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The messiness is intentional. Just wait until we have a 9-deimon Rumble Royale. Part of my job is to sort through the mess during the Judgment Phase and condense everything into a cohesive narrative. Of course, having multiple threads might make that slightly easier on me, but I'm pretty sure I can handle it. Worse comes to worst, I'll just have to extend the Judgment Phase a day or two.
Sandy takes a deep breath. "Brace for impact, everyone!" She strikes the cane against the quaking floor, and everyone in the chamber immediately starts falling through the earth's surface. The five summoners, the Deimon Master, the Torchbearer, and Sandy herself, all find themselves falling from the ceiling just inside the entrance of the mine, landing in a messy heap of dirt and rubble.
Once she's regained her footing and wiped the sweat off her brow, Sandy staggers over to the half-buried, unconscious form of the Deimon Master. She thwacks him on the head in spite of his unconsciousness. "I am SO DONE with you. Consider this cane repayment for the absolute hell you've put me through. Maybe without it, you'll stop finding ways to destroy literally EVERYTHING!"
Traipsing towards her coughing, disheveled brother nearby, Sandy thwacks him on the head, too, eliciting a yelp of pain. "And YOU! WHY?! Why would you leave me like that?? For HIM?!"
The Timid Torchbearer looks up at his sister, tears in his eyes. "I did it for you, Sis. The Deimon Master told me a lot of things... about you, about us..."
"I don't CARE!! I don't need his secrets! I need my BROTHER to be SAFE and ALIVE! Not running off to be brainwashed by this LUNATIC!"
"I'm NOT brainwashed, ?????????! You are! You're choosing to live a LIE! Running away from the TRUTH! That's cowardice, Sis!"
"That's... that's the most ironic thing I've ever heard."
"...Yeah, I see your point. But Sis, that's the real reason I'm doing this. I don't want to be your cowardly kid brother anymore. I want to be able to fend for myself. I don't want to be a burden to you..."
"...Fine. If you insist on tagging along with him, I'm coming with you. Someone's gotta rein him in, anyway."
"Are you sure, Sandy? I thought I heard you say you were 'SO DONE' with the Deimon Master just a few seconds ago."
"Look, we all have to make personal sacrifices for the ones we love, alright? And before you make any wisecracks, I'm talking about you, not that clown."
"Sure, Sandy. Sure. Whatever you say."
"Speaking of that clown... can any of you summoners wake the Deimon Master up? I'm definitely not carrying him out of here."
"Maybe I could whip something up, but it might take a bit to prepare an original summons. While I work on that, ????????, you said your name was? What the hell just happened?"
Val stands up, shaking the dust off his jacket.
"Well, that was something..."
He comes closer and kneels next to the Deimon Master.
"Hold on Jim, no need for an original summon, I think I already have the deimon we need..."
With a movement of his hand, Val dismisses Pyrelight, disappearing in a green flame.
Taking a stick, he quickly draws a small runic circle in the dirt, the two biggest symbols being a crescent moon and three horizontal parallel lines topped by a sort of crown.
Putting his hands at the edge of the circle, Val focuses... and in a purple flash, a creature appears.
It is large, vagely equine shaped, with a single long slender horn on its head and flowing mane and tail. Its body looks made of the night sky itself, and seems to glow purple and blue.
"Tantabus", Val says, addressing the newly summonned deimon, "I need you to enter this man's dreams, and wake him up. Without causing additional trauma. He certainly doesn't need it."
"Ugh... very well, I shall..."
Focusing its magic, the unicorn deimon suddenly disappears, with only a purple glow remaining. The glow then seems to move, and makes contact with the Deimon Master's head.
The Tantabus enters his dreams...
The gradual creation of a non-canon hard magic system... yesssssssss......
"Thanks, Val. That's probably a more elegant method than my solution."
"But seriously, Sandy - is Sandy acceptable, by the way? I just didn't want to be weird or anything - this is the second time you've saved our collective backsides with that thing, and I'd really like to know how... and why..."
Jimothy swivels theatrically with both arms to direct attention to the cloaked figure unceremoniously draped over a rock near the cave entrance.
"...and also who you two are and how a random pair of siblings is connected to the Deimon Master... before Val finishes waking the Great Mystifier And Conveniently-Timed Knowledge Censor whose power you used despite him being unconscious. Whaddaya say? Are ya down for a little expository chat?"
Nigel reaches the surface and attempts to deposit the civilian Nigel supposed to rescue. Upon finding that Nigel had not in fact completed the mission, Nigel was confused.
Nigel's objective, as it had been laid out by Nigel's summoner, was to see to the safety of everyone in the area despite how insignificant Nigel found them to be. Of course this failure could not possibly have been Nigel's fault. Nigel had, as always, done everything perfectly and exactly as it had been laid out in Plan...
What was the plan name again?
Nigel discarded the thought. They were all stupid plans anyway. Plus Syril Dawntreader was unfortunately far too weak to be able to summon
In theory at least. Nigel still hadn't figured out how Syril did it. All things considered, the fact that Syril had remained conscious for about ten seconds this time was a marked improvement. If time allowed, Nigel decided, Nigel would have to inspect Dawntreader's wards. Perhaps Nigel would find some answers there.
Anyway, Nigel still had a task to accomplish. Nigel knew his summoner had made a habit of utilizing incredibly shortsighted plans for large immediate benefits, but, as was prone to happen, it appeared that Syril had not explained it well to the other humans, and they had deviated. Having grown accustomed to the benefits of the telepathic communication Syril had learned to manifest over the magical tethers between a summoner and their summoned deimons, Syril had begun to have difficulties translating what was in Syril's head into speech when under pressure. In light of this, Nigel assumed the reason for the failure lay in the summoner's inability to convince anyone else it was a good plan in the ten seconds the summoner had retained consciousness plus however long Syril waited between fully forming the idea and acting on it. Knowing Syril, that was likely to be a negative amount of time.
Nigel of course was smarter than that. Nigel was smarter than all things. For one thing, Nigel had long ago decided that most pronouns found in the human languages were redundant. Why use them when Nigel could use Nigel's own name with all the power that came along with it. Nigel supposed the humans must do it as their power was too insignificant to be worth calling upon.
Nigel worked back down into the mine, phasing through the rock while being careful to not blip through any of the remaining supports and exacerbate the problem. The humans appeared to be speaking. Nigel sensed a sort of determined power from the human with the staff which led Nigel to realize that what the humans really needed was time. Nigel could work with that.
Nigel coiled around the humans. Nigel tried not to distract them, but there is only so much to be done when one is as glorious and massive as Nigel. Having created a sort of pyramidal shelter with Nigel's body, Nigel made himself tangible again. Their was still a hole in the center of the clearing Nigel had made where rocks were falling through, but Nigel had created a temporarily safer space. The humans would have to do the rest.
Nigel hoped Nigel had not startled them. Humans are after all easily frightened.
"Alright. Nice and tranquil, are ya? Good. Now, think back to a time when you found yourself captivated by the idea of magic. Tap into that curiosity, that excitement, that thrill of infinite possibilities or whatever this oaf always calls it," she says, gently kicking the comatose Deimon Master for effect. "Fixate on those thoughts. Let those emotions expand and fill your entire being. Then, channel that overflow of emotion into a desire... a command... a certainty that something magical is about to happen. Don't think beforehand about what the actual command will be; it'll come to you on its own. Otherwise, there's no magic to it."Jimothy hesitates for a second, then visibly relaxes as he recalls a friend from days gone by. He focuses all his mind on envisioning his friend's pocketwatch until all thought has disappeared, and then places it into his pocket. Mind empty, he waits.
...Nothing seems to happen.The pocketwatch once more leaps unbidden to Jimothy's mind, accompanied by a man's voice. "Three, two, midnight, NOW!"
In another time, Jimothy dropped a chunk of peter and sprang back as... nothing. Nothing! The math was off yet again. He sighed, slumping to kneel on the warm ground.
"Damn it all!" came the voice to his right. "We'll have to carve it all again from scratch, and I don't even know... Jim? What's that look on your face?"
"Feel the ground, Stall."
A small scraping shuffle echoed across the warehouse as his friend ruefully lowered himself to the ground.
"Dude, we both know my senses aren't up to par with yours. Just tell me what's so special about this frigid concrete nightmare so I can grab my laundry on the... way... no way."
Jimothy smiled big and wide.
"We... we did it?"
"WE DID IT!!! IT'S REAL!"
"Oh my god! DUDE! WE ALMOST HAD IT! CRESNOV! IT'S REAL!"
"YESSSSSSS!!!! WE JUST NEED TO..."
Years later, an older Jimothy smiles big and wide at the memory of his dear friend and the briefly and spontaneously warmed warehouse. Unthinkingly, his foot begins to trace out a double sunrise in the dirt, a symbol of forgotten radiance. As he allows the memory to fill his mind, Jimothy imagines the tightly wound pocketwatch, not in Stallworth's hand, but in his own. To open the pocketwatch had always been to begin a new session of experiments and schemes, to open a door from reality to infinite possibility. All he had to do was reach through the door and... they just needed to... to what?
He steps back from his blind sketch, deftly twirls the Deimon Master's key, and taps the symbol. In his mind, he feels the pocketwatch open.
Sandy's expression softens a bit. She walks over and sits down next to Jimothy.Jimothy sighs, and hands the Deimon Master's cane back to Cassie. "Figures. Well, I suppose I'll have to take up his challenge the old-fashioned way." He sits on a rock nearby, and closes his eyes in rest.