Call of the Cursed
Posted 01 July 2010 - 09:59 PM
"Leo, get everyone together. We don't spread out any more than this, you got that?"
He looked to the horizon and saw something coming, Turtlelot and his Bison. More vikings popping up was going to make this more troublesome.
"It's weird, you'd think they'd just leave with the rest of us. This meeting up bullshit is getting old."
Posted 02 July 2010 - 05:07 PM
Posted 04 July 2010 - 06:35 PM
“Yeah, I see your point there,” replied Leo as he stopped and waited for the rest of the Calatians to arrive. “For all of my missions except 2, I’ve picked up or rendezvoused with people on the way; it throws my plans and calculations off a bit.” Even as he confirmed that the entire group was still in place, an uneasy feeling began to settle over him, as if a great depressive shadow enveloped them in a sphere. Did something happen? Is it the Curse coming over us? Gripping his gun tightly, the dwarf continued to move slowly after his men through the mountains, hoping that his fears would be proven incorrect. He was starting to feel just as paranoid as he had on the mission to Korento. I nearly blew out Bob’s head there.
A tap came on the shoulder. “You okay, mon?” asked Bob.
Leo nodded. “Yeah; let’s keep moving.”
The trip through the Taj-Nar Mountains was not eventful yet for the Calatians moving quickly through the passage. The group had only encountered a small amount of bats and other miscellaneous creatures living in the depths of the mountains; no serious dangers had yet been faced. Even more strange was the fact that the path through the Taj-Nar’s went…straight; there were no forks, zigzags, zagzigs, or anything confusing. Essentially, it was as if somebody had used a knife and cut a line down the middle of the mountains, and then pushed them apart. Lazu or Chikara could have done it after the Cataclysm, thought Leo. Maybe they did just in case a Koridaian expedition would return back and establish a base camp of some sort.
Snapping out of his thoughts, the general turned to Jordan. “What kind of aggressiveness can we expect from the Cursed?” he asked uncertainly. “Are they extremely violent?”
Posted 04 July 2010 - 10:51 PM
"I suppose I should explain this curse in better detail. It is quite similar to what we saw two years ago at the Eagle's Talons, except places like that and the old Labyrinth are what we might call "pockets" of Lazu's power. People lived longer, people got stronger, people were batshit crazy and loved the things we might call "sin". But Verden right now is different, the power isn't focused. It's spread out, all throughout the continent and because of that the effects are watered down, so to speak. They are physically stronger, but the people here are more feral. It's like . . . well . . . hmm, how do I put it? It's like reason and common sense are blocked out and the person is only left with desire. That desire is increased to the point where that becomes the single mindset of that person."
Jordan looked to his left, discovering a rotting corpse of a man who was probably killed days ago. Most likely under the influence of the curse.
"I suppose it shows us our bare human nature, what people are without the pedestals of logic, faith, pride, love, whatever. I suppose there was a time when people lived like animals and fought to survive, the curse is taking what progress we've made and taking us back to square one."
The other vikings began to look at the fallen body as they passed by.
"I can't say that is the absolute truth of the madness, but after being here for so long it's what I've come up with for an answer."
Posted 05 July 2010 - 12:40 AM
"Dere used to be a time when dey got along, Diel and Lazuuu. Dey was balanced. Opposites but balanced. But sumptin' changed. Sumptin' came along dat pushed people over da edge. Dat's what we feelin' now. It don't feel free. It feel dark. Dark and nasssty."
"Hold up a minute." Bob halted, causing the other two to also stop. He looked around, as if seeing the ravine for the first time. "Oh nooo...no. No, no, no, no."
He looked back to the other two men. "Jordan, you need ta unleash one o' yo gales as soon as I say so. Leo, turn around." To which the dwarf complied. Bob opened a small pouch on the inside of his belt and dipped his finger into the black powder within. In the middle of the dwarf's back he traced, leaving a faint symbol.
"Dis is gonna act like a guiding light, mon. You is prob'ly da fastest runner here. You gotta take da lead and people is gonna be followin' you. Dun worry, dey see da light it gives off even if you don't. Dey feeel it."
Bob now took his sword from its sheath and used the tip of the blade to gouge a different symbol into the ground. Crouching, he then made a small slice on the back of his arm and, laying his sword on the ground, wiped off the blood that come forth. This he mixed with some more of the black powder, now sprinkled onto the marked earth, to make a dark paste.
"I got to see dis. It don't feel right anymore." Bob closed his eyes and smeared the paste down over his eyelids. What was pitch black flared into brilliance before fading back into a darker scene. The world before him was constructed entirely of shadows. He could make out the entirety of his surroundings by the distinct coronas outlining objects. Surrounding him were his companions and their creatures, represented by green-hued pillars of fire in their bodily shapes. The reason Bob had taken on this sight, though, stood out more than the brightest of flames.
Lining the ravine, for as far as they could see in front of them and extending far back behind them, were other human shapes. These were not alight, though. These shapes were blacker than black. They seemed to be almost consuming even the shadows around them. Like flames of the darkest fire they flickered and warped but for the most part, they were humanoid. Dark souls. Lost souls. The final stage of a death that never truly came in these Cursed Lands, these figures were doomed to burn and suffer in that black flame for eternity. This was the ultimate fate of those lost to and consumed by the Curse.
Bob had felt them there as they traveled but they had been harmless. Just watching, mindlessly observing. Waiting for the curse to set in on these travelers so they could pounce. Now Something was stirring them, stirring their hunger. Slowly, a few of the dark shapes had separated from the walls to come up the rear, advancing towards the center of the group. Another few were even scattered amongst the group itself, with more gradually moving off the walls and advancing at a trudging pace, all towards a single point inside the group. Bob's eyes moved to the target of these dreaded creatures and then he understood.
There was another humanoid flame. This one was of a deep, dark purple, flickering very faintly. He hadn't noticed it before in between the candescence of the others and the tenebrosity of their stalkers and now it was slouching between two bright flames. It was Synile. His use of that cursed sword had caused a similar affliction to now course through his body, mind and soul.
Bob came to his feet as fast as he was able but they were already out of time. His eyes still closed and enchanted, he turned to Leo and Jordan. "Get dat boy on da bear, we need to get out o' here!"
"Jo'dun, do yo gust o' wind right now. Leo, get up da front, mon. It's too late - we got to run and run fast!"
Bob sheathed his sword and waved his arms frantically towards their destination.
"Run!" He shouted to them all.
Posted 06 July 2010 - 12:41 AM
"Alright! Let's clear the way!"
He swung the polearms up, the blades facing the sky and with two tremendous swings he called down a intense gust that came from the sky and crashed onto the earth, traveling forward to create a path as it carried dust and dirt along with it. The blast of wind left those nearby with their ears ringing, but it was not something they couldn't manage.
Posted 07 July 2010 - 07:54 PM
As the group ran straight through the path between the mountains towards what remained of northern Verden, Leo glanced every few minutes to make sure they weren’t being tailed by any strange creatures. Maybe that’s why Bob was so anxious earlier. He might have seen something, maybe even the Cursed. Grimacing as the Calatians moved back another rotting body, he looked up and realized that the sunlight had disappeared due to clouding. Those aren’t normal, white ones; they’re pretty brown and grayish. Inhaling deeply, the general relayed the info to the others. “We’re getting closer!” he shouted. “Let’s keep moving, and then we take a break. Khallos, make sure nobody falls behind.”
Fueled by the anxiety of traveling into the Cursed Lands and the fact that the path between the mountains was dark and mysterious, the Vikings soon exited the Taj-Nar Mountains and out into the open area. Above them, the sun shone with just about the same brightness as the normal world, but the polluted air gave the star an odd brown, sick shade. Trees that continued to stand even after the Cataclysm were gnarled and bent, as if the Cruse struck a disease in their roots and bodies. It looks like nature was affected just as bad, thought Leo grimly. Maybe that’s what Chikara had in mind the instant she did this. All around the plains, wreckage of chariots, armour, trebuchets, and other weapons left behind by fleeing soldiers as they died could be seen scattered across. Ruins of a nearby village could also be seen; bodies of children and women were scattered everywhere, their skeletons stained bloodred. Finally, the group saw that the field they were looking at stretched as far as the eye could see…where open ditches at least a mile away snaked through the open ground. To many people, even those without history of the domain, the view showed that even the strongest domains could not withstand the power of gods or time. The Labyrinth of Doom, under the will of a maddened god and his avatar, had revealed itself and its greatest secrets, the underground tunnels, to the world. It was at that moment that General Crimson realized the stone-cold truth.
The group of Calatians was now in the Cursed Lands. All of them now knew they had a 90% chance of not making it back to Snowpeak Ruins. The Vikings soon became silent as the truth of their predicament began to set in.
Being the first to snap out of the silence, Leo hefted his rifle and began giving orders to the Calatians. “Well, we’ve made it to the Cursed Lands. Now, as Jordan explained to us earlier, nobody can afford to make a mistake. We have to stick together at all times, unless you’re helping me scout around here, and you have to keep control of your mind.” Pausing for a moment as he listened to the confused murmurs, Leo continued on quickly. “I know it sounds weird, but if you feel some kind of mental or emotional change coming over you, give me, Mr Khallos, Jordan, or any other certified officer a heads-up. We need to know immediately, people, so remember to do so. Take a 20 minute break, and then we’ll find a place to set up camp.”
Turning and walking off towards the members of the Baker Team, he gathered them around in a circle. “Set up a small perimeter around the area with the other guys,” said the general quietly. “Wait for Jordan and Bob to get back; when they do, come find me.”
“Where will you be, sir?” asked Mellish.
“Somewhere in that general direction, I guess,” he replied, pointing to the north. “I might get out the Hakubi Road just for kicks or something. If you can’t find me, use an eagle; I brought some raw fish in my bag. If anybody feels like tagging along, tell them where I went.”
Clapping his men on the shoulders, Leo shouldered his rifle and headed for a personal scouting mission north of the Calatian group. He was anxious to see the full damage the Cataclysm caused, and then analyze the risk of the regions. Let’s hope that the Cursed are as easy to beat as zombies or imperials.
Posted 09 July 2010 - 06:59 PM
Turtlelot rode up the the cliff, he could see the others below in the ravine. Jordan had slain whatever it was that had attacked them. As the group began to head out, Turtlelot examined the direction they were heading to see if they were any inclines. He spotted one, off in distance, right beside an open area.
Turtlelot continued to ride along the cliff edge watching to see what direction the group was heading. In one glance over he saw Leo running, with the rest of the group following him to the open area, by the incline. Good. Turtlelot thought, as he and his bison dashed over to the incline as quickly as possible, so they could finally regroup with everyone else.
Once Turtlelot reached the incline he looked down to see everyone setting up camp. Leo was going up towards towards him. "Going for a hike, General?" Turtlelot questioned humorously.
Posted 10 July 2010 - 08:29 PM
As he continued making his way north, he felt a presence approach him and reached for his axe. Realizing who it was by the sound, Leo released the handle of his weapon and turned around. “Something like that, Turtlelot,” he responded good-heartedly. “I’m just looking for stuff that we might be able to use to our advantage against Chikara if she tries to Curse what we have left of Verden.
By the way, how was your trip here? I’m sorry for not informing you personally, but we kind of in a rush,” explained the dwarf.
Posted 11 July 2010 - 01:01 AM
yes, everyone was still with the group.
However, what was the most troubling to see was the fact that the stones continued to shift after they had all fallen to the ground. Whatever it was that was following them was getting through.
"No turning back now, or at least, not just yet." He muttered to himself.
He looked over to Synile, clenching his sword in it's scabbard with both hands. There was something wrong with it, kinda like that aura he saw that consumed him back at the witch's home. Synile would have to wait though, continuing the trek was the top priority. But what was it that Selena had sent them all out here for in the first place?
Posted 11 July 2010 - 03:59 PM
During the attack on their troupe by the strange, gryphon-like creature, Rova had mostly kept out of the way. It turned out that she needn't have interfered, as Jordan mostly took it down on his own. After it was defeated, she longed to inspect it, to feel its bones, and she could feel her bear's desire to feed. But she wasn't here to satisfy her more morbid tendencies, and she had enough food to keep Bill happy. She stared at its corpse as they passed, and at the last moment she made a decision. Rova leaned down from atop Bill's saddle and plucked a feather from the beast, and while the bear carried her along with the rest of the group, Rova's hands hurriedly worked to sew the feather into her cloak. She wasn't sure why she felt the need to do this; all she knew was it pleased her to carry these symbols of death and sacrfice on her shoulders.
The Calatian woman idly listened to Jordan's explanation of the curse's effects, and truth be told the idea of it fascinated and scared her. She couldn't imagine being under such an influence herself, but due to the nature of their expedition, she just might end up experiencing it. Her ears perked up at the sound of Bob's voice joining Leo and Jordan's conversation, and she listened more intently. She noticed his voice taking on a more worried tone and looked up. Rova could just make out his fingers tracing a symbol on Leo's back. She couldn't explain what she saw; her eyes perceived the light, but its glow didn't touch anything around it. She focused on it with her mind zoning out almost completely.
All of a sudden Bob's voice jerked her back to reality, and it took her a second to react. Rova jumped down off of her bear and helped carry Synile over, lifting his body up to drape him over Bill's back. She tied him in so he wouldn't fall off and urged Bill to run, the bear easily keeping pace with the fleeing group. The light shining from Leo's back guided her, and through her, the bear and Synile. She didn't know what was going on or what dangers were at their heels, but she ran as fast as she could through the ravine without asking questions. Only when they broke free of the mountains and were trapped in the Cursed Lands proper did she stop.
Posted 12 July 2010 - 11:38 PM
"It's quite alright Leo, I caught up, so that's all that matters. The trip itself wasn't bad either, just playing catch up." Turtlelot replied. He watched Leo search around the area and said. "If you're looking for something that could be of use, it probably won't be in a hilly area like this. You would have better luck in some kind of ruins. Like the village beyond these next couple hills." Turtlelot pointed to what seemed to be a wrecked village off in the distance.
"Need a lift there?" Turtlelot extended an arm towards Leo.
Posted 13 July 2010 - 09:16 PM
Facing towards the rear of the bison, he spoke a quick message to Turtlelot. “Get us there fast; I’ll keep us covered in case we get attacked by any Cursed.” Jamming the bolt back into his rifle, Leo gripped it tightly and braced himself for the ride.
Posted 13 July 2010 - 09:45 PM
Once they arrived at the ruined village, Leo & Turtlelot hopped off of Winston. Turtlelot pulled his spear from Winston's saddle, and the pair began to wander the village cautiously. Turtlelot scanned the area and saw no lifeforms, all that could be seen were destroyed buildings and the occasional charred skeleton/corpse.
"So tell me Leo, how did we end up on this suicide of a mission?"
Posted 13 July 2010 - 10:33 PM
Behind Leo and Turtlelot, Jordan led the other Calatians closely behind to the ruins frontier town. He was rather perturbed that the dwarven general and the iron warrior decided to head off on their own like that, he was a guide not a babysitter. Well, no sense bringing it up now. It's amazing that everyone had managed to hold onto their sense of self ever since getting here. These vikings were something else indeed. He looked around, the thin skeletons of homes and establishments stood weakly on dusty earth. He found what appeared to be a small stone wall that must have stood in front of someone's house and sat down and looked up at the sky.
Still blue. Somethings never change after all.
He turned to Bob, who seemed pensive and raddled after that last rush.
"What was it?" He asked the islander.
"I mean, what was it you saw back there?"
"Dawkness mon. We was sorounded on all sides, if we didn't fly when we did . . . no good."
"Looks like we'll be fine for a little while, we can't settle for too long."
As he said that, he noticed two vikings settling up a fire and getting comfortable. Jordan placed his hand over his face in disbelief, slowly siding it off.
"For Diel's sake, what the hell is this?"
He went over to the Snakeheads who were preparing their rest stop, confused and annoyed to their cavalier attitude to their current situation.
"Don't you even dare get cozy here. And what is with all this? THIS ISN'T A PICNIC."
Posted 14 July 2010 - 04:28 AM
Synile was a bit too tired to put up much of a fight through being manhandled around during the prior series of events, but now that the group was in the skeletal remains of a town, he dropped down from the bear, and started walking on wobbly feet. My head is pounding, but the worst of it is... They didn't collect any of my throwing knives... I lost Biggie too... I loved that damned thing... Synile quickly stifled a sniff for his lost throwing knife, and started to look around the ruined town.
Synile had his back to the group. His noes picked up on the smell of a fire burning, and he could remotely hear Jordan's voice in the background. Currently Synile's eyes were filled with a large house a few yards in front of him. It was mostly intact, a large almost manor looking house. The white paint was peeling in some areas, due to lack of maintenance. The shutters were hanging from their hinges and most of the windows were broken. Synile cautiously begins to walk up the creaky dilapidated steps, and onto the porch. The door to the house is surprisingly still intact. Synile reaches for the knob, but the door refuses to budge. One well placed kick sends the door off it's hinges and flying into the dark recess of the house.
Synile walks through the doorway, and surveys the scene. The interior is in surprisingly good condition. Synile walks straight back, and down a rather short hallway, and finds himself in the kitchen of the building. This must have been the estate of a rather well off family. Porcelain dishes, more broken than not, were scattered throughout the kitchen. Synile starts investigating all the drawers and finds one full of rather well conditioned silverware, all of which finds itself in the satchel Synile brought along on the mission. It truly pays to be prepared. Synile was so preoccupied by his looting, that he didn't notice the sound of creaking coming from the stairwell. Suddenly, a pair of arms wrap themselves around his torso. Synile winced in pain. The healing had certainly helped, but his wounds definitely weren't completely gone.
"What's this? Someone come visit me?." The voice belonged to a woman. Synile, out of force of habit, immediately elbows the woman and spins on his heels. She was about average height, with brown eyes, and red hair. She was a rather voluptuous woman, wearing a tattered jade green dress, and with a very pale complexion. Her eyes had a dangerous light to them, one he recognized instantly. She was very obviously one of the cursed. "Oooof. So big and strong too... No need to be so rough... yet, anyway..." Synile rests his hand on the hilt of his nodachi, this could go either way at this point. "You know... it's been so long since I've been around such a handsome man... I could use some company..." She was a rather attractive woman, even if the curse was magnifying her feelings of lust. In any other situation, Synile would have been more than happy to oblige her.
"Well, I'd love to take you up on that offer, but I could really use a drink. Surely you have some whiskey to offer the handsome stranger?"
"Of course! My husband had a love of the stuff. We only bought the best. Our liquor cabinet is right behind me, the door next to the stairs..."
"Husband you say? Well, he must have been a fool to leave a wife like you behind."
"Oh, he didn't leave. He's in the basement. Well... What's left of him is in the basement." The woman smiled. She grabbed a knife from off of the kitchen counter and pointed the blade at Synile. "Do you want to meet him?"
"I can think of a few things I'd rather do..." The woman slowly begins to walk towards Synile, with her lips parted in anticipation of a kiss. Synile slides one arm around her waist, and with his free hand grabs the knife. The kiss drops the cursed woman's guard enough to allow Synile to easily twist her wrist, and jam the knife into her ribcage. "I don't like when people point knives at me." The woman gasps, and falls to the floor. Without so much as a second glance, Synile steps over her and towards the cabinet. "Well... it seems like being cursed doesn't make you a liar. This is indeed some fine whiskey you have here." The woman had already bled out. "I do believe I'll just help myself!" Synile refills his flask, and grabs two more bottles. Those flesh out his second satchel rather nicely.
Grabbing an apple off the table, Synile takes a large bite and leaves the house. "Hey guys, there are some supplies over here!"
Posted 14 July 2010 - 08:26 PM
As they began to move deeper into the large village, Leo felt an uneasiness and fear in his stomach, as if there was a danger nearby; it was a feral and new feeling. Are we being watched? Signaling for Turtlelot to move slower, he kept the rifle in his right hand raised, while using his left to draw out his combat knife. Stopping in what appeared to be the square of the community, the dwarf knelt down and looked through the scope on the gun. A moment later, he saw the first sign of the Curse. There we go; we got a man.
50 yards ahead was a 3-storey grocery store; on the 2nd floor sat a person, who appeared to be dozing. Getting ready to shoot, Leo remembered something that made him hesitate. What if he’s being used as bait? He recalled one of his agents stationed in Koridai telling him a few months ago that there was an imperial expedition into the Cursed Lands, and that the troops had accidentally killed a group of innocent villagers believed to be Cursed. That’s a big problem for us too; how do we know who’s who? Sighing in resignation, the general shook his head and took aim; he couldn’t afford to keep stalling decisions.
Before he could shoot, several doors down the street shot open, and dozens of people charged towards the duo, screaming and swinging weapons. Firing a single shot into the midst of the group, Leo tossed aside the obselete rifle and pulled out his battleaxe. “I hope you brought Diel’s sword, Turtlelot!” he shouted.
Charging forward and swinging his weapon at the enemy, Leo thought about the Calatians taking a break near the Taj-Nar mountains and hoped that at least a few of them had heard the gunshot. If not I’ll have to send a signal. Felling one of the Cursed, the dwarf sprinted towards the grocery store, wondering if he would be able to find a flare or other weapons inside.
Posted 15 July 2010 - 01:11 PM
After awhile of fending them off and getting hit a few times, Turtlelot decided to put a faster end to it. Turtlelot threw his spear upward and grabbed the end of it, and then swung the spear in a complete circle around him, flinging all of the Cursed around him into the ones behind them. The few uninjured Cursed fled as the others started to crawl away.
Walking over the Cursed crawling away Turtlelot walked into the building that Leo had gone into.
Posted 15 July 2010 - 04:35 PM
Catterick stood in the doorway of the ruined mansion feeling slightly sick. Synile had jauntily called out as he exited the house, drawing his attention, and that of the two Snakeheads he had conversed with, but even from outside Catt sensed that blood had been spilled within. The three men approached warily.
"Be careful guys" Catt warned. "Seeing as we're entering a hostile dwelling, you'll indulge me in a bit of shameless character development I'm sure. What are your names?"
"Nicopolidis" said the man with the small moustache. "Everyone calls me Nico. My friend is called Luka. He lives on the second floor... of our barracks."
Luka, the sickly looking kid, smiled weakly and nodded.
"Alright, names, check." Catt said. "Let's explore"
He led the way down the hall and they soon reached the kitchen. As he had feared, there was a woman on the floor lying still, quite dead, in a pool of blood. Upsetting as it was, he had expected the men to react better than they did. Luka threw up in the sink until he could only dry heave, and Nico became pale and started babbling wildly:
"He did it, the katana wielder! Good god, a woman as well!"
"That's no indication of anything" Catt responded reasonably. "Women are just as dangerous as men, if not more so in my experience. I mean, look what Chikara did to this place - and then there's Lena. Don't tell me you haven't seen her power on the battlefield."
"He's right you know Nico" said Luka, whose evacuated stomach seemed to have loosened his tongue a little. "All the girls here are pretty intimidating.. there's Rova, Dizzy, Wisp-"
"wisp, small w" Catt somehow corrected.
"Right, wisp... sometimes I think they enjoy battle more than us men"
Looking at you guys, I can believe that, though Catt. But wasn't he almost as bad?
Nico appeared to be considering this, but grumbled "I still think the man is cracked". Following his halfhearted protesting, a silence descended on the party as they all gazed as the attractive woman covered in blood. A strange atmosphere of empathy and unease could be felt. Slowly, Nico began to reach out to touch the pale wrist of the body, miraculously unsullied.
"Careful" Catt murmured. "We don't know how this Curse works... how its caught, how its transmitted"
Nico didn't seem to hear, and Luka was no help, staring at the dead face with a similar intensity. Surely it couldn't be the first time they had seen death, but there was something stultifying about this whole place, something eerie...
Suddenly, a knocking noise broke the silence. It was loud, insistent, alive, and was coming from a trapdoor in the corner of the room that they had hitherto overlooked. Catterick looked from the rattling door to the faces of the Snakeheads. They looked as pale as the dead woman on the floor.
"Please help me!!"
They were silent.
"I know she's dead! My wife, she's... she's been keeping me here! Please save me!!"
Luka inched forward. Nico shook his head vigorously and put his fingers over his lips. Catt sympathised with them both.
"Cover me" he said. "I'll see what's down there". Catt went over to the trapdoor and with trepidation slid out the bolts. "The door is open. Show yourself!"
It creaked open and sure enough, a man's head appeared. It was unkempt, bearded, and raggedy, the expression unreadable.
"Who are you people?" it asked.
"That's not important right now, except that we're sane. If you are as well, we need not be enemies".
"Sanity?" the man replied, his bulging, froglike eyes piercing Catt's. "Whose to say, whose to say... who is sane and who is insane... I wonder, hehe. I always thought my wife was sane..." as he muttered these disjointed observations he hauled himself up out of the trapdoor unaided by Catt or the soldiers. They soon noticed why he was struggling: the man had only one leg.
"How did you lose that?" asked Nico, staring.
"Wouldn't you like to know, boy!" the man barked. "The things I've seen... oh yes, I think I must be dead already and this is hell..."
Catt noticed that the man's 'boy' comment was true, Nico wasn't really that much older than Luka. The moustache and air of arrogance gave him an older look, but the two were actually contemporaries. While he thought this, the man shuffled round his kitchen, muttering angrily.
"She had fucking APPLES!?! That evil bit-". He paused as he looked at his wife on the floor, entranced by the figure in its bloody emerald dress. "Diane.." he murmured. "What happened to you??" He looked back at them like they had never met. "You... you murdered my wife!!!
The three exchanged confused looks. "No, we didn't.." Luka began.
"Yes you did, she's... she's covered in blood! You came into our house and murdered her!!!" The voice was turning from sorrow to anger.
"It wasn't even us you madman!" Nico yelled. "It was the katana guy, we just came here afterwards!"
"W-we rescued you from the basement, do you not remember?" Luka asked, scared.
The man's eyes were turning red and his mouth was salivating. He got up from his prone wife's body and fired off a string of cursewords and growls, before picking up a firewood axe that Catt and his friends had also failed to notice. Advancing on them madly, in a jerkish, swinging fashion, he lunged at Catt, who only barely got out of the way of the axe's path. The Curse, if the Curse it was, seemed to imbue the man with a ferocity and speed impossible given his circumstances. Catt had no choice: "Shoot him!" he cried.
Nico panicked, reaching his gun with shaking hands. "Its jammed!" he screamed.
"And I'm out of bullets!" wailed Luka.
Catt drew out his hatchet, meeting his foe axe for axe. The man snarled, caring little for his own safety and yet having an animal instinct for self preservation, avoiding Catterick's measured strokes. He instead went for Luka, who was attempting to fend him off with his unloaded gun. The man leapt on him and sent Luka sprawling onto the floor, where he barely stopped himself from falling down the trapdoor. Before the man could stamp on him with his one good leg, Nico barreled into him and somehow managed to topple him onto the kitchen counter. Catt brought his hatchet down on the man's axehand, severing the wrist mercilessly. The noise was deafening.
Two figures ran into the room, it was Khallos and the wild Huscarl. Khallos drew his sword and decapitated the man cleanly from behind, who fell, naturally, next to his wife. Staring at the bodies for a long as he could stomach it, Catt knew clearly what an evil the Curse was, and what it did to humanity. Nico helped Luka to his feet - both looked shaken, but better - stronger - than they had when they had first entered the room.
"You should come with us, guys" said Khallos, sheathing his sword. "The Cursed have attacked, and I can't keep this good soldier away from the screams of war for much longer."
Posted 16 July 2010 - 12:03 AM
It would have to wait for now.
Jordan drew one of his spears from his back.
"All of you, stand back."
He tossed the spear straight up, quickly grabbing the end. He then swung it down and to the side, creating a massive gust of wind in its wake. The spear was released, beginning to spin freely as it slowly gathered the wind around itself and began to form a small cyclone. The cursed that drew near it were picked up and wisked away into the air like a farmer throwing chicken feed to hens. The spear made a complete rotation and returned to its master's hand. Although a good deal were cast away, there were still others gathering from the commotion caused earlier by the gunshots of the good general.
"Well then." He said, preparing himself for battle.
"I'm sure most of us will be fine."
A sarcastic smirk showed on his face.
Posted 17 July 2010 - 09:15 AM
Kneeling down at the window, Leo aimed his rifle at the group of Cursed coming in his direction and prepared to fire. As he was about to press the trigger, he noticed something odd about a few of the people traveling in the crowd. Why are those 6 blindfolded and tied up? Watching as they broke away from the main group, the dwarf heard their screamed words and realized the truth. Prisoners. They haven’t been converted yet. Getting to his feet, he ran around the room, trying to formulate a battle plan that would allow the survivors to live.
Coming up with a quick one, Leo ran down the stairs towards Turtlelot. There are people outside being carried along by a group of Cursed moving this way. I can pick them off one by one from here, but I need you to help me run in and grab those people before they get killed. Use your bison, the Sword, whatever you can use. Can you help with that, Turtlelot?”
Posted 18 July 2010 - 11:27 PM
Gazing into the roaring campfire with glassy eyes and a blank expression, Dizzy felt the fire’s comforting warmth wash over her body, and it enveloped her in a blanket of immediate relaxation. Her breathing slowed from a panicked pace and she finally collected herself before settling beside the dancing flames. The running from the mouth of the pass had taxed her quite a bit, as she had felt this heavy fog build up in her chest-- an effect of the curse, Dizzy assumed. She gently interlaced her fingers and tucked her hands beneath her head, and she fell back into the sandy bed of Earth. A groan escaped her parted and partially chapped lips, as she tilted her head to focus on the two warriors setting off into the distance; one was mounted on a bison and the other was rather short.
Allowing herself to slip into a momentary doze, the sudden calamity from a nearby house beckoned a tired Dizzy from the seductive grips of slumber.
"Hey guys, there are some supplies over here," bellowed a familiar voice.
… And with that, her mood quickly shifted from tranquil to angry.
*Goddammit Synile; you’re so frikkin’ loud* she thought, opening her eyes just wide enough to catch the foggy vision of the man bounding from the steps of the fancy abode.
Baring her teeth at his direction, she turned her head away to resume her attempt at falling asleep.
After a few passing moments the world grew dark. Silence flooded her mind. Slumber wrapped its arms about her and cradled her for another precious few minutes—
"She had fucking APPLES!?!”
More distant shouting from the deteriorated house pushed her into consciousness, and the embers of her quiet rage roared into an uncontrollable flame within Dizzy’s bosom. Frustrated over the lack of sleep, the constant interruptions at her attempts of sleep, and from just being in an all around grouchy mood, she pseudo-calmly unsheathed her sword and followed the hasty steps of Khallos and the Huscarl as they entered the house.
The violent and unexpected decapitation sobered her into a fully awakened state, and she gawked at the headless man before meeting wide eyes with the two shouting gentlemen. Turning her attention to the feverish Khallos, a slight sense of tension could be heard in his voice,
“The Cursed have attacked, and I can't keep this good soldier away from the screams of war for much longer.”
*At this rate, I'll never see sleep for quite some time*, she mourned.
Posted 19 July 2010 - 03:12 AM
Edit: OK, I take back what I said. Maybe we can work that whole "converting prisoner" thing into this somehow. Still, not a cult.
The Calatians behind him charged to intercept the cursed that had wandered in. Jordan himself soon joined in the fray after than fancy opening with his spear. Several shots were fired by some of the Snakeheads as the Huscarls decided to go for a more intimate approach by attacking them with their swords and axes. Jordan hoped quietly that the two would not clash too much in their different approaches, the last thing anyone wanted now was to kill a comrade in friendly fire. He decided to approach the enemies he encountered in a classical manner, no need to use the wind to take all of them down. As he slashed and plunged his spear into those who were foolish enough to attack him.
"Everyone back up! I'm going to attack them again with another go!"
The vikings headed back behind Jordan in a quick manner, they witnessed what he was able to do so far and getting in the way of his attacks seems foolish as the very least. Jordan swung his spear with a mighty cleave, parting the wave of the cursed attackers into two sections as if he chopped an axe into a log of wood. Some of them went flying as others were rendered into pieces by the razor wind.
"Snakeheads, Take the right! Huscarls, the left!"
The men did as they were told and were much more effective in wiping out the numbers of their enemy. As Jordan fought the fiends that did not quite get grouped into either side with some of the other more prominent members of the scouting party, he felt something bump into him from behind. He quickly turned and leaped back a foot to find Bob, who had down the same as he did in reaction to the clumsiness on both their accounts. They quickly recognized each other and resumed their battle, Bob proving to be quite adept with that sword of his.
The wind picked up suddenly, a mighty howl that was carried by the gust that fell upon the fighting Calatians. As it began to die down, the cursed ceased their attack and retreated promptly. The vikings were left confused to their sudden retreat, although relieved that the fighting had come to end for now. Jordan lowered his spear and turned to Bob.
"This isn't a good sign." He said to the islander.
Bob closed his eyes looking for something with his sight beyond sight. He gasped, shocked to find some unusual presense yet again.
"We got ta move mon, someting ain't right out there and it's lot scarier than dose lost souls."
"What is it for crying out loud! What do you see?" Jordan asked, his voice carrying over to the others.
Bob was silent.
"It's reminds me of that Selena mon, the aura is kinda similar."
"Similar? To Selena?"
Jordan looked over the the retreating cursed, as if they were being called away. The very idea of something being similar to Selena was, in a word, discouraging.
"Whatever it is, it can wait. We need to get these vikings out of here."
Jordan whistled as loud as he could.
"Everyone, group together! We got to locate the members of the party who are still missing!"
Khallos, Catterick, Synile and some of the others who were not among the current party were investigating the village and he already knew Leo and Turtlelot had gone off somewhere. What kind of general goes running off to leave his men to fend for himself?
"Everyone, we heading to the run down village. We can meet up with most of those who are not with us now."
"What about General Crimson?" asked one of the Snakeheads.
"I have a feeling we'll see them soon. C'mon."
With haste, the group left the bloodied ground behind and focused on reaching the old village as quickly as they could.
Edited by JRPomazon, 19 July 2010 - 03:00 PM.
Posted 19 July 2010 - 08:34 PM
A moment later, he skidded to a stop and watched as the blindfolded figures had their bonds removed; a moment later, they joined their former captors in the fight against the sane Verdeniens. How’s that possible? They were fine a moment ago. Eventually, he came to the only conclusion possible: the people were strong, but they were unable to resist the effects of the Curse indefinitely. If we find any survivors, I doubt they can be expected to survive for long.
Sighing, Leo slung on his rifle and helped drive off the rest of the Cursed using his battleaxe. Walking up to Jordan, he rested the weapon on his right shoulder and proceeded to ask a question. “What’s the average time it takes for somebody to succumb to the Curse? I just saw a couple people in that crowd just change in the middle of the fight, but they looked perfectly fine to me before.”
Posted 21 July 2010 - 01:25 AM
"There isn't a set time. It happens whenever it does. It all depends on the person."
Jordan looked behind him, watching the vikings he led. Their mannerisms. Their expressions. He looked for anything that seemed odd.
"Do you remember what I told you before we came here Leo? Everyone has something to strive for, you, me, them, every last person here. But we don't share the same determination to achieve those means. That's why you have to hold on to your determination, your bravado, whatever it is you have that you want to hold on to. Those who lose their purpose . . . well, they lose everything else too."
Jordan placed his spear away on the sling on his back, no need for it now. He walked over to the people were bound earlier and inspected their corpses.
"These people were fine just a minute ago?" He asked a nearby Snakehead.
"According to the general, yes. In fact, Synile reportedly met with some cursed who seemed as crazy as he was."
Jordan froze for a moment, a spark of lightning triggered in his mind.
"Crazy as he is?"
"Yeah, that's what I said sir."
"Capable of conversation, logical thought? Didn't try to kill right away?"
"I believe so."
Jordan began to grow pale. He looked around the town and noticed that a lot of these building were still intact to a startling degree.
"Is something wrong sir?" The viking asked.
"We are in more danger right now than either of us could possibly imagine."
Posted 21 July 2010 - 06:02 AM
Catterick had arrived with the party from the large house, comprising of Khallos, the Huscarl, Luka, Nico, plus Dizzy, who had joined them. He adressed Jordan:
"We movin further inward now? I can't see anything here that would be of use to the folks back home, unless crazy cellar people is the secret weapon."
Luka and Nico went to greet their fellow Snakeheads, and to fix Nico's gun and get more ammunition for their weapons. The mad Huscarl seemed very upset to have missed most of the fighting and grew moody as the other Huscarls eagerly reenacted their battle with the Cursed for him. He spat on the ground and looked dejected. Khallos joined him to inspect his men and chat with Leo over tactics.
Posted 21 July 2010 - 04:24 PM
After Jordan had answered his question, Leo gave a nod of thanks and walked over towards the rest of the Calatians; he knelt down beside the bodies of the men and women he had seen in the group of Cursed moments ago. We could have saved them. I could have saved them from this monstrous thing, he thought angrily. Taking a deep breath, he got to his feet and gazed around at the barren continent. Reaching a sense of calmness, the dwarf again began to ponder the purpose of the mission. Selena probably had different intentions, but he was focused on one thing: to bring back any survivors from the ruined continent back to Calatia and one day revenge themselves upon the Goddess. Chikara caused all this. She and Lazu have to die so it doesn’t happen again. Gazing south, Leo smiled as he made the realization of what he had just said. I have found my purpose: it is to save people.
Turning, he saw Jordan standing a few feet away talking with a Snakehead about the people that had just become Cursed. Listening to the conversation for a few more moments, the dwarf was rather baffled by the words used. Conversation capability and logic? What the hell is he talking about? Did Synile kill someone again? It wasn’t until he looked back between the bodies and Jordan’s pale features that Leo began to understand the problem. The Cursed are acting more like us. They’re getting smarter. Gripping the handle of his axe tightly but keeping it stationary on his shoulder, he looked around at the Calatians in his midst. Some were standing tense, others were sitting down to relax and tend their wounds from the recent battle. The Baker Team soldiers themselves had formed somewhat of a hexagonal perimeter around the Vikings with themselves at the corners; their swords and guns were held firmly. The Curse has already touched one of us, he thought bleakly. The odds are too high for it to not have happened already.
Deciding on what to do, Leo chose trial and error; he would have a casual conversation with a few Vikings and see if they had been infected yet. Symptoms should be easy to spot. Snapping his fingers, he gathered the members of the Baker Team together, who formed a circle around him. “Is everybody alright?”
Nods came from the entire group, or a few murmurs of “Yes, sir.” Looking for twitchiness in the eyes or hands, the dwarf found none in his team. Good…for now. Relieved, he spoke more openly to the 6 Snakeheads. “Alright, then. Mellish and Benson, we’re about 20 miles away from Olimandias. I need you to pick up 3 Huscarls and scout out the fields outside of the city.”
“Those bastards?” snorted Mellish in disgust. “They wouldn’t even give us a chance to take out the Alliance guys 2 months ago before charging in.”
“I know,” responded Leo patiently. “However, I’d feel more comfortable if there were 2 sides of an operation working together. Having just marksmen isn’t good enough.”
“Sir, we’re Special Ops soldiers, the best in all of Calatia; we know how to use a sword as well,” fired back Mellish furiously. “We don’t need-”
“Understood, soldier. Just go with them just this time, will you?.”
Sighing in resignation, Mellish muttered, “Yes, sir” and walked off to pick up a few more soldiers; Benson followed his comrade silently. Running a hand through his hair, the dwarf turned back to the remaining 4 Calatians. “Spread the word,” he ordered. “We’re moving out in 10 minutes; give me a heads-up if you see any more enemy forces moving in our direction.”
Walking off after the Team left to give the message, Leo took a seat a few feet from the main group. Time for a short nap, he thought, pulling his hood up, laying down, and putting his head against a rock. Even if he didn’t go to sleep, the general could still get a few minutes of rest for his eyes.
Posted 21 July 2010 - 06:52 PM
Now, most of the cursed are like this. Super strong but not much on the brains department. It's all primal instinct with these folk. But then we have the ones who are able to use their brains, a calculating mind with strength coming from primal urges and instinct? This is what you don't want to see a cursed with.
The Madness of Lazu is a magical phenomenon generated by the powers of Lazu, the God of Chaos. It is an area-effect 'curse' that strips individuals of their ordered civility, leaving them with nothing beyond primal emotions such as lust, fear, and rage. Individuals who possess strong wills can ward off the full power of the Madness, but minor symptoms will still be present.
Also, Olimandias is a lot father than you think Leo.
Jordan quickly got up and continued to inspect the bodies. He raised the arm on one of the corpses, it was covered in rope marks and bruises. This person received a large amount damage in some sort of struggle. He went over to the next body, same exact marks on the arms and legs. The same could be said about all of them, they were in some sort of struggle. But the last corpse, that of a man around the same age as Jordan proved to be the most enlightening. The same marks and bruises, only when inspecting the right arm of this one he discovered some sort of marking underneath he tattered shirt. He ripped the cloth apart to find a tattoo inked in black and red. The official seal of the Empire of Koridai rested on his bicep.
Jordan went over to the other corpses, none of them had this tattoo on their person. It was clear now, these people were frontier folk who got to close to the cursed lands and must have been attacked. But to be taken all the way from the Imperial border while maintaining their states of mind . . . this is what bothered Jordan the most. He hid the tattoo from the eyes of the vikings, he didn't want anyone to get riled up here and now. Now is a bad time.
"Attention Vikings!" He said with a commanding voice. He managed to get most of their attentions.
"Get your stuff together, we are moving out now. The longer we stay, the better chance we have of fending off more cursed. We move, we have a better chance of avoid trouble. We need to leave these mountains if we are going to return back to Snowpeak."
Jordan was somewhat familiar with his surroundings. He knew geographically that he was near the western range of the Taj-Nar Mountains and that if they continued in the direction they had been taking, they would end up out of the mountains and straight into the former nation of Uradiel. What mattered to him now was to get everyone back out, this scouting mission of Selena's was going to get them all killed.
Edited by JRPomazon, 22 July 2010 - 12:23 AM.
Posted 22 July 2010 - 08:45 AM
The coast seemed clear. Bob trotted out of the village, up a narrow goat-path that wound around the mountain, heading Diel-knew-where. There was something there, he could tell it. There was no way of telling what, just yet, but his training in the magical arts on the Isle of Voodoo had not left him insensitive to such premonitions.
A doe wandered onto the path in front of him, followed by an albino fawn. His eyes grew wide.
"'Dis be a baaad sign mon. I doon't like dis atall." he whispered to himself softly. His stomach growled, and he realized it had been several hours since the party last stopped to eat. He looked down at his stomach, and then back up at the fawn. A wide grin spread across his face, showing his filed, pearly teeth to the world. He crouched, holding his gun low. There was no use in wasting powder on an easy target like this.
The fawn may have been a bad omen, but that had no bearing on the status of the doe.
"Heeerreeee young motha . . . I ain't goin' to huurt you. Much."
Slowly, softly, he approached the doe. She held still until he was within just a couple feet of her, and then bounded off, up the path. Bob cursed and scampered after her. He was quick on his feet, and just around the next corner he leapt upon her, grabbing the deer's slim neck and snapping it with his own two hands.
"Ohhhh, we be havin' venison tonight we be."
Something tickled the back of his head. He looked up. It was a cave, seemingly innocent enough. (As innocent as caves ever are, anyway)
There was something . . . drawing him towards it, though. Something deep, intimate, promising gold and power. And also something . . . restless. The others should know about this. Bob had a strange feeling this cave was where they would find the reason for their mission. The reason they had risked life and sanity by entering the cursed lands.
"'Ey, boys (and de ladies). I do believe I've found sometin."
Posted 22 July 2010 - 12:09 PM
Once Turtlelot finally began to approach to the group he heard two voices, one after another, first there was Jordan, "Attention Vikings! Get your stuff together, we are moving out now. The longer we stay, the better chance we have of fending off more cursed. We move, we have a better chance of avoid trouble. We need to leave these mountains if we are going to return back to Snowpeak." Shortly after Jordan, there was Bob, "'Ey, boys (and de ladies). I do believe I've found sometin."
One last thing to investigate before we leave. Turtlelot thought to himself, as he approached Bob & the cave. Before Turtlelot could say anything to Bob, he stopped. He felt what Bob was talking about. Looking over at the cave, Turtlelot could feel the dark energy it was emitting. "Perhaps this is what Madame Selena us had come here to look for." Turtlelot said to Bob. He considered going into the cave to investigate, but looked towards the village and the rest of the group, who were still making their way to the cave entrance.
This should be interesting.