The Great Belligerency [Round 4: Static]

The Great Belligerency [Round 4: Static]
Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Dove looked at the Spirit. He knew she had come about because of stories humans told each other. She was a creation of humanity, just as much of this house.

He despised her for it. She would have to be destroyed.

But so would the "children" in the basement she had mentioned. He didn't give any thought to whether she had meant other combatants or literal children; if the question had occurred to him, he wouldn't have cared. All it meant to him was that there were humans in the basement.

Basements. As if it wasn't enough for humans to wreck the surface of the planet, they had to start digging out the ground as well. Nature provided plenty for them, and yet they always demanded more.

Dove calmed himself. Yes, there were many travesties against the earth to wreak vengeance upon, but he would have to focus on one travesty at a time. Given a choice between destroying humans and destroying the abominations they created, it was better to strike the problem at the source.

"Thank you for your help," he said to the Spirit of Fairy Tales, making no effort to hide his disdain. "You are a twisted creation of humanity and you must be destroyed for the sake of the planet, but that can wait. For now, I will deal with these naughty children you have so kindly pointed me to."

Had the Spirit been more rational, she would have taken his words more seriously as a threat. As far as Soft was concerned, though, the witch was simply teaching the naughty children a lesson about staying up past their bedtime. She decided it was worth watching the story play out, and so floated down the stairs as Dove walked down. The two largely ignored each other, Dove treating Soft as a mere annoyance to be momentarily tolerated, and Soft viewing Dove as an instrument of justice who would have to be dealt with himself once he was done.

Dove's footsteps might have given him away, if not for the fact that he was sending weeds to tear through the walls of the basement. Cole and Reinhardt heard the cracking and saw the lengthy tendrils start to flow through the room aimlessly well before they saw Dove's arrival.

Once Dove entered the room, the vines' actions became more controlled. Before, they were easily held off by Reinhardt's blade and a pair of mandibles Cole had grown, but with Dove physically present, they moved more deliberately, dodging the strikes with ease and quickly entangling the two as they tried to regain their bearings. Weeds grabbed Reinhardt's sword and shield, and wrapped themselves around their victims like ropes.

When it was done, Dove looked at Reinhardt. The sight of the man's armor filled him with scorn.

"You robbed the Earth of that ore," he said accusingly. "Mutilated it into metal. And now you have the gall to wear it, as though all that were something to be proud of."

He then turned to Cole. Anansi's transformation would have made him hard to recognize as a human to most, but in Dove's eyes there was no difference. He tried to command the insects on Cole's body to devour him, but they did not move.

"What have you done?" he shouted. "These are creatures of nature! They are alive! Yet they remain still! Is murdering those who respect the Earth not enough for you? Must you now torture them as well?"

Cole did not answer the question directly. Instead, he simply made a comment.

"Beetles of the Carabidae family, more commonly known as 'ground beetles', can emit an acidic spray from their abdomens."

Dove wasn't amused.

"That's all you have to say? Well, I suppose if I can't turn the insects against you, I'll have to let the weeds take care of..."

He was interrupted as the weeds wrapped around Cole's torso dissolved. Dove's face grew noticeably angrier.

"You dare corrupt the power of nature in such a way? You're even worse than most."

As Dove berated Cole, Reinhardt began pulling at the vines. The enhanced strength his gauntlets provided easily tore them apart. As he freed himself more, he tore away at the vines holding his sword, then grabbed it and sliced the weeds around his shield.

Dove was furious. He commanded the weeds to fling the humans to the ground.

They obeyed, tossing Reinhardt in the water and leaving Cole to hit the hardened floor. Reinhardt screamed as the water dragged him away; Dove watched in surprise.

It was the opening Cole needed. He had higher resilience than Dove had expected, and soon recovered from the fall. He then quickly used a grasshopper's legs to leap at Dove, knocking him over. Dove felt a light shock as Cole touched him. It surprised him, but it was not enough to stop him from pushing away his assailant. He realized he would have difficulty commanding his vines while in direct combat, and pondered what to do about the matter as the two exchanged blows. Even without mimicking any particular insect, Cole's blows were more effective, due to the mild shock affecting Dove whenever he punched or was punched. Dove soon realized he would have to get out of the melee in order to fight back properly.

All the while, the Spirit of Fairy Tales watched, her book filling itself in with information on those nearby. She felt that up to now, the story had been telling itself well enough, and didn't need her help to move along.

But now she had seen Cole's story. She now knew he was being punished for his pride.

Recalling what she knew of such people in other stories, she realized what she had to do.

She had to teach him about humility.

Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by Captain Lhurgoyf.

Raging, Reinhardt struggled against the hands pulling him back. His mighty strength, enhanced by the power of his enchanted gauntlets, strained under the grasp of the water. Finally, he broke free, his voice growling with anger at his assailents. Wringing the water from his cape, the tyrant charged out of the water, bounding forward until he returned to the scene of the battle.

"You FOOL!" he called out to the retreating Dove. "Who do you think you are? You've betrayed your own humanity! Do you not realise the superiority of humans? You DARE to talk down to the great Lord Reinhardt, to cast him into the water like a beggar accosting you on the road? You deserve to be purged."

"Ah." Dove replied, turning to Reinhardt. "You really think that you're all that? Tell me, what kind of superior species would so cruelly destroy their planet out of their own greed?"

"I WILL DESTROY YOU!" roared the tyrant, stepping in front of Cole. He swung his heavy shield at Dove, slamming it into his enemy's face. A mist of blood was carried out from the blast. Reinhardt then swung his sword aimed at Dove's neck, but just before the attack was connected, his foe came to his senses and ducked, darting behind Reinhardt.

Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by Ixcalibur.

Dove ducked behind ‘Lord’ Reinhardt, as the officious vermin dared to represent himself, and came face to face with the barely human mass of insects. Internally he sighed. This extermination was far from optimal, in fact so far one might have described it as something of a clusterfuck. He had underestimated the abilities of the human, and the allegedly human, vermin; his own vendetta against humanity causing him to overlook the nature of this battle, and of his adversaries. These vermin were a far cry from the street vermin he was used to exterminating; living their peaceful boring and above all disrespectful lives, some of them were probably glad to wake up to Dove standing over their bed, vines wrapped around their limbs and the short and painful death that would ensue. He would not catch his opponents unaware, that much was becoming clear.

Cole’s fists connected with Dove’s chest before he even had time to defend himself. The blow was accompanied by a mild electric shock and he fell back against the basement wall, blood trickling down his face, and little breath left in his lungs. His mind was working overtime, making up for the lack of thinking he had been doing as he made his way down here; this battle was theirs. They had all of the advantages, Dove had wandered into this fight half-cocked and arrogant, his only real weapon a bunch of overstretched weeds pulled all the way from the front of the house and through which a debilitating rot was spreading. Dove needed out of this fight right now. He would have this fight on his terms or not have it at all if that was what it took. Cole loomed over him, while the Reinhardt vermin was watching with a smirk on his face; to him his point had been proved, all that remained was to put the traitor out of his misery.

“Humanity…” Dove said, only doing so to remove the triumphant smirk from Reinhardt’s face. “Humanity are blind ants, crawling along the earth. Blind to the damage they do, blind to the pain they inflict, ultimately blind to their own insignificance and fragility. Humanity exists because the planet deigns it so; and one day your planet will deign you to not be worth the effort any more, and it will send someone like me to deal with it; and the species you which hold in such high regard will be wiped clean from the face of the world.” Reinhardt was no longer smirking, his expression would perhaps he better described as one of repulsion and anger.
“If you’re quite finished?” He asked as he strode forwards, before suddenly plummeting to the floor, a thick tangle of weeds having suddenly closed around his feet. As Cole turned to get a better view Dove leapt up punching him in the face. It was not much of a blow, Dove was not used to fighting with his fists, and hoped that he would not have to get used to doing so, but the suddenness made a difference. Cole stumbled back, and Dove pushed past him, leaping into the puddle in the middle of the room. Liquid hands pulled him down into the water and Dove did not protest, wherever this deceptively large puddle led it could hardly be worse than the situation in which he found himself at the moment.

fyck phytybyckyt
Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by Captain Lhurgoyf.

Irritated by this fool's diligence, Reinhardt swung his sword in an arc about him, cutting away the weeds grasping his feet. He got up, looking down at the pool where his foe had disappeared.

"Coward." Reinhardt said, to no one in particular. "He dares to so boldly question the sovereignity of the human race, and then to make his exit so soon after. The bastard will not be forgiven for such blatant acts."

The armoured man then turned to Cole, who was beginning to stablilise himself after the blow. "Well?" Reinhardt asked, "Where might you suggest we look to next?"

Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

When Cole didn't answer, Reinhardt looked towards his new comrade and then towards where the representation of his eyes were staring. And there was Soft, standing between them and the staircase, looking much too serious for a girl her apparent age. At least, her mouth was set in a grim line. The tyrant couldn't exactly see much of her eyes.

This was...the Spirit. Reinhardt narrowed his eyes suspiciously at her and raised his sword again, ready to attack, but she did not raise her axe in response. In fact, he was pretty sure she was staring hard at Cole. It frustrated him, having a little girl ignore him so completely.

"You," the cloaked girl suddenly said, raising her axe to point at the former biologist. She hesitated before conceeding a "...Cole."

Cole stared down the point of the axe uneasily but did not answered. Reinhardt noticed him growing wings, ready to distance himself if necessary.

"You really should keep better company, bug boy," she continued, her voice suddenly gaining a layer of sickly sweetness. Cole and Reinhardt exchanged glances at this as she rested her axe leisurely on her shoulder again. "At this rate, you'll never learn~"

Soft's patronizing tone both irritated and disturbed Cole. "I don't know what you're talking about," he snapped back harshly, to which Soft just shook her head.

"That's what I'm talking about. We'll have a long way to go if we'll want to work on that hubris..." Cole rankled at those words, recalling his brief and unfortunate encounter with Anansi...of course she was meddling with his own affairs. Why was he not surprised. "Come, redeem yourself."

Before Cole could snap at her outstretched hand, Reinhardt had swung at it with his large sword. The girl recoiled quickly, looking furious for a second before regaining her worrying smile. "Oh yes, we should get rid of clunky man here! Take off those heavy shoes, boy, so I can cut off your feet!" She quickly dashed towards the armored man, swinging her axe low in an attempt to dig it into his ankles. He hopped backwards clumsily and smashed the hilt of his sword on her head, which didn't seem to slow her down too much. Cole's pincers around one of her braids, however, did. The Spirit hissed angrilly before turning to smack at Cole. Although she flinched at the unexpected shock, she twisted to kick him squarely in the chest and screamed, "Stay out of this, bug boy!"

She barely had time to shake off some loose bugs on her shoe when Reinhardt moved forward to behead her. Soft skipped away, making sure to carefully avoid the puddles on the floor, but stumbled over several vines that were slowly being dragged into a small puddle. She rolled aside as Reinhardt's sword came clanging onto the floor and, with a graceful turn, swung the blunt side on her axe right against his helm.

He doubled over, his whole head ringing, which gave Soft ample time to kick him down. Before she could finish her depedification job, Cole tackled her roughly to the floor again. Both Reinhardt and Soft got slowly back on their feet and the three began a tense stand-off.

It was then that Soft widened her eyes in sudden realization and laughed. "Oh, really? Ha! So you're Mister Big Bad Tyrant guy!" Reinhardt clenched his jaw and stepped forward, ready to swing his sword again as the abomination in front of him continued to giggle.

"Stay right there, you prejudiced little punk you~" she sang menacingly as she allowed her book to flump on the ground. It opened and flipped its pages shining brightly. "I know a perfect curse for you..." Reinhardt needed no prompting. With no intention of just letting her do whatever she was planning to do, he charged forward as she raised her now glowing hands. Cole had cautiously stepped backwards, however, but before he could shout a warning to the muscled man, Ur suddenly dragged her way unsteadily down the stairs.

The action stopped momentarily, a sword stuck in midswing and raised hands and book dimming, and as the three stared at Ur, she stared back with dead eyes. She looked at the remaining vines on the floor that were now decaying. She looked back at the three humanoids. She seemed momentarily torn between severe depression and severe anger.

Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by slipsicle.

Phil looked around the forest of hands a bit more before grunting out, "Well... wherever we are, stick close to me. And try not to touch anything!" Julia nodded meekly, and the two set forth.

After several minutes of walking, with no visible change in their surroundings, Phil, whom had become increasingly agitated by the presence of a beautiful girl on his arm, decided to break the silence.

"Sooo... why were you mistaken for 'Amy'? The Executor doesn't seem like the kind of guy to mess up."

The girl brushed her hair with one hand. "La, I do not know! I do not remember much from the beginning of all this, as," and here she shudders, pressing herself up against Phil a bit more, "I was rather distressed! But... that voice said something about us all being evil people! I do not see how that is true, though," glancing up at Phil, beaming with an almost worshipful expression, "since how could you be evil? You are helping me through this scary place, and protecting me! It is not my place to say, but, la, I think that horrible voice was lying, just to make us distrust each other! Who knows how much was truth and how much was not? All I know is," holding Phil's arm tighter, resting her head up against his bicep, "I feel safe with you."

Phil shifted, somewhat uncomfortably. The Executor had gotten him pretty much spot-on, but... it had been a very general description. He still didn't know what to make of this girl, so, as long as he had her talking...

"Well... uh... if he was wrong about you... why don't you tell me a bit about yourself?"

Julia playfully poked Phil's arm, exclaiming, "Oh Phil! Are you trying to get to know me? You're adorable!" Grinning again, "La, there is not much to tell! I live... well, lived, in a city and made my living as a dancer. I just broke up with my boyfriend, nasty man, but I suppose I should have known. All my girlfriends told me he-" and on and on in this vein until suddenly, rounding a corner, the pair came face-to-face with Dove.
Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by Pick Yer Poison.

For a few moments, the three humans stared at each other uncomprehendingly. Then Phil raised his rifle and Dove raised his hand. A beanstalk with a fist at the end shot up from the ground beneath Phil, knocking him off balance and making his shot go wild. A bullet whizzed past Dove's head, and he ducked instinctively. Julia covered her head with her hands and darted off to one side, running off the path into the forest of hands. She halted after she had passed several of them, peeking back at the battlefield intently.

Dove hissed at Phil. "You are a slave to your technology, a perfect example of the damage humanity has done to itself!" Several thick arms burst out of the ground in front of him, acting as shields. "It is my duty to the earth to end you!"

Phil didn't respond, instead firing several pulses from his rifle towards Dove. They went straight through the first few barriers, but didn't quite make it all the way to Dove. I sure didn't see THIS coming. Phil began running towards Dove, darting around the trees. Several hands popped out of the ground and tried to grab his ankles, but he either outran them or stomped on them first. He rounded the last triumphantly and let loose a shotgun blast, but Dove was already fleeing into the forest of hands and was very much out of range.

Phil nearly followed him in, but hesitated. He controls plants; it’s probably not the best idea to run after him into a forest. Instead, he leveled his gun with the man’s retreating back and flipped a switch. The muzzle extended drastically, and a scope presented itself. Phil peered through it and took careful aim with his sniper rifle, centering the crosshairs right on Dove’s head and then pulling the trigger…just as Dove hopped over a gnarly patch of roots. His left shoulder took the blow instead, a pinpoint hole letting forth a short burst of blood as the bullet tore through his hiking vest and sunk into the tendons.

Dove howled and gripped his shoulder, glancing back at Phil, who was already reloading. A hand burst out of the ground directly behind Phil, but he had already anticipated this and was changing position rapidly. Dove gave up the effort and ran a zigzag route into the trees, quickly leaving Phil’s eyesight. “That should take care of him for a while,” Phil proclaimed confidently. Unless he’s got some sort of mutant healing rate in addition to his overactive green thumb.

Julia ran out of hiding towards Phil. “That was amazing! I bet he won’t be bothering us again.” She leaned towards him happily.

Phil shrugged self-consciously. “It was nothing. But I wouldn’t be so sure about him not bothering us again.” Phil glanced uneasily at the tall, swaying hands, then motioned forward with his gun. “C’mon. We should keep moving if we want to get anywhere else.” They walked off again, Julia clinging to Phil’s arm as before, and Phil keeping a tighter grip on his gun than he had been previously.

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Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by Captain Lhurgoyf.


Reinhardt broke the silence, speaking out at the new arrival, and how no one had seemed to react. He kicked aside the book that the girl had laid on the floor, swinging his cape behind him. The tyrant's eyes then looked up at the woman who had entered the commotion so suddenly. "Well? Are you just going to stand there, or shall I act on my word and wipe the blight of your hideous inhumanity from this ground?"

The group stood silent. Reinhardt grunted under his breath, swinging his gauntleted arms behind him to knock Soft away from and onto the hard floor. As she started pushing herself back up, Reinhardt advanced slowly to Ur, who was staring down at him from the stairs. "I do not know what sort of disgusting animal you might be," said Reinhardt, his tone rising, "but I will have none of it!" With that word, the armoured man swung his blade forward, aimed at Ur.

Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by slipsicle.

Phil and the girl continued wandering through the Forest of Hands in silence, the former ever-alert for whatever else might be waiting for them in the softly swaying limbs.

With Phil's attention devoted to purely external threats, he never noticed Julia's darting eyes become more deliberate in their focus.

To their right, the twitching hands were suddenly disturbed, as though something had moved through them. Phil swung his rifle towards the disturbance, and Julia gasped accordingly. He motioned for her to let go; she would only slow him down, if another fight broke out. She obeyed. Then she screamed.

Out of the forest behind her, hands shot out, wrapping themselves around her legs. They pulled, knocking her to the ground. Phil swung around just in time to see Julia, fear plastered across her face, one hand reaching out to him as she was pulled into the forest. She had just enough time to yell, "Phil!" before disappearing. Silence fell, her screams cut short, the Forest of Hands betraying nothing of what had just happened.

Phil could do nothing but stand there, impotent.


Further in the forest, a young girl pulled herself up from the ground, a pile of dead and useless hand-trees nearby. She was a good distance away from the path where she'd left Phil. As she stood, her attention seemed to be fixated on a point hidden by the hand-trees before her. She hesitated for a moment, and then she moved. It was a movement more sensed than seen; the woman transformed into a blur which weaved seamlessly through the forest, disturbing nothing, completely silent.

The blur stopped as it entered a clearing, and the girl surveyed her surroundings. Before her, an enormous door stood, closed. Its surface seemed to shift constantly, and whatever material it was made of seemed to absorb any sound in the area. She could feel the aura of silence becoming deeper and more... substantial, as she approached.

A figure sat at its base. She could not make out any of its features, as its face was a worn porcelain mask, pitted and cracked, whatever expression it once carried lost to time. She moved up to the door, and placed a single finger on its shifting surface.


She whirled, startled at the voice. An upside-down woman, hanging from seemingly nothing at all, greeted her.

"You and the others, you do not belong here. That door is not for you. We are waiting... we have waited so long, but the multiverse is... emptying. They do not come. We are few now. You, and your companions, you are not what we require. You must leave."

"We are unable." The girl's voice was different. Harsher, more confident. She now held herself differently as well. There was more strength in her posture, a body tightly coiled and prepared to fight or run, if necessary. She continued, "We have been brought here against our will by a power we do not understand. I have been searching for an escape. This door," she gestured, "appeared on my sensors; there does not appear to be anything my instruments know how to measure beyond it. It is the most promising escape method I've yet discovered." She turned her back on the woman, focusing on the door once more. "I do not know who you are. Quite honestly, I don't expect that will matter much in the long run. All I ask is you tell me where this door leads."


The girl turned again, incredulous. "... everywhere? That can't..." she turns her head slightly, brow furrowed. "... he did say 'different universe'..." She returned her focus to the hanging woman. "I suspect the... being... which has thrust us into your realm has trans-universal powers. Perhaps you will be rid of us eventually, but this being will still have access to your realm, and you will likely have to suffer additional intrusions. If you wish to avoid this outcome, you must help me. If I am interpreting 'everywhere' correctly, then-"

"You are not. You never will. You are not capable of understanding."

The girl waved a hand in frustration and turned back to the door. "I was asking permission out of a courtesy to you. I don't need help opening doors; I am plenty able on my own..."

The girl extended one hand towards the door, and a thousand invisible hammers suddenly barraged its edges.

"No! You cannot, you must be sto-"

A crack formed in the door, giving the young woman a small glimpse into the other side. The hammers stopped. The woman froze, eyes wide, mouth stretched in a rictus of pain.

"Now you suffer the consequences..." The hanging woman vanished, leaving the girl alone, unable to move or speak as her mind wrestled with impossibility after impossibility.

Yet, in the chaos brought about by her small glimpse into the infinite, she began to sense something familiar. In the slice of existence which had been illuminated for her, she saw... a cave. An explosion. A giant. A park. A small pocket universe which seemed to flow away even as she tried to concentrate on it. But there was a person in this pocket dimension which was familiar to her.

Her mouth finally moved, whispering softly, "Brother..."

Deep inside her, a quantumly-entangled communication device activated, paired with one inside the man in the bubble-universe. A link was established across the void of the multiverse, and she was brought into his mind. She saw him competing in a similar battle, organized by another (less enigmatic) being calling herself "The Cultivator". She trawled the records his complex and ancient internal machinery had recorded of the battle. With growing disappointment in her long-lost Brother, she watched him fail again and again, going so far as to lose his sanity twice to a protoplasmic blob. His opponents were barely worth consideration, so why were they beating him so soundly?

She crafted a way to finally contact him, infiltrating his current fugue-state to have a much-needed conversation with her only remaining family. She waited, as his addled consciousness worked its way towards the island of sanity she'd built inside his mind. It took the form of a room, windowless, portalless, perfectly circular. She stood in the center as he entered, and said, "Hello, Brother."

He looked confused; his mind was trapped almost one billion years in his past, still convinced he was an Emperor. She grinned at his expression of perplexity.

"You've aged, Brother. I checked the entanglement pair upon contact; yours has undergone almost one billion years' worth of additional revolutions than mine. While you've been in this... cowardly mental escape, I've had plenty of time to review your own logs. You're slipping, dear Brother."

Linked as they were, she could see his thoughts, feel the slivers of his mind wriggling free of their entrapment.

"You are old and pathetic now, Brother. Shunned by the galaxy you helped create, ridiculed as an evolutionary throwback! Though your goals of immortalizing our species were realized, without my help, you could naught but spend your days wallowing in the past. And now that you have a true challenge presented to you, now that you have a new purpose, what do you do? Lose yourself in memories! Pathetic! Useless! Here you are faced with an opportunity beyond your imagining! You could break the Cultivator's miserable little worlds with little to no effort, but what do you do instead? You talk and you socialize. These inbred, filthy characatures of humanity, and worthless aliens are beneath your attention! The Cultivator is your true target! Her power is YOURS to take, yet you make no effort towards it! Where is the man that ruled humanity for fifty thousand years? Where is the man that shaped the future of his entire species? What has become of my BROTHER!"

The anger she felt nearly burst through on the final word, her disappointment roiling beneath the surface.

She watched his mental image fall to its knees, as the eons of his steady decline were thrust upon him without warning, and the memory of his failures in his battle reminding him how he'd lost his edge.

"Yes, Brother, now you realize. You were always lost without me. Together, we were strongest."

For it was true. The two of them complimented each other; while he would always be in the spotlight, aggressive and charismatic, she worked in the shadows, in the places no one ever thought to look.

"That is why I have contacted you now, Brother. For me it has been less than an hour since my disappearance. As has been hinted, yours is not the only multi-universal battle. You see, I am in one too..."

Her brother looked up at those words. And he was now, truly, her brother. His mind had returned, and with it, his confidence, as he and his sister finally realized their new course of action.

"First, dear Sister, I must sort things out on the physical plane. Keep this line open. Deliver your report to me when I return."

"As you wish, Brother."

As he receded back into sanity, and back into his own battle, she was left alone once more in front of the cracked door. Assured that her message had gotten through, she turned, her eyes avoiding the crack, memories of that glimpse already fading as her mind deleted what it could not handle.

But now she had a way to contact her Brother. And, this battle had someone whom could benefit from that contact.

She left the clearing, once more becoming a blur, in search of the medieval tyrant Vandrel Rheinhardt.

Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

At first, it seemed Ur would take no action to stop Reinhardt's blade. Indeed, it seemed as though the goddess was entirely oblivious to the presence of the others.

Then, suddenly, she floated backwards. Reinhardt's blade struck the stairs.He swiftly recovered, and began to walk up...

And was tackled to the ground by a large creature that vaguely resembled a gorilla, which he was sure hadn't been there a second ago.

"You reckless fool!" Cole shouted, rushing forward. "We know very little about this foe, and she has been described as a goddess. Why on earth did you think it was a good idea to attack her head on?"

As Cole spoke, his hands slowly began reshaping themselves into the claws of a scorpion. As the beast sat on Reinhardt and pounded on his armor, Cole grabbed its arms in his pincers to halt its assault. Reinhardt took the opportunity to grab the ape with his gauntlets, lifting it enough to free himself. He then picked up his sword and prepared to slash at his assailant, but the beast crumbled away to nothingness before his blade even struck it.

During this time, Soft had reclaimed her book, and Ur had reached the foot of the stairs. As the book began reacting to the presence of the eons-old goddess, Soft had a vague sense that this next story would take quite a while to finish writing.

Ur groaned unintelligibly as the others turned to face her, and the weeds littering the room began to stir again.

Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

Soft had never been particularly fond of gods. They always seemed to look down on her, looking down on her 'savage ways,' sometimes even saying it right at her face. She wasn't as simple-minded as they thought. It wasn't like she was unable to understand what everybody was saying about her. But while gods could be spiteful and mean, they were also very powerful and tended to be (ugh) above the law. Soft always had to be wary around them.

She stood back now, staring at the goddess lady. Though she had no idea what the lady would be goddess of. Dirt? Why would a civilization need a goddess for dirt?

Oh no wait, Goddess of Life or something. Okay.

Not a small-name deity then. Soft was liking this less and less. She really wanted to leave the goddess alone. Make a slight against one goddess and you have the whole pantheon at your heels. But...Cole...if she let him out of her sights now, who knows how far he would fall before she caught up to him again. So not only did she have to get rid of tyrant-boy, she had to drive away a freaking life-dirt-goddess. She didn't like this one bit.

Soft kicked away some groping weeds and stepped forward, shouldering her book again. By this time, Cole and Reinhardt were pulling themselves away from the weeds and trying to simply somehow get past Ur as the only alternative escape route seemed to be through the puddle, which wasn't exactly the optimal route.

Shoving aside a goddess who was not inclined to being shoved is not an easy task. It was almost like trying to poke aside a sleeping tiger to get past it in a hallway. Except the tiger was awake and had incredible powers that tigers usually didn't have. Such as controlling plants, apparently. The weeds were practically exploding out of the cracked floor now and were really getting in the way, to put it mildly. Mostly they obscured the vision. Cole flew upwards in an attempt to get away from the growing weeds while Reinhardt employed the simple method of slicing at everything with his sword.

As Soft entered what was starting to look like a forest, she swung her axe in wide arcs around her. The two stupid boys ahead of her were shouting and squabbling and stuff or something. Reinhardt had apparently managed to reach Ur, but then had to grapple with a velociraptor that had suddenly appeared. Soft ducked around them, pulling her ankle away from some more weeds, and stopped in front of Ur. She scowled slightly at the fallen goddess as the fight continued behind her before inclining her head respectfully. "Hello, O Goddess," she said, somehow managing to hold back any sarcastic tone.

Ur stared at her.

Soft paused to think for a bit. It had been a while since she had to deal with any deities. They didn't particularly like being told what to do, so you had to sort of subtly weave what you wanted into the conversation....or make them believe it was their idea to begin with...or just outright lie to have them go somewhere else ("Zeus! There's a hot chick down somewhere in Athens!").

But first, they had to be in a listening mood, so you had to lay on the compliments and grand titles rather thickly. Make them feel important or something. "Oh....Ur, goddess of life, Almighty Creator--"

Ur hissed at that last word, causing Soft to backtrack hurriedly. "Or not. Well." Soft couldn't help but feel very very confused. This really wasn't how it usually went. This goddess was acting...not like a goddess. What if she wasn't a goddess? But the book already told her she was and books never lie...but how could this possibly be a goddess of life...? Or maybe...she used to be a goddess...but right now wasn't? Or something?

A throaty dinosaur yelp sounded behind the girl as she thought and slowly raised her axe. So...not-goddess still had goddessy powers? What did you do with not-goddesses? Were they like rabid dogs? Did you kill them to put them out of their misery...? Uh?

Ur swayed a little, looking not quite as confused as Soft was.

Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by Wojjan.

Balance strode through the hallways of the small, dingy hut he had been dropped in by the Executor, still musing over his run-in with mother. "She has changed. Why did she become the way she is now?" He paused, flipping through his course of life. "I let her down."
His murmuring was quickly called to a halt by a warping sensation passing through him. A portal, of sorts, being opened out of the rainy place he stood in. If this being is indeed a god in his pockets of universe, he thought then this will end his competition, and bring his wrath upon us. This fight must continue to prevail the order in the Executor's world.
In a blink he stood near the cellar door, watching a battle unfold between his fellow contestants. The bug man was there, the warrior, the spirit who liked to play judge and... it couldn't be... mother. He quickly rushed to her aid, blocking the strikesof Vandrel's sword with a narrow stone pillar. "Do not attempt to strike another blow. Attack mother, and you will pay with your life."
The strange contestants looked at each other in a bemused bewilderment, and the bravest of the group adressed the interfering god. "Stop the protest, she was the one who attacked us! That wretched monster-" Balance's pillar he created crashed forward from the staircase, into the warrior, knocking him onto the floor despite his tough exterior. "Mother is not a monster; she is confused as to where she is. You shall not speak ill of a god!" "Hey Mister Balancer whoever? He's right you know. Dirt-life goddess attacked us first, with a gorilla even!"
Balance turned to face Ur. "Mother... is this true?" Mother only let out a vicious cry at her title, and Balance reached an impasse. The contestants would stand no chance against to mother of all life, so in order to abide by his rules, he has to help the lot. But Ur could not be held responsible, and after all he had to take care of her in dire times. Balance grabbed his mother by the hand, at which she shrieked. "But mother, I want to bring you to safety." Ur cautiously eyed the man who called her by that one name, pulling back her hand. "Very well. I'll save the others then."
His look of fond caring faded away to give way to determination, as he swiftly propelled a blow of wind towards the group of assailants gathering by the bottom of the staircase. They all fell into the ever-growing puddle of water seeping down from the open windows above, and the entire bunch ended up in the Rainy Place. Balance followed.
Some terrible headaches circulated in the group after their brusque entrance to the other part of the current stage. Balance remained unaffected, and started following his senses. The creeping feel of a spiritual door left ajar grew much stronger as he walked through the Forest of Hands. Without much flair, he touched the ground, making the trees and leaves slowly decay. The waving hands no longer obstructed his view. Balance noticed Julia walking around in the forset, mumbling to herself or someone else. The disturbance had long since faded, and something behind the god seemed to catch the girl's eye.
Disregarding his presence, Julia skipped past him towards Rheinhardt. A wall quickly slid into place, lengthening the road towards Vandrel. "I know you're the cause of the dimensional crack. Whatever you opened is now permanently ajar. I am going to fix this before the Executor finds out and you are going to help me. I know you know more than you seem to know."

quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur.
Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by SleepingOrange.

I will finish this post later today
Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by SleepingOrange.

Ur's lips twitched several times like someone trying to force out words; her eyes narrowed slightly at the Spirit of Fairy Tales who was trying desperately to look serious and ingratiating while simultaneously stomping madly at several vines that threatened to wrap around her ankles. The goddess's face eventually returned to its usual melancholy impassiveness and she simply stared at the spirit before her. Cole and Reinhardt were finding their battle against the aggressive vegetation increasingly easy; even the latter was unable to miss the ever-more-obvious infection that wracked the weeds. As more and more of the plants withered under steel or illness, the room ceased to be an impenetrable jungle and became a comparatively-mundane basement once again. Visibility increased without the writhing plants filling the air, and gradually the three arguably-sane contestants became aware of what UR had brought with her.

The fungal growths that had been following their creator's path had continued to do so, slimy grey mold and uncountable mushrooms slithering their way across the stairs, walls, and floor. It so choked the stairwell that it would be difficult for anything human-sized to pass and was still rapidly expanding. The tendrils that advanced across the walls, floor, and ceiling were even more active than the masses of mold that were currently filling the other rooms in the house; it was no longer possible to fool oneself into believing their movements were simply a product of their growth: small hands, reminiscent of the ones reaching out of the water, were forming, as well as a multitude of sneering, mocking faces. Ur reached out a hand and caressed a particularly large mushroom, gaze still focused on the spirit and head slightly cocked; as her fingers touched the bulbous fruiting body, there was a slight rippling of the air around her hand and a feeling of mental pressure that formed in the minds of those nearby. The entire fungal growth trembled and the faces in it began moving more animatedly, each whispering dark threats and shaking laments. As the room filled with the hissing cacophony of hundreds of whispered invectives, Balance slid down the stairs and Reinhardt lunged at the goddess.

The tyrant's blade sparked as Balance's pillar deflected it. The imperious god drew himself up, his every syllable clanging with fury.
"Do not attempt to strike another blow. Attack mother, and you will pay with your life." Soft and Cole each took a step back as the fungal faces jeered at Reinhardt, but the kind stood his ground, spitting a disdainful "Stop the protest, she was the one who attacked us! That wretched monster-"

He was knocked to the floor by Balance's apoplectic retaliation. The bubbling chortles of uncountable quiet voices greeted his undignified position.
"Mother is not a monster; she is confused as to where she is. You shall not speak ill of a god!"

This was looking worse and worse for the Spirit of Fairy Tales; how was she supposed to dole out punishments for naughty children with all these gods running around imposing their will on things? The fact that dirtlady didn't seem to be completely, or even a little, sane was bad enough, but the fact that she was the other one's mother... Soft just wanted them gone. "Hey Mister Balancer whoever? He's right you know. Dirt-life goddess attacked us first, with a gorilla even!"

Balance, faced with the accusations of the group, turned forlornly to his "mother". "Mother... is this true?" With no more reply than another incandescent shriek that set the hair of the present mortals on end, he felt compelled to believe them. His brow furrowed as he pondered the implications and his next course of action; deciding he had to do his best to protect his poor addled mother from these violent competitors, he reached for her hand. Another scream pierced the air, matched by hundreds of smaller ones from the faces on the walls, and Ur's jagged nails dug into the immaculate skin of Balance's hand. "But mother, I want to bring you to safety."

The Creatrix was having none of it, however, and succeeded in pulling her hand away from her doting "son". With an expression that managed to convey both hurt sadness and bottomless affection, Balance altered his plans. He turned to the others, who had primarily been watching this spectacle in the hopes it would get rid of both gods, his face setting into the stony blankness of one who has a job to do and intends to do it.[color="sandybrown]"Very well. I'll save the others then.".[/color] With a wave of his hand, he sent a squall whistling towards the others, knocking the surprised humanoids into the grasping hands of the water. He sent one final glance back at the impassively-hovering Ur before diving into the puddle himself.

Ur watched as myriad hands dragged the others down into water that by rights should have been less than half an inch deep. There were several moments of comparative quiet as she simply hovered by the stairs, watching the rain pour in. The basement was filled with the hissing patter of rain that didn't quite manage to drown out the quiet voices muttering things like "They don't deserve to live." and "Crush it all."; when the taciturn goddess moved again, it was simply to splay her fingers and raise her hands above her head, then ball her hands into fists again.

Globs of fungus began dripping and oozing off the walls, their threats and wheedling turning into wicked cackles and wordless chittering. That mold that did detach from the walls began pulling itself into larger piles as well as snatching handfuls of festering black from the parts that hadn't detached. In less than a minute, about a dozen of near-man-sized columns of free-roaming fungus stood in the basement, each with no less than five gibbering faces and possessed of dozens of arms. Ur, hands still above her head, jutted her chin at the largest puddle; their laughter rising in volume, the mold creatures slid towards the grasping watery hands, eagerly diving into the portal. Despite having no clear means of locomotion, the pillars of decay moved unnervingly quickly; it was only moments before they had all disappeared, leaving only trails of slime and rapidly-growing mushrooms in their place.

Once she was alone again, save for those whispering faces that still lined the walls, Ur slowly lowered her arms, hands shaking like someone trying to shift an enormous weight. There was no immediately-apparent result save for a deep groaning sound from far above her. With her hands held at chest height, white-knuckled fists still clenched furiously, she began to slowly hover towards the puddles herself. The mold that covered the walls was less active than it had been, or at least would have appeared so to most observes; in truth, however, it and the fungus that had been filling the rest of the house was growing more inward than outward, impossibly-heightened growth rates and metabolisms digesting wood, plaster, and stone. Once she reached the edge of the water, the hands from the puddle tugging at the hem of her dress and her feet, she jerked her hands to her side and finally unballed her fists. There was a loud crack, followed by several more, each louder than the one before it.

From the outside of the house, if one could see through the driving rain, one would have seen nothing out of the ordinary save some blackish mildew around the edges of the front doorframe. The loud sounds of destruction from within would have been disconcerting, especially with no obvious source; however, the idyllic image would remain so for only moments more. After only ten seconds of loud snapping, the sounds abruptly stopped, at least briefly. The entire house shuddered, and a sodden black tendril, thick as a treetrunk and several meters long, crashed out of one wall. Several more joined it, sending splinters flying through the air and cracks along the sides of the house, until the little home resembled some sort of parody of an octopus or spider or similar baleful multilegged creature. The tendrils slammed into the ground and began twisting the entire building on its foundations; construction materials not designed to withstand even an earthquake stood no chance, and before the mind truly had time to absorb the enormity of what was happening, the near-ruined structure was lifted off the ground. A cacophony accompanied the house's ascent, and the entire structure continued crumbling even as it lifted itself onto its new feet. From every crack and hole protruded slimy masses of fungus, and at every window and doorway there was an enormous, furious eye.

Ur watched from the now-roofless basement, driving rain pounding into her unblinking eyes. The mold-house-creature let out a warbling roar and slammed one of its fungal arms into the road, sending cracks lancing across it and asphalt flying. The goddess turned in place to follow her creations progress as it trundled towards another house; as it crashed into the building, tendrils flaying the walls and innumerable mouths filling the air with inhuman shrieks, the first thing that could be loosely described as a smile hovered briefly around Ur's lips. Now facing directly away from the puddle that was still actively trying to pull her in, she idly watched the destruction of the unlucky house, several lampposts, and every tree within flailing distance. Apparently satisfied as she watched the monster move on to its next victim, she fell backwards into the puddle, unmoving and silent as hands wrapped around her and pulled her under.

Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by Pick Yer Poison.


Phil stood still for several moments, unable to decide how to react to Julia's sudden kidnapping. He made to take a step forward, but after taking another look at the now-still forest of hands, stopped himself. After all, they had looked that way right before they had reached out and abducted Julia, too. He backed away from them slowly and remained in the center of the path, taking a few minutes to consider his options. Charging in after Julia is, unfortunately, not an option. Dove is in his element in that forest; trying to fight him in there would be about the stupidest damn thing I could do right now. Phil hesitated, then shrugged and continued walking. Julia's going to have to defend for herself for a while. She may have been nice, but I'm not going to run after her like some suicidal moron.

As he strode down the path, Phil found himself gripping his gun tightly and glancing from side to side at the innocently waving stalks. He quickened his pace, but as far as the eye could see, there were still more of them. I wonder if they go on forever. He got his answer as he walked over the top of a hill and saw a large clearing a ways ahead, with several figures standing in it. He squinted, and although they were too far away to clearly make out, he felt sure they were the other contestants.

Laying down on his chest, Phil lifted his weapon up to his eye, switching it to a sniper rifle. He gazed into the scope and scanned the line of contestants. Balance, Cole, Rheinhardt...was that Julia? How is that possible? I just witnessed her being abducted by those hand trees less than ten minutes ago! Why would Dove take her only to let her go right away? He shifted his scope around again, looking at all the contestants. It looks like there's only one missing now...Ur, was it? He was about to begin the walk towards his fellow contestants and ask Julia some very awkward questions when something else in his scope's sights caught his eye.

Before his eyes, a pillar of what appeared to be some sort of fungus materialized behind the contestants, followed by several more, until nearly a dozen were advancing on the contestants, all of whom seemed unaware of their presence, and were either looking around in the other direction or rubbing their temples. Phil grinned beneath his helmet. Looks like my job just got a whole lot easier. He leveled the scope of his rifle with Balance's head, taking careful aim at the god, who was looking around casually.

[Image: zjQ0y.gif][Image: vcGGy.gif]
Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by Captain Lhurgoyf.

Reinhardt spat on the ground in anger, cursing the disappearance of his prey. To the tyrant, there was only one race of intelligent life - man. All others were but animals, no more a person than a cow or a boar. Compared to the perfection of mankind, they were nothing. Reinhardt had no concerns about his treatment of them in his kingdom - after all, in his mind, there was no difference between slaughtering pigs for their meat and capturing nonhumans to be tortured and executed. His views of nonhumans as animals went so far as to treat them as game, enjoying the smoked flesh of elf children at his banquets amongst other nobles. And this creature, Ur, was clearly nonhuman, a filthy mockery of life. That this other being claimed it as its "mother" only cemented with Reinhardt that he would have to kill them both for opposing him. For this same reason, hatred began to brew in Reinhardt's head for Cole, who he had so earlier claimed his ally. What right did he have to call Lord Reinhardt a fool? The tyrant did not like being talked down to.

No less, he had better matters to attend to, and the object of his agressions was gone. Turning with a dismissive swirl of his cape, Reinhardt turned to the girl who had beckoned for him.

"Come," he said in a low, commanding voice, "show me what it is you want. But any signs of opposition..." Reinhardt raised his arm, pointing his sword threateningly at the girl's neck "...and it's your head. Understand?"

Reinhardt was always one to assert authority. Silently, he turned and followed Julia, hoping that this excursion would be of use to his means.

Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by Wojjan.

quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur.
Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by slipsicle.

Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by Captain Lhurgoyf.

Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by slipsicle.

The girl navigated the trembling hand-trees with superfluous ease, practically flying through the dense and unpredictable obstacle course. Her destination was unclear; she was not moving in anything resembling a straight line. It was as if she were navigating through an invisible maze...

Deep inside her mind, an indicator made its presence known. Someone was trying to contact her; this time, however, carrying the signature of her brother. She pulled up the standard circular, enclosed room in her secondary vision. Hoss was already waiting.

"I've dealt with things on my end. The Cultivator has yet made no move, but I've made it clear I'm not playing her silly little game. Report."

"There is a contestant in my battle I think you should meet. His name is Vandrel Reinhardt, and he shares your philosophies and past, to an extent. He's a tyrant, a usurper, and apparently ruled his kingdom with an iron fist. From what little I've been able to observe of his interactions, he is also explicitly pro-human. To what extent I am uncertain, but his reputation as a tactician was enough to warrant a comment from my battle's... organizer. He will be a valuable asset."

As the girl had been talking, Hoss began to pace. He nodded as she finished.

"Good. Make contact. I would like to speak with him."

"I am already on my way."

"Excellent. I should get back to things on my end, if there's nothing else."

The girl hesitated, a slight inhale of breath betraying her uncertainty.

"Actually... there is."

Hoss raised an eyebrow.


"Earlier, I was contacted on this line by another... person. I have the message stored."

The two turned to face one side of the circular room, which suddenly contained a screen, showing, at first, nothing. Then a voice,
"-ntum thingy to maybe get out of here, if I can just... No, what- Gah. Cursed technology."

A face then came into view, a rather worn-looking man with Old-Earth tinted sunglasses; "Aviators", the two observers remember. The girl's voice came from the screen, saying, "You're connected. I can see you."

"Oh, good. Listen, I'm Officer Arnold Scarlet, Seattle PD, and I am currently a captive of a being calling itself the Controller. He-"

"Let me guess, he's forcing you and a group of others to fight to the death."

The man shook his head.
"I only wish. He started off like that, but early on, he took me out of the battle and tortured me as an example to the others. Since then, I've been stuck in this place.

"Sounds horrible." Her false empathy was almost believable. "How did you contact me?"

"He went off to take care of some 'opportunity' that came up and left me here alone. One of his computers lit up and said something about an 'interaction between tagged dimensions' and 'threaded entanglement,' and I though it might be a chance to get out of here."

"Unfortunately, no."

"Shame, I-" He stopped, appearing to notice something, and the image vanished abruptly.

Hoss cocked his head slightly. "Interesting... and I don't just mean the terribly pedantic naming conventions of these multiversal thrill-seekers. 'The Controller', 'The Cultivator', 'The Executor'. Terrible." He turned to his sister, "Did you notice anything off?"

She considered briefly before answering, "... yes, I did. I can't quite place my finger on it, but... why would someone who's being tortured be wearing stylish accessories like those sunglasses?"

Hoss turned back to where the screen had been.
"My thoughts exactly. Still, whoever he is, he apparently has the capability to intercept and force open our line of communication. If he contacts you again, bring him into the fold. We'd best keep him close."

"Understood. I-"

Abruptly, the girl stopped, staring off into space. "Pardon, there has been a development." She vanished from the room. Shortly afterwards, Hoss did as well.

Back in the Forest of Hands, though now with less Forest and less Hands, the girl found herself face-to-face with a god.

She could see her target, Lord Reinhardt, behind him, but a wall slide into place, blocking her path and forcing a confrontation. Balance spoke.

"I know you're the cause of the dimensional crack. Whatever you opened is now permanently ajar. I am going to fix this before the Executor finds out and you are going to help me. I know you know more than you seem to know."

Inwardly the girl cursed. Lying to a god seemed like a quick ticket to death. She would have to find some other way...

The girl cocked her head, seeming confused.

"The WMD's of Iraq."

"... what?"

"Odysseus has slipped through the gates of Troy!"

Balance could sense no deception in the girl. She was telling him the truth, but... what truth? "Stop speaking nonsen-"

"Never gonna give you up!"

Balance was, at this point, thoroughly confused, as the girl gave him a winning smile.

"Commander Shephard cannot be stopped~" she trilled, glancing to her left, where a distant suited figure stood, watching. Balance looked, recognizing Phil. He looked back to the girl, who had no visible armaments, and considered. He had no idea what she was talking about, but the soldier was closer to the door than she was, and had considerably more powerful weaponry...

As he was thinking, he realized the girl was no longer in front of him. He looked around, and, finding nothing, lowered the wall. There she was, talking to Vandrel Reinhardt. He began to move forward, when a pillar of fungus slammed through the slightly disoriented group. He lost sight of the girl and the tyrant, as he was forced to confront his senile mother's god-tantrum.

Seconds earlier...

Vaulting the wall took no effort. Her internal Higgs Field manipulator lowered her relative mass to next to nothing, allowing near-instant acceleration and a high degree of control over her movements. Within less than a second, she was facing her goal, and he was facing her.

"Come, show me what you want. But any signs of opposition..." the tyrant pointed his sword at her neck, "... and it's your head. Understood?"

The girl bowed slightly, acknowledging the man's authority. She gestured, and the two began to move away from the group; however, as the reckless fungus burst through the portal that had brought them here, she grabbed his arm and he suddenly felt... very odd. Very light, but mostly very odd. And they were suddenly moving, faster than he'd ever seen anyone move, even the mages...

His eyes narrowed. Magic. It had to be. This normal-looking girl must be a filthy magic-user. He had no choice but to exterminate her-

They stopped, now out of view from the others. She let go and turned towards him, putting up a placating hand to stop his sword.

"Please, that is unnecessary."

"You are a mage, a filthy sub-human. You must be exterminated."

The girl shook her head. "I do not use magic. Where I come from, magic does not exist. It will be explained. First, though, there is someone I would like you to meet."


The girl suddenly had a finger placed on his forehead, and he found himself in a circular room, completely enclosed. On one side was the girl. On the other was a man with solid silver eyes, wearing a black overcoat and generally dressed entirely too warm for the occasion.

The man smiled.
"Hello, Vandrel Reinhardt. You may call me the Hand of Silver. We have a few things in common, and I think you'll be interested in what I have to say."
Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Cole stood up, trying to find his bearings. He did not know how the water had pulled him into this strange forest, but it mattered little. He could not see Reinhardt anywhere nearby.

As he was still gathering his wits, the Spirit of Fairy Tales walked up to him.

"Excellent! A forest is the perfect place to start. You entered this forest full of hubris, looking down upon others. But once you leave it, you will have changed, hopefully. Time to get to work."

Cole simply stared at her with compound eyes. Finally, he responded.

"You are completely insane."

"Look, this is very simple. I think we'll go through the woods, you'll meet some animals and learn valuable lessons from them... or get eaten by them if you don't. It happens all the time. Now, let's get started, there's no time to waste."

Cole stared at the strange treelike hands that filled the area.

"Leaving aside the complete absurdity of that plan, this forest does not look like it will have any animals at all."

"Oh, well, that's not the only way. You could be captured by a witch and rescued by a woodcutter. Look, the details don't matter, the important point is that this is where you'll become a better person. Or die. Now, follow me or I'll have to punish you." The Spirit pointed her axe towards Cole to drive home the point, then began walking away.

Cole sighed. This was completely ridiculous, but if he went along with it for now, the Spirit wouldn't attack. She might even help him if it appeared that one of their opponents were interfering with her desired story. Reluctantly, he followed her through the forest of hands.

Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by Captain Lhurgoyf.

Reinhardt, appearing as a dignified gentleman despite his hottific actions, greeted his newfound ally with respect. Sinking to his knee and stabbing his sword in the floor, the armoured man cordially bowed to this new introduction.

"Greetings, Sir Hand of Silver," he said, keeping his voice calm and unthreatening. "Tell me what it is you have to say."

Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

While Soft was rather content that something was finally going well and on a fairly predictable path, Cole walked carefully. A forest of hands wasn't exactly an environment he liked to be in. The hands, being hands, looked as though they would grab him and drag him into the ground. The fact that they didn't quite yet just made him more worried.

There was also what appeared to be a tower of fungi in the distance. It writhed slightly as he watched and seemed to be trying to move in a certain direction. But it also seemed to be slouching. Or maybe...melting? No, uh...what was the word for it...? In any case, it was disappearing over the treeline. Or the handline.

"Hurry up," Soft called from ahead, swinging her axe in that leisurely fashion once more. The hands shied away from the blade but she appeared to take no notice. "Slowpokes get caught by bears, bug boy."

"You could call me by my name," Cole snapped back, though he did speed up slightly.

Without even turning around, Soft replied, "Names should mean what they are, and since you're a bug boy, I'm calling you bug boy."

Frustratingly insane logic as usual. Cole looked back where they came from. Maybe it was just him, but it seemed as though the hands had obscured the path from view. So there was no backing out anyways...

He almost ran right into Soft, who had just stopped randomly, tapping her axe on her shoulder pensively.

"What is it?"

"Hmm," was her only reply as she prodded the ground. Looking down with her, Cole could see some very fresh footprints.

"Probably belongs to another contestant," he said. "But you're probably going to ignore that and say--"

"We'll follow these footprints," Soft interrupted. As usual, she employed the 'I know about these things more than you do so you should shut up and follow me' tone.

Bugs, unfortunately, can't really roll their eyes. If Cole were able to, he would have. He settled for a beleagered sigh. "And who do you think these footprints belong to, then?"

Soft started walking again at a faster pace. "An old witch disguised as an old lady."

"Isn't that what old witches are?" Soft ignored him.

"She will pretend to be weak and ask you for something and in your pride, you will refuse, and then she'll reveal herself to you and curse you and that will start your journey to being a better person. Or death."

"I'm already cursed."

Soft paused for a moment, embarrassed that she had somehow gotten her stories confused but not willing to show it. She almost 'er'ed but stopped herself. "'s...the first test to becomming a better person. There are always three, you know. And this"

Cole waited as Soft struggled to shuffle through the many stories in her mind, trying to figure out what sort of test would come first. "A...woodcutter, or a wandering lost girl...or something," she finished lamely. "And it's the first test, so you'll probably not do the right thing at first."

Cole made some sort of snorting sound. "Are these people disguised witches as well?"

"Look," Soft angrily shot back, finally turning around. "They might be predictable, but they're very important--"

One of the hands grabbed her leg and pulled her to the ground.

The forest suddenly stopped waving aimlessly in the non-existant wind. They bowed forward at the two with focused malice. Behind the curtain of the forest, Cole could make out a figure. He was pretty sure he knew who it was.

Beside him, Soft lopped off a grasping hand and hissed angrily when more grabbed her arms and went for her neck.

Re: The Great Belligerency [Round 1: The Rainy Place]
Originally posted on MSPA by Captain Lhurgoyf.

Reinhardt gazed fondly as the room he had once sat in faded into nothingness, the familiar forests of the Rainy Place returning to his sight. Lifting his head to smell the air, the musky tinge of fallen rain lingering in the breeze that blew past here, the armoured man took in his surroundings, accustoming himself to a sort of transition he had not felt since he first arrived here. He then turned his head to the young girl standing by his side and smiled.

"I am pleased to meet your brother," he began, sheathing his sword and bowing slightly with his cape turned to the side in a display of respect that seemed contrary to the atrocities of his past. "I can see that my grand empire of humanity is spreading to like-minded ones, ones who have themselves been awakened to the truth of the natural dominance of humanity over nonhuman worms. I can see ourselves making a powerful alliance, the firm grasp of humanity tightening over this vast multiverse." Bowing slightly, so that Reinhardt's lofty height appeared less threatening to the girl, the tyrant extended a glove hand. Tenatively but firmly, the girl took it and shook.

"Now," began Reinhardt, "we shall get to work on spreading these words of truth. Know you any others we could speak with?" he asked the girl, in the low, commanding voice that, in his homeland, had brought connotations of power and authority amongst his human subjects and terror to the elves, dwarves, halflings, orcs, and mages unlucky enough to have the tyrant himself come to the dungeons to oversee their torture and execution. To hear Vandrel Reinhardt's voice lower to a growl of displeasure meant already grave news to those he deemed worthy, and an impending disembowelment - or worse - to those he did not.

Reinhardt stopped to think to himself, his mind wandering to some of the things that this Hand of Silver had told him. Though in Reinhardt's world, the height of technology included such things as trebuchets and cannon and the telescope, this other man reported that he came from a dimension in which even those were considered ancient and outdated. What potential, then, would such inventions have in Reinhardt's cause? If he could obtain the secrets of such technology and return to his world with such knowledge, he could command the alchemists and scholars holding what he had a day earlier considered the absolute height of knowledge to work on recreating such things - generating matter, transporting people instantly to other lands, projecting images of oneself, even ways to travel to the heavens themselves and reach entire worlds never before thought of - his kingdom would undergo an absolute revolution. While he had in his world seen such things as perverse attempts to give up one's natural humanity and turn to using magic, in other worlds such things were done through perfectly ordinary means that still preserved the one quality that was true to him - human strength and ingenuity. Reinhardt smiled to himself with hideous pleasure as he considered the possibilites. He then turned his head once more to the girl.

"One other thing. This technology of your world - how does it work?"