AZEGAN FILES: SHEATHES-10 CONSTRUCT 002 Picture

(OoC Disclaimer: this is partially a SHEATHES-Echelon Subject, meaning it can only influence, function and exist within the Yggdrasil Galactic Triumvirate, but if it shows up anywhere else, it will do so as a Lesser Variant of its original self. Why would the Monarchs make something as extreme as this? Well, they don't have a choice in the matter. War Games force them to constantly one-up each other in a never-ending arms race. Subjects must outdo each other, but then are in turn just as quickly outdone by an opposing Subject created in response to them. Even if SHEATHES-10 were a Conquest-Oriented SHEATHES, which being an Exploration-Oriented SHEATHES they are not, they may only rely on STABS-Echelon Subjects to fight where STABS Colonies have been established. In any case, this Subject is just to give a glimpse of what the Monarchs are like outside the bounds of the RP, and its showing is purely for fun. Note: this disclaimer sets apart Subjects whose Original Variants are limited to the Yggdrasil Galactic Triumvirate only. RPG versions will be outlined in the Locking Glyphs Document.)



GENERAL OVERVIEW

- Medieval Siege Warfare was once thought of by Emperor Vulcan as obsolete. The idea of having to deploy siege engines on the ground and throw countless troops at an obstacle while playing a waiting game was something he scoffed at. Why bother when he can simply stamp upon any fortifications from the safety of outer space, or better yet, another dimension, timeline, or realm? War is a game of who can strike harder, faster, more often, more easily, and from as far away as possible. Those who still insist on melee combat are foolish at best. This was a long time ago, when the head of the Machina State was barely in his teens. He made the mistake of assuming the Arcana State played by his rules and expectations. He made an even bigger mistake in thinking the powers wielded by the Azure Monarch could be logically explained or scientifically comprehended, much less scientifically explained or logically comprehended, that it was tied to Physics. However, his biggest mistake was underestimating how out-of-the-box Empress Hecate could make her Subjects.

- Previously, War Games were won by Subjects who could wreak havoc from worlds away. The Monarch who left the ground soonest had the advantage, and the Monarch who could dominate warfare on more than two dimensions was bound to be the victor. Empress Hecate, with the majority of her forces being planet-bound during her early days, often found herself on the receiving end of her Colleagues’ scorn. Even the SHEATHES-10 Patrons couldn’t blame Emperor Vulcan and Empress Gaia. There’s something strangely satisfying about seeing an Orbital Cannon take out a network of mountain castles, or entire legions of swordsmen reduced to ashes by long-ranged ordnance before they could march out of their fortress barracks. Even Empress Gaia, while favoring melee units as a ‘toddler’ Monarch, could deploy all sorts of ranged attacks from space-faring creatures, spending her closed-quarters suicidal troops like ammunition. Even for someone as mellow as Empress Hecate, that much continuous ego-bruising was too much to handle. She struck back, and struck back hard. While the Monarch of the Arcana State continues to surprise (and aggravate) Emperor Vulcan to this very day, it was during his 14th birthday that he got his rudest awakening in the form of a Subject that wasn't just blatantly unreasonable, but quite simply could not be reasoned with.



SPECIFICATIONS OVERVIEW

- Subject Identity: Pharaoh's Portcullis

- SHEATHES 'Number': 10

- Subject State: Arcana

- Subject Echelon: SHEATHES

- Subject Tier: Elite

- Length: 800 kilometers, approximately

- Width: 400 kilometers, approximately

- Height: 900 kilometers, approximately

- Mass: 4 grams; it is made mostly out of unknown forces and concepts.



PICTURE OVERVIEW

- 1: Titania Sphinx. This unmoving, unflinching sentinel is the main centerpiece of the Pharaoh's Portcullis. While the entity it has been based off is quite mobile, the Titania Sphinx is little better in terms of movement than a desk paperweight, and a paperweight may actually be more mobile. The Titania Sphinx is pictured above, but it has a counterpart that also makes up a Pharaoh's Portcullis: the Oberon Sphinx. Both Sphinxes are indistinguishable in physical form. The only way to tell them apart is through their colors, which are inverted in terms of value, but not hue; in effect, the Oberon Sphinx is darker overall, with bright blues where the Titania Sphinx's blue are darker. Either Sphinx makes up the only sentient part of this Subject, which while comprised of multiple components, is really just one package. Note that this is simply an Arcana State Sphinx 'enchanted' with the features of another Arcana State Subject. The components of Egyptian and English Mythos aren't truly fused, unlike the hybrids found in the Bellua State, which is what occurs when the Arcana and Natura States become one.

- 2: Arcana Stonehenge. An array of unspeakable magical potency. The Reality-Warping (or rather, Reality-Breaking) prowess of this Arcana State Asset goes past insane and borders on stupid. This used to be the culmination of a 14-year-old Empress Hecate's experimentations on Concept Condensation, that is, turning intangible metaphysical notions into tangible physical forces. The Titania Sphinx sits upon this array as its throne and commands its power without any real challenge.

- 3: Arcana Megalith. Comprised of Magics and Concepts so condensed that they take on a corporeal form. There can be Arcana Sigils inscribed on them, willed into existence by the Titania Sphinx, to better focus the Arcana Stonehenges they're commonly used make up. These curious constructs provide the Arcana State with obscene amounts of resources.

- 4: Glepnir Chain Descendant. An improved variant of the mythical item used to bind a beast of immeasurable strength: Fenris, who was capable of one-shotting a high-ranking god. Empress Hecate has mixed in an additional four 'impossible ingredients' to the original six: the death of an immortal, the blood of a stone, the backbone of a coward, and the mind of a blonde. That last one was only included upon direct order of Dante, who thought it would be a funny jab at Damien and Valeria; one of them laughed heartily, and the other laughed only after impaling Dante upon his own spinal cord. In fear of Valeria, Empress Hecate replaced the ninth ingredient with the 13th hour of a clock.

- 5: Barrier Formation. Pharaoh's Portcullises work best when forming a wall, ones that have stretched as far as 90 quadrillion kilometers. They are usually paired up to alternate between Subjects enthroning Titania Sphinxes and Oberon Sphinxes for reasons that will be discussed later, but same-Sphinx walls do exist, as shown in the picture above. Until the creation of Machina Coding Fields and Natura Cosmic Psionics, a single ‘non-homogenous’ blockade was impenetrable in every sense of the word, and Empress Hecate would lavishly layer them out in multiple sets of twelve rows each.



UTILITY OVERVIEW

- In Greek Mythology, the Sphinx was a monster that barred the way to the city of Thebes. It would ask a riddle to any who wished to enter said city, and those who failed to yield the correct answer were promptly dispatched. This came to an end when Greek hero Oedipus finally solved its riddle, whereupon the Sphinx killed itself. Oberon and Titania were the king and queen of fairies in many fables, and were prone to marriage problems. Empress Hecate went as far as to take inspiration from Shakespearian Mythology, impressed by how a mere argument between Titania and Oberon disrupted weather patterns, some say on a virtually global scale. In any case, the Empress of the Arcana State 'collaborated' these who Mythologies to create a Subject that drew combat mechanics from either, the combination of which became the bane of innumerable armies the moment it was imprinted into an Arcana Law.

- Arcana Law: In her infancy, Empress Hecate had to create special assets that allowed her SHEATHES-10 State to function at full capacity. This was implemented because SHEATHES-10, like all other SHEATHES, is part of a greater faction: the SWORDS, and it has been forbidden from using True Magic. To keep the Arcana State, an incomprehensible force called Cozen was created. It could do anything True Magic could do, defiance of all Logic and Science included, without being True Magic. The caveat is that anything that is immune to Magic is not immune to Cozen, and where Magic and Cozen to ever clash, the latter would devour the former like fire to gasoline. The problem with the Cozen given to SHEATHES is that it tends to morph into the generalize idea or consensus of what Magic is or isn't in the Target Area. When Empress Hecate entered this particular realm, her 'Magics' were bound to Physics and Logic, which was something she detested. Hence, the Arcana Laws. Instead of being bound to the Laws of the Resident Universe, the Arcana State would be bound to the Laws set by their ruler, ignoring whatever reasons or facts that may be presented by others. Arcana Vampires burn in the sun not because of some biological reaction; it happens just because that's what their Mythology says. Nowadays, Empress Hecate has become a lot less dependent of Arcana Laws to keep her faction existing the way she says they should exist. Instead, Arcana Laws are merely a way of cementing the fantastical elements and components of the Arcana State, as opposed to actualizing them; they are no longer needed to break Logic's hold, but to focus and specialize Empress Hecate's Essence, Authority and Will. Arcana Laws are also special in that anyone who refuses to abide by them triggers special bonuses that infallibly apply to the Arcana State in a beneficial way. This effect can be triggered even by something Empress Hecate has allowed to happen, or even by her own Subjects via her permission, since it doesn't apply itself to anything but her own stuff. Effects can range from simple to drastic, or annoying to downright mean.

- In the case of the Pharaoh's Portcullis, Empress Hecate shines the spotlight on the Sphinx's Riddle Arcana Law and the Titania-Oberon Quarrel Arcana Law. Those who break or defy the first Arcana Law, whether by Magical Resistance or Empress Hecate's design, trigger an invulnerability effect on the Subjects and Assets being protected by any Pharaoh's Portcullises in question, and this invulnerability can even resist effects that try to remove or bypass it, turning even the most feeble Arcana State Wizard into something that laughs in the face of heavy dreadnought fire. Those who break or defy the second one grant any given number of Subjects the ability to place as many actions as they wish before an enemy's own, and that applies to any responses made or previous preparations. Time or speed becomes moot when this happens, since before an instantaneous attack has even hit, an Arcana State Subject may already have been given an eternity to avoid it.

- Sphinx's Riddle Arcana Law: Under its effects, anything or anyone trying to get by Pharaoh's Portcullis is required to stop, hear a riddle presented by a Titania Sphinx or an Oberon Sphinx, and then answer it correctly. If one succeeds, the Pharaoh's Portcullis immediately self-destructs. If one fails, they are instantly and infallibly annihilated. There is no cause-and-effect reason for such a phenomenon, and no amount of scientific tinkering will explain this effect. One can try to pin a rational explanation on it, and the truth is there's simply no basis for the ability to happen, but it happens anyway. It is a simple but absolute mechanic. One can boast all kinds of immortality or immunity, or counter-magics, or even control of Death itself, but once an incorrect answer is given, an 'instagib' (as a teenage Emperor Vulcan called it) occurs without fail or delay. The effect that allows the Sphinx's Riddle Arcana Law to bar the way of any attack or intruder will be discussed further in the Defense Overview section.

- Titania-Oberon Quarrel Arcana Law: Somewhat based off a Shakespearian play. If an Oberon Sphinx and a Titania Sphinx were ever to start arguing (and it's not really a matter of if, but when) a massive disruption is inflicted upon the weather system within the immediate vicinity, usually on a global scale. If there isn't a weather system, this Arcana Law creates its own. Either way, one should expect all kinds of shenanigans, from chaotic tempests to droughts so intense that they will desiccate bodies through the most-advanced power armors. The usefulness of this Arcana Law will be discussed further in the upcoming sections.

- Cosm-Breaker Array: For use within the Yggdrasil Galactic Triumvirate only, like during War Game Sessions. The Cosm-Breaker Array is an unprecedented advancement of Arcana Laws, one that is the equivalent of Empress Hecate blowing a raspberry at the Current Universe and its Laws of Reality, defying it and whoever made it. While regular Arcana Laws substitute themselves in place of, change, and/or eliminate a Physical Law, the Cosm-Breaker Array takes Arcana Laws and spins them into a 'tapestry' that does the same not only to Physical Laws, but to Logical and Trans-Logical Laws. Each of the SHEATHES-10 Monarchs have more than one Asset or Subject that inspires disbelief or terror in the other two. Emperor Vulcan has his Machina Coding Fields. Empress Gaia has her Natura Transcendent Organisms. For Empress Hecate, it's her Arcana Cosm-Breaker Arrays. These 'Magical Circles' can broadcast the most insane effects within their Area of Jurisdiction. Even the most boastful and almighty Beings are no more than ordinary folk in the face of a Cosm-Breaker Array. How does one Reality-Warp when there is no Reality to Warp, and any created Reality immediately falls under the dominion of the Cosm-Breaker Array? How does an army fight when the very 'Vectors' and 'Distances' around them betray their every action? This is why in the face of Emperor Vulcan's overwhelming firepower and resources and Empress Gaia's overwhelming numbers and diversity, Empress Hecate can rally 'Evolutionarily Inferior' and 'Technologically Medieval' forces and still go toe to toe with them.

- Usually, Cosm-Breaker arrays are wielded by multiple Pharaoh's Portcullises working in tandem, directing their Arcana Megaliths as one. An example of a Cosm-Breaker Array used by this Subject is the Shroud of Everdistant Mists. Pharaoh's Portcullises summon a glowing fog that makes reaching them out of the question. No matter how fast one moves, no matter how often they teleport or how well they try to use any kind of portals in an attempt to traverse the fog, one will always find that the Pharaoh's Portcullises don’t seem to be getting any nearer. Even entities who cross universal can distances in mere steps (like the Monkey King found in certain Asian Mythos, for example) cannot get close to Pharaoh's Portcullises under the effects of this Cosm-Breaker Array.

- Arcana Megalith: Factions need access to power. That has always been a rule of sorts, especially the more conventional a faction is. No power means no economy, military or polity, at least not one that can properly challenge others. Whether it be some kind of high-tech reactor or biological means, the ability to generate 'the means to work' is an important asset. Such an ability is often expensive. Those who can churn out more energy for less expenses are often at a bigger advantage than those who have less efficiency. Those who have unlocked Free Energy are hailed as ahead of most of the competition. Empress Hecate, at age five, decided to raise a few eyebrows with a creation that (as usual) breaks all kinds of physical and logical rules in its endeavor to serve its mistress. The Arcana Megalith is a collection of stones that, when grouped together, freely and limitlessly provide energy for the Arcana State. Up until that time, the Ira Bolt (an infinite source of pure energy) was the reigning champion. The Arcana Megalith outdid it and its next eight successors by not only being able to create energy, but it could create it in multiple orders of infinity. There’s a reason the word ‘create’ was used: the Arcana Megalith seemed to work on a ‘just because’ principle, further shattering the notions that the Magic used by the Arcana State was simply an undiscovered science. Spitting in the face of all arguments, Magic is not an unknown science in the Arcana State. It is whatever its Empress wills it to be, and the Arcana Megalith is proof of that: it requires no fuel, ingredients or processes with which to create energy, and the fact that it's created out of solidified metaphysics and mumbo-jumbo never plays a part in how it can hand over goods without ever running out. In short, it just does what it does. So if the Arcana State can do as it wills, why bother making energy in the first place? That’s because the Arcana State only functions the way Empress Hecate intends it to function within the Yggdrasil Galactic Triumvirate. Outside, especially in STABS Galactic Colonies, the general consensus is that Magic is more tethered to Physics, Logic and the Universe. In order to ‘force the issue’ of her Magics not giving a hoot what Reality states, Empress Hecate must support them using Arcana Laws, and those are in turn empowered by what the Arcana Megaliths outputs. To reiterate, within SHEATHES-10 and its War Games, the Arcana State can do anything it wants to do without relying on a 'means to do work', which is what energy is defined as. But anywhere else, the Arcana State must butt heads with the Resident Universe, and Empress Hecate must charge up her Arcana Laws with insane amounts of power if her Subjects and Assets are to serve her properly. How the Arcana Megalith maintains its unusual way of working outside the Yggdrasil Galactic Triumvirate is unknown, and in all likelihood, beside the point. Furthermore, just because one doesn’t need to rely on something, doesn’t mean that one can’t do it anyway. Summoner Arrays and Summoning Arrays can function in War Games without Subjects using the Mana-like Energy used to call forth their creations. But, they go on ahead with such operations, regardless. Why? It’s the Arcana State. Not everything Empress Hecate does or unveils makes sense, and that’s just something her two colleagues have learned to live with.

- Arcana Megalith Stones can be inscribed with an assortment of Arcana Glyphs to mold, control and/or change the energy/energies they provide. Certain Arcana Glyphs can even cause Arcana Megaliths to output things other than energy. Also, the 'energy' created by the Arcana Megalith is akin to Machina Voltages in that it is unlike any kind of energy in existence. Like Machina Voltages, it only responds to its proper Monarch, and can only be used by him/her/it. Abilities that forcibly nullify, harness, absorb, redirect, or convert energy may simply be ignored by what the Arcana Megalith produces if they did not originate from a Monarch; the most basic example of this can be seen when firing a bolt of Machina Voltages at a black hole. If Emperor Vulcan does not permit his Machina Voltage to interact with gravity, they simply tear straight through even the mightiest singularities, be they artificial or otherwise.



TRAVEL OVERVIEW

- Not applicable. This kind of Subject is instead constructed at secure locations to cement Empress Hecate’s control over them. Once they are settled, they do not budge until they are dismissed or destroyed, and the former is far more likely than the latter.



ATTACK OVERVIEW

- The Titania-Oberon Quarrel Arcana Law provides Pharaoh's Portcullises a means to repel invaders en masse. It does not trigger with same-Sphinx walls. For it to work, a Titania Sphinx and an Oberon Sphinx must be paired together. As is the case with most husbands and wives, an argument is bound to happen (in the Sphinxes’ case, the argument is what the answer to a riddle might be) and when it does in the case of Pharaoh's Portcullises, the effects can be spectacular. Blizzards with temperatures below Absolute Zero (again, this is the Arcana State) or Heat Waves above Absolute Hot have happened, not to mention winds that sweep away would-be conquerors at speeds that make would light look slow, or even rainfall that unloads an ocean’s worth of water (not necessarily ordinary water) in the blink of an eye. The unpredictable and extreme weather makes approaching a bickering group of Pharaoh's Portcullises a bad idea at best, and were one to actually make it, there’s still the Sphinx Arcana Law to deal with.

- Summoner Array: What's better than a Magic User? A Magic User commanding an army that is both intelligent and subservient. Empress Hecate can call up her Subjects in droves. But what about her Subjects? Why can't they do the same? Empress Hecate not only asked herself that question, she answered it too. Her answer was the Summoner Array. Arcana Subjects can employ a Summoning Circle of sorts to call for various Familiars to aid them. The Tier of the Subject decides the overall caliber of the Summoned Entity. Advanced Subjects can Summon Advanced Familiars, Basic Subjects can Summon Basic Familiars, and so on. All it takes is a little focus, a little energy, and a little incantation. The catch for this SHEATHES Asset is that the Summoned Familiars are not Monarch Subjects; it is essentially the Subject of a Subject. Summoned Familiars hail from special Pocket Realms within the outskirts of Empress Hecate's 'portion' of the Yggdrasil Galactic Triumvirate, and it is within those Realms that her Subjects conceive, develop and share their creations. As such, Summoned Familiars are not covered by Monarch Authority, and hence can be directly manipulated. From genetic-level infestations to mind control, and from being properly scanned or having Reality within them warped/reshaped via Magical or Cosmic means, Subject Summons do not boast the immunities of their 'Summoners'. The Subject activating this kind of Array must draw from its personal, Non-SHEATHES 'reserves' of energy, which can be compared to classic Mana, to Summon its Familiars. It must also be vigilant over its control over said Familiars, as they can be turned against their 'Master', who will be forced to Dismiss them and waste valuable resources. Of course, that's not to say Summoner Arrays can't be used to call forth other Subjects, but such would be closely-related variants instead called Summoning Arrays.

- Pharaoh's Portcullises have both Summoner and Summoning Arrays.

- Arcana Megaliths can be inscribed with offensive Arcana Glyphs. One example is the Dragon Breath Glyph, which fires out a cone of napalm-like fire. Flames of the Dragon’s Breath Glyph can be tainted with various elements, and can somehow eat through even the most advanced shielding as if it was a flammable material.



DEFENSE OVERVIEW

- The Sphinx Arcana Law is what made a fool out of Emperor Vulcan’s Artillery during the entirety of the 140th SHEATHES-10 War Games Session. Nothing worked. No blast of exotic energy, no cosmos-harnessing device, no omnipotent reality-altering machine, no all-powerful bomb came close to putting a scratch on a single Pharaoh's Portcullis. Enemy Subjects had to have the proper intellect in order to be questioned, and those that tried to solve riddles were either killed by the Titania-Oberon Quarrel Arcana Law, Arcana Subjects on guard, or their failure to provide a correct answer; those who wanted to face the challenge of the Sphinxes had to get in close, otherwise the Sphinxes did not present a riddle. Those who did make it through were cut off from reinforcements as the Sphinx that committed suicide swiftly revived and asked the next one in line a different riddle. Often, the Sphinxes would argue with each other as to what the correct answer to a riddle even was. Whenever that happened, even Subjects who answered correctly were denied access, which was why Titania and Oberon Sphinxes were seated next to each other. That also meant only same-Sphinx walls, or uncommon instances where both types of Sphinxes agreed with each other, could ever suffer casualties brought about by correct answers. Empress Gaia didn’t fare so well either. As with lasers and missiles, Psionic Abilities and Quantumphages lacked the innate ability to converse (at least, back then) and since they couldn’t answer riddles, none of them made it through the Pharaoh's Portcullises. Even today, despite being horribly outdated by more powerful Arcana defenses and only suited to STABS Galactic Colonies due to Empress Hecate still needing to create a direct successor for this Asset of hers, the Sphinx Arcana Law remains absolute. Nothing, and it doesn’t matter how absolute, infinite, or invincible an ability or attack is, nothing makes it past a Pharaoh's Portcullis if it cannot correctly answer its riddle.

- Phoenix Sigil: If the Arcana State seems gimmicky and riddled with 'tacky' powers and characteristics, it is because on the 'mundane' level, it is extremely delicate. This can be conveyed via an analogy of a Wizard versus a Panzer Tank. By itself, a Wizard is a soft, squishy thing. It risks death by so much as tripping and cracking its head open on an ill-placed rock. It terms of raw and regular parameters, all the Panzer Tank would need to do is run over the Wizard. But when special abilities come into play, the Panzer Tank is in for a serious fight. Before it can fire a single shot from its main cannon, there is the possibility that it has plunged into a chasm opened by the Wizard, or shrunk down to a fraction of its size. This can be observed further in the genres of Fantasy and Science-Fiction. Foot Soldiers are going to do nothing against Robotic Armies with Directed-Energy Weapons. But when said Foot Soldiers can be turned into immortal, indestructible heroes by being bathed within the River Styx, a clash becomes less one-sided. On the same premise, Empress Hecate's Elven Longboats would normally meet their demise by being dashed onto a cliff via unfavorable weather. But, swathed in Spells and Enchantments, mere 'wooden boats' become capable of space-faring shenanigans, able to give the most high-tech interceptors a run for their money. The Phoenix Sigil only sweetens the gestalt of the Arcana State. It is wasted on more sizable, or more Advanced, or more expensive Subjects; the higher the Tier of a Subject, the longer its resurrection time is, despite such a thing being free of charge. However, this Sigil allows Basic Tier and Fodder Tier Subjects to engage more aggressively and fearlessly, continuing to be a threat for longer, not just because they can return to the fray, but because they return having learned from their experiences and mistakes, which is something the Colletic Coding can fail at. They can be gifted to other factions if they are packaged in a Territory Bubble created by Boss 'Patrons'. More often than not, other factions do not use the exotic, gimmicky assets of SHEATHES-10, and as such, more 'mundane' users of the Phoenix Sigil will be revived much faster than a SHEATHES-10 Subject.

- Both types of Sphinxes are equipped with multiple Phoenix Sigils, in the event that their riddles are solved, and there is no husband-wife argument to negate a correct answer, deceased Sphinxes would simply return from death, ready to give the next candidate a hard time. Phoenix Sigils equipped to Pharaoh's Portcullises seem to be on boosts of sorts, as they tend to revive their charge exceedingly quickly.

- Neither the Titania Sphinx nor the Oberon Sphinx use Arcana Barriers. Their Arcana Law is projected ahead of them, making any attempts to target them directly fanciful at best: if an enemy fails, they don't get a second chance, and if they do succeed, the Sphinx in question will die anyway.

- Glepnir Chains can be spotted holding the Arcana Megalith together, but they can be called upon for other uses, namely the binding of intruders. The nature of their concoction makes them impossible to break using brute force. The 'impossible ingredients' mentioned cause 'Glepnir Version 2' to not only resist physical force, but also natural intangibles. Using telekinesis or transmutation spells on a Glepnir Chain Descendant will no more hurt it than the direct impact of multiple Big Bang events. The highest forms of Reality Warping, the most potent unnatural devices (if they don't use natural or physical forces like speed, temperature or time), and supreme supernatural powers: only those will cut a Glepnir Chain Descendant, and that's only if they haven't been countered by each new generation of chains.



EMPLOYMENT OVERVIEW

- The main use of Pharaoh's Portcullises are to secure large plots of Territory, plain and simple. They also force opponents to engage in close-quarter combat, dictating the tempo and events of siege warfare completely. A planet encircled by Pharaoh's Portcullises has to be boarded on foot, and no amount of bombardment will change that. They also allow for the rapid deployment of Subjects to the walls, whether in front as attackers or behind as defenders; the Summoning Arrays can simply call them up as needed. In effect, a line of Pharaoh's Portcullises acts as both ‘wall’ and ‘gate’. The fact that the Sphinxes resurrect each time a single attacker makes it through via answering their riddles means even playing on Empress Hecate's terms is a game doomed for failure.

- Pharaoh's Portcullises don't always need to be grouped into walls. Just as a single Sphinx barred the way to Thebes, so too can a single Pharaoh's Portcullis protect an area by itself. However, in numbers, infiltration becomes much harder. Outside the Yggdrasil Galactic Triumvirate, numbers also allow for the activation of a special effect:

- There have been occasions where Pharaoh's Portcullises are not absolute outside SHEATHES-10's main headquarters, i.e. they cannot infallibly apply their primary Arcana Laws on anyone not under the Monarchs' Authority. Those occasions occur only when Villain Manifestations are involved, as they are the only ones who can break the Monarchs’ power. In such a case, both the Sphinx's Riddle and the Titantia-Oberon Quarrel Arcana Laws have been defied when applied on Foreign Factions of enough power. However, that doesn't mean the Pharaoh's Portcullises cannot apply their Arcana Laws to those who won't resist them, that is, other Monarch Subjects. This is called the Submortem Phenomenon. Instead of killing those with the proper countermeasures who failed to answer their riddles, the Pharaoh's Portcullises 'kill' all Monarch Subjects within their Target Area, making them 'dead' to the Target in question. The Submortem Phenomenon allows STABS Subjects to simply ignore outsider actions and attacks as if they were 'ghosts', killed off long ago. Granted, that only applies to someone or something that failed to answer a riddle. Those who answer correctly can still interact with Monarch Subjects under the protection of Pharaoh's Portcullises, but anyone and anything who yielded an incorrect answer may not, or rather, it's the Monarch Subjects who may not interact with the latter. Point is, even if the Monarchs are faced with a situation where they cannot perfectly apply their Authority to a Target, they can still apply effects to their own Subjects. Again, Villain Manifestations can remove this caveat, but it just goes to show that defying Monarch Authority is nothing but an ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’ scenario they don’t mind exploiting.



VARIANT OVERVIEW

- Mandatory Emissary Note: It is tradition for 'Watchers' to document a variant of a Subject from its Sibling-SHEATHES, if one exists. Despite their close bond, however, Sibling-SHEATHES are unable to exchange Subjects. Any Monarchs who have 'Lesser Numbers' risk dying from overexertion if attempting to accept a Subject from a 'Higher Number' Monarch. Any Monarchs who have 'Higher Numbers' are guaranteed to crush a Subject from a 'Lesser Number' Monarch in the 'grip' of their Authority. No exceptions. 'Higher Number' Monarchs cannot reinforce 'Lesser Number' Monarchs with Subjects. 'Lesser Number' Monarchs cannot evacuate Subjects into the SHEATHES of 'Higher Number' Monarchs. No 'Equal Numbers' exist for SHEATHES. All data contained herein applies to SHEATHES-10 and SHEATHES-700 only.

- SHEATHES-700 uses the Pharaoh's Rashomon. Emperor Ramses uses a Sphinx with four heads, each one with a different mindset and personality. Each ‘quarter’ that makes up this Sphinx is also enchanted to forever outdo all the other parts in power, meaning that just by existing, the Pharaoh’s Rashomon gets infinitely more powerful with each passing instant. This Subject gets its name via use of the Rashomon Effect, which is defined as different and contradictory interpretations of the same topic or event by different people. A Pharaoh's Rashomon could never come to an agreement with itself as to what the right answer to a riddle is, let alone its neighbors. As such, they render any answer false, not matter how true, denying passage to everyone who tries to pass their test, which never bodes well for would-be conquerors. Whenever he feels like being cruel, Emperor Ramses has been known to encircle entire omniverses with his Pharaoh's Rashomons, after which he forces his Subjects to draw nearer to each other. Pharaoh's Rashomon will prevent even Space-Time and Dimensions from moving beyond them, and not even the Cosmic Beings in the sealed area can escape their confines, which means the literal squashing of an omniverse and all its inhabitants (at the hands of a Subject that Emperor Ramses can send forth without number) has happened.
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