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Mission 4: Against All Odds was released on June 1, 2014, the first mission to be released on time since Mission 1. It takes place in the country of Voluntas, based on Ancient Rome, and features King Alaric and his subjects trying to pass the Trial of Willpower. It is a two-part mission, with the second part being released on August 1, 2014. The mission came to a close October 1st, at 11:59pm EST.

To view the official journal for Part 1, go here: http://fav.me/d7kjrpp
To view the official journal for part 2, go here: http://fav.me/d7t6177
To view the official journal for the ending go here: http://fav.me/d81008z

The Cutscene, Part 1Edit

Ceasar of Voluntas

Opening scene: Alaric enters the throne room with Pausanius.

Pausanius Happy: Your people did well in Sazanami.

Alaric Disappointed: *Sighs* Yes, but it does not relieve my fears that this place is not the safe haven I had hoped it was.

Pausanius Solemn: … No… it is not.

Alaric Disappointed:…

Pausanius Icon: Sadly, I cannot let you rest either.

Alaric Talking: More trouble? Can you not handle it?

Pausanius Icon: No, for this test is for you and your people alone.

Alaric Annoyed: Another test? How many of these stupid tests must my people go through before we can have peace?

Pythia appears as if out of nowhere.

Pythia Icon: To prove his worth, this serpent king And his chosen kingdom of light, Must face hardship and trials three So that all can be right.

Alaric Icon: Three? Ah… you did mention that before Sazanami...

Pausanius Icon: Yes, the Trial of Wisdom you took was only the first of a set of challenges created for the chosen nation.

Alaric Talking: ...Very well… So what is this next challenge then?

Pythia Icon:

 Next, the racing of willpower;
A tourney to confirm their worth.
Only the firm can stay the course
 And give this world new birth.

Alaric Confused: Willpower?

Pausanius Icon: You must go to the realm of Azelf, the spirit of willpower; The conquering nation of Voluntas. There their… ruler… will give you his challenge.

Alaric Icon: You don’t seem too kind on this nation.

Pausanius Annoyed: They are not allies of ours, we find them to be too… manipulative and headstrong to work with. When you go, it may be best to not mention I sent you.

Alaric Talking: Noted. We will approach them with an independant gesture of friendship then and request the opportunity to take this… test.

Pausanius Annoyed: Very well, but be warned. Voluntas’ king is no easy man to befriend. He will have tests of his own before allowing you to take Azelf’s.

Alaric Determined: We will be ready.

In the great hall of Aetius’ palace. A shiny pidgeot perches atop a marble throne, glaring down at King Alaric.

Aetius Suspicious: You are unknown to me, serpent king, yet you come here asking for my friendship. What have you to gain of such an alliance? And more importantly, what have I?

Alaric Talking: King…

Aetius Suspicious: Here my title is Ceasar, foreign one.

Alaric Icon: Ceasar Aetius, we have come seeking an alliance with your kingdom. Our people come from many places and their knowledge may prove useful to you. As for ourselves, I have heard of an ancient prophecy and it is believed that my people and I are the saviors mentioned within its verses. We have come to take the Test of Willpower to see if this holds true.

Aetius’ feathers ruffle with annoyance and shock as he moves from the back of the chair to his normal position within it. There is an uneasy look on his face.

Aetius Suspicious: The Test of Willpower is not for strangers. Its path is sacred and difficult. But if you are who you say you are, and I am not convinced this is true, then you should have... little to fear. Where did you hear of this… prophecy?

Alaric Confused: Whispers and rumors, Ceasar.

Aetius Suspicious: And who sent you believing you to be the serpent king of legend?

Alaric Confused: …The... ancient spirits of the land on which we settled knew of this and spoke to us.

Aetius Smirk: ...Spirits…? …Well, it is hard to argue with the dead! *smirks*

Aetius pauses and studies Alaric, clearly weighing his options. Finally he seems to settle on a decision and his feature’s become more pleasant.

Aetius Triumphant: You shall not take the test, not yet at least. I shall simply test you myself to see if you are worthy to even try. Guards!

Two centurions enter the room and salute.

Aetius Icon: Take those of this king’s people who wish to try the Trial of Willpower and outfit them for the games. The circus and coliseum will have lively shows tonight!

The guards salute again and leave.

Alaric Icon: Circus and coliseum?

Aetius Icon: Yes, buildings which house our customary shows of strength and endurance. One a deadly race, the other a fight for your life. Your people will compete in both. If they do well, I will consider putting them in the Test.

Alaric Serious: … Very well…but these tests sound rather dangerous... I must have your word that none will die.

Aetius Icon: *shrugs* That is none of my concern, but if I can help it, I will spare them. Not for you of course, but simply because I am a gracious ruler.

Alaric Serious: …

Aetius Triumphant: Let the games begin!!

The Journal Text, Part 1Edit

Alaric Annoyed: It seems we are to take the second of what appears to be a trilogy of tests. Those of my kingdom who have been here a while may remember the trial of Wisdom and the dangers it held. This trial of Willpower sounds like it will be even more dangerous. However, despite the danger, I will not withhold this mission from anyone. If any member wishes to represent our nation, please accompany me to Voluntas.

I will warn you. It seems King Aetius means to give us two tests of his own before allowing us to take the trial. His men are at the ready to prepare you for both. First, he has ordered we take place in a race called a “circus”. This is no ordinary foot race. Instead, you will be given a partner by the stable master, some four footed resident of the nation, who will pull a chariot for you. These chariots are dangerous and if you fall from one during the race you could easily be trampled or injured by the fall itself.

The second test is even more disturbing. It is a fight to the finish which Aetius has referred to as a “gladiatorial match”. These matches seem to have a lot of… casualties… but Aetius has assured me that death isn’t necessary. Apparently gladiators are worth too much to kill at every loss. I have made a deal with Aetius and he has agreed that even if you lose, you will not die. He stipulated that you must put on a good show though… The keeper of the Coliseum will outfit you with any gladiatorial weapons or armor you may need. I have been briefed on the different fighters you may face so feel free to ask me for suggestions of weapons and armor.

Please be safe… Hopefully if we prove our willpower in these games, Aetius will allow us to take his test and we can hopefully get one step closer to finding peace.

--Alaric

OBJECTIVES:

-Travel with Alaric to Voluntas

-Participate in the Circus: This is a race of endurance as well as speed! Races last seven laps and there could be up to 12 racers going against you, perhaps even other Aetherians. You need not win, simply survive and finish, but even this is difficult. Chariots are hard to balance on and if you fall, the other 11 riders may not hesitate to simply run you over. Also, keep in mind your chariot is probably moving at at least 30 mph. Any fall will leave you scuffed and possibly with a broken bone or worse. Other charioteers will also try to ram you, and sometimes riders will have partners who have spears and staffs to poke at other riders or the pokemon pulling the chariots. Make sure the pokemon you choose as your partner has four legs and is big enough to pull you and a heavy chariot. Beyond this rule, no pokemon restrictions apply for your racing partner. It could even be another Aetherian if you wanted to!

-Participate in the Gladiatorial Games: This is a show more than a fight. Unlike what most of you may think, the gladiatorial games were mostly just wrestling with pointy objects. (aka. staged violence) Gladiators were often slaves who people had put a lot of money into and thus killing them would be a waste. Some gladiators were even free men who volunteered to fight! However, if a gladiator lost too often, or refused to put on a good show, they would be given the thumbs up to be killed. (confusing I know) Aetius will give any losers a thumbs down thanks to Alaric, so if you want to lose, feel free. Just make sure you give Aetius a fight to remember! Also, your opponent can be another member of PoA if you would like to collaborate. This means one of you HAS to lose so make sure your fight is a good one! Finally, keep in mind there are about twenty different types of gladiator, all with different weapon and armor styles. You can choose to follow a gladiator pattern, or make up your own combination, for both you and your foe. Also, since we are pokemon, feel free to incorporate your moves into the fight!

-Wait for word from Aetius on how you did.

NOTES:

-This is Part 1 of Mission 4. Wait until Part 2 to see what Aetius says next…


The Cutscene, Part 2Edit

The Cursed Test

Alaric stands in the middle of the coliseum having finished his fight the victor. Breathing heavily, and significantly bruised, he faces an annoyed Aetius.

Alaric Determined: There! We have faced your challenges! Now give us the trial!

Aetius Dark: ...

Alaric Annoyed: Well?

Aetius Dark: It is not so simple…

Alaric Angry: How is it not?! We have played your games! And is not your trial just like Artiphron’s? Anyone may take it, prepared or not!

Aetius’ annoyance turns to fury.

Aetius Enraged: Artiphron?! So that is your source?! I should have known! Very well! You will face the trial! But you shall never escape it!

Alaric Serious: We will see!

Aetius Enraged: No! We shall not! For what your precious Artiphronian allies don’t know, in all their infinite wisdom, is that the trial of Willpower is possessed! None can take it and survive!

Alaric Shocked: What?!

Aetius Enraged: Indeed! The trial has served as the Caesar’s personal prison for the damned for years, and you and your people have won spots within it! Guards!

Centurions swarm the coliseum, grabbing any and all Aetherian members. All of them are escorted to a gate in front of a dense forest. An ominous fog rolls within the limbs of the trees. Aetius hovers in front of them, whipping up an angry gale.

Aetius Suspicious: You can try to escape if you wish, but the trial is tainted. No one has been able to complete it in years! Besides the tricks and traps, there is a… force. Some… thing that steals your soul. So onward, Artiphron’s friends! And good luck, serpent king!

The guards shove Alaric and his people through the gate, which is promptly shut behind them. Suddenly, there is no way back, only a path that leads onward. An ominous pressure pushes at the Aetherians from behind, and lurks within the path ahead.

Alaric Serious: …Fear not, citizens. We will prove this tyrant wrong. Whatever this evil spirit is, we will not let it get us. Look out for traps, stay with a buddy if you must, but keep moving forward. If we continue to move down the path, and not give up hope, our will to survive will see us through.


The Journal TextEdit

Alaric Disappointed: … It seems those games were a front. Aetius was simply trying to hide the fact that his test has been tainted by an evil spirit. Whether he was trying to save us from the trial or not cannot be determined… Either way, he has become angry by our efforts in his games and seeks our doom. We will not give him the satisfaction. This test is of willpower. We will show Aetius that our will is more powerful than his vengeance! Aetius mentioned tricks as well as traps. Be careful when proceeding. Also, never stop moving. This soul eating… thing… cannot destroy us if it cannot catch us. It seems like the path is only one way, so hopefully, if we move swiftly, we will reach the end before anything reaches us...

OBJECTIVES:

Make it through the Trial of Willpower.

This trial, like the Trial of Wisdom, is full of tricks and traps to test you. However, these are here to test your will to continue. Invisible floors, false routes, more pleasant routes, walls of fire, and other such obstacles will try to stop you from continuing forward. However, if you stop, the evil spirit which has taken over the trial will consume your soul. This evil spirit is not part of the trial, but is instead a ghostly entity made up of all the vengeful souls that have been imprisoned in the trial by past Caesars. It will take the shape of a Spiritomb, though if you see it, it may be too late...

Grab the Crest of Willpower at the end. (Depicted in the splash illustration above)

At the end of the Trial of Willpower is a single stone wall, where as many copies of the Crest of Willpower float in midair as there are members of your party with you. (You are allowed to depict yourself either doing this alone, with some NPCs, other people's characters, King Alaric himself, or some combination of however many you can handle.) Each person only has to grab one copy of the Crest of Willpower to officially finish the trial and be teleported back into the coliseum.

Stop right after that and wait for the final confrontation scene between Aetius and Alaric.

NOTES:

-The Spiritomb shouldn't make an appearance in your comics and stories. It should instead be an invisible, angry force that your character can feel. This character will make an appearance in a later mission, but for now it is too powerful a foe.
-The barriers should not be puzzles like in the Trial of Wisdom. They should instead be things you simply need to push through such as rivers to cross, cliffs to climb, ravines to jump, etc. The trial is a straight line, and any branches will be dead ends. The trees and rock walls surrounding are also too thick to go through and, like in the labyrinth, there is a barrier that prevents flying, digging, or teleporting away.

Ending DialogueEdit

As the Aetherians grab the Crests of Willpower, there are flashes of light. When the lights clear, the Aetherians find themselves standing once again in the coliseum. In front of the group with his back to them is Aetius, who stares up at his own throne, clearly unhappy about something.

Alaric Serious: Aetius! We have completed your challenge! Why have we been brought back here?

Aetius, startled, turns around, clearly not expecting to see the Aetherians again. His face is surprisingly devoid of anger and is instead filled with… relief?

Aetius Shocked: B—but! How? How could…? Did you really complete the trial?

Alaric Annoyed: Yes, we did, no thanks to you. But again I ask, why have we been brought back to this slaughter pit?

Aetius Suspicious: This is not a slaughter pit! This is a place of proving for my people! The trial leads back here because you have proved yourselves worthy of our respect.

The two leaders stare at each other for a tense moment. When it is made clear that Alaric will not make a friendly response, Aetius sighs.

Aetius Guilt: I am… sorry for what I have done. I am a very proud ruler, I will admit that to you. When you came asking for the trial, I… panicked. My ancestors have been defiling the trial for centuries, using it as an eternal prison for those we thought were too evil for a simple death. Their misuse of the trial brought on the abomination that now lives in it… Nothing can escape the trial except by reaching the end… not even the soul…

Alaric Serious: Then why throw us in? Was not your tests enough?

Aetius Guilt: ...When I learned you were sent from Artiphron, my discomfort turned to fear… If Pausanius knew of our misuse of the trial, he would have tried to claim it from us and strip us of that which makes us Voluntas. Of the three of us, he is the most certain of the prophecy, and now I see he is right to be so.

Alaric Annoyed: Be that as it may...

Aetius Guilt: Please, I know we will not be friends, but at least let us be allies, oh serpent king. All roads lead to Voluntas, and I know we will be beneficial to you in your quest. At least let me try and make up for my and my ancestor’s mistakes.

Alaric Serious: ...Very well. Aether and Voluntas will be allies, but only because it will be beneficial for my people, not out of kindness to you.

Without another word, Alaric and his people exit the coliseum, leaving a defeated looking Aetius in their wake. The trip back to Aether is an uneventful one, but when the party reaches the gate, it is clear that something is amiss…

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