Lazurite looked in awe at the building before her. The temple was carved from purple stone, looking at the same time like an orderly built structure and a chaotic, jagged mess.
It was beautiful in an demented sort of way. The Temple of Grand Emotion it was called.
Lazurite had learned from the consorts that this place was once something of a religious site, a place the consorts had once gathered to relish in and worship music as well as their own strong emotions; which were apparently amplified within the walls of the structure.
But when the denizen arrived, the underlings invaded and bastardized the place to worship the denizen. Any consorts who entered were either killed, driven out, or broken down until they to worshiped the denizen.
Lazurite's eye twitched at the thought, bringing out her wings which formed into spiked fists. She couldn't pin down exactly why the thought of what the underlings and denizen were doing here made her so angry-or at least was unwilling at the moment to let herself pin it down-but it did and it did so with a vengeance.
The water that composed her wings seemed to heat up, giving off steam as she entered. She still didn't fully understand the power she seemed to derive from rage, but she'd be lying if she said she wasn't about to enjoy using it to bust some underling heads.
Inside the temple she found dozens of imps, a few ogres, a basilisk, a creature the health bar called an archeon, two lichs and several golems carved from the same purple material.
The imps rushed her at once, Lazurite's wings, practically bubbling with the power of rage, slapped them away with such force that they were crushed on impact with the walls, floor, and pews and reduced to grist.
The power, which she'd come to know as Hype Up, was practically intoxicating, even if it did often leave her seeing red.
The fists shifted shape, becoming long, sharp blades made solid by the purple energy. She launched herself at the nearest ogre, slashing off its mechanical drone hand before running up the arm.
Two song stone hands rushed at her to smash her, both of which she diced in two before jumping at the ogre's neck; spinning herself like a wheel so her bladed wings decapitated it like a buzz saw. Her wings extended to act like a shield bubble.
Spells from the lichs, the fists of the golems, laser shots, ice blasts, and vines from the ogre buffeted the shield while the basilisk coiled around it, constricting around it with its serpent like body as well as sand it was able to control.
Gritting her teeth, she focused inward, focused on her own rage, on the rage of the consorts who were driven out and mistreated.
She hated it. Hated what had been done to these innocent people, what her friends were having to go through, that Caroline had had to keep something so big hidden from her, what had happened to her...
It was the last thought that tipped the scales.
With a roar, spikes of blue water and purple rage extending from the bubble, reducing the basilisk to yet more grist. She held her hands out, letting rage spread and intensity.
"Riot." She hissed, the word coming to her before she knew what she was saying. The battle continued to rage on certainly, but Lazurite was no longer a part of it.
Consumed with fear, hatred, and paranoia the underlings resorted to attacking each other, ripping each other apart until all that remained were piles of grist and a heavily damaged archeon. Said archeon was dispatched by a smack from Lazurite's water wings.
She panted, the energy slowly fading from her as the battle drew to a close. She walked around the temple, gathering the grist passively. She moved to one of the areas the consorts were meant to sit and meditate on their emotions and music.
And while the music was still distorted and broken, Lazurite had more than a few emotions she had to sort out.
So she sat, legs crossed and eyes closed as she allowed herself to meditate on the meaning of rage.
Green Spinel squinted as she looked around, scanning the golden pit for any sign of the Nephrites that had been scattered across the various other treasures.
"You said they were here." Maxixe said, foot tapping impatiently in the sand as she struggled to tolerate the intense sunlight of LoGaS.
"They were.." Spinel said, "Far out, too far for me to stretch and I can't talk inside without those ornery monsters swarming me."
"Well they clearly aren't here now. I've scanned every inch of it." Maxixe said with a sigh, "Maybe they reformed and wandered off. If you find them again let me know and I'll see what I can do but right now I still have my own land's riddles to deal with."
Green Spinel frowned at this, but genuinely couldn't fault the aqua marine. She herself had barely done anything on her own land outside of destroying a few monsters and stare at a pit of treasure.
Maxixe flew off, heading back for the Gate that would lead to her own land. She heard a beep from her communicator as she flew.
White Zircon: Checking in, status report.
Maxixe: And here I thought you'd up and shattered or fallen off the planet. Not that I could blame you for either after everything that seems to be happening. White Zircon: Hardly. Nothing I've found on this land seems especially impressive from a combative perspective, my battle screens more than sufficient. The paperwork on this land is whats driving me to the brink.
Maxixe: My word, so there is language so dense and arcane that even your mind can't wrap around it.
White Zircon: I can fathom what I'm reading just fine, but thats precisely the problem.
White Zircon: None of whats written seems to match what was written before or after. Its as though these people have simply been making up new laws and rules and regulations every other week for years and simply piling them on top of one another with nothing and no one to keep track.
White Zircon: I know they always say that in the absence of the Diamonds a Zircon could make a law sound like it meant anything, but anyone could make this jumble of nothing mean anything. Vacuous nonsense from beginning to end.
Maxixe: Be glad the only vacuum you're dealing with is in paper and ink. I'm over here attempting to understand how to manifest the powers of space itself, or so I'm told.
White Zircon: Space hm?
Maxixe: Yes. I meant my denizen. She tasked me with something impossible. She wants me to free her from her pit, but she's the size of a small city block and the tunnels leading to her are a bit tricky for me to get through in places. Barring cracking the planet open like an egg I'm at a loss.
White Zircon: Hm.. well I may have a theory.
Maxixe: What else is new.
White Zircon: I can just as easily keep it to myself you realize.
With a grumble and a sigh, Maxixe messaged again.
Maxixe: My apologies. Please continue.
The following message took longer than it should to send. Maxixe could only imagine Zircon had had trouble understanding the meaning of the words 'my apologies' when sent from her.
White Zircon: Well.. I doubt space itself is all there is to your aspect. I suspect space as a concept, physical space, may play a role. Size, shape, dimensions of matter.
Perhaps think on this while on your land. Perhaps something will click.
Maxixe: I'll think on this.
Maxixe: Thank you.
She felt odd sending the last message as she passed the Gate into her land, but didn't let herself dwell on it as she set herself to studying space.
White Corundum: Gonna be okay?
Green Spinel: Here's hoping. I'm thinking that those flying whosits took the Nephrite gemstones off to these 'boss monster' folk for safe keeping. I'm entering one of their pyramids now to see if I can sneak it back. If I can't.. well, things will get interesting I suppose.
White Corundum: Heh, things are always interesting with you aren't they? :D
Green Spinel: Daw shucks, aren't you sweet. White Corundum: Just being honest ^-^
Green Spinel: You'll be a peach to have around if we ever get to meet in person. Given how many traps and tricks and turns this place has to offer I'm having my doubts though.
White Corundum: Trust me.. I know the feeling. I don't even want to talk about my land.
Green Spinel: Alrighty then. Suppose we'll have to talk later. I found a room that looks mighty important. Talk to you later!
White Corundum signed out, her smile evaporating the precise instant she could no longer see Spinel's icon.
Without it, all she could see was the devastation around her. She wasn't certain what this place, the 'Bower of Growth and Bails' as it had been called by its sign, had been meant for. It had been overflowing with life, plants and fairies and the strange underling creatures.
But whatever it was for, it would never serve its purpose again.
She hadn't meant to, she really hadn't. She'd just wanted the fairies to stop throwing rocks at her. The next thing she knew.. fire. Too much fire. It burned and burned no matter how White Corundum tried to stop it, and now... nothing was left.
She sat in the middle of the ashy pit, feeling at least happy that no one was around to berate or attack her now.
She looked up at the sky, nearly obscured by thick foliage, and wondered by it was that everything alive in this place hated her so much.
Green Spinel looked around the chamber she'd entered. It looked ancient, the stone room marked with strange patterns and lit by primitive torches.
At the far end of the room was indeed one of the Nephrites; though locked away in a cage above a stone slab the size of a tall humanoid.
She approached it, wondering how she was going to pry it free and where exactly the so called boss monster was. She got about halfway through the room before the answer was made self-evident.
The stone clicked, and began to open like a door. Green Spinel watched the sarcophagus open, unaware of what she was looking at as a bulky, bandaged humanoid shuffled out, slow and lurching with a angry glare apparent even behind the bandages.
An upsettingly large health bar made itself apparent, with the name Helos-Mummy, overhead.
"I'm guessin' I'll have to take you down before I can get to the Nephrite." She said, making an exaggerating knuckle popping motion as Helos lumbered towards her, only able to groan in response.
Helos raised a hand and a sickly green aura spread throughout the room. Spinel wasn't sure what the energy was but was fairly confident in the theory that touching it was not in her best interest. She sprung back, eyes darting around for a path through it.
Spotting areas the hazy green was not consuming, she coiled her legs like a spring and launched herself through them. She did the same with her arms and the ceiling, curling her legs differently so her knees would slam into the mummy like a hammer drop.
It landed, sending the mummy stumbling; though not nearly as much as it should have. It reeled back and swung, Green Spinel stretching her legs up to avoid it and watching as the impact left a crater in the floor, stone shattering and shotgunning out in every direction.
Spinel yelped as she felt the debris impacting her legs.
She dropped lower, letting her fists grow large for several solid strikes to the monster. Strong as it was it didn't seem very fast, letting Spinel land several hits before she had to back up to avoid another blast of that green stuff.
Green Spinels were the best of dancers but all were capable, and she was glad for it in that moment. She jumped and twisted and twirled to avoid the waves of sickly green, taking shots in between them when she could.
When Helos once again held its arms out Spinel readied herself to dodge again, only for the mummy to not send out another blast of green.
Rather, the bandages wrapping the creature shot out like capture wire; and sure enough they served the same purpose, coiling around Spinel and binding her, dropping her to the ground.
Were she not a gem this might have spelled death from another green blast. Happily she was able to not only shapeshift, but expand the size of her body. She stretched the bandages to their limits, tearing through them before slamming her hands together around the mummy.
When she withdrew her hands the mummy seemed to stumble and tall to its knees. She assumed this was it dying; neglecting to realize its health was only at the halfway point. The bandages began to fall from its body, a harsh, golden light revealed from beneath.
Helos stood, still humanoid but a far cry from the shambling beast before. Its was much taller, about nine feet; with skin of light and an immaculate figure.
With waves of its hand a chariot appeared for him, reigned to four legged creatures Green Spinel didn't know were called horses; all of whom seemed to be either consumed in or composed of fire. In his hand appeared a long crook, glowing just as bright as his own body.
The name on the health bar changed ever so slightly, becoming Helos-True Form. Spinel gulped, backpedaling as the chariot took off, charging her.
She quickly realized that she did not have anything resembling enough speed to outrun it, and so resorted to bouncing away, keeping her arms and legs springing to bounce around the room like a sentient ping pong ball of death. She managed to land several potshots, but nothing solid.
One of her attempted strikes, Helos finally landed a hit on Spinel with his crook, sending her flying across the room into the wall with a crash; cracks splintering out in all directions from the impact.
"Ow.." she groaned, realizing that another one of those might every well poof her and even one to her gem would kill her.
"Don't just charge in," Nephritesprite called, making Spinel look up.
Her supposed 'helper' had been quiet as of late, likely none too pleased to have been made a sprite to begin with. Finally, it seemed, she was being useful.
"You'll never do much damage to him while he's mounted like that. You need to level the playing field if you're going to have any chance."
Spinel considered this and got an idea. She stood up but didn't move from her spot, beckoning to the boss monster challengingly, "Whatsa matter bright eyes, too afraid I'll stop your little cart mid-charge? Show me what you've got; if you've got anything at all I mean."
She punctuated with a laugh utterly dripping with the sarcastic mockery that Green Spinels were known for. Helos whipped at the reigns, urging the flaming horses to charge Spinel.
She stood her ground, even tapping her foot as though waiting and annoyed he was taking so long; which only urged him to push the horses harder.
At the last moment however, Spinel jumped up into the air, letting Helos remember too late that she'd been standing not tow feet in front of a wall. They slammed into the wall, already weakened from Spinel's impact, with enough force to mangle the chariot and do very unsightly things the horses.
The sight of Helos smacking into the stonework was equal parts satisfying and flinch inspiring.
And as though that weren't enough, the force was enough to bring down the already weakened wall, burying horse and Helos alike in heavy stone. It struggled for several moments to free itself, staggering out of the rock pile and kneeling on his crook.
When Helos looked up, he found Green Spinel with her arms coiled around each other. Her locked fists fired from her body as though shot from a cannon, arms having wound them so tight that they not only hit Helos, but punched through him.
This, combined with the damage from the crash and the collapse, was enough to defeat the entity. The cage holding the Nephrite opened, Spinel stretching an arm out to retrieve it and the grist as Nephritesprite healed her up from the battle. "
One down, two to go. Three counting Emerald I suppose." Spinel chuckled, "Lets blow this place. Hard to imagine its dustier than the literal desert outside." She laughed to herself, not noticing how unamused her sprite was by the joke.
She didn't notice how continually unamused Nephritesprite was as she cracked joke after joke as they exited the pyramid. Green Spinel hadn't noticed much of Nephritesprite at all since they got to this land and quite frankly she'd not noticed or cared about any of the Nephrites beforehand either.
"Why exactly are you collecting the other Nephrites? Don't you have an important game thing you should be focusing on." The sprite asked, so coldly that Spinel felt the chill even under the beating of the four LoGaS suns.
"What do you mean?" Green Spinel questioned.
"I mean, you've never once cared about any of us before, made us the center of your mockery and let Emerald beat us like sheet rock, let me end up in this stupid sprite against my will, so why exactly are you wasting time when for the first time in your life you actually have something worthwhile to do?"
Green Spinel stood perfectly still, staring in shock at her sprite. She'd known deep down that the Nephrites weren't her biggest fans, but to have it all illuminated so harshly... she couldn't find any words.
Nephritesprite didn't wait for an answer, floating off somewhere Spinel couldn't follow and leaving her to ruminate on her what she had shed light on.
Ceylon placed the metals she had gathered at the edge of Hephaestus' volcano.
"Here," she said, "These weren't easy to collect so it had better have been worth the trouble."
"Certainly will be," Hephaestus said, massive tail rising to sweep the rare and mystical metal into the molten magma in which he resided.
Ceylon could only assume that the metal would melt and mix into the molten stone, becoming usable material with which he could forge.
"There, now will you finally give me The Choice?" She questioned. "
Certainly not. You'd still choose wrong."
Ceylon's mechanical body looked nonplussed, robotic framework masking the cold fury boiling within. "Then. What. Was. The. Point." She questioned, pronouncing each word slowly to avoid screaming at the massive beast.
"If I tell you it would defeat the point. I gave you a mission but you saw only the goal; the least important element of it."
"I.. what? That doesn't make a sense. This is a game, games have endings and that is how you progress."
"It is precisely that thought that makes you potentially the least valuable player at the moment. All the others have begun to at least consider their aspect, for good or for ill. Meanwhile you, born with a connection to your own, turn a blind eye. You who begun this mission seem oblivious to the point of it all. I am disappointed in you Ceylon. Begun from me now."
And with that, the denizen sunk back into the volcano.
Ceylon stood there in silence, her body not freezing over only because the heat of the volcano was more than her passive chill-limited by the mechanical body-could handle.
She jetted off with no clear goal in mind, wondering how in the world it was that she, a sapphire, could be ignorant of the ways of time...