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>> No.39724186 [View]
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39724186

>>39724159

And now, you are beyond the bounds of what is possible.

Before, the horrors you have glimpsed were - at least - anchored. You knew these things, though not the insights they accompanied.

To delve through EBON THORN's memories is to arrange a private viewing of the Pit.

Glimpses of atrocity: Freeze-frame flickers of ruin, of bodies scattered underfoot, of black laughter over broken remains and the monuments of raw flesh. Hell in zero gauge - Horror and red death abroad, hours crammed with centuries of human suffering, narrow side-streets filled with miles of pain.

It occurs to you, distantly, that not all the Smilers are human. Or perhaps the shreds of that humanity have dwindled and diminished to nearly nothing, as - after the long, long mourning that followed - the night of the feast has come at last.

And has it ever.

Not just the ones who wear the fanged smile, of course. Every slight - every injury - every injustice, real or imagined, is avenged. Every score is settled.

Every appetite indulged.

For this is the end of all things, the last destructive madness of a scorpion in a fire; there is a terrible glee in it, a final release, fed by the black rain and the red blood. You see hunched, clawed forms fighting over broken remains - a pyre of bodies, fed eternally - tiny bones, so delicate.

Precious.

In fragments: Chanting, wailing, snatches of conversation - a soundtrack for the death of a city. Everyone and anyone gets it, as Blitz Ingram works the revolving matte-black barrels of his weapons - Ashen Hand eternally grinning, saying over and over again, "It's beautiful, man, it's beautiful."

Forms conjured up from an Eiger nightmare. The sound of the guns turn orchestral, at some point. A madman's dream, where anything and everything is possible.

It is one thing to see the aftermath. It is quite another to see it with your own eyes.

(Continued)

>> No.38694734 [View]
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38694734

>>38694580

(Yes. Unfortunately, he can't grant you access to the Relic Vault.)

>>38694542

"Y'know, if you have anything else like this - I'm just saying - this *might* be a good time to-"

> "About your arm: If I hadn't cut it off, your soul would've been drained. It already happened to quite a few of the Seisin High girls.
> "Composure comes from age and experience, Licorice. I didn't lie when I said I was old, you know. Time is not as straight-forward in the Red as it is in the Real."

You're fairly certain she's mouthing - to herself - "*How* old...?"

Then:

"I - I know." She glances in Daegal's direction, as if expecting moral support. Softer, now - "...It - It just *hurts*, that's all. It shouldn't, but - It's like my arm's still there, but I *know* it isn't, and..." A deep breath, her lithe form articulating - "...it's going to get worse, isn't it? Whatever comes next..."

> [X] "Brace yourselves - I think we're reaching the end of the fog."

You might find out soon. Very soon.

And as the Red Comet pushes from the dense-metal fog, the mist thinning out to the mere carrion-smoke wash that hangs across every battlefield-

Crackling, distorted voices breath out across the Dirac Network. Warped by distance and poor reception, barely audible-

"-shit hole now!"

Crackle. "-no good, is it?"

(Continued)

>> No.37921940 [View]
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37921940

The skies of Arcadia are on fire.

Beneath the flickering dome of the great shield - Shedding filthy yellow light - long trails of smoke churn forth from the countless fires throughout the city, sooty arcs of dust and debris fountaining skywards all across the horizon. The alien city spreads out beneath you, all angry right angles and fluting spires, stretching away into the distance.

From the rooftop, the city looks like a night-shrouded volcanic plin; a vast, dark field pocked with calderas that open onto hell. Dimly, you can hear the chatter of gunfire, the flames from other buildings around lighting the walls and cast twisting shadows towards the shrouded stars-

And now, only now, you realize where you are. You stand atop the vaulted roof of Seisin High's concert hall - A place you departed less than an hour ago...Or longer.

A lifetime.

In the distance, the Diadem; at the very heart of the doomed city, a great spike driven through the skies and into the earth. Over the hunting shrieks of Correctors- damnation swarms boiling overhead - you glimpse the flash-flicker of distant explosions...

The beginnings of a flash.

A dozen blocks away, the street erupts like a chain of volcanos. Explosions at the terminal points of scarlet particle beams that rain down from the circumference of the Diadem's twisted crown - the ground beginning to ripple and distort as it sprouts sudden forests of blooming dust, thrown-up earth and writhing fireballs. A juddering, flickering carpet of destruction engulfs the target zone, billowing dark smoke and vaporised sand back into the edges of the pale fog that engulfs everything-

The ground is shaking. Even from here, you can feel the relentless, plosive concussion of the onslaught quaking through you, like the echo of someone else's war.

And dimly, you realize - The Diadem's new masters have, evidently, found a way to bring the great structure's weapons online.

(Continued)

>> No.37750433 [View]
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37750433

>>37750032

Light and color jump and twist around you - Light from the explosions, light from your Emblem. Emerald, shot through with violet - In the non-space between moments, as the world fades and unfurls itself at once...

Blink. A vast and profound emptiness.

Blink. Flares of red. The harrowing screams of infinity.

A sense of acceleration...

"-Oh." A soft sound. A tremuluous, wavering sound.

The black rain has ceased, but what follows is no better. Filthy yellow light spreads across the vast, disputed city of Arcadia, the haze like rainstorm vapour, obscuring the skyline and the distant bulwark of the Diadem. The swollen malignancy of the grand shield stains the sky - Cancerous in imagery, a wavering, flickering barrier that seals off all escape. The sky is full of fire, half-glimpsed through a roof of moving smoke; the Nihl Sphere - And Cybele's Emblem - has carried you only as far as a black rooftop, flat and sticky with oozing Lachryma.

There are Correctors, damnation swarms of them, in the agonized skies. Blue-white fire crackles above the diadem, irradiating the stricken world, triggering massive, unnatural aurora displays amid black fog and churning atmospheric filth.

It sounds as if the sky is caving in.

(Continued)

>> No.37039379 [View]
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37039379

>>37039197
>>37039214
>>37039215

> "You give me an eye to see and ask how I break free? The night holds many secrets, your essence least among them. A fine gift, unknowingly given. Begone, that I may take what is rightfully mine."

Her eyes widen, in pained realization - Her hands clutching at you, beseechingly, as you twist the blade. Her shuddering gasp hangs in the air, as you stand, unmoved; As solid and unyielding as a carved onyx statue.

> [X] "-I have power over you, where once you had power over me. Die unknowing, witch."

You come *this close* - this close - to flubbing the line. It's a narrow thing, but your memory of the script wins out.

> [X] "All is as I have dreamt. For you, I fear, it is only nightmare."

As your blade pulls free, she sinks to her knees. Her lips move, wordlessly, as she stares up at you; Her expression halfway between disbelief and a kind of desperate hope.

"Then - *Is* this a dream, Auguste?" the Witch murmurs. Your stark shadow falls across her, sword in one hand - The Eye of Night casting a pitiless glitter in the other.

Perhaps you'll know if you ever wake up.

> [X] "And thus it ends."

Then she falls forward, and her silhouette merges seamlessly with the backdrop - And in the distant, there is the rush of wings and the harsh cry of birds.

> [X] "The Ship is *mine*."

In the moments between the coup-de-grace and the next, where all attention was focused on the tableau, the stagehands have hurried out to draw the drapes back from the raised plinth; Abstract twists of wood and metal framing it on either side, all arching lines and intricately-carved knotwork, to form...

-A throne.

You ascend. Your blade lies across your lap, as you take your place; All lonesome, otherwordly hauteur, features cast into shadow. The light, streaming down from above, turns the color of old blood.

Then fresh blood.

Then open flame.

(Continued)

>> No.36871628 [View]
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36871628

INTERLUDE:

Nothing tastes right. Everything - Everything - turns to ashes and dust in his mouth.

The edges of everything are blurry and indistinct, saliva stringing between his aching teeth. At one point - lost in a haze of pain - he'd sliced his palm, seeking to release the burning from his blood. What dripped from the wound was like boiling oil, bubbling and popping, and it *hissed* as it escaped in tarry rivulets.

He can't think clearly, as he shambles on - Turning watering eyes to his watch, seeing the numbers count up. He has forgotten something, he knows - Some...event. Some impetus, some urge; Lost in his flight from the terror of his own laughter, from the voice at the base of his skull - New like shining steel, yet ancient as a dagger, that smirking hiss that makes the things he longs to do feel like their own reward.

He ran from it-

But he thought he knew its name.

The cold wind whips at him, mingles with the sound of the Festival - Yet he knows he's left it far behind, already. Every fibre of his being aches, a trembling fever of motion that courses through his veins like poison, that brings a ragged, rasping cough from beneath the hood of his coat.

On either side, the crowd shies away from him, instinctively - Without ever knowing wide. Perhaps it is the coughing that continue to wrack him, trails of foul, syrupy matter spattered down his chest...

Or perhaps it is the sharp black shadow on the ground beneath him, the shadow silhouette that does not belong to a man.

It belongs to a monstrous bird-of-prey.

(Continued)



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