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Masa con Papas: Proxy's Memory
[Image: Small%20Goals.png]

Manzana: You’re allowed in.

The door opens the rest of the way, the proxy revealing her full form.

Limbs segmented like armor, as pristine white as a mannequin out of a fashion display. There was a distinctly unfinished appearance to the whole thing, Her body held together by a pitch black substance.

There’s a certain eldritch beauty to it, kind of personal goals if you're honest with yourself.

Manzana: Here to pick up the sword?

???: Is it ready to go?

Manzana: Just about, came at a good time.

Opera: Hate to interrupt but… who are you?

???: A old friend.

The proxy seems to tilt its head at Opera’s cloak, the bat peeking its head out in response.

Paige utters a little chitter of a noise.

Opera: Really…

Manzana:  Mhmm..

Opera: Is that possible? To be able to just… be that far away from your source?

Fenton: Is for some types of em. Proxies that trigger on danger can sense it coming way ahead, and can wander off way more than typical.

Fenton: Could also just be one who’s grown past the definition of proxy.

Fenton: Surprised you didn’t know that actually.

Opera: I knew they could go out further but… does that mean there’s trouble?

???: Going to be. Hate to ask for you to rush on things but..

Manzana: I got someone kinda like you so, I don’t mind.

Manzana: Promised I was going to tinker with this piece, wouldn’t get much sleep anyway.

You offer the weapon to the proxy, it nods before giving it a proper look through.
???: You’re the real deal. Had to be ready one way or another.

Manzana: If it wasn’t?

???: I’d have to improvise something. This’ll be enough for now though.

???: Going to pass it along to that knight from yesterday, she’ll be willing to handle delivery there.

Manzana: We just met her, if you lose it-

???: Every knight has their routes as a courier. If she’s worth her salt, she’ll do it.

???: I’d go the rest of the way but I have a place to be first.

???: And I need to save energy for something else.

Opera: You know what’s coming?

???: Not entirely, no.

???: Did overhear your plan though. Mutiny.

Opera: You want in?

???: Horse has it coming, any other day I would but…

???: I have to make sure he’s safe right now..

???: Something bad is going to happen, there’s no way to stop that.

???: But I can keep it from being something that can’t be undone. Let’s leave it at that.

Fenton: Really about what I expected, yeah.

The proxy begins to fizzle out of existence as a rift appears behind it.

???: Stay safe for now, you’ll see us again soon enough.

Manzana: Don’t be a stranger, if anything happens-

????: I’ll be back, some form or another.

It walks through the rift and vanishes, only a light crackle as it leaves.

Fenton: Feel like I missed out on a lot.

Opera: Yeah, same.

Opera: We’re gonna fucking die dude.

Fenton: Probably. Nice.

Geezer: Nah, sounds a bit shit.

The construct steps through the doorway.

Geezer: Heard the whole thing but saw someone was waiting in line so. Let them go ahead of me for good measure.

Geezer: You wanna mutiny the dog?

Opera: Mmhmm.

Geezer: You got a plan to do it cleanly?

Opera: I was just going to jump them to be honest.

Opera: Not exactly someone you can just fight.

Geezer: I can.

Geezer: Grandma Erica’s taught me how to smoke fiend.

Fenton: Erica?

Fenton: Also she’s your grandma? Was she like, from the past or-

Geezer: She was pretty time displaced. Weird as hell coming back home after that. 

Fenton: Yeah, no kidding.

Manzana: You’re really going to go through with the mutiny plan then.

Geezer: Maybe. We’re going to do this clean.

Geezer: Gonna challenge them to a duel, want Opera as my second.

Geezer: Erica made sure I knew how to cook all of god’s creatures in a fight, fiend’s especially included.

Geezer: Figured Ali would outlive her out of spite, wanted to make sure someone can check her one day.

Manzana: I’ve seen you pick fights with her, she almost killed you on the spot.

Geezer: Today’s different, and Bucket’s a legit knight.

Geezer: If they’re worth their salt, they’ll take it.

Opera: We got numbers, why do we gotta do this by the book?

Geezer: Because there’s no reason to make it a group fight and risk everyone like that.

Geezer: Just me. I can beat them easy.

Opera: With what?

Geezer: Body’s mechanical. I know what they can do and a lot just bounces off of me.

Geezer: A mechanical body can be tuned up before the big event.

Geezer: All of you? If they bust your knee, you’re off the job immediately.

Geezer: I need Opera as my second because I want someone who can finish the fight if I gotta tag out.

Geezer: Do most of the work, if I win? We’re good.

Geezer: If I wear them down enough, Opera’s got more than enough to wrap things up. Minimize injury.

Geezer: The only one Bucket has around who’d second for them is Bern. Something about that kid is intense, but she’s small potatoes and Bucket wouldn’t risk their own squire getting shot. Unlikely to tag out.

Opera: That’s… not a bad plan. You really sure you can do this?

Geezer: Absolutely. It’s the job I’ve trained my whole life for dude.

Geezer: Erica’s a lot of things, never was big on how she was selective as all hell with who she’d train to be honest.

Geezer: Both me and Charon went through the same shit together, dude’s just as capable of running the family.

Geezer: But there’s one point she made clear, because I had to ask.

Geezer: She knew there’d be stronger folks who could easily swoop in for the house. She doesn’t want it being something that Ali carried on like that, or her own kid if they turned out anything like her in the long run. 

Geezer: Wasn’t going to have kids killing their own parents like that, worst case scenario. That’s why she picked me.

Manzana: You’re not like, going to-

Geezer: I’m not killing Bucket. Not today anyway.

Geezer: My point is I’m ready to go. I can risk getting hurt, I can bounce back easiest.

Geezer: Cause at the end of the day I just need one person who can lead to pull through.

Opera: And that’s me?

Geezer: Ideally, if nobody’s got any objections.

Fenton: Mercury?

Geezer: Love her to bits, but…

Opera: Mercury probably wouldn’t feel right about the whole mutiny situation. Yeah.

Manzana: Really? She seems like she’d be down. She seemed so cool…

Opera: She is but-

Geezer: If her and Buck got history like that..

Geezer: She’ll take our side overall, but she’s going to feel weird about the whole thing.

Fenton: I mean… I can if it comes down to it. Manzana can cover now-

Manzana: I can’t promise I can commit to being your dedicated tech crew.

Manzana: I’m just helping where I can. Still got work today after this.

Fenton: You can’t take time off?

Manzana: I gotta request that, no. Needle is probably pushing it too by being here..

Fenton: Ah.

Manzana: I’ll do what I can, stacked with vacation days. But til then you have a job to do too.

Fenton: Yeah..

Geezer: If it comes down to it, you’re a good secondary pick. Everyone here is really.

Geezer; But…

Fenton: No I get it, I agree.

Fenton: If things come down to it though-

Geezer: We’ll make it work out.

Fenton: Yeah.

Geezer: Then it’s settled?

Opera: Yeah. 
Three Cards in Winter
3 Part Intermission....
Perspective: Styx
CW: None

[Image: Past%20Roundabout%20small.png]

 Roundabout: Knock, Knock! You mind company?

Styx: Not at all, but you’re a little pressed for time at the moment.

Styx: Seasonal celebrations later today and all that to consider.

Roundabout: Got time, and you know you’re invited there too.

Styx: I suppose, I’ll drop in during a lull if you need a break.

Roundabout: Not up for it?

Styx: Having a moment.

Roundabout: Moody?

Styx: A little, I’ll get over it soon…

Styx: That said…

The snake smirks.

Styx: You’ve dressed up for the occasion. Any reason in particular?

Roundabout: Tis the time, you like it?

Styx: Absolutely lovely as always…

Roundabout: Tried to look for something that might be up to your tastes too, case you want to take the wheel.

Styx: Yes well..

Styx: I mean I’ll settle for anything personally. You don’t have to go that far for me.

Roundabout: Aye, but I know you’ve got your tastes too. Doing what I can to accommodate my wardrobe for you and well… I’ve noticed a few trends.

Styx: Ah…

Roundabout: If it’s not your thing I have something else I can-

Styx: It’s nothing like that by any means. Just…

Styx: The more I spend time as part of this life, the more… certain thoughts become difficult. Intrusive. Drowning even.

Roundabout: I know.

Styx: You understand though and…

Styx: It always seems so natural for you. Envy that really, but that’s natural for a schizo-existentialist nightmare like myself I suppose.

Styx: Miracle I’ve gotten this far at all.

Roundabout: Stop.

Styx: Sorry..

Roundabout: You’d never say that about someone else.

Styx: You don’t know that.

Roundabout: Haven’t seen it so far.

Styx: Could be waiting for the right occasion.

Roundabout: You know that’s not true.

Styx: Plenty of time to find out.

Roundabout lets out a sigh, offering her arms out to you.

Styx: That’s not fair…

Roundabout: Promised me you wouldn’t be as hard on yourself, right?

Styx: Mm….

Roundabout: Come here..

You make your way over, coiling your tail around her waist.

She seems to try and return it, coiling her own around yours.

Roundabout: Whatever you want to do, I’ll make time for you. We’ve got a good thing going, and I plan to keep you with me so long as you wish the same.

Styx: Be careful what you say, I may never leave.

Roundabout: Might be what I want, really.

Styx: Course…

Styx: You take the whole demon in your head thing quite well, I’ll never understand.

Roundabout: We made a deal to work together, and well…

Roundabout: I need you, and you need me.

Roundabout: And maybe we have a very good thing going with that.

Styx: And as for taking point? I don’t mind by any means but… you just let me.

Styx: Past clients understand its weight as a currency enough to not give it so easily.

Roundabout: I appreciate the break time.

Styx: I could get injured, it’s a lot of faith.

Roundabout: You enjoy your time too much not to make efforts to preserve yourself.

Roundabout: I’ve seen your suitors.

Styx: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Roundabout: Keep waking up to sweets and invitations in my inbox. You have to introduce me sometime.

Styx: I’m a man of theatrics, nothing else.

Roundabout: Maybe you could perform for me sometime, see what’s won you so many hearts.

Styx: Are you looking to be swoon by my unholy talents?

Roundabout: Already am, I just don’t want you holding out.

Styx: Implying I don’t save my best for you?

Roundabout: Have to know for sure, need to know if I’m being threatened.

Styx: As if anyone could.

Roundabout: I mean I’d win, I understand that.

Roundabout: You’d miss me too much to move elsewhere.

Styx: Assume a lot.

Roundabout: Is it wrong?

Styx: No..

Styx: You really do want me with you at the event?

Roundabout: Want you with me everywhere, god willing to give us that.

Styx: I consider his will a suggestion, personally.

Roundabout: What if he asks firmly?

Styx: I’d pull up my sleeves in an instant.

Roundabout: And if he’s too strong?

Styx: Then you’d be more than capable of protecting us.

Roundabout: What makes you think that?

Styx: I’ve got a good gauge of things, part of the job.

Roundabout: Is that something you have? A secret talent?

Styx: It’s common, an entity like myself tends to create mental categories for potential talent scout.

Roundabout: Can I hear mine?

Styx: Maybe.

Roundabout: Please?

Styx: I’d rather not do work during a holiday…

Roundabout: That’s fine, I just don’t want you spending it alone really.

Roundabout: Can’t stop you if you really want to but..

Styx: No, you’ve called things correctly.

Roundabout: Do you want to stay here or go out with me for a bit? I can make time.

Styx:  I’d like a little bit more of this but..

Styx: I think I really will take your offer.

Styx: Can’t promise I’ll behave the whole time. Parties and I-

Roundabout: You’re allowed, I want in too.

Styx: Are you certain? Could pick fights, flirt with bounty hunters, maybe even start a few fires.

 Roundabout: Yeah, fun stuff.

Styx: Hmm..

Roundabout: That a problem?

Styx: Not at all just..

Styx: There's something special about you.

Styx: Don't know what it is but..

Roundabout: I know.

Roundabout: Wordy way to make a confession.

Styx: I haven't said anything.

Roundabout: Not directly no.

Roundabout: But your face, the quiver...

Roundabout: You don't need to.

Styx: Mm..

Roundabout: I want to hear it directly one day but..

Roundabout: I'll let you figure that out I think.

Styx: Thank you..

Styx: You really do get me.

Roundabout: Someone has to. You're really not as bad as you'd like to make yourself.

Roundabout: Must have you tired some days.

Styx: Mm...

She offers you a hand.

Roundabout: Let's take a break, both of us.

Roundabout: Another year to look forward to.

Styx: Looking to renegotiate?

Roundabout: It's coming up, got offers you'd never refuse.

Styx: Then I look forward.

Roundabout: To the future?

Styx: To us...
CW: Children in peril, discussion of death and war

[Image: Fear%20and%20Hatred.png]

There’s been a long, uneasy quiet.

The child sits next to the window, looking out with unfocused eyes uninterrupted.

It’s time to break the silence.

Styx: Are you alright?

The look he gives you is one of a cornered animal about to bite.

His weary presence canceled out instantly by the intensity of his gaze.

You take a risk by stepping just a bit closer.

Styx: You’re safe for now-

Charon: Why’d you pull me out of there?

Charon: Why couldn’t you bring anyone else?

Styx: I needed to ensure your survival, and I cannot drag people in here without their consent.

Charon: You didn’t ask me-

Styx: Your contract allows me to take action should your demise be imminent.

Styx: You punched far above your weight class, that has given me enough to intervene.

Styx: As for the others..

Styx: Geezer’s contract is far too loose, I cannot do the same.

Styx: And he lacks the gift of being able to create such rifts himself, he played it pretty safe with his negotiations, smart kid. Low investments are ideal with entities such as myself-

Charon: Pull him out.

Styx: He refuses, he’s out there doing what must be done.

Charon: He’ll die.

Styx: A lot of people will die tonight, rest assured I am giving him what is within my capacity-

Charon: That’s not enough!

Charon: You were able to take me here, right?

Charon: Can we just.. Make a deal to get out of here?

Charon: At least the people who don’t want to fight?

Charon: Please…

Styx: It’s not within my power, and even if it was I doubt many would take the offer.

Charon: What do you mean..?

Styx: The library was many things. A safe house, a base of operations, knowledge, counteraction against the Church.

Styx: A home of good people who want freedom.

Styx: Anyone who was reluctant to fight before certainly won’t be after this.

Styx: I’ve seen it happen before. The moment a community’s base of operations reaches a point where it’s self-sustaining despite the ruling class, it’s burned to the ground and anyone within is part of the public execution.

Styx: Ideally you would run such revolution as tight and widespread across the community as-

The child cuts you off with growls and hisses.

It's enough to make your ears pull back in distress. His expression softens up just for a moment at that.

Styx: Sorry..

Charon: Didn't mean to-

Styx: You're fine.

Styx: Truth be told, I’ve been through this myself time and time again.

Styx: Despite centuries passing, we’re still repeating this to this day.

Charon: Did you lose anyone…?

Styx: Plenty. It’s the cruel nature of the oppressor to trade lives against those who only wish to live.

Styx: To show anything less than your all in the face of such, is allowing them to make example of you.

Styx: I do not have personal stakes admittedly but..

Styx: On the principle of the thing..

Styx: I will gladly hand you the first Molotov.

Charon: You hate the church..

Styx: I don't hate, I despise it.

Styx: Should consider themselves lucky I can't be out there with you right now.

The child seems to calm down at that.

Charon: If it doesn’t work out…?

Styx: I cannot help any of you escape this world. At this point in time anyone who was too loud during the past few scrambles is a fugitive. I would assume some of you will be on the bounty board by the end of the day if not today.

Styx: The people there have taught you well, and you’ve certainly picked a sword with the teeth to get you through.

Charon: This thing?

Styx: Aye.

Charon: Opera doesn’t like it..

Styx: Then the oppressor wields one as well.

Charon: This thing blew off half a guy’s torso…

Styx: and you’ll simply do better as time goes on.

Styx: The weakness of those who’ve lived in heaven, is they have remained unchallenged for so long.

Styx: The moment someone is able to match them pound per pound, you’ve more than clipped their wings.

Styx: That Proxy of yours needs a fresh name, Extreme Retention is a powerful prompt of its own. It does more than form a foundation.

Styx: But ultimately, it’s a mouthful.Hard to make calls in a fight if there’s so many syllables.

Charon: Right…

Styx: One, two tops. Keep it strong and short.

Styx: When you cut off the excess, life becomes easier to unravel as a whole.

Charon:  Mm..

Styx: That all you have to say?

Charon: It’s hard to keep up with you sometimes..

Styx: I’ll catch you up to speed. A good wit breaks the ego, another tool of the trade.

Charon: And you’ll really stick around the whole time?

Styx: Nothing but a benefit right now.

Charon: If… this works out.

Charon: I got one other wish I want. Once we get back.

Styx: Toss it to me.

Charon: There’s someone I want you to help me bring back home.

Charon: Grandma’s worried about them every day so-

Styx: By the end of all this, you’ll have the strength to do it yourself.

Charon: I…

Charon: We need to go back still.

Charon: You have to take me-

Styx: I’m establishing contact as we speak. There’s someone aware of my presence and they’ve been kind enough to give us a place to land safely.

Styx: When you’re ready-

Charon: Right now.

The child gets up from the ground and reaches for the weapon next to him.

Charon: Make good on that Molotov.
[Image: A%20New%20Year.png]

You walk into the room, a glass mirror separating yourself and the world outside your little pocket of a castle.

The silhouette of your rabbit comrade stands with a certain dignity and sense of impending finality.

He managed to get the drop on you somehow.

 Gallows: Finally showed up, been waiting for you.

Styx: You’re certainly in a good mood today..

Gallows: Can’t be helped..

Gallows: We’re near the end of things.

Styx: Aye..

Styx: Your holiday plan managed to commit quite a bit of sway there.

Styx: Assaulting the royal family during the winter holiday, rallying the burning of storage houses for militia. Certainly enough of a dent that they will hardly recover anytime soon.

Gallows: If you know the opposition’s taking a break day, you take full advantage.

Gallows: Common courtesy not to start shit before the new year but..

Styx: I understand, don’t need to explain yourself.

Gallows: Mm, you get it.

Styx: You've managed so much in so little. Makes me nervous thinking about it.

Gallows: It's a good time to celebrate but... doesn't seem like you're in the mood for it.

Styx: Hard to, not like we've won just yet after all.

Gallows: What happens next will be everything. This was always the plan, we've just a little more left.

Styx: I know.

Styx: Are you really so calm?

Gallows: Maybe.

Gallows: If I succeed, I’ve got the fate of many in my hand.

Gallows: If I fail, I can never show my face again.

Gallows: One is a chance to fix many wrongs..

Gallows: And the other is obscurity and a grave in the sewers.

Styx: You've managed to prevent messengers from spreading word, everything's gone smoother than anticipated.

Gallows: They’ll find out what I did soon enough.

Gallows: The gauntlet, the application, the game has always been fixed.

Gallows: And I think when it comes down to it, my mistake has always been playing by its rules.

Gallows: You get so far, what do you do after?

Styx: To earn a “rightful” throne is asking to be complicit in the end.

With that said, it did manage to net you the influence to make it happen just to be on the inside long enough.

Gallows: Mm.. we're about to witness a historical coup.

Gallows: We'll rise to the peak, take the crown, and when we have it all.. we'll refuse it.

Gallows: Anything less is doomed to fail.

Styx: And what of vindication?

Styx: A failed rebellion has value, for if it has the people truly in mind it’ll make noise. You have shown the holes, you’ve made it very clear that there’s options many didn’t know existed.

Styx: People will try again, this time braver than ever.

Styx: I've seen the state you're in, you're putting too much on yourself right now.

Gallows: Has to be done now, there's no time.

Styx: You're ill, and still recovering from your injuries.

Styx: If you don't succeed tomorrow, you may never do so.

Gallows: I know you only speak of such out of concern but…

Styx: I am aware of what's at stake. I just...

Styx: I don’t want to lose you again..

Gallows: ...Again?

Gallows: Why are you phrasing it like that? We've only known each other a few months, have we not?

Styx: Maybe but...

Gallows: Is there something you haven't told me?

Styx: Every once in awhile I am met with a client, one of distinguished soul and courage.

Styx: The same bold aura, a heroic charisma taken to the point of self destructiveness.

Gallows: I'm not that special really..

Gallows:... Does that mean..?

Styx: Many times you have called on me, and each time you're different from the last.

Styx: We shake hands, we grow together, and eventually you reach your end and I am destined to outlive you.

Styx: It's a blessing and a curse.

Styx: You show again in another time and place, and though you do not recognize me, it doesn't take me long to find out it's you.

Gallows: It's a bold claim...

Styx: One I cannot easily prove, but one I truly feel inside.

Styx: I want to get the most I can each time. Because when you die, It may be a eternity til I see you again.

Styx: And to be frank.. I worry each will be your last.

Gallows: And how does it usually end? Is this where road stops?

Styx: Always difficult to say.

Styx: Sometimes I've had you for decades, other times it's not so lucky.

Styx: If you truly feel you need to make this call, I will keep my end of the bargain.

Styx:: Nothing but my best work.

Styx: But.. I worry.

Gallows: I aim to survive.

Styx: That isn’t guaranteed.

Gallows: Nothing is.

Styx: And what if the people hate you?

Styx: What if the end result is a world that cares not for your labors?

Styx: Your health will not keep up forever either. Much work will be left regardless.

Gallows: When the monarch falls, the church will falter.

Gallows: When I strike it down, the people have a choice to make.

Gallows: I can’t decide it for them, but I give it to them none the less because it’s one I always wanted.

Gallows: All of us did growing up.

Gallows: And if they refuse to take it, that's at least their choice but..

Gallows: I will leave them with more than what I had.

Gallows: And truly, I believe in them. Even if I fall, they are more than capable of continuing to fix things on their own.

Styx: A True King of the Streets. The whole world is just as much yours as anyone else's.

Gallows: Fancy way to put it.

Styx: Mm...

Gallows:... Is that all you have to say?

Styx: My prose has its limits.

Gallows: And?

You go quiet.

Gallows: ... You really are scared for me if you aren't having the last word in this.

Styx: Of course I am.

Gallows: …You don’t think you’ll be able to protect me this time, do you.

Styx: Like you said, nothing is guaranteed. I will do my best

Styx: But…

Styx: In this life and any, I will have your back.

Styx: And I know one day we’ll meet again in another shape and form.

Styx: I just want a little longer before you forget me again…

Gallows:... I'm sorry.

Styx: It's not your fault, this was always the plan. It's as you said.

Styx: I… appreciate you, even if we haven’t had the most time together.

Styx: A promise is just words but..

Styx: Survive, that's all I ask. At least long enough that no matter what happens, I'll have enough times with you to hold onto til the next cycle.

Gallows: Course. You know I’m lucky like that.

Styx: You've clung through this by a thread, I'd hardly call it that.

Gallows: A thread is like a chain when it's you keeping it together.

Gallows: You've been nothing but great this entire time. And...

Gallows:... You’ll stick around after this? Our deal ends soon one way or another.

Styx: You want to renew contracts?

Gallows: It’s been good so far, why change things?

Gallows: Much work to be done even if all things go well.

Styx: Of course.

Styx: I'll have to think of the terms, something for the next few years at least.

Gallows: Don't pull anything in there, I'll have a lawyer next time we negotiate.

Styx: That's.... more than fair.

Styx: Until that point well..

Gallows: I want your best work. You're just as much key as everyone else, if not moreso..

Styx: Nothing less..

Styx: I...

Gallows: Mm...?

Styx: ....Thank you.

Gallows: You'll have time to say what you need to.

Gallows: But I think I already know.

Styx: Something to save til after, you're not one to die with regrets.

Styx: And if you don't hear it, I know you'll regret.

Gallows: Really leaning toward superstition?

Styx: It's all I have for now, and perhaps it's all I need.

Styx: But til then... just one more moment to share, you and I.

Styx: Pick a drink and a vinyl, think we both need this right now.

Styx: A final respite for now, a promise toward celebrations later.
[Turning Point]
CW: Violence
Perspective: Opera

[Image: The%20Opening%20of%20the%20End.png]
Your group shuffles out of the work room, anticipation in your body keeping you more than awake.

Now's the time.
Bucket: Good morning-

Geezer: We gotta talk.

Bucket:.. I figured as much.

Bucket: Go ahead.

Geezer: Gonna be honest, nobody’s liking how this ship is run.

Geezer: Doesn’t feel right letting you make the calls when everyone else has more personal stake at hand.

Bucket: That’s why I’ve been selected as the lead for this, having some distance. Whether I agree it’s the best route to take or not… I’m unsure.

Bucket: But under the current circumstances, I will not move.

Geezer: I’m not giving you the option.

Geezer: Opera?

Opera: Mutiny.

Bucket looks down at the cat and frowns.

Bucket: I don’t think you want this-

Opera: No, I really fucking do actually.

Bucket:... And you’re announcing this directly. I see…

Bucket: I don’t follow-

Geezer: I’m formally challenging you to a duel, keep it civil.

Bucket: Why should I accept this?

Geezer: Because if you don’t, it’s about to be ugly. Standard procedure, Opera is my second. You’re allowed to invite anyone as your own. Freestyle, the usual rules regarding duels out of dispute apply-

Bucket: I’m aware, I’ve looked into them while here considering how important they are to the culture of Plaza.

Bucket: But you’re ignoring my main point.

Bucket: What bargaining chips do you have?

Bucket: I can simply say no.

Geezer: Cause it’s going to get less than civil otherwise.

Bucket: A threat?

Geezer: A warning, for legal reasons.

Bucket: Mm..

Bucket: I’d rather not if I’m honest, but..

Bucket: I’ll stand my ground and entertain this. I pick Bern. Any location in mind?

Geezer: The beach is right outside. 

Bucket: Fair enough..

Bucket: This is acceptable.

They start toward the exit, grabbing their large sword resting close to the entrance.

The noise it makes gives everyone else in the room a certain ick immediately.

Manzana: You sure you really want to do this?

Geezer: Gotta. Don’t stand my ground now, it’s on me if things go wrong later.

Geezer: We gotta stick to out plan though. Can’t let it get out of hand.

Opera: Just checking in but.. You really got a plan to deal with them?

Geezer: Yeah.

Opera: I don’t want you hurt for nothing, if you want I can lead.

Geezer: Best this way. I got the information game on my side. You gotta play second so you can get a good read on the situation-

Bern steps out from the other room.

There’s a certain look of guilt on her face.

Bern: Right here you know.

Bern: Least you can do is let me head out before you start scheming.

Geezer: Ah..

Bern: Just wanna say ahead that like..

Bern: Whatever happens next..

Bern: I’m just doing a job.

Opera: You don’t gotta-

Bern: For your sake? Yeah I do.

Bern: I…

She lets out a strong sigh of frustration.

Bern: Just. Good luck, alright?

Bern: I’m not going to give less than my best. You shouldn’t either.

Opera: I… yeah. Okay.

Bern closes the door on her way out as she heads over to coordinate with Bucket.

Opera: That felt weird, right?

Opera: Like..

Fenton: Yeah no it really did.

Fenton: I’m down if you are but…

Geezer: Already committed to this, I’m not backing down.

Opera: Yeah, same.

Fenton: Sounded like a warning to me.

Manzana: It is.

Manzana: If we pull through with this, we’re going to have to fight my…

Manzana: Ali. There’s no getting around that.

Geezer: If you’re worried, I’m not going to let you get dragged in.

Manzana: You’re not going to-

Geezer: Not if we don’t have to. With someone like her? We get in and book it. If we gotta cut our losses and dump it all in the ocean, we’ll do it.

Manzana; I was worried you were going to fight her for a sec…

Geezer: If I gotta, I gotta. But don’t believe in trading lives like that if we can avoid it.

Geezer: Everyone lives.

Fenton: Yeah.. would like that this time.

Geezer: Got a few tips on where it’s being stored. Might not have to wait til the auction if we’re lucky.

Opera: You really found something?

Geezer: Yeah. Can’t be putting all our eggs in one basket, you know that.

Geezer: We’ll prep for every possibility.

Geezer starts toward the door. You give Paige a little pat on the head before following behind.

Opera: Ready to go?

Geezer: Yeah. Mind’s warmed up, don’t wanna waste that.

Fenton: I’m on first aid, try to keep it to a minimum.

Geezer: Plan to.

Fenton: Opera?

Opera: Won’t be the one needing it but… prep enough for all four.

Manzana: What about me?

Geezer: Save your energy, you’ll have your time.

Manzana: Mm..

Despite the foggy skies, the light feels intense in your eyes.

Your group heads straight toward the beach, the shape of your opposition in the distance growing more clear as you approach them.

Bucket: Had a bit of a huddle I imagine.

Geezer: Little bit of a pep talk’s never hurt anyone. You’ll live.

Bucket: Mm.

Bucket: You’ve taken good care of my mother in recent years I imagine..

Geezer: Least I could do for her. Know she misses you every day.

The dog’s face seems to struggle there.

You keep your hand in your cloak, watching the two intensely.

Bucket: You know I can’t return, not yet..

Geezer: You can make time. Gonna tell it to you straight though.

Geezer: You don’t drop by more, someone’s gonna drag you back.

Bucket: Who, you?

Geezer: Nah. Someone who cares even more. Someone you owe an apology.

Any cool the dog has maintained, any sense of divine dignity starts to show its cracks.

Their assistant slides into the conversation before it goes too far.

Bern: Look, love wrestling as much as anyone else but…

Bern: Let’s get this going, yeah?

Bucket: Mm… in positions?

Geezer: Aye.

Everyone clears the main battlefield, keeping enough distance to avoid getting caught up in the scrap.

You stay close enough just to make out the action.

Fenton: Bad weather for something like this, no?

Opera: You roll with the punches.

Fenton: You’re a marksman though, seems like a problem.

Manzana: It’s magic in nature, that’s the point.

Manzana: Bucket’s a illusionist, hard to get a clear read for anyone except for them.

Fenton: Hardly sounds fair…

Manzana: Yeah..

Opera: I’ll make it work.

The rabbit gives a gesture.

Geezer: Seconds, countdown!

Opera: Three!

Bern: Two!

Opera: One!

Bern: Go!

You witness Geezer walk up patiently through the thickening fog, it swallowing him more and more before-

You hear the sound of clashing metal, denting and folding as large sweeping swings of a blade tear the mist before…

The fog dissipates. The sword in a pathetic state flying off and crashing into the shifting shoreline..

The rabbit taking the dog to the ground and giving them the pummeling of a lifetime.

You look over and Manzana, eyes in genuine awe and fear.

Opera: What’s going on? That a trick or-

Manzana: No it’s…

Manzana: The illusion’s gone…

The dog continues to struggle and flail as Geezer continues to flail away, only managing to escape the cloud of sand and bruises by the skin of their teeth.

Snares and knots of silky wire only unbound though being torn apart by incredible amounts of effort and brute force,

As Bucket scrambles to their feet clumsily, Geezer continues to pace toward them. They shift their gaze over to Bern who seems to be having a hard time watching, before looking back at the rabbit.

There was a feral intensity you'd only seen back in that void. A reminder of a fiendish anger you always hope you never have to see again.

Bucket: She prepared you to kill me..?

Geezer:  Nah, I’m after bigger game.

Geezer: Get up.
[Image: eewwefr.jpg]
Bucket claps their hands twice, Bern following suit immediately.

Geezer starts to walk back toward you, with a tired look on his face.

He gestures to walk toward him, you give him a puzzled look only for him to shake his head.

Opera: They’re tagging out? This fast? I mean you fucked them up but-

Geezer: They’re stalling to get some rest and figure out a new gameplan.

Opera: How’d you even manage? Could barely make out the scramble…

Geezer: Old school knights like them aren’t trained for ground game. Nearly every fight gets taken to the floor quickly but…

Opera: Yeah but like…It was so clean..
Geezer: Something to worry about later.

Geezer: Don’t know a thing about Bern, she’s got something up with her though.

Geezer: Like… if they’re willing to bring someone like that with them..

Opera: And tag out after a beating like that…

Geezer: Yeah, that’s the thing. If she was just some rookie, that’d be insanely cruel.

Opera: I mean…

Geezer: Family’s got a issue with being too comfortable passing off a lot as just “tough love”, not gonna deny that.

Geezer: This isn’t it dude.

Opera: I can scout.

Geezer: Figured you’d be good at that.

Opera: Need you to be able to pull that trick twice. You deserve the rest.

Geezer: Yeah..

Geezer: Part of me wants to keep in, stay warmed up but..

Geezer: If I get down’d here and now cause of lack of prep? That’s it.

Geezer: Which means you know you can’t let a pin happen before I’ve got enough info to work with.

Opera: Surprised you didn’t manage it earlier..

Geezer: Didn’t think they’d tap out that, fast honest.

Geezer: Buck’s a fiend too, strong one.

Geezer: Not the same kind as my grandma or Charon though. Bit of a rarity…

Opera: What do you mean?

Geezer: Every fiend’s got a breath tied to their specific category, yeah?

Opera: Mm…

Geezer: Got a set of fiend silk on me, has a lot of usage.

Geezer: Fact that they managed to muscle out is impressive but… that’s it. Managed to completely muscle out.

Opera:... Isn’t Charon a bug fiend?

Geezer: Yeah.

Opera: Erica too? And uh.. Arabis?

Geezer: Yeah. Webbing type.

Opera: Webbing types can get stuck but they absorb it into themselves, that’s how it works in this world too I’m sure?

Geezer: Yep.

Geezer: There’s something hell off.

Without knowledge of what Bucket’s fiend type, there’s now a massive danger to worry about.

A fiend is incredibly variable in nature, some can become a threat just by making the slightest bit of contact to your skin.

It’s clear Geezer has the toolkit to deal with them but..

For now you do what you have to. Scout, gain info, stall for Geezer to plan round 2 and..

Opera: Mm.. Okay.  Get the gist.

Geezer: There’s a 5 minute timer before being able to tag again, just a heads up.

Opera: 5 Minutes? Sounds long for a fight..

Geezer: Only for freestyle dueling. New ruling, recent high profile match has people worried about stall tactics.Big timer in theory puts people off of trying to tag stall til the max timer on spectated events. Long matches lead to more risk of injury.

Opera:.. This region’s kinda weird dude. There’s a story right?

Geezer: I’ll tell you some other time.

He gestures over toward the other team, Bucket having their own conversation with Bern, too quiet for you or Paige to make out from the distance.

Geezer: You got this, yeah?

Opera: Mm…

Geezer gives you a pat on the shoulder.

Geezer: You’re up then.

Paige’s head perks up from your cloak.

Opera: You ready to go?

The proxy squeaks in confirmation.

Of course we’re ready, always will be.

Geezer walks off and takes a spot with Zana and Fenton spectating, the three of them seem to start bantering amongst themselves as well.

You Approach the other team, Bucket pointing you out to Bern before backing off.

The mysterious squire walks up to you. There’s a new intensity to the fight, one that exudes directly from her.

Bern: Feels like each of you got a proxy on you. Guessing the world did something to you and your friends.

Opera: Always have, just another adventure for the two of us.

Bern: Mm..

Bern: Read up on the case as much as I could.

Bern: Target’s got a history.

Bern: One I can relate to.

She looks over at Paige. There’s an immediate nervous response, one that you can feel bleeding over.

Bern: You know something.

Bern: I’m a bit of a thread in this too…

You try comforting Paige with a pat on the head.

Opera: What’s up?

I don’t want to do this…

Opera: Really? I mean I can handle it on my own if you’re not up for it-

No. I don’t want you to get hurt.

I haven’t felt scared like this since we were kids.

Opera: I mean we dealt with a lot of scary stuff..

Opera: Always pulled through though.

I know…

Opera: Tell me what’s up?

Paige: She’s a husk.

Bern: Don’t like being called that…
Bern: But… yeah.

Bern: Guess I’d fit the bill.

Bern:.. Wasn’t expecting to get that response from another proxy to be honest….

Bern: Don’t hold back.

Bern looks over toward Bucket as the countdown starts.

Bern: It’s time.

[Image: Bern%20Duel.png] 

As soon as the match starts, what come next feels natural.

Shadows pour from underneath Bern and fill the arena. In all but voice she becomes unrecognizable as the square you picked a fight with you.

Kite around, hold your fire until you have a clear gauge of what she can do. Your plan is set.

Each shade that pours out leaves less and less room to fight, freely, each stretch of line another wall.

Her form warps, reminiscent of the horrors you’ve encountered since youth, until her body is just another shadow against the wall, revealing her true self.

A proxy stands before you, one with a streamlined frame different from those you encountered in your home world.

You take aim the moment you got the footing for it.

Opera: Paige?

Paige: Do it.

You take a shot, a burst of energy scatters across like a shotgun blast, the spread of bits making it impossible for Bern to dodge cleanly.

A distinct hiss can be heard.

Before she sinks into the nearest shadow.

There’s audible rumbling traveling across like a rat in your walls.

Opera: Cover me!

Paige envelops around in a swirl of movement to keep your movements ambiguous.

You can hear the thumping coming from two directions.

All you can do is try to anticipate correctly right now.

Paige: Now.

You’re able to successfully matador the proxy with a flourishing twirl, about to take fire only for Bern’s physical form to lunge at you.

Paige leaps off your shoulders to coil around her mid jump, immediately sniping her approach

She’s trapped, an easy target.

The proxy attempts to defend her physical form by rubberbanding back toward you with a heavy ricochet.

You’re barely able to defend by slamming the flat of your gun between her neck and shoulder, redirecting her motion away.

There’s a skid across the ground as she tries her best to maintain her footing, using this as an opportunity to scrap up close.

There’s another attempt to force its way in, the strips of walls around you becoming closer and more condensed to prevent you from being able dodging.

It’s too frantic to take the shot safely as she lunges at you full speed

You use the blunt of your gun once more to keep Bern off of you, guiding her movement toward one of the walls.

Bern: Stop holding back!

Opera: Paige!

Paige: Busy!

Paige was having to put everything into trapping her in place.

The proxy escapes, taking big swings at you that put you more and risk of being pinned to the wall with each attempt.

You decide to take the shot way too close for comfort, missing in the chaos but managing to startle.

You take the opportunity to shoulder tackle her into one of the large line, only for her to phase in.

You make the call and blast off a chunk to the left off where she entered, forcing her to travel the other way instead.

It’s easy to pin down the noise with only one opponent in the picture, blasting ahead of her and limiting her escape.

The proxy is forced to emerge, you grabbing her as she pops out and successfully pinning her to the ground.

Bern: Let go!

Opera: Scoop it up!

Another wall lunges at you, tearing through Paige’s bindings.

It manages to separate you from the proxy yet again.

Opera: A-are you okay?

Paige: M-Managing!

Paige is able to seal Bern back up and hobbling over toward you.

Opera: What are you-

Paige: Hostage routine, you know the deal!

You point directly the gun directly at your friend, the other proxy watching in horror

Bern: Wait, what are you doing??

Opera: Back down or I’m taking the shot!

There’s a clap in the background.

Bern’s proxy form repeated it without a moment of hesitation.

Geezer: Stand down, they’re calling a time out.

Opera:... She can’t seriously do that, right? Has it been long enough?

Geezer:.. Yeah. Just barely but… yeah.

Opera: She has to be free, yeah?

Opera: We pinned her..

Geezer looks Bern directly in the eye.

Geezer: She sees herself as the proxy, everything else is just a tool to get around.

Geezer: Ruling with a proxy is that the name entered is the one person that needs to be successfully pinned.

Opera: That’s kinda horseshit..

Geezer: Normally it’s a strategic element. Lots of proxies are brittle, but they’re powerful.

Geezer: A source isn’t going to phase out of existence after getting floored by an uppercut.

Geezer: So you can choose what wincon you wanna give the opponent, so to speak.

Geezer: But when you’re both at the same time…

Geezer: And the proxy’s this much of an oddball..

Geezer: Rules don’t account cause it hasn’t come up in a big enough duel for discussion to happen.

Geezer: New rules in a sport exist when someone causes a stir.

Opera: We were close..

Geezer: Yeah.

You call Paige back, she gives a little whimper as she climbs back onto your shoulder.

Paige: Sorry…

Opera: You did good, match isn’t lost yet.

Geezer: Yeah. Not sure if I’ll get as lucky as round 1 but-

Bern reverts back to her previous state as she approaches Bucket.

She reveals her shoulder.

Geezer: Ah… fuck.

Opera: What is it?

The dog takes a bite immediately, their eyes begin to spark.

Opera: No fucking way…

Geezer: That’s their plan.

The mist reforms around both of you with a stomach turning dread to it.

Bucket approaches, there’s a certain unkempt nature to their fur that gives them a ferocity you haven't seen before.

Bucket: Will there be a tag out for you two as well?

Their tone had a jagged hardness to it, the natural crackling echo of their fiendish voice intensified.

A sword made of twisted metal and bone formed in front of them as they slid their hand across the air as if it were a flat surface.

Opera: I mean I can-

Geezer: Don’t.

Opera: No?

Geezer: Right now any sort of touch makes them a danger to you.

Geezer: Can’t hurt me in the same ways.

Opera: Can you beat them?

Geezer: Yeah, but I’d have to really take one for the team here.. 

Bucket: Certainly you can keep up with this, no?

Bucket: If you're truly my mother's strongest pupil, she's prepped you for this plenty.

Geezer: Maybe.

Bucket: Did you not anticipate this?

Geezer: Course I did.

Geezer: Just.. thinking on this.

Bucket: Be quick about it, stall too long and it’s a forfeit.

Opera:  I think we can take it on.

Geezer: Yeah but..

Geezer: That’s not the gameplan.

Geezer: They can spring back over and over. Not forever but more than we can take.

Geezer: We put in the work, we’re not gonna be good for the rest of the gig.

Bucket: Mm, pieced it together.

Bucket: But… I know you’re holding back.

Geezer: I’m not here to see you die, course I am.

Bucket: If you’re so passionate about being in charge of this job, prove it. Show me your finest.

Geezer: Knight’s passion isn’t just about being strong, you know?

Geezer: It’s about being flexible, making opportunities out of what you have, doing anything and everything you can.

Geezer: And if you can’t, you find someone who can, and you give them the best shot possible.

Geezer: I’m by the book. Don’t pick fights that lead to nothing, know when to pack it up.

Geezer: Playing dirty, but it’s fair game. You know you don’t gotta be able to win the fight. Just gotta make sure we lose.

Bucket: Observant.

Geezer: Used to be big into this kind of theory. Really are as good as they say.

Bucket: Surely you must have something up your sleeve? If you’re to carry the next generation, you need to be able to surpass me.

Bucket: And you clearly have something about you that makes it clear why my mother picked you for the job.

Geezer: Don’t gotta build me up like that, I know who I am.

Bucket: So? Show me your best.

Geezer:Not seeing much use in continuing. You talk through your fists, don’t need to see the worst of you like that. 

Bucket: So you’re forfeiting?

Geezer: Can’t keep this up forever. And if I play it out? Neither of us are gonna be any good for the job ahead.

Geezer: Know my limits, got what I wanted out of this. I'm good.

Geezer: Him though? He doesn’t.
He tilts his head, gesturing toward the left

Bucket, turning to take a glance.

Bucket: Have you returned Charo-?

Charon swoops in from the right and decks the larger dog full force, launching them off their feet and into the sand.

Bern tries to jump in immediately only to be intercepted by a large and daunting proxy.

Opera: Rook....?

Bern: Fuckin- Let go!

???: Stand down and let it play out. This isn’t your fight.

 You don’t hesitate to take full advantage of the situation, taking aim directly at Bucket.

Opera: You plan this far ahead?

Geezer: Nah, just knew what I was working with.

Geezer: Charon?

Charon: Couldn’t wait for me to return before your coup?

Geezer: Figured you needed the rest. How you holding up?

Charon: Tired, furious.

Opera: Feel that.. Glad you could make it.

Bucket starts getting back to their feet.

Bucket: You’ve breached the rules, this is no longer a civil resolution.

Charon: Never was. Rules are fake and so are you. Every single part of you except for one thing.

Charon points to the sword in their hand.

Bucket: Back down, you don’t want this.

Charon: If this is what it takes to get to know you? So be it…

Charon: I’m going to bring you back home…

Charon reaches over and pulls you in for an awkward hug.

Opera: Are you-

Charon: Can I?

Bucket: Don’t do what I think you’re about to do-

Opera: Fuck them up, dude.

He bites down on your shoulder deep, taking in as much blood as he can get from a single gulp.

Every sensation in your head intensifies, feeling like an eternity before he releases you.

Charon: Thank you..

Opera: Hehe…

You nearly tip over, Geezer managing to catch you.

Geezer: I gotcha.

Opera: You guys never let me down..

You watch in a haze as the halo appears over Charon’s head, its glow burning violently.

Bucket: Your metamorphosis is advancing faster than I anticipated.. what have you become?

Charon: More than enough.


[A New Day]
CW: Violence
Charon Mar Judgment
Bucket: I’ve let this go on too far.

Bucket: Really have failed you…

Bucket picks up their sword.

Bucket: If you’ve got something to show, do it.

Charon: No.

Charon: I’m not playing this on your terms.

Bucket: You disrupt my duel, assault me, and have the audacity to refuse to commit?

Charon: Nothing’s stopping you from taking a swing. 

Bucket: Consider it a mercy then that I’ve the sense to try and reason..

Charon: Reason implies compromise, you want me to go home.

Bucket: You really don’t understand-

Charon: I know enough.

Charon: And I know enough to admit I’m tired.

Charon: I’m not participating in his ruthless cycle.

Bucket: It’s not a cycle-

Charon: Yes it is, nobody in this family knows how to be normal.

Charon: Siblings and parent and child fist fighting each other over what?

Bucket: I’m trying to protect you-

Charon: You’re not! And I need you to shut up and listen to me for once!

The dog makes a hurt noise at that.

Charon:.. Grandma’s not a good liar. Doesn’t at all if she can help it. It’s you.

Bucket: Charon..

Charon: It’s always been you…

Bucket: I can’t let people find out about you… you’re way over your head in all this.

Charon: I know.

Bucket: Your grandmother needs you too.

Bucket: Fiend or not, this job;s taken its toll on her.

Bucket: And if god forbid something happen to you on this job-

Charon: You really want me to step down?

Bucket: It’s not how I’d put it-

Charon: There’s a lot of people I care about putting themselves on the line here. That includes you..

Bucket: You hardly know some of these folks..

Charon: Doesn’t matter.

Bucket: Myself included…

Charon: Then let me in.

Bucket: How can you trust your judgment when you’ve still got that creature on you?

Charon: Rook didn’t do anything-

Bucket: I’m not talking about that proxy of yours.

Charon: I’ll resolve things with Styx on my terms

Bucket: You..

The dog raises their voice in hurt frustration..

Bucket: His existence is taking a toll on you!

Bucket: I know what it did to Geezer! 

Bucket: And I don’t want him to break you any further…

Charon: I know I’m putting a lot of faith in him… but it’ll be different.

Charon: And I’m putting just as much on you.

Bucket:... You’re tempered. Only other member of the family to reach that point was my Grandmother..

Charon: I know.

Bucket: Erica noticed after you came back.

Charon: Mm..

Bucket: The amount of physical and emotional intensity a field needs to go through to reach that point....

Bucket: Your body is unstable, perfectly malleable for a number of potential metamorphosis.

Bucket: To have a man like that potentially influence it.. I can’t allow it.

The dog starts to approach you.

Charon: I don’t want to fight you.

Bucket: It won’t be much of one, because it’s not you that I’m after.

Bucket: Tell him to make peace with his god.

Your proxy tries to stand up in front of you, only for you to shove it away.

Charon: Listen to me!

Styx: It’s alright.…

The proxy continues to try and walk toward Bucket, you attempt to hold it back.

Styx: I know you want to fight even know.. And I always admired that about you.

Styx: In this life, in every other.

Styx: As much as you want to try and resolve this otherwise.. I know you’re ready to commit to what comes when negotiation falls through

Charon: It shouldn't have to be this way.

Styx: It won’t. God knows you’ve fought for too long.

A second proxy appears, tall and porcelain white with one with a distinctly feminine shape.

Styx: And in every life you’ll have me.

There’s a long pause, Bucket’s face slowly shifting through the emotions trying to process this.

Bucket: Another proxy…?

Styx: And if there’s anything more true in life, it’s that my rules are not your rules.

Styx: Never been fair for anyone and well..

Styx: It’s more than time to take responsibility for that.

The proxy holds out her hand, otherwise completely still.

It seems to cause Bucket to hesitate, at least for a moment.

Rook seems to calm down, enough for you to release it.

Styx: To take such a cue from the monarchy..

Styx: Disgraceful, but have to give them credit where it’s due. Follow my lead.

You finally approach, rook by your side.

Bucket: What’s the meaning of this?

Charon: Styx would like to negotiate the terms of his surrender.

Charon: A contract for the rights to his execution. 
As you line up directly with the dog, a diamond frame appears directly below the two of you.

Bucket: What is he about to do-

Charon: I’m taking us to his domain, I’m the one fully in control of this magic.

Charon: The only way this is going to work out if you two are face to face.

Bucket gives you a thorough look over.

Bucket: How do I know he hasn’t indoctrinated you fully?

Charon: Grandma Judgment raised me better than that.

Charon: So?

Bucket lets out a frustrated sigh and puts their dented sword down.

Bucket: So be it. But if I suspect anything-

Charon: I can’t stop you from trying.

Charon: But I’m tired of fighting.

The dog nods reluctantly.

The flooring pulls the two of you down like a elevator, the beach above tracking sand into the otherworldly castle before sealing off away from the larger world,

The two of you stand in a field of swords. Despite their age and despite the composite nature of the walls and floors, they’re rather maintained and cozy

Bucket: Cleaner than I expected..

Styx: Your son seems to have taken care of the place while I was away.

Styx: Admittedly looks better than it has in centuries.

The rabbit approaches from behind a massive chunk of ore in the middle of everything.

Styx: I’ve got a contract for you, one that I don’t think you’ll refuse.

THe dog’s fur tenses up.

Bucket: I’d rather not.

Styx: Really? I assumed that if you came this far you’d at least entertain it..

Bucket: I’m giving you a chance to speak, nothing more promised than that I assure.

Bucket: Nothing to stop me from simply ending this now really..

Styx: You tried earlier and it didn’t exactly stick.

Bucket: If it takes some trial and error, I have plenty of patience…

Bucket: For now I’d like to know a few truths, if you’re capable of such.

The rabbit smirks with a confidence that makes you genuinely start to reconsider this.

You pray to god he doesn’t provoke them.

Styx: I keep my end of the bargain if I can help it. So…

Bucket: I see.

The dog gets dangerously close to the entity.

Bucket: Show me your true form.

Styx: This is my true form, as much as what I see is yours.

Bucket: You know what I mean.

Styx: And I insist on what I say.

Styx: I’m a man of many faces. Just because I wasn’t born into them doesn’t make them any less true to myself…

Styx: Despite the treasure horde at our feet, those experiences are what truly matter most..

Styx: And as much as I long to relive them, nothing is more beautiful than the memories I hold…

Styx: I know what you mean of course, and if you really insist I-

Bucket: Stop.

Bucket: You gave me a sufficient answer.. I’d be wrong to press further there..

That seemed to soften their tone somewhat.

Bucket: Why are you and Charon still linked?

Styx: He succeeded me, whether I planned it or not.

Styx: His soul is what’s left of my own. He has inherited every aspect of my existence.

Bucket:.. What does that imply exactly?

Styx: He’s in charge, he’s the entity now.

Styx: I’m merely what’s left of the snake he once signed a contract with.

Styx: And truth be told.. I’m not certain if I am the original at this point. Fragments held together by memories possibly.

Styx: Perhaps I’m just another piece of the knight we call Charon Judgment.

Bucket looks over at you.

Bucket:... Is that true..?

Charon: It’s… very possible.

Charon: I.. am simply a piece of the puzzle myself.

Bucket: ... I suppose that explains a lot of what I’ve seen.

Bucket: Is it just the two of you then or-

You give a little gesture, a line of four proxies enter the  room, each lining up next to you.

Charon: mm..

Bucket:... I’ve seen similar. Is.. this recent?

Charon: In some ways but..

Charon: It’s more just long unaddressed.

Bucket: I see…

Bucket: I’d.. like to talk to you in private, this knowledge has given me much to ponder. 

They look over at Styx.

Bucket: Is that acceptable?

Styx makes a little gesture to call in a proxy of his own.

Styx: Both of you are allowed to, I wouldn't mind a brief pause to this before we continue.

Bucket: Mm...

Bucket: Charon..

Charon: I have a good spot for this, come with me.
[Image: Small%20Checkpoint.png]
Bucket: Where are we heading?

Charon: Place where we can find a little piece of mind.

Bucket: And… all of them? Your proxies?

Charon: Not sure if that’s all of them but.. Mm.

Bucket: I’ve… much to think about.

Charon: Likewise.

Bucket: I managed to pick up a number of documents regarding guild experiences with you.

Bucket: And I talked to your grandmother as well recently.

Charon: And? Where are you going with this?

Bucket: I didn’t really know what to anticipate.

Charon: Start with Erica.

Bucket: “More stubborn than any of us. Kind of a feat.”

Bucket: “Get him to back down quick cause once he’s settled, he’s not changing his mind.”

Bucket: “At that point? You’re stuck with ‘em. Better make sure he comes back.”

Charon: And?

Bucket: Looks true so far.

Charon: That really all of it?

Bucket: She said you were good with tools, if we weren’t already so deep in…

Bucket: What’s the word?

Charon: Technicians?

Bucket: Good way to phrase it.

Charon:... What were you going to say?

Bucket: It’d feel rude now.

Charon: Try me.

Bucket: Glasses.

Charon:.. Suppose that’s not wrong. Me, Manzana, Fenton…

Bucket: Rosario.

Charon: Haven’t gotten chance to gauge her much.

Bucket: Won’t have to, one of Ali’s hires.

Charon: That’ do it. 

Bucket: But… I’ve worked with her in the past as well.

Bucket: Ali’s been playing a fairly sizable role in my current ventures.

Charon: Was wondering about that.

Bucket: She’s got all the money and contacts. As much as she played a large role in pushing me into my own situation… I can’t deny that she’s efficient.

Charon: Don’t know how anyone puts up with her.

Bucket: She’s a lot like you… but she’s had far less love in her life.

Bucket: I’m happy to see you’ve so many friends..

Charon: Don’t get to see most of them often to be fair..

Bucket: Mm. I understand that feeling…

Bucket: Is this.. Really all in this castle?

Bucket: I’m aware it’s not of this realm but..

Charon: Styx tends to horde, let’s put it like that.

Bucket: It’s somber..

Charon: Mm..

The two of you enter a endless field, the entrance covered in moss and cracked tile far in the distance now.

The sky is long enough to make anyone feel small.

Bucket:... You’re going to fight me out here.

Charon: It won’t be much of a fight.

Bucket: I thought we were done?

Charon: Maybe. We can walk back at any point if you’d like but..

Charon: A stranger approached me today, got a bit dramatic but..

Charon: Managed some good advice out of it.

Charon: I know that deep down this is the best way to understand you.

Bucket: We… You don’t have to do this. I’m sorry for-

Charon: Would you be satisfied if we walked back now?

Bucket: I’ve put you through enough, we-

Charon: Yes or no?

Bucket: ... No.

Bucket: Whoever you spoke to seems to know a lot about me.

Bucket: Aspects I’d never want to admit..

Charon: Mm..

Bucket: So then..

Charon: Nothing but your best.

Bucket: It’d be dangerous-

Charon: Worry about yourself.

With a flick of the wrist, a portal manifests near the larger knight.

Charon: Reach in there, pull out the sword that feels best.

Bucket nods, sticking a hand into the rift.

With a single swing they managed to tear out a massive blade, the portal shattering.

Bucket: That’ll be plenty.. Are you ready-

Charon: As much as I’ll ever be.

Your skull is still vibrating from the rush of drawing blood from Opera.

Bucket puts their guard up.

Bucket: Begin-

As soon as the words exit, Rook dives in with a tank full of gas and a flurry of jabs.

The other dog retaliates, guarding with the flat of the blade and using their weight to push back with immense force.

You use this momentum to approach, your own hand reaching toward the rift at your hip.

You grab a handle comfortably..

Rook takes a massive counterblow, their full weight into a tackle to shove the ghostly dog off of them.

You feel a fog coming in, illusionary smoke trickling into your lungs.

You're low on time to make things count.

You're in range.

Rook makes a second attempt to dive in pressuring the dog, claws slamming the dirt and grass below you into their face.

The dog covers their eyes but instinct allows them to push through and wind up a swing so heavy, the air and grass nearby are shredded.

There's no way they could potentially win a direct trade. Neither could you for that matter.

The illusion starts to take hold, your final chance.

You attached a rift to Rook as they go in swinging one last time, Bucket obliges, diving lower than the proxy's hook and coming in with the counter blow. 

They swing full force.

The world seems to pause for a moment.

The rift flickers.

You switch positions with Rook.


You drawn the tuner from the rift at your own hip, swinging back with full confidence.

Blades meet, you parry their blow.

You feel the entire force of their attack flow through you, knocking them back with the first motion.

They maintain their footing and guard despite all this.

It didn't disarm them, it didn't crack their blade nor make them stagger all that much.

The kinetic energy starts to overwhelm, you're thinking faster than you ever have in your life..

You do the one thing you know they can't anticipate.

The second swing, releasing the kinetic energy.

Directly under your own feet.

You launch right at the dog, elbows covered in metal gauntlets pivoting the strike.

Your full weight pinpointed with the force of their swing back at them.

This time it's enough to break their guard.

Their footing is strong Despite this, you need to be able to down them in the next hit.

If you could just repeat-

You give rook a nod.

[Image: Frame%20Breach%20Final.png]

The proxy swings at you, you parry it and in one slick motion and redirect it at them.

A sloppy guard from Bucket, one that doesn't manage to maintain the same defense.

You repeat this.


And Again.

Something has to give and it's not going to be you.

Guarding each counterblow visibly straining their body, the world around them cracking and crumbling as they tank t until..

You swing...

They're not there.

Rook screeches as they're slammed aside.

It's coming.

As you're pulling your brain out of the dirt, you feel the force coming.

You turn around, Bucket's sword in mid motion.

The look on their eyes, there is no fear.

They think nothing of you.

You won't be able to swing back fast enough.

You abandon the blade.

You use your free hand to guard, this is it.

This is all you can do.

You push back full force as it clashes, you can feel the framework of the gauntlet crumbling.

Your hand inside burning, crackling.

And yet..

a natural parry, you thrust back.

Bucket's guard breaks.

There's a spike of pain in their face. Their sword finally gives.

The kinetic force remains, with your other hand you release it in one big counterpunch.

It sends them directly into the floor, the intensity leaving deep a trail in the dirt.


As the dust settles, you put your sword down.

You slowly approach the other dog, Rook trailing behind you with a nervous energy as always.

You offer it a hand, a little comfort.

It takes it.

There’s a brief calm between the two of you, one you’ve desperately needed over the past few days..

Charon: It’s over, you need help?

Bucket slowly lumbers back onto their feet, shaking their head.

Bucket: I’ve never said that I’m finished.

Charon: Really?

Bucket: To show me this resolve is only to be returned with the same.

Bucket: So….

Bucket: Consider yourself more than earning your name and title.

Charon: Is that what it took?

Charon: In that case, I forfeit.

Their ears flop down in disappointment.

Bucket: Pardon?

Charon: I could’ve cleared you out in far less.

Bucket: You’re lying. Show me-

With a swift gesture a fortress of with sharpened arms protruded around the dog.

Charon: In my domain you’re hardly a challenge. But I knew you wouldn’t accept that.

Bucket: Your domain? You mean the entity-

Charon: His name is Styx and I’ve inherited this void. You’re more than welcome as a guest but it’s my land in the end.

Bucket: Mm.. backing down then?

Charon: You speak through the blade you hold. I’m out of words for you.

Bucket: I see..

Charon: So, your decision? You were offered Styx’s surrender.

Bucket: I’ll hold the contract, at least until the job is done.

Bucket: If I see anything out of line I will execute him on the spot, clear and simple.

Charon: Mm..

Bucket: That proxy of yours is odd, doesn’t seem to care much to fight.

Charon: Honestly.. Neither do I.

Bucket: And yet you choose to pursue knighthood? To be a champion of the people without the will to draw your sword?

Charon: I’ve plenty the courage and moreso the motive to drop anyone who’d harm the innocent.

Charon: And should you ever become an enemy to life itself, I’d cut you down too.

You retract all the weapons away, freeing the other dog.

Charon: But… I want to end the cycle.

Charon: A world that needs people like you and me is one that deserves better.

Charon: And if that means we fade from the earth, so be it.

Bucket: You’re really serious..

Charon: One day I’ll return home with you, and you can live out the rest of your days as intended..

Bucket: And what would that be?

Charon: Mortal, loved, and inevitably your life will end quietly in the comfort of your home.

Charon: No more martyrs or gods in this family.  Styx?

The rabbit appears, a contract in hand.

Styx:  Of course..

He offers it out to the knight.

Styx: Take this, assurance that I’ll behave. If you’re not satisfied..

Bucket: Odds are I won’t be.

His ears seem to pull back at that.

Bucket: But..  I suppose a chance is more than warranted.

They take the contract and look back directly at you.

Bucket: I don’t think I understand how you operate. You really remind me so much of your great aunt..

Bucket: Miracle you’re this held together. She’s long been lost in her own mind.

Charon: She just needs a talk.

Bucket: You won’t get far.

Charon: Doesn’t have to be me..

You take a moment to really take in the world around you. The towers, the floating island, the endless skies…

Charon: Styx, what is this place exactly?

Styx: A graveyard from another life. One I couldn’t make out for the life of me. Must’ve forgotten it a long time ago…

Charon: I’d like to take a look, something is calling me..

Styx: Easy to get lost, could be days before you make any significant progress.

Charon: You ever tried?

Styx: Aye..

Styx: This is the lowest level of the castle, the one that teeters on the edge of existence.

Styx: The end of a story, the start of another. A Nameless World..

Charon: I see..

Styx: Does that answer your question-

Charon: I need you to cover me for a bit.

Bucket: Absolutely not.

Styx: Pardon?

Charon: Take care of things out there, I need to dive further.

Charon I feel.. Something calling.

Bucket: I’ve agreed to give him a chance, to give him control of the front-

Styx: I don’t exactly disagree, people wouldn’t exactly care much for me out there.

Charon: There’s someone out there, no?

Styx: Hickory…

Styx: But… I don’t know if I should disrupt their current work.

Styx: They’re on the verge of a discovery themselves-

Charon: Hickory signed a pact with you, the least you can do is ask.

Charon: Know it’s been a good time since you two have talked but-

Styx: We’ve been plenty in contact since I’ve returned. They’re in Plaza as we speak..

Bucket: You’ve had that info on hand..?

Styx: Mm. They asked me to stay silent however. So….

Charon: Find them. Group needs to talk to them if they’re on this job, don’t want any surprises.

The entity opens his mouth to speak, only to stay quiet for a long time.

Charon; Styx? Please…

Styx:... Alright.

Charon: See if you can get Rosario to help you out too. A hired hand won’t have a stance.

Styx: …You’re serious about this then?

Styx: I’ll stay safe if you promise you will.

Charon: Aye.

Styx: Return home. Even if you can’t find what you need.

Charon: Mm..

Styx: I’ll… have my own proxy meet with you. You and Rook need more to back you up if you want to get anywhere. I feel she’s still around despite everything…

Charon: You take care of everyone out there, mean it.

Charon: You want to prove you’re a different man? That’s your chance.

One last gesture, a rift underneath both Styx and Bucket.

Bucket: You’re really going so fast? I..

Bucket: I felt as if we just started talking..

Charon: You had plenty of chances, and if you stick around awhile you’ll get more.

Charon: See you both on the other side..

A big blinding flash as the two are transported away.

You give Rook a small but tired smile, the proxy returning it with a warmth you need right now.

This Nameless World is yours.

Perspective: Styx Brimstone

[Image: Namless%20World.png]

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