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Digimon: Dark Reign (RPG Thread)

Griff4815

No. 1 Grovyle Fan
Erebus was struggling to dodge three consecutive lasers fired at him by a Diaboromon. The Cyberdramon growled and flew forwards with some impressive aerial maneovres. He landed directly infront of the sphere on its chest, and with all of his might, thrust his claw into it. He jumped back as it exploded in a small blast of green energy.

The Diaboromon still stood and snarled at him. Erebus again rushed forwards and used his tail to trip the Diaboromon. He put his foot on the creature's chest before unleashing Desolation Claw strikes on it.

Balion was getting annoyed. He had just finished running through a Diaboromon with his sword and was getting bored with fighting these. He eagerly looked around for the Black Hand. "Where is that damned Lazarus?" he growled, flying upwards and consciously looking around for him.

A Diaboromon lunged at him, but he used a Ray of Victory to send it back. The Diaboromon landed beside Ranney, who was near Strom. He then Ogre Flamed it.

"How many are you at, Strom? I'm at seven."

"Dunno," was Strom's short reply. He was busy attempting to riddle a nearby Diaboromon with blades. "... Not enough."
 

Kamotz

God of Monsters
As the Avengers faced the Diaboromon threat, Lazarus watched from atop a pillar of twisted glass. He seemed content with the situation, since it wasn't as if the Diaboromon actually mattered. He could throw thousands of them to their deaths, and it'd be worth it to kill just one Avenger. But that was boring, and Lazarus hated to be boring. He liked getting his hands dirty...bloody.

Lazarus leaped from his perch with his four swords floating around him. He flew through the air and slashed down: four blades ripping across Balion's back. Lazarus then blasted the Dramon knight with his Final Spell and sent him sailing through the air. The same tactic floored Karasu, Erebus, and Fabian.

Golden light exploded from somewhere within the horde of Diaboromon, and Caesar Magnus shot into the air. He zeroed in on Lazarus, and drew back a golden, glowing fist. Lazarus, however, summoned his Clown Trick and stopped Caesar's attack dead in its tracks. He sent the energy flashing back onto Caesar, and the Magnamon was knocked to the ground.

Ajax turned and with a roar he raced across the ground. He dodged Diaboromon left and right, slashing and stabbing with the two halves of the Dunas only to get them out of his way. When he was in range, he hurled the spear end of the Dunas at Lazarus.

"Clown Trick!" Lazarus shouted. He stopped the spear in its tracks and turned it back on Ajax, but the knight leaped over the spear and brought his axe down hard. He slashed across Lazarus's chest, and the Black Hand let out a cry of shock and pain.

"Rage of Wyvern!" Ajax roared. Power erupted from the Dunas and slammed into Lazarus. The clown was thrown through the air and smashed to the ground by the mighty dragon-shaped blast of energy. Ajax gathered both halves of his weapon and stalked towards Lazarus. He knew that even with his current advantage, Lazarus was still extremely deadly, and could turn the tide in his favor.

"Oh, Lazarus, you've gotten sloppy," said another dark voice. Ajax shifted his eyes over from Lazarus to the source of the voice, a Digimon in a set of dark armor with a flowing blue cape. A ChaosGallantmon! "Do I have to do everything myself?"

"Another of Samhain's Black Hands," Ajax mused. "I'm going to enjoy this." He spun the Dunas and prepared to attack.

"Not as much as I will," said Siegfried the ChaosGallantmon. The dark knight readied his shield and lance and dashed forward. Ajax met his charge. He swung the axe half of the Dunas to catch Siegfried's shield and pull it away, then he thrust with the spear half. But Siegfried pulled back on his shield and moved Ajax's thrust off target. He then rammed Ajax with his shield and knocked him across the face with the shield's edge. He pressed Ajax to the ground and raised the Balmung lance to skewer him.

But Siegfried was knocked to the ground by a golden flash.

Caesar knelt atop him, hammering the dark knight with powerful punches; each punch was accented by a burst of golden power. Siegfried swung his shield and caught Caesar across the face. Siegfried shouldered his shield into Caesar and knocked him back. He swung with the Balmung and backhanded-smacked Caesar across the chest, knocking the air from his lungs. He then followed up with a spinning kick that caught Caesar under the chin and knocked him on his back.

"I had hoped for more from you," Siegfried said as he raised his lance.

Golden power suddenly exploded from Caesar's hands and the beam ripped a path towards Siegfried. The dark knight managed to raise the Gorgon shield to protect himself, but the force of the blast picked him up and carried him through the air. When Siegfried steadied himself and moved away the shield, Caesar was already upon him. He lay into the dark knight with powerful punches and kicks, knocking him through the air and across the battlefield.

Caesar took a moment to focus more power, building the power in his fist to a white-hot intensity. Then he struck. He hurled himself across the battlefield with his fist drawn back and when he reached Siegfried he slammed it forward.

But Siegfried managed to raise the Gorgon shield just in time, and the shield dispersed the force of Caesar's attack. Siegfried attacked with the Balmung, slashing a painful line across Caesar's chest. As Caesar fell back, Siegfried hurled his shield, and the edge slammed into Caesar's face before rebounding back to Siegfried's hand.

Caesar looked up just in time to dodge a downward stab of the Balmung. He rolled across the ground feverishly as Siegfried stabbed at him. Caesar managed to spin around, his legs flying out, and he caught Siegfried in the face with a kick.

"Chaos Disaster!" Siegfried snarled. Power exploded from the tip of the Balmung lance and seared into Caesar. It slammed him through the air and he crashed to the ground.

The Magnamon didn't even have time to prepare himself, for Siegfried was already upon him. He slammed into him with the Gorgon shield and pinned him to a glass wall.

"Judecca Prison!" Siegfried roared. Power and darkness exploded from the Gorgon shield and ripped into Caesar. The Magnamon let out a cry of pain and agony as the energy tore through him and forced him through a glass mass nearly two hundred feet thick. He emerged from the other side battered and beaten.

"No!" Ajax shouted. He raced forward, but met Siegfried's Chaos Disaster head on and was knocked back to the ground. He stood up slowly, and met the dark knight's glare. "Fine," Ajax snarled. "You asked for it. X-Evolution! Gallantmon X!"

Ajax readied the Gram lance and the Aegis shield as Siegfried readied his own weapons. The two knights took a breath, and charged each other.

"Oh what an event!" Lazarus said with a loud laugh as he watched the battle. "I should sell tickets!" He looked back to where Balion, Erebus, Karasu, and Fabian were beginning to recover. "Guess I shouldn't have hatched my chickens before I counted them. Wait, that's not how it goes. Oh well."

Lazarus leaped back down, his four swords followed him through the air. He landed in the midst of the four Avengers and attacked. His swords slashed at the Avengers, keeping them at bay and allowing Lazarus to work up more sinister plans.

His Clown Trick shut down Balion's beam weaponry, his sword and shield deactivated, and Lazarus's sword scored several painful blows, slashing across Balion's chest and arms. Lazarus's Final Spell caught Karasu's chest dead-center and sent the raven flying. The Ultimate-level Erebus was unable to keep up with the two additional swords that came his way after Balion and Karasu were beaten, and he was taken down. Lazarus turned all his attention on Fabian, who was using his ribbon weapons and shield to great effect in defending himself from Lazarus's psychically-controlled swords.

Lazarus dashed forward, slipped under Fabian's guard, and placed a hand on his chest.

"Clown Trick!" he shouted. The attack swooped out in a rush of wind, and caused Fabian's chest plate to explode. The knight let out a cry of pain and flew back before being skewered by all four of Lazarus's swords. Fabian dropped to the ground: alive, but critically wounded.

Lazarus glanced back to where Ajax and Siegfried battled before turning to the rest of the Avengers as they fought off the hordes of Diaboromon.

"So, who wants to be next?" Lazarus cackled.
 

Hotshot

Don't ask questions.
Karasu crashed into a shard of glass, collapsing it upon impact. He tried to move, but couldn't. Lazarus had beat him up pretty bad...and what was worse...he seemed to have been holding back...

"So, who wants to be next?" he heard Lazarus cackle.

He turned his head weakly, and found Rai speeding toward the Piedmon. "I'll take you on, ya freakin' clown!"

Lazarus grinned maliciously, and sidestepped, completely avoiding Rai's reckless charge. The Rapidmon spun around in the air, and fired off to missiles from his cannons, both of which were halted and returned by Lazarus's Clown Trick. Rai managed to avoid one of his own missiles, but was hit by the other, which blew up in his face. The Golden-Armored Rapidmon skidded backwards, his armor singed by his own attack.

Rai growled. He leaped into the air, screaming, "Rapid Fire!"

Lazarus agilely hopped over his missiles, and sent his four swords flying towards the Rapidmon. One sword grazed his armor, cutting into it. Another slashed his unguarded leg. The remaining two just barely missed him. However, while Rai was busy suffering from the swords, Lazarus had charged toward him.

"Final Spell," he muttered. With a wave of his arm, Lazarus sent Rai spiraling downward. The Rapidmon crashed into the ground below. His Piedmon adversary agilely landed just a few feet away, chuckling.
 

Griff4815

No. 1 Grovyle Fan
"Damn it!" swore Balion, lying on the glass ground. He cringed as he sat up and then began to bang his hand against his bracelet in an attempt to activate his weapon again. It was short circuited, as was his shield. "I guess I'll have to do this the old fashioned way..." he said with a growl.

The UlforceVeedramon stood up and snapped his wing outwards, attempting to rid them of any blood that might be on them. He flew upwards and looked specifically for Lazarus. "We'll see who has the last laugh."

Meanwhile Strom saw that Rai was in some trouble. Lazarus was quickly approaching him. "Darn it... all of my ranged attacks will be sent back at me... and he's too fast for me to beat in hand-to hand. I'll just have to get the jump on him..."

Strom attempted to sneak as quietly as he could for a 20-foot dinosaur, slowly approaching Lazarus from behind. As soon as he was in range, he planned to rip him to shreds. But before that...

"Blue Prominance!" Strom yelled out.

"Ray of Victory!" Balion also fired his attack, but from Lazurus' right side.

"Fools..." Erebus thought, getting to his feet. "There's too much crossfire."
 

Kamotz

God of Monsters
Ajax and Siegfried clashed on the battlefield. With the fully-embraced power of his X-Evolution, Ajax was more able to match Siegfried's abilities, but the dark knight still had the advantage. He possessed cunning and skill that balanced with savagery and brutality on a razor's edge. Ajax came to the terrible realization that Siegfried was everything he wanted to be.

Two attacks, Judecca Prison and Shield of the Just crashed together from opposite ends. Six Diaboromon were obliterated by the violent cascade of energy. Ajax realized that neither Siegfried nor Lazarus was so much more powerful than any of the Avengers, they were simply...better. They were more skilled, focused, devoted, agile. But they could still be beaten. This thought gave Ajax the strength to dig deep and push his attack harder against Siegfried's. But the dark knight wasn't so simple-minded, and he ceased his attack and slid out of the way of Ajax's. He struck back, blindsiding Ajax with his Chaos Disaster and knocking him to the ground.

Siegfried made a bee-line for the fallen knight, but Ajax raised his lance in time and deflected Siegfried's stab. He slammed Siegfried with his shield and pushed him into a wall much the same way Siegfried had done to Caesar.

"See how you like it," Ajax snarled. "Shield of the--" Ajax stopped when he felt a sharp pain in his side. Siegfried had stabbed him with the Balmung lance.

"Chaos Disaster," Siegfried whispered menacingly. The attack speared into Ajax's side and hurled him through the air. He landed hard.

Theron in his Dorugoramon form charged Siegfried, but the dark knight ducked underneath his powerful claws and stabbed him in the chest. He unleashed his Chaos Disaster once again and Theron was thrown back to the ground.

Siegfried paused, sensing that someone was behind him. He turned and saw Nova and Gatmuz approach. The dark knight his shield and raised the Balmung.

"Come then," he said simply. "This will be fun."

=====

Lazarus was caught between Strom and Balion's attacks when they detonated. When the explosion died down, he was still there. His body was twisted and burned, contorted in a horrific scene of agony. The body broke down into data and scattered into the winds. Strom, Balion, and Erebus breathed a sigh of relief.

"That looked painful," said a voice beside Strom. "But you got him good!" It was Lazarus! "Oh wait! I'm still here!" He stabbed a sword hard into Strom's side and slashed another across Balion's chest. He pointed two fingers at Erebus and with his Clown Trick, he lit the Cyberdramon's rubberized armor on fire...
 

storymasterb

Knight of RPGs
Nova and Gatmuz faced Siegfried. The dark knight truly seemed a worthy opponent, more than a match for their regular forms.

Their decisions were made simultaneously, Nova bursting into flames, Gatmuz shining with golden aura...

"Blazing courage, shining light, soar higher than before, beyond mortal sight! When all seems dark, my hope shines bright, thus transform, overcome the blackest night!
Burst Evolution! ShineGreymon Burst Mode!"


"Chilling honour, shrouding night, become stronger than before, a star so deathly bright! When hope fades away, call upon the light, thus transform, overwhelm the black king's might! Burst Evolution! MirageGaogamon Burst Mode!"

They emerged, shrouded in the aura of their respective Burst Modes, facing Siegfried.

"Charge!" Nova roared, doing so with Gatmuz behind.

Siegfried met her inital strikes with his Gorgon Shield, somehow blocking each slash from the GeoGrey Sword with ease, then lunging with the Balmung Lance and opening a crimson tear in her torso. Nova roared in pain, thursting her shield at him in an imitation of his own technique, but Siegfried artfully slipped back, raising the Balmung.

"Chaos Disaster!"

A spear of dark energy burst from Siegfried's dark lance and struck Nova's shield, forcing her to block for a vital second. Siegfried raised the Gorgon Shield as the twisted Digizoid blazed with dark energy.

Nova lowered her shield as Siegfried unleashed his attack...

"Judecca Prison!"

An almighty burst of darkness erupted from the shield, catching Nova and tossing her backwards.

Unknown to the others, and even Nova herself, a sliver of dark energy tore through her armour and slipped into the cut made by Siegfried's lance.

Nova snarled as she recovered, only to be met by Siegfried unleashing a flurry of slashes and stabs with his lance that took all her skill to block. Siegfried just seemed to make each move up in a second, striking with incredible and unpredictable moves.

Now Nova learned what true intensity and power was like.

The ChaosGallantmon thrust out his shield even as a blaze of dark energy erupted from it.

"Judecca Prison!"

Nova was blasted into a great spire of glass by the blast, the spire shattering around her as she collapsed into the remnants, seemingly overcome by the blast.

Gatmuz let out a snarl of rage and charged, raising his weapon and bringing the mace end down towards Siegfried.

The black knight barely even seemed to notice the attack as he raised his Gorgon Shield, blocking it with astounding ease.

Gatmuz gasped at the sheer ease with which his attack was blocked.

"Chaos Disaster," Siegfried spoke, stabbing at Gatmuz with the Balmung. The MirageGaogamon instantly reacted, twisting the weapon in his grip to block the strike.

Gatmuz kicked at Siegfried's shield, knocking it aside as he slashed with the crescent blade of his staff.

"Luna Hook Slasher!"

The blade glanced Siegfried's armour, scratching it but causing the knight no real harm.

Siegfried countered with incredible speed, kicking out and catching Gatmuz's staff, knocking it away as he delivered a series of powerful strikes with the Balmung.

Finally, he leapt over Gatmuz and fell, slamming his shield into the beast knight's chest and forcing him downwards even as the shield blazed with darkness.

"JUDECCA PRISON!" Siegfried roared.

The immense blast of darkness that struck Gatmuz tossed him into the ground, deforming the glass beneath the warrior into a molten pit. Gatmuz sank into the molten glass even as it began to cool, trapping all but his head.

Siegfried smirked in satisfaction and turned to Nova, whose Burst Mode had broken. However, she still stood to fight.

"To reach the light, endure the darkness," Nova remembered. Her fists shook as she raised them, snarling in rage.

"Why endure the darkness!" she roared "it is so hard! I shall not endure, but embrace the darkness!"

Dark, black flames burned around her as she took flight, claws reaching for Siegfried.

His own darkness corrupted her now.

"The dark gate opens, pushing the light aside, embrace the blackness, a fate I shall abide! Flaming hatred, chilled to fiery night, sear away their very souls, give me eternal might! Ruin Evolution! SHINEGREYMON RUIN MODE!"

(Epic cliffhanger!)
 

Griff4815

No. 1 Grovyle Fan
(OOC: Man, I actually thought we had him there for a few seconds! Also, just how much are we allowed to control characters like Lazarus? I'm always worried about overstepping thos bounds.)

Strom roared in pain as the sword plunged deep into his side. "That stings!" he bellowed, removing the sword and tossing it aside. The Spinomon began slashing at Lazarus with his claws, but the Piedmon easily dodged each swipe.

Balion, who was in pain from the surprise attack, struggled to work at the interior of his right bracelet. After a few moments, the beam sword shot out and he gave a grin of victory.

"You may be fast, clown, but I'm faster," he said before appearing beside Lazarus and slashing at his side.

Meanwhile, a cringing Erebus managed to smother the flames with his claws. He ignored the overwhelming smell of melted rubber and turned to duck under the swipe of a Diaboromon before lunging up behind it and clutching onto its neck.

"Cyber Nail!" he shouted, slashing into the Diaboromon's neck.

Strom and Balion were still attacking Lazarus from both sides. The Spinomon was distracted by something. He turned and saw a black force envelop Nova. "Nova!" he called out, shocked.

His eyes widened at what came out of the flames. "... Oh great..."
 

storymasterb

Knight of RPGs
Nova roared in feral rage, emerging from the black flames.

She was now a much darker, feral ShineGreymon. Her wings had vanished, obscured by black flames, and the same flames burned around her fists. Her white armour had bleached to grey, and the vibrant crimson armour of her Burst Mode was now a hideous blood red. Nova threw back her head and let out a soul-chilling scream.

Roaring in pure fury, she hurled herself at Siegfried, clawing at the knight, trying to rip apart his armour in a fit of bestial rage.

Siegfried, to his credit, held her off. He blocked her claws with his Gorgon Shield, while stabbing with the Balmung lance.

The blood dripping from the resultant wounds just seemed to make Nova even angrier and feral.

"SHINING BLAST!" she screamed. Black flames erupted from her shrouding wings, engulfing Siegfried and drawing a grunt of pain from the knight.

"Burn," Nova snarled "BURN! YOU SHALL ALL BURN! THERE WILL BE NO MORE SADNESS, NO MORE ANGER, NO MORE ENVY! THERE SHALL BE JUST DARKNESS!"

"No!" Osiris yelled "Nova, you cannot do this!"

She turned, eyes blazing with the flames of hell.

"I cannot?" she growled "who are you to deny ME?!

Siegfried stabbed her with the Balmung again and she turned back, screaming in her absolute rage.

"TORRID WEISS!"

Searing bursts of flame stabbed at Siegfried, scorching his dark armour and rebounding off his shield. Nova clawed at his armour again, but the ChaosGallantmon stabbed her through the leg with his lance and she pulled back, screaming.

Osiris eyed her warily, knowing her rage and pain was far from over. She was still dangerous.

The darkness receded slightly and Nova seemed to recover slightly.

Her data warped, something seeming to become sentient within her.

"Do I give life or take it?" she asked, voice utterly twisted by hate "who is victim and who is my foe?"

"Nova, fight it," Osiris said. She gazed at him, blood red eyes scathing.

It wasn't her. The darkness had become a mind in its own right, wielding Nova as its weapon.

"I am a timeless chorus," the darkness spoke, gesturing to the Diaboromon below "join your voice with mine and sing victory everlasting."

"No!" Osiris shouted "Nova, fight it!"

"SILENCE!" the twisted form of Nova shrieked "I am eternal! Be SILENT!"

"No!" Osiris replied "you are nothing."

"TORRID WEISS!"

Scorching flame hurled at Osiris, but a swing of his burning spear hurled it aside, his own darkness emerging on his armour.

The darkness of AncientSphinxmon against the darkness of Dracul Samhain.

Osiris charged, knowing he had to break the Ruin Mode to save Nova.

She snarled in response, lashing at him with vicious claws, ripping at his armour.

"Why do you fight me?" she asked "why have you decided to harm that which you cherish?"

"She... is... my... FRIEND!" Osiris roared, stabbing at the corrupted Nova with his spear.

"She is your friend no longer," the dark Nova snarled "we exist together now, two fallen corpses in one grave."

"There is no grave."

"There is a grave. A grave of darkness. Would you open such a corrupted grave?"

"I would, to save her!" Osiris snarled, stabbing at her once more.

A black GeoGrey Sword appeared in her grip and blocked the strike, before being swung to strike him. He blocked it with his shield and lunged, stabbing her through the thigh. She howled and pulled away, glaring at him with one eye, the other pleading.

"You harm her with your blade. You bring ruin to her form. You are no savior."

"I'm a damn sight better than you!" Osiris snarled "Nova, fight!"

"Osiris... I," her voice spoke, flames beginning to recede again.

Then they erupted into life once more.

"And... perhaps a part of her remains," the amused darkness purred "will you fight for it?"

(A metric ton of the darkness's lines here are quotes from Cortana and the Gravemind of Halo 3. Cookies to anyone who puts all the quotes on the discussion thread!)
 

Griff4815

No. 1 Grovyle Fan
Strom swore. He was completely torn on what to do. Should he help Nova or keep fighting Lazarus? He grimaced and looked over to Balion. "Can you handle him alone?"

Balion parried one of Lazarus' swords with his own. "I can handle him with or without you," he replied, thrusting his sword forwards.

Erebus flew over to join the fray. "We'll be fine, go help your friend before I'm forced to purge the darkness from her my own way..."

Strom shuddered and nodded, running over to Osiris' side. The Spinomon was still very wary of the nearby Siegfried, who he hoped was preoccupied with Ajax or Theron.

"Nova! I know I don't know you very well, but listen to me! I know you're in there! You have the power to take control of the darkness! I know you do!" he yelled.

At the same time, Strom slowly treaded towards her, in case he had to use force. "Listen to Osiris and me, Nova..."
 

storymasterb

Knight of RPGs
Darkness.

There was just a sea of seething darkness, and her in the middle of it, drowning in hate and malice.

She couldn't win.

She couldn't fight...


Osiris nodded to Strom, keeping his gaze on the motionless Nova, who remained resolute in her Ruin Mode. Still, she wasn't killing them.

He kept a tight grip on his spear anyway.

"Nova..." he said quietly "we're here. Fight it."

"Fool."

The word tore the air as the twisted Nova rose to her full height, flames on her winds ripping the air.

"You are a fool to believe she can be saved," the dark Nova said, laughing "your goal is a hopeless one."

"No goal is hopeless," Osiris replied "no darkness is immune to light. And you are certainly not! Strom, will you help me?"

"Together or divided, I will emerge victorious! I have consumed a world of flesh and mind and bone!"

"You consume no longer," Osiris replied.

"I will wait no longer!" she growled in response "time has taught me PATIENCE! But basking in freedom... I shall not be denied my slaughter!"

With that, she charged, spinning the GeoGrey Sword in her grip.
 

Griff4815

No. 1 Grovyle Fan
Strom nodded. "Of course I'll help." The Spinomon watched grimly and readied himself as Nova charged towards he and Osiris. He didn't want to have to fight her, but now he had no choice.

Playing the defensive, he glanced at Osiris. "I'll see if I can't get the sword away..."

On that note, Strom began to circle around and run at Nova's side.
 

storymasterb

Knight of RPGs
Osiris nodded, noting that Strom's plan was the best option. Getting the GeoGrey Sword away from Nova would reduce her ability to harm them.

"Good plan," he said "I'll try and keep her distracted. Go!"

He charged at Nova, meeting her just as she swung her GeoGrey Sword, blocking the strike with his shield.

"Nova, break free!" he yelled as she pressed her sword against the shield, pulling back and striking again.

"Why should she escape?!"

"Becuase you are... NOTHING!" Osiris roared, lashing with his spear and catching Nova's thigh, ripping a crimson tear through skin and armour.

"I am a GOD!"

"You are NOTHING!" Osiris repeated, slashing again with the spear...


It was all sadness, all anger, all envy.

She was rampant, insane, dancing crazily between such twisted emotions. She was sad that her friends had been destroyed. She was angry that the Avengers had not saved them. She was envious of them all, with their power and glory.

She could not be complete. She could not be whole.

She could not endure. She could only embrace the darkness.

"I am a monument to all your sins, Avengers," she whispered "for you could not save that which I cherished. You cannot save me."
 

Griff4815

No. 1 Grovyle Fan
Strom saw Osiris hit Nova in the chest with his spear. That was his chance. He ran over and grabbed Nova's wrist with one claw and the hilt and part of the blade with his other claw. The dinosaur began trying desperately to wrestle the bulky sword away from her, or more accurately, whatever was controlling her.

"Come on..." he muttered as he tried to pull away the sword. "I know you're in there."

With a roar he gave a mighty pull on the sword...

Meanwhile, Ranney was busy attempting to hack away the glass encasing Gatmuz with his claws.

(OOC: It's really tough trying to handle four characters, I've noticed. xP)
 

Kamotz

God of Monsters
"Interesting development," Lazarus mused as his swords fended off Balion on their own. He merged his Clown Trick and Trump Sword to create a hundred swords: some real, some illusions. They spun and flew through the air, the illusions passed harmlessly through Balion while the real ones cut flesh. Lazarus spun and floored Erebus with another Trump Sword.

"Final Spell!" Lazarus shouted as he thrust two fingers against Balion's chest and armor, ready to do to him as he did to Fabian. Balion's armor began to glow red-hot and Lazarus moved back to enjoy the sight from a distance. Kairi had other plans, however, and she placed a cooling touch on Balion's armor that removed Lazarus's spell.

"Help Ajax!" she urged Balion. "I can handle this idiot's magic."

"Oh, can you?" Lazarus laughed.

"Yeah," Kairi said strongly. "But can you handle mine? Spirit Strike!" The four elemental foxes of fire, water, air, and lightning streaked towards Lazarus, forcing him back. "Go!" Kairi urged.

"So you've got magics of your own," Lazarus mused. "How well will they serve you against my soldiers?" One of the Diaboromon leaped at Kairi from behind Lazarus, slavering fangs bared, claws poised to strike. But a massive shape appeared behind Kairi and grabbed the Diaboromon before it could hit her.

Karmas forced the creature to the ground, grabbed his Mjollnir Morningstar, and swung with all his might. He kept swinging, hitting the Diaboromon over and over until it was little more than a cloud of data swirling through the air. Karmas then leveled a glare at Lazarus and charged. He swung Mjollnir in a wide arc, but Lazarus countered with his Clown Trick. He took control of the weapon and used it to pummel Karmas into the ground much the same way Karmas had attacked the Diaboromon.

"Final Spell!" Lazarus shouted. He hurled a sphere of might at Karmas, but Kairi leaped into the way with her staff raised.

"Talisman Sphere!" she called out. Magic power surrounded her and Karmas in a protective shell and blocked Lazarus's attack. The shell then pushed outwards. It pushed against nearby Diaboromon and dissolved limbs. It pushed until it reached Lazarus.

"Clown Trick!" Lazarus yelled. His own magics worked furiously against Kairi's. Lazarus himself may have been more powerful and versatile, but Kairi's attacks were more specialized, and that made them more powerful when used successfully. Finally, however, sheer power won out and Kairi's attack was canceled out in a brilliant explosion that sent both parties flying back.

"Not bad," Lazarus mused. "But I'll have your heads yet!"

=====

Siegfried kicked Ajax hard and the knight rolled across the ground. He kept rolling, dodging Siegfried's follow-up stabs. Ajax swept Siegfried's legs out from under him and slammed him with his shield, pinning him to the ground. Ajax rolled onto Siegfried with a terrible gleam in his eyes.

"Shield of the Just!" he finally howled. Power erupted from the Aegis and crushed Siegfried into the ground. The force of the attack threw Ajax from Siegfried, but the knight was happy with the results.

'Finally,' he thought. 'This is it. This is what I've been looking for.'

Siegfried rose from the ground, his armor blacked and his breathing ragged. "So you're finally cutting loose," Siegfried said with a pained laugh. "Good. That means I don't have to hold back either."

Not ten seconds later, Ajax was sent flying across the battlefield following a massive burst of dark power.

=====

Theron steadied himself, then the Dorugoramon launched himself at Nova. He grabbed her in a full-nelson headlock, crying out as dark fires rushed from her body and seared into his flesh. Theron tried to hold on for a few more moments, but it was too much for him, even as Strom tried to wrest the GeoGrey Sword from her hands, she was still able to blast Theron back.

For a moment, Theron contemplated summoning the Dorudiin sword, but realized that even with that, his chances of overcoming Nova were slim. Instead, he reverted back to his base Gaiomon form to conserve energy. He saw the pain Nova was inflicting on Strom, and knew he had to act quickly.

"Caesar!" Theron cried out. From somewhere within the mass of Diaboromon, Caesar Magnus answered with a blast of golden energy. He flew through the air and landed beside Theron. It was clear that he was still weakened from his encounter with Siegfried. In fact, Theron's cry had just woken him: he had been unconscious. "You have to stop her."

"But she is an ally, is she not?" Caesar asked.

"She is, and she is not," Theron explained. "She is overcome with her own darkness and guilt. This darkness and hate is controlling her, leeching off her soul. You must stop it."

"But what if I-?"

"Remember, you are hope and all that is bright," said Theron. "You can do this. Just let it happen."

"Understood," Caesar said with conviction. He launched into the air, flashing with golden light. He came down hard on Nova, knocking her to the ground. "I do not wish to harm you, Nova ShineGreymon. But I will rip this ruinous force from your soul with my own two hands if you do not contain it. And trust me, it will not be pleasant..."
 

storymasterb

Knight of RPGs
Chaos.

Madness.

The golden sun that was Caesar Magnus battled the dark dragon Nova had become, her GeoGrey Sword glancing off his armour, his punches searing her corrupted flesh.

"SUBMIT! End her torment and my own!" the darkness screamed, slashing at Caesar with the GeoGrey Sword.

"Never!" Osiris cried, stabbing at her with his spear "Nova, fight it!"

"She is but a monument to your sins! A sacred idol displaying your failiures!"

"She... is... my... FRIEND!" Osiris snarled, impaling the beast through the arm gripping the GeoGrey Sword.

Nova let out an almighty scream and dropped the weapon, Osiris kicking it away rapidly.

"I am peace! I am salvation!"

"You are death and destruction!" Osiris roared, lashing with the spear.

He caught Nova's unguarded chest and impaled her.

A terrifying scream of malice and pain tore the air as Nova burned with hate, tossing Osiris away with dark fire. Caesar and Strom were also forced away as she ascended, snarling.

"So I end," she snarled "resignation is my virtue, then, like water I ebb and flow. Defeat is merely the addition of time to a sentance I never deserved... but you imposed. Know my fury, Avengers."

She burned, dark fire engulfing her body entirely...

"GLORIOUS BURST!"

The flames exploded with all the force of a supernova, searing the glass desert, crushing the Avengers under a cataclysmic force of agony and hate.

Siegfried sheltered behind his shield, watching the flames sear all to ash, as Lazarus called forth his magic to protect himself. Osiris sheltered behind his own shield, while Gatmuz was protected by the lay of the land.

Within the shrinking darkness, Nova observed.

The darkness was only growing stronger.

"This is the way the world ends," she whispered.

(Nova isn't out of Ruin Mode yet. Two Gravemind quotes and a Cortana quote in here, if you want to find them.)
 

Griff4815

No. 1 Grovyle Fan
(OOC: Crap! None of my characters have [working] shields!)

Strom, Ranney and Erebus all let out sharp bellows of pain as they were surrounded by the dark flames. Balion managed to shield himself with his wings, which were badly burned. Ranney and Erebus managed to persevere the blast, but Strom was forced to revert to his MasterTyrannomon form.

"Damn it..." he growled, wincing and inspecting his wounded body.

He slowly limped towards Nova, who was still embodied by the darkness. "... Nova..." he pleaded. "I know you can get through this... break through this hate and shadow and help us fight... towards our future..."

Strom didn't know how she would react, but he was going to stand his ground. He had to.

---------------------

Balion ignored his pained wings the best that he could. He wasn't having fun anymore. The UlforceVeedramon sped through the sky and flew closer to the earth. With all of his might, he rammed into Siegfried's back. The force of the impact against the ChaosGallantmon's plate armour had its effects on Balion but he shook it off and began hacking at Siegfried with his sword.

"Come on, you sorry, treasonous excuse for a Dramon!" he taunted, launching his sword with great speed towards his foe's collar area.

Erebus also joined the fray against Siegfried, but he knew better than to get between the two, so he waited for them to get some distance between each other before attacking Siegfried.
 

Kamotz

God of Monsters
"A Dramon?" Siegfried taunted with grim satisfaction as he blocked Balion's thrust. He buried the tip of the Balmung in Balion's chest. "I'm insulted: I'm not nearly pathetic and weak enough to be considered a Dramon, am I?" Siegfried unleashed his Chaos Disaster and sent Balion crashing to the ground.

"If you've got some sort of X-Evolution or power-up like Gotungir, then you'd better use it," Ajax growled as he rose to shaky feet. He attacked with his Lightning Joust, but Siegfried simply sidestepped the beam lance and hurled his shield.

The Gorgon struck Ajax in the face and it rebound back to Siegfried as he raced forward. He placed a foot on Ajax's chest and drew back the Balmung, but Ajax parried the thrust with his Aegis shield. Siegfried did much the same to Ajax's attempted attack with the Gram.

"You've very good, Ajax," Siegfried said. "You're almost as good as me, and that's saying something. But in the end, that's all you are...'almost.' You lack the conviction and the edge to do what is necessary. Embrace the power you truly feel within you. Embrace that power and rage. It will make you more than you are...than you ever were."

"Like I'm taking advice from you," Ajax spat. He brought his legs up and pushed against Siegfried's chest and sprang up. "Lightning Joust!" This time the attack struck true. It slammed into Siegfried and knocked him back. Ajax then leaped forward and slashed with his weapon. The dark knight blocked the blow with his shield, and Ajax blocked his follow up.

"Oh, but you're already taking my advice, Ajax. Whether you know it or not," Siegfried said with cruel satisfaction. Ajax slammed him with a powerful knee strike and floored him with a well-placed elbow.

"Go to hell," the knight snarled.

"I was born there," Siegfried laughed as he rose to his feet. "Conceived on the shores of the river Styx. Birthed on the spires of Sheol. Raised in the black pits of Tartaros. Baptized in blood on the infernal plains of Gehenna. Knighted by the Black King under the shadow of Megiddo. Hell has no meaning to the Black Hands. Hell is home."

=====

Caesar shrugged of the darkness of Nova's flames. His armor spilled light to drive the darkness away. He had to end Nova's rampage. That much he knew. He closed his eyes and focused deep, to the power boiling within him. He could see it in his mind's eye, but it still completely overwhelmed him. It was like standing on the surface of the sun; power and light roared all around you, yet you couldn't even comprehend the magnitude of what you were seeing. Focusing, Caesar grasped the heart of that enormous sun and stepped out of his head.

"No!" Theron called out, sensing Caesar's motives. "You can't. Not now; we'll need it later. Nova must overcome the darkness on her own or it will only return stronger. You cannot use a miracle to solve everything."

"I see, and understand," said Caesar. He took a breath and steadied himself. "But she cannot be allowed to rage uncontrollably. That only allows the darkness to grow. I cannot calculate a win percentage. Her ruinous power is...predictably unpredictable."

"Welcome to our world," Theron said with a smile. "You don't always know your chances. Sometimes you just need to hit something and hope it falls down."

"To hope for a miracle?" Caesar said with the faintest hint of a smile.

"Yeah," said Theron. Caesar turned, his body alight with golden power. "Wait, was that a joke?"

Caesar didn't answer. Instead, he lifted into the air and shot off towards Nova. He crashed into her with the force of a meteor, pinning her to the ground. He leveled her with a Magna Punch and stood over her.

"My path is clear," he said. "You will either overcome your darkness, or I will destroy you to both end the threat you pose, and save your soul. Light Aura Barrier!" He spread his hands and focused his power onto Nova, encircling her within a sphere of golden light...
 

Hotshot

Don't ask questions.
"A Dramon?" Siegfried taunted with grim satisfaction as he blocked Balion's thrust. He buried the tip of the Balmung in Balion's chest. "I'm insulted: I'm not nearly pathetic and weak enough to be considered a Dramon, am I?" Siegfried unleashed his Chaos Disaster and sent Balion crashing to the ground.

Rai struggled to his feet. Amid the hordes of Diaboromon that clashed with the Avengers, his eyes zeroed in on Siegfried. "I...swore...to some day end all Dramon prejudice...today...that promise begins!"

Karasu placed a hand on his shoulder. "Yes, Rai. We will someday end the prejudice. But if we try now, we will only be getting in Ajax's way. Let us use our power to defeat the enemies that surround us, and allow Ajax and Balion end Siegfried themselves."

Rai sighed, and nodded. "Oh, alright." The two Digimon turned their attentions to the remaining Diaboromon.

"All of you," Karasu spat, catching the attention of many Diaboromon. "We will kill you."

As planned, this grabbed the attention of the Diaboromon away from some of their other opponents. Ten of these virus Digimon charged at Karasu, and eight at Rai. The two Digimon took to the skies, avoiding sudden death by the claws of their attackers. "Rai, you know what to do," Karasu said.

Rai nodded. "Affirmative. This is your DESTINY! TRI BEAM!!!"

Rai's triangular beam caught four Diaboromon, blasting them several yards away. "Rapid Fire!" Boom! Boom! Boom! Two more gone. "Now, Karasu!"

Karasu swooped low, narrowly dodging the Diaboromon's Web Wreckers. He ran his sword through a Diaboromon's throat, and used it to slash off the head of another. That made four dead, and four injured. Now only ten more...

"Heh. Easy as pie!"
 

storymasterb

Knight of RPGs
Burning.

Searing.

Golden light.

She lashed at the sphere, driven mad by pain and fear, only seeking to envelop the hated light in darkness, extinguish the radiance of miracles that shone on the Magnamon, Caesar Magnus.

"Nova," Osiris said "please... stop this."

"Why should I STOP?!" she roared, clawing at Caesar's barrier.

"Enough," Gatmuz growled, striding towards the barrier "I shall end this. By the light of the Burst Mode, this abomination shall end."

"Gatmuz... when'd you get free?" Osiris asked.

"Ranney was kind enough to claw away that glass," Gatmuz said, gesturing to the DinoRexmon "thanks Ranney. Now it's time to end this."

His shining Burst Mode aura ignited, the staff of MirageGaogamon Burst Mode appearing in his hands.

"By the golden radiance of day, by the blinding light, come to me now, make me a banisher of the night! Evoke the Savior path, grant me the blazing might, ascend me to the legacy, grant me strength to end this fight! Burst Evolution! MirageGaogamon Burst Mode!"

He stood there, resolute as Nova snarled and raised her hand, conjuring her black GeoGrey Sword and striking Caesar's barrier with it.

"The light of miracles shall not contain me!" she roared, striking the barrier once more.

Her black flames tore at the barrier, ripping cracks in it...

With an almighty crack, the barrier broke and Nova emerged, roaring as she raised the burning GeoGrey Sword, her Ruin Mode facing Gatmuz's Burst Mode.

"I don't want to fight you," Gatmuz said "but you leave me no choice. By the light, this darkness dies! FULL MOON METEOR IMPACT!"

He lunged for her, swinging his staff. She blocked the strike with her GeoGrey Sword and kicked out, drawing a hiss of pain from him before he spun the weapon in his hand and knocked her off balance.

"Luna Hook Slasher!"

He slashed with the crescent blade, opening a gash in her chest. She snarled and took flight, him following. Their weapons collided with sprays of sparks, darkness and light impacting with terrible force.

Nova snarled in rage as she slashed the GeoGrey Sword, sparks flying as the blade collided with Gatmuz's weapon.

Chaos...

They flew apart and collided again, gold and black dancing on their bodies as their weapons struck with cataclysmic power, obliterating stray Diaboromon that got too close.

She pulled back, black flame dancing on her skin. Gatmuz recognised the signs and his golden aura grew. They were just faint figures within their respective auras, shadows on the flame and light...

"GLORIOUS BURST!"

"FINAL MIRAGE BURST!"

They unleashed their attacks with apocalyptic force, the black flames of ruin crashing against the golden light of a Savior. Fire and light struggled for dominance, ripping each other apart, contained within the conflict.

Nova was strong.

Gatmuz was strong.

Burst and Ruin, Light and Darkness, they all seemed equal in that terrible twilight, fire and light destroying each other.

"Nova!" Gatmuz called "this must end!"

"It shall! And it ends when you die at my feet, insignificant mite!"

"You leave me no choice," Gatmuz said, closing his eyes as their attacks dissapated "I love you, Nova. But I cannot let my emotions blind me to what must be done. Osiris, act with me. Darkness and Light as one shall overcome Darkness alone."

"So be it," Osiris said somberly "Ancient Evolution. AncientSphinxmon."

He ascended as the Ancient of Darkness, charging the power of Death.

"As one," Gatmuz repeated, gathering his golden aura into his weapon as Nova charged...

"I love you Nova," he whispered, feeling his and Osiris's energies let out one harmonious pulse, a sign of what would come.

"FINAL MIRAGE BURST!" he screamed, letting the tears fall from his eyes as he unleashed an almighty blast of power, the power of Light melding with the force of Osiris's Dark Roar to form a twisting mass of chaos that impaled Nova...

She let out a heart-rending scream of agony and Gatmuz let out a scream of his own at seeing her so hurt.

She collapsed to the earth, darkness shattering and leaving only her regular form.

She was free, Ruin Mode broken.

Gatmuz descended and caught her, his Burst Mode fading away as he held her there, in the infinite sky, darkness and light dissolving to nothing around them.

"I love you," he whispered.
 
Last edited:

Kamotz

God of Monsters
He watched the darkness rage against the sky and the light. Shadows spilled against the stark white of his armor. The ShineGreymon, though he didn't know her, was screaming in pain. He knew that much. The darkness was consuming all, drawing everything into its black heart. He'd seen such a phenomenon once before, when Imego's Kaiser Mode drank in the world.

The Transcendent Sword flicked out from his WarGreymon arm and Hyperion stepped forward, ready to intervene.

"No," the voice whispered in his ear. It was a mind-bending voice, maddening and seductive at the same time. "It is not time yet. These events must come to pass. You cannot reveal yourself to them until the time is right. They must suffer, and you cannot stop it."

Hyperion sheathed his sword and sighed angrily, frustrated with himself and his own inability to act. He turned his back to the darkness, to the pain of his former allies.

"Yes, my master," he whispered back. "I hear, and I obey."

=====

Dracul Samhain watched the events from his great castle. The crystal sphere on the crystal pedestal showed him everything and allowed him to communicate with everyone. He watched as Nova's darkness was snuffed out, and he gave a little chuckle.

"So disappointing," he laughed. "I had such high hopes for her." He turned to the figure at his feet. "Just like I had such high hopes for you, Rhea Ophania."

Rhea Ophania lay sprawled at Samhain's feet. The Ophanimon was half-naked, clothed in little more than torn sheets and robes, and her hands were chained together. An Unholy Ring was bound around her neck, suppressing her powers. She was a broken angel, the mere plaything of Samhain. He lifted her face towards him and stared sadistically into her scared and broken green eyes.

"But you wouldn't join me," Dracul Samhain whispered. It was a mind-bending whisper, maddening and seductive. "Your heart was just a little too strong. And so you must suffer...you all must suffer."

Rhea said nothing. She simply shut her empty eyes and tried to turn away. Dracul Samhain sighed with boredom and dropped her back to the ground. He walked over to the red crystal sphere and pedestal and used it to speak to his Black Hands.

"Lazarus. Siegfried. End this now," he said. "Our experiment is over and I've grown bored with this game."

"Yes, master," the Black Hands whispered back. "We hear, and we obey."

=====

Lazarus had received his orders. End this now. And that's what he would do. He had figured that a magic duel against Kairi was pretty much useless. They could counter and re-counter each other all day, but with Karmas beside her, Lazarus would never be able to get in close with his swords. Karmas had to be taken out of the way first.

The Piedmon let out a sharp whistle, and a pair of Diaboromon leaped forward. One grabbed Kairi while the other jumped onto Karmas. With his massive strength, Karmas was able to grab the monster and smash it to the ground. He pummeled it with his mighty morning-star weapon and blasted it with ice until it erupted into a cloud of data particles. Karmas was about to go help Kairi when he heard another whistle.

"Hey, stupid," Lazarus said with a smirk. "Over here." He held up a large white sheet and swung it like a matador would to a bull. Karmas hated the insult to his intelligence and raged forward, swinging his morning-star with all his might. Lazarus stepped to the side, however, and Karmas simply raced right by him. They continued this little dance, which served to amuse Lazarus to no end while it only infuriated Karmas. He charged one more time, but this time he found himself smothered in the white sheet.

Kairi finally succeeded in dispatching the Diaboromon on top of her and turned to see Karmas disappear beneath the white sheet.

"What did you do to him?" she demanded angrily. Lazarus just laughed some more and held up a little keychain doll...of a Vikemon! "No!" she screamed.

Lazarus grabbed his four swords--two in each hand--and dashed forward. He ducked under Kairi's swinging staff and slashed across her chest. He attacked with surgical skill and pinpoint accuracy. Kairi cried out and fell back under his assault. She clutched her bleeding wounds as Lazarus moved in, watching her with cold, snake-like eyes. He made his move: he grabbed two swords and plunged them towards Kairi, intent on stabbing her through.

But Fabian leapt between them, and Lazarus's swords pierced through him instead. The Piedmon was upset, but not entirely unpleased. He did enjoy the look of pure terror on Kairi's face as she realized what Fabian had done for her.

Suddenly the RhodoKnightmon's ribbon weapons lashed out. They wrapped around Lazarus's neck. Fabian grabbed Lazarus's wrists and pulled his hands away from his swords (which where still embedded in Fabian) and held them up in the air, while the ribbons around his neck began to squeeze and cut.

"You won't hurt them anymore," Fabian said, voice clenched in pain. He struggled with all his might to remove Lazarus's head from his shoulders.

"You're amusing," Lazarus choked out. "I'm almost sorry to kill you." He psychically controlled the four swords and they flew through the air, stabbing Fabian through the chest and torso repeatedly. Fabian's arms slacked, and Lazarus grabbed at the ribbons around his throat. He pulled against them, loosening them just enough so he could breath again.

The swords kept stabbing, spilling blood and data out over the glass and sand.

Kairi cried for him to stop.

And he did.

Lazarus placed a hand against Fabian's chest and let loose with his Final Spell. He blew a hole straight through the knight, and Fabian instantly dissolved into a cloud of data.

Kairi screamed in horror.

Lazarus clutched his throat and breathed a sigh of relief. That had been way too close for his liking. He spotted Kairi, still sprawled out on the ground, consumed with grief for her love and for her friend. Lazarus smirked sadistically. He loved that look of pain, it made him feel truly alive.

He grasped his swords and stalked over to her...

=====

Siegfried had received his orders. End this now. And that's what he would do. He had become bored fighting with Ajax and Balion. As they were, they didn't provide a suitable challenge for a warrior of his caliber. He hoped that would change. They were the ones most likely to match his abilities in battle. If they became stronger, their battle would be absolutely glorious.

But for now, it was over.

Siegfried shouldered his shield into Ajax and in the same motion, unleashed his Judecca Prison. The attack blasted Ajax across the battlefield and embedded him in a glass wall. Siegfried spun around and slashed his lance across Balion's chest before giving him the same treatment he had given Ajax, pounding him into the ground with his Judecca Prison.

The dark knight sensed something behind him and spun around with his shield. He caught Erebus as he tried to attack and knocked him to the ground. He then stabbed the Cyberdramon in the shoulder and kicked him across the glass floor. Siegfried then turned his attention to the grieving Gatmuz.

Siegfried jumped into the air and blasted Gatmuz with his Chaos Disaster. The attack struck the MirageGaogamon in the face and knocked him to the ground. Weakened and distracted as he was from fighting Nova, he couldn't do much to defend himself. Siegfried then attacked Osiris. He slammed his shield into the Ancient's face and buried his lance in between the armored folds of his opponent's belly. He fired his two attacks simultaneously. The Chaos Disaster lanced from Balmung while the Judecca Prison exploded from the Gorgon shield. Osiris was sent flying.

Something gold flashed in the corner of his eye, and Siegfried leaned back just as Caesar flew past him and missed his mark. The Magnamon turned an angry glare towards Siegfried, but the dark knight just laughed it off. He could handle the golden knight on his own, but he wanted him distracted just to be sure.

"Lazarus," Siegfried called out. "Kill them all." Lazarus turned and dropped Kairi to the ground. He raised his swords for a killing stroke, aiming right at her heart.

"Caesar!" Theron called out. "Now! Do it!"

Caesar didn't need to be told twice. He pulled his focus inward, to the great golden sun that was his power. He reached out and grasped the heart of that blazing light and drew it out into the world.

The Crest of Miracles lit before him and Caesar placed his right hand against its glowing surface. Light roared out over the battlefield, more pure and holy than anything the others had ever seen. It washed over the Avengers, warming cold hearts and soothing aching wounds. But for Samhains Black Hands and Legions, it was the light of destruction. It purged the Diaboromon from the desert, rendering them to ones and zeroes.

Siegfried and Lazarus were forced to make a hasty retreat, to teleport away before the light could consume them as well.

Caesar dropped to his knees, exhausted and spent. Around him, the Avengers stirred, their souls warmed by the glow of golden light. They had a long and difficult road ahead of them. This much they all knew...
 
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