By the hands of the Gods, you have been plucked from your time and from your world, dropped into the box.
Only the box is a world of its own.
We are a mass crossover based on the concept of Pandora's Box. Characters from nearly any fandom can be played here. Because of the endless character possibilities, we are canon only here at Pandora. Take a peek at our rules and plot information before starting your new life in Pandora.
Admittedly, the thought doesn't quite strike him until that very moment, until the very moment he recognizes movement where the blonde stands. His crimson eyes watch with shock and apprehension as the child reveals himself to be something other than child. He was taller now, clearly older, but then, age truly did mean nothing, and--
And there is no time. There is no time to think on what has just occurred. Faster than he can comprehend, a blade swipes at him and Diluc can feel the tell-tale sting of steel biting deep into the flesh of his cheek. Letting out a sound of pained surprise, he snarls at him, his body making to move, to strike back, to do something to satiate the anger that he can feel swiftly bubbling up from within, but cold steel pressing against his throat halts him. He stands there, still as a statue were it not for the fact that his legs were still struggling to keep him upright against that damned spell and against the damned tenderness of his bad leg. Even as the blind, as the blonde adult, prattles on, Diluc's eyes slide toward where he can see his claymore on the ground. Easy would it have been to summon it into his hand once more, but even without the aid of his opponent's speed, he would be too slow.
In an instant, his throat would be slit and everything he has ever done in his life would be for nothing.
No. He needs to survive this. And so, he keeps still, his jaw clenched tight in all of his stubbornness, and yet that stubbornness wears away in the face of his life flashing before his eyes. "... From all that I've gathered," he finally begins, a bitterness there in his tone, and yet a defiant gaze remains fixed upon Mithos. "It is a tool gifted by a cold and ruthless Archon. A tool created for destruction, be it that of the world or that of the wielder themselves. I suppose it doesn't always play favorites." The darkest part of Diluc hopes in that moment that the Delusion might consume him then and there.
"The barbed chains you witnessed are the main event, the man who once wielded them long since dead. But if you'd like to see it wielded properly, then perhaps his son would suffice." He nearly spits those words, as though to make it clear that his intention here is by no means to assist.
Solas watched on impassively as the stranger struggled against his magic, the energy in his hand almost humming in response to the new adversity. This spell was not an indefinite one – Solas had stretched it longer than its normal usefulness just to prove a point. And that point was, apparently, not received.
“One hundred years is no time at all,” he said blankly, unfazed. “But you mistake me. I am not special. I’ve simply accomplished the impossible before, and so I know it can be done.” The small mindedness of mortals did not come as a surprise, but it was still disappointing.
Solas was allowed no time for contemplation before Mithos moved, his destination celebrated with a flash of crimson that seemed almost at home against their target’s choice of color palette. With the stranger held at the point of Mithos’s blade, Solas allowed his spell to dissipate – he couldn’t have the man impale his own throat upon the sword if his strength were to give out. Finally it seemed they were getting somewhere, though the spilling of secrets tied to the spilling of blood only served as damning evidence that a more violent approach would yield results.
The elf took a few careful steps forward, still leaning on his staff. “Perhaps it is useful to us then,” he mused. “To wield such power could yet shake the foundations of this world.” He gaze flashed to Mithos, curious what his companion thought. The chains had been powerful, certainly, but they hadn’t quite seemed world-changing.
Addressing the stranger again in full, Solas idly wove a small distortion around his staff as if to test the very fabric of the world. “That was hardly an offer of help. Were we to need a demonstration, I’m certain I could find all that was needed within your mind. But I hardly believe that is necessary now,” he spoke in an even tone, his grey eyes piercing. “Certainly you can say more on how to wield it.”
The ease on his limbs as Solas' spell falls away entirely would surely be more welcome were it not for the blade at his throat, threatening to end his life right then and there. It would have been so easy for them to succeed to, and there is little more he hates in that moment than that silent admission. He has placed himself in this position, and while he's aware that in his rage and his rashness, he has approached this in entirely the wrong manner, he can't guarantee that any alternative would have found himself in a more comfortable position. They were formidable opponents and Diluc--
Barbatos help him, Diluc hasn't even been given an opening to attempt to oppose them.
"Perhaps it is useful to us then," he hears, and the narrow of Diluc's eyes as well as the twist of his lips as he scowls paints a very clear picture as to how he feels about that. There is no bargain to be had, there is no hope that he can say anything that he trusts will land the Delusion safely in his hands. They could deem it useless and keep the damned thing out of sheer spite for his actions if they so desired. There in the forefront of his mind, the Vision wielder thought he may really have wanted to put an end to this and kill them. Right then and there, if only he had the chance.
Dragging a hate-filled gaze back toward Solas, he can't help his defiance as he spits, whether he is close enough to catch it on his face or far enough to simply watch the display of unadulterated disrespect. "I have nothing more to say to you."
There it was. An answer. This human was an untrained dog—snapping, barking, growling—and a dog needed discipline before it knew how to properly act. That was why Solas’ attempt at diplomacy failed. You couldn’t negotiate with a dog. Especially not a human. A little pain, a little blood, that was how you trained them and, if they acted according to your wishes, rewarded them.
Unfortunately, however, the bleeding man decided to follow up his good behavior with further barking and proof he was too wild to tame.
Well, he’d been somewhat useful and answered Mithos’s question, at least, so Mithos wouldn’t kill him. Besides, he still had a use—as Solas had pointed out. But he did need to learn respect.
Expression unchanging as the man spat at Solas, Mithos lowered his sword.
And thrust it down through the man’s uninjured foot. The blade, with the help of his mana, met little resistance as it pierced shoe, bone, then ground, pinning the foot in place as surely a nail to wood. This way, both legs were injured in some way. There was some thrill to the act as he felt some of his frustration channel through the force of the movement, but it was short-lived.
He backed away and held the glove up to inspect it again, frowning, thoughtful. Whatever corrupting influence that the man kept mentioning must have been what caused his Cruxis Crystal to react--but if they could get them to react positively, perhaps they could get unexpectedly helpful results. ”What he said was enough,” he said mostly to Solas as the human was no longer worth their time. ”I don’t know what barbed chains will do to help us, though. That’s where you can investigate further with your other abilities.”Something we should have done in the beginning without all this trouble, was left unsaid.
The sword is lowered, and Diluc sees that as a split second of hope. An opening, just the millisecond he needs to launch himself forward, to activate his vision, to somehow get his hands on what he had come here for so it isn't entirely a lost cause. There's no time to prepare, and yet he can already feel the power of his pyro vision lingering there at his fingertips, begging to come out.
And then he feels it, the sudden, hot burst of searing pain as Mithos' blade is driven into his foot, through leather, through flesh, and he swears he can feel it grinding through bone as he freezes, a scream ripping from his throat somewhere between raw pain and unadulterated rage. Whether it's his strength as a warrior or his sheer stubbornness, Diluc is able to stay upright a split second longer until he feels his legs giving out beneath him, dropping and dropping and dropping until his knee smashes into ground, the other--
The other can't. His foot is stuck to the damn ground, pinned into place, and the smallest movement, the smallest shift, the smallest anything can't be ignored, can't be pushed through. Diluc's cries don't quiet yet and he can feel the corners of his eyes stinging from the sheer pain, one hand trembling near the blade itself as though a part of him was so inclined to tear it out himself.
They chat over him despite his cries, which he struggles to swallow alongside the sheer agony, and yet it doesn't stop him from trying as he jaw clenches shut, the sounds of his pain muffling to something lower, something predictably animalistic. He can't quiet enough to breathe. No amount of effort will get him through this if he can't remember how to breathe.
It was only when the man spit at Solas that the elf accepted negotiations had truly broken down.
Solas wiped a drop of spittle from the hand that held his staff, his expression betraying his sheer surprise before it turned back to unyielding stone. In another time, another life, he might have felt pity. When Solas looked at the delusion’s owner, he knew that same brand of helplessness all too well. That defiance and rage had been close companions in the days of his youth, when he’d sought war against would-be gods in the height of their power.
There was little room for pity here. If killing this man right here and now would have gotten him closer to returning to Thedas, then he would not have hesitated for a single moment. As it was, information was far more valuable than blood.
Which was, evidently, not what Mithos had gathered from their exchange. He grit his teeth as the man screamed, turning to his companion with a pointed frown. “That was hardly enough,” he insisted. “It’s true that I can likely extract what information we need, but it’s a delicate task. I need him dreaming, not writhing in agony.” This just added another barrier to accessing the truth about the delusion. Dreams might would numb the pain, but the subject’s mind would still be addled, the information difficult to extract. Difficult, but still doable. Perhaps Solas would mimic this scenario, let the man think he had access to the object of his obsession and observe what he’d do. Perhaps he could allow memory to paint the dream world, filling it with whatever sentiment he had for that father he spoke of...
Solas put a hand to his temple. “The chains are likely just the visual manifestation of the power. With practice, I’m certain we could shape the magic to a more useful form.”
Head pounding, ears ringing, the sounds of their voices are muffled to his ears as Diluc attempts to reign himself in. His screams die down, but his breaths are no less laborious as he tries to remember how that particular function even works between the panic and the sheer rage.
This isn't it. This isn't how he dies. This isn't how he's meant to go, and yet as the sounds around him slowly return to the surface, his ears cherry pick the worst of it.
Investigate further. Other abilities. Dreaming. Shape the magic.
As he remains there on the ground, unmoving were it not for the fact that he can't stop trembling, Diluc realizes that there is little he can say to steer the situation toward a more beneficial avenue. Whether it's pain, the shock, or some mixture of both, he can see his hope being stolen away and he can see his life flashing before his eyes. After all, it wasn't as though the one with the staff had any damned control over his partner. Had he the chance to face him alone, one on one, would circumstances have turned out differently? Diluc doesn't know. All he knows is that if this continues, if he doesn't find some way to act, if he doesn't do something, he'll lose everything. His father's memory. His life.
And so, he moves. It feels desperate, instinctive, and his jaw is clenched tight, teeth bared for the world to see as he tore forward. The pain is agonizing, his foot still pinned to the ground, but Diluc channels his pain and his urge to scream into his rage as he manages just enough of a reach to grasp for the blonde's wrist. His hand closes tight around it and the pyro Vision at his waist comes alive, the heat in that hand suddenly rising to malignant and oppressive heights, threatening to eat through cloth and flesh alike. His other hand joins the first, fingers grasping roughly this time for the glove itself, sights set on the Delusion and nothing else.
Out of the corner of his eye, Mithos saw Solas rub his forehead, and he resisted the urge to turn and snap at him. How could he be exasperated right now? For all Solas’s attempts at ridiculous diplomacy in a situation where it obviously wouldn’t work, Mithos was the one who had managed to get results through threats—it was how these situations worked, and if Solas hadn't stepped in again to get spat at, Mithos might have managed more. His injuring of the human had simply been damage control for Solas’s failure.
He hated how he felt bothered by Solas's disappointment. Disappointment despite how hard Mithos tried, and proved himself. Disappointment in him, as if this were his fault and the human would have spilled all his secrets if only he’d waited and let him spit on them more. Both of them could see that wasn’t working.
This infuriating elf just had to have the high ground.
Well, Mithos was no child to be lectured. He wasn’t going to let that get under his skin. He was an adult, as demonstrated by his older form. Thousands of years old. Lord Yggdrasill, leader of Cruxis. Lord Yggdrasill didn’t care what an elf thought about him.
”This is a world of magic,” he said, shoving all these thoughts and feelings to the side as he lowered his hand. ”That wound is easy enough to heal, and getting him to sleep will be just as—!“
Heat enveloped his wrist in a white-hot grip, flesh searing and screaming. He made to jerk his arm away in shock, and looked down to the see the human latched onto him, the other hand reaching for…
No. No! The fool—
The instant the human’s burning magic touched the delusion, the world became a mass of confusion and pain. Mithos’s Crystal burst against his skin. What looked like barbed chains of flame erupted from the glove in response, some punching through Mithos’s body as easily as through wet paper, others shooting in all other directions. He yelled in shock. What followed was a concussive force so powerful, it launched him back several yards, chains yanked from his body, spine skidding across dirt, rocks, hills.
A massive phoenix formed overhead, wings outstretched to encompass the entire sky. It screamed its displeasure, his own cries burned to cinders and unheard.
Had he died? But, no. If he'd died, his soul would transfer to his Crystal.
Had he known what would happen, would Diluc have made the same decision? Had he realized in that moment as he reached out and latched onto him what the enemy had realized, would he still have held on with such fire and such determination?
Yes. Yes, he supposed he would. Nothing about what was to come would play out in his favor if he didn't do anything. With a blade in his foot, with words about healing, putting him to sleep, shaping the Delusion being tossed about, the feeling that he was very quickly running out of options, that death may not even be on the table for them anymore, left him feeling raw, angry, and desperate. They would not make fools of him. They would not make a mockery of his father's memory.
Whatever it takes.
And yet, he hadn't expected 'whatever it takes' to lead to a massive chain reaction as the Delusion came to life, his Vision came to life, and whatever the hell it was the blonde had going on burst into action, a violently concussive force erupting. The sound of the blonde shouting would have been an immense satisfaction to Diluc's ears had he not felt the effects of the explosion as well, the familiar barbed chains of the Delusion tearing into his sleeve and biting deep into his skin. Before he could properly react, that sheer destructive energy was shooting his body backward far as could be, going still the moment it could for there was no energy left in him that could hope to pick him back up off of the ground again. He was singed, bloodied, and too exhausted to consider the fact that the blade previously driven into his foot hadn't torn the appendage in half entirely.
But they were still there. Even as the massive phoenix overhead died away, ash and cinder raining over the enormous space in the explosion's aftermath, Diluc clenches his jaw tight, his body shaking as he tries to push up off of the ground. They're still there somewhere and if the blast hasn't killed them, if they have hopes of getting back to their feet, then Diluc ...
... then Diluc is a dead man.
Everything in him is screaming to stop, to breathe, to lay back down, to close his eyes, to rest, but he knows better. He knows better to feed himself to the sharks, and as he looks up, as he sees the tell-tale glint of glass in the dirt, he feels the hope that had begun to previously burn away rise anew. It was the Delusion. Right there in his sights, the glove itself tattered to shreds and yet the orb itself remained. Cut, bruised, bloody, and singed, Diluc can't bring himself to stand, so he crawls, he drags himself with all of the might that he has left, fingers clawing at dirt and rock. It hurts, but he won't stop, and a part of him wonders whether or not his father would have been proud of his unquestionable drive in that moment. He can't think about the alternative, the disappointment for how fervently he clings to the past.
Somewhere far to his left in the distance, he thinks he spots a head of blonde hair in the rubble. Unmoving. His heart pounds all the quicker, but he continues and continues and continues until the orb is close and he can smash his hand over it, grasping it with everything that he has. The slick of its familiar smooth surface has Diluc exhaling and slumping against the ground, as though his mission is complete, as though he can afford those couple of seconds.
He knows he can't, but just a moment. Just one moment to breathe.
Dreams were, of course, delicate things, never more so when one wished to craft a dream for a specific purpose. Solas meant to tell that to Mithos, too, once his partner had settled. For the delusion’s owner, Solas thought that the crafting would take time. Persuasion and magic would have to go hand in hand, and perhaps he could even secure the assistance of a few spirits, ones who enjoyed secrets-
The explosion happened all at once. Mithos’s sudden shift in tone alerted him that something was wrong and, having already been caught up in the volatility of the delusion magic just one too many times, the barrier was a reflex. It wasn’t enough.
The magic had provided meager resistance to the inferno that burst from… somewhere. Solas didn’t even get a chance to see the magic’s origin before he found himself once again airborne, then once again in a heap on the hard earth. The elf could still feel the heat of the reaction as he waited for his vision to once again come into focus. Someone, something, was screaming.
He rose, slow, aware that the smell of burnt cloth and charred flesh was, in fact, from him. The outburst of chains had deflected off of his own magic, but that hadn’t entirely stopped them from searing him. It had felt almost akin to the burn of dragon fire, a familiar heat. But that just meant this damage was surmountable.
Though his left arm, half of his chest, and part of his face were alight with pain, his expression held no emotion as he surveyed the damage. The red-haired man, in as messy a heap as he was, was not difficult to spot. Solas watched him crawl, impassive. It was almost respectable, that he’d decided to chew his own leg to escape the trap. Almost.
Mithos was more difficult to spot, his shock of gold hair now covered in a layer of ash. Solas gave the stranger a long look. An unspoken oath, that whatever this was would not be over. Not yet. And then he turned away. Without his staff, he stride was sure and swift and painful with every step. But as he walked, a green energy gathered at each footfall, a mist that danced and reached up to caress his burns and ease their burden. Ice sprouted from his wounds, a grotesque armor that was not aided by the heat of the air. By the time he reached Mithos, the spirit energy had begun to gather around his hands. He spread his arms wide and the rubble around his companion lost its gravity.
He was alive. That much Solas could tell from the shallow rise and fall of his chest. But he was wounded, perhaps beyond what Solas’s meager skills could muster here. As he kneeled, he commanded the energy to blanket Mithos nonetheless, something that might restore him to a state where he could move.
Mithos Yggdrasill was dead, he told himself. He was dead. He’d felt his Cruxis Crystal, the object that kept him alive for thousands of years, shatter against his breast. He’d felt more than seen the sharp fire and blistered metal pierce his chest and arms and torso and everywhere. He’d become fire for all of ten seconds as he’d flown through the air and shattered ribs and splintered spine and he was dead.
He was dead, but he remembered. Martel’s smile that made hope bloom, Kratos fingers in his hair with a pat on the head well done, Genis’ warm hand in his. He remembered Kratos leaving. Yuan betraying. A flame-haired human reaching…
Mithos blinked to see Solas kneeling over him. He couldn’t remember falling unconscious, but he wished he would again to avoid the pain. He felt every ache, every crack, while all else around them was dulled. His ears rang from the explosion and he coughed to clear them, then regretted even that small movement.
When was the last time he’d felt physical agony like this?
Fright knotted in Mithos’s throat. Words burst out of him. ”Don’t leave me!” They were dry and coarse, painful, but in that very moment, nothing else mattered except that Solas didn’t leave him behind. Not to die. Not alone. He was useless without his Crystal, he was dying, and he’d ruined their chance with the Delusion—Solas had no reason to stay, which made it all the more terrifying and why nothing else mattered.
He wouldn’t say he was sorry, but he scrabbled for his sword—whether to prove he could still fight or to have something to hold, he couldn’t tell—only to remember he’d left it back with the human. By now it would have dissipated. Gripping his head, he moaned and forced the world to stop spinning and the ringing to stop. ”Don’t leave me behind…”
With every small movement a source of agony, Diluc wants to stop. There's nothing he wants more than to rest and it's especially true the moment the delusion is there in his grasp, his fingers tight as they could manage around it even in this terrible state of his. He supposed there was nobody to truly blame aside from himself, the lengths that he had gone, the desperation. No. His opponents were just as much to blame. To balk his every effort, to underestimate him, to treat his late father's delusion as though it were a toy.
But now. Now he was too tired to feel angry, even as he picked his head back up, even as he met the gaze of the bald one across the way.
His silence spoke volumes. This would not be the end.
And yet, it had to be. If his companion was not dead, then he was gravely injured and Diluc -- Diluc couldn't go on. He eventually finds it in himself to shove his body up on an elbow, reaching into his torn jacket and fumbling with the small device he had brought for this exact purpose. Its activation has a small portal materializing at his side and with the very last of the energies he had left, Diluc drags himself through it, clutching to his delusion the whole way. It feels like an eternity before he's through and the portal closes behind him, an eerie quiet settling over the destruction left in his wake.
Hey broskis. Sorry I've been borderline AWOL for the better part of a year. Things have been a little meh and I feel like I'm stretched so damn thin right now. I wanna come back and write with you guys again, but idk when that's gonna be. Hope you're all doing well. <3