movements in the trees. "no.." he says softly in a calming voice, though his words are not very reassuring. "..those are the things it's controlling." First one, then half a dozen spiders emerge from the forest, and the scraping sounds give evidence that there are many.. many more not visible as yet.
Avira "Oh." Avira responds after an awkward stretch of silence, an embarassed expression on her face. So she -was- the one who brought all that up. She's very quick to change the subject afterwards, a little worried of being abandoned as a travelling partner due to her mouth.

If they were about to face a Gaia sister, Riku had best know everything he could about it, right? So she tells him. "Ugh, Reize again. There is no escape from him, is there?" she laments.

Avira's stomach twists in terror as she hears other skittering noises amongst the trees. Taking another slow step backwards, she keeps her weapon out in front of her, but casts her eyes around her, spotting other spiders as they emerge from the flora. "Spiders..! Why did it have to be /spiders/!?"

Funny, shouldn't she be charging heroically by now? Instead, she moves so she's back to back with Riku, giving them, combined, a full view with no blind spots.
Avira No Avira. There is no escape from the Reize.


Riku is surprised by the lack of charging yes, especially since that has generally been his experience with adventurers. But he knew how to deal with the heartless. "Wait." he tells her softly, completely assured of himself. He draws the long glaive from a pocket of his coat, waiting and watching as the spiders in turn watch them. "When the first one jumps.. there's.. some higher ground straight behind you. Run up the log to it and we'll have an advantage there. It's just bare rock and a little clearing."

He looks from creature to creature, following the threads back.. "The controller isn't far away." that said, he waits until the first heartless decides to try it's luck. It hisses at Riku, who flatly glares back at it which seems to slightly unnerve the monster because it is not getting the appropriate fear response.

So instead it turns towards Avira, hissing again before leaping towards her while two others attack from the left side. Riku gets in front of the two lunging onto the attack, an audible CRACK heard as he strikes it straight in the manibles with the armored glove. It burbles and cracks apart as he slashes it across the middle, the plant matter withering and turning to dark smoke as the second sprays thick strands of slimy moss at him that try to petrify into a binding glue in seconds. It mostly splatters against the ground as he backs up, more spiders lunging into the fray in the wake of the first.
Avira At this point, Avira has fallen into "fight or flight" territory. Riku can practically feel her shaking behind him, the faint clank of metal indicating that she's armed. Surrounded like this, it seems that the only option would be to fight. The very idea mortifies her-spiders, larger than they had any right to be.

" it.." Avira murmurs back, not daring to look back at Riku, her eyes remaining upon the monsters surrounding them.

The spider gets that fear reponse it was so craving when it hisses at Avira. The scarred woman cringes, then shrieks as it leaps at her. Turning towards it with a half-step, she frantically thrusts the length of the spine out before her, haphazardly impaling it upon the length of her weapon. With the added weight, her weapon tips to the ground, forcing her to spend an extra moment planting a booted foot upon the creature's squat face so she can rip her weapon loose. The serrated edges of the spine would normally not make this easy, but Avira is terrified.

Turning, she makes a quick scramble for the log that Riku spoke of, a lunging spider landing on the spot she had just vacated.

"I wish I had studied fire magic!" she blurts out.
Avira Riku stares at the spider who screams menacingly at him, arms flailing and then flailing even more as the teenager calmly scrapes a boot across the ground, kicking up small stones, dirt and dust into it's many yellow eyes.

It reacts with rage and pain, aggrivated and then neatly skewered just under the jaw by the glaive. The weight of the thing drags his arm down and he goes clumsily down backwards from the overcompensating.

Apparantly, someone needs more practice with weapons not made out of smoke. He shatters the jaw of a heartless trying to lunge at his chest, crying out as one bites into his arm, the jaws scraping against the metal as he shakes it off with a vicious kick before rolling back onto his feet. He retrieves his glaive with a sick squelch and a plume of dark vapor, covering Avira's retreat before crossing the log himself.

"I wish I'd studied magic at all." Riku snorts faintly. "But these are small fry, no matter what they look like. We can take them." he eases back to back with Avira again, and the elevated position makes it easier to get their shots in while Riku picks out a nearly cluster of stone and fallen forest. "There. We've got to make it over there. It'll just keep summoning more until we convince it to stop." he says this in a somewhat light hearted turn of phrase, kicking a spider that gets too close down the rocks.
Avira When she hears Riku yelp, she can't help but look back over her shoulder after him. Because of this, her footing suffers and she stumbles, nearly falling onto her face but managing to wobble herself to some semblance of balance with the addition of a freed hand against the ground to steady.

Were she not so scared at the moment, she'd be snarking back at Riku with a 'no you don't' regarding magic study. She remembers his (and Sable's) distrust of magic in general. This can be challenged later. If there was a later.

No, there would be a later.

"These are SMALL?" she exclaims with dismay, striking out with the spiked ridge of the Spine as one of the spiders throws itself onto her. The blade sinks into the space between its snapping mandibles and its multiple glowing eyes. The rest of the legs wheel and flail, scraping at the terrified adventurer.

With a grunt, she shoves it off of her onto a second spider. Shifting the Spine to one hand, she extends her reach as far as she can to jab repeatedly at the tangled mess of spiders.

"Then let's make a run for it! There is no way I'm going to be able to fight these all day!" She still sounds breathless and frightened, though the adrenaline was at least working in her favor. The urge to not get caught and eaten was a powerful one. "I'm gonna make another run for it in-"

Ice magic is channeled through the Spine and Avira unleashes a fierce swing outwards, the magic peeling off the weapon in a vaguely crescent-shaped horizontal blast. A layer of ice is left in its wake, clining to the ground and plants alike, "Now!" Surrendering her position of advantage, she makes a break for the cluster of stones.
Avira "These are small." Riku confirms as he brings the glaive down, dark mist and petals billowing from a gaping wound as a spider attempts to knock him from the rocky outcropping. He jumps down from the outcropping, a decaying log snapping and crunching underneath his boots.

A chunk slides away with him on it, who then has to keep his balance for a few heart-stopping, balancing flailing seconds across the frost slicked rocks and ferns before the ride abruptly terminates at the head of a embedded stone and Riku goes flying into a loose roll and a groan, a cloud of luminescent pollen floating into the air making him cough as he touches down in the mist of yellow-white flowers vaguely reminiscent to irises.

This NOT being the time to pick up the shards of his wounded dignity, Riku rolls onto his side and then up onto his feet. There appear to be.. /fifty/ spiders now, and ever more of the things flooding out of the surrounding woods. Until the ground rumbles and abruptly.. those fifty plus spiders are skittering the OTHER direction. "..Oh. That's never a good thing." Riku murmurs quietly to himself.
Avira "If these are small I don't want to see large!" Avira cries. Luckily for Riku, Avira doesn't witness the entirety of his tumble, only looking back behind her to see him amongst a puff of pollen.

Suddenly, Avira pitches sideways as her right foot yanked out from underneath her to her left. She hits the ground hard, her arm crashing flat against it and crushing foliage beneath her bulk. Strands of the webbing-moss stick to the boot, leading to one of the many advancing spiders. Said spider hisses and snips off the strand to attach it to the ground.

Rolling up to a sitting position, Avira waves the Spine at the advancing spiders. "Riku! A little hel-"

Interrupted by the ground rumbling and the spiders fleeing, a worried look crosses her face. "-elp.." Her focus suddenly turns to hacking through the hardened webbing-moss to free her boot.
Avira "I.. think you are about to." Riku can be heard saying over the rumbling, moving over to where Avira is hacking away. He helps her get herself free as the hills are alive, and sadly not with music and the sound thereof.

Instead the entire hill nearby humps upwards, a massive bloom of these same brilliantly petalled flowers waving clouds of pollen through the air as a massive creature of stone and plant matter vaguely resembling a bear (or possibly a gorilla) rises from the terrain. It shatters some of the nearby trees with it's awakening... and that is when things start to get unpleasant.

A livid sheen oozes from the broken trees, the brilliant wildflowers and moss taking on the color of ancient, moldering stone and freezing in place from around the fragments of the splintered trees. Slow at first, but gradually picking up speed as the titan, swathed in places with vines and knobbed with luminescent patches of sickly yellow/amber starts to slowly swivel towards them.
Avira With a few more hacks and Riku's help with his glaive, Avira manages to free her foot, though some remnants of the sticky moss remain clinging to it. That, of course, can be worried about later. She pulls herself up to her feet and turns to face the suddenly moving hill.

" least it isn't a spider." she says, "Riku, is that the thing controlling the other Heartless?"

Most curious is how the forest around them suddenly loses its color and almost seems to turn to...stone? Then, the titan charges.

"Quick, we need to split! Make it try to follow two targets!" she yelps, suddenly rushing for the creature's left. It quickly becomes clear to Riku afterwards that Avira's strategy is to get in close and make it more difficult for the creature to track her.

She actually sheathes the Spine somewhere along the line, doubting that her weapon will do much to harm rock and stone. When her first touch of the creature leave a frozen handprint in its wake, it's easy to see that, much to Riku's dismay, she'll be relying on her magic for the moment.
Avira Riku catches himself before he says 'Not for long' and bites down on the words before they leave his throat. No. He wasn't going to do that either. Instead he sighs slightly and calls out. "Yeah!" and dismay or not, Avira has the best chance of the two of them right now to inflict any harm on the creature. He was steadfastly ignoring the urge to use his own magic here, keeping it back unless it was absolutely neccessary.

He runs around to the right, nearly falling and scrambling back onto his feet as the stone titan turns it's ursine head towards them and a giant fist smashes down into the terrain they had just occupied.

The knuckles drag in a line chasing after Avira, digging furrows in the earth as the stone construct slowly turns her direction with an ear splitting grinding noise of stone against stone. Riku leaps onto a tangle of vines, starting to himself up them as they dangle from the titan's flanks.
Avira "Good." Avira breathes. "Though I have to wonder why all those spiders were running away from it." Judging by the tone of her voice, her suspicion is piqued just a little bit. She'd explore this thought further were a giant stone bear-gorilla not trying to squash them flat on the ground. It is, perhaps, to her dismay that she draws the aggro but it is a sign that the ice magic definitely got its attention.

Right away, she sees they both have the advantage of speed over the construct. It was slow and noisy, therefore they both hand plenty of warning of its movements and strikes. Using this to her advantage, she keeps it turning and looking after her while Riku starts his climb. Avira follows suit shortly afterwards, seizing ahold of the vines around its body and pulling herself up.

Once she has herself steadied for a moment, she searches the monster's "skin" for cracks and faults. Once she finds one, Avira places her hand against it and forces her ice magic into the gap, using the ice to wedge the cracks open even larger.
Avira Riku experiences something of a 'Aha!' moment as he finishes his difficult climb.

They have indeed found the controller.

Unfortunately. It is not exactly the giant stone bear-gorilla thing going amuck around them. The creature raises up and slams down against the ground, causing a teeth-jarring SMACK as Riku thuds solidly against the stony exterior.

He climbs onto the hunched back or begins the attempt.. when he realizes that something straight above him was staring down at him with hungry yellow eyes. A long, sinuous centipede covered in waves of flowers took a snap at his face, the teenager pushing away hard with his legs and grabbing onto another set of vines. "Avira, look out! It's the flowers, not the statue."

Meanwhile, the waves of petrification spread outwards from the shattered trees and the statue moans as the ice cleaves into the faults and cracks of it's design even further. The titan swipes at her with a hand, and moments later a long centipede like shape along the surface of that hand drops a sheet of choking dust towards Avira as it drops down near her, manibles wide with a long hissss.
Avira As she finishes up her ice spell, she starts climbing again. Avira is, of course, under the impression that to destroy this creature they'd have to hack away at him from all sorts of angles. Bit by bit, they would make it crumble!

Then she hears Riku calling out, "The flowers?!" she shouts back before she is forced to scramble upwards as a giant stone hand paws at her. The next second she's breathing in something that suddenly makes her start coughing and wheezing. Her grip on the vines shifts to one hand as she clutches at her chest.

When she opens her eyes again, she sees the centipede suddenly there, hissing at her.

Startled, of course her reaction is to shove her gloved hand at its face. A small burst of weak ice magic follows afterwards, aiming to stun it and buy her time to move into a better position.

Climbing upward, she finds a slight level spot and works the Spine free of its sheath. "You are not a spider!" she calls at the insect, "I am not afraid of you!! Come on!!"
Avira ========================Bleeep. Bleeep. BOSS WARNING: Beautiful Deceivers========================
BGM Change:

Riku swings up onto the statue as the centipede takes another snap at him, trying desperately to retain his balance as the bear-gorilla takes a slap in his direction and he has to lay flat to keep from being knocked off. The centipede harasssing Avira chitters a long keeening note, ice crystals and frost coating it's eyes and manibles.

It expels another cloud of choking pollen into the air as it rears up and lunges for Avira, many, many segmented legs underneath the coat of beautiful flowers reaching out to slice and stab should they get purchase.

The statue crushes another bank of nearby trees trying to dislodge them and crushes a path through the petrifying forest with a sound of breaking pottery and grinding stone. A few plant spiders too slow to get away are frozen in place on the forest floor, crushed underneath the statue as it rampages through the forest.

Riku gets back onto his feet and is knocked sprawling again by the centipede near him which flows over him like a blanket of thrashing thorns. It screams as it leans down towards his chest to yank out it's prize and gets a glaive in the eye for it's troubles, rearing up and slashing at him and the air as the knife is wrenched out of his grasp, sunk up to the hilt in one of the thrashing creature's many eyes.
Avira Another cloud of pollen fills the air. Avira's lungs still burned with the mouthful she inhaled earlier. She wouldn't let herself be fooled again, naturally, and holds her breath this time before she scrambles away further. Her eyes already felt swollen from the pollen.

The centipede lunges afterwards, failing to strike her directly but jabbing its sharp legs into the backs of Avira's legs. Even then, it takes effort to get through the pants she's wore today, denying it the easy unguarded flesh it no doubt wanted.

A yelp of alarm escapes her ahdn, with one hand, she holds onto the statue while she flails and kicks her legs about. A booted foot stomps down repeatedly at the centipede's face.

Realizing how satisfying this is, Avira continues her stomping rampage upon the controlling creature.

CRUNCH.cruncrunch. Hisssss.

Dark vapor leaks up from the shattered centipede as Avira repeatedly applies Boot to it's Face and does so vigorously and with enthusiasm. A rain of golden white petals drifts through the air and would almost be pretty if not formerly attached to a face eating heartless centipede. One of the lighted patches of the statue goes dark and it abruptly sags, one arm and shoulder buckling temporarily and making the footing once again less than stable.

Riku growls. "Alright, that's enough." through gritted teeth, arms shielding his face as a third centipede joins another one in taking flailing stabs ar his armor. He leaps back onto his feet, stumbling a few feet as he tries to get purchase, smashing the centipede in the face as he does so and wrenching the glaive free.

As the other lunges at him he reaches forwards, slamming a hand into the thorny carapace and there is a sharp CRACK and a pulse of dark magic as a flare of energy snaps the centipede backwards and over the side of the flailing titan. Another patch goes dark and another rain of petals falls on the ground below.
Avira Alas, the heat of battle makes it difficult to appreciate the true beauty of the petals bled from the dying creature. Maybe one day, when Avira is off on one of her excusions and acclimating herself further to nature she will reflect back on this moment and appreciate that even a deadly Heartless had some sort of loveliness to it. As she dispatches the monster, she feels her temporary mount shift, noticing the statue sagging...or crumbling was it?

"Be careful!" she calls out, climbing over the vines and now actively seeking more of the insects. "The bugs are keeping this rock animate! Once we kill them all, I'm pretty sure this thing is going /down/!"

Nimbly navigating her way around the golem, she joins Riku and reaches out, jabbing the tip of the Spine at the third centipede while Riku dispatches the second with a blast of his darkness.

A dull ache resounds in her chest and Avira cringes.
Riku The centipede retreats from the touch of the spine, curling around itself, petals flying everywhere as it contracts and then explodes outwards again. It lets out a deafening subsonic screech that makes Riku stumble and lose his balance, sliding across the back of the statue towards the petrified ground below.

He grabs a handful of vines to stop his fall. "And not soon enough!" he calls up at Avira as he attempts to wrap his wrist around a thickly banded vine and pull himself back up. Meanwhile, the last two centipedes converge on Avira from either side, taking alternating bites at her both high and low as they try to herd her back towards the sloping edge and the flailing fist of the statue.

The flailing dislodges one of the centipedes with an abrupt smash, the statue's arm and shoulder crashing into the ground sending the deceiver sliding and skittering down towards Avira as the floor abruptly sags on one side.
Avira Shortly after the screech, Avira is left with ringing ears. Cringing, she grabs onto the nearest vine so she doesn't fall, but her particular position isn't much better. "WHAT?" she calls out to Riku, aware that he said something, but unsure what it was. She looks for him, only to discover with some horror that he's nearly pitched over the edge after losing his grip. About to help, her plans suddenly change when she's caught in a pincer attack.

A literal AND figurative pincer attack.

Unable to really address both sides at one time as long as one arm remains holding on to the vine-encrusted statue, she fends one off with her weapon as the other bites repeatedly at her side. Gradually she scoots away, driven towards the edge where there's considerably less stuff to stand on. As she gets closer to the flailing, she finds getting bitten much more bearable than the thought of getting smashed.

Then the floor shifts and the centipede is knocked on top of her, sending her in freefall. She willingly releases hold on her weapon now so she can grab onto whatever she can, successfully preventing herself from falling to the ground, but now dangling with not only her own weight to support her, but the centipede as well. Like a fish on a hook, she thrashes wildly, trying to shake the Heartless off of her.
Riku Riku rolls back onto the back of the statue and regains his footing, running down towards where Avira and the Deceiver continue to thrash and flail. A flaming explosion of dark magic knocks one of them aside, the flowers withering and scorched as Riku runs past it towards Avira.

The centipede on top of her and it's many thorned legs pinch and slash and poke and hold firm. As it's grip loosens and it's gaping jaws lunge at her time and time again, those scissor jaws go sideways and slack as glaive spears it straight through the head.

It goes limp then, yellow eyes wide as it evaporates in large plumes of smoke. Riku leans down, hand again wrapped along some vines as he leans out to try and help pull Avira up. The death of another centipede finally sends the statue to crashing rest, the colossus thudding ponderously into the petrified forest with a teeth-jarring crash.

The remaining scorched centipede approaches from behind, getting ready for another keening wail and flailing, biting assault.
Avira "Damn LEGS!" Avira scowls as she feels them dig into her skin and hold fast. For a few seconds she releases one of her arms to try and push the centipede off of her but the grip of her other hand starts to slip and she quickly replaces it. Jaws bite down on her repeatedly, her breastplate at least offering some protection but on many occasions the pincers draw blood.

Turning her head away as she sees it rear back, reading to strike, she finds the blow never comes. Peeking back, she spies it just in time to see it go slack and evaporate into darkness.

Her hand reaches up and grasps his. With their combined effort, she's pulled back up just in time as the statue crashes to a halt. Holding on to both Riku and the statue enables her to not be sent flying at the sudden halt.

Knowing that there had been two centipedes attacking her and only one was just dispatched, Avira's already watching for the remaining one. Its attempts to sneak up on them are not successful due to Avira's awareness of their surroundings. Releasing her grip on Riku, her hand swings around, palm faced outwards. With a harsh shout of "BLIZARA!" she unleashes a blast of ice upon the creature before it can descend upon the pair.
Riku The centipede crashes to a halt with the force of the ice magic flung straight into it's face from close range. It freezes in places, multiple legs still extended as it slowly tips over like an unsecured ice statue.

The centipede clatters against the statue which groans and settles with finality into the earth as the blizzara frozen heartless shatters on the ground into multple glittering chunks.

A cloud of stone dust and fragments rises up through the air.. and at least, everything goes still and silent. Riku coughs from the dust and the pollen still searing his lungs and gets a grip on himself, frowning slightly as he takes out a potion and offers it to Avira.

"Well.." he says with a slight smile. "That was fun."
Avira Avira lets out a slow, calm breath as the Heartless freezes in place. She's about to scoot forward a little and kick the centipede over when it shatters nicely on its own. The statue shifts underneath them and Avira is left sitting on the ground, breathing slowly and deeply.

Her body shaking, she pushes herself up to her feet, her eyes searching along the ground for her weapon. Spying it, she's about to go retrieve it when Riku offers her a potion. A little too quickly, she accepts the item and chugs it down. The bleeding of her numerous wounds caused by close contact with the centipedes slows. "Thanks." she says, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.

Leaning down, she scoops up the Spine and slips it back into its sheath. "...yeah." she says after a moment of contemplation, "Well except for the spiders." she shudders, "I could have done without spiders."
Riku "..yeah. That was sort of unpleasant." Riku looks at Avira and then around at the surroundings. He makes his way across the back of the dormant statue, examining one of the cracked patches that was glowing so fiercely while the centipedes were astride it.

A fist sized chunk of sunstone was broken away from the rest of the statue near the head of the creature, growing in a rough outcropping covered with slimy moss and a few stray yellow white wild flowers. "But.. it looks like this is what I was looking for. Next time I'm going to try for something that /doesn't/ move."

Riku looks out at the petrified woods surrounding them on all sides, pointing out a few petrified spiders amongst the wildflowers and shattered trees. "I.. think that explains where all the animals went."
Avira Avira looks to one of the cuts on her arm and gingerly touches it. Thanks to the pollen around, it felt a little itchy so she seemed to be struggling to not aggrivate it further. "Is it?" Avira turns, "Is it the sunstone? Bah, I wonder if Mimir could have found a location that wasn't infested with Heartless."

She walks over to examine the statue with him and admires his sunstone. "Though maybe that's why this place was chosen. Maybe it was so we could get rid of the Heartless." she pauses, then shakes her head, "Nah, that was silly, how could he have known."

Avira turns as well to look at the rest of the forest. Cautiously, she walks over to one of the petrified spiders and nudges it with her boot. Her hand is upon her weapon as she does so.
Riku "They do get around, don't they." Riku sighs.

The petrified spider goes 'Click' as it is shoved away onto one side, a dark mist curling up from the cracks and the general spider itself turning to stone dust and powder as the dark plume evaporates. Riku groans faintly, rubbing his arm and sore muscles.

"You know. I think the best thing you could do with that box is whatever it says? Probably do the opposite. Where did you end up finding that thing anyways?"
Avira At the first sign of the dark mist, Avira jerks backwards, watching it with paranoid caution. As time ticks by she sees that apparently it's just melting. Once she's confirmed this has happened, she knocks another spider over.

"Sounds like a plan. I got it from a market where this fox guy convinced me to buy it. Made it sound like some kind of amazing archive of ancient knowledge. I think I got trouble instead."

She turns back to face the teenager, "How are you holding up? All in one piece?"
Riku "Yeah, I'm alright." he stretches and yawns, putting the sunstone away in the backpack he brought for the purposes. "I'm tempted to just go back to my room and collapse for awhile." Riku chuckles faintly. "And yeah, I'm tempted.. but .. I think I'll just walk. It's not too far back to the portal." he starts picking his way across the forest.

"As long as nothing else jumps us with murderous intent, it might actually be a nice day for it."
Avira "Good." Avira grins, "Let's go, then." Good thing too since if one of Riku's dark portals were involved, Avira wouldn't be too thrilled at all. This goes unvoiced since she's probably brought it up before.

"I've come to enjoy strolls through the forest." she confides quietly, "Helps me gather my thoughts." she lingers for a few seconds, looking over her shoulder back where Riku picked up that sunstone, "...say, were there any more pieces of that over there? It'd make a nice addition to my rock collection."
Riku Riku doesn't offer and doesn't say anything about such things. There were a small collection of sunstone shards, some of them smoothed on the edges and others ragged.

"Yeah. I think there's a few bits and pieces. I chose pretty much at random since this stuff is going into the soup pot anyways. Or at least, that's what I think of whenever someone tries to explain synthetsis to me."

He begins to walk, not getting too far ahead but not lingering either. His boots crunch clumsily on the forest floor and he tries (with little success) to navigate the terrain and soon falls back to grumbling.
Avira Avira backtracks for a moment, peering at the pieces and selecting a small handful with rounded edges. "...hmm, these could make some nice earrings..." she murmurs, stuffing them into her pockets.

She's quick to catch up, noticing his loud footsteps and disgruntled noises again. "Say..." she mentions slowly, "If you ever want to learn a few hunter things, I could show you a thing or two sometime."

After that, unless pressed about the subject, she mostly clams up and walks alongside Riku.
Riku "Yeah." Riku sighs and grumbles. "I would actually be glad for something like that, Avira. Thanks."

He then swears at the forest because. Evil forest lives up to it's nickname and he jams his feet again. He goes back to watching them.

This scene contained 45 poses. The players who were present were: Riku, Avira