Climb: The Floor 10 Boss

The Scale Emblem Alliance has been making preparations. Sending in some more scout teams, and gathering new allies in order to deal with the unusual battle at the floor 10 boss. They finally have come to a point they consider themselves to be ready... and move out.

Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Frost and crystal still linger in the halls of Kagachi the Samurai Lord. A name now known to those of the Scale Emblem Alliance, and one that has gone to strike fear into the hearts of those who faced him before. There is an air of unease amongst the troops present within these crystaline halls, even as the teams move into position.

They'd already learned of the great power this powerful boss carries. They've learned of its ability to withstand all sorts of damage. As well as the ability for it to permanently close the gate, and lock out the use of even Dungeon Hearts. And this time, there is no guarantee that someone such as Helba would save them once again.

Instead, they've gained power, and allies. They've gained information. And with a thorough battleplan, the team proceeds forwards. Preparing an ambush. Not one of might. Nothing that might trip up the massive armored Samurai. But a wide ambush across a larger region of the battlefield, so they can spread out the damage of their foe.

Their lynchpin appears to be a dark haired young man, who's standing upon one of the elevated rafters of this oversized 'castle', that is proportionate to the gargantuan samurai itself, bearing a single bow, and a quiver.

"The first part of the plan is to get the Samurai to hold still just long enough. Remember the plan. Get it to stand still, no matter what you must do. Pull out your best attacks, and attack from all sides." They hear as Heathcliff, one of the Leaders of the Scale Emblem Alliance speaks on the Raid Channel. "After that, we will engage as according to normal battle parameters. We've got a large army here today. We will not have a repeat from last time. We have Naobi on standby if anything goes wrong."

The group hides amongst the 'furniture', and behind massive crystaline scrolls that hang from the walls of this place. Various temporary wooden structures and ladders have been built to help scale their foe, and they have even built out siege machines. Siege machines that quake, as the massive Samurai approaches.

Step by step, its heavy feet slam down upon the ground, causing it to shake. The strange green honeycomb flickers of its shield rippling across its body.

"And remember. If it attempts to data drain, we have people on staff who can attempt to block it."

As the massive Samurai steps to the center of the battlefield, what is equivalent to a living room... the command goes out.

"Engage the target!"
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    Setsuna was hiding behind a fancy couch, with the cerberus by him who is having to stay very low to the ground. Another year and the cerberus wouldn't have been able to stay hidden. Meanwhile the other member of Setsuna's squad , his boney skeleton knight, was hiding hiding behind a pillar waiting for the go sign. Over the chims Setsuna quietly double checks the plan. He did not want to be the guy to screw things up as he readies his knife in hand. Taking a deep breath he throws his dagger and lets it sail through the air to pin it in the samurai's shadow. The three headed dog lets out a whine at the success, knowing it would be their job to retrieve it.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    Amalthea is normally not one to suffer pre-raid jitters. To say that she has the jitters now... Well that would be absolutely correct.
    The last time she had faced this boss it took something from her. Something she can't even remember what it was, all she knows is that something was missing after their last encounter.
    She'd rather not go through that again.
    But more importantly, she wants to go home.
    So she's here once again with her blade in hand and shield strapped to her arm.
    "Right... Make him stand still. That's... Easier said than done." She mutters to herself as she listens to the instructions, but she'll do her best with the other tanks to try and accomplish that. So when the massive samurai lord takes to the center of the arena, and the word is given to begin the assault...
    Amalthea busts out from her hiding place; taking to the fore in an all-out bull rush for the raid boss, a vaulting leap carrying her up to shin-level with the behemoth warrior as she raises her shield, throwing all her momentum behind the blow as she aims to slam dead into Kagachi.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

After her last encounter with the Samurai Lord, it had likely taken a bit of convincing to get Kita to join on this second expedition into the tenth floor of the tower. The Imp Mage is not known for her bravery in the best of circumstances, and things had gone very, very wrong the last time. Still, it is easy enough to push her towards most tasks if you can talk her into seeing the benefit for Scale Emblem, Tolbana, or her partner, Jurou.

At the moment, she seems quiet, as if she were really considering her life choices. Her head cocks, listening to the instructions over the raid chimlink, but her fingers keep toying at the edges of the pages of her spellbook. It's a nervous gesture, one that shows just how ill at ease she is being here.

As those heavy footfalls begin to pound against the floor, she feels a cold jolt of fear that lances up through her form. Her fingers still on the page, her breathing and heart rate kicking up.

Eventually, someone else bumps into her as they are heading to get to position, breaking her out of her momentary panic. "Lock it down." She repeats to herself, then starts to weave dark magic, pulling tendrils from the air as she seems to form them together into a sphere of arcane energy. It isn't enough to trap the entire monster, as it might be for some others, so she focuses on the monster's sight. The spell, afterall, is good at creating nightmarish visions.

Standing along side some of the others, she tosses the spell forward, aimed at the Samurai's face.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Vertina may not be in the most clear of mind right now, but she wasn't about to allow that to keep her from being on the field when the Alliance needs her the most. Her dedication was too great, even if her attention was faultering at times.

Nevermind the assortment of runic notes that had been scribbled on the floor around her hiding place because she was working on alchemical brewing formulaes while waiting. The ground starting to shake from the Boss' approach gets her to snap out of it for the moment partially because the vibrations make it hard to doodle on the surface, and that gets her to peek out from her spot. There he is, there's that dumb shield.

There's the command to engage.

Vertina clenches her fists, flames igniting around them as she takes a step out from her spot to aim. The first rule of limiting movement? Limit where the target has to move to. She grins, and slams her flaming fists into the ground to release the elemental energy. Glowing crack-like lines surge in jagged motions across the floor.

Then erupt out of the ground, gysers of flame and smoke bursting upward on both sides of the giant Samurai! It doesn't matter if the shield prevents damage, when the real point is to take of space so he can't move into it to avoid the attempts of others.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    This time. This time they'll get the boss! This time, it's going down!

    Though Yuuki isn't really sure why, this time. But it seems the Scalies have a plan! So yes, definitely this time!

    The Sleeping Knight guild leader gets in a few pre-boss-fight stretches in preparation while Heathcliff announces the plan. Sounds like a straight forward plan to start with. Yuuki's still not sure where it's leading, but she trusts that Heathcliff and the other guild leaders have it all in hand!

    As the call to arms goes out, Yuuki draws her sword and charges forward with a battle cry, "YAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" The smallish imp runs amidst the group of generally taller and more heavily armed Scale army members. Though she definitely has them one-upped on speed as she darts in between them before appearing near the front of the charge.

    Yuuki unfortunately has no means of restraining the boss, so for now just plays the damage game. Hopefully adding a small amount of annoyance to many other small amounts of annoyance in order to get the boss defending and not moving! Yuuki just whacks away rapidly at the large boss's foot with her sword. Waiting for the The Plan to be enacted.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Here they are again. Once more, striving to make the impossible possible, or to crash and burn in the process. But this time-- this time they /supposedly/ have a plan of some kind. The good doctor has been privy to some aspects of what the strategy entails, but sadly not enough to assuage his fears entirely. There are too many unknowns, and far too much at risk. If they break here, now, will that be the end of it? Momentum can stall for only so long before it dissolves completely. But...

That's why they're here, isn't it?

The signal is made. It's time to get moving, to finally put ~the strategy~ into action. Heathcliff gives his command, and the doctor nods, speaking into the Raid Chim, "You heard the General. Restrict its movements as best you can. Keep it still and steady for our sniper to take his shot. If it looks like it's going to drain you, shout. I'll do my damnest to keep you all safe."

The operation begins. Prophylaxis whirls into motion, swinging his staff in an intricate dance that satisfies the complex Wave that corresponds to the spell he intends to cast. His skin frosts, chilling until it's ice-blue as the price is paid-- but the effects are immediate. A globe of withering cold, blinding snow and howling wind materializes around the Samurai Lord, imprisoning it in a hell of killing frost, sapping its warmth and strength all the while.

It's do or die, now. He can only hope that it'll be enough...
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Schneider is here with his alliance and the others once again, and looking a bit stern, or maybe skeptical. He's here on faith that things will be different this time, but is not highly enough placed to know for sure about the information, power, or allies they'd brought. Nor has he been briefed on any battleplan, and he'd been asking about that. The feedback he's been getting from his alliance-mates has been disheartening in terms of enthusiasm unencumbered by justification, but he's trying to maintain a positive outlook and edge.

And finally, at the very last minute, a battleplan is shared. And it turns out to be 'same as before'. Which given how before worked is not encouraging, but he will give it a go. The way it was stated sort of implied that once things are nnderway, then our trap will spring, so he will support that just as hard as he possibly can. To that end, he chants, "Brain, Brain dead. Obey your blood oath, come forth from the land of Avalon. Fire of Gehenna, become a fiery blast and burn everything around us!" His tone is sonorous and menacing, and he barks out the last syllable,


Fire envelops him, and he zooms into melee, where he blasts the Samurai Lord point blank with his explosive spell. It doesn't have a lockdown mechanic, his spells don't do that, his usual tactic is 'more fire'. But he's definitely brought the fire.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Gwen didn't like being here, she might have walked away from the tower for good. Yet? There was still at least one last thing to do. With thing's, she'd heard from Merek had got her of the mind to go back for revenge maybe if she killed it? She could get back what it took from her. She wasn't sure but there was at least the matter of Revenge. Still, she grew more and more conflicted about having much to do with SEA in the end. There was no time to worry about that.

She listens out as the plan is laid out, to get it to hold still? TO hold it still eh? Then they can unload what they have planned it seemed.

"Right, I can only counteract what it does to me once just keep that in mind."

Gwen is hiding somehow managing to keep out of sight as she waits till the signal is given to go.

"Time to die creature..."

She then springs into action launching herself at the S A M U R A I.

She let out a rebel yell of all things as she seeks to incept the boss.


The Wind elemental strike comes hard and fast as she attempts to pin in the boss.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

The craftgnome hasn't helped with a Tower Boss before. Her focus has generally been elsewhere, on other projects... but she's got some new armaments to try, her focus on her craft ever honing them. And she's not going to risk anyone else with her experimental work even if she's confident in it. Thus, Arianne's here in person, studying the samurai lord from her hiding spot.

Watching the way he walks, the way his armour moves with him, the sway of his sword. Judging. Assessing. Planning.

And then the signal comes, and much like others she's rushing out. The plates of her armor clink and clatter with her motion, with the energy she's putting into it all, and she pulls out a heavy maul as she runs. Already planning things, looking at the situation... They want the Boss locked down, and she can try to add to that. In her mind she's already planning things out, racing through 3D imagery. It sounds like people are going to be trying ice and frost, and she can hear people calling out to the winds.

So instead of striking the Kagachi, she heaves the maul over head and slams it into the ground with a roar - one surprisingly fierce, for her small stature. Rock erupts upward from the blow, lurching upward around the Boss. Restricting it some on its own - but also trying to provide an anchor, provide /structure/, for the oncoming wave of ice to help lock things down all the more.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    It's weirdly surreal to walk around a living space designed for giants. It makes Mizuki feel small. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just weird. She remembers once, visiting her old elementary school as a teenager or adult (she forgets why,) and it struck her how small the desks and chairs she had once comfortably sat in were. It's like that in reverse.

    She can't really ruminate on this, though, when a deadly boss who can steal memories from her cosmosphere is wandering around. This isn't like being a child wandering a space made for adults, it's...

    It's like being a mouse.

    This must be how a mouse feels, exploring the lair, the *home*, of something big and strange, trying to take a little bit of food unnoticed by the giant or its pets that could kill you in an instant if they caught you. Geeze, being a mouse sounds *exhaustingly* anxiety-inducing. No wonder they don't live very long.

    Fortunately, Mizuki and her companions are not mice here for one of a thousand deadly, desperate meal runs. They are humans with a plan -- and hopefully multiple contingencies -- to kill the giant once and for all.

    She hides with Gwen, feeling just a little bit safer in proximity to the tank. When the call to hit it with everything she's got comes, she leaps out alongside Gwen, long red scarf trailing behind her as the Sword Arte moves her through four rapid, dashing strikes! "Edge. Of. Shadow!"
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Taggart draws his pure massive sword in a lang practised motion. This blade itself is engraved wi' a series o' lines 'n' symbols that wid confuse th' maist dedicated o' cartographers. Mainly cause th' modern folks' line o' symbolism ends wi' th' elder futhark. Aye in this world o' digital manifestation, a blade mak's an impact. Especially tae th' brassic sods ankle.

Unfortunate said luck wis wasted in an opening strike as taggart proceeded tae whiff lik' a fairt in th' win`.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Kuroyukihime is one of the first to dart forward, as fireballs fly from all sides. Various vines erupt from the ground, trying to halt the massive armored Samurai as it grabs for its massive blade. The moment it comes down towards her and her allies, she skates by, using her twin blades to partially deflect the intial blow, letting it slide by her body as she uses its force to tumble onto the blade itself!

Gliding on top, she keeps moving forward, her feet stepping over the bugged 'shield' that envelops its body. The Samurai's eyes glow, and it suddenly begins to sear the Arena, turning its head slowy. Near the backlines, Heathcliff slams his shield to the ground, creating a massive dome of protection around him, wings sticking out along the sides, halting the searing twin beams! For a moment, those beams slamming right back into its body as the reflection takes place, before he's overwhelmed by the attack!

"Hold steady!" The man tells those behind him. "And lock him down!"

Kuroyukihime then plunges down, in tandem with Setsuna's attack, slicing her twin blades temporarily through its shield as if this had been planned all along. The dagger stabs into its foot, and the enormous Samurai almost immediately freezes in place, with that beam still pouring its energy into Heathcliff's shield!

Amalthea's shield slam comes down upon its foot not moments later, the slam echoeing even through this massive hall amidst all of the magic firing from all directions as fireballs soon are replaced by fierce shocks of ice. Those watching for the status effect indicators on the enemy, they see just how rapidly their status effects die down. It's in the miliseconds. But each shock of ice that gets added, adds a little bit more to that meter. Yuuki and Taggart join Amalthea not moments later at that foot, their strikes tearing into its foot where Kuroyukihime had temporarily weakened that bugged shield - allowing their strikes to tear through that smaller region of effect and pin its foot!

Stepping up next to Kita, is a young woman in white robes. Onna Shinkan glaring at the massive giant, and huffing; "For those who wish to go home." As she creates a white region of magic right before Kita, which take those tendrils of arcane energy she is weaving, and transforming them into larger ones, assisting her as they bolt straight towards its head.

Upon the dresser above, Neeba pulls out an arrow with a swirling green arrow upon its tip, and straightens his posture. Slowly aiming towards his enemy. The bow taking up almost all of his body in height as he takes his time to get a good aim right for its head.

Eruptions tear apart the ground right near the massive Samurai, as Setsuna's halting dagger starts to lose its strength. Stopping the Samurai from moving its foot anywhere near that zone. Geysers of heat bearing upon its body as it is finally being blinded when Kita's arcane magic arrives. halting those massive eye-beams it was firing not seconds ago and giving Heathcliff a moment's reprieve.

In another region, Prophylaxis' ice magic begins to coat that shield. Wearing into its ability to reduce such status effects. He's joined by various other mages who simultaneously release their attacks. And for a moment, Prophylaxis could swear he sees the shimmering outline of /that woman/ floating just to his side, stretching out her hand, giving him more strength in his assault.

Icicles begin to jut up from the floor, gripping hold of the Samurai's blade and adding weight to a small replacement shield it is carrying. It seems that shield which Yuuki had destroyed has remained destroyed since their last encounter.

At the same time, fire starts heating up its sword-bearing hand, as Schneider and another series of mages puts in a large brunt of work. Making it harder and harder to hold onto the blade, and making it harder for their opponent to retaliate! Gwen soon joins in, wielding in with a variety of melee troops, jumping up and unleashing a variety of ranged sword artes with their blades - the gale of attacks erupting the flame attacks into a large scale detonation; causing those fingers snap open, the blade being dropped upon the ground!

It's halted. The massive giant, for a moment, remains truly still. Its eyelasers halted. Kita's arcane magic pulls away... and there's a sound like a whistle through the air. The massive arrow, almost the size of a small person, flashes from Neeba's position straight for the head of the Samurai. It SLAMS into the shield, before it starts spinning almost like a drill. Green light tears from it, spreading through the region, casting light upon it almost like an Aurora Borealis. It sits there, tearing into that shield for a good second...

Two seconds...

Three... trembling... gleaming...

Then suddenly, the sound of glass being broken, as the shield shatters! And in that moment, the Samurai stumbles, Setsuna's dagger lapsing in power and the being immediately begins to change. Its form starting to mirror, once, thrice. Almost like a kaleidoscope was unleashed upon it, until there is a six legged Samurai. Shoulder attached to shoulder. Three heads. Six arms. It lowers its body slightly, as its facemask turns to anger!

Those arms reach back, and pull out a sixsome of swords, and the massive six-legged giant begins to stomp through the area, while kneeled to keep itself from falling over. Almost like it is pushing its backs together! Stomping about, bringing those massive swords down. Tearing down furniture, and carving massive rips through the ground, tearing apart walls as it turns and begins to berserk throught he region!
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    "YEAH! TAKE THAT!" Setsuna shouts out as he watches that shield break and the real fun starts. Without missing a beat him and his group begin to scatter as quickly as possibly avoiding those flailing swords. " I think we made him mad !" Fortunately Setsuna can run around and still prep for the next attack. His cerberus finds a corner and begins to summon the dark flames from whatever realm it is that cerberus's come from. Then when the ball of dark fire was ready Setsuna ends his running about by the Cerberus and gives them pets before taking over the ball of dark flame , launching it towards the samurai.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

There is a nod that Kita gives to Onna Shinkan, a sign of appreciation for the help in bolstering her spell. When possible, it is always good to work together, as multiple casters can do more powerful abilities than any single mage, alone. Her words resonate, reaffirming her own reasons for being in this fight.

She holds the spell as long as possible, but the light of that strange green effect is enough to cause her to lift one arm, shielding her eyes from the effect. What she sees in the aftermath is likely far more frightening than expected, as the Samurai seems to duplicate. "Oh come on..."

She is forced to fall back slightly, trying to defend against the rampage that follows. As the sword comes down near her, she raises up a shield of arcane energy. It still causes her to be blasted backwards, but she ends up braced against the leg of a piece of furniture, her health largely still intact.

Kita isn't one of those who gets drawn into the thrill of battle, but a year of being here has left her with some knowledge of how to handle herself against a boss. After joining forces with Onna last round, she looks towards Setsuna. Spotting the interaction between him and his Cerberus, and recognizing the technique she had taught him, the girl weaves up her own spell of dark flame.

It forms into a flickering ball of purple flames in her hands, fingers weaving over it before she launches it forward, the spell joining with Setsuna's to create a larger effect.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Schneider cheers for a moment as it looks like maybe this fight -is- going differently, but then the samurai is fighting back. He throws his cape up to deflect the incoming damage, but it's not enough to stop a direct blow frfom the sword, and he's bowled over, HP dropping fast. He picks himself up and dusts himself off when the thunderous blows have passed, and glowers. "So ..." he grumbles. "Fine. Try some of this, then."

Schneider centers himself and strikes a melodramatic pose, chanting, "Tai-to-ro! Blow this enemy away! ANTHEM!"

Flames erupt from his hands and surge toward the enemy, supporting the other fire mages and concentrating on their target as well, burning away HP in a satisfactory manner, hoping to heat those swords until they're too hot to grip. If they can keep this up, and if he can avoid getting slaughtered, this may go differently than before.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Taggart teuk a split seicont tae admire th' impending damage tae his body as it approached. Again this wis a situation whaur his bravery overtook his mynd. Sae 'twas na fault bit his ain hail attack wis deflected 'n' a roondaboot wey ends wi' a solid skelp o'er his person.

Taggart tumbles back a fair bit, bit lik' ony solid jimmy is aye oan his feet. Pure muckle great sword in yin haun 'n' tankard in a steely grip fur th' either. Wi' a swig o' th' necter a challenge bellow fae his lips.

Bite me ye pumpin' fud
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Already, Arianne is starting to get... /ideas/, seeing the variety of weapons, attacks, and techniques in play. Refinements for herself and others, both offensive and defensive. Things that could be attempted to streamline this attempt or that one, or how to better fit weapon or armour for its user. She pushes it all aside before too long, though, as the shield finally cracks under the force of the arrow... and as, in response, the boss changes into a more monstrous, deadly-looking form.

She can read what's going to happen in the way it adjusts its stance, blades raises. And so she abandons the maul and switches to a sword of her own, pairing it with a shield. It lets her work around the rampaging beast, deflecting this blow and that with her shield, letting MP seep down her sword and set it alight. She looks for openings amidst the chaos, blade stabbing out now and then and leaving cutting lines of fire in its wake, trying to harm and hem as she tries to help the other front-liners keep it from progressing back towards the ranged line.

"... Dibs on some of the blade fragments, if they drop as loot." She notes aloud, even if the battle isn't won yet. "I should be able to make something interesting from them."
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

That feeling... Prophylaxis glances aside for just the barest of instants, expecting to find what he'd seen in the edge of his gaze. There is nothing there, of course, but the strength imbued into his magic is undeniable. Then, with a sense of finality-- the creature's shield cracks and crumbles, shattered into so many shards. The doctor holds his breath, is it over?

No. It's only just begun. The barrier fades, but the monster's wrath is multiplied by its lost defensibility. "It was never going to be that easy," he reminds himself. In the course of the monster's rampage, it smashes a heavy blade into the doctor's side-- and he is, as ever, a moment too late to adequately absorb the blow. He's sent sprawling, coughing hard as if the air had been knocked out of his lungs-- if even those concepts are still relevant in this place. He grips the point of impact, a layer of hidden, frozen plating crumbles away under his robes. "One hit... Damn, that thing's as crazy powerful as ever. Watch it, everyone. We don't know if it can still use a Data Drain of its own!"

The doctor slams his staff into the floor, forcing himself upright-- and setting into motion his next spell. All around him, bits of ruined castle rise and collapse, forming tight knots of twisted landscape. Each one glows with firelight, fissures spilling red-orange flame as the scrap globes quake from the implosive force crushing down upon them-- until finally, it's too much. each one ruptures, unleashing blasts of ultra-compressed flame and slag at the massive samurai like a full fusilade of naval cannonfire!
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

As soon as the shield flickers away Vertina leaps into motion, charging out of her hiding spot with such intensity it leaves a wash of heat in her wake. She's intent on getting close, and not really paying attention to the Boss's transformation beyond the fact that it looks really weird and slightly disturbing. With a final burst of flames she dives forward, rolling under one of the slashing swords... and then skidding backwards after getting slammed into the flat side of another as it struck the ground.

But in the same moment she sees an oppritunity, and grabs onto the sword when it's pulled and lifted back up. The sword is raised toward's head level, with Vertina hanging on with one arm and bracing her feet against the blade. "Oh, hey, you have three mouths now. That's even better!" With the other hand she pulls a flask of some red and orange concoction out. "That's two more to have a taste of this with! Bottoms up!" Vertina kicks off the sword, and heaves the flask at one of the samurai's faces. It's one of her recent experiment results that turned out not to be so good for drinking... but it's highly caustic and flammable, meaning it's going to suck for the Giant Samurai if he actually swallows it! Or gets it in his eyes.... or really gets it anywhere on his body in general without the shield, though she was making an effort at getting it swallowed.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Gwen is causing a fair bit of magical havoc up close but she has to keep at it. She hears the sound of glass shattering and wonders. Is that it wait who did that? She doesn't have time to notice or see who it was only to act again she charges in using another art. She's just not quite fast enough this time to get a good hit. Even with that? How does a mountain of a woman move that /fast/.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    Yuuki is stabbing away at the boss's foot when the call comes out to get ready. Her response is simple, "For what?"

    Yuuki then looks up as an arrow goes whistling through the air, to strike the Samurai's shield. And then proceed to DRILL into it, before shattering it!

    Yuuki whistles, impressed as the cheating cheater boss loses its cheater barrier.

    And then proceeds to cheat duplicate.

    Yuuki blinks for a moment, before saying, "Okay... I wasn't ready for that..."

    The sore loser Samurai proceeds to go on a swording tantrum with those six massive swords. Yuuki finds herself running around like mad trying to avoid the massive weapons as they crash down around her! A soft aura glows around her as she speeds up, managing to stay just one step ahead of each blade as it comes down in her general direction.

    But Yuuki's skill runs out. And a blade strikes the ground right next to her. The near miss is enough to send the imp flying from the shockwave. Also knocking a good chunk of HP off her mostly unarmoured body.

    Yuuki hits the ground with a grunt, groaning quietly as she lies there for a moment. But she's not going to take that sitting down. Or lying down either! Yuuki climbs back to her feet, turning towards the boss. It's supposedly vulnerable now. Which means there's method to going after its weak points! And while it has three bodies now, Yuuki wonders out of curiosity how it'd function with just two hearts. Assuming such logic applies to the game.

    Of course, even with her parkour skills, or her Parkour skill, she'd need a boost to get up there. Then Yuuki spots Amalthea between the boss and her. Ah hah, just what Yuuki needs: A launching platform!

    Yuuki starts running towards Amalthea, calling out to the tank as she does so, "Thea! Hold still for a moment!" Yuuki then leaps, planting a foot on Amalthea's shoulder before leaping again, soaring up towards one of the Samurai boss's chests as she tries to stab it repeatedly at its heart. While she still has air time, anyway.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    Holding the giant warrior in place is... Not easy. But Amalthea does her best to keep that foot pinned as she looks up.
    The arrow comes streaking down.
    Watching it hang in the air as it slams into the shield... And then shatters it. It's heartening. But that doesn't mean the battle is already won.
    That mask suddenly looks so angry.
    And then there's not one but six blades to contend with and she brings her shield to bear...
    Grunting as the rain of blows bear down on her, she braces her footing as best she can, boots skidding backwards as she absorbs each blow, tearing into her HP as she weathers the assault.
    But Amalthea remains firm, trudging forward even under heavy duress. sword flashing in her hands as her face sets into a grim mask. The only thing that stops her...
    Is Yuuki's voice.
    Planting her boots, the old Paladin can't help but smile as the nimble little imp launches off her shoulder for a more advantageous attack, before she resumes her own course of attack.
    That sword of hers flashes in her hand as she lashes out with a series of cuts into the gigantic samurai's foot and leg as hard as she can.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    As soon as she's out of the Sword Arte, Mizuki starts casting: "Chill frost, protect me from my foe's strikes as you protect my heart! Condensation Disc!" This defense proves *vital*. The shield of magic force with cool mist VFX takes that sword and Mizuki is sent reeling backwards, but barely damaged, as the shield instantly 'melts' and falls where she was standing with a splash.

    They have to keep pressing the attack. There's no time to rest. Keep hitting it hard... She takes a couple of leaps back while it's swinging those swords around. Right now there's time for spells, so... "This should soften him up for you!" She holds out her hand and intones imperiously,

    "Darkness beyond blackest pitch, void behind the veil of maya... tear apart the flesh of the foes who stand before me, corrupt them from beyond the flow of time! NIGHTMARE SPHERE!"

    ...Nothing happens. "Wha... no... I practiced it, I swear! Wasn't that..." Slitted eyes wide, she brings up the menu, frantically checking the skill.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Setsuna does appear to be right. This massive moving thing does appear to be 'mad'. Hewing its blades with far more precion than one might expect from a giant such as this. And with those six legs, it's an intense amount of 'stable', making it harder and harder to root it in place. As black flames burn up into the being, they tear across hands and along body! And they are quickly joined in parallel by Kita's own dark flame. The two techniques combining into a stronger arcane flame that detonates across its armor and begins to melt away at its armor! Unseen by Mizuki, all of his Nightmare Sphere magic drains into the Arcane Detonation that follows, enforcing Setuna and Kita's attacks!

Flame grips the Three-Bodied Samurai, as it stomps towards Schneider, creating earthquakes with each series of steps. In fact, it's stepping in rapid succession, causing constant tremmors. Crystals starting to spike up from the ground! Though the next thing to spike up is Taggart's blade, as it catches one of the Samurai's toes, ripping into another portion of its health!

Just to see a health bar again. To see it trickle down, gives an intense sense of elation amongst the forces.

Heathcliff suddenly steps in alongside Arianne, halting one of the strikes upon her. His eyes set upon their enemy. "Switch!" He demands from her, allowing her blazing sword swipes to get a proper bit of timing in!

As it keeps moving around, people will start to notice a difference between them. Two of them still have a green gem. One of them is cracked partially, and one is still live. The last one has no more gem. Though a large arrow is sticking out in its body. It's almost as if this had been three enemies in one this whole time.

Further flame flies up towards its face. Vertina showing just how powerful of a throwing arm she has, getting it far enough up to reach its eyes even from all the way down there! Though the giant Samurai doesn't eat it - wearing a mask that obfuscates its actual 'face', if it even has one - it certainly blasts apart near its enough, causing that side of the Samurai Trio to be blinded by the smoke and flame!

A detonation follows, as another jet of flame joins in, Prophylaxis's attack rampaging across a second of the Samurai faces, burning into the mask and slowly melting parts of it, creating that red sheen of light which keeps flickering on and off upon that mask!

Yuuki launches up from Amalthea's position, right as Gwen joins in with Amalthea. Yuuki is then grabbed by the hand by Kuroyukihime, who pulls her further up and helps the launch! Right before that absolute sword hits that thing's chest and rips into it, causing a spray of red glittering light to splash out from that portion of its body.

Kuroyukihime then uses Yuuki's new position to use her as a pedestal, and amidst the Samurai's blindness, cuts her two blades diagonally along its mask, aiming to split its head apart! At the same time, down below, Amalthea brings her blade down and is joined by a few other swordsmen, tearing into its foot. Cutting through this time! No longer do they have to deal with that obnoxious barrier!

It's but a moment later that the center Samurai with the arrow in its throat suddenly detonates into brilliant light! In that same moment, the other two remaining parts of its body split up, and begin to stand. One of them keeping a hold of that massive pair of twin blades, as the other - with the full green crystal - points its hand towards the backlines and spreads its fingers, firing out three spools of green coiling light towards Taggart, Amalthea and Mizuki!

All while the other continues to move, rushing straight towards the other backlines! Its left blade catching flame as the other turns to lightning. Each collapsing strike coming down HEAVY towards the ground, spreading pillars of flame that spray up from the ground. The other blade lifted to the air, raining lightning down from the skies, creating an utterly disorienting situation!
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

If there is one thing that Scale Emblem is good at, it is flame. So, Kita seems reasonably confident after the joined attack with Setsuna does damage to the Samurai's armor. There is some measure of relief there, which only lingers for a moment before the strange green lines from the boss start looking for targets.

She ducks herself against the leg of a bit of furniture, hiding herself from view as best as possible. The Imp only peeks out in time to see a spray of flame heading in her direction. Flame, she can deal with. Again, a magical shield errupts in front of her, pressed forward by her hands as she blasts some of the fire back from herself in the process.

Though she often utilizes spells like a mage, there is some measure of bardic inspiration that Kita can cast into a fight like this. So, at this moment, she decides to try to bolster the others rather than attack directly.

"We can do this, keep it up!" She calls out, drawing out a guitar from her inventory and playing what sounds... for all purposes, like a hard-hitting rock number that seems like it would go along with a boss battle. In fact, the song almost sounds as if it has effects that such a simple, acoustic instrument couldn't manage. With riffs that sound more like they are coming from an electric guitar with the way her dark magic amplifies the song's buffing abilities.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    Setsuna loved boss fights, the bosses were always so easy. The rules were simple. One, don't stand in fire, which is evident by the ground glowing red and getting hot moments before the fire erupts. Two, don't stand under the lightning, again easily avoidable due to the smell of ozone right before it strikes. Finally, keep a decent supplies of buffs to help make sure you can keep up wth the rising tempo, this was accomplished with an aura of darkness flaring up around him as he rapidly moves out of the way of things. That is when he sees the doctor about to take a hit and Setsuna shoulder rushes the doctor , shoving him out of the way and taking one of those lightning strikes. " Focus up doc, can't heal people if you are dead." There was some anger in his voice, probably from the pain, most likely from the pain. With an annoyance he lets out a loud whistle and then shouts, " Blind them!" Setsuna and his three headed companion both unleash a dark ball of energy aimed at the one with the green crystal data draining people. If it can't see it can't data drain anyone.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Taggart can feel th' shield doon, th' hits pile oan fur th' ithers. A symphony tae physical exertion mak's tis wey tae th' future wi' a crt o' "celticcccccccccccccccccccccccccc magiccccccccccccccc!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
One hits tae mak' it stammle, anither his tae kneecap th' bugger, finally a solid bahookie knucle o'er o'er th' coupon tae send th' boot tae kip.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    Yuuki's blade drives in deep! She then begins to fall once again, helping Kuroyukihime by returning the aerial boost. Then watching in satisfaction as the boss explodes into pixels of light.

    One of the bosses, unfortunately. The other two are still going strong!

    Seeing one of those large blades swinging through the air towards her, Yuuki flips herself around before planting her feet on the passing blade. A soft green light emanates from between the imp's boots and the boss's blade as she starts to run across it as it brings it back up for another attack.

    Yuuki leaps again, this time landing on the other blade as it sweeps past its twin. She continues running up this one, almost vertically as she gets closer and closer to the boss that wields it. And just as the boss brings the sword up for another swing, Yuuki leaps for a third, final time.

    "WAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!" Yuuki arcs through the air before beginning to fall towards the boss's chest. She raises her sword up over her head, spinning it around into a reverse grip in both hands.

    As Yuuki begins to fall past the boss, she plunges the blade into it, dragging it down across the boss's gut to leave a long red mark, before she is forced to pull it free and fall the rest of the way towards the ground.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Gwen is alongside Amalthea

"We need to catch up later."

Gwen notes and turns her attention back to the fight as the boss attacks her counters quickly.


The golden glow of the divine magic protecting Gwen from the latest round of attacks envelops her. AS it fades Gwen is once more in and on the boss with a vengeance she can't get in the way of the attack on Taggart, however, she does not need to in the end. sO she puts everything she has into attacking.


The wind becomes a storm about her sword as she aims to strike again and again against the boss with it.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Arianne doesn't even look at Heathcliff as he steps in, blocking blows alongside her. But she nods as she hears his demand, and moves with it; letting him take on the burden of defence for a time, to let her searing blade bite into their foe, whittling away at its health alongside the other assailants. She keeps track by the sounds of his armor, of his steps, amidst the chaos there beside him - and "Switch!"s back, as the central samurai detonates, her shield moving into a guard position to prepare for whatever comes of the next phase.

A grimace curls across her lips as she takes in the way the two Samurai move apart from each other, each with their own priorities. And she finds herself dealing with its flaming blade, blocking and weaving as it lashes out, shrugging off the burning steel again. "I'm not meant to be the anvil." She notes, briefly, even if she's not expecting a response from the Paladin beside her. She swaps her shortsword for a spear, observing the change. Deciphering the reach, the striking distance, the melee form is displaying with its two-bladed style.

And, when the moment is right, she steps in - "Now!" on her lips, the point of her spear lancing forward as she tries to use its reach to target that green crystal directly. Are they just an HP display for each segment, or are they a weakpoint as well? Time to find out... even as she braces her shield to give Yuuki something to push off of, in her fall away from the Boss.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

As the one body of the three-bodied samurais stomps toward him, he makes no bones about scrambling clear. He's not trying to finesse this by avoiding damage by as little as possible, he's surroundimg himself with a shield of air that helps push him clear of harm and stay out of the way. Once he's clear, he takes a stance and chants darkly, summoning his fiery darkness once again.

There is another explosion, and flames erupt as Schneider sends bolts of fire to impact the target. Smoke roils, clearing after a moment and revealing the original scene. Schnieider takes a moment to brush back his hair and take in the situation. We ... appear to be doing well. Whatever it is we did differently, it seems to have worked! He's been paying deep attention to his own game, he doesn't have the gameskill to watch and understand the whole battle at once.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    It is FULLY heartening to tear into that foot without the shield in the way, and Amalthea; side by side with Gwen, lays into that foot like her life depends on it.
    It fully does.
    "Aye, we do." She replies to her fellow tank. Catching up would be nice, but right now she's a little busy. And pauses only briefly.
    "That is not something you should name an attack in Japan." She mutters almost bewildered for a beat.
    Before she resumes wailing on that foot with everything she has with the others around her...
    When that green light comes...
    This time she's ready for it.
    "INCOMING!" She calls out a warning as she jukes aside, the beam of green light missing her by a hair's breadth.
    Too close.
    That was too close.
    Too close in fact, that the old paladin hesitates, an expression of mixed terror and enduring strain forcing its way to her face as she curls her fingers tighter around the grip of her blade.
    "How short sweet life, but do not mourn..." She mutters, raising her sword aloft, glowing bright white with holy light. "BURY! Enlightened Strike!" Called out as she hacks away, DPS suffering due to her hesitation.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

They're doing it. They're really, actually doing it. Prophylaxis' heart soars when the monster's long missing life-bar finally reappears over its three heads. "Keep on the pressure," he says to the raid-- but also mostly to himself. Then, adding fuel to his rising euphoria, one of the triple-monsters dissolves into so much light. At first he begins to wonder whether they managed to kill the thing early somehow. But--

No. No not quite. They're not so lucky. The doctor curses as he catches sight of that strange green gem-- he's seen its ilk before, he /knows/ that color. His stomach drops when those three beams lance out of its grasp, racing for...

"No! Not this time! I'm /ready/ for you this time!" Prophylaxis growls clutching at a talisman dangling over his heart. He sucks in a breath, then bellows in a deep, but unmistakably melodic tone, "PROPHYLAXIS_HAGALAZ_DRAGON_OPAL!"

A brilliant, crystalline white light washes out from the doctor's body before condensing into a tight, impossibly bright ray. It races that green beam, moments passing like hours as the two rays chase one another neck and neck, until finally...

Taggart is enveloped with a distinctively white blaze of light, as the Data Drain is scattered into so many sickly green motes. Prophylaxis is left panting, and in that moment he's vulnerable--

At least, until Setsuna shoves him out of the way. "Sets--" A blast of lightning crashes into the necromancer, and Prophylaxis' expression turns to one of worry, and no small amount of embarassment, "...Thanks. Sorry, I'll keep my head in the game."

Again, he turns toward the Samurai Lord(s), his breath frosting on his lips. "One down... If we can take another... We can do this, just-- keep on the pressure." Ice crystals crackle and congeal around his ankles, coating the floor in a frigid patina of pale white-blue. Another pulse of absolute cold seizes around the remaining samurai lords, seeking to trap each one in a tomb of bittermost winter...!
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Toe-claws scrap on the ground as Vertina lands from her leap with a bit of a skid, dropping one hand to the floor as well to arrest her momentum. Then she glances in her friend's direction as the Were Fang voices frustration at her magic faultering. "Mizuki!" She doesn't even use the cutesy nickname since this is a serious moment. "Don't worry about being impressive, just be effective." Her tail sways and her legs flex a bit in the half-crouch, getting ready to move again. "Right now hitting him matters more than what with, before that shield comes back!" She doesn't know if it will or not, but that seems like a good motivating point to make.

The tension is released, powerful legs sending the Salamander Godhand charging back into the fight. She weaves and lunges with such speed that the flames spreading from the Second Samurai's flaming blade strike can't keep up with her. But just as she's moving into position to wind up a strike, a lightning blast from the other sword slams to the ground near her! She has to quickly pull out from her intended attack to switch to defending, spinning on a heel to divert her path away from getting directly hit. But the explosion of electrical force as the lightning slams into the ground is enough to do the job at such close proximity, the Salamander flying out of the resulting cloud and hitting the floor in a rough and ungraceful manner. She tumbles several feet... and just lays there with a groan.

It takes a moment, then with a grunt Vertina rolls over and digs a hand into the ground to brace herself and push up. She's covered in bruises and gashes of red 'damage' marks but still hauls herself back onto her feet. She stands, and audibly cricks her neck to one side, then the other. Eyes narrow as she sees the other Samurai turning his green cheating power on several of her friends. But his other half is still between her and him, and while not the cheating power is arguably more dangerous with his direct elemental attacks. Even in her somewhat addled mind she realizes she needs to keep this guy from blasting down people trying to stop the one with the green gemstone power. "HEY ASSHOLE. Over here." She pulls one of her flaskes out and chugs it down, this one being one of her intentional fire element accelerators that makes the fiery aura around her spike. The empty flask is thrown over her shoulder.

"Now its personal."

Followed by a warcry that could almost put true dragons to shame as the Salamander roars into the fight again. That blazing aura only burns stronger and hotter as she does charges one half of the samurai pair. Powerful legs launch her into the air, and a spin that seems to draw most of the scorching elemental energy down her leg.


And sheating her foot in that blistering aura as the kick is brought arcing down on one samurai half with the force of a blazing comet!
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    No, there's no time to check skills now, you have to complete the fight! As Mizuki dismisses the window, she sees one of the three giants break, and the other two stand seperately... "Wait... were we fighting THREE BOSS PHASES AT ONCE?! Was THAT the glitch?! And now we're fighting two-WOAH!" The green beam reaches out for her and she scrambles out of the way, running for cover. She can't die -- probably -- but that thing can take MEMORIES. It can damage WHO SHE IS.

    She may not be exactly sure who she is anyway, but dammit, she's going to figure that out on HER terms! The giants can butt out of it!

    The cat-ninja scampers under a piece of furniture and forms a shield of stone around her. The green... whatever it is doesn't come. Cautiously, she shapes the stone away and peers out at the giants, assessing the fight condition.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

A pulse of arcane Magic spreads throughout the arena. Though it may not touch every corner of such an enormous battlefield, the riff of that music would be impossible to avoid even if the effects do not reach them. Each pulse bringing another thunderous might into the hands of her allies!

That first pulse of power coalesces into the body of that Cerberus and Setsuna, after taking the hit for Prophylaxis. Blasting their orbs of darkness, swelling up well beyond their norm, before they fly towards the caster of the two Samurai. Though the sword wielding one protects it, it ends up blasting apart against the shattered crystal of that particular one!

Taggart moves to the beat of that music, cutting his blade against the knee of the sword wielding Samurai, soon joined by Kuroyukihime as she falls from above, tearing into its other leg and ripping enormous gashes of red along its body!

Neeba's violent gleam of white light tears into its head as he assists from above. The high level ranger keeping rather quiet as he patiently keeps charging up each shot with a pure swell of magic. Prophylaxis, were he to look up, might spot the shimmer of a woman standing at his side now, holding his shoulder, as he brings the next act of his attacks to bear!

Yuuki's blow synchronizes perfectly with this, plunging into the blade wielding samurai's chest, and creating enough collective force to start tipping it over and forcing it to start dropping to the ground!

Amalthea and Gwen each strike lower to the ground, slamming against its feet, finalizing its drop towards the ground! The thing releasing its blades, trying to remain up. But at this enormous size, the sheer force of falling over is too much to halt!

Heathcliff nods to Arianne as she demands her own switch back, and he brings his massive sword up, and stabs it to the ground whilst the Samurai is still mid fall. "GRAND CROSS!" He demands, as a massive pulse of light sears up from his position, staring up like a laser and carving the Samurai from back to front in twain! Arianne then finally throws her spear to that half-shattered crystal as well, tearing another chunk off of it!

Another blast of flame erupts against the right side of the Samurai, and it looks like it is ripping apart from that 'tear' made by Heathcliff just moments ago - thanks to Schneider's searing flames! It tries to catch itself. One hand trying to catch its fall, to stop its structure from being broken. But the ice summoned by Prophylaxis weakens its entire stance, and within moments, Vertina would have her moment!

RAGNAROK'S HAMMER! The flashing searing bloom of flame lands right at the center. Right near its heart where Yuuki had carved across its body, and Heathcliff had finished that split. A hand reaches out for her, trying to grab her, but she skates right on past it, a few of her hairs caught, before her flaming kick pulls into its chest, creating a crater before her foot even touches it. The immoltation of her strike tearing the red light of its body apart like moses parting the red sea.

And when her foot makes contact, it is to the ground, as the second part of the Samurai's body shatters into light all around her!

Leaving only the last one Samurai standing, as it points three fingers towards Vertina, Taggart and Prophylaxis while bringing its other hand up and letting out a roar. A massive sigil forming throughout four places on the arena. Four white lines pointing down... as the ceiling tears apart, and enormous falling stones begin to slowly lower towards the ground. The spot right beneath those getting hotter and hotter. Melting away. The ground turning from stone into glass, as those stones in the air begin to turn, and thin magical lasers split out and begin to turn like massive drills, seeking person after person, refusing to stop following them!
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Flaming heel drives into the ground as the second samurai shatters around her. Vertina lets out a wheeze from the exhertion, but stands up. Immediately her eyes go to the remaining part of the boss still standing. A growl ripples from within, and she clenches her hands into fists to ready the clawed blades on the back of her battle gloves. But somewhere in that narrowed gaze she sees a flash of something, twisting away from the green strike lashing out to try and do terrible things to her mind, sixth sense and quick reflexes making up for her tired and addled mind a bit this time.

"Hey, dumbshit! Keep your mindscrews to yourself!" Vertina gathers up the strength she still has and charges the remaining Samurai Boss, lashing out several times with the claws. Even if she can't land a clean blow she can try to force him to be occupied with her and someone else can get in the much needed hits to finish the freak off for good!
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Gwen has grown much stronger since the last time she fought here she'll get up the Stormwind Shield something spawned from memories of another world long since lost to Pluto's Kiss.

She calls out.


The is the roar of a lion on the wind as she uses it she's left standing there. She has had it up to HERE with this boss. She looks at Amalthea nods once then starts trying to climb up the boss attacking it wherever she can do as she climbs using one ability to try and leap higher.


Why oh why didn't these damn wings work.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    Following her strike against the second of the giant Samurai, Yuuki falls gracefully out of the air. She flips a few times before landing with her boots solidly against Arianne's shield.

    Yuuki gives Arianne a grin, "Thanks!" Then pushing leaping off once more, Yuuki jumps upwards, gaining enough air to rise up and land on some of the wooden platforms the army had set up.

    Running along the platform, Yuuki sweeps her blade out to the side, darkness quickly forming around it and growing in size. After all, a big boss needs a bigger weapon!

    Yuuki reaches the end of the platform, jumping and planting a foot against the railing before leaping towards the last of the three duplicates, her eyes staring intently at it.

    Which is why she completely misses the magical drill streaking towards her from the side.

    Yuuki grunts as the drill slams into her, carrying her along and away from the boss as it quickly whittles away at her HP. But Yuuki is not going to give up! Rearing her hand back, Yuuki swings her arm and releases her grip on her blade. The darkness encased Absolute Sword goes spinning through the air, straight towards the boss!
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

At the end of her song, Kita flourishes her guitar, neatly tucking it back into her inventory with a few flicks of her fingers. She isn't a full fledged bard and her spell casting is usually better served in the DPS role rather than straight support.

However, switching weapons is enough to leave her defenses ever so slightly unguarded. Meaning that as she tries to summon up one of her strange, dark creatures to help deal with the way that the Samurai impacts the area around them, the spell sputters. The laser cuts through the creature, which dies with a cry, and then lashes against Kita's arm, running down the length and leaving her with a glowing red line.

Pain lashes through her, momentarily sending her mind back to another place and time. Another injury, another hurt, but... this isn't as bad as that. This is a shadow of real pain, and that is enough to allow her to break the hold the trauma has on her. "Damn it." The girl shakes out her arm, but even moving it slightly sends lances of pain through her.

"That's enough." Kita pushes through the pain, weaving her hands through the air to trace out a series of runes that linger there for a moment before blinking out of existence. Then, with a sound like a roar, dark flame bursts into life around her, spiraling around the mage in a circle.

It forms up into pillars of flame which she launches one after another towards the boss monster, each one lashing up with powerful bouts of purple fire.  
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Schneider throws up his magic shield as the lasers seek out the players' flesh, but apparently his shield is very reflective, the beam deflects off without harming him. He looks back on the lone remaining boss, or boss fragment. "It's time to put this away," he says with determination, and the shadows grow around him as he chants. It looks like he's serious about putting this away, his close companions can tell what's coming from the feel of the air as he begins casting. This is going to leave a mark.

"Kaizard, aruzard, kisk! Hansay Glossik! Unleash total destruction! Sage of Hades use the seven keys to open the gates of Hell!" He raises his voice to be heard above the gathering crescendo of doom, and shouts, "HALLOWEEN!"

And a catastrophic wave of intense, miasmic flame engulfs the target, his signature spell sucking down the boss's HP like there was a drain in the HP bar.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    The last samura remains... And its attack is no less harrowing than before.
    "Look out! It's doing it again!" She calls in warning- thankfully no one is data drained... But then the floor turns to glass and stones fall... Against her shield.
    Amalthea weathers the assualt, gritting her teeth as...
    She turns her head.
    She nods to Gwen.
    The two rush the boss, and with a vaulting leap, Amalthea runs along the massive samurai's armored boot, before she jumps AGAIN.
    Latching on to Kagachi's shin she reaches down to hoist Gwen up- the two taking turns helping one another scramble up that armored legm grunting and snarling the whole way until Amalthea reaches the boss' waist...
    Where she rears back her blade and rams it, intending to punch through an unarmored section of the boss' body to deal as much damage as she can.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Again the monster unleashes that terrible, soul-violating power. Again, Prophylaxis is there to stand in its way. "I told you, I came /prepared/ this time. You won't be taking any more. Our minds. Our memories-- they're /ours!/ PROPHYLAXIS_HAGALAZ_DRAGON_OPAL!" Another flash of brilliant light radiates out from the magus-- this time, it washes outward in a gentle, reverberating pulse. The monster's emerald beams crash into the brilliant wave... and shatter like so much green glass.

This is the final push. The party's hp is... flagging. How many more attacks can they endure? They'll need to-- they're so very close.

The doctor's staff strikes the crumbling floor. Pale green light, the color of the first sprigs of spring breaking through the pall of winter, floods across the ground. Where it finds members of the raid, it pools and begins to creep upward, filling each one with restorative, regenerating magics. "I've got you," the doctor says to nobody in particular, "Keep it up, everyone!"
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    Lasers! Frickin' Lasers! " What type of samurai uses frickin' lasers!" Setsuna shouts as he does his best avoid them but unfortunately even reactions as quick as a blink in th eye can't beat things that move at the speed of light as it pierces his shoulder moments before he can blink away. Popping up in the back row he grabs his shoulder as he could feel the pain. "Damn him , this is a new shirt." Turning back towards the remaining samurai he is scouting around the field when he sees who he is looking for. With a grin he gives a whistle and then a loud click of his tongue and the skeleton knight gets the message. Hopping from falling stone to stone the knight gets close enough to leap up and bring it's greatsword, wrapped in dark energy, down upon the samurai as hard as it can.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

For a moment, the craftgnome regrets the switch as the light of the Grand Cross lances into her eyes where it reflects off of her shield. She doesn't complain though, and pushes through. They're tearing into the second-to-last of the Boss' bodies, after all - the second Phase, if Mizuki is correct? - and it's not going to last too much longer under their combined might. There's a moment of satisfaction as it, too, falls before them, scattering into light as the Imp lands on the ground.

It only leaves them with one to deal with, and brown eyes study the Caster phase and its glyph, flicking out to try and piece together what the zones are doing - and reaching for the Camelot Interface as the ceiling collapses, before the falling stones halt and /change/ like that. There's an annoyed grunt, but Arianne makes do with what she's got. Weaving through the net of lasers that launches out at the massed players, using her shield to block what she can, nd try to keep the attack against her from affecting others. Like the Paladin beside her.

"... Cover my right a moment? I'll get the left." She requests of the legend she's been fighting beside. "Unless someone else needs you." But Arianne only needs a moment to brace herself, shifting the grip on her spear into a javelin stance. The air howls around it as she imbues it ith MP, and then sends it as a spinning, unerring projectile at the Boss' 'heart'. Or where it would be, if it was actually a man. Then she draws her short-sword again, preparing to continue... if she can close in time, given what everyone else is bringing out.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    They're doing it. They're doing it! Another boss phase is down. Now they just have to fight one... It's been... SO long, since she's had this feeling, of... of winning, of making this kind of progress in the Tower... It's nice! Now they just have to stick the landing...

    There is some RUDE attack starting up though. Mizuki shapes armor from stone, and dashes all around the arena, parkouring at ninja speed! She can't completely avoid the lasers, but the stone armor absorbs some heat and blunts the damage from whenever the lasers start to catch her!

    She doesn't have time for a fancy cast or a Sword Arte pose, though... so instead, she goes for old reliable:

    Mizuki parkours up some furniture, leaps off a wall, and sends herself flying right for the giant's head! "HEY UGLY!" She shouts to get it to look at her right before taking a big breath and then spewing a plume of flame right at its face!
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Taggart haes a surprising amount o' logic in his attack. Tae they that dinnae ken him. A lang 'n' drawn-out battle is far fae his ideal.
Still, his pure massive sword sings a melody in th' air that shan't be forgotten.

To mony th' pure massive sword is a brutal weapon thro' 'n' thro'. Bit tae a true coinsure it shines.

Ankle, shank, groin, due tae th' size thae hae bin th' main hings tae aim fur o' taggart tae end th' battle quickly. A seicont tae swing fae his tankard 'n' then back intae th' fray is a' it steals tae mak' a difference.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Vertina rises not long after her landing, pushing past the Data Drain attempts and cutting beams, slamming into the last remaining Samurai's body! Each strike pushing it back ever so slightly. Followed immediately by Gwen as she lunges for her opponent! Beyond this... beyond this tenth floor. What awaits them there? More bosses? Are there truly 100 floors in this very tower? Would there be a respite ahead of them?

A group of raiders topple the wooden platform which Yuuki uses to jump off of - forcibly collapsing it upon the Giant to slam into its body. After this battle, those rafters would be useless, they no doubt consider. Right now is when they need to do damage, before anyone can get caught amidst those green beams! Yuuki cuts through the boss. Her Absolute blade doesn't 'stick' for a single moment. It cuts, like a scissor's edge through packing paper - at just that 'right' angle.

Kita pushes through trauma, knowing that much more must come after this. And beyond this floor, lies unknown. The tenth floor had stopped the Debauchery Tea Party, it had stopped the Silver Swords. It had stopped so many people before this. And now, she burns this last barrier, the last obstacle to find this unknown space beyond this.

Flame meets flame, as Schneider piles onto Kita's attack, erupting this enemy in that catastrophic miasma of searing magic. Like plasma, it burns through the creature as it cries out in pitiful pain! Searing away its sight. Blinding it as much as the Scale Emblem Alliance is blind to what is to come in their future. Another 90 floors? Is that what their lives must be? A climb that, after one and a half years has culminated in 'only' ten floors of progress?

Gwen and Amalthea continue to dual-tech, tearing apart the Samurai's legs. Tearing off its shins and cutting its feet off, causing the enormous mass begin to fall. Yet even now, it towers above them. It towers above them like a giant. Like this tower. Always looming.

Health spreads across the party however. Prophylaxis joining the many healers that have been dutifully aiding the Scale Emblem Alliance throughout all of that. Working alongside their DPS and Tanks. No matter how much they may grumble about people standing in templates, they fight along for a cause. Healing them, as this victory might heal their morale!

The skeleton knight on Setsuna's part raises its blade, jumping, leaping off of the tanks that aid it down on the ground - joining Taggart in his jump. A beam of pulsing purple light cascades down, carving across the Giant, joined immediately by the bright pale of Taggart's blade. Cutting it ever so shorter. Shorting the distance they still have to travel. Cutting shorter the hours, the days, the years they are trapped in here. Cutting apart the distance that lies between them, and their family, their loved ones... together.

Heathcliff nods to Arianna, as even those of the New World Alliance recognize the Scale Emblem's Plight to see their people. And like this attempt itself, Arianna's spear gets to the Heart of it all! For it is heart that keeps the Scale Emblem Alliance going. So many might declare them to have malice. But it is their strong hearts, their duty, their desires that push them forward. So many hands on their shoulders and backs, as attacks tear across the Samurai's body!

Kuroyukihime jumps up along with Mizuki, tearing her blades across its mask, shattering its mouth and revealing the massive open fleshy hole behind it. And Mizuki blows flames into its gullet. Burning light floods down its throat, fueling its chest with the flames of victory. Filling its lungs with the same kind of light as glows amidst the Alliance, as its health finally drops.

That same flame that Mizuki brings to this battle springs up within the lungs of everyone around them, and then erupts in a roar as the Samurai's body is torn apart... and SHATTERS!

A roar of victory. A roar of overwhelming relief, and victory. A warcry of elation, as the entire raid party around them gets louder and louder. It isn't such simple thing as just a 'we did it', or 'finally', or 'wooo'. No, it's just a roar. A roar from the bottom of all of their hearts. A roar of victory that resonates throughout all of them...

As the Tenth Floor Boss lies defeated! And the light within the crystals around them becomes ever so slightly brighter. A rumbling sound coming from above them, as a pillar literally begins to lower itself towards them. Another series of stairs. Another set of steps towards the goal.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    Setsuna watches the collapse the moment the boss shatters as he tries to catch his breath. Even yawning a little , " Ok so thats done. Party back on the first floor, a soon as we get down here. " Looking around for a moment he notices the stairs and laughs, " Look like there is at least one more floor up there and I think this popped the bubble on the whole twilight key theory that was floating around." Standing a little shakey he makes his ways to the stairs to go up.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

As the boss shatters, finally defeated after long months, there is a feeling of absolute relief that washes over Kita. For many, there was a belief that the tenth floor could never be beaten. That there was no way to truly progress to the top of Aincrad. Now, that has been disproven.

Kita lowers her spellbook, her other arm going slack at her side as she joins in the revelry with some of the others. She isn't quite as loud or enthusastic about it, but the Imp seems thankful things did not go badly. Here and there, she can be heard murmuring into her Chimlink, likely speaking to Jurou or to Xander or other friends who were not in attendance.

As she is one of those that lacks any sort of healing abilities, she can't really help in the aftermath. Still her hand clutches at her wounded arm, a pain that will likely linger until she has some healing, herself. Something she is likely to decline until more serious wounds are dealt with.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

The wash from the Doctor's healing magic helps, though Vertina still feels tired and sore after all that. It's not enough to keep her from raising fists to the air and joining in the cheers though. Then she grabs Mizuki into a big bearhug. "We did it Mizukichi! We beat the 10th floor finally!" She lets go of her friend and continues with the cheering. "First round of victory drinks is on the house! I've got a new batch of experimental mixes waiting back at the tavern!"

In her current state of mind that might be almost as dangerous as the Boss was....
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    Yuuki hits the ground in a roll, before jumping up to skid to a stop just as the final boss explodes into pixels of light. There's a brief moment of surprise in the imp's face... She then starts jumping up and down in joy, "Woooo! Take that you damn dirty cheater boss! Hahahaha, you should have never underestimated our power or determination! Sucker! Yeah! You like that!? Let's see you duplicate yourself from nothing!"

    After some very energetic cheering, Yuuki proceeds to recover her sword. Patting it affectionately as thanks for its hard work today, before sheathing it. Yuuki then starts running for the stairs up, "Last one there's buying dinner!"
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Taggart grabs a swig fae his tankard. "woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!." and proceeds to drink and drink and drink some more. With a one, two & three he his running forward and not stopping.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    As the colossus falls Amalthea drops back to the ground, landing on a knee with a grunt, before. Slowly working to catch her breath, she sheathes her blade and stands herself up and dusts herself off.
    "Ah geeze... That's starting to take it out of me." She mutters, before turning to look at the others, celebrating in their victory.
    It brings a soft smile to her face as she wipes her brow and heaves a soft sigh.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Finally, /finally/ the boss shatters into so many shards of light. Prophylaxis can hardly even believe it-- can hardly even believe they /managed/ it. A year and a half, and ten floors are clear... At this pace, they'd be done in fifteen years.

Fifteen years... God, how many of them will even last that long...?

As the others rush up the stairs, Prophylaxis simply falls onto his back, exhaustion settling through his bones as the rush of battle and the anxiety of its approach fades away into warm, exhausted relief. "...Another floor, huh? Another wave comes. But for now... it's our victory, isn't it...?"

But first, there are people who will need heals, and Prophylaxis is able to provide ample amounts of that. It's time to heal, to rest for a time, and-- for the doctor...

Perhaps it is time to face the wave that will surely come their way.
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

Schneider shouts, exultant in victory. This was hard fought, the more so for the earlier failed attempt, but that just makes the victory now that much sweeter. He's full of energy now, pumping his fist in the air and dancing a bit of a happydance, before he settles back. His health is down a fair amount, but it's already starting to creep back up,

He almost steps on Proph as he cavorts around, stepping over him in a sort of hop. "Oh hey!" he says cheerfully. "We did this. I wasn't sure, because you played it so close to the chest, but I can't argue with results."
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

    Mizuki lands on the giant as its last sliver of HP disappears, and then it SHATTERS UNDER HER.

    Her eyes go wide, but she still manages to effortlessly stick the landing, body language calm as her scarf trails behind her and slowly falls back to the ground.

    And then after a few seconds she can't contain her excitement and breaks out into a grin. THE TENTH FLOOR BOSS IS DEFEATED! And SHE DEALT THE KILLING BLOW! Her tail lifts with the tip occasionally twitching, like a happy cat's.

    She clenches her fists in front of her. "We did it! THE TENTH FLOOR BOSS IS DOWN! WE DID IT! The invincible tenth floor boss...!" Everyone around her is getting enthusiastic hugs of joy! Especially Vertina! "Yeah! We did it! Oh come on, don't you want to see the 11th floor?" She's got to go up and at least *look*, right? Also, Yuuki started a race!

    It's been so long since the last time she was running up the stairs to a new tower floor. Back then...

    Back then...

    Back then, Sam was doing this because... well, it's just what you HAVE to do when you're trapped in a videogame, right? Try to escape? He didn't really... he didn't *seriously* consider alternative possibilities, although he was fine with others deciding to stay.

    ...In retrospect, how much of Sam's life outside was just done because he thought he had to? Go to school, get a degree, get a job, get a girlfriend, go to work, clock your hours, get paid, spend as much time as possible online and in games, or books, or anime, immersing his brain in fantasy worlds.

    What... did... he actually want?

    Did he actually *want* anything, other than praise from his parents and peers, and to be a useful part of the Black Cloud, and of the Well-Tuned Murder Engine?

    But now... as Mizuki runs up the stairs to the 11th floor, bounding from stair to stair on all fours as she tries to get ahead of Yuuki...

    She wants to find out who she really is. She wants to find a place in this wondrous world. To make friends. To try new things. To be a badass ninja.

    She wants to stay here, and for everyone else who would be happier doing so to do the same. But she ALSO wants those who would be happier at home to have a way to leave.

    That's... That's something she can do. She took a great step towards it today.

    Hang in there, everyone who is suffering here... I'll fight for you to be free to go to a better life, just like I got the chance to in here...!
Aincrad Tower: Thousand Snake Castle

There's a shake of Arianne's head, as the Samurai finally gives way before them. Dissolving into light, giving up the spoils... And she sheathes her sword, straightening up to stand as tall as a gnome can. Her shield is stowed a moment later, as the cheering rings out and the pillar lowers to allow them to climb ever higher. She watches the stairs a moment, watches the mad rush to the 11th floor - and waits patiently for it to die down.

"I wonder what crafts this floor is going to require to tackle?" She muses, clasping her hands behind herself as she looks skyward, as if to see it from here. But then she starts a more casual stroll, heading onward to see what the future has in store for the next leg of their journey upward. Her mind already puzzling things over, as the cyhatter and hope build higher and higher.

She does giev Heathcliff another firm nod, though, as she goes.