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The Chosen [IC / Not Accepting / PG-16]

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Ryia's discomfort didn't fade even as she was talking with her fellow Chosen. The stares of the elves from behind were certainly intense and she had the sensation that they were likely to keep true to their word were the group to take one more step forward towards the city. And so, she was all the more relieved when they finally started making their way away from the city walls. Though this didn't stop her from quickly turning and giving a bow to the elves as they left saying, "uh, um, thanks for the...help...your time...uh..." Awkwardly, the girl righted herself before joining back with the others.

 Though she wasn't one to make angry outbursts, she found a strange sense of comfort in Madelyn returning to her annoyed, boisterous self. Of course her smile was still somewhat uncomfortable as it wasn't as though the girl was giving good news or anything. "Well, uh, it sounds pretty um, dangerous anyway. So maybe, uh, maybe it all works out?" 

"Oh, yes, helping with something dangerous that makes it much better." she replied, with a grumble.

Letting out a nervous chuckle, not entirely sure how to respond to the Light Mage's frustrations, the girl said, "ah ha, y-yeah, I guess uh, I guess not." 

Once they met back up with Damien, though, they explained to him everything that had happened. She wasn't usually one to parse much from someone's facial expressions, but as they were talking about finding the wolves it occurred to her that perhaps it was for the best that they went after the traitor. After all, she figured that Damien had something of a soft spot for animals, so she figured he probably wouldn't enjoy having to kill a pack of wolves no matter how dangerous they may have been to the elves. Unfortunately he didn't have much of an idea on where to go either and so the group was stuck with little in way of leads as to where to go.

As Keres was thinking aloud and then turned her attention to everyone else, Ryia thought about it herself. She hadn't the faintest idea about actually tracking others - that had never been her specialty - and even less so when it came to a veritable needle in a haystack. But, as she thought on it more she inquired, "well, um, I don't know where they might be but...hmm...The captain um, said that it would bring great destruction, to the uh, forest. So maybe it, um, can only be used here?" Spit balling ideas she added, "maybe it uh, starts like, a big fire or, um, something? So maybe it's somewhere that's uh easy - er," the girl looked around at all the tree before adding, "easier? Sorry, I um, I don't know."

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With bows no longer trained on the group, Reinaan had something of an easier time relaxing. It wasn't complete of course because of the nagging irritation of how ultimately unhelpful the elves had been. With no real clarification on either task, they may as well have said the group would never be allowed within the city. Most of the group seemed more keen on finding the traitor too which only sounded harder than the wolf pack in the hunter's mind. But he couldn't argue the point that something that could bring ruin to the forest was best checked in on. Exasperations and opinions expressed and the group now reunited with Damien, the question turned to where to go when they had so little to go off. Ryia's idea that to destroy the forest it had to be in the forest gave him something of an idea. Though if he could be much more concrete with it than she had been he wasn't yet sure.

"This probably wont line up very cleanly. But I know for my people whatever kinda artifacts we have only really get used at sacred sites. Not that we really built structures, it was just specific magma chutes. But I know other peoples like to build places for this stuff and the elves don't seem too much different. Well I guess are there sacred sites or places they'd do ceremonies around here? Not that the person would be hiding there but they might be trying to get there." Reinaan managed to say without tripping over his ideas.

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After waiting for Ryia, and then to Reinaan speak their piece, Lindow turned to Damien. "I know this might be hard, but we're gonna need you to put yourself in this guy's boots for second here." He jested before taking a more serious tone. Their logic was sound. The group's mark would likely be found near some kind of elven structure, if not because the artifact required them to be there, then fact that it would be rather difficult to survive this forest alone and with a captive without shelter. "I'm sure our guy is held up somewhere relatively secure if he's lugging along captive. But the Elves would have already checked any locations that were specific to whatever trinket he stole..." Lindow paused for a moment, noticing that he felt a tinge of excitement beginning welling up in his gut. Despite denouncing his former occupation, it seemed his tail still begun to wag at the stirring of a manhunt. 

"Ordinarily I'd say that the best place to hide would be under the Elves's noses, but looking down them seems to be their specialty." His heart wasn't really in the joke. "They can senses what's going on in the woods with some kind of magic, right?" His gaze shifted towards the more magically inclined members of the party before turning his attention back Damien. "Clearly it's not full proof though. Are there any blindspots in their network? Places normal folk wouldn't go looking." 

Edited by Hollow

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Keres considered what they all had to say. Through it all there was something that bothered her. She waited on it though as she didn't want to interrupt the train of thought and discussion going on.

Instead she looked to Damien. She was surprised she, and no one else, had thought to ask him anything directly until now. But when he was asked he didn't reply at first. He seemed distant, gazing off into the distance with his mind elsewhere.

Finally he turned to look at Lindow and gave him a smile. "Oh? Well, it's not exactly like that. The forest is huge, they can send out, let's say, feelers to look for disturbances and send their scouts out...though, they used to be more widespread. That said yeah there are a few places they'd avoid if they could but...I can't imagine if they're this desperate they hadn't gotten over it."

This was where Keres finally spoke up. "They might not...be settled in one place. Otherwise someone would have found where they were by now...probably." her voice, and confidence, trailed off near the end. She wasn't sure if it had been a good time to speak up, and, while she didn't look nervous, her eyes moved from person to person to see if any seemed annoyed.

Madelyn let out an exaggerated sigh. She had been pouting and seemed to not want to join in on the discussion but finally, with a wave of her hand, she said "If they want to use the artifact like some of you think, and don't want to be found, then it would have to be somewhere with enough magic energy to cover it up."

Damien chuckled at this. "Oh, there's quite a few of those. I suppose if they keep moving around like Keres said they might be able to keep hidden that way. Dunno how they get between em without being caught but...yeah, I can think of some spots. Nearby...there was a shrine that fell into ruin after an attack years ago. Was where their first leader was entombed. He's not anymore but it still has some lingering protection. There's a small lake off that way that was used as a sorta...wishing well, people would toss small magic trinkets for good luck, but it was banned when the magic energy began to change the area around it. And then there's the Dinosaur Graveyard. Where a bunch of those lizards go to die when they get old. No idea why they all gather there but their bodies seemed to absorb some magic after all their years in the forest." He smirked, though there wasn't much levity in his smile lately, "and those are only the closest ones. Seems you got us on quite the hunt."

During all this Keres had a question she wanted to ask. One that she was nervous to put out there. How was it Damien, a human, knew so much about these things anyway?

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Putting a hand to her chin, Ryia tried to think more about the situation they were in and how to find the wayward traitor. Reinaan had thought there would be sites for it, and from what she saw in Sol that proved true even there. Lindow meanwhile was curious about what they were doing to evade the elves' gaze. Ryia wasn't quite adept in either tracking or magic so she didn't have much to offer there either. Both Damien and Keres then laid out a possible explanation for why it was likely hard to find the traitor but it didn't exactly help narrow down their search either. If anything it just made the forest seem all the larger and harder to search through. 

Thankfully both Madelyn and Damien had made some suggestions to try and help narrow down where they were supposed to look. A shrine where they had previously entombed the first elven Lord, a lake full of magic trinkets, and a graveyard of the lizard creatures - dinosaurs - they had fought before. The girl tried to think hard about it to try and figure out which of the three they were likely to be at, or wanted to be at most. The shrine had certainly lined up with what Reinaan had said, but from Damien's description it didn't sound like there was all that magic there to begin with. So, if she were trying to hone in on that, the lake and the dinosaur graveyard sounded more plausible. And to Keres's point, they seemed easier to make pit stops in and leave at a moments notice as opposed to the shrine. After thinking about it some more Ryia finally voiced her opinion. 

"Well, um, if it's a lot of magic that we're uh, looking for then the lake sounds good. Right? It's got like a lot, and sounds like it'd make the forest uh, worse or something, if even more magic was used there. I'm not really sure how all of these things work but, uh, yeah?" Not entirely confident in her guess, Ryia had stuck with it all the same as she wanted no part in an area filled with the corpses of those beasts they had fought earlier. Not only did that just sound intimidating, she felt the less she knew what a full grown dinosaur looked like the better off she was. 

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Upon making their choice Damien would lead the group towards the lake that they had decided would be the best bet to search first. Even before reaching the location they could tell they were in the right spot. For a couple minutes prior to seeing the lake they would be walking through trees unlike any other in the forest. They were strangely narrow, the trunks curved in unusual spots, and most distinctly they all were glowing with various colored lights.

The lake itself was fairly sizeable, despite having been described as small, and looked to be glittering. It at first seemed to be a perfectly normal lake but then several spouts of water would rise up in a few places, form an arch, then sink back down. Almost as though something was leaping from the water and back into it and dragging water as it went. Strewn across the clearing between the lake and the trees were what at first seemed to be piles of grass formed into round clumps but, upon second look, resembled huts as each of them had a hole for an entrance on them. These grass huts, on third look, and every look after, would change color intermittently.

"Yeah, this place certainly seems to be full of magic." Madelyn said. "But...is there anyone actually around?"

Keres for one wouldn't give an answer. She seemed far more intent on the ground near the lake. Where she could see dozens of foot tall mushrooms that seemed to be moving. Spinning as they glided across the ground, bits of particles coming off them as they moved.

Damien couldn't help but laugh at the scene. "Okay, not what I expected. So, what do you think? Anyone know what we're looking for here?"

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Having used most of his mental faculties to produce the ceremonial site suggestion, Reinaan was relieved that the others in the group had additional ideas to add to the mix. Damien of all people ended up the most insightful for the situation. It was almost strange to hear him speak so much at once but the draken was more focused on the potential places to investigate to ask how the man knew this much about elven territory. A shrine and former tomb, a lake with changing magical energy, and a Dinosaur Graveyard were discussed in succession. For the fiery hunter, the idea of the graveyard was a strong pull. But much like the idea of chasing the wolf pack, Reinaan yielded to a more logical approach. Changing magical energy certainly sounded like something someone who stole a relic could exploit, or even just be the Demon Gate itself. With the lake decided, the boy readied his things to leave.

The trip to the lake was more of the same grass, bushes and trees as far as the eye could see that the group had been confronted with since setting foot in this land. What caught Reinaan's attention was the shift in the fauna as they approached the lake. The trees had become thinner and began emitting various colors of light. If he didn't know the forest was potentially dangerous he would have been caught up in the moment simply staring. But the draken remained vigilant in his watch as the group progressed. Now a clearing and the lake itself presented themselves and the strangeness of the area only continued. Small huts covered in color changing grass, random spouts on the water's surface, moving mushrooms; none of this seemed natural. So naturally the changing magical energy had to be the cause which Madelyn soon confirmed. Damien could only laugh while Reinaan for his part was more confused than anything.

"Doesn't magic normally have a purpose?" Reinaan tried to ask Ziiyol who had materialized at his side. But the fire spirit for her part was rambling to herself about the potential for the colors of fire she could make by burning things here. A bit of a lost cause there. But the boy was sure to remind her not to set anything on fire given the more explosive nature of some of her spells. For his part the draken wanted to investigate the small huts. There would be a lot to search through but that just made them the ideal hiding spots surely. Leaving Kloqah and Ziiyol to their respective business idling, the Fire Chosen readied his halberd and made his way over to the nearest grass hut. The openings were small as were the huts themselves. Not so small that a person couldn't use them as shelter. But they were small enough that Reinaan, still not fully grasping how much taller he'd gotten on this journey, didn't think it wise to try and step all the way in. His head would do for now to see what was inside. This first hut held something of a surprise. A two foot long fish partially obscured by moss was just lying there. It moved its head up in response to the draken's head and spat a stream of water at the boy's face.

"What the-" Reinaan shouted before the water garbled his speech into nonsense. The shock of it all had him back up from the entrance and falling back onto the ground behind him. while not entirely mud, it was still enough to dirty his back side generally and it served as a reminder he needed to polish his scales again if they were ever allowed into the elven city. But the draken wasn't going to take this sitting down. With a huff Reinaan returned to the fish's hiding hole and this time thrust his halberd in, piercing the thing's side. Vengeance and dinner, quite the combo. The fish wriggled on the end of his weapon for a time as it died and Reinaan returned it to Kloqah's back to prepare later. Or just eat raw, it all depended on how mad he was still feeling.

Still, this was not enough to discourage his search, but the hunter's halberd led most of the inquiries going forward. The other huts Reinaan checked did not contain rude fish he had to murder but they did contain other things. One had the cores of apples in them, not that the carnivore knew the name of the fruit he simply recognized it as a fruit. Quelling his gag reflex he reached in and touched one of the cores and pulled it out of the hut to examine it. The bite marks on it didn't look normal. But normal to Reinaan was predator-style pointed fangs and the like. These more matched the flatter teeth he'd seen in humans, halflings, and presumably elves as well. They seemed a few days old which was definitely something to go off. Another hut had bones in it, clean of meat but not themselves eaten like a predator would. Someone had been cooking something, maybe a rabbit. Again several days old at least. With these two discoveries, Reinaan shifted his attention to the ground around the huts. Ignoring any footprints he himself had made, he did notice impressions that could have matched a shoe. Of course there were animal footprints as well, and it looked like something had been dragged over the ground from the way certain prints were blurred and obscured.

"Dammit, not fresh enough." He muttered upon concluding someone had definitely been here some days ago, but he couldn't speak to where they were now. Still it was worth reporting. "Someone was here a couple days ago!" Reinaan shouted back to the others caught up in their own investigations or discussion. "No clue where they went but they stayed here for a bit."

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Though Ryia was aware that magic could affect the forest she hadn't been expecting the degree or manner in which it had already done so. She couldn't help but feel like she had stepped into some kind of old folk story of a realm of pure magic and whimsical creatures with how oddly shaped and bent the trees were and how the colors shifted all around where they were. The forest itself seemed to be alive at that, with the spinning mushrooms and the arcs of water coming out from the water seemingly on their own. Taken aback by the whole wondrous sight of it, the girl stood still for a moment as Reinaan had begun his own investigation. 

Ryia didn't have much of an idea as to what would be considered strange or out of place in an area already so foreign as this, so she decided to go to the biggest point of interest. The lake. Walking over to the edge, the girl looked down into the water, noting that it the surface of it was incredibly clear and could see deeper into the bottom. But that was where the clarity ended. The bottom of the lake had an everchanging cloud of colors formed that she couldn't make much sense of. And further away from them, the girl had also noticed some kind of dark patch in the water as well as more water arcing off the surface. 

Without much knowledge to go on, Ryia turned to the people she believed to be the two more learned individuals and asked, "would, um, well, either of you know what's up with uh, that?" She gestured to the body of water.

Madelyn refused to get too close to the water, though when she squinted at where Ryia gestured she waved her off. "Those clouds are just excess magic."

Keres added, having gotten closer, about the dark spot "It's something large."

"Do uh, you think it's dangerous?" She'll ask Keres.

Keres shrugged. Then, a moment later, said "Sorry..."

"Oh, no, there's nothing to be sorry about or anything. I uh, I don't really know where to start with it but...hmmm...maybe..." Ryia didn't really know what to make of the dark spot. It could've been a creature of some kind. It could've been some kind of amalgam of magic quite like cloud below, but dark instead of rainbowy. It could even be some kind of large object that was just hiding beneath the water. She wanted to figure out what it was but, jumping into the water to go directly to it seemed like a terrible idea to her. Next, she had the thought of having Keres pull it closer to them via magic, but given how the forest already was with magic she didn't want to warp the area any more then it already had been. And she didn't know if there would be any other consequences of it as well. So it finally brought her to her final idea. The girl pulled out her bow, and drew an arrow. Worried about whether the elves would mind an arrow littering this lake or not, the girl said, "I uh, I hope they don't mind this," and shot the arrow towards the dark spot. 

Her arrow sank into the water, and whether she actually hit her mark or not was unclear to her. What was clear, however, was that she had certainly gotten its attention. "Oh..." The girl said as the dark spot began moving towards the shore, and realizing she hadn't actually thought that far ahead in her plan. Thinking that it would be dangerou to stay, and worried about the water itself at that, Ryia looked to the others saying, "we should uh, probably back away now." 

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Lindow stared blankly at the cluster of mushrooms as they twirled about across the ground near the lake. Hearing the rest of the chosen ignore Damien's question he called back to the man whilst taking a few steps towards the dancing fungus to investigate. "May as well poke around everywhere since we don't have any leads..." His tone was dry and uninterested.

The mushrooms persisted spinning, even when he got in close. Lindow's brow furrowed in fascination as he quickly scooped one up to see what was underneath. "Huh," He was half expecting to find feet underneath. "boring..." Alas, he was met with nothing particularly unusual aside the fact the mushroom still seemed to moving even off the ground, spreading more and more of the strange powder each time the fungus squirmed in his grasp. It spread much fast than Lindow had anticipated, and before long he broke into a coughing fit, tossing the mushroom into the lake as he covered his mouth and nose far too late. 

Now it was him that was spinning. Or it least thats how it felt. Taken aback by just how quick this sudden sense of dizziness set it in, Lindow hastily stumbled to his feet only to double over gripping his knees. Great. Of course the dancing mushrooms would dabble in poison. "Ok." He groaned through gritted teeth as he tried to orient himself with the world still slowly spinning around him. "Slightly less bored now..." However, despite mean case of the spins, Lindow couldn't help but notice that his body felt oddly lighter than before. 

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How long had it been down here? It didn't remember. It was once small. Just a little thing that had to escape from predators that were attempting to eat it. Then it found this place. It was shining, shimmering, and it had to find out what this strange feeling coming from it was.

Hours, days, years? They passed by and the strange feeling only grew. And with it so did they. Until they became what they were now. All those shiny things now belonged to it. And no predator would dare to take them from it.

And yet now there was something up there. Something come here to disturb it. To take its things?

So the thing moved. Slowly crossing the floor of the lake and going up, up, up until it finally breached the surface.

---

As the dark spot grew in size and got closer Damien stepped back closer to the treeline silently. Not knowing what could be about to breach the surface of the water. Madelyn, having already felt uncomfortable about this place, had already been some distance away and so she just scolded Ryia from afar "My word, why would you just go and poke things you don't understand?"

On the other hand Keres felt curiosity overtake her and she stepped closer as if by instinct.

As the dark spot got even closer they could see something shimmering atop it and soon something breached the surface. It seemed to be a mound of various magical trinkets. A mirror, a pendent, even various simple coins, among them. Many of which shimmered as the light struck it.

And then a claw poked out from under the water. Followed soon after by a giant crab. Thirty feet across and ten feet in height the beast was abnormally huge and every single surface on the crab's body seemed to be coated in the trinkets. Creating a strange sort of armor around its body. The only places that didn't have such protection were its big, meaty, claws, which looked to have shell covering it that was much tougher than any regular crustacean's.

As soon as the beast broke the water's surface it reached out with one of those claws towards Keres. In a panic the girl created a geyser of water to strike the claw before it hit her. However, as the water neared the large animal, the magic seemed to falter and the water vanished without so much as touching the crab.

Spoiler

Aaand fight time! So just a note, the crab's claws are both large unlike in the picture.

Also, BGM

 

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The commotion caused by the the giant crab's surfacing was more than enough to steal Lindow's attention away from his peculiar condition. Without a second thought he begun to approach the new challenger, his light jog breaking out into a full sprint upon seeing Keres's geyser of water magic dissipate harmlessly before making contact with the creature.

Lindow was taken aback by his sudden acceleration, as the mushroom's secondary effect had begun to show itself. Closing the distance far quicker than he had anticipated, he hastily snatched Keres away from the massive claw as he dashed past. Grunting with effort, the man clumsily fought against his own momentum to bring them to a skidding halt whilst swing Keres behind him. “There should be more explosives on the cart. Careful though, she’ll blow your little hand off if you let the Fire Spirit light it…” Lindow addressed the Keres without looking her way. If she couldn't use her magic, then retrieving the bombs was the only way she'd be of any use. The world was still spinning. Nonetheless he wore a labored sneer as he readied a knife and sent it whirling in the crab's direction, unable to aim very well under the effects of the mushrooms. 

The creature continued its advance, quickly slamming it's right claw down unto he shore to crush its new attacker with the weight of it's armor. With Keres out the way, dodging was trivial with how light Lindow's body felt. Darting to the side, the Thunder Chosen used his new found speed to circle over to the crabs side mere seconds after its attack hit the ground where he was standing. Vaulting over the giant's arm, he drew the Bandit Cleaver and swing for its eye, only to have his blade bounce off the adorned shell as the creature seemingly lost interest and began scuttling towards Ryia. Shakily kicking off the crustaceans's side as it passed, Lindow tumbled to ground and begun the process of regaining balance yet again. 

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Ryia had continued to back away from the water's surface as the dark spot had been moving forward. As Madelyn chided her for poking at it, a bit flustered she answered, "s-sorry, I just thought, well ya know uh..." The girl wasn't really sure how best to articulate her thoughts with the imminent threat of the unknown facing her down. And as the unknown had burst forth and became fully know, the girl was left speechless save for a simple, "oh no...not more of them..." For what had come to greet them was no less than a water scorpion. While it did not have the tell tale tail of the scorpions she had encountered in the desert, thankfully, it seemed no lesser in size and perhaps it possessed even larger claws. Not to mention the brilliant armor of trinkets that seemed to adorned what she figured was an already tough to crack carapace. 

As she readied her mace and shield, the girl noticed that Keres had done little to back away from the lake proper. And with the creature right there, it seemed primed to go and snatch her away in its large claws. With some panic in her eyes the girl got ready to go into a full sprint towards her to pull her out of the way, only for her panic to turn into surprise. Lindow had rushed past her to safely escort Keres away. The girl knew that he was fast, faster than anyone else in the group for sure, but she didn't remember him being this fast. While she wondered what was going on, the girl had got back to her senses as Lindow had moved to strike the creature only for his blade to harmlessly bounce off of the creature. As she suspected, this water scorpion's shell was certainly tough to crack. 

As he made his way away from the beast, it seemed to turn its attention towards her, now scuttling over to Ryia. Trying to keep its attention on her she figured she'd meet it halfway. As the two moved towards each other, the creature brought up its claw and was primed to swing it. Ryia had seen what little effect Keres's water had on it. Theorizing that it had something to do with the magic of the forest and being a natural part of it, Ryia figured she would have little success with using her own earth wall to protect herself from the attack. And so, doing what she could do to avoid the attack, she dove and rolled to the side the claw thrusting from, and with the clumsiness of the swing itself, she had managed to avoid the attack. Though she was preparing to go in to strike it more, the creature had begun shifting itself around to face her. With their proximity to both Keres and the water, Ryia had figured it was a better idea to draw it away from one or the other. 

And so, backing away from the monster, she awaited its next move only to notice that whatever sluggishness it had had prior to the fight it had gotten over. Charging at her with new found alacrity, and with the water at her side, she figured that trying the same evasive maneuver would end disastrously. And so, the girl had resolved meet the creature yet again, hoping to be able to deter its attack to give her an opening to either strike or reposition. Of course, past experiences with these creatures and the sheer size of it in general had told her that she wouldn't win in a straight clash. "M-Madelyn, uh it's next attack - er some help with it please."

"Very well, if I must." With the aid of the light mage, a barrier of light was formed poised to intercept the creature's claw. However, as the water scorpion had closed in on her, Ryia noticed the barrier begin to distort and flicker. And, with what seemed to be little effort, the monster's claw shattered the barrier almost as soon as it had impacted against it. Eyes going wide with realization, the girl was left with little option to but to attempt to stand her ground, putting up her shield to defend against the attack.

Wincing at the impact of the claw, she managed to hold fast against it, only to realize that it wasn't done. With its claw gripping onto her shield, attempting to pull it away, Ryia muttered. "oh, no, no not again." Pulling back against the grip of the creature, the girl started to bash her mace against the claw as she hastily, with some panic and strain in her voice, shouted out, "uh, magic doesn't work!" 

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With his report made, Reinaan continued searching through the holes in the ground ever on guard for further rude fish. There wasn't much time to find anything else before the sound of rushing water turned the hunter's attention to the lake. More specifically it turned his attention to the creature rising from it. Reinaan recognized the beast as a crab, though one far larger than anything he'd seen on Blagos. Catching normal crabs in nets was going to be a far cry from hunting this thing but already the boy was thinking of angles of attack. Most of them involved using Ziiyol's power as the flame claws had a habit of largely ignoring armor. But further apart as he was from the monster than the rest of the group the draken had time to observe some of the initial action.

Keres was the first to be in danger. She had tried to take action but it seemed like her magic fizzled out on her. Not that he had asked her but Reinaan didn't think she'd been sick. Reinaan had started running to try and intercept the attack but he had little hope of reaching her in time. Lindow for his part was able to see the Water Chosen to safety. His attack on the eye was thwarted by the hard shell that was most of the thing's body including its face. Madelyn's magic met a similar fate to Keres' which took flame claws squarely off the table. Ryia met similar difficulties to Lindow and soon found herself grappling with the massive claw of the beast's left arm. With the gift of time and observation, Reinaan turned his run to come alongside the outside of the outstretched arm. He looked and found his mark. The first joint of the limb closest to the body. Summoning his might the draken swung the axe of his halberd down and drove the blade deep into the arm of the crab. The beast quickly took note of him and released its grip on Ryia's shield. Reinaan dislodged his weapon to avoid being dragged as well while the thing scuttled backwards and turned to face both Ryia and Reinaan.

"Heh, not as invincible as it'd like to be." Reinaan observed to no one in particular with a confident smirk taking over his face. "Focus the joints. Armor can't be thick where things need to bend, same goes for shells." the hunter spoke to Ryia as he readied his next approach. He was hoping not to have to do this to every leg but at least lopping off the two front claws seemed like a way to make things a lot safer for everyone. The draken charged in looking to stay on the inside of the left arm this time. A strike from either side seemed liable to render the limb worthless. Naturally the beast took issue with this idea and swung its right arm at Reinaan on his approach. Taking a cue from Ryia the boy rolled forward and managed to duck under the swing. Scrambling to his feet he had little time to sure up the strike. Still he landed the axe blade into the inner side of the joint. By this point the crab was struggling greatly to move the twice injured arm. It wasn't severed but it was going to be difficult to use going forward.

Reinaan didn't get long to take in his success as the crab haunched down and prepared to charge. Rather than swing at him again the thing took to ramming the boy with its own body. From the hasty nature of the second strike the hunter hadn't found a proper footing and so he took the charge to the chest. By nature of the crab's biology it couldn't carry Reinaan with it in its charge so much as it knocked the boy flat onto his back and passed over him. Dazed, winded, and with a freshly bruised tailbone from the less than ideal landing onto his back, the draken could only stare up for the moment, appreciating the sky once the crab's body had passed overhead on its way toward the edge of the trees.

Edited by Doggo

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The crab didn't know what was happening. It was the biggest right? It shouldn't be able to be hurt like this right? Its size and all the shiny things should make it not have to worry about predators. That's the whole reason it had come here in the first place.

The creature moved towards the treeline. It had no plan for when it reached it but it just knew that it was risky to stay around those things with the sharp claws. However as it reached the trees something strange happened. The trees emitted a bright, blinding, light and the crab could feel heat coming from it as the large crustacean approached. It had no idea of the magic involved but it did know it couldn't go that way.

So the crab turned back around towards the group, determination renewed, as it decided it had no choice but to kill them so that it could stay safe.

Madelyn still seemed somewhat winded from the surprising failure of her spell. When it was confirmed that magic didn't do much she let out a groan. "Ugh! Fine. Then if any of you get hurt come over here otherwise I'm staying out of the way." She then proceeded to move to the side, away from the crab while not going so far that she was separate from the group.

Keres knew she should follow suit. Especially after her curiosity had almost cost her. Lindow had mentioned the explosives but, would that really be a good idea? The creature seemed pretty sturdy after all.

Plus even as she started towards the wagon it hit her that she was just following what Lindow was telling her to do. It didn't sit right with her. He made her uncomfortable for a multitude of reasons and she wasn't just some background character in his story. She was surprised to realize that the idea of listening to his demand...made her angry?

So she decided to not do as he asked. And not to stand back and watch the others. Especially as Damien seemed to be hanging back and waiting for something.

Gathering more water in front of her the mage tried to grab onto its claws with it. Thinking that if she grabbed it at the point with the least amount of magic items it might work. However as the water wrapped around them it became unstable almost instantly.

She felt a brief moment of frustration and then a realization hit her.

Keres turned and looked back at the vast amount of physical water behind them.

The crab didn't know what had happened but its animal brain could only guess that the girl over there had somehow tried to grab it from this distance. She didn't have anything pointy like the other ones did so maybe it could...

And without any more thought it began scuttling towards Keres. Claws snapping as though eager to grab hold of the mage.

Keres, as it approached, used her magic to lift a portion of water from out of the lake. She dragged it up in an arc, much like the spouts that were occurring at random, and aimed it for the crab. The magic might not be able to touch it but, as she positioned it above the crab and her magic weakened, she dumped all the water at once onto the middle of the shell.

The sudden weight caused the crab to buckle and it stopped in its tracks and tried to keep from crashing into the dirt.

At that moment, with a sigh, Damien moved. "The joints, eh? Smart kid." He darted forward and swung his blade at the place that Reinaan had attacked. He finished what the Draken started and cut through the weak point to sever one of the animal's claws.

The crab reacted almost immediately, on instinct, and scuttled to the side to bring its claw forward and caught the man in its grip. It lifted him up and began to squeeze.

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As Ryia continued to struggle against the pull of the large water scorpion, trying her hardest to not have her shield seized from her by the beast, she stumbled back as it suddenly let go. Seeing that Reinaan had managed to bury his blade into the joints of the creature, Ryia was slowly getting back to her feet as she watched the fight unfold before her. After taking an impact from a truly large source of water as well as having Damien follow up with a sword strike of his own, it had seemed the water scorpion was now one claw short. The girl then gripped her mace tighter as the crab had grabbed Damien, now threatening to crush him in its grip.  

Remembering what Reinaan and Damien had done moments prior, the girl ran up to one of the joints and swung her mace. The cracking of shell could be heard as it splintered and fragmented, exposing the softer part of its joint. Ryia's weapon wasn't well suited for cutting and to switch out to her sword would take time that she didn't want to give the scorpion. And so instead, she opted to leave this to someone more adept at it. "Its joint is open!" 

As she called this out, Reinaan had managed to overcome the dizziness he had been experiencing from being tackled by the large crustacean. And, as he got himself back to his feet, had managed to follow up on Ryia's call. With his halberd in hand he made his way over to the creature and delivered a big chop to its exposed joint. Though the claw still seemed to be attached to the arm, the creature was hurt enough that it had turned its attention to the Draken boy now. Seeing that it was moving to swing its claw, Ryia called, "Reinaan, look out," trying to her to interpose herself between the creature and Reinaan only to slip a little on the freshly muddied ground and being unable to get there in time. 

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Spurred back into action by Ryia's call to the young Draken, Lindow used his new found speed return to the thick of the battle. Without a word, the Thunder Chosen took a hasty upwards swing at the damaged joint as the crab moved to take its own swing at Reinaan. Though it seemed his aim was off. A low clang could be heard, as felt the all too familiar resistance of the creature's armor. Perharps the negative effects of the mushrooms outweighed the positive. Scowling, Lindow suddenly erupted into high-speed movement once more; lashing out at the chink in the monster's armor with his unwieldy blade, hitting the mark this time despite being unable to completely sever the appendage. 

With the vigor of the crab's attack visible damped by teammate's intervention, the Fire Chosen was able to dodge with little issue, leaving the massive claw to slam into he ground where he had been just been standing, much to the agony of Damien who was along for the ride. Watching this as he fought back another wave of the spins, Lindow surged forward, finally severing the claw with a two-handed slash with all is weight behind it.

"Huh." However, much to his fascination it seemed that Damien was still held firmly in the creature's pincers despite their newly amputated status. "I think it likes you..." He teased the other man despite moving with urgency. Grunting with effort, Lindow placed his blade in between the two pincers to begin prying them open to set his ally free from his predicament. 

Edited by Hollow

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At Ryia's call Reinaan found himself getting up much faster than his body wanted to. Still, he managed to shake off whatever lightheaded feeling getting run over had left him with. Ryia had opened the joint of the last big claw hand and if they could get that off there would be a lot less danger to trying to kill this thing. There was of course also the issue of Damien being caught in the claw after severing the first limb that Reinaan had injured. The shell was cracked now thanks to the Earth Chosen's efforts giving the boy an easy enough time chopping into the actual flesh of the limb closer to its base just as before. 

"This one's mine for sure" Reinaan grunted as he tried to drive his weapon deeper and sever the limb. But the crab for its part was intent on not losing another limb and began swinging the large claw at the hunter's position. Ryia's call alerted the boy to the danger and it was clear there was time to finish severing the limb or avoid getting hit by it but even if the former were successful also doing the latter seemed unlikely. The draken began scrambling up and over the limb to the other side and was only given enough time to do so from Lindow's attempt at an intervention on the claw. Falling to the ground Reinaan looked up to see the claw strike the earth where he'd just been standing. Lindow was fast to follow and sever the limb to the boy's frustration that he hadn't been able to lop either off despite starting both efforts. Still, the beast would find itself incredibly less able to hurt them now with its six pointy legs.

Reinaan soon found himself needing to back up as the crab was becoming frantic from the loss of both of its pincers. It had no where to run and no ready means of attack and so it had little else to do but move its mass about to avoid being attacked again. The hunter was taking his time examining the creature trying to think how best to kill it in this state. Shellfish were far from a specialty of his but the more he took in the shape of the creature the more it seemed that the shell on its underside had to be thinner, or at least closer to important organs, than the shell covering its back. The main issue was getting under the thing safely and then not getting crushed if the first stab of the spear end of his halberd didn't down the thing.

"I really don't wanna have to do all that six more times." the draken started in reference to the remaining limbs. "I'm gonna try and get under it! Would appreciate some kind of distraction" Reinaan finished explaining his strategy but rather than wait for any confirmation one would be provided he charged back at the crab.

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The crab was frantic but this didn't mean, even without its claws, it wasn't dangerous. As it stomped around its massive body could easily crush them if they weren't careful.

"I'm gonna try and get under it! Would appreciate some kind of distraction"

Keres understood the plan right away yet she didn't know what she could do to help. Her earlier move would only make it harder to go underneath the crab and any other attempt for her to attack from any other angle wouldn't much of anything.

Then she remembered how it had come for her when she had tried to use magic on it before. Nodding to herself the girl moved to an open area and brought forth more water from the lake. She flung it towards the crab. While the magic faded away before it reached the beast she still was able to strike it with a, rather weak, watery slap that got its attention enough that it ceased its frantic movements and started barreling towards her directly.

It was as the crab began to move towards Keres that she realized a distraction wouldn't be the only thing needed for Reinaan to strike at it. "It's fast." she said, her voice barely audible over the crab's movements. "It...needs to be slowed...or it will just run him over."

Damien wouldn't be of much help in that as it would take Lindow some doing to pry the claw open and afterward he seemed to not be in a hurry to get back into it. Though Lindow would notice that, despite how hard the crab had been squeezing, Damien's body seemed surprisingly unharmed. Only a few scrapes and scratches even showed he had been hurt at all.

The man groaned as he rubbed at the spot he had been grabbed. "Yeah don't want to do that again. Never thought I'd almost be used as a club today."

Madelyn, meanwhile, was still off to the side and waiting to see if anyone was injured. Having given up on using her magic against this beast with how little she had done for how much energy she had used.

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