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The Last Man Standing

Other Lair of the Brumal Hunter (LMS VI: Post-Blizzard)


Yay, new page! It's for Week 59, which is a shame, as it'd have been cool to start on 60, but since somebody had decided to end the competition a week early, I just have to live with the unroundedness of it all. >XD

Spoiler! :
“Ember defeated three minor monsters, assisted with the defeat of one major monster, and rescued one civilian. Lotus evaded one minor monster, jointly defeated one major monster, and rescued two civilians. Mason subdued one minor monster, defeated four minor monsters, and jointly defeated one major monster. Credence defeated three minor monsters, jointly defeated one major monster, and assisted with the defeat of four minor monsters. Sky subdued one minor monster, assisted with the defeat of one minor and one major monster, saved one ally, and rescued one civilian. This concludes the summary of Round One thus far.”

And what a round it’s been! (A member of the audience observes that the audience collectively has its own verbal tics. Very few other members bother to respond, either because they don’t care or because they won’t deign to respond to something they consider so obvious. The observation does spark some interest, but it quickly dies out in favour of the discussion around them regarding the participants’ prowess.) The fourth group took their time to find each other, but since time is meaningless in Purgatory, it didn’t interfere with the intentions of those members who wanted to watch four battles at the same time. The battle itself also lasted relatively as long as those of the other groups, despite the health reset for literally all the monsters.

…But the battle didn’t end with a bang! A splat was much more preferable to that, especially for the sake of the participants who needed to fight the miniboss. (The use of “miniboss” is immediately and hotly contested.) Many voices are quick to point out that the explosion that Sky’s green swallower caused, and which almost all of the audience missed, was due to it being trapped and unable to escape. In all the other cases where the participants faced one of the little poison sacks, whether individually or as a group, the monsters could attack, flee, or choose to wait and do nothing. In all likelihood, Credence never had anything to fear in the explosion department — aside from fluke meteors falling from the sky; that was clearly a very real threat, and other kinds of explosions could also have been summoned by that chaotic technique.

Regardless of how the battle ended, the members of the final group proved their perseverance and teamwork could stand its first test! Every single participant has the defeat of at least one monster to their name, as Lotus, like Flit, got credit for defeating the big swallower. Go Blockers! But also go Defenders, as Mason once again showed how valuable that role is to a group! With his four kills and one knock-out (not technically, but a KO is the best thing to call it), in addition to the joint kill, he also joins the top five and expands it to a top six! Credence performed well, and though he was right to be concerned at his lack of kills, he has the greatest number of assists! The audience generally feels that’s not quite enough to get him to expand the top six to a top seven, since he had ample opportunity to kill several green swallowers while he was kicking them all around, but he basically only really subdued the lot of them. But he could still join the top ten!

The audience realises it needs to consider the participants in terms of all their achievements, but there’s been so much information given already, they’re bound to mess it up. As such, there’s only one person to ask… and it enthusiastically does so!

Serene blinks in surprise. “Oh. Our Grace, shall I?”

“You shall!” Giratina exclaims, though still curled into a sleeping-millipede spiral. “Any members of our esteemed audience cannot possibly complain about the extent of your thorough summaries, as they evidently have nowhere better to be, so continue!”

Who has anywhere better to be than with a god while spectating souls vie for a place in Heaven, anyway?

Serene nods obligingly. “Very well. In terms of purely individual combat victories, the rankings are, in ascending order: Amber, Coil, Erudite, Felicity, Rook, and Twist, with one; Credence, Ember, Gold, Mason, and Tiara, with two; and Dagger, Dare, and Edge, with three. In terms of combat victories where the participant concluded the engagement, the rankings are: Erudite, Felicity, Flit, Lotus, and Twist, with one; Level and Rook, with two; Coil, Ember, and Gold, with three; Credence, Dagger, Dare, Edge, Iridescent, and Tiara, with four; Amber, with five; and Mason, with six. In terms of total combat victories in which the participant made a contribution, the rankings are: Lotus, with one; Felicity, Flit, Sapphire, and Sky, with two; Coil, Erudite, and Rook, with three; Ember, Gold, Iridescent, Level, and Twist, with four; Amber, Dagger, Dare, Edge, and Tiara, with five; Mason, with six; and Credence, with eight. And finally, in terms of support provided to allies and civilians, the rankings are: Amber, Coil, and Iridescent, with one; Dare, Edge, Ember, Felicity, Flit, and Lotus, with two; Sapphire and Twist, with three; Credence, Dagger, Gold, and Sky, with four; Rook, with five; Erudite and Tiara, with seven; and Level, with nine.”

That is absolutely worth the wait! Previously, the audience had to speculate by trying to remember everything and constantly compare the participants’ performances, but with Serene’s latest, and very much excellent, set of statistics, it becomes so much easier to tell who performed the best! And by adding the civilian rescues and ally saves to the combat assists, he’s also contextualised support in terms of Prowess and Virtue. There’s no doubt that Amber, Credence, Dagger, Dare, Edge, Mason, and Tiara are actually the top seven, as the audience has already determined, but it’s rather surprising to see that Mason and Credence have apparently outperformed everyone else! And though Dagger was praised for rescuing the most civilians of anyone in the first group, it’s clear that while his heroism still puts him in the top eight, there’s an unmistakeable top three in Level, Tiara, and Erudite, with an honourable mention going to Rook for being fourth.

This week's 1070 words took for-fucking-ever. I had to wrap up the stats for Round 1 so far, which ended up being particularly time-consuming while simultaneously yielding very few words. I had to jump around in the text way more than usual, make some edits, and even correct a glaring error in the recent stats by having ignored the fact that Coil probably used Helping Hand when he tossed Dagger into the air to kill the purple swallower. I hadn't planned it that way, but looking back restrospectively, it totally makes sense and he'd have done it (two other people ended up doing that too).

The edit gives me an extra 56 words, but the new text itself is 1014 words, so I'm good either way. I strongly suspect I'll have to start the final phase of Round 1 this coming week, so I should get to writing prior to the weekend.


Week 60, and dear gods, was this a trying one. Today's writing session especially was harrowing and draining as all hell. And I say this despite the 30+ hour session I had at the end of Blizzard. There have been a few others, but none quite this slow.

Spoiler! :
“I am pleased to have provided an adequate summary,” Serene says, bowing modestly, “but the audience does me too much honour.”

If the disembodied audience were to entertain that idea — and for the majority, it is an “if”; a rather big one — maybe it’s true that the summary was a bit long and not necessarily the most entertaining of events they’ve witnessed recently. After all, it was a few minutes long! And also weeks! And also seconds! And also: the audience members that would complain wouldn’t be present. Currently, they aren’t present either, so Serene is done exactly as much honour as the audience intends! Naturally, numerous voices shout (and also politely explain) this at the same time.

Serene gives a small smile that appears simultaneously humble and yet sly. His long tail swishes behind him and he turns to Giratina. “Shall I disturb you, Our Grace?”

The paradoxical question is made even more perplexing by Giratina’s lack of an answer and Serene’s patient demeanour. He evidently expected such a response, but though Our Grace is still curled up as before, it doesn’t need to sleep. It surely heard the question, so Our Grace must be occupied with something that mortal minds simply can’t even begin to fathom! (Unless you’re Serene, of course, who is probably barely mortal anyway.)

After a moment of indeterminate duration, Our Grace is suddenly slithering and crawling through the air-space-not-matter after the environment! It doesn’t uncoil and is specifically moving, as if exploding into action at a pace too fast to observe.

“You may, shall, and have!”

“May I also ask whether you enjoyed the experience and whether there are any further summaries I ought to provide?”

Giratina suddenly halts mid-motion and is already looking towards Serene. In an exaggeratedly sad, disappointed voice, it says, “You asked two questions at the same time. The efficiency spoils the fun of asking.”

“I apologise, Our Grace. My intention was to enquire about your fun, not have it myself.”

“Was stating that fun?”

Serene frowns ever so slightly. “Not particularly, Our Grace.” His intonation makes the statement a question.

“If stating the obvious is neither efficient nor fun, don’t.”

“Understood, Our Grace. I apologise once again.”

“I did!” Giratina says, answering the previous question and resuming its energetic movement with no further attention given to the other matter. “I also enjoyed imagining you do it.”

The disembodied audience starts quietly speculating what ‘it’ might be. (Not sleeping, though the idea of Our Grace imagining Serene sleep is a cute one.) Running a similar tournament in an alternate Purgatory with a different… divine assistant, or assistant to the divine? Maiming or educating stupid and ignorant people? Singing karaoke?

“I imagine I could not imagine even a fraction of that which Our Grace’s imagination produces,” Serene says fondly, partially addressing Giratina and partially addressing the disembodied audience, “but as that is the case, I do not imagine that I would ever be able to comment on the likelihood of doing what my imagined self may have done.”

Giratina chuckles. “Better!”

“Thank you, Our Grace.”

“You should summarise what each participant called the swallowers!”

Oh! That’s right; now that the audience has considered that, the participants did generally use different terms to describe the monsters! Purely in terms of hypothetical descriptions, the participants might call the swallowers blobs, frogs, blobfish, creatures, slugs, balls, animals, aliens, and several more creative names. The most memorable ones were Banurtle, Turblue, Kuriboh, and Kuribabylon, so it would be interesting to see the different participants’ views on the strange monsters, as several voices do state to the others that very few of the more mundane terms stand out in their memories.

“Very well,” Serene says. “If a participant referred to the swallowers using vague terms like ‘things’ or ‘ones’, or merely used oblique pronouns, I will omit such mentions, as I do not believe these ought to count. Additionally, I apologise in advance for quoting profanity or otherwise inappropriate words. That being said, Dare called the green swallowers ‘dumbass’ and ‘asshole’; Felicity called them ‘blobfish’ and ‘green blob-thing that spits acid’; Sapphire called the purple swallower ‘stomach-brain’ and ‘blob’; Coil called the purple swallower and seven green swallowers, collectively, the group’s ‘first true test’; Erudite called the green swallowers ‘darling’ and ‘rude puppies’; Flit called them ‘slugs’, ‘crawlies’, ‘Mister Slug’, and ‘mean green slugs’; Gold called them ‘slugs’ and ‘monsters’; Edge called the purple swallower an ‘angry monster’; Iridescent called the green swallowers ‘little (green) beast’ and ‘creature’; Rook called them ‘turtle-slug-banana-peel thing’ and ‘Banurtle’, and she called the blue swallower ‘Turblue’ and the purple swallower ‘fiend’; Amber called the green swallowers ‘creature’ and ‘aliens’; Twist called them ‘little blob’ and ‘bastard’; Level called the blue swallower ‘friend’ and the green swallowers ‘beings’; Mason called the green swallowers ‘little spitter’; Sky called them ‘sweetie’ and ‘bag monsters’; Credence called them ‘uncanny green monsters’; and Ember called them ‘Kuribohs’, and he called the purple swallower ‘Kuribabylon’. If I forgot any terms or names, I must confess that my memory is not perfect.’

A few members of the disembodied audience are so shocked, they ask each other if Serene is being for real. He manages to recall all of that and yet still basically apologises for possibly forgetting anything, as if anyone but Our Grace, Giratina Griseous could say otherwise? A single voice also uses that opportunity to point out that Serene saying his memory isn’t perfect almost implies he thinks it should be, which a normal person wouldn’t say, meaning it could be. That stuns the audience even more, but when a few start clapping, the whole audience joins in.

Serene looks as distressed as the audience has even seen him — his eyes widen and he unclasps his hands behind his back to make a quietening motion. “Please, reserve your applause for the tournament’s participants or for Our Grace. I do not deserve your admiration for such a simple recollection of words, much less one that serves no purpose with regards to the participants’ performance.” He pauses for about a second, as if considering something, but whatever it is, he adopts a more composed, somewhat sterner posture and adds, “I insist.”

At least it's done now. That's 1034 words and basically the last filler before the final group stage of Round 1 begins.


Week 61, and finally, I'm back to writing for the tournament participants! Goodness, it feels so relieving to be back to character interactions. It really cements that I write for the characters, not the plot or descriptions. *inserts teary-eyed emoticon*

Spoiler! :
Aww! Although the audience immediately responds to Serene’s motion and falls silent to let him speak, it would have ceased with zero hesitation at his insistence — even the lamentations and protestations that had begun in response to Serene’s self-deprecating words ceased at that point in non-time. Still, at least the audience had gotten to applaud in the first place!

“I hope our esteemed audience has sufficiently processed Serene’s thorough summaries,” Giratina says in its announcer voice, “because it’s time for the final phase of Round 1!”

At that, the audience could not possibly be asked not to clap and cheer. There’s sure to be some spectacular conclusion to the round!

“All the participants are on their way to Superbia Square,” Giratina continues, “having found each other and many virtuous moments all the way! Yet there is still more to be found… Let us find out what!”


For a few minutes after the group resumes walking towards what they hoped was the right direction, Dare continues needing Dagger’s assistance to walk. With every step, however, they feel their energy drain away. Eventually, though they hate needing to do it, they just stop and kneel down to conserve whatever strength they have left.

“Dare,” Dagger says with concern, but not so concerned as to forget Dare’s insistence on dropping ‘Emmex’, “do you think you can continue at all?”

Felicity turns around and stares impassively. “The blobfish really did a number on you.”

“I’m pretty sure poisonous gas isn’t good for your health, yeah,” Dare remarks dryly.

“I wonder if it’ll kill you or wear off,” she says. “It’s a pity we don’t have a healer on the team.”

Dare can’t tell if she’s sarcastic or not, so they just groan. “If I am going to die, again, I’d really fucking prefer not to have to listen to you running your mouth.”

Dagger did think that Felicity could have been more considerate, but that’s not friendly or polite either. He starts speaking, but he trails off immediately when he realises he could possibly interrupt Felicity.

“Fine,” she says and shrugs. “It’s not a pity we don’t have a healer on the team. Go ahead and die already if listening to me bothers you so much.”

“That’s not—” Dare suddenly finds themselves unable to talk. Felicity just turns and walks away a couple metres, but Dare is more annoyed at their inability to finish the retort than at her reaction.

“Can you think of anything at all that we can do to help?” Dagger asks, grimacing.

“You’re a plant, right?” Sapphire asks, also looking concerned but looking at a loss as well. “Would watering you help? I don’t know, but it might be something.”

Coil, standing with his arms crossed, just rolls his eyes. “That sounds ridiculous.”

“Yeah, actually,” Dare says weakly.

Sapphire raises her tentacles in the air in a placating gesture, though she doesn’t seem offended. “Well, sorry for making a suggestion! I told you I don’t know what we should do.”

Dare shakes their head. “No, I was answering you. It might actually help.”

Coil looks incredulous. “What?”

Sapphire, though, smiles widely. “Oh! Err, let me see…” She starts looking at her tentacles and then down at her sides, trying to figure out how she can conjure water without needing to tackle Dare.

Dagger, fortunately, already knows how to do that and softly presses an orb of water against Dare’s waxy skin. He’s surprised to see it be immediately absorbed. “Did that work?”

“Way to go!” Sapphire calls, punching the air. (Coil shakes his head in disapproval of her enthusiasm.)

“Yeah!” Dare almost gasps. “Keep going!”

Dagger smiles and happily produces yet more water. He keeps a stream going, but his smile quickly turns into a frown when he sees Dare close their eyes. It seems to him like they’re concentrating (or otherwise enjoying it quite a lot, which… about which he isn’t sure how to feel), so he keeps silent and waits. After a bit, Dare nods, their confident grin back on their face, and rises.

“Thanks, man. The poison’s still there, but I’ll be good for a while now. D’you mind doing that again from time to time?”

“Of course!” Dagger exclaims, honestly surprised that Dare even had to ask.

“Great. I owe you.”

“Wonderful,” Coil says acerbically. He doesn’t elaborate, however, leaving the other three wondering what exactly he means. He turns and continues to lead the way, walking down the middle of the road.

“They’re a pair of sourpusses,” they grumble under their breath, glancing at Dagger and then Sapphire before following. At regular volume, they add, “I hope the other groups don’t have to deal with the same kind of shit the whole time.”

Sapphire walks along Dare on the one side while Dagger joins them on the other. “Nah,” she says cheerily, “I think we have all the prickliest people right here.”

Dare groans at the pun.

Completely misunderstanding it and thinking they’re groaning at the company, Sapphire elbows them. “Maybe everyone will chill out once the round’s over!”

Dagger would frankly appreciate that a lot, but he didn’t think making it to the end of the tournament would be easy, and the goal is to be virtuous more than anything else, so he deems it better to just nod along and say nothing.

Coil and Felicity are walking more or less abreast. She’s trailing ever so slightly behind him, since she doesn’t want to create the impression like she’s walking beside him, as if they’re chums or something. Coil notices this in his peripheral vision and, naturally, interprets this as her showing deference to his elected position as leader. He’s pleasantly surprised and can’t prevent a self-satisfied smile from sneaking onto his face.

Dare starts talking about stuff they wouldn’t mind to do to chill, which then sparks a conversation between the other two with him. Felicity stubbornly refuses to join in, but she also refuses to be left out. So, she does the only other thing she can and… asks Coil what he did in his free time. She almost feels like gagging.

It's 1021 words! We're back to Group 1 as they head towards the central square. Poor Dare needs to suffer through the universal Pokémon misery of poisoning. XD


I started earlier, but that did not mean I finished earlier, since three interesting conversations distracted me along the way. XD

Still, that's Week 62 done now! :D

Spoiler! :
That doesn’t escape Coil’s notice either, though he interprets it correctly that time. “I did not entertain myself with frivolous pastimes,” he says, though a touch more haughtily than he intended.

Before he has a chance to continue, she cuts in, “Right. You’re obviously the CEO type who did nothing but work. I bet you didn’t have time for marriage either, or else you did and married someone attractive and successful who understood they’d have to get their emotional support elsewhere. Maybe you even got a kid or two, in that last case, and made sure they understood they had to be valedictorians and captains of some sports teams if they wanted you to be proud.”

He scoffs.

When he doesn’t say anything else after a second and a half, she presses the matter. “Well? Which one is it?”

“His silence is kinda telling,” Dare whispers to Sapphire, having fallen silent to listen in on the exchange. She nods along, but more in acknowledgement of what they’re saying than in agreement.

Coil remains silent for a couple more seconds before saying, “I played squash two days a week and worked out every day. Occasionally, I engaged in other sports if an adequate reason arose.”

“You’re dodging the question,” Felicity points out somewhat smugly.

“Incorrect, though your evident need to cut me down to size and the resulting boldness of your assumptions do not surprise me.” Coil adjusts one of his cuffs and gives her a mildly contemptuous glance before continuing, “You asked a question, which I began answering. You then came to several of your own conclusions and voiced them, thereafter expecting, out of some strange sense of entitlement, that I would be obliged to confirm or deny them. Well, I am not obliged to address your flawed perception of me, so I merely finished my answer.”

“That doesn’t—”

“And before you protest,” he adds as soon as she begins responding, “I will decline to address any logical leap you make based on prejudice and preconceptions. I am not some colleague or acquaintance with whom you can bicker at length; I am your leader, and as soon as we reach Superbia Square and Round One of this tournament ends, I will simply be another participant.” He turns again to give her a firm yet casually disinterested look. “Do you understand the words I have said to you now?”

“Fuck you and your phrasing,” she spits with a scowl, “yeah, I understood you.”

He sniffs and looks forwards once more. “Excellent. Let’s nip this thinly veiled attempt at avoiding conversation with your allies in the bud.”

“It’s just the one, Coil,” Dare says flatly.

“Also incorrect,” Coil says, provoking a scowl from Dare as well. He doesn’t turn back to address them, instead considering the T-junction ahead, as it’s the first since the one in which the confrontation with the monsters had occurred. “Though you are correct that she has a particular dislike for you, the fact remains that you, Dagger, and Sapphire were all conversing. You may be the reason that she chose not to join the conversation, but as the conversation involved more people than just you, it is nevertheless more people than just you with whom she avoided conversing.”

Dagger was perfectly capable of following Coil’s reasoning, but he does think he could stand to simplify his wording. But… Coil is his leader and elder, so it’s probably not Dagger’s place to question his language. He’s almost certain Coil would say so himself. He looks down in shame for having thought it in the first place.

“You two — actually, you three — seriously just need to chill,” Sapphire says with a shrug. “You’ll get used to each other eventually, but not if you keep taking shots at each other.”

“The hell do you think I’ve been so far?” Dare asks Sapphire, turning and almost recoiling while giving her a look of incredulity and disgust. “She has a problem with me, so even when I’m just talking, not even to her, I’m automatically a problem too? That’s some fucked up logic.”

Sapphire just shrugs again, not sure how to respond. It sounded to her like Dare was being snappy to Felicity just a while ago, while they were still suffering from the blob’s poison.

“You know, you assholes, and me too, in fact, could stand to be a lot more like Dagger here.”

At the mention of his name, Dagger immediately looks up, looking nervous. He’d gotten lost in his own thoughts and hasn’t heard what Dare said, but because of their angry tone, he assumes it must be something critical.

“They’ve only ever been polite to any of us but still helped out whenever it was needed. They’re prepared to do what must be done, but they’re not constantly bitching about it.”

Coil comes to a stop and raises a hand. “Quiet.”

“See what I—?”

“No, just be quiet!” Coil hisses.

The intentness with which he’s listening indicates the reason for his command, so Dare obeys. Everyone stops and the whole group tries to listen for noise ahead. Coil was immediately… not quite suspicious when he saw the T-junction, but certainly alert. It’s enough of a disruption of the monotony that he suspected it might herald something significant. He, and everyone else, hears what sounds like distant conversation. The streets of Sin City are otherwise bereft of any noise whatsoever, so with every passing second, it becomes more evident that there is more than one other person up ahead.

“Do you think that’s another group of participants?!” Sapphire whispers excitedly, completely ignoring Coil's angry shushing.

“Dagger did reconnaissance for us before,” Dare whispers back. Looking at him, they ask, “Do you think you’d be up for it again?”

Coil gives up on trying to make out anything the voices are saying. Besides, he was already considering ordering Dagger to go investigate. He turns to address the group, and when he sees the young ranine looking at him expectedly, clearly awaiting instruction, he mentally nods in approval. He speaks at his regular volume, saying, “That will not be necessary. Whatever those wretched creatures from before were, it’s clear to me they were the only threats we have faced thus far. If we are to face yet more threats, I imagine it would be more of them, rather than an entirely new kind of threat, as that would strike me as more appropriate for the next round of the tournament.”

“Then what?” Felicity asks.

“We greet the competition, of course.”

It's 1091 words, and Group 1 is about to possibly meet another of the four groups! I'm really looking forward to seeing how they'll all interact. *drools*


Yay, I finished a little earlier for Week 63! Not much earlier, but it's definitely an improvement. B)

Spoiler! :
He boldly strides forwards. Dare gets the distinct impression Coil wants to appear confident in front of the others, as well as potentially being the first to greet them and present himself as the man in charge. Whatever; if their group gets to merge with at least one other group, that means they’ll be ten people — five of whom had nothing to do with Coil being elected leader. Dare has no affection for anyone but Dagger, so they have zero qualms with jumping ship, as it were. Hopefully, the newcomers have enough spine to resist Coil and won’t just accept his leadership as a given. That would piss him off, which would in turn give Dare no small amount of pleasure.

Dagger is most looking forward to interacting with new people. The negativity has been grounding down his optimism, and hopefully Felicity and Dare will get along well enough with some of the other participants that they’ll be more positive as well.

When the five turn the corner and see their new companions, they’re uniformly relieved! Coil wasn’t much impressed by Mason’s introduction, but he seemed competent enough, as most people wouldn’t choose to wear a suit and tie to a tournament such as this. Sapphire knows Lotus and Sky are definitely chill people, so their energy will absolutely help calm down her more argumentative teammates. Dagger already feels kinship with Ember because of their shared lack of confidence, and Credence generally seems fun-loving and pleasant. Dare is happy to see the other group of five all smiling and getting along, as that bodes well for the fused group’s future. And although Felicity doesn’t have any particular feelings towards anyone, the newcomers did at least strike her as good-natured people during their introductions, and her current first impression seems to support that.

“Hi, y’all!” Credence calls so excitedly, it almost sounds like ‘hiya’ with some random L’s at the end. “It’s so good to see some more familiar faces. Y’all have no idea how crazy it can ge…” He trails off and frowns at himself. “Actually, ignore what I said! Y’all obviously know how crazy and oppressive Sin City can get.”

“Hello, Credence!” Dagger calls back. He’d have said ‘Mister’, but Credence doesn’t look like he’d be much more than a decade older than Dagger, so he’d probably also have told him not to be so formal. He really hopes he’s not being presumptuous, but the smile he gets in return reassures him.

“Hello there, friends,” Mason says as well. “You look to be in good health and good spirit! Although…” He points at Dare. “You do look under the weather. Your name is Dare, isn’t it?”

Dagger turns to Dare, concerned. “Oh, do I need to water you again?”

Dare laughs and wave him off, though they do, in fact, look nauseous again. “I’m just having a poor reaction to some toxicity. It won’t kill me just yet.” They smirk, knowing perfectly well that the new group won’t catch the double meaning. (Of course, they’re mistaken in that assumption, as Sky and Lotus can sense their true thoughts and feelings.)

Lotus steps forwards, places her hand on her chest-spike, and bows to the other participants. She then emanates the faint scent of incense and the strong aroma of coffee towards Dare, also extending her hand in a sweeping gesture by way of making an offer to provide healing.

The message is easy enough to understand, so Dare nods weakly. “Sure, if you can help, I’m not gonna complain.”

She approaches, nodding at the other participants as she passes them, and lays a hand on Dare’s arm before enveloping them in a shimmering but transparent field of energy.

“The poison should work its way out of your system very soon,” Sky says reassuringly after picking up on Lotus’ thoughts with regards to Dare’s physical status.

“Thank the gods.”

“Should we all exchange names?” Credence asks. “You know, in case anyone forgot. Which is totally not me,” he adds with a grin. “I’m just asking on behalf of anyone else who might have!”

“As you wish,” Coil says, speaking for the first time. “My name is Coil, and the individuals behind me are Felicity, Sapphire, Dagger, and Dare.” As he didn’t point out the owners of the names, he adds, “I trust you remember to whom each name refers?”

Credence nods. “Yeah! And like I said, I totally didn’t forget, so I knew that already.” He winks in what he hopes is a charming manner.

“I’m sure,” Coil replies dryly.

The other members of Credence’s group each take turns to remind the other group of their names too. Once they finish, Sapphire says, “It’s a pleasure to meet you! You look relaxed and ready for anything this tournament will throw at you.”

Credence laughs loudly, almost scoffing. Mason chuckles as well, and Sky simply smiles in amusement. “I wouldn’t say that,” Credence says, “but I think we did well enough. We’re definitely more prepared than we were an hour ago. Did y’all fight a group of Kuribohs too?”

“A what?” Sapphire asks, staring blankly.

He laughs at his mistake, not having realised until then that they wouldn’t know to what the term refers. “Sorry! Blame him.” He points at Ember, who gives him a deadpan yet still visibly unimpressed look. “I’m talking about little green monsters that may or may not explode under the right circumstances.”

“I anticipate that all groups of participants were posed the same challenge,” Coil says haughtily, “otherwise the tournament could hardly be called fair.”

“Oh! That’s a good point, actually.”

Coil isn’t impressed by Credence so far, and he’s disappointed that Mason has allowed him to speak as much as he has. Is the rabbit their group’s leader? That doesn’t suggest anything good about the rest of their group’s charisma.

Dare, feeling even better after Lotus’ treatment than they had after Dagger’s help from earlier, walks over with Lotus to greet the others more personally. “They were little shits,” they say, “and the purple one was an even bigger asshole. Sup.” They extend a hand, and when Credence takes it, they pull him closer into a half-hug and pat him on the back — a gesture Credence happily mimics. They do the same with Mason, but Sky opts for a regular hug, and Ember just nods.

The rest of Dare’s group, aside from Coil, realises they should probably follow his example and then do greet their fellows more warmly. Ember quickly backs some distance away to signify his unwillingness to be touched and just gives the tiniest of forced smiles anytime anyone looks at him. He’s glad Sky, Credence, and Mason hadn’t felt compelled to greet him that way when they first met. He supposes it’s different when you’re first meeting the other members of your group when you’re still finding your way than when you meet another group after both groups have fought and killed weird monsters. It’s kind of like meeting a different family, although the other ‘family’ clearly has a lot of tension among its members.

It's 1182 words, which is more than usual, but I like the point at which I stopped! Cutting it a bit before then would feel forced, and I wasn't struggling to write and checking the word count every hundred words (that happens some weeks), so it's fine!

There is a clear difference in the enjoyment I derive from writing for Group 4 versus Group 1, good gods. I prefer marshmallows over sourpusses. XD


Week 64! And today was a rough one at the end, which is why it's so late. That's what happens when you get into a very brief spat with someone and both of you barely restrain your thoughts. It took me multiple hours to vent before I could force myself to just do the thing and write.

Spoiler! :
“How’d you fare against your blobs?” Dare asks the other group as a whole.

Credence immediately scowls, which comes as no surprise to his teammates. (Sky even smiles at his response.) “I think we did well enough.” He then brightens a bit. “We worked as a team to take them down!”

“From the start?” Coil asks. His expression is one of stony impassiveness and his arms are crossed, but while Credence wonders if the question is some kind of jab, Lotus, Sky, and of course Felicity know exactly at whom it’s directed.

“I mean, yeah? There was a group of them, and the purple one was bigger and obviously more dangerous than the rest.”

“How did you do?” Sky asks Dare, attempting to direct the topic back towards someone who might respond more positively. They don’t know much about Coil, but he’s clearly not friendly with the other members of his group.

“Both our groups got the job done,” they say, “so I guess that’s all that matters.”

“How did you get poisoned?” Mason asks. “The blobs only spat acid at us. I didn’t know it could be poisonous too.”

Dare shakes their head. “It was gas. The purple liquid is basically just acid.”

“Ah.” Mason nods in understanding. “It would be interesting if the purple ones know as many techniques as us; I didn’t use every single technique I know, and I don’t think anyone else here did either.”

Sky nods. “I believe I might have used eleven out of the twelve, but not all twelve.”

Credence focuses on the first part of Mason’s musing and grumbles, “It’s not just the purple ones…”

Lotus places a hand on Credence’s shoulder and emanates the sweet scent of chocolate and the earthy smell of wet soil after light rain. He gives a wry smile in appreciation of the gesture, and Sky smiles nervously at the thought of the exploding garbage container, but feels relieved that Credence isn’t too traumatised by the thought of Purgatory’s version of ‘creepers’, as he’d explained it. Dagger notices there’s context to the interaction that he lacks, but he’s too polite to press the matter. The other four of his group are aware something just happened, but they’re lost as to what.

“I think it was a good warm-up!” Sapphire says enthusiastically, deciding to address something she does understand.

Mason nods again. “I agree. I am also curious to see what other monsters Purgatory has in store for us.”

“There will no doubt be no shortage of those,” Coil remarks. “I daresay we will discover that sooner than later.”

Credence groans. Ember also doesn’t feel too happy about the prospect, but he’s dreading meeting the entire group of twenty participants almost as much. The more pacifistic members of the two groups feel disheartened for simpler reasons.

“At least we have more than just Suppressers now,” Felicity points out, rolling her eyes both at Coil and at the frustration of her performance in the previous fight. “And we also got a healer.”

“Two, actually!” Sky says brightly. “Lotus and I both know the Life Dew and Heal Pulse techniques.”

“Huh, that’s pretty cool. It looks like you got the luck we missed.”

In terms of team compatibility, Credence (and, to a lesser extent, the rest of his group) thinks that’s definitely true.

“Now that we’re together,” Sky says, smiling reassuringly, “if we do need to battle again, Lotus and I will be more than happy to help anyone we can.”

Lotus nods decisively. Mason finds her determination and sincerity endearing and feels renewed gratitude at the luck they really had enjoyed in being grouped together.

“For sure!” Felicity says, returning the smile. (Dagger realises it’s the first harmonious smile he’s seen on her since the start of the tournament. That, in turn, makes him smile ever-so-slightly as well.) “It’ll be nice to actually have the right kind of people to support. We’ll obviously keep any future blobfish or what have you distracted so you can deal with them more easily.”

“We’ll definitely welcome your assistance,” Mason says.

“Absolutely!” Credence agrees. “One was fine, but fighting so many at the same time felt like I was barely doing anything, and that was before they did the reset.”

“What do you mean?” Sapphire asks.

“Err, they went to sleep and got all their stamina back.”

“That must’ve sucked,” Felicity remarks.

“It did. It made the fight take twice as long.”

“Maybe only seventy-five percent,” Ember says matter-of-factly. He regrets saying anything when most of the other participants suddenly turn to look at him. Feeling obligated to clarify, he adds, “We already had momentum from fighting, so it wasn’t exactly as long.”

Felicity narrows her eyes, thinking the kid is full of it, but Sapphire is more impressed, saying, “That makes sense!”

A moment passes where nobody is entirely sure what to say next, so Coil seizes the opportunity. “Might I suggest that we resume the trek towards our destination? The directions we received conveyed the impression that it would take an indeterminate amount of time to reach it.”

Credence nods. “Sure!” After all, he pointed out something similar to his friends earlier in the day. He then gets distracted by the realisation that it can’t be ‘day’ and, more importantly, that he considers his teammates friends. But why wouldn’t he? That’s what they are! Except maybe Ember, who’s more like a teenaged cousin, haha.

Sky is about to affirm Coil’s sentiment when they notice a poster on the wall opposite them. “Oh!” They point and then look around, finding several other signs of occupation. There have still been no other occupants of the city, but the streets aren’t looking wholly uniform anymore!

Sapphire is naturally unaware of Sky’s train of thought and simply looks at the indicated poster. “Yeah, I recognise that one! Plumber was looking at it when we met.”

“Plumber?” Ember asks blankly.

“Yeah! She’s the plumber of… which street was it?”

“It was Blue Pillar Street,” Dagger reminds her.

“Yeah, that one!”

Anyway, that's 1005 words! I almost gave up, but I'm proud and very glad I didn't. ^_^


Week 65! We're nearing the number of weeks where the first LMS ended, which I think was after sixty-six weeks? Still, great progress!

Spoiler! :
“Why did you talk to a plumber?” Ember is no less confused.

“She gave us instructions on how to reach the square! In the end. Before that, she said a lot of things that didn’t really make sense.”

“Like what?” Credence asks.

“She’s apparently called a Homer because Sin City is her home, and we’re apparently called Sinners because we… came here to Sin City.”

Ember makes a noise almost like a grunt. “Eight could have told us that.”

“Oh, you met a Homer too!” Sapphire says, smiling. “Why didn’t you say so? It sounded like you had no idea what I was talking about.”

“I was asking why you spoke to a plumber. We spoke to a floater.”

“Maybe Plumber being a plumber was just a coincidence,” Sky ventures. “Seven also just happened to be a floater.”

“Why are they called numbers?” Sapphire asks. “What were their full names?”

Ember realises he used Seven’s number from before Three had arrived. “The Seventh Floater of Our Immediate Vicinity.”

Coil groans and starts rubbing his temples, half-burying his face in his hands.

“That’s even more literal than ‘The Plumber of Blue Pillar Street’,” Sapphire says, looking almost disappointed through the sheer degree of unimpressed that she is. “They’re all way too literal for my taste.”

“It’s just a cultural thing,” Dare says. “You’ll probably get used to it.”

Sapphire shrugs. “Maybe?”

“What did Plumber look like?” Sky asks, curious to learn more about the Homers. “Seven was pink and pig- or catlike, and they had jagged, V-shaped leaves on their head that span as they floated along. Two other floaters were green with yellow flowers on their heads instead, and the lead floater was blue with three dandelion-like puffs.”

She frowns, visibly trying to envision the floating Homers. It doesn’t seem like she’s succeeding.

“She looked like something straight out of a cartoon,” Felicity says. “A blue and white rabbit shaped like a beach ball. She had bubbly patterns on her stomach, stubby limbs, and floppy ears. And a tacky blue skirt.”

“You’re not gonna mention the spring-ball tail?” Dare asks wryly.

Felicity rolls her eyes. “You need to get over that. In fact, I don’t think that’s even the part that got you up in arms in the first place.” She shakes her head and looks back towards the other group. “But yeah, she had a tail that looked like a little blue ball attached to her by a zigzagging spring.”

“Did you have to save her while fighting the monsters?” Sky asks, again hoping to redirect the topic towards a more positive course, but not directing it away from Felicity for a second time, lest that alienate her. (And Dare was the offender that time. Sky hopes that the pair will put in more effort to get along now that their group is bigger.)

“Nah, we met her before that fight. We had to save different Homers there.”

“Oh, yeah!” Sapphire nods enthusiastically. “There was some rock-faced guy with a huge red nose. He ran away backwards after I helped him up. Pretty weird.”

“Prior to assisting him,” Coil adds, though his tone suggests he’s doing it only out of social obligation to participate in the conversation, “we also saw a rather large, rotund individual rolling away from one of the foul creatures. They looked like a grotesque child with a bib.”

Credence, Mason, and Sky all frown at the description. They’re not sure how objective Coil is being, since he’s shown himself to be both patronising and dismissive, but they’re also all certain they can’t actually imagine the Homer that he saw.

Sapphire laughs. “Yeah! They even rolled over a blob and the nose-person.” When she sees Sky’s concerned expression, she continues, “No, the guy was fine. Literally rock-solid. The blob was trying to chew his nose, but he called it ‘polishing’.”

“Gross,” Ember says under his breath.

“You can say that again,” Dare agrees. “There was also another Homer with a spring-like tail, except they were a pink pig with a pearl on their head, and they actually bounced on it like a pogo stick.”

“It was very distressing,” Dagger quietly says. “They could not escape easily because the bounce was instinctual more than intentional, and they said they could fall and die. They sounded convinced of that.”

“Oh, that’s terrible!” Sky says.

“I’d say they’re exaggerating,” Credence remarks, “but with the crazy things happening in this city, I shouldn’t be too surprised.”

“Never punch the walls!” Sapphire exclaims suddenly.

“What?” Credence has to stop himself from laughing out loud at the gravity on Sapphire’s face. She’s dead serious.

“Don’t punch the walls!” she repeats. But seeing Credence’s expression, she grins. “Plumber told us they punch back.”

For a moment, he thinks she’s pulling his leg, but she really could be telling the truth, and Homers don’t sound like they’d have any reason to lie. He doesn’t need to suppress his laughter anymore, since he’s too confused to know how to feel. “Umm, got it. Thanks.”

“Did Plumber tell you anything else that we shouldn’t do?” Mason asks thoughtfully.

“Just don’t be mean to the city!” she reiterates.

“Sinners apparently fight a lot,” Felicity says. “Go figure. Don’t think we really wanna meet any of those locals while we’re here.”

“Do you think they would have access to the same techniques we have?” Mason asks. “If they do, they could pose as great a threat as the monsters. If they don’t, the burden is more on us to resist the temptation to abuse our power, which could be a test Our Grace has set.”

“That’s a good question,” she says, putting her hand on her hip. “If they fight each other and also the mayor, I’m guessing they prolly have techniques too. Don’t know how many they’d have or whether they’d also be limited in their choices by roles. We’ll have to see.”

“Whatever the case may be,” Coil says, “we will undoubtedly find safety in numbers. However, we will not find out if we do not continue the trek, as we agreed upon several minutes ago already.”

Sky grimaces sheepishly. “I’m sorry, that was my doing. You’re right.”

It's 1032 words, but I wrote the halves about… two hours apart? That's what happens when you have a voice chat with your future D&D group, and I couldn't work on it earlier today because of visiting extended family and then power outages at home after returning. I'm glad I managed to finish it without too much difficulty in the end. Groups 2 and 3 will unite next week!

The person who has no opinion will seldom be wrong.
— Anonymous