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Fantasy [Isekai Hell] Soul Wood



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OOC: I took some liberties with the opening narration. Feel free to add more detail or change the circumstances of your entries as you like.
Time: ???pm
Weather: comfortably cool with mostly overcast skies in twilight and mist
TLDR: The characters, each for reasons unique to themselves, find themselves in the soulbound forest, trapped. Aside from the forest itself, there are many things within that give one reason to be here. The characters will have their own pursuits, some of which may intersect or conflict with the others. The characters are presently all stumbling, tumbling and otherwise appearing in the same crossroads of the forest within eyesight of each other.
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Soulbound Forest


In a world where shadows whisper tales of forgotten realms and the moon hides secrets within its craters, our band of wanderers find themselves drawn to the enigmatic whispers of the Soulbound Forest. A place of ancient spirits and time-bending flora, where echoes of the past intertwine with the tendrils of the present, each whispering their own melody of long-lost tales and forgotten power.

Rios, a young man with dreams as vast as the skies and a resolve as fragile as glass, finds himself called to the whispers of the ancient warriors, their spectral hands beckoning him forward, promising the strength he so fervently desires. Every broken shard of his equipment sings of the possibilities within the enchanted boughs of the forest.

Tupu, the hybrid wanderer with the scales of dragons whispering in his veins, seeks the companionship of the legendary creatures and the bonds of the unknown. His steps are light, following the murmurs of powerful entities and mythical allies hidden within the green labyrinth of shadows and secrets.

Amelia, the neko with nobility dancing in her feline eyes, is drawn to the forest by whispers of realms where lineage is but a whisper in the wind, where her blood could sing the songs of royalty. The ancient ruins seem to hold the power and prestige she longs for.

Morrigan, the newly birthed entity with the universe’s enigma wrapped around her essence, traverses the whispering leaves seeking the knowledge of life and existence. The soulbound spirits seem to hold the keys to the mysteries of creation and the symphony of the cosmos.

Todd, the wolf like beastman with a heart woven with the threads of compassion and aid, steps softly through the underbrush, hoping to soothe the wailing spirits that called to him and free them from their eternal chains. Every plea from the bound souls strikes a chord within his noble heart.

Merrill, the tiefling with the swarm of the insect realm dancing on her arm, is drawn to the unique song of bugs within the forest, seeking their secrets and wisdom. The Chronoferns and unseen insects hum the tunes of uncharted knowledge and arcane secrets.

Zolgen, the demon with the shadows of violence and power enveloping him, sees the forest as a sanctum of forbidden strength, the spirits whispering the forbidden dances of combat and magic. The ruins of Aether seem to hide the crimson secrets and dark whispers he craves.

Zohar, the otherworldly human with goals so grand, finds refuge among the whispering shadows and trees from his relentless pursuer, Nephilim. The arcane energies and the shadowy pools seem to hold the dark harmonies and painful melodies he seeks to compose.

But, as they traverse deeper, the forest weaves its enchanting web around them, trapping them within its whispering leaves and shadowy boughs. A spectral light dances before them, a wisp of forgotten times and unsung legends, leading them through the labyrinth of whispers and shadows, drawing them to the heart of the enchanted forest and to each other.

Each step unfolds new mysteries, each whisper holds new promises, and every shadow hides unknown dangers. The forest seems to be alive with a forgotten tale in an unread book, demanding their attention, drawing reactions from their very souls.

The air, laden with golden mist, hums with the whispers of yore, its radiant strands weaving tales of ancient realms and hidden fates. The eternal twilight bathes the realm in a dance of dawn and dusk.

The colossal guardians of this realm, the Warden Trees, reach skyward, their silver leaves whispering the symphonies of bound souls, while their twisted roots intertwine in intricate patterns above the forest floor. Each leaf, a whisper of a long-forgotten tale; each root, a memory of times long past. The luminescent fungi and radiant blossoms lend their ethereal light to the mist at twilight, whispering secrets and casting shadows of ancient, haunting beauty.

To the left of many of the characters gathered, the Spectral Falls cascade in luminescent whispers, murmuring glimpses of realms unseen and times untraveled. It's here where the fabric of reality weaves its delicate dance, where the threads of fate intertwine in the shimmering cascade. The characters can see glimpses of other realms, each droplet a mirror reflecting an aspect of the cosmos.

Within their sight, a cluster of Whispering Willows sway, their branches weeping the tears of the forgotten. The murmurs within the willow's embrace seemed to beckon to some with promised knowledge.

In the distance, the Elysium Meadows sprawl in a sea of golden flower petals, and the spirits of the forest waltz in silence. The bound souls converse in hushed tones, sharing tales known only to them, their whispers a delicate bond of knowledge and alliance.

The wanderers looking around further might also spot spot other entities of this realm such as Lumina Deer with antlers of light acting as guides to lost souls and forgotten places, Wraithwolves, shadows of protection, guarding the sanctity of the forest while they lurk in the underbrush and roots, Specter Owls, with eyes that dance through time, suggesting hidden truths and forgotten events, and Soulbound Sprites, tiny luminous puffs of the bound souls.

The air is filled with the fragrance of Wisdom Blossoms, the nectar of which promises enlightenment, while Mirror Orchids reflect the observer's own desires and fears, their petals putting the worth of one's own soul on display. The Chronoferns release their spores in quiet puffs, their spores promising time.

The ever-shifting labyrinth of the forest would prove daunting to some, its changing not quite imperceptible, while the shadow pools, like the falls, speak of other realms, their dark waters a gateway to unexpected journeys and diverse experiences.

The ancient, ethereal ruins of Aether whisper secrets of a civilization long forgotten, their stones a canvas of exploration and discovery, while the Crystal Altar, a beacon of luminescent magics, calls as a communion with the essence of the forest and a stage for rituals of unseen consequence.

All characters would find themselves present or becoming present in a crossroads where paths through the wood intersect. From this point the party makes note of the various spectacles around them as described above. It is up to each individual how they will get out of this place or if they would even want to.
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TL ; DR- Zohar escapes his pursuer wandering into the Soulbound Forest. After stumbling his way through he comes to an epiphany while gazing into the waters of the Spectral Falls. Then encounters the rest of the group introducing himself to them as well as calling attention to the labyrinthian nature of the forst.
Inked__ayin_project_moon_and_1_more_drawn_by_cl0ckfly__sample-d6f86e217a54231dd4c15b91d6be5962.jpgA man made heavy footfalls through the forest, doing all he could to cross as much distance as possible. Rather than running it was more apt to say he stumbled and dragged himself forward leaning on trunks and grasping at any leverage he could to move forward. Grasping a branch far to wiry and dark to be a normal tree's he pulled himself up and pushed himself through luminescent bushes. Only for his form to flicker like a gold static causing him to fall forward to his knees. Rather than continue on he stayed on the ground breathing heavily, before casting his bright eyes behind him. He saw not a single outline within the woods he could mistake for a persons, yet still he stared as if the one he searched for would suddenly conjure themselves in the shadows. Fortunately no such thing happened.

Remembering the one who pursued him even now his hand hesitantly went to his chest clutching for a wound he knew was no longer there. Yet the memory brought forth a tingling itch which lingered where his heart would be like a phantom. The remnants of the man he once was caused this feeling, even if logically he knew there was no reason for it. His nerves calmed quickly making way for peace; his analytical nature took over. Finally taking stock of the forest he had raced into. In a word, it was otherworldly. A sentiment that was ironic coming from him though he did not know that yet. There was nary a light from the sun above distorting the sense of time, the foliage was strange and unlike anything he had seen before. He was no botanist but it was like everything here was an imitation of a tree or a flower, but wholly different in both appearance and feeling. Just standing within the forest evoked something he had only felt once before. The rustling of leaves and general cacophony of nature had an order to it, a purpose that spoke to him like whisperers in his mind. It drew him in.

His steps were heavy and the effort to move was difficult as if his body was burdened by a weight. He felt different strong yet weak, whole yet shattered. The man could only wonder if it was caused by that dangerous woman; who knows the full scope of the power she was given? All he knew was how effective it was as a weapon. His chest once again itched causing him to clench his fist. The image of her fingers pierced through his body manifested in his mind. He found the strength to move.

Reaching deeper into the forest he looks back only to find an unrecognizable scene of boughs and leaves. He realized that he can no longer go back, only continue forward. If nothing else it also meant that woman would have a harder time tracking him down. He now considered this forest as some supernatural or extradimensional phenomenon, and made more careful steps rather than the desperate rush from before. Soon he finds himself beneath the boughs of massive silver trees. From where he stood he could see various environments and fauna. Each one more bizarre than the last animals that defied common sense and natural laws littered the terrain. Some resembled ones he knew while others he could scarcely guess as to what they were. With a wary expression he approached the Spectral Falls. Though he couldn't divine their true nature he felt drawn to them and the light they held within. Peering as close as he dared he swore he could see visions of something else within them. He could possibly tell more if he got closer but something told him not too. That is until his body once again shone with gold light and seemed to disappear for a fraction of a second before reappearing again flickering. He fell forward in front of a pool, he dry heaved as if he would hurl but nothing came out not even saliva. Instead his eyes shone gold as if in response to his plight, and then he found himself looking into the luminescent pool of water.

He saw things within it, worlds and realms he did not understand moving by and too numerous to latch onto their meanings. His reflection stared back at him, black unkempt hair, a equally dark button up shirt oddly enough missing the hole he felt should have been over his heart, his lab coat white and pristine as it appeared in his mind and eyes that held within them Light. A color that was unfamiliar to him. Memories rushed to the surface of his psyche, ones he had forgotten or perhaps repressed. The "end of his dream" they rushed by and suffused him revealing to him the truth. A melody only he could hear, a dissonance only he could fix. The Light that was him. He rose his head, he wasn't alone. There were other beings coming from the shadows of the forest, some could be described as people while others monsters.

The thing that was a man yet not raised itself from the dirt. His stance was different, his strength had not changed he remained frail. Yet there was a purpose in how he held himself a surety that was not there before. An utter lack of doubt in ones actions. His hands were in the pockets of his lab coat projecting a composed image. He stared at the gathering, each visage was vastly different from each other some more threatening than others and many were inhuman. There was silence, the tension that came from an unexpected confrontation no one yet speaking before the strangers in front of them. The man, the Zohar chose to break the silence.

"This forest, is abnormal. The path I took disappeared, meaning it is trying to keep us here. Escape will be difficult alone likely for any of us."

Zohars words were strange. He did not introduce himself, ask who they were, or even question them about their surroundings. He merely made an inference and shared it with everyone else leading them to make their own conclusions and decisions. Before injecting his own opinions. His form once again flickered like static, but this time it seemingly did not bother him as when the strange phenomenon was over he remained standing as if it didn't affect him.

"You can call me Zohar, a 'Healer'. You all may do as you will I will support your decision."

This time he introduced himself, but once again his words were strange. Cryptic and somewhat vague. Zohar watched each of them intently, waiting for something only he could know of.
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This place was wrong, somehow. Todd had heard about locations such as this from the Doc back home. Places like this weren’t meant for the normal folks, be they man or beast, or even machine. No, this was a place meant only for the fae that naturally inhabited it, and the monsters who carved their own territory out of it through the expenditure of sweat and blood. The Kushtaka hadn’t realized that what had led him here was a siren’s song until it was far too late to back out. The path behind him had changed; the path had shifted, the trees had moved, all signs of his having previously been there were removed, and he could no longer retrace his steps.

So, he had no choice but to press on, creeping carefully forward, making as little noise as he could. There were plenty of noises all around him, only half muffled by the plant life. Todd knew he wasn’t alone here. All around him, were various offerings and promises. Forbidden knowledge better left unknown, cursed wisdom to drive oneself mad, the stories of specters and windows into alternate worlds, ready to drive those who beheld them into obsession. The ruins of old civilizations, smothered in greenery, were testaments to the nature of this forest.

Something was pounding its way through the forest ahead of him, more distinct than the other noises. The Kushtaka slowed to a halt, paw on his holstered pistol, and held his breath. Whatever it was didn’t break through the treeline, and so Todd slowly began to creep forward again. The source of the noise was revealed to be… A man?

His image suddenly flickered and dissolved, only to reform again as if nothing had happened. So, no, not a man at all. A ghost? Or perhaps something much worse? It promised support, it gave its name, called itself a healer.

“Friend, I think you’re long past the point when escaping would do ya any good,” Todd said, his voice a mixture of caution and concern. He eyed the man warily, but made no immediate hostile moves. If the man was a ghost, it wouldn’t be right to leave him here to suffer. Todd had no idea how one would go about performing an exorcism, but haunts weren’t all that uncommon around the village, and he’d heard a few things about the importance of helping spirits move on to the next world before they became dangerous and vengeful.

On the other hand, if the man was a monster, well, Todd had his gun, and his two feet for running. And, seemingly, company as well, the Kushtaka could hear others approaching all around.
The Morrigan

tl;dr: Morrigan is born, figures out the nature of her birth and why she was born, walks around observing the strange forest, and then enters the clearing of the Soulbound forest to watch the group interact.

Cold. She thought. It was the only thought in her head, and it was her first thought, ever.

Cold: Adjective. A low temperature, a lack of heat or warmth. Her second thought ever, and it wasn't her own. Categorical, factual. Knowledge that she didn't learn, but brought forth as if it she did, waiting patiently to be called upon.

Mother gave me the gift of knowledge. Her third thought ever. Reverence to a higher power, understanding one's own strength, and gaining a sense of purpose. She felt as if she owed her existence and being to Mother, the Simurgh, an angelic creature of immense power and control. Memories that weren't her own flooded into her consciousness. Capturing the human Rey Andino to leech his ability, and removing any imperfection from his lack of foresight. Assembling the growth chamber within the ruins of a city she had demolished, calling forth various bits of technology to create her army of clones. Letting Rey Andino starve when he had served his purpose and waiting for her clones to gestate.

Through her mother's memories, she saw herself, suspended in animation. Countless wings covering her naked form, eyes shut, hair drifting in the invisible current within. Then, a flash, and then this.

Cold. She had been curled in the fetal position on the textured ground. Sound came from her movement, rustling. Leaves. She realized. The product of common perennial plants ubiquitously referred to as 'trees'. She lifted her head, her hair stuck to her cheek, still slick with the amniotic slime from the vat she was unceremoniously dumped from. Trees. She confirmed for herself, but their nature and type seemed to escape her. What were these trees? It's not like she knew the names of them, but she felt no connection forming in her mind, no name other than what the object resembled.

Strange tree. She compromised, willing herself to become upright. More memories flooded her, the techniques of walking, running, and floating using her psionic might. Floating was Mother's preferred method of travel, and so that would be hers as well. She willed herself to float, to fly through the air, but nothing came of it, not even a single leaf rustled from her effort. Frustration. Her first new feeling: an emotion.

Why would mother make me like this? Do I not have her blessing? Was I made for failure? More memories flooded her, her mother attempting and failing to comprehend humans in her first few days of existence. Her mother's silent vigil, staying entirely motionless for months until she decided on her own purpose, to kill as many humans as possible. Understanding. Her purpose was clear now, to understand for her mother, to expedite the process so her mother's desires could be fulfilled. She must learn, as Mother made her as human as possible to get a better understanding of her prey.

For now, walking would need to suffice.

She had no trouble standing, walking, or even experimentally running. Her actions were graceful and smooth, second nature to her. The many wings that sprouted from her body seemed to naturally move with her as well despite not putting any conscious thought into moving them, always covering her modestly. Her eyes were gray and cloudy, yet still gave her sight. She found it strange to use them, her memories had a dream-like quality to them that made them feel as if she were looking at things that were to be, not things that had happened. However, as she ducked underneath the swaying boughs of the strange trees, she found herself entering a clearing.

Pinnacle. Atrium. Center.

The words entered her thoughts involuntarily as she roved her eyes over the view, from spirits dancing silently in reeds to a flowing gallery of pasts, presents, and futures from tales not yet known to her. She felt a new feeling, two of them in fact: Tired and hungry. She knew her mother would never suffer such contrivances, but she also knew she was made to be as close to her research subjects as possible, that something as simple as needing to conserve and replenish energy would factor into her observation and note-taking. Mother knew best, this must have been done with purpose.

Others seem to have entered this Atrium before she had. One clearly appeared to have a shard. His eyes were golden, he stood with purpose, and then he spoke: an observation. One that she felt was accurate. She looked behind her and yes, she could not see the path she had walked down not too long ago. His form flickered, and she began to wonder what the abilities of his shard had to offer. Was it the shard of the warrior, or the thinker? Involuntary. His body language and how he ignored the flicker, rather than using it purposefully, suggested it was. Thinker, he is afflicted with a shard of the thinker, surely.

"You can call me Zohar, a 'Healer'. You all may do as you will I will support your decision."

She found it odd how he put emphasis on "healer", or his passivity concerning the situation. Animals do not enjoy being cornered or trapped. She expected hostility, anxiety, or panic, but his body language and words did not present that. Odd. She felt the compulsion to speak as well, to be these things she had not yet experienced: amiable, friendly, misleading. A thought pushed itself to the forefront of her mind as a greeting almost manifested on her tongue.

My name is the Morrigan.

Her brow furrowed at that. Why would she have a name, and why the Morrigan? Naming conventions dictate that titles begin with 'the', and not names. The man was not 'the Zohar', he was simply Zohar. Why, Mother? What significance does this name hold? Frustration came again, then faded to curiosity, contentment. Mother knew best, she would accept this name even if it didn't follow typical convention.

Memories did not have a chance to flow as she observed another creature. Not humanoid, certainly. Mustelid, upright, walking on two legs. The biology of most creatures in the mustelid family did not walk on two legs, wear clothes, nor have the muscles to create facial expressions or balance themselves properly whilst walking on two legs. This creature clearly was not a mustelid in that regard, despite resembling one. Then, it spoke. A low, warning tone. Cautious, wary, not willing to seek trouble.

“Friend, I think you’re long past the point when escaping would do ya any good.”

Her eyes narrowed as he spoke. More anomalies. She saw it regarding an item around it's waist. Metal and wood, manufactured together into this shape. It was cautious and spoke only once. This must be a weapon. They were armed. The Morrigan refrained from approaching the two. If this form took fatal damage, she would fail in her singular purpose, so she watched, wings making her otherwise slender appearance much broader as they coiled around her. However, she estimated that if she were to stay silent, the chances of being attacked due to startling the two sentient creatures would be much higher than if she were to make herself apparent.

Her many wings unfurled outward, a thin two left to cover her chest and waist, and she spoke the first thing that came to mind.

"Be not afraid."

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Amelia had taken a detour on her way home after a long days work at the farmers market. Her mind still buzzed with prices and the various bartering that went into her profession. She wondered if someday her business endeavors would grow to match larger producers. Of course, she'd need more people, boats and ships to bring various ocean and river food to her market.

Exhausted she thought to take a more serene path back home. Her body ached and she wondered when things would finally get better, she'd close her eyes and picture herself among lavish luxuries, warm baths instead of bathing in creeks, cooked food on plates instead of fire pit smoked fish. The neko sighed. Opening her eyes briefly before shutting them again as she walked, images would become much more vivid however, she pictures herself in a most delicate dress, dancing with a handsome noble. Before she knew it she was sort of swaying as she walked with a waltz in her step. "Lol. If only my life could be this sweet!" She said outloud, heedless of the shadows and whispers that pounced like cats in the forest.

Soon she found herself going deeper into this seemingly self induced trance as she attempted a nobles accent with self amusement she began, "I'm terribly sorry my expensive slippers have exhausted me after this dance, surely there's another who would be most likely to dance with you." She grinned through her feline features, "I'm sorry? You want to go on a date? Pfft! L.o.l. you are certainly not my type sir I'm currently not even looking to complicate my life and share my wealth." She giggled to herself, "Are.. you crying? Awe."

Before she could laugh out loud and likely embarrass herself she found herself in the presence of others in the forest, she looked back and realized she didn't know how far she'd come looking ahead she took a few steps back.

"Uh.. hello?" She said a bit nervously, "This is weird am I dreaming or something? Whatever.. I'm Amelia."

Before entering forest:
Aya B Grade.png


Aya F Grade.png

A Grade Character

Titles: Kitsune, Order Initiate, Defender of Sootspire, Ryke Noble Associate F, Friend of Sol Faith, Hero of Nan Gau, Known to Clan Yamimoto

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Aya had been on the way back to Nan Gau, traveling along the road she hadn't traveled before. The hunt she went on had been relatively uneventful; as she stepped into the forest, she saw the many shadows. The whispering seemed to permeate the air around her. Ignoring most of the whispers, she pushed down the path; after a few moments, she noticed everything was getting larger, and she felt much lighter. It was about that point she felt her katana drag across the ground and that was when it hit her. She quickly looked around trying to find any pool of standing water not wanting to step off the path.

After a moment she gave up and then opened her pack and procured a wooden bowl before pouring some water in. Taking a deep breath, she looked down at her reflection and a gasp escaped her mouth. "You have got to be kidding me! How does this even happen!?" She shouted as she got smaller and looked far younger than when she first stepped into the forest. Her ears dipped down as she was rather annoyed about the whole thing her normally calm demeanor dashed and scattered to the wind. She let out a sigh poured the water back into the waterskin and then continued down the path very confident on finding a way out of the forest and hoping she would go back to normal afterwards.

The whole forest felt wrong in some way, it was like things collided together that were not meant to. Resting her hand on her katana, she continued to follow the path. Eventually, further down she could see a crossroads. She grinned as she hoped that there would be a sign or something that could point her to a way out. She picked up her pace a little and as she got closer, she heard voices. One of those voices sounded familiar, as she got closer she saw Todd the weazle whom she had met several times before. There was however several others she didn't recognize and no one seemed to be fighting which was probably a good sign.

"Hello everyone," Aya stepped out into the open and announced herself as she bowed and looked toward Todd man to which now she had to look up at most of the people. "I'm Aya, and would any of you happen to know what is going on in this forest? Also would any of you know why I seemed to have gotten smaller?" She inquired as she looked around at the group. Though the being with wings seemed like the sort that would know what was going on in this place. It was about this time she let her hand drop from her Katana. There didn't seem to be a threat here but she kept her eyes and ears open.
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All the strange spectacles of nature in this labyrinth like forest while interesting, and they held the demon's attention for a period, they did not seem to be related to what he was most interested, the voices he had heard which got him here to begin with. Even seeing the imagery Zolgen wasn't particularly the type to give himself a retrospective about what he desired and what his fears were. His fear reflected was when the 'fun' would come to an end and he would be forgotten. His desire was shown clearly in power and strength, overwhelming powerful enemies, taking from others because he was strong and they were weak, and generally doing as he pleased.

The voices on the other hand reminded him much of what he had heard when Shuten was hearing those voices speak to him about that powerful weapon..perhaps there was something similar here which he could take which would strengthen him if he could transverse these strange lands. Of course if the voices had just been lies then that didn't suite Zolgen very well and it was best he got out of there sooner than later, but if there was a chance that the ruins of Aether actually held what he wanted to further his purpose then entertaining the idea regardless of the risk didn't seem all too out there.

Zolgen would eventually come into some sort of crossroad in the woods after traveling for some indiscernible amount of time..whatever this was perhaps some kind of pocket dimension intended for Fae or something of the like. After walking into the strange crossroads Zolgen would eventually encounter the others. He was on the taller side so for some he was probably standing above them. For now he didn't have his swords drawn, instead the three on them were held on his back, his two larger cleaver ones and the more human sized antique one. Regardless he kept his five goblins close with him.

He finally spoke, in common to the others who he saw..who at the very least were interesting many not human at all. Hearing what they had to say when he arrived, indicated that they were just as knowledgable as him as to why he ended up there like this or why the place was so strange.

Zolgen gave a bit of a casual wave to the group around him speaking in a pretty casual tone too, "Strange we're all arriving at this intersection, frankly I don't really know why this forest is the way it is, but It doesn't matter all too much to me, all I know is that these voices are telling me I can find something which I'm interested in here. Would that happen to be the same for what any of you are experiencing?" He asked out of genuine curiosity.

Zolgen wasn't really sure how these non-monsters were going to take to him, but maybe if he made it look like he didn't mean to hurt them at the moment at least , it wouldn't be too big of a deal. Of course he'd have no qualms about slaughtering them if there was a need for it, but for now he thought it might be interesting to learn more about them and the woods. Plus it'd be a lot harder if he had to try to take them all on at once, which attacking one of them would no doubt do for any of the combat capable there.

"Don't mind my friends here, I can assure you they're loyal, and like I was getting too we were just passing through as I presume many of you were too." Zolgen reaffirmed too while he was at it, since he knew very well Goblins might not be seen as the most friendly thing to have around to these non-monsters either.

Goblin Javelineers
Screenshot 2023-03-08 at 11.47.32 PM.png

The five goblins looked around curiously, with their spears in hand standing around Zolgen as if they were protecting him. Occasionally one snickered darkly, or sniffled, looking around every now and again, overall the Goblins just sort of looked like they were on alert waiting for enemies to show up. It was clear that they didn't dare do much of anything without Zolgen's input, as he had trained the bunch well at that point. They also weren't really the most talkative bunch since they hadn't really said anything so far since arriving along with Zolgen.
Location: Mysterious Forest
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Rios had sat by and watched as the various strangers had begun discussing matters among themselves. He'd found himself in this mysterious forest after attempting to purchase hair dye. After his last few adventures, the brown had faded away. Now his natural cyan hair was on full display. Rios had never liked his hair color, given that it was the exact same shade as his eyes. He had attempted to dye it brown when he left home. However he had only been able to afford a tiny bottle of dye that only colored half of his hair. Sighing while the one called Zohar introduced himself as a healer. The aspiring adventurer looked at his chipped weapon. All that physique training had led to him breaking every sword he got his hands on. Rios lacked any sort of formal weapon training, hence his decision to improve his body. He now had to pull his punches lest he break ANOTHER sword. His working theory was that they had been summoned here by the Fae. He recalled hearing about how they enjoyed pulling random mortals into their forests to screw with them. Any other blue haired boy would shiver in fear. Rios was actually pretty neutral on the whole thing. Sure, he was trapped here with a punch of strangers and whatever that multi winged angel monstrosity was. Alternatively, he could treat this as a field trip to an undiscovered and untouched realm of wonder.

"We just need to cut through this place... if we don't, we haven't cut hard enough" said Rios under his breath. Standing up and drawing his sword from the back of his belt. Rios decided to try cutting things while the others hashed out a plan. Since his training in that goddamn hallway of shadows. He had been simmering in displeasure at how his sword had been unable to reach those formless foes. Walking over to a spot a little ways away from the group. Rios began swinging his sword. His eyes were focused on what was in front of him, his breathing was steady and the sword in his hands moved with the beginnings of technique. The memories of that day were burned into Rios's mind. He had elected to raid a haunted house so he could train against real ghosts. His sword moved through them with minimal resistance for the first few days. Ectoplasm was a hard scent to get off ones clothes. Once more hearing the voices of those ancient heroes, asking Rios to join them for training. Rios continued to swing his sword while imagining his blade cleaving right through them. Just like those ghosts in the haunted house, eventually his blade would reach them.

.Move Away from Group
.Swing Sword = [Appraisal C] + [Fighting Style E; Sword (Multidimensional)]
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Holy- Well okay. The first thing Todd noticed about their new arrival was she was gigantic. The second thing he noticed was that she was completely naked. The Kushtaka’s paw left his gun holster to rub at the back of his head, also blocking the new arrival – was she an angel? She certainly had that kind of look. Or perhaps a fae? That could potentially be dangerous for him if she was the sort that was easily offended – from most of his vision. He also turned his head away, rendering the lady completely out of sight to him.

“Listen Miss, I’m real sorry if I stumbled into your turf,” the Kushtaka said, “Promise I don’t mean nothing provocative about it, I’m just a little lost, ya see?”

They were quickly joined by others. First a cat girl that reminded Todd of some of the residents of Nan Gau. Next was… Wait, Aya? The Kushtaka turned to look at her more closely. Why was she… So little? And her hair had all changed color. Ghosts, angels, strangely familiar townsfolk, and now a lady he was friendly with, apparently reduced to childhood size? Were these real? Was this strange forest driving him mad?

“Uh… Miss Aya?” Todd asked, then worked his jaw a bit while he tried to find the words he wanted to say next. Deciding that if he was going to go mad, he at least wanted have a nice time with his lunatic hallucinations – and there was still the off chance that all this was real and he was psyching himself out over nothing. “Ya see, this is a fairy forest, home to many fae. It’s a dangerous place for common folk like us, all sorts of weird and unexplainable things can happen.”

Oh and then they were joined by a literal demon. And his gaggle of goblin groupies. If Todd wasn’t mad now he was going to be just from the stress of this whole situation. He never should’ve left Nan Gau, curse his wanderlust. Oh and there was another one, a human, by the looks of things, just over there swinging his sword at nothing. Okay Todd, deep breaths, this was all fine. He needed to keep his mind on more productive things. Once he’d found a way out of the forest, he could see a doctor about all this. Or maybe a priest.

“For me, it was like someone was callin’ out for help,” Todd said, in response to the well spoken demon, “Sirens, I bet. Hear all about ‘em from the fishermen back home. They’ll sing ya whatever ya need to hear to draw ya in, then when it’s too late to escape they’ll gut ya.”
The Morrigan

tl;dr: The Morrigan feels more emotions and is unhappy with feeling things that she thinks only animals should feel. She makes an observation on each character here aside from herself, then introduces herself and directly asks Todd for his name.

They were afraid. Confused. Some were happy, others were filled with a sense of purpose, or contentment upon seeing other humanoids that presumably recognized one another. That is what their actions presented to her. A new emotion welled in her stomach: pride. She had made an inference about the beings around her without her mother’s memories guiding her! Her purpose as a tool of her Mother’s will was being fulfilled. This was followed quickly by a very different, opposite emotion that seemed to drain the first out of her as she realized many did not heed her instruction. They looked to her warily, as if she were an 'other'. Fear? No. Animals felt fear. She was not an animal, she could not feel fear, and she would not allow herself to be an animal. It was anxiety. This new emotion made her feel as if she were locked in place, feet rooted to the ground. She questioned to herself if this was an acceptable emotion to have at this time, and why she was having it.

Fleeting feelings of memory ran through her thoughts. Her Mother had never truly held a conversation with a human before, as most conversation was unnecessary. She never knew how to converse, only skimming the future to see what string of words would have the desired effect when spoken. The Morrigan had no such luxury, but her purpose was to learn, and she would fulfill her purpose.

I am not an animal, I am perfection. I do not feel negative emotions, I observe them.

Her wings withdrew inwards, circling her form like many feathered halos that spanned from her waist and up. Observing meant that she would watch and make a mental note of what she saw. She saw that those here were confused, unsure of what to do. One blue-haired male had displayed signs of... mania? Why would he choose to swing his sword without a target? What purpose does that serve? Practice. Murmurings of escape were taking place and the one with the sword defined himself by his ability. This must be common for humans. Case closed, humans typically define themselves through their abilities. In this stressful scenario, he reverted to one of those abilities.

More greetings. She did not like greetings, because it implied she would have to give one. No, she preferred observing, but that feeling again, anxiety. Why was she feeling this? She lamented being imperfect but held onto the feeling for examination, learning can come from anywhere.

The creatures identified themselves. Zohar had already done so, the human male with golden eyes and an involuntary flicker from his shard. Research required. The creature who displayed more musculature and sinew than any other here identified himself as Zolgen, and made a remark about an entourage of lesser creatures. What was their relationship to him? They were smaller, but armed. Children would imply being the same species, which did not seem to be the case, but an argument could be made if more research on the subject was conducted. Associates. Soldiers. Mercenaries. Their defensive stance despite Zolgen's clear relaxed demeanor implied some form of bodyguard. Two very similar creatures both made themselves apparent as well, the white-haired cat-eared ones. The one with clear combat potential identified themselves as Aya, the lesser combatant of the two, Amelia. Did they have shards? She did not know the name of the not-mustelid or the blue-haired swordsman, but she came to the conclusion that if she too shared the name given to her, and perhaps gave some personal information, the group may give her the information about themselves she so desperately seeks.

"I am The Morrigan." She spoke, her voice deep and low, yet feminine. "I arrived in this place by walking, shortly after being born." Factual. Accurate. Perhaps they'd feel more willing to share if she added an additional piece of information? She didn't understand facial cues well, but she knew that it was important to give information if she wanted to receive information. "I was created to learn about humans and bring about their extinction, as per my Mother's wishes." What was a proper way to convey her wish for information in return? Ah, Mother has seen this interaction occur between humans before. I can imitate such a thing. She clasped her hands together and gave a smile, the movement unfamiliar to her. She did not show her teeth, nor put much effort into the gesture, so the smile was slight. "I hope we can find a way to return to civilization together, I wish to learn as much as possible from all present while we are here, and perhaps become acquaintances." The anxiety again. She recognized why she felt it. I do not know if my message of peace and friendship would be received well. Mother did not give me the tools to see their reactions to my words. The frustration built up again before she let it go, her smiling face betraying little to the eye, turning to the upright otter. "Please share your name, mustelid-creature. I wish to learn your name before the way out is revealed to us through this group's competent planning and execution."

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Tupu Maa

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For the past two days Tupu had been wandering around the country searching for some damn old ruins that Crysanthara requested he find and search for any valuable artifacts. Two days he walked through this damn forest with little to no rest just cause he thought he’d be done by now. 12 hours into day 2 though and he’s just as lost as when he first arrived to this stupid forest which had him sit on a tree stump ready to give a nice long complaint to Crysanthara before he continued searching for the damn ruins because he refused to leave empty handed after this. Though during his small moment of rest he was suddenly alerted by a faint whisper by a ominously familiar voice in his ear calling his name which causes him to open his eyes suddenly and scan the area immediately. Upon reassessing his surroundings he notices he’s no longer in the same forest he was just in as the trees now sit much taller and look unreal in their silvery leaves and ethereal gleam as well as the air and lighting have a new hue of color as well as the smells of the forest now unfamiliar and near nerve-wracking due to the sudden change. Tupu takes a look around his newfound surroundings curiously but calmly saying with a relieved sigh “Bout time something happened.” Tupu stood and made his way on a seemingly natural path that formed between the trees not questioning much of what’s happening as this is as excited Tupu’s been the past two days. While walking he hears random whispers in his ears that don’t bother him at first but become more and more irritating the more they interrupted his own thought process. Tupu is soon alerted to the presence of a group when he hears voices from afar as he wonders through the forest. The voices not having an ethereal and ghostly like the ones he was tormented by and less irritating like the ones his [Heighted Senses: Hearing] couldn’t help but pick up as he strolled towards the conversing group.

Tupu emerges from the tree-line with a relieved expression but sharp gaze as he stares at the crowd individually saying casually “Excuse my intrusion seems I’m just as confused as the rest of you.” Tupu gives an acknowledging wave with a more friendly expression after getting a good size up of everyone. Tupu looks towards Todd and says “I’ve been hearing all types of stuff since I arrived here but I wouldn’t describe any of my experiences as a siren call though.” Tupu then turns to The Morrigan giving a chuckle before saying in a sarcastic tone“ Well it’s a pleasure to meet you The Morrigan. Never thought I meet the being that’ll cause genocide of humans right after they’ve been born but first time for everything I guess.” Tupu gives a genuine smirk that was obviously holding back a laugh as Tupu despite being used to this bizarre new world could never help but be more intrigued by each new adventure and the people he encounters. Tupu then turned among the group and said suddenly as he remembered he never properly greeted the group “Excuse my manners, my name is Tupu Maa but feel free to just call me T or Tupu.” Tupu takes a slight bow towards the group his tall stature still looking down on some as he bows and as he arises he adorns a friendly smile not really having anymore input now.

[Heightened Senses: Hearing E] - 1 Post
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The angel – who introduced herself as “The” Morrigan – smiled. It was a kind of unnerving thing that didn’t reach her eyes, as if she’d seen the expression before but didn’t quite understand what it was for. But then again, apparently she’d only been born a few minutes ago? And her purpose was to kill all of humanity!?

“Uh… Miss, see, the thing is,” the Kushtaka frowned. Even with The Morrigan using more of her wings to cover her form, Todd was still having some trouble looking at her directly while she remained naked, “Upstanding people generally aren’t too fond of that whole, uh, genociding thing.”

She’d also asked him to ‘share his name’. Okay. That was a question Todd had to ponder because sometimes when a fae asked questions like that they meant them extremely literally. Like it was generally a bad idea to answer affirmatively to a fae’s request to ‘have your name’ because they would actually take it. Would ‘share’ have a similar connotation? Also, was this angel even a fae? He actually had no idea. Hell, it wasn’t uncommon for people to assume Kushtaka were fae – or even monsters! Stuff like that just generally wasn’t easily known at a glance.

Also, Todd wasn’t sure he wanted to help lead a creature whose stated reason for existence was to study and eventually help bring about the extinction of humanity to civilization. Like that probably wouldn’t be a good thing, for him to do? On the other hand, he wasn’t exactly comfortable with the idea of pulling his gun and shooting the angel dead if she was – despite all appearances – a baby. Maybe interacting with normal people would do her some good and convince her not to go forward with her mother’s insane plans? Yeah, he’d go for that for now.

Anyway, they were soon joined by another man, one who could’ve passed for human were it not for the giant horn sticking out of the side of his head. And, well, Todd figured he couldn’t keep quiet about his name forever without looking like a crazy person, so, this seemed as good a time as any to give his.

“Well, I’m Todd,” he said, pointing to himself.
Screenshot 2023-09-16 130431.pngZohar stared at the furry creature in front of him, his gaze piercing. For a moment he said nothing, offering no response. Instead he merely gauged the expression of wary and perhaps pity upon its face. Zohar did not possess the context behind the bipedal otter-like beings words, but he could make some estimates. He almost wanted to laugh he stifled it, only allowing himself a small humourous smile.

"If that is what you believe, then it may be true."

Zohar remained consistent, consistently vague that is. His words could be interpreted in any way one desired. They didn't deny or accept, simply existing exactly as they were. He radiated an utter lack of hostility and made no moves to correct this. It wasn't like he was much of a fighter in the first place. Most experienced combatants could look at him and likely come to that exact conclusion.

Golden eyes refocused elsewhere as the sounds of the forest gave way for the disorderly arrival of a foreign body. Besides the creature he had spoken to there were others arriving around the same time, seemingly lead here by the forest just as he was. One appeared human but was covered by an array of wings. It, or perhaps she watched them; Zohar in particular. Yet spoke not a word. Zohar looked back at her his gold eyes meeting her gaze. He began to wonder if she was affected by some sort of Anomaly.
Similar to his pursuer, and himself. If nothing else he felt something almost familiar about her. As her wings unfurled showing more of her bare body, she spoke aloud. A line one could find in a holy book. Solidifying how similar she was to the classical angels. Zohar deigned only to observe her.

The others ranged from what appeared to be regular people, while others resembled mutants. Animal features, and inhuman features were abound. One spoke politely enough but was taller than many of them, had the skull of a deer or ram, and a muscely body which seemed to promise only violence. The twin swords in its hands did nothing to help the matter.

At first Zohar believed them all to be the survivors of some particular Wings experiments on humans; it wouldn't be the first time he'd seen a person altered so heavily by one of the corporations. But he had never seen anything quite like this and not with such a diverse range. Unless this forest was somehow a dumping ground for the Cities undesirables; that would explain how he got here. But another part of him thought the truth was something else entirely. He listened intently to the others as his mind churned in the background. Finding that even his thoughts felt strangely, "open".

Zohar was content with merely listening and watching the various individuals. Finding the situation interesting if difficult to grasp the nature of. He knew they were trapped and that the forest had called them here itself, for what purpose he couldn't surmise. But based off the words of the others the forest drew them with their desires even if they weren't fully aware of it. It was likely the reason he had been brought here as well, he desired an escape and it was granted to him. He narrowed his eyes as he contemplated deeply on the influence from the Spectral Falls. It had stirred memories in him, things he had somehow forgotten or perhaps avoided. It had reminded him of his dream and what he must do to attain it. A system he was familiar with.

"Aya, was it?"

The golden eyed man entered the ongoing discussions particularly with the fox-like girl Aya. Stepping forward, his hands remaining in his pocket almost flippantly. He stood over the now pint sized fox girl coolly scrutinizing her.

"If your form has indeed changed then this forest is almost certainly the cause. Whatever the origin of the anomalous properties of this forest, the result remains the same. And if it is as dangerous as Todd surmises then working together would be your best chance to regain what you lost."

Zohar gave a logical evaluation of Aya's situation laying it all out for the fox girl to understand. He mentioned the otter-like creature Todd, though he had only just now caught his name. Though his next words would be projected for everyone to hear.

"We seem to all have experienced the same phenomenon. Suddenly arriving in this forest through various mediums, perceiving a "call". One that appears to cater to our desires; things which would be enough to draw us this deep in. As well as the path we came through distorting entirely, trapping us in here through a maze of trees. My working theory is that the forest will only open itself back up through fulfilling whatever purpose it brought us here for."

With a nonjudgmental but no less piercing gaze he stared at the young blue haired man cutting away at the trees that surrounded them.

"In this predicament one may choose to struggle, but as this forest has indicated possession of at least a rudimentary will. We may find our struggles yielding little."

It was evident who Zohar was speaking of, but rather than express exasperation or contempt he simply used the actions taken to formulate a conclusion. He once again offered his support though this time through his opinions of the state of affairs, something he had held back from sharing till now. Still he gave no orders or set a hard line, doing all but taking charge. Zohar simply gave what they asked and let them handle it how they wished. The ice between them all seemed to have been broken now as words flowed more freely and some measure of tension eased. Zohar saw no need to reiterate satisfied with what he had done. Doing his best to array the pieces of this puzzle in a way in which it could be solved. Either way this went so long as he survived the result would be favorable to him. However the words of the winged feminine creature "The Morrigan" stirred him from his neutral stance.

"A newborn speaks of something as ambitious as 'human extinction'? It is only natural for the child to follow the lead of the parent, but yours has given you an unacceptable burden. Suffice to say your ignorance is apparent. If you were human I would understand and leave such an ambition be. But that is a consequence of decisions that only a human can make. An entity that isn't human shouldn't entertain thoughts that only a human should have."

With narrowed eyes and an intent gaze Zohar approached The Morrigan speaking aloud his feelings on the matter rather frankly. Hid body flickered actively as if responding to his words. Though even now he expressed no malice, anger or hostility. He continued to speak as if he were a partially invested bystander.

"Morrigan, my dream is to 'save humanity' because of that I cannot allow you to pursue your mother's task. Not as you are. If you are a threat I will destroy you to stop that from happening, no matter what it may cost. So continue to learn, study humanity intimately till the barriers between you and them are eroded. Till you yourself can be considered human. Then you would be bearable, and I could allow your goal. Perhaps I shall even observe your journey once we leave the forest."

Zohar spoke evenly offering his words as if he were helping a child learn a lesson he had long since understood. He even wore a light smile something that seemed both his trademark and something he gave out sparingly. His threat was delivered without intimidation, more akin to an observation of cause and effect. If The Morrigan would follow her goal without proper consideration Zohar would act, that's all there was to it. He then stepped back simply moving on to what mattered in relation to their present. Rather than an uncertain future. Zohar saw nothing strange about what he just said nor did he seem to place much importance on it; he had said his piece. Then placed his attention back on the group.

"You may call me Zohar, Tupu Maa."

With that sparing introduction Zohar began to observe the foliage and other happenings of the forest trying to gleam some understanding. Particularly by observing if the "call" he felt was trying to lead him to anything in particular.
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As reality appeared to set into the half beast's mind it became clear that this was an intentional meeting. But why me? She wondered in silence as she looked back from the path from which she came. Could those daydreams have actually been some sort of enchantment? She could only assume as wondering would only yield more questions.

Amelia would then lean her delicate shoulder on a tree as she crossed her arms. Everyone was intent on trying to figure out why and for what reason they'd had been summoned. The demon was instantly the most threatening looking, as his steel swords seemed to glisten without the sun and his impish minions appeared eager and on the brink of madness. Before she could speak however the sword clad demon spoke, his words were actually rather insightful as he figured that cooperation through information was likely the best way to obtain what he desired. Amelia, still leaning upon the tree took a few steps closer. "Desires!" She said as she snapped her fingers. "That's it! We're being brought here by whatever desires it is we wish." However she wouldn't dare to express what she desired. It was a dream to her, beastfolk could never be more than what they were, at least within human society. The life of nobility was far from her reach, however was she truly destined to a life of hardship forever?

It was then that a most disturbing image perhaps even as much as the demon would overcome her sights. The winged creature that presented herself only as the morrigan appeared before the forming body of would be adventurers. She took a few steps back and covered a gasp which escaped her lips. She began to speak, and then that of the extinction of humanity which shocked her further. Once again her inquiry would be covered by the one named Zohar, if this Morrigan was night then it would very much appear that Zohar was day. Yet perhaps that was assuming a bit much for the brief time they'd have spent together thus far.

She turned to look at the demon, attempting a smile as she gazed at the empty metal helm over his head. "Hey! Uhm.. the names Amelia or whatever.." then waving at the uneasy goblins a little uneasy herself she waved. "Hey!"

"You spoke about interests just now. Yeah?" She nodded as if agreeing for him. "Well what was it that you desire?" The fingers of her large mechanical claw like gauntlets entwined a bit with curiosity.
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While Zolgen was interested in the others who came, since there appeared to be many there now, the fact that beastman talked about the voices being like sirens and then, Zohar saying they all experienced similar things, perhaps except for the female who had apparently changed in appearance, Zolgen was feeling like the chances of him actually getting to explore some kind of powerful ruins were looking bleak now.

However when he heard the Morrigan's explanation he let out a dark chuckle, "You remind me of some of the others I've encountered on the dark continent speaking so boldly like that." Zolgen said after turning his skull head to her. He would have probably smirked if it were possible but his supped up animal skull like head didn't really let him convey such facial expressions very easily.

If only she knew the reason Zolgen was lax wasn't because he had bodyguards, in fact the goblins were nothing but tools to an end for him, granted tools that if he treated at least decent enough they'd continue to show their loyalty, but tools nevertheless and most definitely considered inferior to him if these died he could always get more to replace them when he got back to the cave complex.., but he was so lax because in part that's how he had disarmed a many of his would be victims in his prior life..it was a habit at this point, but he was also fairly comfortable and confident after growing considerably in strength at that..

Of course some of these humans seemed like adventurer/hero types not only in their activity and behavior but some of their spoken words, which could perhaps prove to be a problem if they learned what he was and decided to fight but he would ensure they suffered if they had the gall to attack him. As much as he enjoyed fighting to the death as many of the next [monster], working together to get out of whatever this maze was, even if it was the less fun option, seemed to be the most viable.

He then looked between Todd and Zohar, "Sounds like It's unlikely I'll be getting what I thought I might by coming here then, unless whatever this forest is decides it'll grant our desires." Zolgen said pretty casually all things considered.

"Looks like our best course of action is working to get out of this place together then hm? If we're lucky maybe we'll find something of value on our way along..but I'm not feeling too optimistic now." Zolgen grumbled a bit toward the end.

"With that said, has anyone noticed anything potentially useful on their way here? Personally I saw plenty of strange things but If I'm being perfectly honest none of them stood out as being particularly helpful to our current predicament." Zolgen asked the group at large, he somehow doubted it but it was worth a sot.

He then looked to Amelia and once again found himself entertained turning his head to face her. "I don't know many of your kind who would talk to me so casually, Nice to meet you Amelia....as for my desire, for my kind, obtaining power is my way forward." Zolgen said matter of factly.

"And what is it that you desire?"

Goblin Javelineers
Screenshot 2023-03-08 at 11.47.32 PM-1.png
One of the goblins waved back at Amelia as she had a bit excitedly, while the other ones made some basic sounds in monster to one another looking at each other, before looking back at her, they now looked a bit less guarded now, going more at ease idling around, continuing to observe the scenery around them. While looking less threatening than Zolgen these goblins still had innately dark selfish hearts with a tendency to prioritize themselves.

Despite this they seemed to receive Amelia reasonably well, perhaps because of the way Zolgen had reacted to her. For now they continued to be on watch until Zolgen needed them to do something.
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OOC: be sure to use the tldr's with your posts guys. It's easy to lose track of details to reply to when you mental vomit an average word count of 700. Those of you that literally repost what other's said in your own posts: stop it. Good job getting those posts in.
Time: ???pm
Weather: comfortably cool with mostly overcast skies in twilight and mist
TLDR: Zohar saw many things and nothing from the waters of the falls. The party feels drawn deeper into the wood. Various creatures are clearly watching them but choosing not to reveal themselves.
Post Listening

Soulbound Forest


The group of characters found themselves in a forgotten corner of the woods, where time and reason dallied with each other, the crossroads. It wasn't just any crossroad, but one that bore a sense of weight and age. The air was thick, not with sound but with a hush that seemed almost sentient. An anticipation. The tall, ancient trees leaned in, as if gossiping quietly amongst themselves, whispering tales of travelers who once stood where the group now did.

Zohar, who had experienced the pools of the Spectral Falls, stood with water droplets still clinging to his lashes, each one reflecting worlds unseen. When he had gazed into the spectral falls, it wasn’t just water he saw. The falls rippled with images, snippets of other realms, windows into forgotten times and glimpses of fates yet to unfold. Ethereal cities suspended in the clouds, lovers separated by cosmic chasms, and dragons coiled around the very bones of the world—all flashed before him in an overwhelming deluge. Every droplet became a tapestry of tales, weaving together the vast cosmos of existence.

Despite being surrounded by the apparent wilderness, an uneasy feeling would grip most of them. The forest teemed with life, but it was an uncanny silence that prevailed. Shadows flitted between trees, almost forms of animals and beings of lore, observing the newcomers without making a sound. Every now and then, an eye glinted from behind a tree trunk or from within a thick bush, but it vanished as soon as one tried to focus on it. The animals—whatever they truly were—had decided to watch in silence, each breath held, every gaze unwavering. What few animals that willingly showed themselves or at least did not attempt to hide themselves were peculiar looking in form and movement. Seemingly of another world, they grazed in the underbrush of the forest.

The soft, melancholic melody of water was omnipresent. Tiny rivulets snaked around their feet, a gentle caress of the forest’s tears. Little pools, clear as crystal, dotted the forest floor, reflecting the canopy above and occasionally, if you looked just right, something... more. All of it seemed to flow from the direction of the spectral falls—the source of Zohar’s visions. A continuous pour, a constant reminder of the power that lay just beyond their sight.

And then there was the pull. An invisible, gentle tug. The edge of the woods was no longer just a physical boundary—it was the start of a quest, a beckoning into the deep, dark heart of the forest. As if the very trees and the silent animals were imploring them to delve deeper, to unravel the mysteries that the woods concealed. The path ahead seemed to shimmer, the air vibrating with promise and peril. The woods ahead was think and there were many dark patches where the dim twilight could not reach. However, the light of golden fields was barely visible down the long tunnel created by canopy and animal path.
The Morrigan

tl;dr: Tall angel lady regards everyone talking as an icebreaker, wonders what an icebreaker is, and assures Todd that she is in fact meant to destroy humanity. She considers petting his head before having a little bit of a retort to Zohar's comments on her probably not destroying humanity, saying he's illogical. She affirms her existence boils down to her purpose, then decides to go deeper into the forest down a path and invites people to come along.

Her reception was met with some amusement, some trepidation. Amusement wasn't bad, as long as she wasn't a constant source of amusement. For now, though, she realized she was participating in what was referred to as an "Icebreaker." She didn't understand why humans referred to this mild conversation as an "icebreaker", but she assumed it was some form of metaphor she didn't quite understand. Breaking ice... Perhaps it was some play on words for human tribes who toiled together in the Arctic, breaking ice for survival. Yes, this made the most sense. Case closed. With that solved, she allowed herself to chuckle with subject Tupu Maa, clearly another shardbearer. Her giggling was robotic at first, each "ha" verbally said, until she began to follow the cadence and rhythm Tupu set an example of, emulating him nearly perfectly. Again, that slight smile. No teeth, no smile lines, nearly no humanity.

However, there were some murmurings she caught about... not wanting to extinguish the light of humanity forever? Odd. Very odd. Preposterous even. Such a thought never occurred to her and she began to revile it as it came to form in her head. Her smile dropped back to a neutral expression and her brow began to furrow slightly. "No, I believe upstanding people would allow for Earth Bet, Earth Shin, Earth Cheit, and many other Earths to be extinguished of human life. My Mother knows best, which is the conclusion she has come to. I am merely a tool in that destruction brought about by my understanding." That smile, again. That nearly-not-a-smile expression. It was coy, almost. "I will note your empathy for other sentient creatures, Todd, even if you may not know them. I am sure some would consider it admirable."

She considered patting the creature's head but felt a clear thought arise in her mind. Rude. She frowned a little as her first impulse was put to the side. "I will pat your head another time, Todd. If my Mother deems your people worthy of genocide, I intend to kill you last." Why did I want to pet this creature? It has shown trepidation and mild fear since my arrival, why would I willingly put myself in harm's way? The thought stuck in her mind for a moment longer, then faded away. There was no need for useless thoughts right now, and she turned to examine the dancing spirits of the endless plains. A plan of action was necessary, the time to talk was coming to an end.

The Morrigan's gaze found itself settling on the blue-haired man, chopping at the air when she heard a voice being directed at her, her head slowly coming to attention to the shardbearer from earlier, Zohar. Perfect. She'd get to learn more about this one! This is precisely what she wanted. However, his words seemed to catch her attention, words like "newborn", "burden", "ignorance" and finally "An entity that isn't human shouldn't entertain thoughts that only a human should have."

She cocked her head in confusion but stayed quiet as he continued, eager to hear his reasoning. However, her mind found contradictions and inaccuracies in his words. "Strange, Zohar." There was no semblance of emotion, she spoke it flatly. "You say you would have me slain for my purpose, yet also offer me aid in completing it, if I were to consider myself human." She cocked her head in the other direction. "That is contradictory, is it not? My Mother has known a great many humans who sought to extinguish all of humanity, and there are still many who are close to achieving that goal. My Mother has the foresight to ensure the 'human' element of failure is removed when I return home with my research." She stated it as a simple fact. "It was the purpose I was born with, and my sole reason for existence."

The words made her ruminate on the thought for a moment, eyes narrowed at the ground. "I must have reason to be born, and I know that reason. Therefore, I must fulfill it." She affirmed to herself. "It is a luxury that I have to be given a purpose so clear." The smile returned. "When we are to leave this limbo, I would not oppose you traveling with me, Zohar. However, if your goal is to end my life during our journey, I will not let you take it so easily." There was little more to be said on the account. She turned her eyes to the path that had stretched ever onward into the trees, the endless, strange forest, to the unknown. She saw it snake outwards into darkness, and had decided that she would walk in that direction. Civilization would be somewhere, and in a place as nebulous as this, she was sure she'd find what she was looking for if she looked hard enough.

Her feet began to step between the rivulets of water that tessellated through the soil toward the path into the forest. The time for action was now, but she wanted to ensure at least some of her chosen company came along with her. For research. Only research.

"Feel free to join me Zohar, and others. If this forest is bound to our desires, I desire to see civilization once more, and company would aid in ensuring my visage does not frighten the locals." Factual. Accurate. Fear and trepidation exhibited by this group upon her appearance would likely be multiplied if she met with a larger group. In addition, she didn't want to be alone. The warmth of others was a new feeling, but one she decided she enjoyed.

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Amelia chuckled softly as the goblin waved back however it seemed the others weren't as amused. She then pouted a bit when the bladed demon referred to her, it was almost not surprising someone so threatening would be searching for power. "Right, yes, of course." She replied nodding. "Do you have some sort of enemy you're trying to defeat? Revenge? Or perhaps just flat out hatred?" She chuckled at the end, it was more of a joke than an inquiry but her curiosity got the best of her.

Then she would turn to look at the others, before being startled by Zolgens question. "O-oh me? You want to know my desire?" She stuttered a bit, "Well you see, it's kind of, well.. let's just say that my kind are not allowed to live the lavish lives of nobles." She attempted a smile, and shrugged. It was difficult to look at Zolgens empty and cold features. "Oh you know? Juicy grapes, fancy decor and surrounded by art and music. Hot days out on my own boat with all the luxuries of our wonderful world." Her tail would spiral and sway as she described her imaginary perfect life. "Oh I'm sure even you would enjoy that!" She then quickly stuttered, "Err.. I mean.. after you're powerful enough of course."

It was then that something strange and void caught her catlike eyes. "What was that?" She exclaimed with a gasp as she nearly pounced on the shadow. Before she knew it, she felt surrounded as if the entire forest had suddenly come alive. "Okay, this is getting creepy." She muttered however her expression wasn't that of fear she was ready to take on whatever darkness dwelled just beyond her sights. Then another strange creature appeared to graze on the forest floor as it chewed whilst looking at the neko. "Hey you!" She called out, and the shadow disappeared. "Huh? Shy are we?" She expressed as her Magi-Tech gauntlets then rested on her hips.

Shortly after something peculiar could be felt, and discerned by Amelia as the feeling of desire.The promise of fulfillment of a deep wish welled up within the half beast. Her expression see sawed between determination and longing, she shook her head a bit and looked down as images and mystical visions reflected upon the suddenly dewy forest floor. "This place is really messing with my head." She said openly. "I want to know where this leads though." She made a fist and going against her better instincts she started towards the path the wilderness appeared to open before them. Looking back briefly, "Anyone else have better ideas?"
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TLDR: Zolgen notices the strange ongoings with possible animals, responds to Amelia, agrees to follow Morrigan and Zohar on the path, Agrees with Amelia and encourages her to come with them. States that there might be merit to further exploring the forest. Minor mental thoughts on others present in scene. Zolgen and goblins ready to move with others.

Zolgen could also feel the pull of the forest, this strange feeling he got..whether it was trick or not, despite the details he had heard which weren't the most promising..maybe there was a slight chance of there being something in this strange expanse, something of interest, after all this was surely a magic area with fae or something else of interest no doubt. Perhaps they could lead him to what he desired. He felt more alert if he managed to notice the animal like beings taking note of the group, feeling like he was ready to grab his swords at a moment notice should the situation require it. It looked like Amelia was feeling it too given the way she reacted to the surroundings.

maybe there's something here yet.. He thought to himself softly, in the monster tongue. Perhaps the pieces would fall into place yet. Granted there was some variance with what the one named Tupu called himself, his experience wasn't like a siren's call. And there was some change in appearance in another one..meaning the forest had potential effects they should be wary about.

Zolgen looked to Amelia at the moment. He paused momentarily, before replying, "It's nothing as grandiose as that, I have a certain life style which I believe I've been given the opportunity to maintain, and I fully intend to do it, it's not only a matter of wanting, but it's a matter of necessity for my existence." Zolgen thought that was a fair way to put it. Of course he wasn't about to openly admit with so many around that part of him also just enjoyed what power let him hold over others.

"Of course. while not a primary motivator. I wouldn't mind evening the score one day." not detailing it too much further. His past life might have enjoyed what Amelia described, who knew maybe even part of him now might, but even if he wanted too, Zolgen felt he'd be pretty hard pressed to find somewhere which would be chill with a monster hanging out, eating good food and looking at fine art. Perhaps Zolgen would just need to take all the elements and subjugate those responsible for this environment she described into accepting him.

"Not bad aspirations by any means. It's nice you aspire to enjoy your life with finer things, perhaps you are right."

While Zolgen had been more focused on his conversation with Amelia at this point, he did did respond when the Morrigan spoke and addressed everyone else, still finding the way she was interacting with others similar to how certain monsters he had known did. He even resonated with some of the dialogue he had managed to make out. Zolgen too knew that he had an intended purpose and role to play since the God had given him this form in this world.

"Very well, I'll join you and Zohar through these woods, I believe it would be to our benefit to stay together, given how easy it was to lose our ways here." Zolgen replied to the Morrigan. Perhaps that one who had been swinging their weapon would come too and put it to use if necessary.

"I too feel the strange effects of this place I feel like we're being watched, you should come too Amelia, we'll be stronger together. Your interest to explore is understandable even to me, there may be something of interest which we can only discover by further exploring this strange place." He added in. Truthfully he didn't have better ideas at the moment, but didn't feel the need to express that.

For now Zolgen and the goblins were ready to move through the woods with those who would come.
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The ghost – Zohar – liked to talk in riddles. Or maybe it just liked to hear itself talk? Well, Todd supposed that, based on what he’d heard about ghosts, they never really could be straightforward about things. Still, it seemed cognizant of its surroundings and was responding to what they were talking about, so it wasn’t lost in its own memories and perceiving the rest of them incorrectly? Maybe it wasn’t a ghost at all, then, but some kind of strange fae or monster? It didn’t seem to care for the idea of humanity being driven to extinction… Or at least, not so long as it wasn’t another human doing the killing?

Oh, and then the demon was speaking to him. Well, he certainly didn’t want to seem like he was ignoring the monster, or give it any other reason to get pissed off and draw its gigantic swords. So Todd folded his arms and listened.

“Ain’t no use in trying to go back the way you came,” the Kushtaka said at the question of anything being noticed, “not only do the trees move, but the grass unbends, footprints get filled in, your whole trail gets obliterated.”

It wasn’t a particularly hopeful observation, unfortunately. But, at least they knew they couldn’t trust their old paths, so the forest couldn’t lead them in circles that. For whatever that was worth. Well, the demon was soon distracted by the apparently fearless beast girl – Amelia? That left Todd free to focus his attention back on the genocidal angel.

“Actually, miss, I think most right thinking people would, uh, share my level of empathy for their fellow sapients,” Todd said, with a slight frown. Wait, when did this become about petting him? And now she was on about genociding the Kushtaka too!? And then she was off, deeper into the woods, inviting the rest of them to follow along after her, Amelia and the demon following along after her.

Todd turned to Aya, giving her a quizzical look that doubled as a silent question, “what do you think?”

Aya F Grade.png

A Grade Character

Titles: Kitsune, Order Initiate, Defender of Sootspire, Ryke Noble Associate F, Friend of Sol Faith, Hero of Nan Gau, Known to Clan Yamimoto

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TLDR: Aya responded to Todd and started to organize her thoughts on the situation at hand. She casusually threatened Zohar and use her Apprisial A skill to see his information but decides to keep quite about it. Before telling Todd her thoughts and following the group down the path.

Aya turned her attention to Todd as he spoke her name, "Yes that would be my name Todd." She turned to look at the group that had been assembled, and she wasn't sure what to think of them all. There seemed to be a creature that resembled an angel that wanted to destroy mankind; there was a large man with a skull on his head, which she didn't exactly trust. However, with the situation, there didn't seem to be any natural choice but to work together. She was pulled from her thoughts as a large shadow stood over her. Looking up to see who it was she saw it was Zohar.

"I would advise you not to stand over me. I may be small, but I'm sure I can cut you up faster than you could do anything to me. I do have 9 tails," Aya smiled as she calmly stated her threat as she didn't exactly like Zohar thus far from what she had seen. Opened one of her eyes as she was curious about his title, and used her Appraisal A to take a glance. Seeing the lost list of titles she decided to keep them to herself for the moment. However, there were going to be questions later when they got out of this forest. Bringing her hand up to her chin, she thought about the group momentarily. However, she couldn't help but feel that if she struck at the angelic creature now, it wouldn't threaten anyone. But there was a tugging at her to stay her blade until actual evidence was brought forth.

As the path became more apparent to the group, she let her hands drop to her side. When she looked at Todd and saw his expression she simply shrugged her shoulders.
"Might as well follow the group down the path unless you want to stay here for however long it takes for you to find your way out." Aya responded in a low voice before starting to follow the others down the path that was brought before them. Though she casually rested her hand on her katana gently gripping the hilt of the blade.

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TL ; DR- Zohar responds to Aya, after unwittingly using his power he copies her sword style for a brief moment. He then offers Zolgen an option of fighting Aya to achieve his desire for strength. Zohar then debates Morrigan once again elaborating on his views and even speaking of his home, and his willingness to travel with her. Following the pull of the forest he makes for the gold meadows in the distance.

Screenshot 2023-09-16 130513.pngZohar stared deep into the water. He did not look into the falls for he faced away from them, nor the pools which collected their water. All he needed were the very droplet that clung to him; they were enough. As before worlds were reflected in the dew. An elaborate kaleidoscope which painted a vast worlds beyond the one he knew. Frankly it was humbling, but he felt he could not find the end of his dream in them. The water was not so much water than a mirror through which other realms could be scryed. It suspended belief, though he was always one open to the traditionally impossible. Maybe one day he could gleam its secrets, but other worlds held no meaning to him. All that mattered was the one he knew, it was the place which contained his dream after all. He wiped the remains of the water off his body and stepped away not allowing his gaze to linger to long at the pools beneath his feet.

With his hands placed in his pockets, relaxed. Zohar made to return to the group only to be stopped by the fox girl Aya. He blinked as he looked at her, evidently she had something to say to him. A smile graced her youthful features, though the way she looked at him was rather intense. Her words were delivered calmly but they were clearly a threat. Other may look at this child like fox eared girl and consider her words empty bluster or a defensive act. But Zohar wasn't so sure... [Yesod]

His eyes gleamed a brighter gold as he beheld her. Something within him stretching out to meet Aya, in order to understand her. For a moment to Zohar it was like they were connected by an ephemeral string of Light. He saw many things within her, from understanding of lands he did not know, to the very swiftness contained within her body. Yet there was much he could not see, or understand. The vastness of another being not able to be fully comprehended by him even if he could bridge the gap. As the connection was broken an image lingered in his mind. Of Aya standing with sword in hand, practicing. She swung at enemies only she could see. The young girl was resplendent and full of life. Despite the fact that Zohar had never held a blade in his life, watching her he felt he understood the passion of those who give their life to the sword even if only a little.

His body flickered. Then he blinked and it was over, he was himself and she was her. The boundary between humans stood firm, but for a moment it had wavered. Zohar's stood with his mouth slightly agape and his eyes widened as he stared at Aya. He knew he had been changed, but to see proof of it was something else entirely. His expression softened and a small smile came upon him.

"Of course Aya, my apologies. It was not my intention to look down upon someone such as you."

Some may see his words as almost mocking, but Zohar delivered them honestly for they were true to what he felt. Taking his hands out of his pocket he brought them up looking at them as he clenched an unclenched his hands. A feelings of something being there that wasn't. Zohars hands gripped around empty air, but in his mind they were held around the grip of a sword. Raising his arms he mimicked a swing of the blade. It wasn't perfect or masterful, and the lack of an actual sword in his hands made it clumsy looking. But Aya would no doubt recognize it as the beginnings of the very sword style her father had once taught her, before she made it into her own. Zohar stepped out of his stance placing his hands back in his pockets.

"I see, so that's how you do it..."

He spoke aloud to himself, as he stared ahead. Then walked away from the fox girl leaving her to her own devices.

When Zohar returned to the group at large he found the large deer headed man and another animal eared girl in the midst of conversation as they walked. He came in at the tail end of their conversation but he picked up the gist of it. Walking by, without really looking to either of them he spoke aloud to the Monster Zolgen.

"If you were guided here to attain power, wouldn't fighting against a strong opponent accomplish that goal? Aya there is quite powerful."

Zohar left it at that, not saying anything to Amelia. Zolgen could act as he wished if he did choose to fight then the experience would be good for both Aya and him. Surely any blood they shed would allow to come closer to actualizing their selves. It was then that The Morrigan approached him. Zohar hadn't stayed nearby to hear any response it may give. To him it looked like it had thought over his words extensively and couldn't leave him be without making its own thoughts known. Zohars golden eyes stared into the Morrigans, listening to it he couldn't help but note their similarities in thought. But of course their was a key difference between them.

"A contradiction? Ah, I see you've misunderstood me I suppose that can't be helped."

Zohar sighed lightly, closing his eyes as he gathered his thoughts. While he was within the space of his mind he felt a slight pulling towards the Morrigan. It seemed he could "connect" to it as well, though Zohar felt he couldn't call upon that power again so soon. It was like a muscle that was underused and now the slightest exertion tired it out beyond use. He opened his eyes revealing the gold in them once more.

"Where I come from the value of being born human is placed over everything else. So long as you are human no matter how you may change, your actions can be understood and even allowed up to a point. Even if your desire is to destroy the world, that wish has validity because it is a human one. Of course that wish will clash with many others so you can't blame them for trying to crush it. But an inhuman being harboring such a wish, whether a monster or AI cannot be tolerated there."

His eyes narrowed and a complicated expression started to play across his face as if he was remembering something, or someone unpleasant.

"If you were to exist in that City, you would be destroyed utterly without a second thought. That, or you would be expelled to the Outskirts. 'The Head' would simply refuse to allow you. Human lives are already too chaotic and selfish to allow a being like you to exist alongside them. I believe a bit differently however, compared to those elites who only persist suffering. That is why I said I would allow your wish if you 'became' human. My own wish cannot allow a machine-like existence such as you, but until you emerge from your chrysalis I will let you be. Only after, once I witness the choice you make will I make my own decision on the matter."

Zohar smiled good naturedly.

"If you make 'that' choice then you may struggle as much as you like, and I will do the same in order to fulfill my own mission. I agree that it is quite a blessing to have so clear a purpose it took me some time to reach my own. Despite my ideals I have nothing personal against Morrigan the individual, once we leave here I would not mind following our directives together. You moving to fulfill your own serves my goals as well."

With an almost serene or comfortable expression across his face Zohar seemed to be genuinely enjoying the conversation as well as the company of The Morrigan. Walking together he along with the others noticed the figures and ethereal shapes within the forest. A feeling like he was being watched gripped Zohar. Bizarre creatures revealed themselves flitting and moving from the brush. Must like the forest itself they were uncanny and unlike anything he had seen before. Even the most mutated of creatures were not quite like this. Feeling a light pull within his very being Zohar looked out to a path ahead of them, rather than a maze meant to trap them. This one seemed like it was meant to take them somewhere. Past the long tunnel of trees the beginnings of a golden field could be just made out. Zohar gaze deeply at that scene, before quickly coming to a conclusion. He walked towards it whether the others made the same decision or decided to stay would not change his course. Would this forest bring him back home? To him and his allies destroyed efforts? Or like the waters seemed to say, take him somewhere else entirely?

  • Yesod - Appraisal F, Mimic F - The Light within Zohar taps into the well of subconscious linking him to another's mind. Drawing from their Ego Zohar assimilates their learned experiences into himself, allowing the use of their Skills for himself. - Grade F - 0 Post Cooldown
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Tupu Maa
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Greets Todd and simply watches the others interact while interacting a little himself before casually strolling down the path with the others

Tupu nods at Todd the other beastman who seemed to be a rather average guy but the chances of that he feels isn't too likely looking at the rest of the group and says "Pleasure too meet ya Todd." He was soon cut off though be the eerily yet slowly adjusting chuckle of the genocide angel. Tupu usually would take a threat like hers with some salt but knowing she was just born he sees her merely as a toddler despite her knowledge she has no real experience or understanding of it. Now that Tupu thought of it she seemed to remind him of the advanced androids that resided in his old world, as they we're programmed to be loyal yet creative which at first was brilliant but like any creature with brain whether organic or mechanic they learn and when you learn your existence is manufactured to serve you tend to ask questions. Though lucky for Tupu she's fresh and fairly impressionable seeing how she mimics others social habits rather quickly though hearing her go from a robotic and almost creepy laugh to one that sounded much less ominous and almost like him. Then the seemingly only human here spoke up about The Morrigan's goal to extinguish life and he shrugged at first but after hearing the man make his point Tupu can't help but quietly sigh to release his urge to laugh at this as these two are like matching magnets they simply cannot click but seem to be coexisting quiet well. Tupu then adds on with a quick "He's not wrong you shouldn't speak on something you haven't experienced yourself as if I'm not wrong nobody here was born a few minutes ago except you." He then stayed fairly quiet as the group interacts and gets to know each other. Though he eyes the group of goblins with a curious gaze and grin as despite how much goblins we're hated in his old world he usually enjoyed the company of the cunning green dwarfs. They made great businessmen and the one of the most cunning races to breathe as Tupu has earned seen and earned a baffling amount of money either stolen or scammed by the tricks of the clever bastards. Though these goblins seemed rather plain compared what he's used to as they seem intelligent but nothing special beyond they're roguish style and he casually nodded with a kind smirk at them once they meet his gaze. His eyes wandered to their master the man who in all of Tupu's terms fit a demon which Tupu didn't really mind as the first demon he encountered didn't try to kill him on sight so he's feeling a little lucky. He also couldn't but notice the small beast-lady then approach the human man and seem to confront him on him looking down at her which almost cracks him in up in a laughter. Though the laughter soon becomes half confusion and half entertained as the man then seemingly swings an invisible sword? Tupu can't really tell it was very amateurish in nature but nonetheless the man simply instigated a fight between Aya and the demon which Tupu doesn't understand why he would just suggest conflict despite the situation we're in but it's not his battle to fight so he shrugs his shoulders. Seeing that everyone just decides to walk farther down the path that kind of just naturally formed before us Tupu questions if he accidentally drugged himself with that mushroom stew he had earlier. He walks down the path alongside the others saying "Well if we are stuck in some magical forest that can read our desires it can probably read our fears too so I think it might be good to have someone covering each other's back." He lets out a theory he just suddenly thought of about the forest but he doesn't think about it to hard knowing someone would probably either come to the same conclusion or find something even better to go off of. He carries himself up to the front of the path using his [Heightened Senses: Sight] to see a good distance ahead of the group for anything of interest.

CDs: [Heightened Senses: Sight D] - 2 posts
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OOC: gaius skipped 1. mostly good round. don't forget the tldr's for the important bits of the posts that you want particularly known and reacted to.
Time: ???pm
Weather: comfortably cool with mostly overcast skies in twilight and mist
TLDR: Tupu successfully leads those that wish to follow him through the trials to the elysium meadows where much greets them. Those that opted not to follow him are currently lost among warden trees and golden mist.
Post Listening

Soulbound Forest


Through a thick, musky veil of darkness, the path stretched before the group, seemingly woven by the hand of some mischievous fae. The route was lined with moss-covered trees, their canopies so thick that the twilight above struggled to pierce through, granting only thin beams to dance and play upon the ground. Everything felt ancient, as though the very air had held its breath for millennia.

Each step taken on the path was accompanied by the soft, sibilant rustling of the Whispering Willows. Their drooping leaves created an almost curtain-like barrier, brushing gently against those who passed, as if the very fabric of the forest tried to weave them into its tapestry. The Whispering Willows, sounding like they carried the burdens of souls lost within, whispered tales of long-lost heroes, of romances that spanned eons, and tragedies that tore stars apart. With Tupu's heightened senses, every rustle became a symphony, every whisper a story. While it would be easy to become engrossed in these tales, his eyes remained forward-focused, scanning the shadows for unseen threats. Of threats to note, anyone who stepped on a dark puddle would fall in as if breaking through ice as dark as ink. A momentary drowning sensation and they would appear again somewhere else on or near the path. They were lucky. There was no telling just how far the water traveled or where one might wind up next. Aside from the waters, the path itself shifted on them in such a way that backward became forward and forward back. Sometimes the path forward would end altogether. Tupu's sharp sense would keep the party moving away from where they had come, but he could not help any that strayed from him.

But as the group pressed on, the atmosphere began to shift. The overpowering weight of the forest gave way to the gentle embrace of the Elysium Meadows. Suddenly, they were surrounded by fields of golden flowers, swaying to an unseen rhythm, their heads forever turned towards the heavens. Time here felt irrelevant everywhere in this place, but especially here in the meadow where one may feel tempted to simply stop. The weight of the world slipped away along with the oppression of a dark forest, replaced by a surreal serenity.

Scattered throughout the meadow were ethereal spirits, their forms taking on all manner of fantastical shapes. Some were shimmering wisps of light, while others were more corporeal, resembling animals and creatures of ancient myth. A duo of spirits, one resembling a phoenix and the other a dragon, circled each other in a playful dance. Another, looking like a centaur but with the features of a stag, strummed a lute, its music hypnotic and serene.

Near the heart of the meadow, a group of pixie-like spirits whispered among themselves, their language resembling the tinkling of bells. Upon seeing the travelers, one approached, offering a gesture of peace and greeting. The pixie spoke in a tongue foreign to all but fae, but its meaning felt universally pleasant.

From this meadow of serenity, the heart of the forest stood proud and imposing. The colossal ancient tree loomed in the distance, its bark gnarled and worn, etched with arcane runes that pulsed with a faint, phosphorescent glow. The very soul of the forest seemed to emanate from this tree, drawing all towards its core.

This was their destination, the place where their fates called them.

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"Nice meetin' you, too!" Todd replied, nodding towards Tupu Maa. They at least seemed like a pleasant sort, which the Kushtaka especially appreciated given how much stress many of the others were causing him.

Not wanting to be left behind, Todd quickly followed after Aya, half listening to the ensuing conversation as they walked. The more he heard from this Ghost, the less he liked. Zohar somehow had a way of making everything he said sound like he was talking down to you. Todd liked to think of himself as a patient and understanding fellow, but he still found himself getting frustrated on Aya’s behalf. Even more so when Zohar suggested that the demon should fight Aya! The Kushtaka reached for his gun again, just in case such a thing were to come to pass. He knew Aya was perfectly capable of defending herself, and likely wouldn’t need any assistance from him if such a fight were to break out, but still! He couldn’t stand on the sidelines while Zohar sicced monsters on his friends!

“I think you’ve done enough talkin’ for now, friend,” the Kushtaka snapped, irately.

He was so caught up in the potentially brewing conflict, he hadn’t even noticed that Tupu Maa had taken the lead of their little group and lead them on to an open field of golden grass until the treeline parted around them. At the center of the field, standing by itself, was the single largest tree Todd had ever seen. It was, without a doubt, the place he – and likely they all – were being drawn towards, the Kushtaka could feel it in his bones. Under normal circumstances, this was likely the last place he would ever want to be. But, they’d already gotten trapped in the fairy forest, and unless they met whatever it was drawing them further in, it was unlikely they’d ever manage to get out again.

When the pixies approached them, Todd let his paw fall against his side again, dropping his ready posture back into one that didn’t suggest violence was imminent. The last thing he wanted was to suggest he was hostile to the fae that had come to greet them, especially since there was a language barrier between them. Still, he kept a close eye on Zohar, not trusting the ghost to not try stirring something again.

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