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~The third consideration to become Immortal and wield Blue Magic: You hold in your hand a forbidden scroll. Reading it will bring you untold wisdom, but cost all that you own. What would you do?~

          And so it was, having left his friends to their slumber in Zi’Tah, Seraph returned to his adopted home of Bastok. The smells of the ancient wood were replaced with those of oil and industry. San d’Oria, Seraph’s native home, had a mix of wood and stone work. Perhaps his time spent in the forests was an attempt to find some balance. The memory of his friends was fresh, and stung heavily as Seraph closed the distance towards towards his Mog House.
          The value of adventurers was not overlooked by the world. Each and every one was granted a place to lay their head and store their goods. In exchange adventurers were available for all numbers of tasks, from bringing items to shopkeepers, producing their own goods with a number of crafting skills, and being something of an emergency peace keeping force against the most severe of threats. Between national delegates, distraught citizens, and fending off hordes of horrors in the world, it left little time for housekeeping. This is where the Mog House Management Union, oft shortened to the MHMU by the employees, stepped in. It was very hard to determine what they received in exchange for their hard work, but no adventurer could deny the value of their attendant moogle.
          In that vein, Seraph was happy to have Makar around.
          The duo worked together particularly well, both having a meticulous attentiveness to detail, even though Seraph proved to be something of a hoarder. Crafting supplies, weapons, armors, spell scrolls, tomes of information… all manner of potential supplies that adventuring life may call for were kept by Seraph, and Makar knew where each of them were kept, ready at a moments’ notice. He speedily learned many of Seraph’s idiosyncrasies, such as arriving at odd hours. Somehow, he always had enough tea brewed to ease Seraph into rest should it be called for. As he crossed his threshold, the Elvaan was met with an unusual smell.
          “Makar is that… mint?” he asked.
          Makar flitted next to Seraph, looking over his weapons as he leaned them against the door frame. “Indeed it is, kupo! I thought you’d like to try something new.”
          Removing his head wear, Seraph sipped at the dark green liquid in his cup. “This is unusual, but not unwelcome. Where ever did you find this?”
          “Just… around…” Makar replied, obviously avoiding the question.
          “Makar…”
          Pom pom bouncing, Makar dropped Seraph’s swords, and began having a tantrum. “It wasn’t my fault! I sent off for another batch of the tea you liked, but instead of another weeks’ supply I got that letter in return!” He pointed at a container set aside for deliveries. Seraph walked over and took a look for whatever threw his friend into such a tizzy. The only thing there was a folded piece of parchment. Sealing the missive shut was a small rectangle of gold leaf, upon which was stamped the Mark of Zahak. This brand could be found upon anything belonging to the Empire. Flags, currencies, official seals, and even their soldiers.

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          Seraph rubbed at his neck. His own Mark seemed to take on life of its own, but seemed to surge in response to the effigy of its original form. Moving a thumb over the impression, he traced the two snake heads to their conjoined tail then broke the seal. In simple script was a singular order.

No questions. No refusals. Obtain a Blue Mages’ Testimony and present yourself at the Imperial Whitegate.

          Again, the Near East reached out for him. The instructions were obscure, but Seraph had heard of Testimonies before. It seemed that, for every discipline, somewhere out in the world were documents left by forebears of the craft. At one point Saint had spoken of needing to retrieve one for an old man named Maat. An accomplished combatant, adventurers of all stripes came to Maat in hopes of obtaining some pearl of wisdom. Even his few dealings with Maat had Seraph left better for it. Most recently, however, he was shooed away. “I looked into that Blue Magic of yours, pup. I’m just an old man… I can’t afford getting bones broken and blood drained for a few scraps of magic.” Seraph couldn’t sense any Blue Magic from Maat. Maybe he was not able to wield the power?
          Seraph opted for a short rest. If no longer human, the tea allowed him to at least feel civilized for a time. This gave Makar a chance to attend to mending his gear. Seraph was plagued by his normal dreams, innumerable creatures from all the world haunting the landscape of his mind. Surprisingly, they ran from him. Far on the horizon were the shadows of great monsters holding greater power. Someplace beyond the shores he had come to know…
          Awakening, Seraph discovered he had slept for more than a day. It seems he had required proper rest. This time afforded to Makar was well spent, as even Saint’s studded armor was restored to full. This left Seraph happy, as it would likely not be the last time it would be used. He affixed his gear and set out for the port. There, he availed himself of a teleportation service to return to Whitegate once more.

          Having no clues to follow, Seraph defaulted to his in-town holding pattern. He went to the tea house, ordered a service of chai, and sat in his accustomed place. After it was brought to him, he drowned his mind in the rich aroma of steeped spices. Melting into the still inky black of the tea his minds’ eye began looking inward to more of his memory as he searched for an answer. Battles hard fought and scarcely won, times spent lazily looking over the ocean, his first night spent in a cold and barren mog house. Too many memories washed over him. Focusing, he honed in on Blue Magic. He could feel other Blue Mages. The Immortals most likely, but a screeching echoed in his mind. The resonance of another Blue Mage. One that was very close.
          Seraph became suddenly aware that he was being watched. An empty ferocity blazed upon him.
          Without moving and giving away his awareness he pushed his senses outward. He felt the life of every individual. The city had come alive with people going about their daily lives, the soldiers and shopkeepers tending to their tasks dutifully. Ratihb, the owner of the tea house, watched all the patrons to attend to their needs. Wasuhd his son was keenly aware of him. Garbed as he was like an Immortal, Seraph was not surprised. The proprietary family of the tea house also had a connection to the Corsairs, who were not well thought of, slipped beneath common knowledge. An official of the Empire could be doing anything from arresting them, listening to confirm suspicions, or genuinely enjoying the fare. It was best to not call attention to them.
          Exiting his trance and looking up for the first time, Seraph found Waoud sitting across from him. The enigmatic fortune teller was one of the first faces Seraph saw when he came to Whitegate. His divination led to his becoming a Blue Mage, and since then has occasionally pointed the way further down the path. That he was here now could be read as a good omen. Seraph waited for Waoud to likewise come back, as he was enjoying a particularly overindulgent drink of the tea at the table. He’d apparently served himself while Seraph was off and away. With a satisfying exhalation Waoud returned to the world, surprised to see Seraph staring at him.
          “Oh my, I hope I didn’t disturb you” said the seer.
          “You did,” replied Seraph “but I am happy for your presence.” Looking Waoud over Seraph found him to be genuinely flustered, which was a first. “You seem surprised that I noticed you at all.”
          Waoud was taken aback, setting his tea cup back on the tray. “My… you are quite astute today” he said, trying his best at a disarming smile. “I have made it my place in life to serve, My Immortal Friend. As such, I am not accustomed to my presence being marked. In fact, I have learned to remain hidden even when one actively seeks me. Your senses are keener than when we originally met.” Seraph nodded at Waoud’s assessment. “It seems you required council?”
          Seraph withdrew the missive from one of his bags and held it up between his fingers without opening it. He let the sunlight reflect from the now broken seal. The Mark of Zahak was still clearly legible from the image shining on the table. “I have been ordered to find a Blue Mages’ Testimony” Seraph stated calmly.
          Waoud keenly eyed the emblem on the table. “Some may say bearing a Testimony is just as impressive as the lengths of acquiring one” he replied in almost a hushed tone. Seraph had grown accustomed to Waoud’s musings, as well as his cryptic way of speaking. Waoud continued. “Testimonies are not much needed by the Children of Altana. Tarutaru, Mithra, Galka, we Humes, and you Elvaan” he said, gesturing around the tea house to the appropriate races “have been graced with much by her. The Beastmen write down their lessons, and are oft passed from master to student. But the words are written in the dark, and are not revealed to us of the light. It takes a certain strength for us to read these testimonials. Even then, we gain naught from doing so. Why they would throw talent at such a fools’ errand is beyond me…” Waoud trailed off as he reached for the teapot. A dismal expression crept over his face to discover it empty.
          Ratihb, ever attentive, came up with a full pot at the ready. “More for you both?” he asked. A mote of worry was evident as he avoided eye contact with Seraph. Seeing his friend worry so distressed Seraph greatly, but he felt his control wax and wane wildly, and didn’t want to risk removing his garb.
          Waoud beamed, unphased by the unease of their host. “Yes, I’d be happy if you left the full pot. Anything for you Seraph?”
          Ratihb’s eyes widened. “…Seraph? That’s you under there?”
          Solemnly the Elvaan nodded. Swift, small feet could be heard coming up. “Seraph is here? I didn’t see him come in” came Wasuhd’s voice.
          Ratihb swung the teapot around, pointing to the back of the store. “Stay where you are Wasuhd!”. In his haste the still scalding contents of the pot came out with a steady slosh. Wasuhd was dead in the path. Seraph scooped up Wasuhd in his arms and shielded him from the tea.
          From a sitting position there was only time to concern himself with a response. While Wasuhd remained protected, the tea spilled across the back of Seraph’s neck, one of the few places his Magus armor did not protect. The flash of pain was precisely that, sudden and then over, but the Mark of Zahak branded on his flesh and twisted from his experience glowed and a tremor of his power flowed out.
          “Immortal!” Wasuhd screamed, escaping Seraph’s grasp and hiding behind his father. Thanks to Clearite, Seraph was accustomed to far worse taunts. At this stage, he made a choice and pulled his energy inward and removed his headdress. He remained on one knee as he turned to be closer in height to his young friend. When Wasuhd peered out at the suspected-Immortal from behind his father he saw a friendly face.
          “Wait… The Immortal is Seraph?!” The young Hume ran up and hugged Seraph, having not seen him in a long while. “You scared me in your fancy clothes!” Seraph held the child in his arms as he stood and laughed.
          Ratihb was put dramatically at ease by the exchange between the two. “I see little has changed in you” he said. He quickly moved up to Seraph to examine his neck. “Thank you for protecting Wasuhd again. Are you alright?”
          Wasuhd, curious as to what was going on, scampered onto Seraph’s shoulder. “Dad, all he has is that funny tattoo of his.”
          Seraph looked to the father. “I have endured worse since we last met, and my wounds can heal themselves due to some of my training.”
          This set Ratihb ill at ease once more. “It seems that Blue Magic is making you into something…”
          Seraph met Ratihb’s forelorn gaze. “You are correct. But it isn’t unmaking who I was.”
          Silent throughout all this Waoud finally chimed in. “Tea for two?”
          The somber tone that had clouded Ratihb’s humble hall gave way in that instant. “Ah, but of course. Sorry for the delay” he said, a return to his self-appointed calling giving him some stability.
          “Actually, none for me” Seraph called after. “I already know where I need to go.”
          Waoud looked up, a smile on his face. “Is that the case?”
          Seraph nodded. “What you said about the Beastmen and testimonies confirmed my suspicions. I have seen Blue Magic flow through Mamook. I’ll find a Testimony among the Mamool Ja.”
          A scream reached from his memory into his waking mind. When he was left to journey these lands alone both on the favor of Naja Salaheem and at the behest of Raubahn he came across Mamool Ja that sang with the power of a Blue Mage. It seemed, in spite of what he was led to believe, that the power of Blue Magic flowed powerfully even outside of the Empresses’ limits. Perhaps they too were part of the experiments of the old Empire? Or maybe they had subjected themselves to the same processes to gain more power? Either way, he would return to that place and search for the words of the Mamook Mages.
          The screaming began to echo the same as a bell which rang high across the normal din of the capital. “Attention, all mercenaries! Hordes from Mamook have breached the gates of Al Zahbi! Any and all with a sword arm to raise, gain Sanction and report to the cities defense! I repeat…”
          A mixed blessing, as it seemed his quarry came to him. Seraph setWasuhd down and replaced the keffiyeh atop his own head. “Take Care… I’ll return when I can.” Ratihb and Wasuhd bowed, while Waoud nodded solemnly. Running swiftly through Whitegate he aimed to reach the vulnerable Al Zahbi in time.

          Watching their friend leave, Wasuhd remarked aloud “He’s not bad for an Immortal. Maybe I could…”
          Ratihb tapped Wasuhd’s forehead. “I’ll have none of that. He’s certainly proved to be an exception to their order. The most heartfelt one I’ve seen yet.”
          Waoud nodded his agreement. “Yes… Who would have known that his potential was so high?”
          His crimson eye burned brightly.

          Danger imminent, the guards closed the corridor behind Seraph. The heavy wooden doors were sealed tightly. While danger loomed ahead, he turned briefly, feeling someone watching him again, just like back in the tea house. Sounds of combat drew his focus ahead of him. Evaluating the situation, Seraph was in over his head.
          The Mamool Ja were a race of Beastman most closely akin to lizards. While not as industrious as the Trolls or as enticing as the Lamiae, their organization resembled that of the most well oiled militia. Each Mamool Ja was given one type of highly focused training. Some argued that their lack of diversity among individuals made them weaker. Such detractors were soon silenced when fighting straightforward and specialized techniques.
          Fighting in pockets all around the cities’ ramparts were the combatants of Mamook, city and palace guards, and adventurers-made-mercenaries like him in all out war. There was no order as to who was fighting who. Adventurers were helping each other as needed. Ordinarily a unified group of adventurers would concentrate on a single enemy. That luxury was abolished here, as squads of the enemies numbers attacked their foes indiscriminately. It seemed Seraph was late in arriving, for the situation had grown truly dire. An oddity among the Mamool Ja was their leader. While each of the subordinates adhered to a strict discipline Gulool Ja Ja did not have that luxury. Or, to be more precise, they did not. Gulool Ja Ja was an aberration. They bore two heads on one body, a red one which seemed to govern attack and blood lust and a blue one which had magical leanings. At this point, the blue head looked utterly defeated.

          “We tried to tell you picking a fight with Moghat was a bad idea.” Amidst all the turmoil that the Mamool Ja were bringing to the city, he could see his linkshell companions at the center of probably the worse place to be. Par for the course. Apparently the head-to-two-heads battle had been long fought, and the commander of the enemy forces nearly laid low. Towards the rear of the grouping were familiar faces. Nabasheen stood battle ready, great katana in hand, next to Shoro with her automaton Zero. Lemochu and Arlais stood together, poised to lash out with Blue Magic of their own. Sogomi, Nyn, and Tibs were also at the ready. The next person he knew only by reputation, one by the name of Aeria Allslove, wyvern of her own at her side. Saint often spoke of her as teaching him a few things about the Dragoon tradition. Through his cohorts he could see Raizensun, blade brandished, standing next to the person who let out the taunt. With a weighty great axe slung casually over his shoulder was the illustrious Twinsevens, the respected founder of Moghat himself. Gulool Ja Ja heads bobbed up and down with the effort of heavy breathing. Twinsevens prepared an attack taking a very low stance. “It’s your choice. You can leave here missing a head, or you can march right back through those gates!”
          Seething with rage, Gulool Ja Ja rose. “Smoothskins insult us” came the red head. “Power we show to them” the blue head seethed. Sevens looked to Rai. The pair shrugged at each other while the rest of Moghat prepared to release a final attack upon Ja Ja. A magical current began to coalesce in the area. The embroiled adventurers all noticed it, but mistook its source. Seraph was the first to react. From his vantage point he could see a Mamool Ja atop an arched wall begin to summon… something. He’d spent some time studying the Summoner’s arts, but this energy wasn’t the same. Seraph gripped the handle of the chakram he carried on his hip. Rarely used, this razor ring was what Seraph chose to use to attack enemies from a far when a subtle means was called for. He hefted this at the distant target, and while it managed to strike true to the targets arm, it was not enough to cease the incantation.
          “Everyone, clear out!” Seraph shouted. Going both through the air and through the small devices that connected the group, the experience of Moghat shown through. With impeccable timing they moved towards the walls of the area, just as a megalith of a beast coalesced from out of nowhere. It hefted itself off the ground with four powerful legs, the tail thrashing about, knocking the ill prepared back with fury enough to require medical attention on their parts. It’s skin, supple yet thick, was akin to a morning with stormy skies, a blue with a helpful amount of grey. If this were a beast of burden Gulool Ja Ja would ride it proudly. It bore not one or two, but three heads. A Hydra type enemy. Seraph had read of them, but had only heard of speculations. Now one was before him in the flesh.

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          “Illuyankas” hissed Gulool Ja Ja’s heads together. “Display your might.”
          The surrounding fighters were thrown into the need to suddenly reorder their priorities. As many as were able to broke off their attacks on the lesser enemies to focus on the terror that had been called. Mages cast spells from all directions, distances, and elemental leanings. Arrows were nocked and hammers on guns readied. Every ranged tactic that was available was brought to bear upon the Hydra. The three heads reared back into a roar. A defensive barrier of strong magic covered the flesh of Illuyankas, reducing all of the assaults to nothing but wasted effort. Gulool Ja Ja laughed mightily, both heads seeming to feed off one another in glee. The Mamool Ja targeted the now distracted mages that fought for Al Zahbi, but their surronding companions with melee weaponry did a good job at fending off the foot soldiers. Suddenly, Illuyankas seemed to recoil and hunker down from the steady barrage. It appeared its defense had it’s limit. Still in the thick of it, Moghat picked this time to move amidst the ranged assault.
          Raizensun, Nabasheen, and Twinsevens moved swiftly. Rai and Naba, the two Samurais, moved to the left and right of the creature, preparing to release single powerful strikes against the foe. Independently the heads moved to take them. Pressed back to back, Arlais and Lemochu released spheres of concussive force which hit like cannonballs, enough to turn the heads’ attentions. The middle head placed it’s focus squarely on Twinsevens. Tibierusara was lacing their leader with a number of beneficial magics so that Twinsevens would be able to attack without restraint or pause. Staring cold into the maws of the beast Sevens didn’t falter waiting for his enemy to come to him. Illuyankas stomped forward to meet the challenge. The attempt failed as Sogomi and Nyn, with scythe and katanas respectively, tore apart the muscles Illuyankas needed to walk forward. All the monster could do was stand in place, but made a strike at Nyn using its tail. It connected squarely, but the target was an illusion, made through a Ninjas’ training. The real Nyn rejoined Sogomi, hefting the heavily armored Taru before the tail came toward him. Aggression poured off of Illuyankas, as its necks extended to reach out to Twinsevens. On instinct, Seraph ran forward and made it to the front at the same time as Lemochu and Arlais. Finding himself between them, the trio released the same spell, one used to temporarily stun an enemy. They landed with a fierceness, one to each head causing them to butt together, however the hearty foe shrugged it off in little less than a second. From above Allslove came down with Sogomi in tow, seeming to be passed around like a ball of death. Their spear and scythe burying deep into the eyes on the center head of Illuyankas. The cry of pain was immense, and the reaction from the outer heads immediate. As quickly as Allslove had ascended once, she did so again while Sogomi loosened himself and rolled deftly down the creatures snout, just in time for the heads to miss snatching up their prey and instead bite into the middle head. Thus began infighting among them.
          A smile could be heard in Sevens voice as he called to his allies. “Naba, Rai… you guys ready?” The whole of this time the three had been preparing their attacks. Tibs finished his incantations, which left Raizensun and Nabasheen to use a technique known as Fudo. A swift, almost imperceptible, swing of theirs sword actually tore vision of onlookers in two. The heads on the ends erupted into geysers of indigo ichor and were soon nothing but severed stumps. The trio of Immortals stood aside and gave Sevens center stage. The Warrior placed a strike squarely at the base of the main neck. Vital fluid spilled out as the head dropped to the ground. Deftly moving aside, he brought his axe down again together with his momentum, the force breaking cobblestones even through Illuyankas’ now inert skull. The resonance from the fighters’ attacks scorched the area with the power of Light. The Hydra lay still.
          “Big Bang… have to love it” said Rai in a low voice, but with a smile beaming through his now blood covered blade and armor.
          Leaving the axehead inside the summoned beast, Sevens eyed Gulool Ja Ja. “So… do we keep going?” Still not fully recovered to rally the troops, the leader sounded the retreat.

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          Cheers lifted up, as peals of bells for all clears rang out from Whitegate. The adventurers and soldiers of the Empire alike were elated to have fended off another attempt to take the city. Moghat gathered together, congratulating each other in turn.
          “Thanks for the assistance back there” Sevens said to Seraph. “I didn’t know that the Immortals willfully worked with us lowly mercanaries.”
          “Better than being hefted too and fro. I’m not made for Ballista!” shot Sogomi, looking between Nyn and Allslove with disdain.
          “Don’t mind him” Alls said.
          “I certainly don’t” added Nyn, sending a laugh through the group.
          Rai looked over the Blue Mage, and recognized the swords. Having sent them to Seraph a short while ago he was the first to pick up on his identity. “Seraph, is that you?”
          Lemochu, Nabasheen, and Shoro looked at Seraph again. It seemed as though none of them had recognized him either.
          Tibs came through with the confirmation. “That’s him alright” he said, finally able to focus on something else besides casting magic. Seraph eyed Tibs in a quizzical silence. “Those headdresses of yours don’t hide your face if you have to look up anyhow” he explained. The mobile, and perhaps miniature, medic had a point. He could easily see under the keffiyehs’ veil from his lowered stature.
          “Look at you” Shoro said, coming up to Seraph and giving him a once over. “Last time we had seen you I recall you couldn’t bear the thought of wearing the Magus armor. Look at you now.”
          Sogomi came up to Seraph as well. “Don’t think that just because you have fancy new clothes I won’t take you apart piece by piece!” the Taru teased.
          “Starting with the ankles?” Seraph jabbed back. A small hush fell over the group, then a new roil of laughter, followed by a tirade from Sogomi.
          “Looks like you’ll fit in just fine” Sevens said, coming over to Seraph. “A pleasure to have you aboard, and sorry we haven’t met sooner. Hey Rai! Is this your friend?” The stoic Samurai nodded, flicking his blade about to cast off most of the Hydras’ blood. “You’ve got good backing with Rai to vouch for you. If there’s anything we can help with, just ask.”
          The genuine offer for help was a refreshing one from Seraph’s prior linkshell experience. “Actually, were there any Blue Mage Mamool Ja in that group?”
          Sevens blinked in surprise, and looked to Lemochu and Arlais. “No, there were none” came the reply from Arlais.
          Seraph sighed, “I suppose I’ll have to chase them back to Mamook then.”
          Nabasheen stepped forward. “Why do you need to go all the way out there?” he asked.
          “I was told to get a Testimony…” Seraph’s reply sent a silent stare throughout the gathered members of Moghat.
          “Maat sent you all the way out here for one…? The codgers’ losing it…” Allslove muttered.
          Seraph shook his head. “No, these are orders from the local palace. No idea what they want with it.” A collective sigh of relief was let loose.
          “Ah… good. Need a hand with it?” Sevens asked. A screech came from Alls’ wyvern partner. “Is that a volunteer?” Sevens asked with a laugh.
          Allslove dropped into an attack position. “Yes, but only once we’re done here” replied the Dragoon.
          Right before their eyes the corpse of Illuyankas began coming back to life. The muscles on the legs had healed, the once hammered skull was regaining its shape, and it looked as though something was trying to grow from the stumps of the severed heads.
          Seraph drew his blades and thought back to his studies. “It’s regenerating… it will be back at full power shortly!”
          A weighted sigh came from Twinsevens. “And here I thought we had put it down. I guess Rai and I will have to work a bit harder at that… unless… Alls, can I…”
          “No” she staunchly replied.
          “But I haven’t even…”
          “No,” she replied once more to Sevens.
          “How do you know…”
          “You want to use my spear again. The last time you did you promised you would get it repaired. I had to buy a new spear.”
          “Oh, come on Alls. Can’t Onyx just…”
          “No” came a reply across the linkshell frequency. Onyxmoon was the resident craftsman extraordinaire, and through his resources was able to repair, improve, or create anything the world had to offer. The time spent to hone these talents kept him off the front lines as in this present moment. Apparently, this was not the first instance of having Alls’ spear repaired. The subject seemed close to discussion.
          “And there you have it” Alls said smugly.
          “How long do we honestly have before that thing gets back up and is a viable threat again?” Sevens asked openly.
          Alls and Seraph looked at the Hyrda pushing itself off the ground. “42 seconds” they replied in unison, staring at each other with surprise.
          They weren’t the only ones. Sogomi looked between them with horror. “Oh no… there’s two of them….” He was interrupted by a guttural growl and the sound of a slackened jaw fitting back into place. The growl became a full roar.
          “…fine…” Alls conceded.
          “I’m not paying for repair materials this time” came a statement from Onyx.
          “Follow our lead, prepare a fire spell” Lemochu said to Seraph. The less experienced Elvaan Blue Mage acquiesced to his more experienced shellmates’ leaning.
          With an enthusiastic fervor Sevens went after Illuyankas again. With a shout of “Hammer Hell!” Sevens connected a single devastating blow that rocked the nearly recovered Hydra. The neck went slack and brought again him eye to eye with Twinsevens. Drawing his axe back into the air he twisted while shouting “Hammer Heaven!” The arc took the axe head through the stones of the ground. It came through with enough force to not only strike Illuyankas under the chin but launch him skyward as well.
          Seraph blinked in disbelief. “How did…?”
          Shoro whispered to him. “Just better not to ask.”
          The linkshell leader took off in a dead sprint under the Hydra toward stairs that would lead him to the walkways higher up the walls. Somehow he made it well before Illuyankas began to fall. As it did, Sevens launched himself onto the creatures’ back and made his way toward the head. Loosing the momentum from the Warriors’ mighty attack, the Hydra soon fell like a stone back to the ground. Nabasheen and Raizensun had positioned themselves accordingly. Using the flat of their blades they struck the monster in either side of its underbelly sending it back into the air. Allslove jumped higher than Seraph had ever marked Saint jumping, perfecting the preternatural ability inherent to all Dragoons. At the apex of the ascent, Alls made the unusual move of throwing her spear towards the head of Illuyankas. Sevens leapt off the head and used the spear to stair step to a higher position, somehow without ruining the trajectory of the polearm. Lemochu, Arlais, and Shoro using Zero, all began pouring fire magic into the spear at this point. Seraph followed suit, and the four continued until the spear was white hot. It found its mark in Illuyankas’ mending skull, fusing into place with a sickening sizzle. Turning in midair, Sevens came back to his foe axe first. Using all the leverage he could muster, he let out a shout to accompany the last stage of his attack.
          “Goldion Hammer!!!”
          Rarely was an attack more accurately struck, and the effects were gruesome and instantaneous. The might of the attack left Sevens spinning in midair, but with nothing more to hit. His final assault severed the final head from the body, a mix of martial and magical might charring the flesh and preventing it from regrowing. Alls spear had come down with head attached and stuck firmly in the ground. It was still aglow as the remains of the beast began to burn away. The Hydra’s main body didn’t strike the ground but merely turned to ash in midair. As Allslove descend, she pulled the whirling Twinsevens with her. He was beaming with a visceral pride.
          Alls went over to her spear, still too hot to touch. Lunaire, her wyvern, released a blast of energy infused with water, which cooled the weapon back to a usable temperature. Alls was pleased that, this time, her weapon was no worse for wear. “Come on Seraph. We’ll head to Mamook to grab a Testimony for you.” The Elvaan said his farewells to his companions and followed the second Hume Dragoon he had come to know. As he left he heard musing of a discussion.

          “What was that?” Sogomi asked.
          “‘Goldion Hammer!!!’ Didn’t you hear?” Sevens replied.
          “You’re not allowed to name things anymore” the Taru replied in an bored fashion.
          “What? I’m trying add some new weapon skills to the lexicon.”
          “With names like that… Hah. Good luck.”
          “Okay… maybe a bit cheesy. What about… ‘Upheaval’?”

          The chocoback ride to Mamook was uneventful for the duo. The bulk of the forces had been injured or routed during their attempt at the city. This left their patrol forces nonexistent, and Mamook itself unguarded. Allslove and Seraph managed to slip inside without any problems. Seraph had given Allslove a rundown on the way to their destination.
          “…so the Mimickers are supposed to be around here somewhere?” she asked.
          “From what I remember, yes.”
          “Nothing here now…” Alls said.

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          They exited from a torch-lit tunnel into a large cavern. The grassy expanse was empty. It was open to sunlit sky and quite relaxing. With it empty as it is, it would be easy to do. Seraph put both he and Alls under a paling to avoid detection, just to be on the safe side. He had her follow him as he retraced his steps from so long ago. He found a small tunnel that offset where he recalled running from a Mimicker when he was much weaker. It was a good place to camp as they could control the bottleneck.
          Seraph extended his senses as much as he was able. There were no out of place fluctuations in his immediate perception. His area of perception was limited. An interruption came from a clamor from echoing through the tunnels. Apparently Mamook was only empty not due to injuries, but due to the swiftness of the chocobos. They had merely beaten the attack force back.
          “I’ll head back up our trail and make sure no one tries to join us” suggested Alls, keeping the communication between the two of them.
          Once alone Seraph sat down. Why was he even bothering with this, he began to wonder. He had his Blue Magic. He was learning greater control. But then he remembered why. Saint had left because something was unchecked. As long as Seraph had reason to worry after himself he would play at being an Immortal for as long as it took to control his skills. He sighed, wondering if the day where he had control would truly come. A call of the Mamool Ja came echoing through the tunnels. Apparently Alls had been found out. As Seraph rose to rush after his companion he heard a lone set of footsteps coming from the other direction. A Mamool Ja Mimicker was answering the call. Trained eyes from his days as a Thief saw an unusual bit of parchment at its waist. Not being known to make use of written word, Seraph drew the conclusion of this being a Testimony. As the Mimicker passed by, Seraph made an attempt to steal it.
          The attempt failed and dropped his paling, revealing himself to the Mamool Ja.
          The Mimicker, already prepared for a fight, came around with its blade. Seraph easily parried it with one of his own. Seraph began pulling in power for a spell, while the Mimicker did the same. Simultaneously, they used the same defensive measure, an orb of light hardening around them, then dissipating. The Mimicker looked puzzled. It began to charge another spell, one Seraph recognized. In time the Elvaan did so, and again, they released their magics, coming to a stalemate. Instead of being angry, the Blue Mages turned it into a game. They would each begin a spell to see if the other could counter in kind. This successfully went back and forth for a short while. Seraph began to prepare a stream of fire, but this technique was not shared by his counterpart. The Mimickers’ ball of flame did not endure, and it was knocked unconscious by the force.
          “Seraph… I’ve made a few friends” came Alls voice. “Think you can lend a… oh, you’ve made a friend too.”
          Seraph smiled wryly. Looking back to the Mimicker, he saw the Testimony in an open palm. He reached for it, and feeling no trick, took it as his own. Waving a separate parchment which contained a magic allowing one to return home, Alls took the hint and furnished the same. Soon, the duo were whisked away from the confines of Mamook.

          Seraph returned to Whitegate alone and reported to the Imperial Center, as ordered. The guards began opening the gates on sight and ushered him inside. An attendant was awaiting his arrival on the other side. A boon, as this area was not mapped very intentionally. On a very definite path Seraph was brought before Raubahn.
          Seraph held up both his missive and Testimony. Raubahn nodded his ascent. “I am certainly happy that you made it through your ordeal successfully.” He looked Seraph over. “You take to the mantle of Immortal well Seraph.” A still silence fell over the room, Raubahns’ crimson eye darkening the room by drawing all light to it. Raubahn continued, “This Testimony that you have retrieved bears the proof I was concerned with. One of great power stalks Mamook… one of our blood. You’ve proven that you are ready. Meet me at the Jade Sepulcher, the seat of their council. You will join me on this Assault.”
          This was no small accolade. Assaults were Empire sanctioned missions that always called for three people. To go on one with the leader of the Immortals himself? This honor was not to be overlooked. “Go and prepare yourself. Be thorough, but be swift. Bring only what you need. We haven’t much time before the danger grows.”
          Seraph nodded, and with the aid of the attendant exited the palace, returning to Whitegate proper. For the first time, the thought crossed his mind of attempting to read the Testimony. Supposedly, the Children of Altana could not do so unless one was strong enough. And if Raubahn deemed him fit for a mission, perhaps he could gain insight from the Beastmen. The Mamool Ja who held this seemed very insightful himself. He stared at the blank parchment as he walked along. Once he entered an archway, hidden in shadow to all but himself, he thought he could make out some script.

Beware the Beast With The Crimson Eye.

          He passed into the light, but the words disappeared. He cast a cautious glance towards the palace.

~“You hold in your hands a forbidden scroll. Reading it will bring you untold wisdom, but cost all that you own.”~
~“I would read the scroll. That which I own can be regained.”~

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