Trudging slowly through the ash-strewn environment of the fiery wasteland known as the Northern Scar, Grail admired the desolate beauty that was to be found in this place. In all of the whole of the surface of Planet Namek, Grail had managed to find only a single place that felt similar to his homeworld of Planet Konats, and he was quite enjoying the fierce heat emanating from the lava fields. Sure, the ash floating on the winds here made the air far more caustic and dim than his homeworld, but even in a landscape that most would consider Hellish Grail could find signs of life and beauty. The ash covered dirt didn't hold much plantlife, but surprisingly out among the lava fields, the never-cooling molten rocks supported a strange red tinged flowering lotus, spreading a brighter red light across the area.
Elsewhere, the glassy obsidian chunks that were strewn about had been lovingly carved, perhaps by some ancient Mazoku Namekian, into complex geometric shapes that caught and held the eye. Plinths and pillars and arches, etched with even more geometric shapes, and even a single platform with a fractal pattern etched into it. It comforted Grail somehow, and while he had come to this place for some other reason, he had found himself simply sitting down and enjoying the view, a darkened soul enjoying a darkened environment. There was only a small setback to Grail's serenity. Purpose. He had originally come here with a purpose that was at odds with the serenity that tried to invade his mind here.
Sighing deeply Grail eventually removed himself from the edge of the obsidian pillar he had been sitting atop and descended to the ground, light as a feather. From deep within the folds of his clothing he pulled an impossibly large trinket that should never have fit. A glittering orange orb, matching a watermelon in girth but a perfect sphere, and a set of deep red five-pointed stars lodged within. Gazing into the orb Grail noted once again that the little stars always maintained their appearance no matter which angle he looked upon them from, a special characteristic that gave a hint to their magical nature. Of course, the prototype device that Grail had recovered from a dead Mazoku mercenary, who had apparently been interested in selling the device to the Dominion's enemies, had helped immensely in tracking the magical trinket. The orb, and presumably the others like it, had resisted all of Grail's other attempts to track them through magic. A special precaution to ward off experienced mages? Perhaps, but it had not been enough to keep Grail from getting his hands on the orb.
Yet thus far Grail had not been able to decipher any sort of magical power source for the orb. He knew that it was enchanted, certainly, and that the amount of power that had been used in creating the trinkets had been enough to break worlds asunder, and he even knew that it was a form of Light Magic used by the Dragon Caste Namekians, but the magical powers of the orb eluded him. He knew nothing of their purpose. Thus Grail had brought the orb here to this place, steeped in Shadows and Demonic magics, to provide an environment contrasting to the nature of the orb's. In such a situation it would be much easier to peer directly at the spells that were bound to the orb, like looking at a white picture with a black background as opposed to grey or white.
With a small flick of his fingers the orb would be propelled away from Grail's hands, lifting into the air in front of him to float gently on solid shadows. Wisps and tendrils of shadow coalesced from those cast by the lava fields nearby and brushed against the orb, testing the trinket, shadowing it, so that perhaps the Light Magics held within would be shown in a way that Grail could begin to understand what he was looking at. Of course, with his mental energies bent towards his singular task at hand his mental awareness of energy around him would fail him, and he would be open to being approached by others who might also have devices to track these orbs...
Helix’s eyes narrowed. “It was just there— Where has it gone?”
The guru had to admit, he was feeling a little bit anxious out in the middle of the northern scar. He had been watching a dragon ball on his radar a few minutes earlier, but all of a sudden it seemed to have disappeared.
Accompanying the guru was his ex-guardian, the warrior caste namekian Lusca. She had only recently returned to Namek, but the two old friends were already reconnecting under pressure. The search for the dragon balls was on.
“It looked to be just over here—“ Helix put his hand on Lusca’s shoulder, as he had done many times before in the past few hours.
Then, he pulled back his palm. Something about the scar made him want to follow this lead alone. "I'll be back in a moment."
Helix disappeared in a blur of teleportation, reappearing in the deep of the trench, right in front of—
Standing beside an obsidian obelisk was a twisted looking demon, and levitating through the air was nothing other than the four star dragon ball.
Helix took three steps forwards and wrapped his palms around the dragon ball, gently pulling it out of the demon’s telekinetic grasp and swallowing it in his own. “Excuse me— I assume you’re one of Xylo’s men,” Helix began “I am the Guru, Helix Crust. I am operating under his authorization to gather these artifacts as quickly as possible.”
It was certainly true that Grail would look like a twisted demon by anyone who gazed upon him just then. The shadowy magics that he was utilizing to test the orb in front of him did mutate his form into something closer to the Nightwalker he had sealed within. Great claws and fangs would be present on his hands and face, and his form would shift with the shadows clumping together near him, causing him to appear to be a part of the shadows themselves. This would apparently cause the approaching Dragon Caste to make two assumptions in error. Firstly, Grail was not holding onto the Dragonball, although he knew not the name of the orb in front of him, with telekinesis but with his own mutated hands. Secondly, despite his demonic appearance Grail was not a part of the Mazoku Dominion in any capacity.
These two details were however of little consequence, for there was something much more important to note. The magics that Grail were using were dangerous and volatile, pulling on the deepest essence of shadows that Grail had access to. He had to maintain absolute concentration on them or they would risk destabilizing, causing a potentially fatal backlash that would kill everything in the area, and furthermore blighting the region. To the Dragon Caste Namekian this might seem to be par for the course considering the area, but in actuality it was filled with life and Grail would certainly be wracked with guilt if it were to die.
So it became a crisis when Helix showed up. Grail had been delving deeper into the enchantments that were so thoroughly entwined with the crystalline orb, his whole being spent on observing the magical forces at play in front of him. He felt he was coming to some sort of epiphany concerning the orb, some small part of the nature of the enchantments. A sort of....signature. Yes, a signature, a tiny fragment of power left behind by the one who originally created the orb. A sudden burst of confusion as Grail felt something of an echo nearby, and his head whipped up and around as he attempted to identify what he had just felt.
Helix appearing directly in front of him both startled Grail and caused him to lose his concentration. In that instant that Helix appeared the magics that Grail had been manipulating lost all cohesion and restraint, bubbling out into a massive black conflagration. Grail had a a bare moment to exclaim,”What? No!” before the black ball of flames exploded outwards, Grail instinctively attempting to throw the magical power up and away from him, aiming it essentially directly at Helix due to their relative positions and orientations. At the same moment as he attempted to divert the energies of his own spell Grail grasped tightly onto the Dragonball with his mutated limbs, drawing it to him and directly into his body, his form sucking it in like a slime, denying Helix even the chance to grasp hold of it in that moment.
The horrible black flames were mostly sent flying skyward, but indeed some would touch down on the ground, the normally sturdy life in the form of withered grass would be snuffed out, reduced to blash ash on the ground. Staggering back several steps Grail would grunt in pain, his right arm returning to its normal shape, but gashes and tears were present all along its length, giving proof to the effort it had cost him to prevent his magics from harming the area seriously.
As for Helix? He was no doubt sturdy, and could handle the backlash even if it took him unawares, right? Gasping for breath, his left arm gripping his right, Grail gazed upon Helix with a dull pair of eyes, trying to see who or what had interrupted him. Within Grail's mind the voice of Ebonbane, the Nightwalker sealed within him, stirred, ”Ghhh. Damn Light Mage.. Leave them, quickly. My nature calls for their destruction...”
”Nnngh. The Dragon Caste Guru? I would have suspected such an accomplished mage to know the dangers of interrupting an active spell. Heh. What has one such as you so ill at ease to attempt to acquire this trinket so... desperately?”
Helix interrupts Grail's spell, causing it to detonate in their faces! Grail is left drained from redirecting the blast mostly skyward. Some backlash heads Helix's way!
Result of backlash is equitable to:
Technique Name: Blightfire Technique Type: Ranged Attack (Blast) Technique Tier: UP2 Technique Description: Forming a shadowy black fire near himself Grail causes it to burst forth at his opponent, and the unholy energy tears at their life force, attempting to wither them to their core. This attack deals 66% of Grail's current PL per turn charged based on tier used. Slain enemies are left as a desiccated husk.
As the burst of demonic energy lashed outwards, Helix's eyes opened wide and his forehead tattoo began to glow a gentle white. The prophet lifted his hand quickly and with a single stroke of his palm, the damage to the surrounding terrain was washed with a wave of healing magic, restoring the terrain in the reverse order that it had been destroyed.
With the same wave of his hand, the prophet harmlessly swallowed the remaining energy, and enclosed it in his palm. "My apologies," The guru began genuinely, not realizing that such an unstable spell was being used to propel the dragon ball with shadows. "Frankly, I am not quite the mystic my predecessor was," he referred to Nai, "I have little knowledge in the demonic arts."
Helix's brow furrowed slightly in confusion. This seemed to be a demon who was firmly planted on planet namek's soil, and yet he didn't respond to the word Xylo. Could he be a scraggler? A bastard child? It seems where Helix's brother came, all sorts of strange folks followed.
"Gathering that trinket," Helix began, "Is a very important ritual ritual for my caste." "I apologize that I don't have much time to talk," Helix said, "But it is really vital that I keep moving. This ritual is running on a very tight time limit."
Finally, the guru took a few steps forwards, the newly restored grass rustling beneath his feet. As he got closer, the prophet's eyes widened. "Oh my--" Helix's gaze softened as he took in the sight of the demon's injuries. The stranger was clearly in pain. "You're hurt, aren't you--" "Please let me heal you," Helix said without hesitation, his hands glowing with the same white energy that he had used to restore the terrain, "I would not want you to suffer for my own mistake."
”It is merely a flesh wound. I have received much more serious damage than this.” Grail looked up at the Guru for a small moment as he said that before he turned his attention back to his wounded, concentration evident in his eyes. Before Helix's eyes the edges of the wounds would turn black, blacker than night, and beginning to stretch and writhe as if their own living beings. The blackened flesh would slither together over the wounds, locking into place as Grail used his left hand to pull some relatively clean looking gauze from his clothing. His left arm would also turn completely black, the fingers turning into delicate claws, and the limb would elongate, the gauze being gripped by the right hand as the left arm spun around the right. The gauze was quickly wrapped about the right arm in this fashion, further locking the sealed wounds into place, before Grail would tie off either end by tucking the gauze under itself.
With his first-aid complete, Grail's arms returned to their normal shape and coloring, and he flexed his right arm experimentally, to check his job. Satisfied with the result he replaced the sleeve of his shirt and bent to pick up his stone staff near his feet. ”If you feel any debt toward me for what just happened I would far prefer to trade it in for knowledge, Guru. Despite my appearance I am not of Demonic heritage, you see. Instead I have a demonic entity permanently sealed within me against my will. Thus, I can still learn magics that would be opposed to the dark nature of my Demon.” Standing straight Grail would lean on his staff in his right hand's grasp, the aura of darkness that had dissipated during the explosion of energy was already beginning to coalesce around him once more, bathing the area in shadows.
”I would trade the damage done to me for knowledge of what this orb of yours is for, explicitly. I know you are its creator. Your energy was felt across this entire world when the orbs were flung to its four corners, and now that I am calm enough I can recognize such.
“I am Grail Brisk, and if you can trust my words at all know this. I have no desire or inclination to harm the Namekian people, for I owe Rhytid, the leader of your Warrior Caste, a substantial debt.” Grail would switch the staff from his right hand to his left, and then taking a couple steps forward would offer his hand to Helix in polite greeting. It seemed that despite the urgency that Helix displayed, that Grail was going to try and maintain calm civility.
Helix looked on with concern as the demon wrapped up his own wound, and decided to hear him out.
"I understand. I simply assumed you were one of Xylo's soldiers: many of them are of demonic descent."
The demon offered to trade the damage done for knowledge.
"I can heal your damage alltogther, but I cannot trade you that knowledge." Helix was firm, urgent, but willing to talk.
The guru eyed the dragon ball almost desperately, but when the not-demon mentioned the name Rhytid, Helix stopped in his tracks.
"Rhytid of the warrior caste, you said?" Helix's countenance brightened with connection. "Rhytid is a trusted pupil of mine, and is working alongside me in all things at present."
Helix's eyes widened as he came to an idea. "Perhaps you can repay your debt to Rhytid and learn of the orb all at once. If you allow me to take this orb with me to perform the ritual, I will tell you the ritual's significance, and you may accompany me to witness the ritual's culmination."
As Helix gave his counters to Grail's requests the corrupted Konatsian retracted his handshake attempt, switching his staff back to his right hand and placing his left hand over his mouth. A low, throaty laugh would issue from his mouth, building for a few moments before Grail would shake his head. Looking amused Grail would give his own counters, ”I mean no disrespect, Guru, but I do permit myself the pride at viewing myself as not a completely gullible fool, you see. Your words are honeyed, certainly, but under the circumstances... not trustworthy. My debt is to Rhytid, and thus it would be to him that I would hand this over. After all, I do not know even the value of the thing I am to hand over, but I am confident that Rhytid would explain it's value to me if I spoke to him on the matter. Something created by their Guru and spread to the ends of Namek? Surely a Caste Leader would know its importance.” And with that smiling sentence, Grail would sweep aside his apparent necessity for having Helix be the one to explain the orb to him.
Grail also neglected to tell Helix just then that the type of debt he had to Rhytid was one that couldn't be repaid in the first place. It was a life debt; it wasn't something you even tried to repay, it was simply the start of friendship. A friendship that however did not extend to strange Namekians he met in the middle of a Hellish wilderness. Pulling a small device from the inside of his vest Grail would look it over for a few moments, giving Helix enough time to realize that it was a Dragon Radar, before he would replace it and start speaking once more, ”Perhaps this would be more favorable for the both of us? I see that you only have two of these orbs with you, another two are together somewhere else, but the final two are apparently still unclaimed and alone. This is not the last orb you need to find, I assume. So, when you have found and collected the other orbs, contact me. I am not nearly so skilled as you, but I can at least answer a summons on the same planet.”
It was interesting, Grail thought to himself, negotiating with someone who could easily just turn you to a grease spot on the terrain in order to get what they want. He was basically relying on the social contract to prevent Helix from simply shoving a hand through his torso to get at the orb hidden inside, and it left a tingling sensation at the back of Grail's mind, an excited tension that almost welcomed the conflict. No matter the fact that Grail would obviously lose said conflict, and badly. Still smiling Grail would speak one last time, looking out over the landscape as he did so,. ”I'll be staying here for a time. There are restless spirits of the Mazoku reacting to your presence here...I can feel their hatred slowly igniting. Objectively speaking, you are not welcome here by those that claimed this as their home, Guru. I will speak with them, and when I am done I will seek out Rhytid to speak with him. I assume the search for the last orbs will take at least that long, and then you can contact me to finish your ritual... Acceptable, Guru?”
[OOC: Just to be clear, the Dragonball is literally INSIDE Grail right now, thanks to his shapeshifting ability. It's in his chest, his body shifted around it to make a cavity for it to sit inside.]
Helix’s uneasy relaxation turned to stress as the demon apparently showed his true colors, clinging onto the object for no reasonable reason other than to hold power over Helix.
The guru could not let the sacred balls of his father porunga be used as a bartering chip. The fate of namek was literally hanging in the balance right now. The guru had no time for whatever tricks and games this demon wanted to play.
“I am sorry,” Helix stepped forwards, his forehead glowing to a bright light white. Suddenly, the guru’s powerlevel would skyrocket to full force, and his calm quiet energy would strike a defeaning whirr of strength.
“This orb means nothing to you, and everything to me. As the guru of namek, I am begging you to release your hold on it peacefully. Afterwords, you can follow me or do as you please.”
“The fate of the planet hangs in the balance of the immediate completion of this ritual. I do not have any more time to spare.”
Across the globe, Helix could feel the converging power levels of the offworld threat.
He really did not want to have to telepathically knock this demon out.
The shadows gathered deeper around Grail's form as Helix's own aura flared brighter and brighter in the ash-strewn air, clinging tightly to his form, threatening to black out his silhouette completely. He thought idly about how this was another situation of the strong ruling the weak. Or, at least, it would be under normal circumstances. Grail had thoughts of how to avoid such a situation, and he settled more deeply into the heavy robes he wore, further obscuring his visible movement along with the shadows that wrapped around him. Grail's eyes were full of grim stubbornness as Helix released the full extent of his power on the air, it was obvious he would be easily destroyed if Helix so desired to do so, but the look in his eyes said he was not going to let Helix's overpowering presence from deterring him.
”You claim the sake of the planet hangs in the balance, yet do not explain how or why. Is it the Saiyans you seek to save Namek from, or from the Mazoku? This ritual of yours will doubtless be powerful, and so easily in my mind's eye I can see a great torrent of Light Magic scouring Namek clean of unwanted influence. Whether it be Saiyan or Demonic in nature...” Grail stood as t all as he could, his eyes glaring at Helix, distrust plain in his face. ”You threaten violence to recover this object when I have already stated I would willingly hand it over once you have collected the others. Either your concern for your people has stirred paranoia in your soul or you are not the Guru of the Dragon Caste to begin with. Either way it has become clear I cannot trust you not to destroy me once you have this orb in your possession.”
At this point Helix might notice through his ability to sense energy that Grail felt...strange. The now dead-black mage seemed to feel as if he was in multiple place at once, standing both directly in front of Helix and also at points several hundred meters away in random directions. The shadows continued to deepen around the man, and he gripped the edge of his staff ever tighter. ”My original terms still stand. Gather the rest of the orbs and then contact me, and I will hand it over then to complete your ritual. You need not concern yourself with me at all until then.
“I will take my leave of you, Guru. I do hope that we can meet under much less... hasty conditions than this in the future. Farewell.” Grail would raise up his right arm, the staff in his hand suddenly blazing with a black flame that was counter to the light that Helix released. The staff head rose up, then fell, crashing to the blackened ground with enough force to burst the obsidian like floor Grail had been standing upon. Massive gouts of black flame shot out in all directions, the sense of Grail's energy suddenly everywhere at once, the black flames carrying his energy everywhere within reach. For a moment Grail's form would be obscured by the black flames completely, and when the flames were gone, so was Grail.
In the place where Grail had stood was a small hole in the ground, slightly larger than a basketball in diameter. Just large enough for a Dragonball to slip into. The shadow mage had followed the way of Shadow, escaping into the darkness below the surface of Namek, and he had used the flames to disorient Helix's energy sensing long enough to make his escape. Already Grail's energy was miles away, and rapidly traveling further way. Thus, Helix was now left with a choice. He could no doubt easily catch up to the fleeing mage, especially if he used his teleportation ability. Or, Helix could take Grail at his word and pursue after the other Dragonballs first. What would Helix do?
[OOC: Grail is retreating from the thread. As it is not a Saga thread, Helix cannot force the issue in this thread. If you still wish to try and take the Dragonball, you can start up a Challenge thread since you previously rolled Grail's Dragonball. I'll take Zeni.]