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Old August 1, 2017, 04:42 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Steps leading down into the darkness. Calanon looked dubiously down into the shadows. In his experience, descending into unknown darkness never preceded anything good. And the image of the terror on the face of the young man who had emerged from this very staircase? Well that did not bode well either.

And yet, they were to here to establish what was happening with the brotherhood. The dead monk outside was the only one they had seen. And he had come from this direction. So, he would proceed despite his unease.

The elf had turned to glance around for a torch, for that would be handy, when the whisper of a greeting reached pointed ears, and he looked towards the door they had come through. A couple of steps back then, and a shudder, as he made out the spectre.

"You are seeing this too, Moss?" His hand reached for the arm of his friend, to pull his attention toward the figure. If his voice was a little unsteady,it could not be helped. To see a spirit..so recently unhoused. And have it introduce itself. It was more than a little disturbing.

The wraith had questions too, and for a moment Calanon merely gaped, before some part of him registered that - by the standards of the living at least- they were being rather rude.

" Vedui...Xavier."

The lilting elven voice seemed loud in comparison to the reedy voice of the ghost, and Cal softened it as he went on. " We are not thieves.We too want to know where everyone is.... Were you..are you...alone?"

His gaze flickered past the wisp like shape outside to where they had not moments earlier left the body. Did Xavier know he was dead?
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Old August 2, 2017, 09:13 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Moss had only descended a pair of steps, his eyes straining into the dark abyss, when he felt a hand on his arm. Turning, he first saw the fear in his friend's green eyes, before witnessing what it was that had spooked the elf.

"Ioannes," he breathed.

And then, for what seemed like a long moment, that was all he could hear: his own breathing. He simply stood there, his heart racing while the apparition babbled on as if the monk had never died.

The human was grateful to Calanon for gathering himself and taking the lead with Xavier. Slowly, Moss regained his own composure, listening intently to what seemed to be a stream of consciousness from the youth. Despite his unsettling appearance, the spectre seemed relatively harmless.

"Serale, Xavier," he eventually managed, stepping up to the top of the staircase. "We're here to see Father Quintus. Could you take us to him?"

He looked across to Calanon, offering his friend a light shrug if the elf returned his gaze. Befriending Xavier seemed to be their best bet at this stage, and referring to someone of authority whom the monk had already mentioned seemed as good a starting point as any.
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Old August 5, 2017, 11:54 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Nope!
Definitely not!
That as Éclair descended into the darkness,
Only to take advantage of the lamp? There was a marked hesitation,
This was,
T’was where, she quite expected,
Something truly Not Good would manifest if she wandered off so,
No Wine.
No Mead. Just Cheese.
Which, while good, wasn’t quite,
What Éclair was particularly Interested in either,
Shaking her head,
There was an about face,
Quite certain that heading off into a Cellar,
Of a building that’s owners were conspicuously absent,
And the streets lined with corpses? Oh Aeternia no, this was almost certainly.
Quite positively,
Inviting all kinds of Disaster,
Stiiiiill…
She’d be remiss if she didn’t.
At least claim a wheel of cheese that looked good to go!
Didn’t really know what for, but at least it'd provide something to nibble upon as she explored back upstairs!
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Old August 14, 2017, 09:50 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Barthelme

As the mystic spoke, the colours in the eye of the staff continued swirling with unusual speed, telling him... something. Or nothing. They'd have to work on their communication, clearly.

When Barthelme set the staff down on the ground, at first it seemed that he would get the same inconclusive results, but as he allowed Despoina room to move it suddenly tilted and tipped sideways...!

The fact that he'd been standing just at the edge of one of the opened graves might have had something to do with that, frankly, seeing as the ground beneath the staff suddenly gave way, earth falling to reveal a much larger hole than previously. And not only that - some sort of tunnel or burrow made by a fairly large animal, so large, in fact, that Barthelme, with his lanky frame, might even contemplate squeezing through it. In setting Despoina down Barthelme had managed to disturb it and make part of the roof over the entrance give way; but perhaps he didn't see it that way. He had been looking for a way to go down further, after all; and the old burrow dug into the empty grave pit was certainly that.

Getting right down in there, Barthelme's range appeared to, indeed, increase. Arcana was not a hard science - despite any claims to the contrary that mages like the Archmage Abar would make - but the principle of Barthelme's reasoning held, and he did indeed sense quite a bit more at the bottom of the grave pit. The presences he'd sensed were human, and they were not moving - in fact, their inertness may have contributed to his trouble sensing them in the first place. Dead? Unconscious? Sleeping..? That he couldn't tell, but at any rate he did sense ten of them - within his range, anyway.

As Barthelme was making these discoveries Sylaphormes had stalked up, the snakes on her head hissing impatiently. She, however, was definitely too large to fit in the burrow - which, however, she was nevertheless eyeing with naked eagerness. She hadn't eaten, and she was getting hungry.

Moss and Calanon

"Ah, vedooeee!" The monk's semi-transparent image seemed to coalesce a bit more as Moss and Calanon turned and addressed him - or maybe it was just because his image floated closer as they spoke. They could even see a rather silly-looking grin spread over his features (a really odd look, given that his very dead physical form was still lying there just a few feet away with its ever-paleing expression of horror) as he tested out the elven greeting in turn.

"Am I alone?... I don't think so - there are always others round about -" the dead monk's features puckered and he frowned, looking about himself. "That's strange... where is everybody?" he asked in what appeared to be genuine confusion. "I can't seem to remember." He looked back at Calanon and Moss in consternation. Who knew how the memories of the dead really worked - if they worked at all - but it didn't seem like Xavier remembered his own death, anyway.

But Father Quintus - Father Quintus he remembered! At least, he remembered where Father Quintus usually was. "He's always puttering about in the cellar," Xavier proceeded, wafting over - and then right through - Moss with a polite "excuse me" (Moss felt something cold slither across his skin and his insides clenched briefly in a spasmodic, involuntary shudder as the ghost passed through him). "I'm sure he'll be... are you here for the cheeses, then? I didn't think anybody outside the monastery knew about them - well, except for the poor, of course, but I don't know that even they knew that they were coming from our very own cellar... part of the problem with taking a vow of silence, you know, nobody knows anything about you!" Xavier laughed.

His ghostly form let out a very slight glow as he wafted down the stairs, leading Moss and Calanon into the darkness. It smelled of earth and a slight dampness, but not in a bad way, just in an old-cellar type of way. Which, after all, is precisely what they ended up entering: a cellar, with distinct round forms lining the walls on either side - large cheese vats.

The cover of one of the vats lay on the ground, the contents of the vat pilfered. Maybe thieves really had gotten in here? "Father Quintus - hey, Father Quintus! I wonder what... why... surely he didn't wander into the catacombs...?" The ghost's words continued to flow as he looked about himself and at the emptied vat, clearly at a loss to explain where everybody was, before moving deeper into the vaulted cellar, leading Moss and Calanon all the way toward the back (and, incidentally, past another set of stairs leading upward), where there was yet another doorway leading from the cellar into some sort of narrower tunnel. The door stood open, its lock broken open. Xavier hesitated at the doorstep, peering into the deeper gloom inside the narrower passage but not venturing inside. "I wonder..." he repeated, almost to himself, and then for the first time appeared to take stock of himself: "I wonder why... am I... am I dead?". The ghost stared down at his hands, then turned around to face the elf and the human, a range of emotions flitting across his face - confusion, fear, doubt, horror - as, for the first time, he appeared to process what he now was. As he did so the edges of his form blurred and the human cast of his ghostly appearance lessened under the emotional impact.

Éclair

Nibbling on her pilfered cheese, the Jorelite wandered back upstairs. Her furry buddy was just finishing up his own edibles (or rather, was gnawing strenuously at a bone) and greeted her with a happy whine a few thumps of his tail. As she made her way back out of the kitchen and toward the stairs the dog followed, the bone held between its teeth.

Up the stairs they went then, with Éclair leading the way. The upstairs gave the same general impression as the downstairs of a relatively spartan lifestyle. There were two main rooms here, both set up with rows of cots for the monks to sleep in. A few of the monks kept belongings next to their beds, but there was disappointingly little of them either - they really did take their vows seriously, it appeared.

So, all in all, things were looking pretty bleak when Éclair opened the furthest door in the hallway and entered a much smaller, private bedroom (this was clear because here there was only one bed). Whoever lived here had a few more perks than the average monk: a small mirror on the wall, a chest in the corner filled with a stack of books and writing utensils, and what appeared to be a small shrine set up in one corner of the room. At the centre of the shrine stood a small bust of the same type as Éclair had seen downstairs - the Jalat/Ioannes double-face - and, beneath it, a smallish urn of the type used for storing ashes, but very well made indeed - lots of filigree work and such. The urn had been knocked over, and a small pile of ash lay scattered across the floor.

As the pair entered the dog let out a happy bark and made a beeline toward the ash pile, dropping the bone nearby in order to sniff at the ash and, in so doing, scatter it about still further, wafting little tendrils of dark matter into the air.

OOCsorry guys. ><. In the interest of getting myself on track, I'm instituting posting deadlines. I probably should have done that to begin with, but aspirations and all that, lol.

Next post will be on: Wednesday, August 23rd
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Old August 15, 2017, 09:23 PM   #35 (permalink)
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"Oh, yes," Barthelme murmured. "Well done, Despoina. Astute as ever I see."

No, there was no doubt in Barthelme's mind as to what had happened. He did not believe in coincidence. And so his brain told him not only that Despoina had discovered a hidden path into the Dreamwalkers' lair, but that its presence was probably what she had been trying to inform him of in the first place. Having summoned the toppled staff back to hand when he uttered her name, the Twisted now drove Despoina's spiked base into the loose earth of the graveyard, leaving her planted there at his side as he considered the burrow as he crept along low to the ground. He rose a few moments later and turned to address Sylaphormes.

"I sense ten humans down below, Big Sister," he reported. "All lying still. Sleeping or dead... I can't yet tell. Either would make sense, I suppose."

Unfortunately there was no way that Sylaphormes was fitting through a tunnel that size. So, Barthelme would just have to go in alone. As always when traveling, he had his camping tools and supplies with him, yes? Including a small shovel. And a rope. The former to widen the way just enough to allow himself to get through if he ended up stuck. The latter for Sylaphormes to pull him back out if he encountered a drop at the other end and couldn't return the way he came. Barthelme handed the lamia-Otherling one end of the rope, before producing his Mask of Torment and putting it on. Because after all, one couldn't be too careful. It would be nice if those really were a bunch of Dreamwalkers down there, and he could kill them all before they awakened. But wishful thinking had no place in the Nightmare.

It could not possibly be so easy. There had to be a catch. Barthelme's brain told him so.

"It looks like I must proceed alone, for now," he said. "If necessary... use this rope to pull me back up. If I find a Dreamwalker or other hostile down there... I'll tie him to the rope... so you can pull him up and feed. I have my Grafting cleaver with me. If necessary... I'll chop them apart, and send them up to you piece by piece."

That was the plan. Before going in, Barthelme would cast a Journeyman-level Hyperinvisibility spell on himself. Basically it was just a regular Invisibility spell, except its advanced strength ought to allow him to conceal him not only from the eyes of his enemies, but from all of their senses. If it worked, whoever was down there would never see or hear or feel Barthelme coming. Then, unless Sylaphormes had objected to his plan, on into the hole for Barthelme. Presumably his still-active Sentinel spell would warn him in advance if the burrow ahead was so tight he would be in danger of getting stuck. Hopefully just a little finagling with his shovel would get him through.

Barthelme would just be leaving Despoina on the surface for now. He could always summon her again when he needed her, down below.
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Old August 21, 2017, 12:06 AM   #36 (permalink)
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Didn’t really know,
What she expected to find within the Tower,
It was a Problem, given in her experiences? The Church of the Faith tended to actually hold a suspiciously large amount of wealth to pilfer,
Here? There was nothing of Interest,
Well besides Cheese & Puppy, but that was hardly what Éclair considered valuable,
Aeternia,
Even more Corpses would have,
At least matched the waste cluttering up the streets,
Oh well!
Still Éclair hummed softly to herself,
Largely unimpressed, and more than a little confused.
Aetherian worshippers were being… Moral? This, well this defied everything that she’d experienced when it came to the Church. Maybe that was why they were all gone? That all who existed within the Tower were the remaining Faithful,
That made sense!
Even as, explorations seemed to yield more,
By way of the Boring than Interesting. Such was, t’was life at times,
Only, only!
“Boring.” Éclair muttered to herself,
Only to roll her eyes as the Puppy started rolling in the mess.
“Don’t play in the corpse.” She sighed softly,
Eying the Urn for a moment, not really all that sold on just who’d pay for what amounted to being a really, really tiny coffin. The statue though,
That? The representation of the Trash Collector God mixed together with,
The Three-Faced God? Oh that, that was being Fix’d,
As she Channeled Entropy into its surface to ensure that it was pitted and pox-marked, a symbol of decay rather than supposed divinity,
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Old August 21, 2017, 07:59 AM   #37 (permalink)
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Moss doubted there was such a thing as a normal brightening, and if there was, this definitely wasn't one of them. But what stood out for him as a particular curiosity - amidst the stench of dead bodies and visitations from beyond the grave - was that Xavier had quite noticably broken his vow of silence.

Quite why that was what had caught the amnesiac's attention was something known only to the gods, but any further consideration of this oddity was interrupted by the chilling sensation of the phantom novice moving through him and causing his muscles to spasm involuntarily for moments afterwards.

Moss cast a nervous glance towards Calanon as the pair followed the apparition down into the bowels of the tower, the dank mustiness invading his nostrils.

The bearded human let Xavier continue to speak and guide their way, one hand instinctively sitting on the hilt of his sheathed sword as the trio descended further into the cellar. He watched as the ghost paused by the broken lock and began to take stock of his own state.

"Aye, Xavier," he replied softly after a pause, extending an open palm in an attempt to keep the specter calm. "And we fear others may be in danger - but you can help us to help them."

Another look was sent to his elven friend, before his gaze returned to the novice.

"Will you help us to help them, Xavier?"
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Old August 22, 2017, 07:41 AM   #38 (permalink)
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There was a step backward as the ghost drew closer, a strange sort of grin stretching over his spectral face that soon morphed into confusion as memories of the life so recently extinguished were called upon. Calanon’s eyes slid briefly towards Moss at the obvious muddlement of the spirit, and then remained there, widening with something akin to horror as the insubstantial wisp moved forward, forward and through his friend and down the steps into the darkness.

The elf recoiled from the sight, seeing the shudder that followed, only half hearing what the ghost was saying as it proceeded down into what was presumably the cellar. Where they kept cheese?. A bewildered look was sent back to Moss as the human turned his eyes upon the elf, before Cal fell into step behind the human as he descended the stairs.

The stale air that always lingered in such places was the first that struck him about the open space they entered. The second was the presence of the large vats, confirming that the brothers were indeed making cheese. Somehow though, some great cheese robbery gone wrong did not seem a likely explanation for the rows of dead that littered the streets.

That the ghost seemed to expect the presence of the mysterious Father Quintus was clear enough, and Calanon only felt his unease increase as they followed the figure towards the catacombs, only for the spirit to falter before passing through the narrow doorway, some realisation coming to bear. And what a thing to comprehend, the extinction of one’s own life, seen from beyond the veil. A strange sympathy it inspired, and Cal was glad that Moss found the words to answer the question.

He watched on as the spirit became less solid, diminished in his new understanding.

“ Would it be…unusual for your brothers to wander into the catacombs?” The elf chanced his question, noting the broken lock, the way the ghost hesitated and seemed to come to his realisation at the threshold of the tunnel. What would make him suddenly think he might be dead just because a door was open? Had it triggered some memory, or knowledge of exactly what lay ahead? If there were a chance of them going any further, then Cal would rather know whatever the young brother seemed to know of exactly what they might be walking in to.
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Old August 24, 2017, 09:12 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Barthelme

Sylaphormes was not especially happy to be left on this side of the grave - sure, Barthelme had said he'd send up some dreamwalkers for her to feast on, but that was... well, that was missing all the excitement and spirit of the chase! Plus, the lamia was not at all trusting when it came to the acquisition of foodstuffs: even Brother, whom she generally respected on some level, became rather less trustworthy when he stood directly between Sylaphormes and her munchies - such as they were.

So the mystic surely wouldn't have been too surprised when he got a big round of hissing in response, and the lamia agreed to his deal only with a reluctance bordering on outright refusal. If she'd seen any way of getting in there herself... as it was, Barthelme knew that the clock was ticking before Ssylaphormes would go off and do her own thing. And how long exactly did he have? Well, with a bomb like Sylaphormes, one never really knew.

Nevertheless, with Despoina wedged into the earth nearby, the lamia hung on to the rope as Barthelme lowered himself down into the burrow and began digging. He'd cast his spell, but of course he wouldn't be able to tell how well it had worked until he actually encountered someone.

The ground was rocky but dry, and showers of dust and dirt soon coated Barthelme and his mask as he burrowed deeper. It was awkward going, and it felt like he wasn't getting anywhere until - quite suddenly - the earth simply gave way beneath him and he tumbled downward in a shower of rocks and dirt. Only the rope around his waist slowed his freefall into darkness. His Sentinel enhanced senses told him that the forms he'd noted earlier were now right below him, just a few feet away: he'd nearly done a faceplant into the floor. As it was, he must have showered everything around him with a goodly amount of dirt and debris, and yet none of the people below stirred...

As it was, he hung there suspended, the rope tightened painfully around his waist and the blood rushing to his head.

Éclair

The dog continued to root around the ash in blissful ignorance as the Ioannes/Jalat bust corroded beneath the Jorelite's will.

Funny that: as the marble melted and grew more pockmarked, the features of Ioannes became less and less visible, while the features of Jalat remained nevertheless recognizable - in fact, even more so, as the corrosion wore away the carved features and made them look positively skeletal.

The dog's sniffing, meanwhile, sent puffs of ash into the air and (not incidentally) onto the bust, coating it with darkish grey and black streaks and marking the eyes, which now looked like empty sockets more than eyes.

It looked... oddly, very uncomfortably, real.

And then the dog growled. Except that it wasn't an ordinary growl; it definitely wasn't even a doggy-type of growl. It was a growl that, very disconcertingly, sounded like words: [I]"Who dares disturb the final resting place of Emmet, First Abbot of the Dustmen?!"[/b]

Moss and Calanon

For a long moment the ghost came in and out of focus, physically vacillating in tandem with his emotional turbulence. It was a lot to process, after all, but Moss' quiet calm seemed, in the end, to be persuasive. The whitish form stabilized and took on a more human appearance, albeit still rather blurrier than before.

"I... suppose. I wouldn't want any danger to come to my brothers." There was still a bit of hesitation left in Xavier's shadowy voice.

It was the elf's question, however, which finally appeared to make him turn away from his self-reflections. "Uh... well, not really - I mean, that is where we take the dead after cremation - but certainly nobody ever goes there just like that. There are rules - and that's one of the first rules, to keep the dead separate from the living. Going in there without the proper rituals... that's just... that's just... -" Xavier seemed to be scandalized to the point of serious upset, attempting to convey to the two friends just how not done this was. "And now I'm a... a... Death preserve me!" Xavier wrung his hands as his reply brought him back to his own current status in limbo and the fact that this - he - was precisely what the order he'd been a member of had been created to fight against.

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Old August 28, 2017, 06:31 PM   #40 (permalink)
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"If I find another way in, I'll let you know," Barthelme assured Sylaphormes. "If I don't come back... well. You know. Don't worry about me, Big Sister. Continue the hunt."

He certainly wasn't going to ask Sylaphormes to stay up there and do nothing. Even if that's what he had wanted, it would have been an impossible thing to ask. Anyway, if there were Dreamwalkers down there, there simply must be another way in... and out. But it would probably be easier to find that way down there, rather than up here.

On into the burrow, then. Down, down, down into the darkness Barthelme went, into the earth below the cemetery... sort of like some Necromancer's construct clawing its way out of its unquiet grave, but more like the complete opposite of that in all details. It wasn't the most pleasant of experiences, but if Barthelme ever expected life to be pleasant, he would't be a Twisted, now would he. And then came the moment when the earth gave way and Barthelme went tumbling down into the... tomb? He couldn't tell. Too much blood roaring in his ears. Still, if his face had nearly struck the ground, then he must not be far from the floor at all. So he would grab a tight hold of the rope with his lift hand and try to pull himself up into a less awkward position, so he wouldn't land head-first when he fell. Then, still holding tight to the rope, he would draw Bane of the Awakened with his right hand and carefully slice through the part of the rope that was tied around his middle.

If all went as planned he would have a halfway decent landing and leave most of the rope intact. If not? Well, good thing Barthelme was wearing his armor and helmet. Hopefully they would absorb at least some of the impact from any kind of awkward fall. Anyway, the Voice of Thought connection he always used when Sylaphormes was Invisible was still functioning, yes? And she was only fifteen feet above him. So he would go ahead and contact her now.

I'm in,
he said. Now attempting to acquire the Dreamwalker targets.

Assuming he had in fact landed safely, and was not currently being attacked, Barthelme would now creep forward with Bane of the Awakened drawn, heading for the people he had sensed. Were they sleeping? Were they dead? If it wasn't super obvious they were Dreamwalkers, Barthelme's plan was to send images of them to Sylaphormes over Voice of Thought, to see what she thought of harvesting them anyhow. If they were clearly Kaimeleaites? Then, gosh, maybe Barthelme could just stab them each through the eye with Bane of the Awakened before they even got up. That would certainly be convenient, if anticlimactic.
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Old August 31, 2017, 09:39 PM   #41 (permalink)
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Rolling her eyes,
There was a muttered, “Bad Puppy”,
That lacked any real bite given that she’d be the first to concede,
That when it came to following Orders?
They were oft best left ignored, if not modified and Improved upon,
Still Éclair felt,
That she’d much rather not breathe in corpse dust,
Thanking you very much!
Three-Faced God?
Somewhat Improved, Fix’d even!
But that the Trash Collector God seemed even more… Trashy?
That prompted a despondent sigh, uncertain as to the best course of action there as she swayed gently from side to side. Unable to find a solution that fit a penchant for vandalism, without y’know, actually destroying it,
Enough so,
That even as the Voice manifested,
Éclair was all furrowed brows and concentration,
As she settled for trying to carve a moustache on the Jalat figure,
A sad, wispy one, and maybe a couple of Stars of Aeternia on the cheeks, maybe!
”Shh. Can’t you see I’m working here?”
Came the soft scolding as she really didn’t care all that much about the possibility, intent upon her Art,
That someone from the Tower was actually trying to interfere or make themselves known,
“And it’s not final,
Puppy will probably track it everywhere,
So there’ll be plenty of resting places, lots even.”
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Old September 1, 2017, 01:35 PM   #42 (permalink)
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The spirit’s response to Moss gentle imploration was the cause of mixed emotions in the Sylrosian. On one hand, he would be quite glad not to be chatting to a ghost anymore, it was more than a little disconcerting after all. But equally, Xavier was the only source of information that they had come across thus far, so to lose him would not aid them in finding out exactly what was going on at the tower, or in the tunnels below.

Which is where the elf’s attention was drawn now, as he moved a little closer to the open door, peering ahead into the catacombs, before turning back to the spectral form as it gave a somewhat alarmed answer to Calanon’s question.

There was little reassurance that Cal could offer to settle the distress apparent at Xavier’s continued recognition of his own unhoused spirit. It was not like he could reverse whatever had happened to the young monk. But it did lead to his next question

“Do you remember anything that happened?” The elf’s words were prompting, seeking any further understanding of what had led to the man’s death. “ What were your duties in dealing with the dead?”
Or not dealing with them as had clearly become the case, the corpses lining the streets being what had drawn them to this place. The catacombs seemed the obvious place to explore next, the thought etching a frown across the elf’s face as he looked again into the tunnel leading onwards. But a guide, even a ghostly one, would be welcome, and Cal was not convinced they would persuade the spirit to venture on with them. Either way, he was ready to move onwards, if Moss was of a similar mind.
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Old September 2, 2017, 07:34 AM   #43 (permalink)
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Moss found himself frowning as Xavier spoke, watching the dead man slowy coming to a greater realisation that he was in fact dead, no matter how many times the spectre appeared to question that reality. The bearded blonde couldn't imagine what the former novice must have been experiencing and abandoned the concept quickly after trying.

It simply didn't bear thinking about because witnessing it seemed bad enough.

Moss felt a bit lost for ideas. He wanted the trio to proceed further into the bowels of the tower but he knew that he and Calanon would need to manage Xavier's mental state if they were to keep their guide.

Fortunately, his elven friend found a question that might provide them with more information, which would be useful before they delved further. As Moss waited to hear Xavier's answer, his fingers absentmindedly tightened their grip on his scabbarded longsword.
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Old September 3, 2017, 10:58 PM   #44 (permalink)
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Barthelme

Dangling upside down from a rope wound about one's waist really wasn't a pleasant experience. Barthelme very quickly learned why exactly circus gymnasts wore tight clothing and not much else: his "reaching" was more like "flailing", and the motions made everything that he had on him - including his clothing, armour, etc. - creep downward (or upward, from Barthelme's perspective), making any sort of focused movement even more difficult. Attempting to righten himself, with gravity working against him and everything he had on him, was pretty much out of the question.

That's all to say that the Twisted's attempt to draw his sword and cut himself loose may have seemed like a straightforward and simple procedure - and would have been, in other circumstances - at the moment it was just awkward, awkwarder, and even more awkward than that. In the end he tumbled in a sorry heap to the ground, adding a few bruises here and there but, thankfully, not injuring himself too badly: the fall was pretty short, and he was wearing a helmet. So it was just extremely awkward and very noisy.

The noisy part was quite important, because other than Barthelme nobody else was moving around in the darkness, so that even the sound of his breath appeared amplified in his ears (certainly something he was quite used to, however, given his propensity for sentinel spells). Nevertheless, it might strike him once again how very... dead the people he'd sensed before were. He'd made all that clatter, had really reigned down a whole pile of dirt and dust everywhere, and still no movement.

Were they, really, dead then?

Barthelme had the opportunity to clarify that almost immediately, as he'd tumbled down and ended up booting one of the figures he'd sensed. Add that to his extra mystic senses, and it was easy enough for him to work his way around and feel for the person.

Barthelme had a lot of experience with dead bodies, and he'd be able to tell immediately that the person was not, in fact, dead. The limbs were too limber, the skin, when he was able to feel it and not just the person's clothing, too malleable and warm. Once he'd figured out head from foot he'd be able to tell that the man had a pulse, too - regular and beating faster than one would have expected from someone asleep or unconscious. So, dreaming? Likely. But as for any identification - dreamcatchers, etc. - Barthelme would find nothing, either on the first person he'd encountered or any of the others that lay scattered about, most of them on their backs but some also on their sides.

He'd notice a few others things, too: first of all, they were all wearing robes. Secondly, there were a few torches scattered about that had apparently fallen from the men's hands. And third, now that he was down here and closer he'd be able to sense - and feel - that the walls around him were full of small niches carved into the wall. In most of the niches there were small urns, maybe the side of an outstretched hand or so.

It went without saying, perhaps, that Sylaphormes was for harvesting - Dreamwalkers or no Dreamwalkers (at this point, she really didn't care). And, after all, evidence did point to the conclusion that the people down here were in some sort of dreaming state, albeit telling if they were actual Dreamwalkers wasn't a conclusion Barthelme would be able to make on the basis of the physical evidence he'd thus far discovered.

Éclair

The dog whined and shimmied, its paws getting very dusty in the process and its hindquarters getting in Éclair's line of sight as she tried to focus on giving Jalat a pencilstache.

"I - woof - protest!" barked the puppy/abbot, and - as was perhaps fairly inevitable at this point - with one swipe of his tail sent the statuette flying with only have of Jalat's new facial hairdo done: "Desecration of a gravesite or burial cannot go unpunished!"

The bust hit the wall behind it and shattered, sending shards of corroded marble spinning across the room, including towards the Jorelite. One particularly large piece of what used to be Jorel's eye socket and brow came hurtling right at her head.

Moss and Calanon

Xavier's brow furrowed as he tried to focus on Calanon's question. "No..." he answered finally, his whispery voice laden with bewilderment and consternation. "I... I remember last night - the final meal, going upstairs, getting ready for bed... I remember I was thinking that it would be my turn to go on the rounds today - pick up the dead, that is," the monk explained; "I said extra prayers because of that - that's why I remember it so clearly. I went to bed... but I cannot remember today at all.". The monk said it with puzzlement.

It was a bit odd, really: if he didn't remember anything beyond curling up in bed last evening, how was it that he'd come running out of the cellar not above a candle mark ago, in the bright light of the afternoon?

At that moment Calanon and Moss both heard some distant sound emanate from the catacombs. It was too faint to be distinct, and fleeting enough that - if they hadn't both heard it - they may have thought that they'd just imagined it.

Next post will be on Sunday, September 10th!
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Old September 4, 2017, 06:20 PM   #45 (permalink)
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Usira would certainly have had something to say about Barthelme ungainly entrance, but Barthelme himself couldn't have cared less. He was fine, he was in, and none of the Dreamwalkers had awakened. That was all that mattered. Well... that and whether there was enough rope left to raise a Dreamwalker carcass back up to Sylaphormes. Because if not, then the Twisted were going to have to find some way to improvise. So how was the rope situation looking? Could Sylaphormes lower it the rest of the way to the floor?

Next up was examining the Dreamwalkers. They weren't dead, but that was no surprise. If they had been corpses Barthelme's Sentinel field would never have detected them as living minds. What was surprising was the realization that these "Dreamwalkers" were probably not Kaimeleaites at all. A pity... but then again, maybe that wasn't actually so surprising, either. On some level Barthelme had dared to hope that he and Sylaphormes had stumbled across an entire Reverie of Kaimeleaite Dreamwalkers just lying there dreaming, their attention all fixed on the Dreamscape. Such wishful thinking was unbecoming of a Twisted, and it was probably only natural that it be answered with disappointment. Such was the nature of the Nightmare.

These people are probably not Kaimeleaites,
he reported to Sylaphormes. No dreamcatchers. No iconography pertaining to the dead Planetar of Dreams. And their positions suggest that rather than lying down to sleep, they just fell over where they stood. They may not even be 'Dreamwalkers' at all. In fact... I think I may just have found those missing Caretakers we heard of.

Sylaphormes wanted to devour them anyway. Well, that was no surprise, any more so than if Jochanaan (which was what Barthelme called the floating severed head thing) railed against it. Well, how could Barthelme deny his Big Sister? He had promised her a Dreamwalker before venturing down here. And anyway, she was correct. Whatever had happened down here had caused some great disturbance in the Dreamscape. If these people were not Dreamwalkers, devouring them might still be enough to satisfy Sylaphormes' hunger, and perhaps even help her regain the rest of her former power. It wouldn't be the first time she and Bane of the Awakened had drawn strength from the death of some "I Can't Believe They're Not Kaimeleaites," since... in general.. the Great Deliverer's thinking seemed to be that if they weren't with Her they were against Her.

And, who knew? By feeding on these dreamers, Sylaphormes might gain some new insight into the strange phenomenon she had encountered in the Dreamscape before.

Very well,
Barthelme replied. I will attempt to send one of these dreamers on up.

The one he had tripped over would do for a start. Drawing Bane of the Awakened in one hand and his Pinnacle Crystal in the other, Barthelme crouched over the man. He regarded him for a moment, expressionless behind his Mask of Torment, and then raised both weapons above the dreamer's eye sockets. In truth, Barthelme didn't especially want to kill the probably-not-even-a-Kaimeleaite. Just like he had never wanted to become a veritable mass murderer. But Barthelme had never wanted to become an orphan, either, and so he knew: this too was the nature of the Nightmare. Anyway, he was a Twisted. He had sworn an oath to liberate the dreamers from Kaimeleaite lies, and also from the false world of Telath.

"Your imprisonment in this false dream is over," he murmured aloud. "Today you become one with the Nightmare."

Being devoured by Sylaphormes was a great honor. More than most people deserved. Risthal would embrace their Otherling selves beyond the veil. Barthelme's brain told him so. So he brought both of his weapons down, stabbing them through the sleeping man's eyes and into his brain simultaneously. Why those weapons? Bane of the Awoken, because killing Dreamwalkers with it seemed to add to the weapon's power. The Pinnacle Crystal, because of its mysterious connection to the Nightmare. Maybe it would have some beneficial effect on these people's strange dream-state, or at least speed this one on his way to Risthal.

Once Barthelme had stabbed the one dreamer, would the others awaken? Or some unseen guardian of this tomb rise and attack? If not, Barthelme could turn his attention on how to get the dead man up to Sylaphormes in a hurry.

Examaning what was in those urns was a distant tertiary concern, at the moment.
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