Armata and the group have settled down for the night. Their quest to save the kidnapped Imperia and Layoka has bared fruit, as they ready to march on Inchesoare. An ancient prison fortress that is said to be the resting place of Pramool, the all father of monsters and beasts. As the sun rises, and group stirs, Armata stands quietly. He stares at the high snow capped mountains that loom over the group. Mentally preparing himself for the fight ahead.
He did not sleep, how could he. Soon he would fight against his old nemesis, Marcus. The battle will be bloody and painful. Ferocious and long. He turns to the group to see who is ready to go.
Prad daigned not sleep on this night. Instead, he sat atop an old chopped log left here by whatever soul passed here before. His gaze locked on the dying stars, blanketed by the rise of this plane's celestial body of heat. With he wash of day not fully afloat, he stands, shroud and dagger in place., speaking no words to whoever.
Tirush hadn't slept the night, either. Like the night before, she had stayed awake, but instead of keeping vigil, she tended to small things. She groomed herself, something she hadn't done properly in days---cleaning her fur, licking the many small wounds she had by now. They were well healed and in no danger of infection due to DE, but she still kept them clean so as not to scar.
When that was done, she had spent time heating pebbles and flattening them into token shapes, and arranging them in a pattern on the ground. She had hummed songs to herself as she did so, and she appeared to be playing a game, but she never spoke a word to anyone else while she did this.
When the time came, she too rose. With muted popping sounds she stretched, her wings and tail extending, again as she got down on all fours and arched her back like some great feline. Then, shaking her wings one last time, she was ready.
Someting stirred under the moss blanket, now yellow and dry due to the proximity to the dull red rock. At first the stirring was gentle and localized to a single spot but that spot grew and it wasn't long before the enire sea of amber was caught in the turbulence below. Then just when the storm began to die down out from the depths burst forth two foul beast who's long tubeular forms bore black patchy skin. Then came a third shorter creature of similar shape creeping from the dying moss.
The creature let out a terrible "YAAAAAAWWWWWN!" before fully emerging from it's pit revealing the three to wholly one creature. It stretched its limbs to the sky before looking around to those that flanked it with slow, lazy movements. It scratched all over not satisfied as it's thick hide made any attempt at sating it's itch futile.
"Anybody have anymore water? I drank all of mine last night."
Prad's moment of recluse in his mind is rescinded with the man's yawn, though his interest for the sky waned with the imminent rising of dawn from twilight. In his bag, he had but th essential: pieces of bread, a notepad accompanied with some ink and feather, some spare clothes such as his shroud, the base for what one would call a pillow and a few canteens of water.
Searching in his satchel, he picks one out of the few, filled to the brim with the must sought-after liquid. He walks toward the towering man yet to fully awake, passing on his available source "If you don't mind, here's one you seek".
Meanwhile, Acheron stirs from his place by the stone Tirush warmed hours ago. He is sitting by the stone while wrapped in his cloak. Alburn rolls over from the spot he lay, covered by his blanket. He shivers as he rises from the ground. His breath appears on the air as he groans.
“By the gods it’s cold. What I’d give to be in my home with a bowl of stew right now.” Alburn grumbles while scratching his chin.
“We’re in the mountains, Alburn. Cold is the common condition. Perhaps you should have slept closer to Tirush? She was radiating quite a bit of heat last night.” Barnabus responds, zero hint of grogginess in his voice.
Alburn blushes a bit at thought, but then stops to question what Barnabus was suggesting in regards to Tirush radiating “heat”.
Praetor stares at Prad but for a moment before removing his helmet and grasping the canteen offered to him. His skin though still marred now bore less damage than before, the puss filled blisters were notibly diminished and the large charred patches were slowly being overcome by a pink fleshy substance.
"I don't mind one bit, thank you."
Tilting his head back the knight greedily downed the water not allowing a single drop to escape his maw. Then in but a few moments the canteen was empty and his arm stretched back out to return it to it's owner.
"Thank you very much! I'll have to stock up next time we find a drinking hole. Hopefully soon though... I need to replace all the fluids I lost through..."
Praetor's words trail off as another voice slowly crept into his mind, weak and meloncholically the voice echoed througout. The cries were unintelligible but constant. The only thing he could understand was sorry.
Prad somewhat brightens up at hearing his speak, hastening on displaying the two other canteens he had available "Well, if you need more at one point, I don't mind sharing them with you, sir".
A rare manifestation of a since long dried well that was a sentiment akin to happiness briefly sprays over his face, forgetting the hallowed land that surrounds them for a moment. There was no monster. No desolate land. No tension among the group's more prideful members, no imminent harrowing battle. There was none of this...
...but joy. But of course, he knew such a feeling will dry up in mere minutes. Prad simply wanted to make the most of this sentiment before it became alien to him again. The warmth of gratitude from someone who, in this isolation, he looked up to. The only one to provide any word of advice.
Finishing her stretch, Tirush rolls her eyes at Barnabus' comment before turning her attention to Prad and Jorge, her blazing yellow eyes fixing on them.
"It would be a good thing for us to have water," she says diplomatically. "It would be a very small thing for me to take your water skins and fill them at the stream we passed as we came this way. The battle will make us thirsty. Let us not go unprepared." She extends a hand to Prad, asking for his canteen.
Prad's sight freezes...as well as the rets of his body. One of them, so close to him, holding a jagged claw before him, asking for something directly to him. One who's words could disarm the only bulwark between him and individual demise.
He fights it, but his body is spring every instinct regarding danger. The subtle shake of his skin filament. The twitching eyes at the grossened vision of this dragoness, twisted in exaggeration. The masked acceleration of his breathing, a body preparing in a fight or flight, the fight being pointless in his eyes.
But then, it all stops. The fear, the instincts. All of it.
In a series of act reminiscent of his ever drying pool of instinctual response, his eyelids lower to showcase but half of his eyes. His stance grows firm, but distant. With his free hand scrambling behind his shroud, he drives the hand holding the canteen toward Tirush.
His hand is now separate from the sought object, resonating against her claw as it fall flat on her palm. At that moment, Prad had executed a few small steps away from her and his only esteemed adviser, his body crooked slightly forward in a manner ready for a sudden movement. His other hand still hides behind his shroud, sharp and firm.
Were Praetor to gaze upon the young man, he would see it. It with a black hand of smoke and darkness, covering the eyes of Prad, gaing back at the wyvern. Its other hand clench aside the man's respective arm. A bleak return in expression seeping from its smoke-induced helmet. For but a moment, he could see it, before it fades once more.
“If I may, Lady Tirush. There is a lake, up on that mountain there.” Barnabus points to a peak to north. A minuscule distance for Tirush to travel given her gift of flight. “The sun beats on that mountain daily, it’s heat melts the snow on the highest point. The resulting water trickles down and pools in small low point. At this early hour the water will be frozen, but I’m certain you are strong enough to break the ice. The water gathered there will be far more refreshing, and devoid of animal contamination’s.”
“While Tirush collects water we should move. Now that we are rested we should march on Inchesoare immediately.” Armata adds.
A meeting is under way in a great hall that is decorated in death. A lone table sits in the center of a obsidian stone room, dead men and women sway gently, hung from the ceiling. Some have been there so long their flesh is withered, only there skeletons remain. The Twins sit before their band of supporters, Barghest, Gethin and Corbin. Marcus stands beside the Vampiric girls.
“The time is upon us, to awaken Pramool. We have enough powerful blood to power the Nocturne Gears and raise the prison. The Anathema and his band will be here soon. It will be your tasks to provide the dog ample time to turn the gear. We must break them.” The more matured twin speaks. She then looks to Barghest.
“I want you to break the prisoner.” She says.
“The older blonde bitch?” He looks up with bored expression.
“No. The girl. Make Imperia watch. That way you hurt them both.” The Twin smiles.
Seeing none of Prad's display, Tirush takes the canteen, still addressing him. "If what the elder one says is true, then I may bring you a piece of ice as well as water, yes? Will last longer, along with your water skin, besides." She gives him a small smile, the first she's given to him, before turning back to Jorge.
"And it is well, then, ken'dhov. It is no shame to admit to liking how I carry you. It is fun, yes?" And with her gentle ribbing, she doesn't give him time to answer as she again takes to the air and carries him off.
Within a few minutes they are at the pool, and itnis indeed frozen over. She sets Jorge down in a viable spot, then prowls to the edge on all fours, her tail straight out to give her balance.
"Yes, yes...here, I think. This shall do..."
Raising her huge fist, she brings it down on the ice, punching right through...and miscalculating. She leans too far forward during her punch and nearly falls in, her arm and folded wing going nearly up to her shoulder. She gives a surprisingly feminine yelp as she scrambles backwards, laughing.
"A bad thing for my fire! Ark-nä füs ke-ha'nach dé da! Hehehe..."
Even as she shakes the water from her arm, she again prowls to the edge, taking a cursory sniff before drinking great draughts of water straight from the lake.
Jorge is caught off guard by Tirush's yelp. He had never heard her let out anything other than roars and snarls. Such the display of humanity was surprising to him.
"I didn't know you were capable of creating such sounds. I suppose there's a dainty woman hidden under those tough scales of yours. Thomas is lucky to have you and you to have him..."
Jorge drops his helmet once more and fills his canteen with water and sets it aside before drinking from the icy water below. The cold drink freezes him to the core but he continues to gulp down the water until he has gotten his fill.
"Ahhhhh! But I suppose you make other noises when you are alone with him. Hopefully ones I'll never hear, ha!"
Having drank her fill and wiping her mouth, Tirush again lets out a laugh.
"Yes, yes, it is true! We do make the music of a sweet nest, hehe! It is a beautiful thing. To be alone with your mate and his wives...there is no sweeter sound. Perhaps that of a beautiful daughter, or perhaps that of her laugh..."
She looks pensive, and distant. She looks back to Jorge, not smiling as much.
"It is...my great weakness, Ken'dhov. I do not smile, do not laugh, as often as I should. There was a time, when sweet Partha was only just hatched, when she was the only thing in this world that was my happiness. Now that I have more such happiness, I...become angry when I think it is going to be taken from me. This is a great weakness, I know. It should not be so..."
Her face becomes taut. "This is why I shall return your child to you, Ken'dhov. We shall make a great war upon those who have taken her, and your happiness will be returned. This, I swear to you, by the Great Flame."
She looks back out over the water, not angry, not unhappy, but as if she's remembered something she had forgotten.
While Armata and the group wait for Tirush to return, Inside Inchesoare, the twin sisters begin the preparations to resurrect an ancient evil.
They follow a dark spiraling stone stairwell deep into the heart of the spire. Torches burn with an unsettling dark flame of obsidian color, yet casts a green glow. For what feels like hours they follow these stairs.
“How much further must we walk sister? My feet are beginning to hurt.” The spoiled girl pouts.
“If it bothers you so, let the dog carry you.” The mature one replies suggestively.
“Of course! Why did I not think of that. Doggie, carry me the rest of the way!” The spoiled one stops and stamps her feet like a child. Marcus silently tucks his hand under her legs and with his other hand supports her back as he lifts her off the ground. Cradled in his arms Marcus continues down the stairs with the spoiled Vampire in tow.
“I love my doggie. Soon you will awaken Pramool, and then we will live happily together! I can’t wait to buy you collar and walk you through my favorite districts!”
"Aye. It is only natural to be protective. Are we not the embodiment of rage us parents? That is why I thank you for assisting me, even if it was an unexpected abduction. Yes... One more daughter to be saved while another goes without her father. Once I. We get her back I'll set to searching for her. My little flower is out there somewhere. Do you know what it's like to loose a child. Have you ever felt that rage searing deep inside you? I'd rather not go through that again Tirush. I don't want to become that monster again."
Jorge shakes the water off his face in a matter reminiscent of a dog, the few droplets that remained easily removed by his washcloth.
"I cannot make any promises. But I shall repay you for helping me Tirush. I will be there no matter what you require."
"You have been as blood to my beloved Danthe, Ken'dhov. There is nothing I would ask of you but to be so. If we can again bring your clan together, even in a small way, I shall do what I can."
She stands up, flexing her wings. "Now, let us go, and finish this quest. Let us reave their lair with a fury they never could have imagined. The stones will show the tale of our battle for many seasons..."
She prepares to leap to carry him, then catches herself, and points to the water.
"Oh! I told the little one that we would bring him ice. Take a piece for him. I cannot carry it."
Annoyed by the idleness he was placed in front of, Prad had decided to take a morning stroll through a random location. Pacing away from the camp, he slowly wanders far, wanting to 'waste' some time while waiting for the others.
Far enough for even ears to fall deaf to his words, he starts speaking. To himself "They seem nice enough. Especially the lady and the metal man. Why do I fall behind?" He gazes up to his right, to the sound of rumbling thunder, one in particular piercing both the noise and the sky with a small but audible crash and visible flash.
"B-but...she hasn't done anything, has she? I admit, an error in understanding may have place us-- " another grumbling ceases his words, an augmented height in decibels "But why? None of them have wished or acted harmed to me, certainly not either of them".
Another stroke, slightly milder than the last one, following the young man as he drifts further from the center of the camp "I don't get it. They could have done anything at any time had they wished it. Why distance myself now that we're close? They'll likely count of me to watch their back and--" Prad's voice slowly has increased in power, somewhat in defiance over the clouds that brew across the skies. Their response? A thunderbolt far from where he stands.
"But I've seen how they act, how they speak. You know that's false. The only instance of disagreement were in a battle of ideology against the one you sought to repay. You know he's not the most humanitarian of the group--
A louder growl echoes over his little section, scorched in a deep concert of decibels, almost as if the clouds were angry. Prad's voice paid no heed to them "No! Just because he's like that...surely it can't mean all of them were. I mean, the three elders, they weren't like that...at meant not as much. The more ominous one sounds more disdained toward his species than even I. And she...she's not even radiating ill-will. All this time, all I've seen is her struggling against this malevolence. How am I to steer from her if she's braced against the same omen of misery as I am? How?!"
The grumbles grow louder, sky above him torn with a gaping wound, fresh with pulsating lightning running across it. All the same to him "Just because they were like that back then, it doesn't mean they are now...I'm being told this and that...yet, I'm being shown the contrary. You spoke of deadly danger form the lady, but she's the least malevolent of them all..."
The lightning seems to simmer, only for Prad to continue "No, you heard what I've heard! Saw what I saw! The only reason she's here, a child kidnapped to return. Her anger, carried on the onslaught of ravenous predators and apathetic entities. She's even friends with the metal man--
The grumbles return in force, yet it does little to dismiss him "We both know I'm right! He's done nothing but give me pointers when you had left me to my own devices. She speaks to him, he trusts her...I mean, how can a mother of a family can even--
His sentence is left unfinished, a thunderbolt crashes near his location with upmost fury, purging the immediate surrounding in a flash of lightning...
Acheron watches the sky as it churns and cracks with thunder and lightning. He then notes that it seems the most intense where Prad wandered off to. While Barnabus and Armata speak of the coming hardships, Alburn checks the actions on his rifle and checks over his ammo supply.
The group is ripped from their current going’s on the moment the lightning crashes down. Armata shifts his gaze to Acheron, with a slight gesture nod of his head in the direction of Prad, Acheron bolts. Weaving in and out of trees and vaulting over a downed one, Acheron’s speed allows him to reach Prad in moments.
“Prad! Human, you alright?” He moves to Prad’s side.
The earth; scorched beyond belief. Trees, burnt, galvanized. The air, dense with the aftermath of a thunderstorm. All born, from a single thunderbolt.
When Acheron weaved his way to the young man, he could see him next to the ground zero, where the soil still burns softly. What what seemed like a stroke of miracle, he had nothing impending his physical state...if one was to ignore the slight burn on his hand. Nothing he can't recover from, physically.
Prad's hand, the burnt one was in the air when it stroke, as a mean of protection. A failed one. His breathing is quick and frantic, eyes staring into the open sky in disbelief. He knew not what to say, nor what to do. An unprecedent for him "Why? Why did this degenerate to such a degree?" He believed he was alone with his words, the clouds receding form the sun...
...only for Acheron's voice to shatter the illusion of solitude. Prad quickly turned to him, unsure of whom had spoken so closely to him before placing his eyes on the undead. Prad was only now calming down, subtly held to recede whatever occured here. He slowly gets himself up, covering his hand with parts of his shroud, looking around, taking in the furious crash.
"Yea...yea...I'm alright. Seems like a thunderstorm passed here..." he speaks, still looking at the damage. Soon enough, however, Prad oddly began walking away, back to the camp. Any human might have taken a bit more time to recover from the fact that they somehow came mostly unscatched from a point-blank bolt crashign in their immediate area. He seemed more intent on...forgetting about it.
'"Only a piece? So be it, But I hope this piece is small enough for him."
After sliding his helmet back on Jorge reached into the icy river and pulled out a aged chunk the size of his torso.
"Say. Is this this enough? Or should I gather another?"
The cold dug deep into his hands numbing them instantly. He knew that holding on the ice could cause irreparable damage so he acted quickly, pulling out daggers from seemingly nowhere he stabbed them into the ice and made handles to better hold the block.
"Well I'm ready when you are. Let's not keep the hem too long, they might start they might start thinking that you're not ands faithful as you seem..."
With a hidden sly grin and a suggestive tone Jorge turned his back to Tirush and spread his elbows back, exposing his mid-section thehemhinkino her.
Tirush gives a flat look to the huge chunk of ice, sighing and rolling her eyes.
"I did not mean...ach, it is no worry. I can break it when we arrive..."
And with that, she again takes to the air and picks Jorge up, seemingly unaffected by the huge additional weight of the ice. Within a short few minutes, they again land at the camp.
She sets Jorge down and, rustling and tucking her wings, walks up to Jorge and grips the block. With a squeeze of her talons, she breaks off a chunk about the size of a fist, and looks around.
"Where did the little sparrow go...? Ahh." She sees Prad coming back to the camp, not having seen him on the return flight from having come from the opposite direction. She steps towards him and holds out the canteen and piece of ice.
"Here, now. If you thirst now, have the ice first, for it will not last. Save your water skin for after battle. We shall have thirst, I think." She holds the ice between her talons, her fingers not touching it.
The young man had one of his hand holding the burnt flesh of his scorched limb when he stopped, for Tirush had made herself visible and unmistakable to Prad.
His first movement, veil the blackened limb he bears under his shroud, his eyes fleeting to the ground, followed by his head. His free hand, however slowly takes hold of his canteen first, to fold it in his bag, followed by the block of ice. At both acts, his moving limb trembled ever so subtly, making sure to avoid contact, be is visual or physical with the dragoness standing before him.
"Thank you..." he whispers, his voice laced not with fear, not with anger joy or surprise. His fleeting symlab is tainted with disbelief carried by the way he walks back to his log, almost like the world around him doesn't exist.
Hidden from sight, his uninjured hand carries the block of ice to his scorched hand, quietly whimpering as the cold made contact with his flesh. He tries masking his visage with the shroud, unaware that the pain he bears his visible for anyone with a sharp gaze.
Acheron watches quietly as Prad walk away. Though he says nothing, his mind is a torrent of thought and theories. He knows that the storm was of Prad’s make, but was it intentional? Questions to answered in time. Following Prad back to camp, Acheron gives Armata a reassuring nod.
“Well, now that we’re all here. You must be warned. The power that saturates Inchesoare is of the mind, illusionary. To keep the tomb of Pramool untouched, the Unseen have placed powerful magic upon the prison. You will see things that haunt you, images that disturb you.... things that could break you. We delve into an ancient, evil place. The magic bestowed, the design, the very stone used was made and placed with hatred in heart.”
“Even before we find our prey, you will be tested. Do any of you, wish to go no further?” Barnabus’ stare is absolute and firm. There is no denying the seriousness of his statement, his body language and expression speak enough truth for everyone to know.
Acheron grips his sword, and nods. Alburn slings his rifle over his shoulder. “Hells yes.” He smirks. Barnabus nods as well, then looks to the others.
Tirush's response is typical, yet absolute. She prepares to go, when she passes Prad, and looks down to his arm. Her knotted brow softens as she sees his injuries.
"What is this, little sparrow? When did you get this wound?"
Stepping closer, she kneels beside him, her voice softer than before. "We cannot go to this place with injuries. Let me see it, and clean it for you." She extends her taloned hand. "I will not harm you, boy. Let me see."
His breath greatly slowed to a crawl by the ice provided to him, Prad only now began to mitigate this unfortunate event. His eyes briefly closing, ready to let the sensation of cold lift his pain away.
He jolts straight with Tirush's voice directed at him, let alone seeing her from so close. Her eyes glazed over his blackened hand as he realized his effort to veil it had, obviously been a complete failure. Worse still, while the initial burn had all but started showing sign of recovery, the broader sign of his hand had yet to follow, resulting in a painfull reminder of the sensation of lightning dancing across his fingers.
And yet, despite this, Prad musters his best re-assuring look, a voice mimicking that of a cheerful young man merely resetting himself after a life's obstacle "Ohh, this? An unfortunate lightning storm where I wandered, but only the hand has been struck. Don't worry, it'll heal within minutes". A smile can be seen beyond his shroud, devoid of worry. Devoid of pain.
...so easily hiding the harrow he suffers behind that pristine smile of his...
Two forwarding paroles against the lone dismiss. One he only recently spoke of in higher regards, masked by the initiale fear, the other, one that gazed on his reclusite behavior. To distance himself, now of all time when cohesion would be needed, for his sake, of all things, a terrible mistake.
One he was not ready to carry on. Prad could already hear it. His heart pulsing at the thought of what he was doing. Held in stare by the motherly dragoness and pushed forward by the one he looked up to...
...he gave in.
His hand, previously in a wool of his shroud, is now bare, the visual damage now much more prevalent than expected. The ice had failed to delude anyone's mind at the state, still blackened, worse than the other times he was scarred. Twitching in a subtle gesture, Prad slowly approaches his galvanized limb toward the talon, halted midway, in a gesture of hesitation.
He was all too aware of the metal man gazing back at him. His pain, all laid bare for the experienced man of many years to see. As one accustomed to the pain, Prad's visage was like an open book to his eyes; hidden, yet to disgustingly exposed, like a black stain on the maculous robe of a preacher.
Doubt in his eyes, if not mired by the severa backlash of his broken hand. Fear, buried under the rubble. A sight, he once saw, now gazing back. His gaze, returned to Praetor, overlapping the young man's. A disapproving one, pouring from his smoky body.
Like Jorge not long ago, she gently takes Prad's arm in her hand and, squatting beside him, begins licking his wounds. And, like Jorge, her DE is primarily to be given credit for what follows. Like a creat cat, her tongue begins rasping the young man's wounded arm, lifting off the dead skin. Every sonoften she turns her head and spits out the detritus, turning back to attend to him.
The movement of her tongue and her DE-drenched saliva work as they did before. It creates a warm, tingling sensation, numbing the pain and accelerating the healing process, and while not perfect, by the time she is done, a great deal of the dermal wound is healed.
"There...it is as much as I can do, little sparrow." She lets his arm go. "Better than it was, yes?" Giving him a kind look, she stands.
Prad removes the sleeves of his coat, in a simple gesture to verify his arm. As she said, most of the burnt flesh, wiped, like a bad stain on a piece of clothing. The pain, lessened to a state of near-inexistance.
He clenches his fingers, a sensation of freedom unfelt in years. Unlike the past times where his injuries would heal, without ever wiping the pain, the freedom of this harrow, even for but its fleeting time, a jubilous event for Prad.
"Yes...yes..." he repeats, now standing, moving his fingers and arm as if they were new to him. They move to such a manner they did not before. Prad takes a deep breath, a heart-felt smile protusing form his face in an act of rarity. He bow formally before the dragoness "Thank you. This...this is good. Thank you..."
Prad genuinely hands the praise, the weight on his shoulders, removed for the first time since he came to this desolate land.
Where he might be giving praise to one he feared before, were Praetor still gazing onto the young man, he could see it. Prad lifting his hand forward to Tirush in a display of gratitude. His jagged hand reaching for her motherly heart, in a land profound with jet black crosses. His hand, spiralling on itself as to mimick the act of evesciration. The Prad, as he removed his hands to place it on his shoulder, like a poised soldier in a salute, he violently swipes his claw, acting as a heart-remover before his fingers clench in the final act of hate...
Deep in the underbelly of Inchesoare, the Twins arrive to the bottom of the grand structure. They stand before a large obelisk in a dark room constructed of the same black stone that comprises the prison. There is no furniture, no gothic decore. It is a all stone, a large spherical room with glyphs littering the walls. The mature Twin walks up to the obelisk and scans over it with her eyes.
“‘Only powerful blood can break the seal’.” She reads the ancient text on the obelisk. “Blood magic cast by the Unseen.... that is why we use their blood.” She turns to look at Marcus. He opens the bag he has slung over shoulder and reaches in. He pulls out four large gallon jars filled with a thick crimson liquid.
The mature Twin grabs the jars one by one, uncorks them and pours the contents into the bowl like top of the obelisk. The liquid drains into a hole in the center of the obelisk’s top. One by one the jars are drained. Suddenly the glyphs on the obelisk shine red, then the room’s glyphs light up as well. There is suddenly a creak, and the room begins to rotate.
Armata suddenly looks in the direction of Inchesoare. He bursts into his smoke and fire form, and flies to the top of a mountain closest to the group. He reforms on the peak to witness the spire itself is turning, shifting. It’s walls and towers moving.
"What's the matter with him? I don't see him as the squeamish type."
Praetor let's go fo the "little sparrow" and makes for the spot once inhabited by Armata. He searches for him but his effort yields little in return as the thick foilage and his mortal senses fail to capture much if anything at all.
"Perhaps it would be beneficial to the group if we moved now. We have been stationary for quite some time now and have a journey to reach the keep. Who knows what kind of horror they suffer within those wall... should they still live."
Clouds of dust burst off the spire walls as the shift, while large chunks of debris and stone fall to the ground. The loud groans and creaks of the shifting prison are loud and resound throughout the mountains that surrounds it.
Armata watches on dumbfounded at the prison transforms. How was such a thing created so long ago? What was the purpose of this rearranging of the spire.
“Inchesoare moves.... The fools have begun the great mechanism that awaken Pramool.” Barnabus appears behind Armata.
“Can we stop it?” Armata does not look to Barnabus, he remains focused on Inchesoare.
“.... I do not know. However we must try something. We can not afford for Pramool to get free, he wrath will destroy everything.” Barnabus says flatly. Armata heard Tirush’s mighty roar and takes it as a signal to move. He bursts into a ball of fire that leaves a trail of red and black smoke, then hurtles toward Inchesoare. Barnabus watches the Anathema sail toward the Prison. Soon Acheron flies over Barnabus’ head, following Armata into battle.
Barnabus sighs in anticipation for the trails ahead of the group, then presses forward.
"It appears that our time has come gentlemen! The roar of battle calls out to us and we have agreed to answer it's call."
Praetor stands on a nearby rock further adding to his hight allowing him to tower above those that remained. Shield in hand and sword still stowed he pointed to Tirush and the trailing clouds of smoke and flame in the sky.
"Our path is clear and our duty set. We slay those who infringed upon the laws of this land and of my covenant. Then we shall save those who were taken for as long as those vampires still exist their safe2cannot be guaranteed."
Praetor halted his speech as the thought of Layoka slipped intohis mind once more. He had keept the thought of her buried for so long that he had nearlt forgotten what his main mission was. Could he truly ready himself for what he as about to see... he would just have to shut his heart out to those around him. He would just have to let others feel for him.
"We will be victorious. No matter the cost."
With his thoughts concluded the Iron knight left his modest pedestal of stone and followed the flying wyvern, his hand gently caressing a ring as he mumbled silently to it.
Prad watches the rest flutter away and starts walking toward the danger. Not in a disply of flight, nor might. He goes not with a speech or a roar. He simply follows, slowly and steadily, lightning rising from his hand.
His walk, pertubed by the encroaching storm, quiet and hidden. The alien thunder wiggling around his fingers, stabilizing, growing firm. He follows, not with a display, but a veiled performance.
As the group marches upon the colossal prison, Alburn stands there. He throws his hands up as the rest of the group leaves him behind. With a sigh and a shake of his head he mounts up on his horse and follows the path around the mountain leading into Inchesoare.
Armata is the first to make contact with the shifting structure. In his fire and smoke form he crashes through the first stained glass window he finds. Immediately reforming to his natural state, he levitates in the room for a moment before descending slowly to the floor, his red cloak fluttering as if sentient.
The disgraced lord scans the room, a strange site. The room is a condensed study, shelves of books covered in dust and encased in cobwebs. Armata notices a shriveled corpse, sitting in a swivel chair at the one desk present in the room. The corpse is flopped over the desk, it’s jaw open. The Anathema notes the massive gaping stab wound that bares in the corpse’s back, then a similar shaped hole in the floor, in a perfect downward thrust fashion.
“The mutt did this.... Marcus. What did they do to you? Betray your kin? Reject your honor? Attack the unarmed? What did you endure? I still owe you for sparing me, all those years ago. I will see you home to your crazed Wisp and family.” Armata mutters.
Armata wastes no more time inspecting the dead. He marches to the door and opens it without turning the knob. The frame splinters and breaks, a small sliver of wood rockets out as the Vampire rips the door open. Stepping out into the hall, Armata sees bodies, lots of them. They vary, in gender and age. All of them just as fresh as the found one, but positioned as if cut down by a ravenous dog.
“This place was once a home. People used to reside here, keeping watch over this mighty prison.” Barnabus appears behind Armata.
Tirush closes in to the structure, her flight path gradually crossing the airspace above the prison, and having led the others to its base, she closes and lands on the ledge where the broken window is, slowing herself with her winhs before landing. She tucks her wings and enters, following the vampires inside.
Her face becomes grim when she sees the bodies, but by this time, she's known what to expect in this land. She manages to control herself, but not by much, as she remains silent. She says nothing as she turns and leaves, entering the hallway that will take her down.
She is following whatever scent she can find, and she tastes the air, taking draughts of air in deep huffs. Once or twice her long tongue flicks out, showing her reptilian side as she brings the air closer to the pits inside her mouth.
"They are here..."
Without waiting, she stalks down the hallway at a quick pace, a rumbling growl issuing from her as she readies herself for whatever might lie between her and the hostages.
Prad follows behind them a hand behind him, clutching the dagger he was given. His eyes are none focused on the dead, as they are different to the sight he gave before. Grave, grim, awaiting. Quiet as the dead that surround his feet, he continues on following, a phantom in the storm.
Clouds gathering outside the domain, blending in the lightless night, shushed in impatience. Once more, an alien bolt is already poking its head outside...
Taking point, Praetor leads the remaining ground forces to the castle, following the smoke trails that lingered from the vampires initial assault. Their task would be one of the hardest as they had not the numbers nor brute power to lay siege or force their way into the prison. He prayed that their task would not be taxing as their assault needed to be quick and coordinated.
"Coordinated. Ha! That's already impossible."
The fractured personalities that made the knight both toiled together thinking of many ways they could force their way into the palace.
He hid amongst the bushes as the massive structure came into veiview, an instinct from training long forgotten.
"Well what do we have here." The knight remarked as he took in the loathsome sight."
Tirush stalks her way down the musty, cold hallways, her footfalls heavy on the stone. She doesn't care about waiting for anyone else; she's waited far too long to stand around and opine about dead bodies while the hostages are mere floors below. She knows she will likely have to rescue them, then make good her escape while she can, so as to get them to safety, else the ensuing battle would kill them both, as she is sure it will be on a scale of destruction that is unimaginable.
She knows this because she plans on leveling the prison itself, and turning its surrounding land into a lake of magma. She hates this place, she hates Armata, and she can feel the cold fingers of the land trying to pry their way into her subconscious, and make her forget the First Flame, the Great Fire itself. She simply wants to get this over with, and get back home, back to warmth and life and love and family.
She goes through a yawning archway, taking the stairs down, hopefully to where she thinks the prisoners might be. Following her instinct, she keeps trying...then catches a whiff of Imperia. And someone else, someone young. A much smaller scent, lesser somehow. Immediately she knows this is Layoka.
Again, her anger is kindled, though she manages to keep it intact. Intact, but not so much that she doesn't want to announce her presence. She does so.
Breathing deep, she leans forward, her fanged mouth gaping, her claws digging into the stone on either side of the passage. She lets loose a long, pitched, stone-rattling roar, one that causes dust to fall from the ceiling and reverberates through the stone passages. She wants everything in that prison to know that she is there, and she is coming, and nothing is going to stop her.
But more than anything, she hopes that the two in the dungeon can hear her.
Marcus’ eyes narrow as he picks up Tirush’s call, despite the overwhelming sounds of rotating gears and shifting stone. The Twins look to Marcus with reassured smiles.
“Go on doggie. Tear the intruders to pieces.” The matured twin commands.
“Oh, oh, oh! Bring me back the scaled one’s heart!” The spoiled twin bounces up and down clapping her hands rapidly. “I want to eat it later.
Silently Marcus marches away from the young Vampires and up the stairs. The spire continues to move, it’s new configuration imminent. Meanwhile Barghest reaches a particular series of cells of the massive prison. He slowly walks up and looks inside. Imperia lay huddled up in the corner, cuddling Layoka for comfort. Layoka is relatively unharmed, but Imperia is not. Her once beautiful clothes are torn, dirty with filth. Her hair is a mess and makeup is in disarray, her dress ripped in suggestive areas and dried blood in between her legs.
She looks up from the floor to see Barghest smirking at her from the other side of the bars. She weakly holds on to Layoka and trembles in anticipation.
“What now? Haven’t you had enough of me?! Tirush is coming to find us, and when gets here she’ll rip your arms off.” Imperia’s tone is full of hate and resentment toward the ancient Hellbeast.
“She might, but yes. I have had enough of you. The kid however....” Barghest opens the cell door and steps inside. Layoka presses herself to Imperia, terrified of what comes next. She begins to sob as Barghest brandishes a small knife from belt.
“STAY BA-“ Imperia is cut off with a swift smack to her face. To weak to be of help, Imperia watches helplessly as Barghest drags a crying Layoka from the cell. The cellblock is soon filled with screams and wailing of young child.
Tirush takes point in the exploration, Armata and Barnabus not far behind. Outside Acheron turns to mist seeps through the cracks in the main gate. He reforms inside the prison main hall, a large void like room with giant hearths a lit and blazing. He begins searching for the switch that opens the gate.
Tirush soon finds herself in messhall type of room, old tables cluttered with bowls and utensils strewn about the place. But what catches her immediate attention is Gethin and Corbin. The two enemies stare back at her, their blades drawn, ready to fight.
The storm outside wails and churn, ever more loudly than ever, murky and thick...
...only to disappear...
The earth under the prison, writhing and screeching under agony. Burst of heat, an alien flame, drafted in a dark orchid, clawing it way out. The earth cries out for relief, under assault by the tainted heat, rewared with more sundering.
The polluted flame dance, almost sentient, possessed by the haunting stare of its master. It rushes from the pleading soil, only now given the right to respite. Fire snaking its way through the prison, ignoring any and all thing, yet turning all it touches into blackened ashes...
Prad continues to walk forward, across the empty halls, his stare ignorant of those who just appeared. His focus, none of those present to witness. His eyes, washed in in the same malevolent Orchid that once gave life to his bolts hungring for life. They gleam bright, followed by his alienated change in posture.
Metal starts accumulating on Prad's right arm, clinging to it like it fought for mere existance. Reality distorted around it, as if trying to prevent it from shaping into this plane. Tools, chairs, tables, levitating as a measure of struggle...
...it all fails, the metal, jagged in black fully forces itself in the desolate world, pushing every item not wired to the floor in a spectacular display of violence. Not content with the mere push, the full manifestation of the gauntlet pulses in a darkened reverance at being at its master's side, the objects suffering under it, decayed and unmade, consumed by it.
Prad takes a good look at his arm, clenching his hand inside the metal, greeted by a seeming laughter, hidden under high decibels, deaf to all but him. A hideous grin formates on his once friendly visage. He places his other hand on it, running his fingers on the gauntlet that took his right arm.
An ancient howl escapes the man's throat, the semblance of Prad's old voice...gone, corrupted. A howl full of spite and resentment. Using his armored hand, he starts clawing at his free one, tainted by the dragoness' demonic energy. Skin peeled off, blood gushing from the wound. His howl unending as he rips off the surface, over. And over.
Until, by his jagged gauntlet, he hold the condensed power of the demon's energy, trapped between its clutches. Prad smashes it in a exatled fevor, his howling halted with no warning. His hand, a bleeding mess, with blood dripping from the other as well as it. He has no care for the overlapping nervous systems trying to warn him of his grave status.
The flame, which had been dancing through the halls, finally reaches him, bouncing like a snake, writhing in unholy joy around him. A corridor of orchid fire follows, swallowed whole by his body, yet very present to his bleeding arm. Cauterizing it to the point of mending its sinew, stronger than before. By this point, his sleeve had given to the fire, burnt out, like the rest of the room, filled to the brim with his alien flame.
Prad had attuned himself to the destructive harrow of fire...
Reunited with the dancing flame of orchid, he lets out yet another howl, this time, lashed out in a tracking intent as he starts rushing out of whatever room he was in. Room by room, he goes, looking for one of them. His eyes, completely overtaken by the flames, resonating with it as it fed off his body, empowering it and shrouding it.
There isn't but a second lost, just long enough for Tirush's mantle to flare, baring her fang-filled mouth and giving a searing roar of rage as she bursts towards the pair. By the time she reaches Gethin, she is a fiery colossus, trailing embers and scorching heat in her wake as she simply crashes into him.
The Wyvern sweeps low as Gethin swings with his dark sword, and the blade swipes only flame. Knowing she has to fight him in close quarters and disable his sword, she doesn't swing wildly, but closes instantly, each of her limbs swiping with lethal talons. She doesn't care about Corbin; there isn't much he could do to her blazing, scaled back, and he runs the risk of her hind talons and tail.
But she grabs her prey, trying to clamp down on his sword arm with one hand while she sinks her teeth into his shoulder, her mouth an inferno, with jaws that can crush stone. All she needs to do is get his sword free and she can destroy it, leaving her free to fight on her own terms.
Gethin shows no sign of pain as Tirush sinks into his shoulder. With his free hand he grabs a handful of her mantle, he tugs hard and begins kneeing her stomach. Corbin moves to Gethin’s aid. With his blade drawn he strikes to sink it into Tirush’s side. Just before he makes contact he is hit hard to the face by Armata. Armata’s boot strikes Corbin in the face, sending him into the wall.
The bricks crumble and crack on impact as Corbin slams into the wall. Armata does not relent and begins pummeling Corbin with a series of punches and kicks. While Prad searches the halls that are littered with the dead, Acheron locates the lever that activates the gates. With a tug of the handle the massive doors begin to open with a groan. Acheron suddenly hears a screech behind him. He turns to see dozens of Lesser Vampires swarming the main hall, pouring from holes in the ceiling like ants.
Praetor looks back to what remained of his dwindling party Alburm and his horse.
"It seems that our more special members have forgotten about us lesser folk. What do you know of this place? Any entrances or secret corridors? A length of rope or perhaps a tall tree very close to the wall? As much as I'd like to say I'm prepared for anything scaling walls wasn't on my list. Especially since we had a puedo-dragon with us."
He hated being useless, from his current position there was not much he could do as he could not destroy the stone walls nor find a wooden entrance to burn down. Perhaps he could unleash the ignis but there was little he could do with its flame and burning through stone was not an option.
At having her mantle pulled, Tirush only clamps down harder, her teeth meeting in the middle as she begins tearing off a sizable chunk of the vampire's fetid flesh. She can't get any leverage this way, however, so she makes her own room.
Her free arm grabs Gethin's leg as he knees her, and she begins compressing him with her immense strength. Then, planting her legs on the ground, she launches towards the nearest wall.
In an explosion of embers and stone, the two burst through the stone wall roughly thirty yards ahead of Jorge and Alburn. The snarling, roaring mass is almost indecipherable as they roll along the ground, each vying for dominance. Then, Tirush spins her body in a somersault, hurling Gethin away. As he flies off and crashes into a massive tree, his dark sword comes loose and clatters to the ground in the space between Jorge and their melee.
Tirush starts to stand, spitting out the shredded gob of vampire flesh.
Running endlessly, it was becoming increasingly obvious that Prad was no longer who he claimed to be. Another entity stalked his frame, pushing him further, searching. Searching for what? A beast? An undead? A demon?
Any would suffice, his run shaping to be less beastial, more human. Slowly himself as the orchid flame focuses. From sprint, to jog. From jog, to a walk. He looks at the place he paces, a wizened gaze possessing his eyes. His flame dims in glow, to the point of blending with the darkness. Slow and deliberate.
Praetor looks to the blade, Tirush and Gethin as his mind worked to catch up to the battle around him. Then it finally clicked. Praetor picked up the blade amd ran away as fast as he could, searching for a rock or pit to destroy it.
Sword over shoulder Praetor focused on evading while his other half attempted to rouse the ignis into action. He would have to convince his flame to hide within the beast to discourage the vampire from holding it.
The ignis far from home, far from grace and ever so close to it's sworn enemy refused to cooperate. All mamino were enemy and to follow their order was unacceptable in all forms. It longed to taste once more the primal DE that once flowed over his body. It wanted all her energy as with all things regarding mamono one taste was enough to risk damnation.
With all the effort his better half could muster he managed to convince the ignis to form a chain to tie the dark blade to his arm.
Gethin bursts to smoke, a cloud so large that it engulfs the entire area. Tirush is shrouded by the smoke. Her ears pick up the screeching of the hoard of Lesser Vampires that encloses her. Before long she is swarmed on all sides, being clawed and bitin by ravenous monstrosities.
However Tirush hears the familiar crack of Alburn’s rifle, and watches as a Lesser Vampire’s head turns to mist in front of her. One crack after another Alburn works frantically to help Tirush. He fires, reloads, aims, and fires again as quickly as his human hands allow him. While Armata keeps Corbin busy, Praetor bolts with Gethin’s sword in hand. However, Praetor is met with an unwanted sight.
Ahead of him, in the darkness, a figure appears. It moves slowly in anticipation. Marcus emerges from the dense abyss, his original greatsword in his right hand, the giant black greatsword he fought with earlier in his left. Walked toward Jorge silently, dressed in his normal black trench coat. The Wardog has come.
His walk, methodical. Machinations of old, ripe. The bleeding hand since long scourged by the heat inhabiting it. Cell by cell, he sees nothing, the glow he once emitated as dark as the surrounding.
And yet, he speaks naught. He sighs naught. He gazed with the patience of an old veteran. He knows they stir across the derelict. The distant rattle of battle eluded by his ears. His March continues forward, now halted to the casual.walk a guard might have have repeated so long ago.
His body ached as what remained of his skin stretched beyond its limits and drained into his filthy gambison. He did not want to fight Marcus in this condition he could not hope to use the the same trick twice.
Praetor speed up forcing himself through the anger and pain. He raised the dark blade as he charged Marcus reading for the impact when his off hand threw itself out and released a powerful blast of flame launching him into the air over and past Marcus. As he flipped in air his hand moved once more releasing another blast forcing himself even further from the warhound.
Marcus takes a swing at Jorge as he flies over head but he misses. The Wardog wastes no time chasing after Jorge, holding his great blades out ready to cut Jorge in half once he’s in range. Jorge’s wounded status makes him easy for to catch up to. Within a short distance Marcus is mere few steps behind Jorge, and with a roar he swings both blades horizontally, aimed for Jorge’s midsection. Just before the blades can connect with their target, Armata appears above Marcus, and crashes down on his head.
Planting the Wardog’s face into the stone floor, Armata turns around to watch Jorge continue on, no questions asked. He returns his gaze to a now growling Marcus who slowly rises from his planted spot. Armata steps back allowing Marcus to ready himself, his eyes scanning over the two massive blades.
“Compensating with one greatsword not enough, you need two now?”
Marcus does not respond, he just growls with his teeth bare. Meanwhile Gethin returns to his normal form and bolts to Alburn. The Rifleman shouts in shock and fear as he grabs his rifle relocates.
“Shitshitshitshit! Tirush?! Prad?! A little help!” Alburn shouts while running as fast as he can. Though he is a crack shot with his rifle, he is no fighter. Gethin is quickly upon Alburn, showing no sign of fatigue. Alburn spins around pulls the trigger of his, the barrel aimed at Gethin’s head. Gethin dodges easily and grabs the barrel. Alburn immediately grabs his pistol with his other hand, sticks it to Gethin’s gut and fires.
Alburn unloads the gun’s rotating chamber until it clicks. Gethin simply stares at human, no care for his new wounds. While the battle is underway and the group engages, the Twins decide to spectate. They turn to smoke and worm their way up the main hall, where they reform on a balcony overlooking the scene.
“Oh joy, the doggie is going to kill the Anathema!” The spoiled one jumps up and down happily.
Movement. Those he sought now at the door's premise. A desire from his surrogate, a pulse he agreed to cultivate. The trail of smoke unmistakable to anyone else, he starts following. His walk, eerily quiet, hidden from sight as his flame by the dark tha is cast upon this domain.
Soon, he is over the stairs, hands open, cracked like a stalker. He gazes onto the gemini, posted at the edge of the balcony. Where a smile might have occured beforehand, there is none to witness. Naught but an ancient visage, casting one of humanity's more primal emotion.
A joyous hatred manifest on his burning hand, the young man lifts two sundering fingers, short gap between them. With a pulse, two small flames appear before the twins, seemingly dying like a star. Only, within their presence, the faint fires growl and bloat in but a flash, exploding upon their exposed bodies with such force to spit them from the balcony. Their small frames, sent flying across Prad, who by them stared at them not. Surely with their eyes, they could note the ambient metallic arm opposed to the burning one, the same shade from the flames that has placed them in this predicamment.
He steadies his hand, halting the visit of further violence as he walked to the shattered balcony. His ears had picked up on the cries from Alburn. Rising his immolated hand, he violently opens his palm, letting loose a serpent swirling and trashing about the immediate surrounding. No, not a serpent, but an orchid stream of fire acting as a reptilian, lashing at the one called Gethin. A choice placed on his hands: to remove himself from the rifleman, or risk suffering the cursed immolation.
"What am I doing? Running away like some defdefenseless child... Layoka..."
Praetor pivots into the forest rolling over log and stone alike. Why would he run from the enemy when his companions fought? Why would he leave when the ones he searched for lay in the clutches of those who would wish them harm? Now was the time for action! Now was the time to abandon one self to sacrifice and give all to the battle.
Bursting forth from the woods Praetor swung the captured blade at Marcus. He aimed center-mass of the beast putting all his weight into the blow. He was not sure if this would kill him but at least he hoped it would cripple him. He would rather face an angry Samia than a crying one.
The smoke and the lesser vampires only serve to make Tirush angry. While she can't see them, she more or less knows where they are using her acute hearing, and she isn't keen on standing there and letting them close in.
Swatting several away, she crouches and leaps straight up, flying herself clear of the cloud of smoke. Even now the powerful pumping of her wings disperses the cloud, but that isn't her goal. She gains altitude, and begins looking around. Her gut tells her that the hostages are in danger; with everything moving against her and her comrades, it isn't a stretch to think that they might kill the victims just to be rid of them.
She spies the twins on the balcony, and this furthers her conviction. She wheels around and dives for the hole she made in the wall earlier, but not before spitting a heaving streak of a fireball at the balcony the twins stand on.
She dives into the hole in the wall enters the prison. She'll have to be quick and get the hostages out, get them clear of the fighting so she can rejoin the melee. She begins tracking, staking down the dinhallways, following the scent of Imperia, what she believes to be Layoka, and another, muskier scent. Someone beastial, someone old...
The Twins quickly regroup despite being separated, as if I’d one mind. Gethin flings Alburn, the human rifleman slams against hard against a pillar of stone. Alburn thuds to the ground gasping for air as the serpent like fire hurtles toward Gethin. The emotionless Vampire stares vacantly at the incoming attack, then bursts to smoke. He reforms past the fire and charges Prad. His hands transform into razor sharp claws capable of cutting steel. He leaps over Prad, his claws extended.
Outside, Marcus blocks Gethin’s cursed sword in Jorge’s use, with one of his greatswords. He plants the other greatsword quickly, freeing up his other hand. Marcus then cocks back his free hand. Jorge can see it, in the Wardog’s eyes. The incoming strike is intended to kill. Marcus is in the complete thrall of the Twins. His brows inward, angered. His sharp canine like teeth clenched, ferocious. Jorge must act fast, Marcus no longer recognizes his friends.
Tirush bursts into a spiral prison that is part of a long bottomless shaft. So far down the mighty Wyvern can not see the bottom. Cages dangle by chains from roof beams, dead withered corpses rotting away in them. The stone composing the spiral tower is ancient, Tirush can smell the dried blood caked on the entirety of the tower, the ages old moss growing from it. A testament to the pain and suffering inflicted in this forgotten ruin.
Then she hears it, a scream. The high pitched screech of a child, followed by the screaming of Imperia. The screams stop, and a pair of feet can be heard running away. Tirush’s keen predatory instincts can tell by the quickness of steps that these noises belong to the muskie scented one, inflicting Harmon the innocent. Despite this, Tirush also notices that the foot steps are controlled, methodical. She faces a seasoned predator, but one who will become hunted.
The imposing shroud of smoke blots out Prad's gaze, promising a meeting with the high end of a claw, spurned forth by the undead his semi-sapient serpent had diven into. For a moment, Prad gazes into the man's eyes, time slowed to a crawl in his perspective. The imposing shape of his would-be enemy. The precision of his talon, going for a killshot.
And yet, all the undead gaze had in return was a blank stare. An uninterested gaze. Devoid of fear, surprise, or a scowling glare of a battle-ready man.
Prad's alien gaze had already diverted from his attacker, turned back to his true preys: the gemini. "Animal, your use here is forfeit. Remove your corpse from sight".
With those words, in mere centimeters from his face, a wall of orchid flame spurn form the ground, intercepting Gethin's kill-strike. The flame takes the shape of yet another serpent, howling at the undead with its hissing fangs. While the burns hadn't started yet, the opportunity of preventing such damage is but a short one. Short so, that Prad had already left the premise, eyes turned to the gemini who had reunited. He starts walking toward them.
And he fades in unatural speed, leaving a deathly trail of fire, rushing at them, more flames within his palms. One for each, he aims at their stomach, a possessed stare accompanying his pace.
Slithering made its way to Alburn, who collapsed at the feet of stone. The serpent, who had previously missed its bite against Gethin, had not burned out. Instead, it gazed at Alburn, its eyes meeting his. Alien flames adorning the body, so close to the rifleman. And yet, it attackes not. Rather, it shortens its size, before swirling at Alburn's arm. The flame that shapes it does no harm, none to his clothes. None to his flesh.
Eventually, it meets the man face-to-face, its eyes gleaming with a yellow-like mix "Rifleman. Your day has not fallen to the twilight. Stand.".
The flame coating the serpent starts spreading outward at Alburn, pinpointed at his most likely injuries, burning them away like a bad dream. The serpent turns from his eyes, looking at his rifle, idle. With a pulse of its eyes, the serpent brings the rifle to Alburn's knees, as well as his pistol. The snake returns to the man "Your ancients are watching your acts, rifleman. They approve of the struggle you muster with your path. But now, they seek to lend strength to your battle. Against their enemies past that walk still this realm. The same ones alike the animal that sent you flying against this stone".
Tirush doesn't waste time. Tucking her wings in fully, she falls forward into a dive, straight down the shaft. How far she goes, she can't tell; the shaft doesn't give her a sense of height, but she knows it goes far. Very far. She falls and falls, using her tail to steer her with subtle movements, pitching from one side to the other as she dodges the dangling chains and cages to the best of her ability.
But it can only help for so long, and she has a close enough brush with a rotted cage that she steers herself to the edge of the shaft. Somersaulting once, she rights herself, digging her claws and talons into the stone to slow her plummet, sparks and embers flying. She slows to a near stop, then drops easily to a jutting stone ledge.
Catlike she leaps, from ledge to ledge, her tail flowing, her jumps taking her the rest of the way down, until her keen eyes spot the bottom of the fetid pit. She halts on a ledge about fifty feet from the bottom, and looks around.
Everything is damp; nothing here would burn. She would have to melt the stone here, or use her liquid fire, the fire that clings to everything and burns like dripping flame. Better than nothing, she reasons. She takes a deep breath.
With a roar, she breathes a slow swathe of fire around the shaft, ringing the wall with a bright crimson fire. It illuminates the area both above and below; something would have to brave its burning tongues to come down now, or do the same to climb up. All who passed through it would burn, except her. She looks down now; the floor of the prison glistens with a putrid gloss, but she can see all of it, now. There would be no hiding in the dark.
Like a fiery mote from heaven, she drops through the ring of flame, trailing embers and floating ash, and hits the ground at a thundering kneel that echoes through the prison. She stands, illuminated by the glow from above, her eyes bright with a hidden fire as she looks about her. Her voice echoes, clear and deep and rolling, her fists flexing as she hunches like a coiled spring.
"Come and face me, filth. You will die now, or you will die tired and cold, when I have hunted you. It will not matter..."
Praetor knew he could not hope to evade the strike, he knew that he did not have the strength to fully stop the strike. All he could hope to do was slow the strike enough to allow him to escape.
He brought the dark blade before him twisting it's blocked mass to block the oncoming puch possibly allowing him to escape the strike while his other half retaliated unleashing a small sphere of DE seeking flame that engulfed the two.
(Jester) Gethin is engulfed by the flaming serpent, his body overtaken in it’s mouth. The serpent drives the Higher Vampire into the wall where it explodes in a violent flame that destroys a great section of the wall. His charred body plops to the floor, along with the stone from the wall.
The Twins dodge Prad’s attack easily and counter with a devastating display of coordination. The two girls attack Prad simultaneously with a flurry of punches and kicks. Each powerful, each accurate. The strikes are rapid and painful, yet nothing in comparison to Tirush, Marcus or Armata.
(Doc) Tirush can here it, subtle whimpering, then the call of her lost friend. “T-Tirush. Tirush! Here! Please be real this time....” Rushing to a open cell at the corner of the spire, Tirush finds Imperia, holding Layoka. Imperia is covered in filth, her makeup smeared and her once beautiful clothing torn and muddied. Tirush can see the tears on Imperia’s dress, the dried blood between her legs. What Tirush notices most, is the small child, covered in lacerations.
Layoka whimpers and cries, her strength lost from all her screaming. Imperia looks up with tears in her eyes, tears of joy and pain. “Tirush! Is really you? Please let my eyes deceive me no more.” Imperia sobs.
(BT) Marcus’ breaks through Gethin’s sword and finds it’s mark on Jorge’s helm. The knight feels more than a thousand years of raw savagery tempered by willpower, as the Wardog’s fist makes contact. But Jorge played his hand well. The blast he unleashed hits it’s mark as well. The explosion sends both men flying, but while Marcus is airborne, Armata appears above him. The Anathema swings hard a right kick to Marcus’s head, and sends the Wardog hurtling to the ground. With a titanic crash Marcus hits the ground. Dust, dirt and debris flying as if a meteor had touched down.
Armata gently floats to the ground, and lands silently. He then looks around for Jorge. “Tin man?! You alive?!”
Somewhat lethargic, his movement have been, despite the seemingly pinpoint acts the man had undertaken. Sluggish in the slight for one with a special eye, as if Prad was but a puppet with a different set of mechanisms to move. Somewhat unprecise...
At least until the gemini had joined in a simultaneous scores of hands and feet, fists and kicks went on the young man. Like a jagged symphony upon an unsuspective victim, each punch and kick serves its purpose. Cut and swift.
Alas for the gemini, all they had in reward for this sync, a response in kind. His eyes flushed open, like an epiphany. His reactions, burned from the lethargic motion he bore. Amidst their continuous assault, two hands strike back, from him both. One for the half of twins who wailed on the man with her hands. The same hands fell short on his gauntlet, ending the rythmic assault from her. In a blink of an eye, he pushes her back...violently. Her time is short to avoid collapsing against the wall Prad had pushed her at.
The other, her foot trying to land for a killshot on the young man's neck. A failure. His burning hand grasps it, at her highest of motion, continuity in motion, as he spins her in the direction of another wall. A slight burn, expande from his hand to her foot, a measurement of resilience he sought to see. To gauge their strength, although the precision was perfect. Every weak joint of his body, struck at least once. The damage to his body, a season of black spots, and damaged bones. The pain did not matter to him.
Prad gazes at the two, even as they fly. He seeks to differenciate them. Which is which? Which to start with?
Tirush's ears swivel behind her as she stands before the iron bars of the cage. The glow of the fire behind and above her outlines her jagged, draconid frame, and she knows that she is being lured into a trap. The cell is open, the perpetrator gone, and no doubt waiting for her to make her move. Still, she acts.
Imperia's question is answered as Tirush places her taloned hands on either side of the iron frame of the front of the cell. The thick iron bars give a crunching squeal as she parts them as easily as if pushing aside branches of a tree, and, closing her fists around the bent iron mass, steps back and rips them from their stone mount with a tug and a crash of breaking stone. She turns and casts the wrecked bars aside and they land with a terrible crash, before stepping into the now wider opening.
"I am here..."
Her grim eyes look over Imperia and Layoka. Wordlessly, she closes the distance in a step and, kneeling, reaches out for the child.
Hands that are capable of bending steel and sundering boulders take the tiny girl with utmost tenderness, as the Wyvern cradles her and gently bundles up her hanging limbs. Holding her in the crook of one arm, leaving her other arm free, she begins to gently lick the girl's wounds, tending to the worst, trying to staunch the bleeding and ease the pain. However, her ears are still pointed behind her, and one of her arms is free to counter the ambush that she knows is going to happen.
"Do not move. He is still here..." Her mumbled words are directed at Imperia as she continues to gently lick Layoka.
(Jester) The Twins hit stone with sickening crunches. The mature twin crashes through a pillar, while the spoiled twin strikes a wall. They both thud to the ground, battered, overpowered.
“This can not be! He is human! No match for our superiority!” Shouts the once matured twin. “You must suffer for your insolence!” The once mature twin charges Prad recklessly, herself open for all manner of attack.
Alburn takes his rifle from the serpent, his eyes wary of what he sees. “Talkin to a flaming serpent.... That’s a first for me.”
(Doc) Tirush is no fool. She hears it, but feels it more so. A great power, terrible in it’s use but horrible in it’s misuse. Barghest watches her. He enjoys the pain afflicted. Tirush can hear him breathing heavily, like a man who has recently finished a night of pleasure with his wife.
“Your weakness, is your compassion. Wyvern. Do you know, who I am?” Barghest’s voice is shrouded in demonic tones and ill intentions.
His eyes lock on her, watching the once proud half of the gemini blunder at him like a scorned maiden. "Your voice. A gutteral abherration. I will silence it." A mistake, with consequence.
Saying no more, Prad delivers a strike to her face once, a weak blow aimed solely at destabilizing her. His hand, burning with his orchid flame, takes hold of her face, his gaunlet spiked up to a horrifying appearance. Were either of them still using their nose, they could smell dried blood on the gauntlet, that had changed in anticipation.
With no time to react, Prad plunges his armored hand unto the mature twin, a nightmare to begin...
Prad's armored hand is lodged deep within the abdomen of the half gemini, yrife with the same power that consumes his right hand. Slowly, the world before her is...bleeding into darkness, at least from her perspective. Her sight getting more near with each second, until the only vision allowed, the man who struck her.
From the other twin's vision, nothing seems to have changed, save for a tower of energy ripe from Prad and her sister's feet, collided into a pillar. The ma turns at the spoiled one, slowly "Savor your fleeting seconds, halfling. This sentence will be echoed unto you."
Elsewhere, the serpent makes no reaction of what Alburn said, unfazed by his declaration "Your kind has been subservient to the animals that eternally rot. I am not deterred by their erasure of what your ancestors once produce. But, no more about surprises. They wish to aid you. So, I bring you a gift"
The snake ends it's speech, presenting the rifleman with a gem. A pristine, yet raw piece of accessory "With this, their hands will guide yours. Their sights will be yours. Their strength, speed, dexterity, all tailored to what you are..."
Slowly, she hands the little girl back to Imperia. She rises and turns simultaneously, pivoting to meet her enemy. She stands in front of the open cell, placing herself between the voice and the prisoners. Her voice is deep, edged by a rumble that reverberate the walls---the still-burning ring of liquid flame above them flares, shimmering and waving violently as if fed by some unknown force.
"...You are the flesh between my teeth, the blood upon my lips. Tonight I drink from the vessel of your black heart, and my children shall lap the marrow from your bones. You are ash, groundling worm, and your fire is weak, to have to harm a child..."
(Jester) “wha-what have you done?! Ahhhhhhh!” The mature twin screams in fear as her vision fades, her sister watching in confusion all the while.
Alburn does not question the serpent. He takes the stone in hand and tucks it into a pouch on his belt. “I’m not sure what you’re talkin about. But I’m here to see things right. My ancestors will smile on me win or lose, and so will the Vampires of old. These girls, their followers. Are usurpers. They do not represent the centuries of truce and friendship of their race.”
(Doc) Tirush looks over her shoulder to see two orange eyes glowing in the darkness of a cell parallel to herself.
“Harm a child? All I see is wretched flesh. Sheep to be showered, cattle to be slaughtered. You’re but a winged cow, a brood mother to some human worm. My nephew spoke highly of you before his mind was taken. I seek to test his claim.... Playing with your friends was fun, for a while. I wonder when she will bare my son....” Barghest’s laugh turns to a growl.
Tirush now understands the Imperia was raped more than once. Adding fuel to Barghest’s funeral fire. However, Tirush hears it. Flesh ripping, bones cracking. All reforming to something else. Tirush watches as Barghest’s eyes grow larger, his teeth growing, drooling foulness of eons of death.
“You are but my next MEAL!” From the cell a giant dog of rabid exterior lunges forth, growling and snarling at it’s opponent.
She speaks, but he answered not. Instead, the world they stand upon builds up a purple atmosphere. Winds ripping through the non-existent plane "I have nothing to inflict upon you, animal..."
Alas, as he speaks those words, the earth spills around them, breaking through the tiles, yet damaging naught at the same time. Hands rise beyond the wounds of the soil. Ten. A hundred. A thousand. Ten thousand. Tens of thousands "...they do. I am but a messenger. Make use of your rotting sight. Are they not familiar?"
Elsewhere, the snake watches as Alburn pockets the gem. Only for it to start gleaming. A surge through his legs and hands. His rifle and pistol, they undergo a change, gradually...
Darkness. Darkness and a loud high pitched ring was all he could see and hear. His head throbbed his neck felt stiff and his ribs felt surprisingly better. His senses began to slowly return when Armata landed beside him but only to the point where he could only make out blurry shapes and muffled sounds.
With a groan the tin man rose from the ground bringing what remained of the sword up to his head, rubbing the small dent that now blunted the top right corner of his helm.
"I dont don't know who or what you are but since you didn't attack me outright I'm still alive. Just give me a moment to... What the hell am I holding?"
Halfway through its leap, the giant wolf is met with a shattering blow as Tirush's fist smashes into its muzzle with a heavy thud, sending it spiralling away and crashing into the far wall. As soon as the enormous beast begins to right itself, it's grabbed by an ankle and yanked in the opposite direction, spun around and smashed into the wall again like a tree branch.
Tirush knows the bottom of this pit isn't the most ideal place for a fight, but she plans on ending down here. She only has to keep the beast from going after the hostages, but she doesn't plan on giving it any breathing room.
As soon as the creature smashes against the wall, she lets go and leaps atop it, using her considerable bulk as momentum and sinking her talons finger-deep in a death grip. With a snarl she bites down on its backside, breathing in and getting ready to exhale fiery death at point blank range, her taloned feet digging into the stone for purchase.
(Jester) “Valoriena!” Screams the spoiled twin. Her sister engulfed and dragged down by the bodiless hands. Valoriena kicks, wails and claws at the hands, trying desperately to see herself free. At that moment Gethin appears behind Prad, claws extended to cut off Prad's head.
(BT) “you’re holding the sword of an enemy.... What use to be a sword, anyways. Gather yourself, Tin man. Our enemy stirs.”
Off in the distance, Marcus emerges from the rubble.
(Doc) Barghest howls and bucks as Tirush takes hold. The giant beast thrashes and slams his unwanted rider into the wall repeatedly. Grinding Tirush against stone and steel. He shakes Tirush free for but a moment, body thudding to the ground as Barghest retaliates. His jaws clamp down hard on her shoulder, jerking his head violently to tear flesh.
However Tirush’s skin is tough, her scales more so Barghest has trouble even drawing blood.
The possessed young man continues to watch her struggle to contain those reaching for her, scraping a piece of her soul with each gnash. Faces bound, eyes and jaws by darkness, yet driven by fury. Those things, literally ripping her apart.
Only for Prad to suddenly stop. The wailing hands, the moaning figures. They all stop, still clutching their part. The elder half, still somewhat whole, though her time is fleeting. He turns her from face, the vision of the outer world made clear for a moment to her. Not out of will, or desperation "Your joined filth has bellowed desperation, calling out to the rotting blank. Do you wish them to join you in fate?"
From the outside, the wall of flame had dampen, seemingly to allow Gethin to lunge against the young man. Though, were he gazing at his target, he would see the young man gazing back, eyes drenched in fiery purple. This time, his claw would have less distance covered before a black hand of smoke had grappled his. The hand leading something out of the pocket plane.
A man in black. The color of smoke. Smoke, imitating an individual. A human, yet non-present. Every aspect of his being, clothed in ash and smoke. But his grip feels real. His gaze feels heavy, purple, like the young man.
By then, he had two steps out of the pocket plane, it closing once more in orchid pillar of flame. His smoky hand had let go of Gethin's hand, its interest, null...
...until its eyes met the twin bellowing from outside. As he looked at her, a thousand eyes joined his, weighting on her, almost as if she was surrounded by watchers. Familiar watchers. The smoke entity moves his hand in a cupping display towards the spoiled one "Gazing from behind the vain dragoness and the rotting duo, I was under the impression you had fostered care for your joined abonimation. Yet you are deaf to her screams, are you not? Of course not. Animals never mend to their own, unless it brings them salvation"
Finally, its gaze turns to the one who naught once, but twice had made an attempt on his surrogate. Both of its hands, jestered at him You wish to suffer as they will and are. So. Be. IT."
With no more words to utter, the smoke entity joins its hands in a spread-out palm, sending a large swath of flame
Tirush snarls as she is battered against the wall, and she realizes that she will have to loosen her grip, lest Barghest shake her loose at the wrong time and cause her to fill the room with unintentional fire. She chokes herself, letting go as the giant wolf throws her off. It's at that moment that he leaps, clamping down on her shoulder and trying to shake her.
The attack does but one thing, and it is significant; Tirush is now at a disadvantage, unable to attack with one arm or gain leverage. In a sudden moment of clarity, she knows she will have to get clear of the prison to fight with any significant strenth, or risk bringing it down on top of the innocents.
Gritting her fang she roars, bringing her free fist around and under into the beast's gut with a sickeningly hollow thud. He loses a slight grip, and this is all she needs.
Wrenching her shoulder free she grabs him, getting a grip yet again. But this time, she crouches and, summoning her primal strength, leaps skyward in an explosive burst.
They shoot upwards through the shaft in an instant, and Barghest is battered by layers of stone and timber as they crash through multiple floors on their way up. They explode through the roof of the prison, hurtling skyward in a trail of fire and ash. They slow at the apex, hanging for a moment...
With a shrieking bellow Tirush kicks the giant beast in a somersault, sending him reeling end over end for a hundred yards, crashing through the woods like a boulder. Tirush begins her own fall, hurtling downwards until she is able to control her descent. Her wings flare, bursting open, and she immediately falls to a swooping dive, pursuing Barghest even as he comes to a rolling halt.
Flames trail from her open maw. She belches dragonfire, immolating the area Barghest is in, before swinging her taloned feet beneath her and roaring  as she plunges into the inferno, slamming into the hellbeast and raking him across the hellish landscape.
Partially blind, Praetor removes his shield from its clip and brings its divine metal to bear the brunt of the oncoming Hound. He slams the curved slab of worked metal into the ground in an attempt to further anchor himself into the ground. The it hit him... he had been here before. This exact situation played in his mind once more. The sight of Marcus' hand reaching over once more made his hairs stand on point once more. He wouldn't fall for the same trick twice. Praetor would have to adapt if he wanted to survive and so he readied himslef once more as he threw away the broken sword and reached for a small hilt, one of many that lay on his belt.
"Armata guide my strike! My vision has not yet returned!"
He lied partially. HE could make basic shapes and facial features but that was all he needed to make it to his target. That was all he needed to execute his plan.
(Jester) The flames reach out and engulf Gethin. They burn hotter than any he suffered prior. The Higher Vampire screams in agony as he is encased in heat. With the last of his strength he lunges his hand forward, his claws find flesh as the drive into Prad’s leg. After they pierce, Gethin’s hand crumbles as ash. Soon, his whole body as well. Crumbled pile of gray ash in the shape of a man, thuds to the floor.
The Twins watch frightened as one of their champions topples over as nothing but ash. “Violetta, run! Get to Lord Pramool’s chamber and await his revival!” Valoriena shouts while struggling.
“Sister I wont-“
“Do it!” Valoriena screams, a tinge on fear in her tone. Violetta wastes no more time. She bursts to mist and fades from sight. Valoriena turns to smoke to escape the grasping hands and reappears on Prad’s flank. She spins and sends the heel of her right boot straight for his face.
(Doc) Barghest writhes in pain. Bones broken, and a large shrapnel chunk of wood jutting from his back. The wolf whimpers in pain, unable to move much. He howls loudly, his call echoing over the woods and mountains.
“You.... think you’ve won? Pramool will soon be revived, and he.... will rain death on your world. Hehehe.” Barghest tries to stand, but his legs give out. “I’d like you know.... you’re friend Imperia. She felt.... good. Especially when she screamed for you. She was so certain you’d save her from the long sessions I forced on her. Hehehe. “
(BT) Marcus lunges forward but stops immediately as Barghest’s howl thunders over the landscape. The Wardog outright ignores Armata and Jorge, and bolts in the direction of the cry.
The young man looks down as the dying vampire finds his leg to burrow the vestige of his power. He looks almost curious, unfeeling of the blow even as it draws blood. Control, yet disconnected.
Alas for the one naalmef Valoriena, her brief freedom from the cursed gauntlet came false. Her foot seeking to bury in the young man's face is instead ripped f on the rest of her body, her soul, by one of the hands. Only, this one had a body with it. One of the countless she had killed in the past, bound by shackles and blindfold, as well as a mouth fold.
"You wished to join oblivion so badly...so be it. The Never End is upon you", speaks Prad, as the rest of hand uncover from the earth, hands and bodies grasping at her. Shackles burst from Prad's cursed hand, binding her flesh at her current position.
Helpless against the victims of her past deeds. Their hands ripping her soul to shred in a never ending stream of jagged lacerations. Slowly, by the measure of time in the pocket plane. Yet in real space, this unfolded in but a second.
The pillar dissipates, revealing Prad, walking away from the elder gemini, her body dried to black ash, having suffered the death of her soul. Whim to the winds feeding upon it.
He stops for a moment, inspecting the leg. Bloody. The one named Gethin had delivered a solid strike. Limping would be the mold. The body screams for relief... from everything.
It is denied that, the man sprinting to follow his specter. The specter that hunter the one named Violetta's mist. The walls around her fleeting form collapsing into flames until her right of passage is challenged by a gate of orchid fires, gnashing at her.
Tirush says nothing as she prowls forward. The land bathed in fire, black with ashen char and swirling with unnaturally potent tongues of flame, it swirls and bends to her, throbbing and pulsing with her rumbling breath. The ground cracks with heat, hissing as the moisture is forced from its embered soil.
With a short leap, Tirush is on the beast, and begins the workmanlike task of killing her prey.
Her steel-like talons close about the beast's back, crushing its spine with a terrible muted cracking noise. Spattered in blood, both her own and that of her enemies, her giant hands grip the creature, pinning it with unearthly strength that belies her size. Snarling, her hands pin its forelimbs and she lunges, her fanged jaws clamping around its throat, sinking into the jugular and crushing the windpipe.
Blood runs in great rivulets as the creature thrashes, gurgling, but the task is all but done. Seconds pass, then half a minute, as the crimson pool expands below them. Struggling becomes pitiful thrashing. Then, its lifeblood gone, the giant wolf stops.
Tirush's mouth closes all the way, and she pulls back, tearing out the creature's throat, but it is unnecessary. It is dead, and now, with the flames closing about them, it is starting to burn. She spits out the gob of vile demon flesh spitefully, then gives the body one or two cursory sniffs.
She doesn't dignify the beast with a roar of victory. She doesn't celebrate the death of the cowardly.
She stands and leaps into the air. Like a spiraling whirlwind the fire follows her, leaving a trail of bright crimson. She flies back to the prison, and back to the hile she made, and falls down, once again to the bottom, and this time she lands heavily. By now the fire is dismissed, having dispersed along the way, and the only light in the bleak dungeon is from the glow of her scales, the rippling embers of her wings, the bright suns of her eyes. She steps in and, stooping to gently pick up Imperia, cradling her and the child both.
With a pensive voice, deep with the hoarseness of having just fought, she speaks.
"How does the child? We must get you to safety, for the battle is still fierce. Can you walk?"
(Jester) Violetta takes an alternate route, barreling down a corridor to the right and continuing on our of sight. As Prad turns the corner to view his target, he sees Violetta’s smoke-like remains channel under a door. He approaches the wooden door. The wood is old, rotted, and the handle is encased in rust. As he turns the handle and pushes open the door, he is treated to the sight of a room shrouded in darkness and filled with ancient skeletons.
Hung by their necks, the skeletons sway gently from the drafty air of the prison. Their bones clatter, making a symphony of chilling clicks and clacks.
(Doc) Imperia nods. “I.... I can walk, but.... I’d be lying if I said ‘I want to’. I’d prefer to be carried by you, Tirush.” Imperia moves to Tirush’s front, her eyes filled with many raw emotions and desires. While cradling Layoka in her arms, Imperia leans in and kisses Tirush’s neck, holding her lips there.
“I want to be carted away, like a maiden saved by my great love. I want so many thing, Tirush. I want a bath, I a warm meal, I want blood, I want your specific company.... all at the same time.” Imperia says pulling away from Tirush’s neck.
“Alas it is not the time for that. I can walk, and shall do so. But Tirush, when you return me to safety, please don’t leave me until the sun rises the next morning. I need you to you to save me, in more ways than one....” Imperia nuzzles her face into Tirush’s mantle, she breathes deep, taking in the lovely scent of her Wyvern love. Imperia pulls away and begins walking toward a spiral stairwell that leads upward.
(BT) Armata sneers at the idea of carrying Jorge. “Where is the Wyvern when you need her?” He grumbles. The Vampire Lord begins to growl and curse, clenching his fists tight and gritting his teeth. His cloak forms into a pair of wings, reminiscent to that of Tirush’s. Armata grabs Jorge by his shoulder plates, and his new wings begin pumping hard. Jorge soon finds his feet off the ground, his body slowly rising with Armata.
(Everyone) Marcus barrels toward the burning epicenter where Barghest’s corpse lay. The Wardog cuts through the brush to see his kin’s body burning. The area is thick with the scent of roasting flesh and hair. He watches for a moment as the last living member of his family burns. The indoctrination preformed on Marcus, fuels his beast blood. All manner of savage retribution clouds his mind. With a snarl, he grips his greatswords and begins cutting his way back to the prison.
Prad takes two steps, having followed his hollow shape of misery. He then stops dead in his track and takes a good long look around him. His eyes, once scorn and indifference, are somewhat subversive to the state of grief. While nowhere near the stage of open sadness, he looks at each and every skeleton present as if they were alive.
The state of an old soldier. An ancient soldier who had failed his people, he puts his knees on the ground. His hunt for the remaining gemini, cast aside...for now.
"I have ignored your pleads for so long..." he starts speaking, an orchid gem placed before him by his metal hand. Slowly, colors of the same shade pour out the remains to the ground, shaping into the vague figures of whom they once were. They walk like undead, drawn by the gem, stopping so close to it and the man, casting their non-existent eyes at him.
"No more" he ends, getting himself up. The spirits drawn from their remains slowly approaches him, fingers in the air. They...embrace him, in the numbers. Prad himself takes one of the spirit in his arm, as if he was consolidating an infant, his state of that a dotting parent. Visible to naught but his eye, yet the presence heavy, they merge with the man, his gauntlet gleaming of a pale purple with each spirit faded within it. The state one itself brings others to it, welcomed to the same fate...
Praetor harbored no anger towards Marcus. He did not want to harm him in any way. We're there a way to stop him without violence he would work hard to attain it, but he knew at this stage Marcus did not feel the same.
Such was the nature of his work. The amount of peril he would put himself in was reason enough for him to fight with killing intent. After all how could he dare hope to slay the WarHound?
"There Armata! Next to that burning animal! He's trying to enter the castle!"
"No, no. I was not asking so that you might leave here on your own feet, hrrdah. I was asking to know your strength, but no more. You will not have to climb."
Without prompting, Tirush steps forward and scoops the Vampiress and little Dhampir into one wing, cradling them like a bundle to be carried. Her velvety wing acts as almost a hammock as the pair are pressed softly to her breast. Tirush is covered in blood, soot, grime and sweat, so the ride isn't wholly pleasant, but itnis a sight better than what they had before.
Tirush carries them to the wall of the prison, looking up its long shaft. Then, her muscles coiling, she makes a leap into the air, grabbing the stones of the side wall. Her talons digging into the stone, she climbs her way up with one hand and two feet, carrying the former hostages with her almost as if they were little children.
The climb is arduous, but the Copper Wyvern seems to be tireless. Again and again she pulls herself up, a body length at a time, until she at last claws her way out of the fetid hole. Still holding the pair, she steps to the hole in the wall she made earlier when she fought Gethin. She steps in the opening, facing the outside and shouting for the attention of the others, her voice a booming echo.
"KEN'DHOV! ALBURN, HUMAN! I HAVE THEM! COME AND HELP ME TAKE THEM TO SAFETY!"
(Jester) While Prad mingles with the departed, Violetta continues her alternate route to Pramool’s chamber. Her smoke form slithers close to the ground, weaving in and out of obstacles in her path. Down corridors and stairs she delves deeper into the bowels of the prison, putting much distance between her and Prad.
Violetta’s heart aches and her mind ablaze with hate. Her sister was taken before Pramool’s return and cast to ashes from a mortal. Surely that human will pay, she thought.
(BT) Armata looks to see Marcus barreling toward the prison. With Praetor in tow there’s no way he’d reach Marcus in time. “Hold on Tin man, I’ll get us there as fast as I can.” Armata pumps his makeshift wings hard, increasing speed. They both watch as Marcus sprints to the prison at great speed. Closing the distance in a short time. The Wardog’s feet dig into the ground, it buckles and cracks under the tremendous pressure he puts out as he leaps into the air.
Marcus sails far with both greatswords in hand. He raises them above his head as he nears a tower of the prison. Once he is close enough, Marcus brings down his blades hard and crashes through the wall of the tower. Armata can see through the smoke and dust of the forced entry. He knows where Marcus goes.
“He’s going after Tirush. We must hurry.”
(Doc) Imperia did not care what condition of hygiene Tirush’s body was in, for the Vampire herself was in poor condition. Covered in dirt, tattered clothes, not bath in weeks. Imperia only cared for the warmth and safety Tirush’s presence brought her. She nuzzles into Tirush, feeling her skin once more brought waves of happiness to her cold body. Clenching Layoka tight, Imperia knew they will ok. Tirush would level mountains before letting them come to further harm.
Alburn hears Tirush’s call, her shouts for assistance. He springs into action, grabbing his rifle. The Rifleman feels the surge of strength coursing through him. He was faster, stronger. Up staircases and down long halls he sprints past forced open doors, human remains and battered rooms. Alburn Burt’s into the spiral prison tower and sees Tirush in the opening.
“Tirush, you found the hostages. What do you need?”
The gem, embedded in his pocket, had, via his ancestral connection, recognized Alburn as it's user. The effect of its blessings, finally kicked in. His weapon, gradually shifting appearance under his eyes, had changed into a silver rifle, with a snake slithering ac pas the barrel. It hums with an unidentified source of power.
His hands, slowly encased in the same material, with streams of lines ended in a dot, managed like nervous systems. Dexterity, strength, precision blessed his arms.
His feet,sheltered in the same casing, shaped like a human's sinew at its apex. Purple veins ran across its rugged lining, burning away the protein that was to weight down his spring endurance. Replaced quickly with greater leg strength and velocity.
Power became his. And yet, the gem had started flickering like a distress beacon. The beat synchronized with his own heart. Danger was nearby...
Tirush plods forward, presenting the two to Alburn.
"Take them back to where we first rested. Take them upon your beast, and fly, as fast as you may go. Do not stop, do not stop, for the Black Dog is still here, he is fighting with the others. Take them, amd protect them with your greatest fire. I shall find you when the battle is won. Go! GO!"
With that curt statement, Tirush hands them over. She has no parting words; her senses are on high alert, for she knows the fighting will continue. She simply turns and leaps into the air, making for the top platform of the prison roof. She before stated that she was going to level the prison and turn it into a lake of fire, and she fully intends on doing so.
With great care and purpose Praetor reached for his own mighty sword and removed it from its hefty scabbard, holding the blade out like a spear he kicked his legs out and readied himself for what was to come.
"Armata! Drive me into him so we may pin him to the wall! We have but one chance so what do you say? Want to pay back that SOB for betraying !"
Praetor spread his legs in preperation for a charge as if he landed he would need to hold onto the beast or risk falling to his death. He hoped that he hit nothing vital. He hoped that he did not outright kill his friend as the aftermath would be too much for his family to handle... his family. The Iron knight repositioned his sword rotating in an attempt to avoid taking out his entire spine should he hit, now all he had to worry about was tearing him in two.
(Jester/Doc) Alburn grabs Imperia and Layoka, he lifts them both off with little struggle. He stands there dumbfounded by his new strength. Both Imperia and Layoka felt so light to him. Not wanting Tirush to yell anymore, Alburn takes off down the stairs and back the way he came. Passing through all the corridors he did before, Alburn reaches daylight at the front door.
Many questions buzzed in his mind. Where is Barnabus? What is Tirush going to do? Will they be able to stop Marcus? However he did not let these questions slow him as he reached the midway point of the bridge out front of the prison. He whistled for his horse, but it did not come. Alburn whistled again, but still nothing.
“Damn it all.” White huff Alburn moves on and heads for the campsite.
(BT) “I hope you know what you are doing....” Armata swings Jorge as hard as he can. The knight flies toward the opening Marcus created. As he approaches the interior is dark and hard to make out. As Jorge gets close enough, he sees Marcus waiting for him inside. Jorge is lined up perfectly to hit Marcus, but Marcus is poised to intercept Jorge.
Jorge smashes into Marcus and they crash through the wall. They enter into the main hall from before. Plummeting to the ground the two tussle in the air, until they both hid the floor heavily. The flooring cracks and breaks, it’s integrity compromised. Marcus rolls over several times quickly to gain ground from Jorge.
Marcus stops as is in low to the ground like a predator, ready to lunge.
The strength was genuine, as if a hundred hands, a hundred arms folded into his own contributed to the carry. His feet ran with no tiredness, ignoring the weight added to his own body.
However, surely he must feel it. The gem beating in increasing velocity, prompting his own heart to match it. His instincts burn bright in his mind. The gem pulses in danger. Enemies nearby. Extremely nearby. This sensation overwhelms the gift. His arms and feet's silver were fading away in response, still adjusting to its new wearer. Whatever he wishes to do, he had better do it fast, before his strength fades from the newborn stress of danger close.
Prad, or whoever inhabitated his body, had since long resumed walking. He holds the gem the size of his fist forward, like a supposed light-giver. No words comes out of the man, though his eyes suggested communication. His prey, that had long escaped within the bowels of the dungeon, had seemingly lost priority in him. RIght now, the man walked each inch this desolate place had to offer, crystal in hand always.
Jorge lay prone gasping for air as he struggled to roll himself over. For a breif moment as he managed to roll to his back he realized the peril he put himself in. He should have thought this plan through a little more, he should have explained his intentions to Armata better than he originally had. That did not matter anymore as the Dog of war was upon him and all he could do was gasp for air.
The knight attempted to sit up and reached for his abdomen as if injured, he could hardly hope to defeat Marcus in this state so all he could do was wait for an opening.
"Marcus! What would your family say if they saw you like this do you rven remember them? Samia? Cyndwella? All your children? Have you forgotten about them? Have you forgotten about all you have gone through for them? Are you truly that easily blinded?"
(Jester) Alburn pushes hard with every step, sprinting as fast as he can with the combined weight of Imperia and Layoka. Striding as far as he can. He feels his newfound strength failing. His body tiring. Alburn slows to a few short footsteps.
The Rifleman breathes deep, trying to catch his breath. Tirush’ words echo in his mind as he kneels to take a brief moment to breath and regain some strength. Alburn looks around at the trees, the birds suddenly taking flight. Then he hears it. Screeching, snarling, blood thirsty beasts. A hoard of Lesser Vampires swarm his position.
“THAT WAY! Go! DON’T STOP NO MATTER WHAT!” Alburn points in the direction of the high capital.
“But you are supposed to-“ Imperia attempts to interject, but Alburn cuts her off with a shot from his rifle, aimed at an incoming Garkain.
“Please go! Tirush-“ (Bang) He fires another round. “Tirush would make a coat of my skin if I did not give my all to your wellbeing.” (Bang) Alburn fires again and claims another Lesser kill. The beast toppling over, ploughing into the dirt lifelessly. Imperia protests no more, and trudges on. She looks back for a moment, only to see Alburn hopelessly outnumbered.
(BT) Marcus marches forward, drawing his greatswords. Jorge’s words reaching nothing but the air surrounding them. Marcus is enthralled by the remaining twin, his mind lost to their madness. Jorge only gets snarls and growls in return.
The shooting continuing, the weapon flares. Coated in silver, lined in the foreign power source, coiled by a snake who's gaping maw constitues the fire of the barrel. It's micro-eyes light on in an ominous sight. The feeds invigorates it. Alburn can feel the strength of a thousand return to his side. A thousand eyes gazing with his own. A thousand arms lifting his rifle.
The second shot that lodged into the lifeless thing bursts in a red mist. The catridge springs out of the kill, almost under Alburn's will, he who holds its vessel. Ambient dust seeps out of it, weighted under its own power, the bullet surges forward, self-replicating with each rabid creature it snatches the llife out of.
2 spectral projectiles...
16...and so on. One for each. Their names forfeil to the foreign. Their lives following close after. They fall one by one like a rain of corpses, holes hollow with the escaping power. One by one, mimicking a line of phantom shooters picking their scores. Alburn can see the bullets tracing in the whirlwind, producing the beautiful, yet glaucous dust that follows them. The strength of his arms and feet, steadfast, but ever cautious, for they speak of danger, once more. One that is escaping..."Wounded...cornered...trapped...escaping..."
Tirush lands on the topmost platform, but she doesn't have long before she can smell that Marcus is nearby...very close. It is then with growing alarm that the she realizes that there is another smell---bloody metal and sweat. Jorge is there as well.
She forgets her task of destroying the prison; there's no way she can with Jorge inside. But she doesn't know where he is, so she drops to a prowl and swivels her ears, listening. Far below her, close to where she originally entered, she hears his voice, faint through the thick walls...
"...your children? Have you forgotten about them? Have you forgotten about all you have gone through for..."
She dashes on all fours across the roof, her rapid footfalls heavy, her talons clattering on the tiles. She leaps off of the edge, landing, catlike, on the outside of the hole in the wall where Jorge and Marcus entered. She is now behind Jorge and Armata, and Marcus is beyond them.
"Lure him out, Ken'dhov!" She calls, her voice traced with snarling. "Do not face him in there! Come to me!"
Praetor slowly kicks himselfree from the rubble, not once letting his eyes wander from his would be assailant. With and arm and a leg Praetor wriggled away from the hound ensuring that he made no sudden or rapid movements. If Marcus was acting on instinct he would need to play that to his advantage.
"Say now! How many kids was it? Last time I saw you had a whole horde of them crawling over you... You gave that up for this terrorising children and kidnapping? I thought you were above such petty acts!"
As they crawled back the aspect of Jorge saw his greatsword laying in the distance and opened his left palm in an attempt draw the imbeded ignis to him blade and all.
As Praetor crawled back he kept his right hand cradling his gut as the familiar ferrous scent began to seep from his armor.
"Don't do it marcus! Dont make me remove you fromnyour children's lives!"
(BT/Doc) Marcus lunges toward Jorge with greatswords drawn. He bolts up to Jorge with all the speed and vigor his legends speak of. With a first swing of his left greatsword, Jorge lifts his shield high and forces the blade to glide over his head, but Marcus’ uses the momentum and swivels his body hard. The souls of his grind over the stone floor grinding small debris and kicking up dirt. His right greatsword comes in fast on Jorge’s left.
The battle hardened knight drives his blade down into the stone floor, forming a wall that stops Marcus’ second attack. The blades clash in a sea of sparks that illuminate the dark hall for an instant. Marcus was caught of balance by this. Jorge takes immediate advantage. Like the Order legionnaires of old, he fronts his great wall of a shield and drives it forward, pushing Marcus away. While the Wardog tries to catch his footing to keep from falling over, Jorge charges forward.
Marcus turns just in time to see Jorge at full sprint, shield raised like a weapon. It is too late to do anything but accept what is going to happen. Jorge shouts and thrusts his shield forward as throwing a punch. The towershield slams into Marcus’ face, blood and spit blast from his lips and nose, a shockwave crosses the floor to the every corner of the room. The pillars shake, and the loose debris on the floor trembles in this moment.
Jorge can see it, Marcus’ glowing irises fade. They lose their beautiful illumination, his expression one of zero thought. Most likely he is unconscious from the attack. Marcus lifts off the ground and sent clear across the room, crashing through one of the pillars lining the hall. He slams into the wall behind, as he hits the floor the collapsing pillar topples onto him. Burying him beneath stone. Marcus’ greatswords lay on the ground where he once was. Jorge’s attack knocked Marcus silly enough to dislodge the swords from his grip.
The room goes quiet. The debris as settled, Marcus is buried. There is no sound from anything, accept the distant cracks of Alburn’s rifle. Armata lands beside Jorge, staring at the pile of broken stone. Only Marcus’ right hand is visible from the rubble.
Prad continues on his way, driving himself ever deeper down the same path the half gemini undertook. His feet ar silent, as to undisturb the makeshift funeral the long dead finally had the rights to.
His crystal left to fade away with the departed to an unknown space, he continues, his façade of peace since long eroded. Usurped by the returned apathy he drew against both the mature twin and the emotionless undead.
And yet, much like his flame, he keeps it sheltered, veiled l, to uncover in the right time. His foot limp with each step down, legacy of his lacerated leg by one of his victim. He stops for but a second to gaze at it, shaky and unstable. Bleak words come out in an admonish of the body "Your sentence for allowing her taint to infest you. Your whimpers do naught but worsen the ordeal"
"Thanks... I don't know what happened back there. My mind went blank for a moment and then... I just hope I didn't kill him, I'd rather not have to bring his corpse to Samia and tell them what happened."
The aspect of Jorge reaches out for his sword, the fragment of the ignis finally answering his call bringing the sword along with it.
The aspect of Praetor stoops down collecting the two before he makes his way to the downed Marcus, shield and sword still raised for an attack.
"Marcus has been downed Tirush! I'm goin in to see if he is salvageable! If not... if no I'll give him a warriors death! What say you?"
Praetor had all but forgotten why he was in this world, why he was fighting Marcus and why he was allied with Armata. All that lingered was battle and survival. If he wanted to luve he had to destroy all that wanted to harm him, all that wanted to kill him. If Marcus could be persuaded to aid him then good if not he would return home in spirit if at all. His soerd and eyes acted as one as they moved in tandem tracking Marcus's every twitch and limb. He would no longer hesitate. He would no longer give him pity nor mercy as he was not shone any. Those eyes were that of a monster's and so he would become that as well if he wished to survive.
"Let it be so." Tirush rises from her fighting stance, annoyed that the fight was ended so quickly, but the feeling passes.
"Either one does not matter to me. He will not come close to my children again, this I vow."
The sooty, blooded Copper Wyvern looks around her, as if surveying things at a glance.
"Let us leave this place. We have the hostages, there is nothing more for us here. You."
She turns and looks at Armata with barely hidden contempt. "We have gained what we sought, now take us back to our homes! There is nothing more for us here. We have kept the promise to your clan, and recovered that which is yours. Open your red magic and let us take our leave of this place."
(BT/Doc) “Leave?” Barnabus comes into view of the group, wiping blood from his lips. “None of you can leave yet. Did you forget what has been set into motion, Pramool’s reawakening. If you all depart now, there is no chance to avert this, he will rise with the hatred and bloodlust born from thousands of years of captivity. He will scorch every inch of this world. Every structure and every life, no matter how small will be trampled by him!”
Barnabus looks to the group with utter sincerity.
“Please. I understand you are foreign to this world and wish to return to your own, but you-“ Barnabus halts his speech as the rocks atop Marcus shift. The visible hand grips a stone in it’s palm, crushing it outright with zero difficulty. Cobalt flames begin to sprout and surface from the pile of rubble. The flames smolder and part, but soon turn to a raging inferno as Marcus rises from the pile of stone.
Nothing but a growl escapes him, as his glowing irises set upon Jorge. One step, then two, Marcus removes himself from the pile and approaches the group. His fists clenched tight, his canine like teeth even more.
“He is.... persistent.” Barnabus looks at the other group members.
“Yes, very.” Armata sneers. Acheron soon rejoins the group. In his smoke form he returns to the group and reforms.
“Apologies for my tardiness. The Lesser hoards were vast.... and hungry.” He shifts his blades forward toward Marcus who approaches the group encased in his signature flames.
It isn’t long though, before a voice can be heard over the harrowing winds. “Kill them, kill all but the Anathema. You, are Pramool’s last sword in this fight for resurgence. Do not fail, do not hesitate. Batter them, tear them, break them.” The voice fall silent, but then returns. It is Violetta’s voice.
“Werewolves sleep beneath the trees. Harpys sway in the breeze. Your souls lay down, wide awake. Fearing the monster that comes your way. And in the silence of the night, tear drops fall as daylight dies. For your souls lay down, wide awake.... For The Destroyer, fierce and cold, paid in silver and gold.... He’ll crush and slice, he’ll chop and dice, he’ll eat your souls.... Eat your souls.” The Violetta’s voice fades, all that is left is the churning, fluttering sound of Marcus’ flames, his growl clad within it.
But within the eyes of some, Marcus is no longer human. He stands before them, a giant dog. Fur black as the void, teeth razor sharp, and aura foul with evil, the effects of the prison seeping into their minds.
Tirush's hackles begin to rise as Barnabus tells them that they can't leave. His words fall on a fiery soul that has seen too much death and has been away from family for too long. A black anger swells in her breast, as this undead creature tells her that she is not allowed to leave. In an instant, what remained of her goodwill is wiped away, replacing reason and restraint with indignant, trembling fury, held in check only by a few seconds and her proximity to Jorge.
Now, she hated the undead. She didn't understand them. It wasn't that she didn't understand what was happening; she had full comprehension. It was that now, having been told that she couldn't go home and had to fight someone else's battle, she stopped caring. Why should she?
Who had helped her when she was driven from her home, her people enslaved and slaughtered, driven to near extinction? Who had helped her when, her daughter newly hatched, her husband was killed in war and she was forced to flee? Had anyone helped her when, alone and starving, she had to leave her tiny child alone in the freezing rain, to hunt that they would live for another day or two? Who helped her when her baby cried in the cold, for having nothing to eat, because they had no food and her breast was dry? Was anyone there to comfort her shattering loneliness, having lost her husband, raising her daughter alone in the vast wasteland of the north? Did anyone help them when the dragonslayers nearly caught her young daughter, separating them from each other, nearly killing her? Did anyone help her reunite with her daughter?
One man did. The man who would become her Danthe.
But she was here, and not with him. She was forced to stay. And now, the one who her Danthe once called friend was swathed in evil, intending on killing her, betraying her husband as well. This man was going to try to lay her low in a cold and desolate place, far from her family, where she had no choice but to ally herself with one she hated more than any other.
She watched Marcus rise again, and her rage came full circle, compressing into an inward, seething fury. The only thing that prevented her from turning primal was the fact that she was so close to Jorge. It would have killed him instantly, and obliterated the others.
Like the rattling of the bones of the deep earth, the Miiraad swelled inside her, the rhythmic voice of the First Flame speaking its words in her soul, burning like the heart of the sun. Her fists clench as her mantle rises like a bonfire.
As Marcus rose from his rubble tomb Praetor stopped in his tracks. He hopped that the last strike was enough to knock him back to his senses but just as soon as he began to hope the voices came, ordering their deaths...
Praetor froze in place as the deep eyes of the hound peered into him. The overwhelming aura of the destroyer slowly consuming his will to carry on. How was he to stop this monster? How was but a man to overcome such a creature, such raw power and savagery?
That was when he heard it... Werewolves sleep beneath the trees.
Fearing the monster.... And in the silence of the night, tear drops fall as daylight dies. For The Destroyer, fierce and cold, paid in silver and gold....
He’ll crush and slice, he’ll chop and dice, he’ll eat your souls....
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath calming his nerve and working the illusion into it's base components, cutting away at the beast in his mind until all that was left was but a man standing before him in an empty room.
It seems that this may be it... We may actually die here. The aspect of Jorge thought
"It seems so. It's quite unfortunate that we were not able to see Ne'zon once more, apologize for what I've done."
What we've done.
Praetor slowly starts to stomp his shield to raise his spirits before making his way to Marcus, Shield raised and sword ready to strike.
Marcus’ flames dissipate in an instant, his eyes still glowing as his gaze shifts between his opponents. Armata, Tirush, Jorge, Barnabus and Acheron. Even in his energized state Marcus can not hope to win this fight, but perhaps winning is not his intention. Violetta spoke of sparing Armata. What would be the purpose of that?
There was no time to question this for Armata. He watches as Marcus draws closer to the group. Armata knows the insane punishment Marcus can handle, even with these odds it will still prove difficult to bring down Marcus. With several more steps, Marcus lunges and leaps at the group. He hangs overhead of the group, his barehands locked like claws ready to tear his targets apart.
Fire runs loose. Whatever obstacle left to her panic room is burned down by an odorless sunder. It spreads poradically...only to be snuffed out.
A few steps walk inside. Prad is nearby. This Violetta, the remaining gemini that had escaped him, leaving her twin to her twisted fate, surely she can hear him. The calm in which he walks in, making little of her broadcast to wherever.
Alas, there would be no time to ponder his arrival, for a projectile of conduit origin is lashed out at her position. Purple and glaucous, it travels the room with a phantom's presence, threatening her physical form.
The floor bursts outward in a cloud of dust and broken stone as Tirush, with a livid roar, launches straight into Marcus, a fist reared back...
And she hits him square in the face with a punch that would ruin a boulder, clotheslining him and sending him end over end in an impossibly fast spin on a different trajectory before he reaches the group. He smashes through the wall and flies outside, the old stone crumbling in his wake.
Tirush spins midair and plants her feet on the opposite wall to stop herself, dropping to the floor. When she does, she gasps and winces, pain shooting up through her arm.
She looks at her hand incredulously, clenching her teeth. Her fist throbbed, her arm sending warning signals through her body. It was like punching something unbreakable...like nothing she had ever hit before.
She focuses, closing her heart to the pain. It doesn't fade, but instead moves aside, to allow the Miiraad to fill her heart completely again. She would have to keep focused, and not lose to rage again, if she was going to win. She must let the Fire be her rage, not her heart.
On all fours, she shakes her hand loose, then crouches into a four-legged run to catch up to where he landed...
Praetor had little time to react to Tirush's savage assault on Marcus and was left stunned for a moment as he thought the situation through. He was certain that Tirush could handle the mutt but to leave her to fight the beast on her own? He would not allow her to get hurt, he would never forgive himself nor be able to look her family in the eye knowing that he did nothing.
Following the lead set by Tirush the knight charged in behind behind her his sword shouldered and shield held steadily before him. "There may still be salvation for him! If we can dispatch those who have brought him to this world we may be able to return him to our side! I know you do not care for him but that is why I ask. Should we try for his families sake!"
Slowly the small lead he had gained on the wyvern was lost and just as before he was left behind by his monsterous companion.
(Everyone) Tirush can see the dust and smoke where Marcus landed. By the sight of tattered shingles on tower roofs and beams which connected towers were smashed through, it was clear Marcus did not fall cleanly. He was bounced between towers like a pinball, breaking through everything in his path.
As Tirush dives toward her prey, he in turn comes to her. The smoke parts as Marcus emerges from it, he is sailing up toward Tirush. They collide into eachother like trucks without brakes. The shockwave from their collision causes damaged towers to crumble, and waves of vibrations throughout the prison fortress. They tumble out of the air and crash through a tower roof.
Tirush finds herself in an unusual room. It was a small laboratory with a small assortment of items meant only for minor experiments and study. A small table of various flasks, jars, beakers and tubes all upon a old half rotted table covered in dust. Small shelves of mismatched books that are not organized in anyway, small cobwebs strung between them. In the window is a small telescope aimed for the sky, but there is dried blood splattered all over it, and a withered corpse lay at it’s stand.
Tirush had just enough time to take in a moment of her surroundings before she whips around to see Marcus’ meaty hand reach out and grab her by a horn. Yanking Tirush close, Marcus clenches his freehand tight, and punches Tirush in the face again, again, and again.
Acheron and Barnabus leap out the hole made by Marcus when he was sent flying. Armata stays behind with Jorge.
“Come Tin man. Tirush will keep Marcus busy, while Acheron and Barnabus wear him down. You and I will deliver the blow that counts. If I can sample the mutt’s blood, I can restrain him by his very core.” Armata shifts his golden eyes to the knight who’s resolve is more stubborn than his armor.
(Jester) Violetta moves instinctively moves out of her hiding spot as the tendril like attack flies her way. It crashes into the wall, breaking stone, scattering debris and kicking up dust. Violetta takes the offensive, her eyes bleed in pain of loss for her sister, whom she loved more than any other.
With a screech she charges Prad’s position, seeming to be reckless with grief. However, Violetta proves cunning and disappears mid charge. Her body bursts to mist and evaporates. Soon Prad finds himself out numbered by Lesser Vampires, who have come to answer their master’s call. It did not matter how many Prad vaporized in the charge, he was surrounded on all fronts. Swarms skittering from the walls like Soldier Ants.
While Prad focuses on stalling the hoard, he battered relentlessly in random areas of his body. Violetta appears, strikes, disappears, repeat. She is fast, educated on critical areas to strike and her movements sporadic. All the while the hoard bares down on him.
Tirush's mind is repeatedly jarred from consciousness as she is pummeled in her face. On the final blow there is a muted crunch as Tirush's nose is broken, sending her head sideways with the blow, spraying her lower face and mantle with her own blood, a fang tooth flying from her mouth. She grabs Marcus' arm and his face with the other and sweeps him, sending him crashing to the ground. A sickening crunch means her horn breaks off in his hand as he goes down.
As soon as he does she rears back, both fists clenched. In an instant she is shrouded in dragonfire as she brings them down on him. The explosion is like a bomb, sending a shockwave of fire that obliterates the tower and sends it collapsing on top of them.
As the debris rains down Marcus grabs Tirush's arm and swings her over him in an arc, smashing her to the ground and sending her rolling free of the collapsing tower. In an instant, he is up again, unfazed, and on top of the Wyvern.
She tries to rise and meet him as he brings his fists to bear but her speed isn't as good. It's all she can do to grab his fists and contest his strength, against which there is no comparison. He pushes her back as her legs gouge into the earth, but the immolating fire that envelops her sears his arms, the Great Flame raging and burning his flesh.
A singular piece lines on the middle of the ground, where the young man stands. A mindless horde of ants screeching and biting at his person. A random shift from the remaining gemini with his mortal vitals as targets. A breaking body under the unrelenting barrage suffered by his person at this moment, ever since the first memento of the immolated Gethin, who's leg laceration have started to prove problematic. Which to target? Where to start?
HIs body shakes, under not the impulse of the tidal bite wave, but from within. An immediate remedy for this, a sacrifice for temporary power it could not stand, brought from a less dangerous source.
Prad clenches his burning hand, the flame responding to its user by burning more proactively. Soon, the smell of burning flesh starts filling the room, his arm screaming for relief. None willl be had. He does this intentionally, as...atonement.
With his orchid flame flowing anew with renewed malice, he uses his immolated arm as an extension. Fire breathes throughout his entire body, serving as a very vengeful shield, with a promise to sunder any biters who had still the confidence to approach the immolated human.
He wastes no time, his shield blotting out the increasingly problematic puncture the gemini was startting to drone in, his body flicking backward. The blood on his leg, since long cauterized, as the rest of his body. He lands on the metallic piece asundered by fire, yet with no flaw to its burn.
"Darkness gives you strength, corpse. This horde gives you hope, corpse" he speaks, a gravely voice ponctuated by an echo. Still assailled by the oncroaching mob, he draws a singular spark from the pole, its fiendish head starting to form between his feet. Among his hands, he gazes at it, watching as it dances for but a half second.
Then his gaze returns to the woman, Violetta, the spoiled one. His eyes bounced wherever she appeared to attack. Her precision is flawless. Her strength, a vestige from the old wars. Alas, it was blindingly clear that without her twin sister, this technique she uses, was flawed. Too many gaps for him to spot, even under the mob's attempts at distraction.
"But your strength is halved, mired by the death of your symbiosis. This horde, too uncoordinated, marked by their blind hunger. Your efforts, worthless, as you". He sends the small spark into the encroaching burst of smoke where she was to appear. Instead of finding flesh to burrow in, her eyes met the gaze of a flickering candle, turned to an unstable blast, threatening to envelop and burn the very surface of her body.
Then, as in to capitalize on the mob, Prad jumps upward, breaking the tide of burning vampires that had tried all this time to find a body to sink their fangs into. The pole, now invaded to this realm, screeches as it slithers up to Prad's metallic hand.
Threnody. His old spear, broken by parts, for the body of its user is weak to its strength. And yet, it would be more than enough. He dashed downward, sending a wave of orchid fire into the approaching mob.
Then, the massacre. Threnody screeches with glee as its master starts swinging. A dash. A swing. Dozens of burning corpses, to a far greater degree than usual. He dashes through the mob, taking delight into filling the room with the aroma of festering vampire corpses devoured by flames and ashes.
(Doc/BT) Marcus grits his sharp canine like teeth as his arms begin to blister. He doesn’t back off though. Violetta’s influence on his mind is steadfast, fueling his strong will to remain in the fight. He pushes hard against Tirush, exerting strength few foes could ever hope to combat. But Tirush is not among the majority. The Wyvern’s situation maybe not be a good one, but she fights with the strength and fury of her people, and thought of seeing her family.
Marcus’ mind was clouded, gone. His relationship to those around him lost to the toxic powers of the Twins, and the horrific force that stains this place. Marcus was acting on the instincts his father warned him of before. The duel nature that rages within him. The raw instincts of carnage and hunger he inherited from his father’s side were in complete control. Lost in his berserker rage his cobalt flames came back to life, combating Tirush’s own raging inferno.
Tirush did not feel a burn on her skin, or see her skin blister. She felt, cold. Her arms feel as if she had stuck them in a frozen lake. She could also feel the one power Marcus commanded. The power to take. She could feel her Demonic Energy being consumed. Like a misquote drinking it’s fill of her soul. A disgusting power passed to him from his father. One Marcus in the right state of mind would rarely use.
Just then a red cloud of smoke envelopes them, and Armata springs forth on Marcus’ flank. The Wardog jerks to confront the new assailant, but Tirush’s Hold is absolute. She digs her claws deep into Marcus’ blistered arms, making sure he won’t escape his impending damage.
Armata swings hard a kick that slams Marcus across his eyes. The Wardog slides backwards away from Tirush, Armata standing between them, giving Tirush time to regain her strength. Before Marcus has time to right himself, Barnabus and Acheron are upon him. Dealing out a flurry of blows.
Armata looks over his shoulder at the proud Wyvern, a chill gripping his heart. She was hurt. Her mantle covered in her own blood, her nose broken, and her horn broken off. Armata could never admit to Tirush what he felt toward her, or the respect he had. It wouldn’t matter anyways. Tirush saw nothing worthwhile in Armata. But that wouldn’t stop him from seeing her go home.
“Tirush? You should take a moment to regain your strength. Let us lead the charge for now.” Armata turns to face her. The breeze shifting his cloak, it’s lengths swaying around her, almost enveloping her.
The soul-eating aura of Marcus bit into Tirush, and its effects were undeniable. She feels as if something has reached in her and tried to snuff out her spirit; for that one moment, she felt her connection to the Great Flame fade.
But it wasn't enough. It flares in her as before, its language thrumming in her mind, its song the same as the one heard by her people a thousand years ago. In a split second she is again able to focus, rising to her feet. A rivulet of crimson blood runs in a stream from her lips; half of her face is starting to swell, and a cut above one eye drips potent, sizzling blood that runs down her face.
But she is nowhere near tired. She no longer is going to hold herself back. She would have to get clear of Jorge, and the prison, both.
She spits blood and flecks of teeth onto the ground. She crouches and, without warning she blasts past Armata, batting the undead aside in a wake of fire.
She shoots between Barnabus and Acheron, doing the same to them. Marcus is tackled and caught in a maelstrom of claws and talons that grab him from all angles and dig into his body like white-hot blades as they fly like a horizontal meteor, smashing through countless trees and scudding along the ground. Tirush rolls and throws him, somersaulting to right herself. They have landed a half a mile away away from the prison.
She skids to a stop and stands, clenching her fists and raising them to the sky, breathing deep, the crimson flame engilfing her as the primal words strike the air and echo like thunder.
Her fists plummet, shattering the earth.
The shockwave is like a bomb. The fireball explodes, white hot fire in its wake, the earth overtaken in the blink of an eye. In a circle that expands outward the ground churns and is whipped into furious magma, the lake of fire bursting as if poured onto the ground from the epicenter. Ancient pine trees topple inward and burst into immense towers of flame; boulders shriek and burst as they are instantly turned to lava, exploding as the immense heat causes the water trapped inside them to escape with violence. The inferno consumes everything in an instant, and in moments, the landscape is a nightmare.
A cloud of black smoke the size of a mountain rises, lit from below by the churning magma that stretches for a hundred yards in every direction. Geysers of magma shoot into the air in immense arcs as deep pockets of groundwater are flash heated, whipping the air that shudders with unimaginable heat.
She has done as she had promised. The land is a lake of fire. And at the center, atop a glowing mound, is Tirush.
Her blood runs, red and glowing, her scales like heated steel, her eyes slashes of fire. The Great Flame bursts around her, her muscles rolling as she throws her head back in a roar that sends geysers of magma towering into the air, her dragonfire exploding skyward as her unleashed rage is released. She stakes her challenge. She makes her claim. 
She, or the Black Dog. One of them would die today.
The knight watched on in dismay as he knew too well that he could not stop Tirush any more than he could take on Marcus. If only he had fully regained and kept his strength, if only the goddess would swallow her pride and aid him... if only he would swallow his pride and accept it.
Turning his back to the battle and moves further up the prison in search for its masters, at least he could hope to harm them with his skill and arms alone. At least he would be more comfortable fighting the unknown abominations than his old friend.
As he stalked the halls an all to familiar scent filled his nostrils and caused his body to ache. He did not know what lay in the floors above him but it was a battle and any battle could lead him closer to his goal of freeing Marcus... Layoka? Was I not supposed to save her? Was I not the one who should have carried her out of this-
His thoughts are interrupted as the sight he was beholden took precident. He peeked from the corner of the steps watching the Violet energy lashed out in all directions vaporizing all it touched all except for prad who stood at the epicenter of the storm. He would not dare approach him in his current state so he prepared to assist from afar, blocking his doorway with the tower shield and launching bolts of flame at the mob that circled his comrade.
(Everyone) Armata, Acheron and Barnabus stand by the edge of the ramparts of the prison. Acheron’s eyes are wide with disbelief, his perceptions of strength called into question.
“Incredible. That is the true power of the scaled one? Everything, is gone in a blast of molten ground.... if anyone can defeat that beast it is her.” Acheron watches on in shock.
“Yes, Tirush has nothing but fury for her enemies. Same as the mutt. They were destined to clash here and now. Tirush, the last warrior of her tribe, wielder of The Great Flame. Her thuum toppled the strongest walls. Her flame scorches the earth. Yet she is a devoted mother and wife.” Armata shifts his gaze from Tirush, to Marcus. The Wardog’s aura flares. His cobalt flames ignite once more.
“Marcus Jaghund. A man of many names. The Hound. The Destroyer. The Wardog. Invincible. His path is that of a slayer. All things that draw breath, he is skilled at dispatching. He has laid low everything that has walked or crawled at one point or another. His strength is immeasurable, his will unbreakable. A dark force lay dormant in his soul, the force his heritage cursed him with. Son to a Hellbeast and Goddess. Marcus was born with a duel nature. One half father, husband and protector. The other.... a monster.”
“We cannot stop what is about unfold. It is up to Tirush now. Her strength alone is the only thing that can bring Marcus back, or destroy what is left of him.” Armata sounds almost sad. He had hoped it would not come to this, but even he had not the strength right now to stand between these two titans of raw fighting prowess.
(Jester) “Your words are full of ignorance. Bloated even. You think you’ve won. That I am at my last haven.” Violetta’s voice echoes over the screeching of the swarm, from all directions it resounds throughout the room. Though she is nowhere to be found.
“While you and your companions savage each other, Pramool returns. Soon you will see the All-Father of monsters and beasts. No matter what power you carry.... your death is imminent. Hehehehe! All I need do, is add one more ingredient. Then we will welcome chaos....”
More and more charge Prad in an endless sea of ravenous hunger. The Lesser Vamps swarming him. He found himself a lion surrounded by ants. Even though his attacks find their mark, he quickly realizes it is too much to stop. The remaining Lesser Vampire swarm is upon him.
He stops, looking all around. A flood of darkness trying still to feast on him. The accumulated ashes are indeed becoming problematic. Silence mutes the man. He has nothing else to speak to the voice. Her voice sounding to him like gargling on delusion and the fostering hope that whatever she is trying to summon would not put her at the pyre.
Like so many before with the rise of heros, champions, kings, avatars and gods. Their faithful, sacrificed with no second thought. He could speak of those who suffered for their faith in the first eon. Or the second. Or the third.
Pointless time, he summarizes. True or not, this sort of thing seemed not to reach him, unlike the swarm. A problem for their kind. But this little incident he was finding himself in, this did require a degree of attention, lest his surrogate succumbed.
Fire had proven good at cleansing. Alas, with numbers, even its tide had a limit cap. He was not to wait for this limit to reach its peak, the surrogate wouldn't survive. It barely struggles to keep itself whole. Whole against the tide of bites. Whole against previous injuries. Whole against itself.
Roaring thunder screams across the heaven as the orchid flame that inhabitated the room subsided. It vanished, leaving what little light it provided to choke in the darkness. So did its caster. Prad was nowhere to be seen, purged from the immediate area.
Soon enough, another thunderous roar crashes agianst the side of the prison, leaving an alien light briefly filling the room before it also died. Then, another. And another. Every bolt struck against the dark room, fueled with increased rampant destruction.
High in the heavens, Prad glides, hands crossed, deep in the foreign power he once used to fly, feet and arms. A congregation of cloud summoned behind him, awaiting their master. Bolts sliding at the edge of their home, waiting to be hurled.
From the sky, his eye was briefly turned to the land of fire and brimstone. A primal worm and lycanthrope standing amist its aftermath. Indiscriminate destruction wrought on the land. All this serves to convey is indifference. The land was dead the moment they had set foot here.
WIth Threnody, Prad points down to the hole left by his very lightning crashes. He utters two words, once spoken in this land, a prelude to a lightning storm.
One of the countless bolts dancing among the dark clouds rushes with teeth, falling near the building. It breaks into only slightly smaller stride of bolts, tunneling to the dark place he once descended in a jagged circle. Numbers are meaningless now. If fire is his more controled state, then lightning is unwarranted destruction anywhere he pointed at. And right now, the dark prison was his target.
Praetor's help goes unnoticed by the horde as Prad's display of power drew more attention than his flaming bolts. Then an opening presented itself as the being that paraded around in Prad's body launched into the air and out of the room. Focusing his ignis on his shield and charged forth bashing all who stood before him back into the void. The knight did not stop to fight the beasts that clawed and snarled at him as he did not fully trust his comrades, powerful beings with little restraint or awareness of those around them.
The knight dared not stop his charge fearing the outcome that may cone should he linger. He ran through beasts, stepped over the broken and burned those who followed in his wake. Like a comet he made for the exit and continued on full speed down the hall and up the stairs not leaving anything to chance. Praetor continued up the stairs well after the telltale thud of Prad's attack and subsequent rumbling. He couldn't leave knowing that doing so would leave innocent people at the mercy of this Paramool. He had an unspoken duty to protect all of mankind be they of his realm or not. He swore he would do so, he swore to defend all of humanity and so he would uphold his word. He will stop this paramool. He will eradicate the master of this dungeon and he would make them all pay for what they have done to Layoka and all the humans of this realm.
Every subsequent step cemented in him the resolve to keep moving forward. Every step grew his anger as the grisly trophies that decorate the halls grew more and more obcene. He would interrupt this ritual... He would slay Paramool should it come to it.
Marcus had been knocked away, his dark aura nearly shielding him from the brunt of the initial magma eruption. Nearly, but not quite; the molten stone partially solidified around him as it flew, meaning he was battered with half-molten slag as the shockwave roared past him. It wasn't white-hot, but it wasn't enough to stop the inevitable. He finds himself rapidly sinking in the consuming morass, until he is broadsided.
Tirush swoops from the sky and digs her talons into his back, mercilessly raking him through the magma. Flaming, toppling towers of pine creak and hiss around them, and she rises briefly, holding him in front of her as they smash through one, sending splintering shards shattering everywhere. With a roar she plummets, turning rapidly as she smashes him into the churning lava.
He grabs her ankle as he falls, yanking her from her flight path, and they both topple into the lake of fire in a tangle as his fist sinks into her side. Tirush, however, is in her element. How long she can focus, she doesn't know, so she makes the most of her environment while she can. With a thuúm, a pillar of flame blasts her free of the lava, with Marcus hanging, holding on.
They reach the apex of their flight. Tirush breathes in, pumping her wings, and spins, again sinking her talons into him with a shrieking roar. The pair of them are immolated in her fiery breath as thy again plummet back down like a fiery meteor.
They land on the small landmass, the one last part of land that is unmolten, though it is slowly being overtaken. With a crash they tumble, separating. Tirush skids and lands a short distance away, standing to face her attacker. Her fists flex and open, her arms bathed in dripping dragonfire, the air shuddering around them with the torturing heat. She waits, patient, her blazing eyes watching him. Her words come as a slow thuúm, hammered into the air as the Old Speech, the thrum causing the lava to ripple.
You are not of my husband's blood. You are not of my children's blood. You are not of my blood. I claim the land from mountain to mountain, sea to land, and you will never again see them. You are no blood to my husband. You are no Ilejir.
(Doc) Marcus’ cobalt flames begin to diminish as he struggles to his feet, red streaming down the wounds Tirush made with her talons. Having concentrated his power to thicken his aura to give him some protection from the molten earth, Marcus’ power is fading and fast. The constant violent heat is forcing him to focus everything he has into this quickly shrinking shell. His signature clothes help to keep his skin from boiling, but it doesn’t relieve Marcus in any other way.
The air is thick and impossible to breath. The heat is blinding, turning everything into a blurry haze. He does his best to look for any place to leap to in order to get out of this molten lake. But there is nothing but random small masses of land scattered about, but none seem trustworthy enough to hold his weight. Disoriented, losing blood and no route to better ground, Marcus could do nothing but stand his ground and wait for his end, growling angrily.
(BT/Jester) With Prad clear of the room, Jorge was now the target of the hoard. They swamped him as they smell his blood and tattered flesh beneath his armor, drawn by ravenous hunger. Meanwhile Prad rains death upon the room that thins out the mindless creatures charging Jorge.
It is in this moment that Violetta sees her window of opportunity. With all the swiftness she has, she darts to the obelisk in the center of the room at a rate too fast to be seen, but even then it is not enough. A bolt crashes down on her with a roar. Violetta falls to the ground hard with the strike, leaving her right side a burned wreck. The girl lays clutching her side in a nurturing fashion. She sobs weakly as the full sting hits her. Even so, while in tears she grabs hold of the obelisk with her one good hand and drags herself up to it.
She then produces a small vial of crimson from her breast and examines it for a moment. She smiles weakly while still in tears, kissing the vial in a loving way.
“You were such a good doggie....” Violetta bites down on the cork at the top of the vial and pops it out. She then pours the crimson liquid into the collector hole in the bowl of the obelisk. A second strike of lightning crashes down on her, rendering her lifeless and smoking.
(Everyone) Then a loud echoing boom of steel clashing together rings throughout the prison along with a tremendous shockwave that shakes the pillars, hanging cages and very foundation. Soon the circular floor creaks and begins turning. Sections of the floor spin in opposite directions, clockwise and counter, until the runes carved into floor match up. Soon these runes glow red and the floor begins to rise. It continues higher and higher as one big pillar of obsidian stone that expands the exact circumference of the main spire. Even larger than the lake Tirush had produced.
One section of the runed floor stops at a certain level, while the rest of the floor rises. This continues on as it ascends. Bit by bit sections of floor around the obelisk stop as if they were elevators that had reached their destinations, leaving Jorge with less to stand on by the minute. The rising pillar soon nears the roof of the main spire that meets the mountain tops, never slowing. Jorge raises his shield to brace for the inevitable crash through the roof.
The main tower’s top explodes in a cloud of dust, smoke and debris. The force causes smaller towers to crumble and topple over. The pillar locks with the same loud echoing halt of gears. The shockwave produced by this titanic pillar’s abrupt halt, causes the dried earth scorched by Tirush to crack and buckle. As the smoke atop the prison settles, the giant pillar stands high above the prison walls, level with mountains that surround.
Praetor Crashes through the roof the stones that comprised it bouncing harmlessly off his shield and knocking the dwindiling floor beneath him. He was loosing his footing fast and dropping down was no longer an option as he doubted the Ignis could or would povide the thrust to slow his decent. The only viable ground left was the obelisk and it was small and rising fast. Steeling himself against his newfound fear of death Praetor stowed his shield and sword, readying himself for a likely painful fall. The knight eyed the obelisk as it rose defiantly in the air, growing ever closer to him until it was within grasp. The armored behemoth lept from the crumbling stone small gouts of flame exploding from his hands and feet allowing him to guide his decent directly onto the center of the obelisk.
The knight clung tightly to the stone as he lay prone on the flying object watching the world move away from him. Praetor bounced up as the obelist came to a jarring halt over the mountain, over the battlefield, over the world. The fractured knight felt the dark malevolence that resonated from the stone, the warmth of the blood that flowed within it... the fear that eminated from all the lost souls. Praetor lay there frozen in fear as he contemplated the situation he was in. How was he supposed to defeat this thing? How was he supposed to destroy such a damnned thing...
"The knife!" Praetor drew his accursed dagger running its lanyard around his hand before plunging the gnarled and twisted thing into the nearest crack he could find, hoping to corrupt the thing before it could summon its beastly charge.
(Jorge) The knife sinks into the obelisk, almost as if it were not there. It slows, and stops, the world covering itself in a dark haze, shadows spiralling where they should not be, reaching with hungry tendrils. Time halts, master to another, whose presence presses the veil.
Jorge can feel the cold of the grave seep into his armor.
He can see the umbral nothing that is the presence of the Dark Lord before him, yet all around him, as time and space are separated into a third place, wretched and hollow. The frigid voice is a hand, reaching into his mind.
And here, where despair is the bread of the weak, a bitter succor...
The shape of Victivius looms.
...You come, at last, to sup at my table.
The words are a terrible smile as the Lord of the Black Throne spreads his arms, a colossus.
At which you shall feast, your place at its side long ago given. Your place at my side, a gift, where the flesh of your dead goddess shall become the sweetest bread. Yes, O Champion, but champion no more, abandoned by all but the keeper of the bargain!
A peal of low thunder rolls.
Tell me then, now that your heart has cried out...
(Everyone) Jorge’s dagger sinks deep into the stone. The dagger flares with it’s dark arcane power. The runes turn black as night, yet still glowing in a strange ambience.
Suddenly there is a second shifting sound of steel. The obelisk begins to rise from the pillar, settled top a great stone sarcophagus. A burst of hot spews from the great stone coffin, screeching loudly like a Banshee. The obsidian stone of the sarcophagus cracks, then slowly opens. The steam and darkness evacuate the cramped space, revealing the one entombed.
An old, but vicious looking man. Clad in crimson armor forged before time recorded. Giant horns protrude from his scalp. Glowing eyes yellow, golden. His gaze fixes upon Jorge, while clenching his jagged blade. A wave of potent energy screams forth from the being, as he steps forward from his former prison.
Powers stream across the land, calling out to all who would dare challenge.
The knight looks on to Paramool with suspicious fear, he expected something greater something much more grand and yet this terrified him more. He clung deperately from his dagger as he attempted to pull himself up while his entire weight was applied onto his wrist and strap.
We don't seek any mantle, any favor Vivictus! We dont fight for her, we fight for those who can no or would not and so we come with a proposition. We offer you this Paramool and In return we ask for a temporary alliance. You continue to lend us your blade and in return you gain whatever power or memories you may take from this. We already have everything we ever wanted... We doubt that he would stop at this realm, it's only a matter of time before he crosses over and threatens our mutual intrests. So we just ask for an honerable death in combat. What say you? Will you allow us this boon? Will you aid this broken man in his final bout?
The horde is burned from the sky, leaving their corpses to the winds as a rain of ash and dust settles about. Prad, at the center, is halted. His weapon, silent and humming. HIs gaze is fixated on the horizon. The awakening of an old entity. The speech of Praetor to his weapon. All of it, his focus...
"Your performance has exceeded my expectations, surrogate".
The voice attuned to Prad's ears rings him out of the outer world. His vision of the landscape turns purple, with echoing winds. The painting of the physical world, its colors, inverted to a negative. An alienscape, with an entity front and center to his sight, kilometers in the air, just as he.
"Endurance is your gift, even with your new world vessel".
Prad turns to this entity, one he sees so often. A man, warped in armor, isolating his body in ancient steel from this world. Here, his silvery scarf lies still amidst the dead winds of their fold, a space dedicated to them.
"Hum...well...thanks? I didn't--
"Humble yourself not, surrogate. You wanted their weeps, and went after them. The first one. The second one. The last of them. Fallen under your feet".
"Well, there's a new one, more dangerous than they were, even when combined" Prad laments, while gesturing his hand to the revenant, Pramool. The man he speaks to turns to the undead renewed. HIs ghastly sight allows vision of his encroaching power across the mortal plane. A plane he hides from in between.
"An old god. From the old wars. One among countless, beyond the shackles of this earth."
"Yes...they are preparing. For another confrontation".
"Yes, they are. And you, are done". The man speaks his words, sending Prad into a startling disbelief.
.W-WHAT?! N-no, no, no! We must act too! We're here because we extended our arm to--
"No. We are not. My presence is merely sentimental to an ancient world not seen since the Age of Erasure. Your presence is merely a counteract to these beasts' deluded sense of vanity over humans. My nostalgia is complete with the death of countless of them. My presence in their conflict is no longer hailed".
"B-b-but! Didn't you hear them?! He's this world's manifestation of death. They'll need us".
"They shall not, for this conflict is between monsters now. This world was already condemned under the foot of the walking corpses. Another sweeps the rest under his changes nothing. You should know that, surrogate".
Prad's voice begins to rise across the winds "No! I've seen them. They're not like that. HAve you not watched their displays? If they were as such, then I'd be..."
"...dead. But you are not. You are their puppet. The one thing they can intimidate. But you blind yourself with pitiful sentiments over those. Delude yourself with false care. Perhaps you need a reminder of what they have done to you...and others".
WIthout explanation or hesitation, Prad's body begins to convulse. Greatly. The scorched arm. The jagged foot. The puncture points. The bites. All of those his body suffered, held at bay by the rushing orchid in his blood. THe wall between him and pain. Corroded by the disappearance of the violet gaze Prad held this power in. Pain assaults him from every corner.
Every lash he suffered comes back, forceful for their denial. Every cut he was inflicted, a catalyst to the burns endured and exposed by the winds. Burnt nerves, broken bones, concussions. Each pain transmitted to his brain, one by one. Prad's scream of suffering suffocates the clouds overhead, who in the absence of the focus he held, are disrupted and cast away. Wounds evaporate the same radiance power out of his body, as it can no longer contain it.
Crippled beyond belilef, Prad collapses to the ground, feet in the air like a broken comet. The exiled energies clinging to his outer skin, puncture the earth he fall on, a glowing, bleak star snuffed out by his contact with the soil.
His arm screams in agony, squeezing the alien presence with violent pulses. HIs other hand, broken free from its metallic shell, struggles to comfort it. A failure to its user, who breathes loudly between coughs.
His eyes, devoid of the power, still convey sight to the fold between, welcomed to the walking man, aquatting before him. Behind the helmet he bears, a pitiful stare Prad is all too akin to. Apathetic words offered as consolation "Galvanized. Burned. Slashed. Bitten. Kicked. Punched. Jagged All wounds inflicted upon you. Yet, you still carry affection for them. Your sentence, to live with the results. Influencing a monster's war is not without cost, surrogate..."
Prad cannot speak. HIs tongue is bound by plight. HIs only concern, trying to keep himself awake. Ragged breathing escaping his chest, his eyes creep to the sight of the rest, slight movement the man isn't blind to "You seek relief. Then go, assuming you can carry their marks upon you..."
The world returns to its neutral state to Prad's eyes, complimented by the man's fade. He is here, near...and far. He watches still, sitting on a spetactor's seat.
To carry the blade is to by my herald, to accept it gave you to me. The word of the bargain is written by your action, O Champion! To have my power, and to stay your hand until the time comes, is how you have sealed our pact...
The words pause.
(Basically just ask for whatever you want. There won't be any penalty. I didn't know Pramool was going to pop up right here.)
Prad slowly crawls from the crater. Every inch he drags through the earth is retributed in pain, pain that bites him into releasing a screech. He grits his teeth in an attempt to work around giving into his instincts. That bravery is rewarded with the absence of momentary relief, his nerves bound to relay him his very state every second.
Never the less though, he does shelter himself against a distance tree. Far from Pramool. Far from Tirush and her opponent, Marcus. Far from Praetor and his speech with a cosmic entity. Away from Alburn, who likely had slain his mob.
Here, only once certain he is isolated does Prad deign pulling out his bag, eyes in tears of denial blurring out his vision. Encroached in torment, he takes hold of bandages, knitting their opening between his teeth. With a grunt, he begins wrapping his arm. The first roll around his sundered arm sends an agonizing pulse across his body. Strong enough as a first bite to recoil his head backward in a second of blackout.
Heavy breathes balance on his teeth, the young man continuing on despite his arm's heightened sensibility. Each following roll sends yet another tortured pulse reeling him out, forcing a grunt out. Yet he continues, sometimes spending a few seconds of glances at the group, allies and enemies, to see what may happen or is.
Mustering another burst of strength The knight pulls himself level to the corrupting blade until he could lay both hands on its hilt. He dare not lay his eyes on Paramool unsure if he could turn the minds of men with a galnce.
We ask for one simple thing dark one. We ask for ground to stand on. We ask to be able sto stand here and now, stand firm wherever we require to take this creature down.
Praetor presses his legs against the obelisk freeing himself and the dagger free from the obelisk.
(I want to fly but not really. Like stand in the air.)
(Everyone) Imperia finally reaches the the campsite, out of breath and tired. She holds Layoka in her arms, the child is also tired and weak, barely able to open her eyes. Alburn’s rifle has fallen silent awhile ago. Imperia can only hope the man who stayed behind for her sake was alright. But she was hopeful for all trapped here.
Armata, Barnabus and Acheron all make their way to the top of the pillar via their smoke form. When they reach the top, they all freeze in place at the site of Pramool, who stoically stares them down.
“Vo’sota koo. Ehtie grou yo’fo sah, Antha.” Pramool’s voice echoes as if they were in a cavern. His thunderous tone rolling for miles before dying out.
“What did he say, Barnabus?” Armata does look to Barnabus, cautious that any small movement could invoke Pramool’s rage.
“I do not know. That is obscure language lost to time and the hells it was created in.” Barnabus is the most fearful of three Higher Vampires that stand before the reawakened god. Pramool’s brow bends inward and his narrow, an expression of annoyance on his face.
“I must speak in this guttural tongue of your’s?” Pramool speaks now in the language, but his voice still carries it’s weight. He walks to the edge of the great pillar he was entombed in, using his sword like a cane or walking stick. He stares out over the lake of lava, observing Tirush and Marcus.
Violetta shambles to her feet, nurturing her scorched flesh. “M-my Lord. These cretinous vermin are the ones responsible for speeding up the resurrection process. They, they and the scaled one ruined the final sacrifice. That is wh-why you are not at full strength.”
Pramool looks over his shoulder at Armata, Jorge, Barnabus and Acheron. His evil gaze then shifts to Violetta, and aura flares. His evil radiates off of him like a musty smell. It assaults the senses and is practically sophisticating. He turns to face Violetta.
“And you, claim no responsibility?” His tone is beyond malevolent. “By my account, YOU are entirely responsible. You and sibling were so focused on sinking into the deepest wells of depravity, that procrastinated on my resurrection. Had you applied yourselves and used logic, you would have completed this task centuries ago. You did not account for the power of the scaled one, thus she and her companions have wrought havoc upon you. And resulted in the death of my son, Barghest.”
“Though not the strongest of my children, his life was worth infinitely more than yours....” Pramool marches up to Violetta and mercilessly grabs a handful of her hair in his armored hand. He yanks her along to the edge of the great pillar he was entombed in.
“P-please my lord, have mercy! Please somebody help! PLEASE, I DON’T WANT TO DIE!” Violetta’s screams go unanswered. She was too weak to transform or fight back. She was helpless as Pramool drags his crimson blade across her throat. He lets her linger for a moment after being opened up. Then, he slings her body out over the edge like trash. And watches as she plops into the churning sea of heat.
(Doc) As Violetta’s body disappears in the lava, Marcus’ glowing irises fade and his aura returns to normal. The surrounding heat invades ever fragment of Marcus and soon Tirush witnesses a sight no person has in centuries. Marcus screams loud enough to make every Lesser Vampire in a dozen miles aware of his suffering. He shields his face with the tail end of his coat, desperately trying to keep the heat from boiling his face off.
Marcus falls to his knees, weakened by the constant barrage of inferno. His hands touch down on the ground beneath his feet. Quickly smoke rises from beneath his palms, his hands cooking on the scorching rock. He screams again as he lifts his hands up.
Disoriented, confused, tired and burning, Marcus was as helpless as the day his mother abandoned him the snow.
His bandages are bound deeper than ever in his lacerated flesh. His mind still battles for retention of consciousness against the unrelenting assault of overlapping pain one after another.
Then he hears it...
Everything. His mind formates gymnastics simply to allow himself a lean from behind the jagged tree among others. Prad sees the man rid himself of the undead he hunted. "That's rough...even as our enemies, that is plain excessive..." He speaks, devoid of his frenzy, allowing for a solitary moment of empathy for one who would have given him none.
Then, the scream. Another sundered. Prad ceases his leaping as his body can't take too much. He closes his eyes "I know how it's like. Maybe she can..."
(Hound) Tirush's eyes swivel up the moment that she senses Pramool's reemergence. His spirit runs through the land, flooding with a chaos that no eyes can see. It overwhelms her senses, and she immediately knows what it means. The dominant, frigid blade of fear, of survival instinct washes over her. Not as the fear from an enemy, but as a deeper, more primal fear that doesn't trigger the subconscious as much as it gnaws on it---he fear of instinct. Of starvation in a deep winter, of a storm that cannot be outrun...of a terrible calamity that cannot be avoided.
Under such a circumstance, her concentration on the Miiraad is buffeted, as if from a dark wind. Very quickly, she calculates her decisions. And very quickly, she makes one.
With a leap, she takes to the air, flames swirling around her. She ignores the song of the Goh Maahk Yol, its thuúm allowed to return from whence it came. She gains altitude and circles the smouldering lake, searching for the others. She cannot see them at first, only the black, choking smoke that roils in the air like the darkest mountain.
Down below, the magma cools, though not rapidly. The arcing blasts of the boiling magma prominences blast into the air, only to solidify and crash to the cooling surface as gargantuan, red hot rocks. A thin crust begins to form on the lake, whose surface is criscrossed with chasms of still-hot lava, but it is solid. There is a very real danger of falling through if one were to apply too much weight to the crust, and lava still boils in spots, but the lake is more or less crossable...if not still unimaginably hot.
(Doc) Marcus shambles blindly in whichever direction his feet took him. He nurtures his broken body, no longer relying on his tattered senses. His legs are weak, unable to carry his weight. Marcus buckles and falls to the hardened floor of lava, he screams as his face sizzles on the ground.
“Sam, SAM! Cyndwella?!.... Where am I? What happened?.... Mitternact.... WHERE AM IIIIIIIIIII?!”
Praetor's eyes go wide as saucers as the consequences of his actions fully come to mind. What was meant to ground his feet against the remains of the obelisk sent him plummeting into the ground below. The knight relaxed his body amd closed his eyes when he could no longer bear the sight of the world rushing to him.
So this is it. We got eager and pulled a little too much. Ha! Of all the things that killed us gravity would be the last.
'So this is it... no second chance. I only regret not seeing her one last time. It's been quite the experience, I couldn't have done it without you.'
And I without you.
As the two aspects of Praetor reach out to each other a small dark dot begins to grow on the floor and the last thing they see is Marcus collapse onto his knees as they crash and crumple onto the floor infront of him.
(BTR) Marcus looks up, battered. He sees his friend Jorge hit the ground. The massive man lands like a meteor from space, dust, dirt and stone erupting in his wake. Marcus’ eyes are blinded with sudden anger and realization, but they are different from before. He is focused and conscious of everything around him. The past month hits him as hard as a punch thrown by Tirush at her most primal.
“SONS OF BITCHES!!!!” His fists clench tight the still simmering ground beneath him, fingers digging into the scorched earth. He rises to his feet while shaking heavily. Marcus’ body is still recovering from the thrashing he managed to survive from Tirush. He grabs Jorge by the collar and begins dragging him toward the Great Pillar. “Damn it all, the fuck is going on up there.”
Marcus can sense the evil moving up high, and it is somehow familiar to him.
“Jorge? You got anything left?” Marcus growls as he marches weakly toward the pillar where the prison once stood. “What’s going on up there?”
Praetor's body limply contorts as Marcus drags him along by the collar, his bodily fluids seeping through the gaps of the armor. He did not respond how could he? There was no air in his lungs to form words with. There was no blood pumping through his veins as it was all pouring out of him. And the firey gleam that was ever present in his eyes was now extinguished. All that remained were embers of his passion and rage as he continued to clutch onto his corrupted horn blade.
Unbeknownst to Marcus, Praetor was dead. Just as when he first fought against Armata, when he fell at his cold hands time and time again. But as uneventful as his death was it witnessed and forevermore would live on in their memories be they mortal or eternal.
(Everyone) Marcus looks back at Jorge, finally noticing the lifeless corpse instead. He lets go of Jorge’s collar and watches silent as the body flops to the ground.
“What is happening?....”
Pramool looks down the Pillar at Marcus then shifts his eyes back to Armata, Barnabus and Acheron.
“So, that is the son of Cerberus?” Pramool voice rumbles. He steps of the edge of the pillar and plummets to the ground, creating a crater as he lands. With sword in hand he uses it as a crutch to stand, his golden gaze fixated on Marcus. “Marcus, if I am correct?”
Marcus looks over the ancient entity with confusion and caution. “Y-you know my name?” He stammers. He was in no condition to put up much resistance, should being turn hostile.
“Yes. Your father was my most unruly child. He lead the rebellion of his siblings against me....”
Marcus felt his heart burn for a moment, the evil radiating off this man was insane and to learn of his lineage stung worse. “You mean, you’re my grandfather?”
“In mortal terms, yes. Your father and his siblings sought to inherit my kingdoms and chaos, so they fought against me with aid of The Unseen. Using blood magic and the sweat of many slaves this tomb was built, and I lock within it. You father used his own blood and that of the Unseen in order to bind the spell. With your blood added I am free, though you were intended to be drained entirely so that I would reawaken in full force....” Pramool clenches his freehand tight. “Though this level will do.”
“And what now, grandpappy?” Marcus scoffs.
“I continue the task I was born to do....” Pramool reaches down and grabs Jorge’s helm, pulling it from the fallen Knight’s body. Marcus looks to Jorge and scans over the defeated man’s face.
(You always were a bastard, big guy. But deserved better than this hellhole.) Marcus thought to himself.
“To rain death, chaos and destruction upon the children of the favored gods, so that my kin can reign supreme.” With that said, Pramool crushes Jorge’s helm in his hand like a tin can.
Once again, in spite of his injuries, Prad draws on his limited pool of willpower to lean from behind the tree. While the conversation is pretty afar, his remnants of power allow the words to carry to his ears. His fear had since long fried, ensuing that a small with be his only answer.
Stuck in a foreign world with a potentially dead member, the only one who he could speak to under the greaves of some ancient entity looking to besiege the land. His power is gone, his body too crippled to properly move and at a dangerous range despite the range.
There is nothing here, just the infinite white. No light. No dark. No shoadows. Only the unending diorientation of the infinite harsh void.
Despite all your resistance.
Praetor feels his body grow warmer.
Despite all your passiveness
Jorge feels his bosy grow warmer as well.
You have finally set aside your hatred and managed to forgive yourself... So long have I watched and languished in silence. So long have I wanted to reach out and heal your wounds and mend your ailing heart. Long have I wanted to reunite you with your beloved...
The two entities feel a great pressure as they are forced back into one, forced back into the great warrior they once were.
I forgave you oh so long ago but you have yet to do so until now. You have scorned my love for your for so long and now we are reunited. RISE! Rise my dearest champion! Show them your strength! Show them your defiant spirit! Show them the power my love gives you!
A great surge of lightling surges through the split souls mending them once more into the powerful inferno it once was.
Go oh champion mine! Go forth and bring forth our fury! Go and lay waste to those who wish to divide you from your beloved... Go find your daughter... She may not admit it but she misses you.
The knight feels a powerful flame surge through his veins as the void shatters around him leaving him falling through the stars. The sight of whirring nebulas and stars was an all too familiar one to him as he plummeted to this new realm and within moments he was reentering the atsmosphere and back into his body.
Jorge explodes into lightning as Paramool crushes his helm, the powerful flames erupting from his every orfice. The man rises with the unnatural grace of a puppet, his body hanging limply as his body re-knits its self into it's original form.
Prad stands, but barely, drawn by the flash. His eyes, beaten by the previous battles, cannot convey the sense of surprise he mimics. Nor does his voice, coarse beyond what he was used to "EH--eh...eh, what a twist huh, dark one..."
Slowly, he starts walking to the next tree, stopping as the lack of recovery is still rough on his body, to get a better view. His eyes mirror the conflicting powers assembled at the heart, amidst a land blackened in his view.
He did not answer. The husk of the one known as Jorge hung there limply as his limbs swayed in the wind caused by Paramool's repulsing presence. Smoke billowed from his every orfice as the flames of resurrection died down revealing his previously charred flesh, peeling off to make way for mew healthy skin.
It was taking too long, perhaps it was his proximity to the father of all monsters, perhaps the energies of this new realm or the lack thereof were delaying him? But the result was all the same. His resurrection would take time and leave him vulnerable until he was whole once more.
Once more, Prad creeps to a closer tree, forced to stop as the weight of his wounds reminds him of his grave state. A dagger stands out on one of his hands, still writhing with the desire to inflict destruction.
The flash's momentum ceases, the implications, as clear as day "Ohh...the man of iron is in danger..." His quiet voice betrays the sense of urgency. His eyes see his power conflegrate against the entity's in a lifeless land covered in black soil.
(Everyone) “heh, a worthless sort. A puppet. He is controlled, lead. Influenced by a covetous bitch that resides in a place he can not reach. A champion of the gods is no different than a slave....” Pramool turns to Jorge and smirks.
(Jorge) As if in response to both Pramool and Jorge's resurrection, a second force begins manipulating Jorge's body. From the black ether unseen, the thinnest thread of darkness slips into his armor, tightening against his skin, absorbing into him. Something malevolent throbs in his veins, a poison of the spirit that robs the soul but lifts the hand.
His limbs find purchase not where he places them, but where he wills them to go. As if traveling the air were the most natural thing in the world, he feels as if he could climb the wind's stair and ride the gale of the storm. Air is no longer an invisible thing, but a means to movement, and he only need desire to go where he wants.
And then, like a forgotten memory, Victivius is gone.
Jorge lurched back as he slowly regained his senses, th pain of his reanimation finally receding into the back of his mind. The first sense to return was his sight as the harsh light of the world overwhelmed his new retinas. Then his sense of smell as the smoke that once filled his body begins to choke him. Finall his voice rang out harshly as the soot that remained in his esophagus was forcefully expelled.
"I dont know whag hurt worse. This or Tirush's accident."
The knight payed no attention to Paramool's words as they literally fell upon deaf ears but he did gain his attention as his favorite helm lay ruined at his feet.
"He--hey, he's back" whimpers Prad, once again finding himself closer to the whole cohort at hand. His vision still lingers in the inverted land, casually feeding him the sight of a third invasing energy reading from the resurrected.
His body clings to the stock of a tree, feebly holding a dagger with his lacerated arm. Any hemorrhage suffered had since long faded into dry cuts, the smell now of metal and charred skin struggling to make sense of his state. One of his foot wobbles left and right in a coarse manner, reeling still from the white-haired's sacrificial puncture.
He is not in the state to act much, but seeing the one he could trust wake from death brings a slight vigor to his movements, even brief moments of clarity. At least before his mind reminds him of his injuries, prompting him to gaze from behind the tree.
(Everyone) “Hold on, Pramool. My father is your son, why would he betray you? Cerberus was always an asshole seeking to cause trouble.” Marcus says while holding his wounds.
“Cerberus never sought ‘trouble’ in the capacity that I do. I would imagine as his son you’d notice that. Cerberus sought to control the abysmal throne that held. By controlling that, he would hold dominion over the lost and wretched souls that pour into the realm between realms. His power would have been unstoppable had he succeeded. After I was sealed away, he and his siblings attempted to claim what they thought was theirs by right....” Pramool turns to face Marcus, his aura sickening as it spreads out around him.
“But Victivius....” Marcus pauses.
“Yeeeees, Victivius showed my sons the one universal truth. There is no such thing as ‘birthright’ in the Abyss, only power. Cerberus wanted the throne to obtain power, not destroy the creations of gods. He detested my desire to redesign the realms and flood my kin into every world.”
“I can’t imagine why.... Sounds a right happy future.” Marcus’ sarcasm is thick.
Jorge watched impassionately as Marcus and Paramool spoke to one another, his uncaring gaze locked onto his helmet. His mask... He was exposed not only in a physical but emotional way as well. No longer could he hid his pain and his anger, his fear and his joy under the unblinking eyes of wrought iron. It was all there for the world to see. He was at the mercy of their judgement now, every scrying eye seemsed to fall upon him burying their retinas into his still healing flesh. Judging. Watching.
He was visibly uncomfortable and the gentle ringing that hearalded the return of his hearing did little to ease his mind.
(Everyone) “A rapturous future. But first I must recover my strength, and your souls and blood will do splendidly to that cause. Yours in particular Marcus. I can sense your Cerberus’ soul imprisoned within your gut. As well as my other sons, except for Barghest. His life and soul lost to the firebrand that circles above us. She seemed to handle you flawlessly.” Pramool glances up to Tirush for a moment, then returns it to Marcus.
“I will definitely make it a point to devour her soul.” He says coldly.
Acheron lowers his hand from the hilt of his sheathed sword and steps forward with his sword out in a none hostile fashion. “How do you intend to-“ He is swiftly silenced as a flash of red light slices through the air. Acheron watches silently as time seems to slow, his sword hand detached from his arm and flying past his face.
The cut is so clean that it takes a moment for Acheron’s blood to spring forth from the wound. As it does, he clutches his newly obtained stump and shouts with pain.
“Hmph.” Pramool scoffs. “It was not your turn to speak....”
Marcus grits his teeth and growls angrily as he couldn’t move unless he wanted to risk similar punishment. Armata’s eyes where not panicked but cautious, he watches Pramool intently as now blood has been spilled, assured that Pramool intends to make good on his desire to devour them all. Barnabus looks to Acheron with concern in his eyes. He wants to help his companion but any action outside of Pramool’s approval is will be met with retaliation.
"They're...they're not moving..." Prad's voice is masked by the ambient wind. A whisper left to time.
"It is to be" echoes another voice as Prad's irises turn orchid. These eyes allows him to feel the man watching the...debacle occuring among kin. His hands fold behind his back. HIs armored neck tilts slightly to the left. His voice is detatched, indifferent to the scenery presented to them both.
"These corpses stand before what possibly could be the genesis of their kin. The genes compel their bodies to obey the word of old. Like a program".
"So, they're unable to stand for themselves?"
"His immediate motion against the rapier wielder has made sure that its descendants know of the law past. Disobediance is not to be tolerated. Such as it was in old times".
Prad moves his sight from the group observed from afar to his spectral visit. HIs eyes convey worries at such control, a pantheon of question assailing his mind. The man answers in a cut gesture "They are condemned to obey his word. Commitment in sacrifice. Sacrifice from obediance. Obediance to the old law" This land of their and their cattle with suffer his old law all the same"
Prad's burnt hand shake at the prospect of someone like him establishing dominion over the foreign land. Despite what was portrayed, the ruling caste seemed fair in their wording and mannerism. Concerned over their subjects. Someone like Pramool was definitively a change for the worst and Prad dreaded such usurpation.
Tirush is still circling overhead as Pramool makes his appearance, and only watches from above as the conversation takes place. She knows that she is conspicuous, even up in the air, in the cloud of ash and embers, but even still it is her only advantage. She is sure that Pramool knows she is there. But when her name is spoken, and Acheron's hand is severed, she knows she has little choice.
She has, in fact, no choice at all.
She heels back and hovers, an updraft keeping her aloft and in one place. Her tail stretches behind her, steering her through the current. All of her anger, all of her sadness and frustration, every bitter fruit that this trip has borne, comes to nothing. What is before them is beyond even her. The song of her pent up rage, the thundering of her heart, becomes a rhythm in her ears, with the howling wind and the roar of the fire below.
What would her daughter be told?
The time had come to find out.
She doesn't blink as she speaks. Her voice is lost in the tumult of the embered storm around her, the words barely past her lips before being lost as her eyes search out her prey below, her words meant for another.
"I will always love you, my child..."
Her wings fold.
Like a silent thunderbolt. Like a meteor. Air rushing past her, flecks of drying blood flipping past her mantle and across her face, her broken horn howling in the wind. Her wings unfurl slowly, catching her, keeping her screaming speed as high as possible. Her wings open, and she levels out, at head-height. Her taloned feet swing forward, coiled with muscles that could rip through a castle door. Her pupils are knife slits, her eyes fixed on Pramool. In seconds she has closed the distance of a hundred yards, a silent hunter, in her one chance to strike a blow. In a blink, her talons are feet from his back...
He doesn't even look up at her.
Something hits her. A deep, meaty sound, of flesh struck and bones cracking, loud as a thunderclap, and Tirush arcs through the air.
For dozens of yards she rolls, end over end, her limbs flailing, bending of their own accord. She hits the ground and cartwheels, flopping. She comes to a stop. She doesn't move.
Lying on the ground, she looks like a marionette with its strings cut. Her eyes are wide, her mouth open. Seconds pass. Then, she gasps, blinking. She coughs as she comes to. Blood, sizzling, spatters from her mouth.
Coughing, she tries to turn over. She can't feel her right arm. Her right leg is bent beneath her, and outward. She can't feel it, either. Her right eye is red, her blood pooling there from a ruptured vein. She is half blind. Her arm is dislocated, her wing shattered.
She can't think. Where was she? What had happened? Why couldn't she feel her legs? She coughed, and coughed, air not finding its way into her lungs. Something leaks blood into them. Slowly, but it is there. She coughs and coughs, the cough wetter now. She spits. She can breathe a little, she gasps, and gasps, deep draughts of air. But then her lungs tighten again, and she coughs again.
Shaking, she tries to turn over. Her body doesn't obey, the shock begins to wear off, and the pain begins.
She clenches her eyes and opens her mouth to cry out, but she can't breathe again. She coughs, each cough bringing knives to her side. She coughs, and blood runs from her mouth. She groans, gasping, turning over to breathe easier. It doesn't work.
She lies on her side, gasping rapidly, moaning. Her moans fade, her eyes roll up, and she slips into black unconsciousness.
(Everyone) Both Marcus and Armata freeze in place as Tirush charges Pramool. Armata yells out a blood curdling scream. “TIRUUUUUUUUUSH!” Before anyone can react, the mighty Wyvern is knocked aside. Her body mangled and broken, Marcus finds it hard to stand, looking upon Tirush in her state.
Armata however, roars in anger. His fangs bare, his eyes shine like suns as his aura flares to tempos only Marcus has seen. Tirush laying broken upon the foreign ground, lights a primal fire in his stomach. The Anathema Lord opens his palms and slams them together. Red, foul runes form around his clenched hands. Red and orange strings of electricity spring from his clenched fists. Immense heat surges from his body, and his aura surges again.
“Lumina, MOARTA!” Armata opens his fist and points them both at Pramool. Within this instance the clouds part, and direct beam of pure heat rockets toward the ground. Right where Armata stands. The beam, mere inches from Armata suddenly redirects and moves in the direct of Armata’s outstretched hands, toward Pramool.
Pramool covers his face as the giant beam engulfs him, and drive him into a nearby pile of smoldering ruins. Armata looks to Marcus, with pure fury.
“Take her, away from here. Do not delay, mutt.”
Marcus easily protests by growling at the order. However, he puts his pride aside, and shambles to Tirush. Gently he puts his arms under her legs and arms. Being careful not to agitate any injuries. Tirush’s blood fizzles in Marcus’s exposed chest and stomach. Gritting his teeth as Tirush’s blood works like acid, he presses forward.
“W-which way!” Marcus shouts.
“Southeast! Go southeast! You should find a small camp beyond the entrance of the mountain pass!” Barnabus replies to Marcus. Without further delay, Marcus begins running with Tirush in tow.
Jorge watched silently as the world explodes around him, his blank expression showing it all, he was in awe of the beast and how easily swiped his companion out of the air. He wanted to leave. Something within him made him want to grovel, to kneel to this beast. He felt his knees weaken and shake as to give into its demanding presence, they wished to falter but his pride kept him in check. That thing he resented oh so much now kept him from giving into Paramool's demanding presence.
How can a man slay such a beast... He thought as he took a step to the beast. His eyes locked onto the bridge of Paramool's nose as he dared not look him directly in the eyes. He took another step. It was obvious that he did not want to fight the beast but yet he moved ever closer to it, one delayed step at a time.
Prad's burnt hand tightens around his still pristine dagger. The blade screams amidst its lightning fuel, unspent for so long.
"You are unfit to combat the elder returned from oblivion" speaks the armored individual, hidden from sight to all but his carrier.
"Perhaps, but they're all doing something. I can't just...stare..." Prad responds, daring a step agianst the encroaching miasma of auras conflagrated against one another. His irises simulate the sound and colors colliding. How the crimson's is rapidly taking over them. His miniature power stands not to last against a force of nature. Something the presence besides him emphasizes on.
"I see you still step forward, a fledging trying to tamper a monsoon over a small boat. What action do you think will win you the day? In your state especially? What will the aftermath of your sacrifice do? The strength from your arm has yet to return. How will you manage your crippled mobility? The white-haired one's lacerating legacy still stands in defiance on your left leg. What fortress do you hope to build upon yourself? The gemini has left your body gaping and aching in every area. Your innards still has yet to muster my dampened gift borrowed previouslyfrom my presence. I can hear it, even in the gap that separates us both. Their reeling".
Prad gathers what remnants of strength he has throughout his body, causing his legs to falter and give in, resulting in his kneeling collapse. Heavy breathing follows as his hand fleebly raises the dagger, yet unused. A gesture that does little to impart sympathy from the gray one "This is but a feint of power you carry. WHere it might have held ground against the previous animals, the entity will see it as naught but a brief distraction..."
Prad slowly gets himself back on foot, gazing at the flash of explosion manifested by Armata. Clinging to the tree on which he holds himself, he raises the dagger once more, this time, at the center of the explosion. The knife powers up, prompting a small gathering of clouds focused on the approximate area where he stands.
The gray one watches as Prad musters the will to yield the miniature clouds to his order, resulting in his dagger glowing somewhat brightly. Not enough to outshine the continuous stream of flame Armata was assailing the progenitor of undeads. Which was the idea. To sneak his charge, subtly, by comparison.
"You seek to consolidate this little orchid to the animal. An abject failure..." spits the gray one, his arms crossed, very sure of his words.
"Perhaps, but still, I must try something..." responds the battle-worn man, feeling dust of power gathered in his dagger. His arm. HIs eyes. The lightning took its payment in the shape of additional injuries riding on his burnt uarm. Prad did not care. He stood, defiant of it. The blade now fully dyed.
A singular bolt leaps from the clouds that, themselves die immediately after. The bolt travels straight to the ground, riding it like an ambient serpent. Its size grows until bloated in its own size. Arriving at the pinpoint of attack, the bolt breaks into a circular tunnel. A tunnel of fork-shaped bolts. All directed at Armata's center of attack: Pramool.
The moment the bolt struck, Prad's legs gave way, his strength spent, as well as having more damage to deal with. Damage he covers under his torn shroud. He turns to the back of the tree, hiding, waiting for pain to stabilize.
(Everyone) The explosion on Pramool’s location expands and grows at Prad’s contribution. The dust is everywhere, smoke and debris lingering as all fall silent.
“He’s alive, there is no doubt.” Armata snarls. “But if we made even a scratch....”
The smoke immediately parts, is pushed away by the very force of Pramool’s power. The ancient chaos god strides forward from the epicenter, unfazed and unhindered.
“I suppose that was meant to injure me?” Pramool looks around at all who surround him. “To try is better then giving in. Though it seems someone else seeks a swift death....” Pramool’s gaze slowly turns toward Prad who has been ignored, until now. Pramool vanishes in the blink of Prad’s eye. With the second blink, the god stands before him. Towering, and agitated. Pramool scans over the young man, but his eyes stop just over Prad’s shoulder.
The gray armored one, Pramool stares directly at the second soul that exists within Prad, as he was as visible as the sun.
“The voice of reason, in a human host. Your logic is wasted on him, spirit. Humans are daft creatures. Ignorant, covetous, weak and blind. Your affiliation with this lot, makes you an asset to they’re futility.... You will die with your host. After all, death is a human’s ultimate reward, for their slowly decaying bodies.” Pramool grips his sword handle and presents the bladed end at Prad.
The poor boy. Sought to make some contribution in what would ensue. Oh, how the gray one's words bit at his core: Failure...Failure...Failure...
Those words roar a typhoon within his mind, overwhelming his nerves at the ghastly sight of the old one, standing with uncaring eyes before him. Worse still, his own words echo those of his 'watcher'.
"No,no,no,no,no,no,no".The word repeats in Prad's head, his broken arms attempting to waver backward. Back to the relative safety. Well aware of the futility. His irises turn with fright to the one. The gray one.
A sad display of the boy crawling to him. His burnt arm reaches to the man's leg. But it does not. Instead of the dull sensation of ancient metal coated, he feels nothing. A phantom where sensation should be. Gazing at the gray one, Prad once agains realizes the gap that separates them. The incomprehensible gap, only now make manifest by a bottomless chasm of darkness churned between his galvanized arm and his watcher's foot.
Further than mere physical distance, he realizes how far the man's reach was. The sky briefly turned to white. The stars gourged in darkness, as if someone had taken a picture and placed it in negative. Breath was hard to find. Sight, unnerving.
"What will you do now...surrogate?" asks the man, looking down on the young man as Pramool stood, arm ready to rip Prad's life away. He was asking this, as he stared down at his death? Not deigning to lift a finger...nor offering help. He just watched...
"The entity who stands to consume your life has warned his own servants. His offsprings' spawn. His cohort of enemies, including yourself, of his intolerance for unassuming movements. In ancient words. In this era's words Yet, ignoring my warnings against attacking, you make use of a brittle and short-lived spell, assuming that he would not immediately retaliate. Against the weakest members..."
Prad can't fathom what he see or hear. Primordial death, standing at but a hair's lick of him, waiting for a deathly decision on his part. His only salvation, berrating him in a vile bite for trying to stand among the rest.
"The first undead was relieved of his appendige. The wyvern has suffered in one strike. Now, death stares squarely at you. Your act, the funnel to his ultimatum. What path will you walk now? Life...or death? If death...how wil you forsake your spark? Standing, like a peeble looking to make a chink? Or kneeling, as you have since your arrival? Life? WHat will you forsake to live? What will be the measure of your sacrifice? The decision is yours...
Tears stream down Prad's face. Sacrifice...or death. One given by a watcher away, the other, by a god. Both hailing from past eons. Both, casting their old judgments uhpon the new generations. He does what he can...
His dagger still muster a fledging of power. Clenching it as hard as he can, he turns his gaze to the sky. Just as a singular thunderbolt fall from the heavens. Orchid. Its power is severely weak. All delivered by the overwhelmingly shine to its side. It crashes on Prad, blinding all that is. All of its power, turned to make the night day...for but seconds.
The light dies. THe young man, no longer present. As well as the gray one. Both, erased from sight...
Jorge could not fathom to understand what had happened to Prad, the bright flash and deafening thunder overwhelmed his reborn senses. In a single moment Prad too was gone. One of the only other humans he saw on this journey. The outcast. The stranger who came to their aid despite his fear, came to his aid to save him from that beast.
Prad, but a young man with one life to live gave it up for them. He did so without fear, without second thought he supposed. Why could he not do the same? After all he had many lives to give and not even death to fear. The knight closed his eyes and released a deep breath as he calmed his nerves and attached his crushed helmet to his hip. He slowed his breathing as he drew his shield and unsheathed his sword. Were Paramool capable of giving him a true death it would go unwarranted as he would not accept demise this day. He would fight on against this beat for all eternity if it meant sparing the multiverse.
"Hahahahaha. Boy are we unsuited for this task. Normally one would use a well organized team to save reality as we know it. But here we are a bunch of mismatched archetypes fighting for a cause we never cared for."
Jorge opened his eyes once more and focused on the terror before him, his steely glare cutting through the canopy of malice that shrouded Paramool.
(Everyone) Pramool looks over his shoulder at Jorge, switching his attention from the spot where Prad once was. “If you think you can step to my pace then I’ll gladly humor you. Though I will not expect miracles.” The ancient advances upon the knight but not without opposition. The 3 Higher Vampires attack Pramool together. Acheron moves in close, swinging his blade at critical areas. Pramool skillfully blocks each sword strike and pushes Acheron back.
Once Acheron is clear, Barnabus gestures with his hands and two glyphs charge up within them. Soon shreds of light fly from his fingertips and like bats of steel they slam against Pramool, pinning him in place. Pramool looks at the bars of light that hold his body in place.
“Nuisance....” He growls. Then Armata charges a fireball in his hand and launches it at the foul god. The attack hits the immobilized ancient and explodes. Armata doesn’t wait for the smoke to clear. He charges in it with his claws ready to inflict any kind of harm.
The sky had since long died, having scattered the clouds away. Well...the remnants, anyway. Deep into the woods, far from the group as to garner no attention, Prad's breathing comes to a crawl. HIs body lays among dead leaves.
The last time lightning struck this close, his hand paid the price for his words. Now, his shroud lays torn, galvanized. Though the electrisation is muchless severe compared to the previous, considering its weakened power.
"You make use of one of our deepest instincts of preservation...flight..." the voice of the gray one rides from his distance, sealed by a gap. Prad can barely afford turning head to face the man.
"You now see the futility of your act. Before your life string was cut by an old one. And fled" he continues, his tone drafting the sense of right.
"What will you do now, surrogate? Your power is drained, and your body cannot afford more injury" Prad can barely muster the will to talk, let alone the wish to do so. He did warn him. His instinct of fear kept him from the monsters. From danger. Yet, he was poisoned with the promise of unity. This had almost cost his life. The man in between can see it in his eyes.
"You have learned, that is what counts...as my anchor, I wish for you to live still, in this plane. This impending battle among the demented family. It has attracted my attention. Therefore, you will remain here..."
Prad feebly turns to the sound of fire and steel. Words lost in the drifting wind. Worries. The orchid empyrean feeds his body, starting from his feet. The man in between has his gray hand, clad in steel, posted upon the young man's head, akin to a father re-assuring a sobbering child "YOu have no need to stand amidst those animals anymore. My eyes need but gaze. Others will fill the rank of soldier for you..."
The man's appearance, so far, but close as well, for a second. This act distracts Prad from the regurgitating earth in twins. Hands grasp outward, bound in shackles and black belts. Bodies jet upward, ragged, coated in armor. The bleed blackness. Eyes and maws, bound by blindfolds.
They move toward Prad's idle body, driven by the empyrean ambient fueling his aura. Blades scatter from both arms, mounted to gauntlets. They cradle a knee on the earth, silent like the mound tht fell dead from which they burst.
The man in between fades away, just as Prad's voice resonates within them, like a lord to his followers "Go. Go and seek the old entity that now walks this land. You fill the gap that the rotting ones cannot. Those that congress against his will. Fill the gap between their cohegraphies".
His hand is risen toward the violence, making little of the injuries. The two unamed go forth, rattling eerie silence with the colorless armor. Blades drift between his world and another, signatured by their fleeting presence, garbed in orchid power.
And now, they wait. Between the higher vampires' attacks, they wait. Always at the ready, but drafted in darkness deeper than even a nocture creature's line of sight, even in plain sight. Present, yet distant. Ever shifting...
(Everyone) Marcus jogs through a thick patch of woods as he heads in the direction of the camp he was pointed to. Dead Lesser Vampires litter the ground for quite a distance. The smell gunpowder hangs heavily in the air, and Marcus’ instinct tells him that the one responsible for all these fallen is still here. He can’t stop though, Tirush is in bad shape and needs help fast. Despite the mountains of thoughts he had, he focused solely on keeping Tirush steady.
He could suddenly see an orange glow ahead, that must be the camp he thought. Bursting through the bushes Marcus finds a roaring campfire and a hot iron in the coals. A lone horse tied to a nearby tree and signs of medical attention. Suddenly he hears an all to familiar click, and his eyes dart to a tree where Alburn is perched. His rifle trained on Marcus’ face.
“Tirush? TIRUSH?!” Imperia leaps out of the brush toward Marcus, but stops when she realizes it’s him. She looks scared, intimidated to see him.
“Imperia, Tirush she needs....”
“I swear to the gods if you-!” Imperia brandishes a dagger she swiped from Alburn.
“Listen, I don’t know what’s happened lately but this ancient beast god guy has been resurrected. And he busted up Tirush pretty good.” Marcus steps forward.
Imperia takes a step back, her eyes full of tears as she looks to her dear friend. “How do I know you won’t try to take us back? How can I trust you?!”
“I.... I’m not sure. A lot has apparently happened and I’m clueless as to what. I remember being brought here, and the torture. Everything else is hazy.” Marcus walks over to a log by the fire and props Tirush’s head against it like a pillow. Imperia lunges to Tirush’s side, and removes a good portion of her tattered gown and folds it up. Gently she places it under Tirush’s head as pillow.
“Oh, Tirush. It will be ok. Please stay strong, for all who love you.” Imperia runs off and collects Alburn’s canteen from his horse’s saddle. Meanwhile Layoka weakly emerges from the brush where Imperia hid. She cautiously moves to Tirush’s side, keeping an eye on Marcus. Imperia hurries back to Tirush and places her hand on Tirush’s head. Petting the Wyvern ever so softly to keep her comfortable.
Marcus moves away from them, as Alburn keeps his gun pointed at him.
Rapid, shallow breaths, gurgling with fluid, wrack Tirush's body. She doesn't move, nor respond. Her gurgle catches in her throat, and she gasps, blood spurting from her mouth. It trickles from the corner of her lips, themselves cut and bleeding, and runs down her cheek. Her right hand is the only other part of her that moves; it shakes, a slow tremor that is a reaction from the trauma to her body. Her top, having only been rabbit skin, is long gone, having fallen away after being loosened by the effects of her corrosive blood.
Back at the battle Jorge charged in directly behind Armata, attempting to hide himself behind the vampire lord. This cowardice was uncharacteristic of him but tactics overcame pride as if Armata were to be knocked aside he may have an opening to strike into Paramool. Should his blade meet it's target. Should his blade bite into Paramool, Should he even be able to succumb to any forms of damage. The more the man thought of the encounter the more he began to doubt himself more and more and the more despair began to dig deep into his mind.
Jorge was not one to fall easily into despair but when he gazed deep inot it's eyes... He saw but an empty void that consumed all.
(Everyone) Armata slashes into the dust and smoke, hitting nothing but air. In shock he looks around for the ancient god, and swiftly cast down by a backhanded strike that sends him skipping across the ground like a stone. All can hear Armata’s bones break and shatter with each skip. The ground churns and chunks are uprooted as he skids to a halt.
Pramool turns to face Jorge. Unwavering, unflinching. The ancient stands still as Jorge’s blade drives deep into it’s target. But Pramool shows no sign of pain or suffering. His armored fingers grip Jorge’s neck tightly, and hoists the knight off the ground.
“The first to pierce my flesh in several thousand years.... You are truly a god’s prodigy. Though this is your last bout....” Pramool then backhands the captured knight. Jorge bouncing across the ground same as Armata and Tirush.
“All will know the futility of facing me. All must suffer my wrath. My children will inherit the realms and my kin will reign supreme. Your gods have forsaken you, for they kneel to me! Except your fates. Embrace death, and die with your honor intact. Your days are limited, mine are endless. I will prevail....” Pramool draws his blade and walks toward Jorge.
(At the Campsite) “You brought this madness upon us! You are responsible all that follows!” Imperia screams. “She’s dying Marcus.... You helped create this.”
“Then I have to fix what I’ve broken. I will see Pramool returned to sleep. I swear my soul on it!” Marcus looks over his shoulder at churning dark clouds above the battleground of Pramool.
The sound of nothing fills the gap between strike and pose. So does the old one stand, posing with his prisoner. So does the gap, emptied by nothingness.
One of them goes forth, the latter, mired by his non-presence. Still. A Drifter. It crosses its phantom-like blades, gazing from the folds of this realm as it feet stampede in noiseless feats. The strike is sudden, as it is present, a cut surging for the old one's sword arm. The other, a simulated puncture projectile for the opposite shoulder.
Soundless attacks only now phasing into real space, pungent with the lack of smell. They roam the distance in no fancy fashion, but gleaming a negative shade, its beloning overwritting the current space.
The gap is filled, with initiative strokes. Their noiseless sceeches fill the tranquility of the old one's speech, as they lock to his very being...
Pramool’s attention is immediately diverted from Jorge with entrance of the two new opponents. He shifts to block the attack at his front, but then senses the incoming attack at his backside. With a shift of his weight and a small surge of power the ancient launches from his position and sails over the two. He glides through the air until landing at a dozen yards away.
He looks over the two odd individuals, noting their ghastly appearance. “Hmmmm, interesting. Your aura are very peculiar. Constructs? Familiars? Summons?”
The drifters note the ease in which the old one shelters himself from the first one's other-planar assault. Their stance takes a brief moment of ease, going over the sloped poise of cloaked combatants.
Almost as if hearing of his words, they flicker for but a moment on the reality of this realm. The act is not done without the notice of the earth, who wince at their mere fixated presence, inviting a small portion of wherever place they stalk from, tainted in gray and purple at the edge of their feet. They are not welcomed atop this earth.
Surely the old one can take a jab at their appearance in the few seconds they stand still on the realm. Their fleeting presence, soon already eroding to the fold between worlds, devoid of color save for darkness. Their flesh, hindered for the most part by said armor, save for the visages that instead feature seals on the eyes and mouths, brimming with alien power. Shackles surround the seals, almost keeping the things in place. More appear on the torsos. The gauntlets. The greaves. Shackles, twisted and burrowing between the gap of the blackened.
The drifters twitch between movement, the remains of old instincts seeking to be freed, with no avail. A black liquid seep from the masks, the fingers, the feet. A reminiscence of the crimson liquid which flows within humans, obviously eroded.
There is but silence from the drifters, who do not return the words of curiosity to Pramool. They naught but stand, slowly slipping back to the fold of this realm...awaiting the next gap.
The word becomes a spiral of subdued and dark hues as he tumbled on the ground. Paramool was definitely holding back as he had so easily struk Tirush out of the air before him... Tirush. He had been so focused on the battle that he had forgotten completely about h and now he would have to push her broken form from his mind or risk fighting Paramool distracted, a mistake he could not afford to make.
The knight quietly stalked the monster as it was distracted by the appearance of two new players. He studied Paramool closely waiting for any opening to move in and recover his sword from the beast's gut.
Pramool’s eyes shift to Jorge, who strategically maneuvers behind. He then looks to the giant blade sunken in his gut and sneers. “How absentminded of me. What is a knight without his weapon?” The ancient plants his own sword into the ground and then places both hands on Jorge’s sword. Bit by bit the old one pulls the sword from his flesh.
“THERE, we are.” Pramool emphasizes as the last of the steel leaves his gut. He then grips the handle and takes a few practice swings with it. “Well balanced, not too cumbersome....”
Armata in the back rises to his feet, regenerating the last of his shattered parts. Pramool meanwhile turning to Jorge, wielding the knight’s sword. Pramool quickly launches a flaming sphere of destructive magic at the silent duo, then charges Jorge. The old ones feet never touch the ground, with single step he glides over the ground and straight to Jorge.
Within that moment Armata appears at Jorge’s side, scowling in fear and yet fury. The Vampire slams his hands together and a pyromancy glyph charges up. “Contributing, tin-man?!” Armata shouts.
An endeavor futile, even for one such as him. The spherical projectile is barely launched when the drifters had departed from the material plane, away once more. They move away still from the point of impact, hidden once more in non-existence, waiting...
With little time to respond Jorge clapped his hands together and faced his palms out to Paramool, allowing the dark ignis to erupt outward and reach out to the dark lord rushing to them. Had he the time he would have tried to focus his attack. Had he the time he would have aimed for more than an instant. Had he the time he would have tried anything else. But he had no time to think, only to act and Armata demanded his action.
Jorge held his arms out firm and let the dark red flames run free as the roaring blooms of flame and hatred reached out expanding exponentionally to consume all the surrounding air. Had any hair remained on his head it would have certainly flowed forward as the miniature vaccum of heat attempted to draw all within its ever wanting maw.
The knight let the air escape his lungs and felt them grow cold as the fringes of his world grew dark. He could not keep up such an attack without breathing, and as of the moment his flame had consumed it all.
The combined blast from Armata and Jorge manages to push back Pramool. As the area is engulfed in flame, Armata lowers his hands and takes a deep breath. The smoke filling the air slowly begins to dissipate, revealing Pramool and the marks on the ground where he skid.
“Well done. You managed to get me off my feet.” Pramool begins walking toward Armata and Jorge. Meanwhile Barnabus shakes his head, seeing full well they are doing nothing.
“We’re getting nowhere. We can’t fight him like this. GENTLEMEN, I THINK IT’S TIME FOR A TACTICAL RETREAT!” He calls out.
Again, the gap between strike is blaring. Again, the drifters briefly escape from their fold between worlds. One rams its blades down, manifesting a psychic wave reminescent of a gigantic shark fin, ludging everything in its path, yet eerily silent in doing so.
The other one presses down on its palms, exploding a cluster of orbs under its fingers. The result comes in the form of empty space, as if the real space its part of its substance had been devoured by another. This, in junction manifests darkness all around the old one's sight. Yet, it is more than mere darkness. The old one, surrounded by it, could see naught the application of the lightless, but the sight of another plane, where the earth is as dark as the void and the sky is as white as the stars that populate the cosmos.
An eronious sight, blinding him of what is to happen in the current space. A blindness intentional, as if they had heard of the elder's suggestion of retreat. They fill the gap in wherever. Attack was never the singular precept of their intentions.
The mixture was blinding, for a moment. Pramool stood there in the white/black abyss, for a moment. His eyes adjusted within milliseconds. A second sword manifested in his free hand and extends upward to the dowsed enemy above him. His crimson blade catching that of his attacking nameless assailant.
“Clever. You are worthy of your summons. What of your other?” Pramool then scans for the familiar’s kin. His free sword extended to catch any incoming counter.
Meanwhile, Barnabus cut open a portal to send everyone away from the old one. “WE MUST LEAVE! WE ARE IN NO SHAPE TO FACE OUR FOE! WE MUST LEAVE AND REGROUP!”
Armata sneers in disdain of the thought, running from the one who battered Tirush. But his logic called to him. Tugging Jorge, he pulled the knight toward the portal.
Once more, the drifter unravels from the fold between worlds, visible in its grotesque form. Its feet land on the receding earth, infesting it with its own plane. A plain visible individual. A sign of respect, perhaps?
The other drifter phases as well amidst its Breach Cluster, whirling with fleeting links to the other side flowing sideways, a gash on this very realm. Its blades constantly blinking between realms as well. It casually glances at the retreating group. Its blindfolded face turns back to its brethen "┴ɥ-ǝ--ǝǝ ƃ-ƃ-ƃɐd p-p-pᴉssᴉdɐʇǝ"
Soon enough, the spoken one, through its harrowing impendiment between pronounciations, give in to the encroaching fold, embraced by it and banished from this realm. The one crossing blades with Pramool soon begins to fade, emiting particles on its armor, an impendent fate twin to its brethen...
Jorge gasps and coughs as he begins to follow scorn until he felt the absence of something so dear to him.
"That's bastard still has my sword. I-I just can't leave without it... to be unarmed. He's already taken so much and yet it still wants more."
Jorge wished to reclaim his weapon, wished to finish this fight here and now but his comrades were injured and in no position to continue, yet would Paramool allow them to leave or wpuld he strike them down as soon as they turned their backs on him?
The world shifted back to the scorched earth Pramool awoke in. His power surges like a great wave and those present feel a sudden blast heat so fierce, they could swear Tirush had unleashed her fiery breath. Pramool’s bones soon begin to crack and his muscles expand.
“You all flee, because you know death is the only option.... You flee thinking that what you see is all that I am! BEHOLD MY MAJESTY!!!!”
Armata turns to see what he could not believe. Pramool’s skin rips like paper as his muscles expand beyond human form. The old one’s aura becomes visible, a dark crimson flux kicks up dirt and even the debris from the destroyed prison. The group watches as Pramool’s body contorts, breaks, grows and reforms. His horns alter and grow. His hair falls out and doesn’t return. His skin turns to an obsidian shade with red mixed in. His veins bulge and light up as if fire was now his life blood. Wings sprout from his back in bursts of immeasurable crimson fluid.
Slowly he grows until he towers over the group like a skyscraper. With a deafening and terrifying roar of absolution, Pramool reveals all that he is. The father of all monsters.
Jorge stood in awe as Paramool took his true form. He stood in horror as the ancient being exploded exponentially outward and the force of it's explosive growth knocking him on he rear. Paramool had his full attention, that was until he caught glimpse of something falling from the behemoth. A dull rod fell from the beath and planted itself in the ground. He knew that there was no possible escape now as it held dominion over land and air now and soon he would try and expand his reach to other realms... To his home... To his daughter...
Without question or second thought Jorge ran to his sword, planted near Paramool's great toe. He was the only thing that stood before the encroaching chaos and the shreds of his past life. He could not trust the others to fight as savagely as he would. He could not trust others to put in all their effort in the fight to come.He could not trust anyone but himself to love his daughters as much as much as he and thus had to react.
Despite his fear, despite the primal urge to survive urging him to turn away he ran to his sword. He ran to the only thing he trusted enough to stand by his side. Every step he took found purchase in the unstable ground as he ran. He ran against the dust that blew past him. He found purchase on the flying stones that pelted on his armor and face. He ran on the very darkness that was cast upon him by the very evil he would fight against him. He would not stop, his pace never faltered and before Paramool could notice the flea he had his sword.
At the campsite Marcus jerks his head in the direction of the battle, his eyes wide as a horrible feeling emerges in his gut. The hair on the back of his neck stand up as his instincts scream that something terrible is happening. Imperia herself can sense the danger that is out there, and stays close to Tirush for comfort.
“What in the hells is this feeling? What is going on over there?” Marcus mumbles to himself.
Prad's broken body lies still, unhinged by the colossal tide of unholy power rifting through the plains, all sourced from Pramool's unshackling of might. The tide crosses the young man's gaze long before the speed of sound has time to travel across. His eyes barely change, noting a noticeable stare of anticipation "So the dark one now unravels his true self. Echoing his manifest...his ultimatum onward this realm. The exiled can hear it. The faltered knight can see it. The hybrid can feel it. Can the new gods sense it? The encroaching return of one long banished before. What will this makeshift group go for help? One is injured. One has given up. One had stowed his pride. And yet the other is crippled..."
Prad looks to the horizon, catching a glimpse of the towering old one. Nostalgia perfumes his senses "An old enemy returns. From the steeps of the Circadian Eons. His fight is against his own, rejected by one's own children. A parent announcing his return, to punish such rebellous offsprings. My drifters move away, their sight but a gateway to my spectating. Show me what you once wrought, genesis of deviants..."
Sword in tow and his spirit elevated Jorge did the unthinkable and charged Paramool. If there was a downside to his size it would be his reach, no longer would he be able to strike him at will. No longer could he easily lay his hands on him, he was but a flea to Paramool and this flea fully intended to bleed him dry.
With the blessing of Vivictus the knight scaled the monstrosity, moving up his length as if he bore no weight of his own.
“You all, FIGHT A WAR WITHOUT SUBSTANCE OR LOGIC. YOU ARE BUT DUST TO THE STRONGEST WINDS. THUS YOU ARE NOTHING!” Pramool roars. A large burst of energy conjures in his mouth, a ball of pure monstral energy forming in his maw. With a jerk of his head the energy lurches forward in a beam of pure death.
It cascades over the mountain’s snow and flies perfectly without hindering. The group sees a blinding flash of light, then feels 100,000 lives silenced.
The Drifters blankly stare at the cacophony, rattling under their shackles. One of them feels the bright burn to his left flank. It's hand, absent of the unrestin blade clapse on said flank, pulling an orchid stone within its hand. One made in two, two made in four, joined by the second.
The stones glide by themselves, drawn in by the impromptu inlux of misery and wiped life. A boon not seen the Metaphorical Shifting, once when the current lordress sat upon the dark throne, governing a change among the deviants. A massive reaping of life. Life burned away in harrowing anguish, the last vision of the people becoming the sight of this light of omens...
The stone, known as Agony Gems, draw in the harrowed souls. Souls of kin, burned in confusion. Burned in imminence. Burned in riesignation or futile defiance. Burned in....burned...in... A͕̘͓̻̙ͅͅg̻o̵̤͈̫̜͔͉͔n̞͔̮̗̫y̲...
Did they see this coming? Adrift, in this realm ruled by old and ancient, trusting of those who did not yield to the Shift. Promised to fairness. But now, devoid of life by one of them. The one who claims to be their all-father. They writhe in confusion, utterly refusing to accept what has become of them. How one of those vampires had simply cat them to the void. Memories replay, further burrowing in the souls' psyches, twisting their confusion and agony, into inhumane hate with each inch, the memory becoming further howling.
Echoes of their ancestors resonate with this pain, broadcasting a mirroed anguish. Drawn in by the comforting arms of the long dead, the fresh deceased join in the gem, forever bound to it. Hundreds...
Tens of thousands...
A hundred thousand, now pledged to unending hatred for the beast-kind, from the past to the present. After all, aren't they all the same????
"You have drifted away in the wretched claws of those things you called lords. My kin...I'm sorry to say I have forseen this reaping of lives. But you saw it now...felt it...lived it. You are angry, I understand that..."
The gray man briefly walks from the anchor that is Prad, eyes shut, cut from the world as the drifters scurry back to their master, hold four distinct Agony Gems. All four, veiled in the fold between world, where life is inexistant, as the gray one, as his phantoms, as his anchor.
The gray one opens his palms to the floating stones, each vestiges of 25,000 lives cut short, craddling them on his bossom. The lifeless plane of the is turned orchid as the deceased all surround the gray one, who in turns turn to witness the people standing amidst, fleeting in their forms. His voice turns compassionate "You have died as you have lived: under the heels of those animals, discarded as trash...rubbish by their hands. But, I am here now. My kin is here...your anguish is our anguish. And our pain...belongs to them..."
All turn to face the giant, basking in its casual toll of life. Then beyond, in the secluded marches, where more people live, under the rule of vampires. Soon, they fade back to the gems, marching within as their new domain of torment, to use it as a fresh weapon. The gems sunder under vortexs made of cataclysm and metal, a gateway to yet another realm. The gray man himself feels his pull back to his anchor, deeper in this lifeless land he walks upon. He resists not...
Prad's eyes return to the current realm, yet afflicted with his combat toll. The drifters stand beside him, away in the fold of this realm. They wait...
Though he scalrdthe beast with a deftness contrary to his size the backlash of Paramool's charged attack was too great. The gale force winds tore at his exposed face and knocked him free of the old one. With aid of the goddess and Vivictus he was delivered to the ground with only minor wid burns and an injured ego.
"That... that thing. How are we supposed to stop such a thing?"
Jorge soon feels a familiar cold hand grip the collar of his armor and tugs hard. “You don’t fight a creature like this! We need to leave, NOW!” Armata barks at Jorge. He leads the knight away from Pramool and to the portal the Barnabus conjured. Armata is last to go through.
With the team in full retreat Pramool roars in victory. Once again he is free to unleash his ilk upon all he sees. “Let flood, begin....” Pramool takes his giant hand in a horizontal way, and tear in space opens up like rift. Within seconds swarms of Lesser Vampires and Necrophage come flooding into the world. Pramool pumps his powerful wings and takes flight. He soars overhead several passes before landing on the pillar where the prison once stood.
The group come through the portal and are at the campsite, Marcus jumps up from his seat startled. “What happened out there? What was that surge of power and explosion?!”
“Pramool.” Armata answers coldly. “How is Tirush.” He switches his attention to Imperia.
“She’s in terrible shape, she needs to get to Dr.Ibrahim immediately.” Imperia sobs while petting Tirush’s head.
“Indeed. Barnabus, open a portal to the capital. We are returning home.” Armata turns to the Unseen.
The man in gray looks at the tear, oh so far away from everything, yet so present at the same time, much like his minions. The rift seems to catch his eye, over a fallen Prad, all senses shut from the world around him from the wounds only now scarring down "Quite the punishment this parent is handing to its children. A civil war between undead yet rekindled. Or this one a new war? Perhaps, the undead named Barnabus spoke of this one's previous defeat. Are you here to wreak vengence on our own? Regardless..."
The gray one's minions take two steps forward and draw forth more of the Agony Gems. They hurl it all around the world from their lifeless plane, expulsing the gems from their plane to the current one. They shine with alien light, using the overwhelming numbers of invaders as decoy, their gleam dismissed.
"┴ɥǝʎ ɔɐll˙˙˙ʇɥǝʎ ɟoɹ ʇɥǝ snɹɹoƃɐʇǝ˙˙˙" one of the minion spout, sensing yet another portal, to which the gray man turns to them "Then remember. Fill the gap. The boy will follow"
From their fold, the Drifters flee, sprinting for the group which is to retreat, the gray one dissipating deeper in his fold. This moment is ripe for Prad's re-awakening. The first words to escape him are naught but pained grunts. The wounds assail him still, but their severity have lessened. To a degree.
His feet have just enough strength to start carrying him elsewhere, to the group's path. His eyes sprinkle a gleaming way, barely visible to him, invisible to all else. Slow and steady...
Jorge begins to resist Armata's pull but his efforts prove fruitless as he had already passed through the cusp of the portal and now lay on greener pastures. He lay silently on the floor planning his next encounter when he heard familiar sobbing. The knight shot up and turned to the source only to be stricken with grief as he had once more forgotten about Tirush.
Surely she would not have left you in such a state, battle or not she would have done everything in her power to save you... Its only right I do the same.
Dropping his equipment Jorge made his way to Tirush looking over all her wounds and planning his method of approach. All disappeared as his mind focused on the near forgotten knowledge that resided in the crevices of his mind. Armata, Marcus, Layoka and the rest were gone. Only Tirush, Imperia and him remained in this world.
Tirush gags and moans a little, an involuntary sound emanating from her unconscious form. Her external wounds are comparatively few and relatively minor. Her body, however, shows both its greatest strength and greatest weakness in her unbroken skin---it would take a legendary dragonslayer's weapon to pierce her hide, but in her current case, it doesn't matter. It doesn't take a trained eye to see that all of her trauma is internal.
It also doesn't take a trained eye to see that she is dying.
A stick planted on the ground every few seconds. Prad's feet follow, one all too weak to properly lift itself, the lacerated one. Instead, it traces on the earth.
With pain, he continues to follow the strains of orchid gliding along, coiling and receding as a serpent. With misery does he carry himself. Then, a stumble. Perhaps a branch, perhaps a rock. Whichever it is, its resilence, as feeble as it is, is much for Prad, who trips along, face against the ground, rekindling his pain synapses.
HIs path, rendered undone by the overwhelming mount of agony. Seconds pass before he can muster the force to force himself up and resume. A torn shroud amidst the windsm unbeknownst to anyone...
Armata looks to Tirush as she shows signs of her condition, and he sneers. “There is no time to wait, Tirush is must be seen to now.” Barnabus opens a portal back to the capital and gestures for the group to retreat.
“You all leave. I will stay and wait for Prad.” Barnabus bravely volunteers.
“Staying around here is suicide. With Pramool so close-“
“I’m called Unseen for a reason, Armata. I will remain for Prad, but I will only linger for so long. He deserves a chance. The rest of you should go and get Tirush home.”
Armata knows it’s futile now to oppose Barnabus’ decision, the Unseen is set on this. With a nod he turns to Jorge.
“Tin-man, grab Tirush. Do be gentle.” Armata and the others begin gathering their things and head through the portal. Leaving Barnabus to wait for Prad.
Wait for long, he does not. Amidst the fierce winds set in discord by the realm breach and countless flying creatures, not to mention their gravely overlord sending shockwaves all across, stands Prad. Broken, ragged, jagged.
His shroud, gray in nature, is difficult to see at first in the eternal darkness. Soon enough however, the constant flapping becomes a distinct noise against the massive winds. He clings onto his sturdy stick, barely able to stand as he is. HIs cloak hinders his body, even while shredded.
"Oh hey...you're still around". His only words. Pain and agony disallows a formal approach.
“Their you are! We have to get out here!” Barnabus opens his hand and another portal tears open. The Unseen runs up to Prad and grabs his arm. Barnabus takes the tattered limb and puts it over his shoulder, then walks with Prad to the portal. “Your timing is impeccable, good sir.”
IN the highlight of the winds raging forth and back, the fall of the stick he used to carry is made soundless. Prad's stomach attempts to funnel itself back, only to fail miserably, a botched attempt at laugh. Cough replaces it.
"W-well, you know me...I'm al-l-lways around. N-n-neve-er to far..." his tone is playful. As playful as an injured can be. HIs vision of the one carrying his broken arm is pure horrors, yet his body is all too feeble to muster any response, overtaken by the need to cross the rift.
Kneeling by her side Jorge begins to examine Tirush. His hands moved with rapid but gentle purpose as he slipped his hands behind her head and raked his fingers up past her broken horn and face applying gentle pressure to feel for any broken bones or bleeding. He inspected his gauntlets for blood and saw the sizzling remains on his finger tips.
So she's burning at all times? I better make sure not to get any directly on me.
He pegan to palpate her face and opened her eyes immediately noting crepitus on the right side along with a broken tooth and a burst vessel in her right eye. He continued along her body applying equal and opposite pressure to her limbs discovering that her left wing and arm along with both her legs were broken. Fortunately they did not appear to be bleeding internally but that could change at any moment. Jorge gently nudged Imperia out of the way and kneeled over Tirush straddling her before he placed his bare hands on her exposed chest and gently pushed in as he ran them down her curved length. Placing his hands on her hips Jorge gently squeezed in and up confirming that her hips were not broken and greatly lowering chances of ensaguination but as he ran his hands down her bare length he felt several vertebrae out of line increasing his worry of permanent injury.
Then as if his actions were not brash enough he placed both hands firmly on her chest and pressed down as he leaned into tirush, his face nearly touching hers. To anyone else it would appear as if he were taking advantage of the injured Wyvern to sate his hidden desires but this could be further from the truth. He was using all his knowledge of medicine to help her, examine her to better aid those with the power to do something.
"She has multiple step off deformities along her spine and flail chest on her right side along with multiple fractures on the right side of her cranium. If we move her haistly we might exaggerate her spinal injury and she may loose all control to her lower body. Bring me multiple sticks about hand length and a large dress sized piece of cloth. We need to immobilize her neck and back. My shield and sword can provide stabilization to her back and a method of carry."
Jorge looked up at Armata cutting him off as he orderd him to carry her.
Armata looks up to the sky to swarms of Lesser Vampires beginning to search for prey, with a sneer he agrees. Like a crimson blur he shifts and darts from place in the forest, grabbing ever splint and stick that fit Jorge’s request. With an arm full of pieces of wood to choose from, Armata returns to Jorge and sets the collection upon the ground. Meanwhile Imperia tears off the remains of the dress to her once elegant outfit and hands it over.
Marcus wastes no time lending his hands to the operation in progress. With the two titans of strength on the job most stand back as Marcus and Jorge work together to keep Tirush stable. Imperia does what she can to support, meanwhile Armata keeps watch for enemies that may attack. The portal remains open by Barnabus’ hand, waiting to let Tirush through first.
With no other hesitations the group move through the portal just as soon as Jorge is through. As they touchdown on the otherside, Armata looks up and sees the sky is blood red. The group is immediately greeted with the sight of people shrieking in terror as fire rains from the crimson churning sky. A singular falling fireball collides through a great spire within the castle like capital.
The crumbling spire toppled down on a crowd of panicked citizens both human and Vampire. Marcus shields his face as the debris and smoke envelopes the area. Guards and Hunters of the Vampire council move hastily to get people off the streets.
“We must move!” Armata shouts. The group moves through the chaos as they attempt to leave the capital square and head out of the city to the De’Sange estate. But as the smoke clears a grand pillar of fire strikes down in the center of the stairs leading to the council’s meeting hall. People watch in shock, awe and fear as the pillar explodes open to reveal Pramool standing in his normal form.
His cold yellow eyes scan the crowd of distressed people and a frown grows upon his face.
"Ohh...that bolds ill..." Prad mutters, all too weakened to muster any sense of urgency, his nerves and synapses all overtaken by the endurnig plights of previous battles. HIs eyes catches all that is around, yet only just. Blurs of colors and auras colliding, all overwhelmed by the idle one.
The guards and Hunters all muster in front of the crowds, blocking Pramool from the frightened people. A lone officer steps forward to establish authority. “Y-you there, the city is experiencing a disaster and we are in the middle of finding civilians shelter. State your name and business.”
“Your orders to shelter vermin are unrelated to my business....” Pramool’s glare slowly shifts to the officer and a wave of malice can be felt by all as Pramool’s eyes glow, a sign of displeasure and anger. The officer feels the coldest chill pierce his body and soul. He sweats profusely despite the cold and chilling change in his body temperature. His eyes rattle in his skull as he trembles in fear, his mind blank as Pramool stares him down. Though ever fiber of his being screams to look away, his fear locks him in place.
His teeth chatter, his skin crawls, tears stream down his face and nothing but horrified futile attempts to speak leave his mouth. Finally Pramool looks away from the Vampire officer, and officer drops to his knees limply. He flops to the ground. Two of his men rush to his side, but despite their efforts to regain their superiors moral, all they got was incoherent babbling and a lack of acknowledgement. The men looked to Pramool with terror growing stronger in their hearts.
“I am to speak, and you all are to listen. I, am Pramool....” The ancient one plants his sword into the ground and rests his hands upon the pommel. Crowd chatters amongst themselves in disbelief, while others pray to their gods. “The legends surrounding me are no longer fictions you tell to your infants at night to make them obedient. I have returned after countless millennia to lead my children in savage war against all that the devine have conjured. Your world is but a staging point. A stepping stone in my conquest.”
“You have two months. Two months, to gather every warrior you can, fortify your strongholds.... and make peace with your gods. After that, I will destroy everything have, and everything you will ever have. Two months.... Oh and Armata, Marcus.... Thank you for your part in my resurrection.” Pramool is then consumed in the same pillar of flame. The flaming pillar shrieks like a Banshee, deafening all within the city walls before it shoots into the crimson churning clouds.
People look on at the scorched ground where Pramool stood. But slowly the entire present populace turns and looks upon the group, especially Armata.
Prad's gaze weights down. Two months. Two months to muster anything. Two months to heal all wounds. Two months to try and convince him.
Despite his predilection, his broken state, hearing of this...among so many people. Innocents, even amidst undeads. Surely his judgement on this world would change. At least in partiality.
Thoughts, countless thoughts begin to filter through the young man's mind. This war was not their to fight, did he said. That they are but spectators. Spectators to what? An impending massacre? Surely can he see this situation has gone out of control...can he? Or does his distance separates his empathy from those entitled here? Prad knows not what he could say. Panic begins to swell...at his returning uselessness...
"Come now. Let's go before the crowd gains it's wits and decides to retaliate. They may not not look like it but they'll have courage in large numbers and id rather not be boghed down fighting thw innocent while trying to care for Tirush."
Jorge shifts in position as he redistributes the weight of Tirush in his hands.
"Besides I doubt Tirush has two months to live. We have to get her home. Back to that damned place of corrupting energies..."
“The Anathema did it!” A random voice blurted from the crowd.
“The prophecy came true!”
“The Anathema brought the end times!”
“He is guilty!”
“Should have been slain in his crib!”
“KILL THE ANATHEMA!”
The crowd begins to flux violently and then commenced to chuck rocks, shoes and whatever else they could grab. The group is pelted by all manner of objects as the frightened people have turned hostile. Armata then raises his hand and creates a wall of flame. Separating the crowd from the group. Armata turns away from the frightened people, but stops for a moment and looks back at them. Their stilettos rave on the other side of the fire, their anger visible in the haze.
Prad watches in lost sympathy as the people scream their outrage. HIs empathy brought low by apathy...
"You sympathize with those condemned to oblivion...a waste of emotion..."
Prad's gaze slowly diverts to his left flank, irises once more possessed, pulled to the lifeless land. The man in gray watches the mass of rioters threatning to the undead's life, distant, in a physical...and emotional manner.
"You waste your thoughts for these walking deads. They were damned once they decided to live under the rule of those animals. They were damned once they decided to let the rotten in their hearts. Now, we come to the consequences. Now, they are caught in a war they do not understand nor can hope to prevail. How will their rotting masters deal with them? Throw them as sacrifice? Abondon them outright? Perhaps wanton slaughter as a gesture of a last time. Yes...they know their father is back to kill every single one of them. This is a ripe time for the masters to turn on their cattle, succumb to their disgusting instincts in the pretexe of a last good time.To feel the weight of power over life and death over what they summarize as a lesser race..."
He turns his inexistant helm at Prad, his words weighting down on the injured man "...P̮͔̘̠̼ͅe̤͈̥͕͔͖̝r̫̤̝ͅh̫̺̲͈̞a̪̮̹͇͖̝p͎̞͍̗̯ͅs̲̗̲͚̫͚ ̹͚̞̬̭̦̼be̯̯̭͍f͈̠̼or̯̘̭e̜̞̞̲̟͕ ͓t͇̻̗̗̩̼͙h̟̭͉e̬̬͇̺̤͈̝y d͕̼̩̣̱o͙͓͕̩̘,̯̺ ͇̰͕͍͉̦̲s̰̥̪uc̻̣̣̗̫̘͚c̣̖̭͚̰̥u͉̲͍̟̜m̩b̜ ̬̖̻͕̼͔tọ͔̩̖̼̥ ̗͚t̲̠̺̳̳̫̜h̰e͎̣̬͙ s̥̠͖̩a̗̫̙̺̖me̗͈͇͍ ̗̺̦͈̤̩͕d̹͇̙̤̠e͕͕v̤ice̤͕̫͓̦̭̰ ̠͍t̟͙̘̣h̙͉̮͉ey̱͈ ͎͙̳̰̥͍w͈o̯̦̪̝̥̣̻u̻͔ḽ̱͈͍d̘̱ ̼̤͔hav͕e̠͔̥̦ ̫̼ͅw̬̖r͓̼͇̥o̭̱̙u̝̲̫̣g̞̫̙̫̙̥͇h̤̫̫͚͙͈t̙̤̺̦.̠̲̼̩̯.̪̻̯.̳̟̥͔̗ "
Prad lowers his head. Convincing the man away...a bleak outlook to surmount...
"As much as I hate to say this but this world is doomed and Tirush is dying. Perhaps we should should go back and aid in her recovery. The latent energies in the world would possibly aid in her recovery and slow her deterioration."
Jorge shrugs off a rock that landed a solid strike upon his brow and continued on, despite the blood dripping into his vision.
"Let's go home. I'd rather not get my soul destroyed in such a backwater reality."
"The split one strays in the inevitable path. This realm and its famished husks are damned" continues the gray one, once more fading in a funnel of dust. Prad's deep gaze can only summarize the drifters, present yet away, standing as his vigils. Their blades out in the open, waiting, burning away from him as the orchid strain in his irises burn off...
“Come on, lets get the hell out of here.” Marcus grumbles a hint of shame and guilt in his voice. The group turns and begins to their march out of the city. The journey back to the decrepit De’Sange estate is long and silent. Each individual is lost in their thoughts of all that transpired in a few short days. Death abundant, people tortured and betrayed. Above all Pramool, the all-father of beasts and monsters has returned.
With Pramool’s resurrection the group knows what the future holds. Pramool’s cancer will not stop with the world Tepes, it will spread world and realm. All will know his spite and hunger, his hate and savagery. Though it isn’t stated, the stern and resolute gaze of both Marcus and Armata is enough for Prad and Jorge know these two rivals who have been battling for centuries are determined to face a greater force and turn the tide.
(For the Coven, for Astrid, for Deidre. We must prevail.) Armata thinks to himself.
(For my world, my daughters, my wives, my friends. For Ibrahim, his wives and my nieces. That old bastard is going down. I’ll stake my life on it.) Marcus ponders to himself as well.
Jorge follows the group without question or protest, while this world was doomed they at least had time to plan, time to prepare for what would come. Perhaps they would be lucky and Paramool would keep his eyes in this realm and conquer it entirely before moving onto theirs. If they were lucky he would run into another cosmic threat that would run him into the proverbial ground and should he reach them he would then have to contend with the converting energies of the lands.
The thought made him chuckle, Paramool, the thing he feared reduced to a sex starved mamono.
Armata leads the group back through the run down mansion. Cob webs shift and old drapes sway wind blows through the skeleton of the old corpse of a house. As Jorge passes a bookshelf, a bushel of rotten books drop before his feet.
Despite them being old tomes of knowledge, all could feel the books were calling for use. They desired to be read, their knowledge passed on as if it was a duty. Armata stepped over the books lifelessly. He had lost all he held dear, now he He makes moves on purpose alone.
As the group reached the transportation chamber, Barnabus spoke.
“Will you return? Will you fight this monster?....”
I will return. Pramool will not advance uncontended. My obligations will not have it.” Armata drives his hand into the obilisk, his blood flows and generates it’s old gears. As a portal between realms opens, Barnabus waves all a goodbye.
The group finds themselves on the otherside of the rift, back within the Covenant’s castle. The crimson dimension fades like a morning’s mist as Armata silently exists the room. His advisors, generals and supporters surround him like flies to stink, asking of what happened. Imperia stick close to Tirush, never leaving her side.
Barnabus, Acheron and Alburn has all reminded in their world. Marcus watched Tirush hauled away, his guilt at it’s peak. Though he was manipulated, Marcus felt an uncontrollable sense of responsibility for all that happened. It weighed on him greater than any other. His guilt ate at him like maggots.
(All I’ve fought to protect is now in jeopardy, by my own hands. There is only one way to set this right....) Marcus thinks to himself before walking away.
"Prepare a cart! A carriage anything that can take us to Whitemarch as fast as possible!" Jorge barked at the surrounding staff as he forced his way through the surrounding nobles and attendants. "Someone warn the medical staff as well! I want Layoka and Imperia evaluated now! And you guard! Rally our elite forces and have them ready to detain or destroy anything that attempts to enter through that portal behind us!"
Jorge turns to Armata as if to confirm his orders and witnessed his despair, the terrible state that he was in. Armata had lost everything and was now faced with an unstoppable force. He had nothing to ground him. Nothing to keep him from being blown over. He did not have the resolve to be that immovable object the mountain of resolve that would weather the storm.
"And would someone bring them something for their nerves!"
Prad did not pay attention to the surroundings. His gaze, locked still in the nether is contemplating. Who his help still be needed? The source of his power deigned denying lending a hand, claiming to be naught but a spectator to this ceassless misery. He knows not what he can provide, no argument to convince the man in gray.
Slowly, he starts drifting, away. No particular path, stuck in the grim thoughts that so often inhabitate his mind. HIs gaze perpetually looking down.
(Sorry about the lack of response guys. I literally just got home from work 30 mins ago.)
All around who hear Jorge’s orders remain still and stare blankly, looking to Armata for confirmation. With a small nod of the Vampire lord’s head his servants scramble to accommodate every order.
“A carriage is far too slow. Summon our mage.” Armata adds to list. Meanwhile several doctors hustle into the room and begin checking on Tirush, Imperia and Layoka. Layoka however tears away from the medical crew and does her best to run to Jorge.
“Mr.Jorge!” It is easy to see she weak and tired by how slow she is, but the small child still musters the strength to make it to the giant.
“I’m very tired Mr.Jorge.” Jorge could see the dim glow in Layoka’s eyes, her cheerful gleam lost gone from fatigue, malnutrition and the horrors she’s seen. The Damphire is too weak to struggle out of the arms of the maid so she doesn’t.
Meanwhile several doctors set down a stretcher for Tirush, they also have a large supply of medical items to help stabilize her before the mage arrives.
Prad turns back to the scene. The metal man and his famished 'protégé'. The dragon surrounded by white coats. The hybrid and undead left to their own thoughts. He knew none, nor their war.
He sighs, further drifting from the scene. Could he even lend a hand? He wasn't the original called after all. And now, he was adrift as to how to speak with the gray man. Doubt makes him wonder whether he should even bother. A stranger to the rest he is. The piece that does not fit. The one who belongs not.
He drifts further, away from the group. His path is split, both clouded by fog. Depart. Remain. No hypothesis could formulate a semblance of relief. He is, to a lack of words, by himself.
"It's ok Layoka. You're safe now. That awful place won't cause us any more problems. Not as long as I have my way with it."
Jorge turns and nods to Marcus as thethey gingerly slide the wounded Dragonoid onto the strecher. Removing his gloves he focuses once more on Tirush and attempts to gain a baseline vitals on her. Just like before he gingerly grabbed her wrist and placed his ear to her right chest, carefully listening for any breathing, lung sounds or irregularities. When he felt his work was sufficient he wrote down his findings in his sketchbook and carefully replaced it in his pouch before checking his medical interventions once more.
"So what now Marcus? Are you going to stay here, follow us to Whitemarch or are you going back to your family? It's been quite some time since you've been with them so I wouldn't blame you if you left."
Jorge reached for Layoka and gingerly plucked her from the maid's hands.
"Thank you. But sooner or later we're going to have to do something about that place. I'd rather not go back but seeing as they came here before... it would be best if we could stop it before it crossed."
Jorge caressed the child's long hair. What used to be a pure golden blond was now tattered and earthy. No longer was it pure and sweet, no... it was tarnished and would forever hold those scars.
Marcus’ eyes trail away, it is beyond obvious he is conflicted on the matter. (What do I do? If go with I might as well tell Doc I responsible for Tirush getting hurt and endangering everything. But if I don’t how could I ever call myself a friend. Though my family is no doubt worried sick.)
“We will discuss that later. For now we must get Tirush to the doctor.” Armata steps in, keeping his composure. “You should go with mutt. Your family can wait a bit longer, but the doctor will want answers.”
Soon after a mage cloaked in purple and wearing a peculiar mask like that of a wolf’s face strides into the room. The figure is feminine, the movements are soon smooth some could swear they were rehearsed. “My lord....” The mage bows. “You have summoned me.... How may I be of service to you.”
“Xeris. The Wyvern, she is dying. She must be returned to her husband, Dr. Thomas Ibrahim, in Whitemarch.”
“I know this man by reputation, and his place of being. Let us make haste....” Xeris turns and outstretches her arm to Tirush. Her arm is exposed from the overzealous cloak, showing pale and immaculate skin. Her arm adorned with elegant and gothic bangles. Much like the man they all seek to go get Tirush to, Xeris summons a portal with little effort. Jorge and Marcus grabs Tirush’s stretcher and carefully walk through the portal and come out the otherside in front of Ibrahim’s estate.
Xeris and Imperia walk through the portal with Layoka in tow, Armata hesitating. He looks back and spots Prad huddled away by himself. “While we’re gone, see to Prad sense you’re all here.”
Like a swarm of indentured servants the doctors and maids all line up to assist Prad in way possible as Armata steps through the portal to Whitemarch.
Prad's sight and thoughts linger away from this place, justifying his surprise as he's surrounded impromptu. Vision of horrid creatures dancing around him, when their actions is alien to his precept. The world he sees is different as well, glared at by the man in gray "Is that not what you wished for? TO be...touched by these 'things'. Rejoice, youngling, your wounds will be unmade by their ghastly hands".
Prad shakes in fear, remembering all too well the last interaction with monsters. At how it cost him so much. Riven in pain, his hands feebly raise in defiance, only for the remembrance of weakness to weight them down. Once more, Prad is helpless, defenceless, a fish lumped at dry land. A bird with a clipped wing. He is at their mercy...
Prad soon finds himself being aided onto another stretcher which is then carried over to a raised cot. Immediately doctors begin examining his burn marks and tattered areas, using a gentle touch only acquired from years of experience.
“These burns and lacerations are very unusual, young man.” One human doctor with a short white beard says. It is clear by his authority that he holds a high place amongst the others as he seems to deal out orders and directions. “Bring me anesthetics. I need bandages. Hot Water! My tool bag you fool.”
The old doctor soon notices that Prad is shaking like a leaf. Soon a small innocent smile appears on the old man’s face. “It’s alright, young man. I do not know what terrible things you’ve been through to get in such a state. But I promise you’ll be alright.”
The doctor takes one more glance over Prad, noticing his hands and arms suffer the worst. “These areas of burn skin must be tended to, and debrided of all dead tissue so that we can save the healthy. We have several healers here who can use magic to grow the skin back, but this dead skin must go.”
Suddenly Prad finds his head being stroked or petted by a Werewolf. She looked over him from atop his head. She had pale gray fur, she was missing half of her left ear, and a scar ran down her one cheek. She very pretty tan skin and an athletic tone to her legs, arms and abdominals, as if she were a trackstar. She wore a nurses scrub which looked somewhat silly for Werewolf as they don’t tend to wear much of anything. Though Prad noticed most of all she had a fang just barely poking out from the right side of her closed lips.
“Ah, Roda. Excellent timing. Now then young man, would you like to be treated?” Old man asks to reassure Prad he only wishes to help.
“It’s okay. We’ll fix you up.” Roda speaks softly while looking down on him with silvery eyes, continuing to stroke his hair.
"Yes...would you like them to fix you?" The man in gray fixes at Prad besides him, non-existent to all but him "I should warn you, however...a covetus beast stares down toward your being. Can you hear what it says? How hungry it is? The others don't know it, letting it stand over your head like that...like a dagger swinging in a pendulum cycle, closing the gap with each sway..."
Looking up, Prad does see the werewolf petting him. However, instead of seeing one capable of delicacy in her actions, as so many like her kind, he sees naught but a fanged horror, staring down at its next kill, a gaping maw dripping overhead. Its eyes, lidless, draught with violence. The paw she pets him with, distorted into claws, ever so gently scraping him. Each stroke, the possible last. All within eyesight of the doctor, his current fortress...
Prad's eyes widen in the direction of the werewolf, then quickly turn to the doctor. It was clear the young man was terrified of the lady, his heart rate accelerating, all under the guise of the gray man...
"So what are we to do now?" Jorge thought out loud. We can't hope to defeat that thing on our own let alone abandon an entire world to it's fate. especially when its plans will lead it to our home."
Jorge began to speed up when he saw the old familiar fenceposts as they were now mere meters from their destination. Perhaps he wouldn't have to bury such a hard fought friend today.
"Regina! Anyone! Get Thomas!"
He no longer cared of his banishment. The thought of arrest or execution mattered little to him at this point. Should his companions be inclined they would aid in his escape. Should his would be captors have any self value they would avoid them at all costs
"Tirush Is dying!"
Subtlety was was not on his mind. At this moment it mattered not who heard his calls for aid, only that they were heard.