December 27, 2018 at 3:50 pm #13304
Reaching the place was not easy, but by far not the hardest journey I had undertaken in the last 100 years. While we moved I told Illario:
“Not the Demon Springs – at least not yet. Yellowstone has hundreds of those small hot springs. There are some serious undertakings going on to use them for geo-thermal energy. Siemens is indeed in talks with the tribes to build another power station, although I doubt they already have personell here.
Only problem is that some tribe members say, it could wake wild spirits that could cause Yellowstone to awaken once more – i.e. the volcano. Put a bit of a damper on the talks. Which incidentally could also happen if we fuck up our mission.”December 27, 2018 at 3:57 pm #13306
Sian chuckles. “Then I suggest we complete the mission successfully,would not you?”
She looks over at Ilario. Where is your companion, Haydee? I am not sure that we should leave here without her.”
265December 27, 2018 at 4:46 pm #13307
”Hmm, yes, I can see how triggering an eruption while still at ground-zero could but a damper on things,” Ilario said in response to Shrike. ”Though, if we did, I suppose it would answer the question for the arguing sides!” He added with an amused grin.
He looked to Sian when she mentioned Haydee, giving her a sly smile.
It was then that the girl dropped her concealment, having moved up to be walking to the side and just behind the vampire. ”Who’s leaving me behind now? ‘Lario, were you planning on leaving me behind?!” The elf chuckled and waved a hand, dismissing the notion.
”Of course not, darling! I had every confidence that you would find your way to us, just as you have.”
Despite his assurances, Haydee gave him a wary look before returning her attention to Sian. ”Thank you for your concern, though. I do appreciate it.”
#29-14December 27, 2018 at 10:04 pm #13315
Sian nods at the young-looking woman. “You are very welcome, Haydee. I care equally for each of my companions, even those who have only recently joined us. My guess is that we all have something to offer to this quest and that it may take that something from all of us to end it successfully.”
266December 28, 2018 at 4:45 am #13319
“Ain’t that the truth…” I interjected laconically. “Especially since that something could be taken from us literally – depending on what flavor of Horror we’ll be facing on the other side.”December 28, 2018 at 8:08 am #13324
“Taken from us literally? What, ya mean like a sock or somethin’? Lock o’ hair? Sexual favors? Cuz I don’t do demons. Maybe a finger? Reckon ol’ Al could part with a finger, meant savin’ the world an’ all.”December 28, 2018 at 9:11 am #13325
“Ah haha… no. Nothing so trivial or easily replaced. I can’t remember much from the times when they came last to earth, but there is one tussle that has been practically etched into my mind. That was back when my brothers and sisters where all present and accounted for and we actually stood a chance to wrestle the many angled things back into oblivion.
What you have to understand about the Horrors is, that they are just wrong – as in, not from this universe. Their mere presence can warp the environment. The trap maker we briefly faced does this pretty obviously, but there are others that just fuck with your mind. Actually most of them do. One of the sure ways you could suss out someone tainted by the horrors was that they no longer had a creative spark – they could perfect technique on painting or sculpting, but it would look like something copied – no soul or self reflection.
Anyway, after this battle some of the bold heroes we had with us were changed. One threw down his sword and never picked it up again. Couldn’t do any sort of violence anymore. And that one was the lucky one. Another – loving family man – castrated himself because he no longer fancied his wife, but his own children.”
I replied, reliving some of the scenes again, shuddering in revulsion. Just the little twist that the Horror had managed to sneak by our combined void and making sure from then on I’d remember the really horrible stuff indefinitely.
December 28, 2018 at 9:34 am #13327
- This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by Jack_Spade.
“Damn. Well I reckon that’s jist about the most miserable story I ever heard. Fortunately, ol’ Al’s immune ta all o’ that nonsense. Still, reckon we’d best kill any of ’em we come across.”
Al was not exaggerating. It was possibly the most miserable story he’d ever heard. Sadly, not the most miserable he’d ever lived.December 30, 2018 at 3:07 am #13379
Sian nods. “I heard stories of some of what the Nine-Killers did, but I was fighting my own battles against the Horrors as I managed the rear guard for some people fleeing to one of the Kaers my Master had designed and I had built for him. I waited out the worst of what happened, venturing outside once every few years to see if they had departed. Towards the end, they were easier to kill, weaker in some way, but I really have no idea why or how. I just took it as a sign that the worst was over and began the process of rebuilding.”
267December 30, 2018 at 10:01 pm #13390
“Well I haven’t.” Alessandra interjected. “Why do you call Vindariel and his ilk ‘nine-killers’ anyway?” Her pretty eyes grew distant as she remembered that awful time. Her memory had faded with the centuries, and the metahuman mind was not well-prepared to vividly remember trauma, so the Ritual of Thorns had further blunted the horrors of those days, but she still remembered enough to chill her blood even now. She remembered the beginning, and the end, the awful death-spells and battle-curses slung by master hexcrafters when simple swords would no longer avail them against the massive, roiling, wrong forms, burning themselves out one by one as they threw every last drop of power into their desperate stand, fighting to buy time for Alachia’s awful, brilliant spellcraft and again at the end of the war, vengeance and pain driving them to kill themselves with the effort of fighting back the weakened, but still-puissant nightmares.December 31, 2018 at 3:43 am #13396
“Because that’s the title that was bestowed on us. We started out as 49, 7 times 7 children, born to 49 elven mothers, hand picked by Lofwyr himself. After our training and after the first few fights against the horrors, the shortened name had become reality. Old Goldsnout’s idea of fighting the Horrors with mundanes carrying the void inside them wasn’t bad – it was just too late and too little to change the outcome.
We did have some successes though. I personally made sure that the Sleeper, the Ashbeast and the Butcher were sealed away.”
I replied, drawing again on the more horrifying elements of my past. Again I wondered what would have happened to me if the Boss hadn’t taken away our ability to feel fear…December 31, 2018 at 2:42 pm #13424
Ashbeast? The Butcher?
“…well….ol’ Al used ta wrassle gators in Thailand….”December 31, 2018 at 9:22 pm #13429
”And a gallant passtime that is, Mr. Guthrie!” Ilario quipped, giving the man a companionable clap on the shoulder and glad to have another topic to focus on. It wasn’t that he didn’t remember those times, it was just that…well, he would need his journals to do so enough to speak on it. He leaned in, then, lowering his voice, somewhat, as he continued to speak to the man, ”Best just to sit back and observe, at times like these, my good man. Once folks such as us get started on war stories, there is little that can redirect from it until the tales fizzle to a close.”
With that said, he removed his hand and once again stepped into a respectable distance, ”I, however, would much enjoy your own fine tellings of your time in Thailand!”
#30-15January 1, 2019 at 4:56 am #13437
“Don’t worry, I’m not getting into more detail. Though there is one thing you have to understand: Destroying the physical form is just the first step. Once their body is gone, Horrors go to the Astral. If you don’t have an equally strong force there, all your work was in vain. It’s easier to contain them – give them a name and they gain a weakness – then you exploit that weakness. It’s more difficult of course, but basically, by calling it the Ashbeast that Horror lost quite a lot of it’s intelligence while gaining in strength. That made it possible to draw it’s form to the place with the only material it couldn’t convert to ash – the mound of a volcano. As far as I know, it’s still down there, likely dormant while the mana is still too low.”
A faint echo of a memory stired. I was pretty sure that I had heard this lecture about a hundred time while growing up. Fighting Horrors 101…January 1, 2019 at 2:19 pm #13445
Working with these people in Boston, at no time fighting headcase swarms, blood spirits, dragons, cyberzombies, or Jaguar Guard air cavalry had Al felt he was operating out of his league.
But these descriptions of fighting Horrors…
The one in Boston they hadn’t seen.
Back in Magical Mystery Island they hadn’t as much fought them as slammed the door on them while astrally nuking them. And even that had been the most horrifying experience of his life, creating memories that haunted him to this day.
Now, the stuff they were talking about was starting to become mildly unsettling.
But then he realized that all his companions were crazy.
Generously, they were either delusional or else some moderately horrible recollections had festered and grown in their memories over the intervening centuries.
Less generously, they were simply making up stories to top one another, part of their kind’s relentless oneupmanship.
Thus concluding that nothing they were saying was remotely accurate, Al’s spirits improved greatly and he began to enjoy the hike.January 5, 2019 at 8:00 pm #13567
Sian has quieted down, following in line, trying to use her enhanced senses to see what is around them as they walk. That they had been surprised by the SDF patrol was unsettling and embarrassing and she did not want to repeat the experience. Rather, she paid attention to her surroundings and moved as quietly as she could.
268January 6, 2019 at 6:14 am #13573
The hike was hard, damn hard. But my companions didn’t complain, which put them quite a few notches up in my estimation. Thanks to the maps and periodic checks in the matrix, we reached the sulfur springs just right for nightfall.
The air was heavy with the smell of rotten eggs even with the respirators on, it was far from pleasant. But at least no-one would succumb to SO2 poisoning. The pros of this place was that it was enjoyably warm and that there were no critters around. Eating was made harder with the respirators – you had to hold your breath while taking a bite – but doable.
After that I turned to my hiking companions: “Bad news – we have too little field rations. And unless one of you has aquired that handy little trick to feed the multitudes with some bread and fish, we have to either live of the land – which will take time and delay us, or we make a detour to a small town. We can stock up on food and maybe even acquire transportation. It’s risky, of course, but in the long run we might avoid more patrols if we keep to the official roads. Not to mention, that a pure venison diet is very bad for ones digestion.”January 6, 2019 at 1:06 pm #13587
Alessandra smiled slightly. “A long time ago, when I was but a wee immortal I tried striking out on my own, in what would later be Greece. As it turns out, having no resources and no food makes it hard to accumulate a loyal coterie of one’s own.” Her eyes grew distant, remembering those first, awful days after the end of the horrors, when all she wanted was to get away. Everything was pain in those days, pain of the body, pain of the soul, the pain of memories that would be indelibly branded on her mind for the rest of eternity. She had run, fleeing the Blood Wood, fleeing Alachia and the ritual of thorns, her world consumed by what she had lost.
Tossing her head, like a horse getting rid of a particularly bothersome fly, she returned to the moment. “I learned a few useful tricks very quickly. Amongst them is the ability to multiply existing food. I cannot create something from nothing, so I will need a template from which to work, but I can at least make the rations for one person stretch to accommodate all of us. Will that help?”January 6, 2019 at 1:24 pm #13590
It’s seldom that someone manages to surprise me so much that I forget what to say, so I’ll probably remember that occasion for a while. So after a second I replied: “Um, yes, that would actually work quite well. Say, you didn’t happen to hang around Jordan some 2000 years ago?”January 6, 2019 at 3:33 pm #13595
Sian grins to herself from the relative comfort of her respirator, knowing that she does not have to go through any of the odd maneuvers her companions are doing just to eat. As the discussion turns more to food, she chuckles softly. “You do not need to concern yourselves with providing rations for me, as my dietary requirements are not………………….normal. I fed just a couple of days ago and can go some days still.” She remembers an uncomfortable time in a place called, what was it………………oh yes, Thebes, wasn’t it. “As long as I do not use up my reserves, at least. Continued use of my powers can make me a bit peckish. But I have a small supply of what I need with me, so there is no reason for any of you to be concerned that I might go all rogue on you.” She pauses to look around the small camp. “Besides, I would rather perish than assault my friends.”
Sian nods at Alessandra. “You were in Greece? Me, too, numerous times. Both before they rose from small, warring clans and when they became a might empire. For a time, I traveled with Alexander on his journeys. He was called The Great for good reason. Well, at least for his military and governing prowess, but he did lack a bit in………………certain other areas. I loved Greece, and my journeys there led me to the collection of hovels that would one day be the greatest city on this planet.”
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