Old January 8, 2017, 09:27 AM   #1 (permalink)
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[Trysvale] Unique Like Snowflakes

TIMESTAMP: Winter Era XXIV PF

Links Kha'Serith stood in the entry to his barn, looking out over the snow covered fields of his estate. The barn was his current refuge from the chaos that was his house and seven dracolings. He loved them all dearly, there was no doubt about that. However, there were times the knight needed to be alone and to reflect. Now was one of those times.

The wingless dracon was dressed simply, pants, shirt, and a heavy cloak to ward off the deepest colds. The winter chill didn't bother him anymore, not this late into the season. He would still dress warmly for extended periods outdoors, but that was more out of practicality than discomfort. As such, standing on the threshold of his barn was refreshing.

He would eventually have to return to the manor and help feed the seven hungry younglings, but that was in the future. Links would enjoy the moment he had now. A moment to watch the snowflakes fall. Each one unique but also so uniform and similar to each other. It caused him to wonder. As a dracon, was he unique or was he uniform and similar?
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Old January 12, 2017, 06:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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"Contemplating your responsibilities, perhaps? Or enjoying a moment's respite from them?"

It was Bellum's voice, speaking from just behind Links, where she stood resembling an old human woman. It was her usual guise these brightenings when visiting the family, as she did every so often. Her tone at the moment was a little hard to read. She sounded tired... perhaps oddly, for a deity... and also a little angry, though there was just the barest edge of veiled annoyance to her tone to give her mood away. Her anger didn't seem to be directed at him, however. Right now she was regarding him without any sort of judgment. There might even have been a hint of sympathy in her eyes.

"Tell me,"
Bellum said after a moment. "How have you been feeling?"

Maybe there was a bit of morbid curiosity in those eyes, too.

"Are you in any pain?"
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Old January 14, 2017, 10:13 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Links head swung around in alarm at the voice suddenly behind him. Living as the near universal symbol of racial hatred tending to make one jumpy at sudden, unexpected voices. However, upon seeing his mother-in-law, the dracon relaxed and gave her a small smirk. "Can you blame me from taking a short moment away from their chaos? I know for a fact that your own kids weren't always perfect."

A soft chuckle sounded from his throat as the dracon turned to face the deity. Their relationship was.. complicated to but it mildly. She had something important to him, but he refused to comply with her demands to get it back. Thus life had continued on for the dracon family, whole but lacking.

"What brings you here? I'd have though you would have talked with Svafa first before me. Unless..." He studied her expression for a moment, noting the shimmering angry burning inside. Something was bother her. "... unless something has happened that you don't want her to know about." Links gave the matron a questioning hard look. He hoped he was wrong. It would be the one time he would prefer to be wrong when it came to dealing with Bellum.

"I've been as good as could be expected of someone with my issue. An issue you could fix, I might add. Why do you ask?"
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Old February 1, 2017, 08:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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"No," said Bellum. "I can't blame you. For that."

Complicated indeed. Bellum eyes had softened just a moment there. As though she could actually sympathize, at least a little, with his desire for a brief respite from the antics of his brood. And yet with that last bit she had shot him a hard answering smirk of her own. Still not forgiving. Still not forgetting.

"I'll be visiting my daughter, too, of course,"
Bellum said. "But I have business here that does not involve Svafa. This is about you and me. And mostly you."

Links's thoughts on his "issue" drew a short, harsh laugh for Bellum.

"And have you taken this as a much needed opportunity for self-improvement?" she asked. "Or have you gone about rubbing yourself against every woman you meet? And beyond that, I'm afraid you are very much mistaken. Right now I couldn't restore you if I wanted to. Which I don't."

The skin around the eyes of her "old woman" guise crinkled with annoyance, not entirely at him.

"I've been robbed, you see. Mortal interlopers from some filthy Alithea cult actually assailed my home in the far planes."

After a moment's consideration she said,

"Perhaps it would be more accurate to say you've been robbed. They didn't take anything of mine. Only what I was holding in trust for you."


The demigod's gaze dipped low, looking directly at what Link wasn't packing.

"Filthy Alithean vermin. There's no telling what they're doing with it right about now."

Was that guilt in Bellum's eyes as she looked back up at him? No. No, it was not.

"I suppose I could have started by telling Svafa. But given how attached you were to that toy of yours, I thought you'd want to be the first to know. Lucky for you, I know where they are holding your equipment."


Her lips twisted in mild distaste.

"...Hopefully not literally."
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Old February 6, 2017, 01:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The dracon sniffed and twitched his nose at the thinly veiled accusations. Mother-in-laws. As bad as all the legends promised and more.

Of course, the accusation was nothing to the lead weight that slammed into Links' stomach at the distressing news. He had been robbed again. It had been robbed... again! This was a prime example as to why it shouldn't have been taken in the first place. Only he could look after it properly.

"Alithean? Forgive my lack of knowledge of all your distance deity relatives. Who is Alithea and why would they want to take that and only that?" With so many different gods and goddesses and archons and planetars, and with all the recent changes within their power structure it was hard for a mere mortal to keep up. Especially when certain gods and their cults had little to no influence in such a rural area like Trysvale. So, even though the dracon had no knowledge of Alithea or her cults, he could surmise a basic premise based on their stolen prize from Bellum's plane.

"Since you know where they are located, and since you telling me about it, would I be correct in assuming that you can't or won't be able to get to them yourself, so you want me to hunt them down for you. Right?" The knight had been on enough missions and adventures, both for mortals and "others" to know how the plot usually played out. Either that or Bellum just wanted to torture him. Either was a possibility.

"If you are sending me after them, then I would prefer if you didn't mention the all details to Svafa, or the others. Simply say that you need me to do an errand for you. You wouldn't be that cruel to me after all. A show of good faith towards my progress of self-improvement if you will."
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Old February 9, 2017, 06:01 PM   #6 (permalink)
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"Alithea," said the demigoddess. "Daughter of Haya and Meephos. She is the Archon of Corruption and Lust."

Bellum did not say that she was surprised Links, of all people, wasn't more familiar with Alithea. But she left it unsaid in a kind of loud sort of way.

"As to why they would take... that? Think about it. I trust I don't have to draw you a picture."

There might have been more to it than the immediately obvious, of course. In stealing what they did the Alitheans had managed to tweak the nose of a prudish demigod and secure the junk of an (arguably) infamous libertine. A major coup, probably, within Alithean circles.

"Here on the mortal plane, direct intervention by my kind is frowned upon, by divine law and custom," Bellum said. "That's why one doesn't see Ioannes and Jorel arm-wrestling in the street. No, no, sending one's mortal followers in one's place is customary. But under the circumstances, I choose to send you, instead. Consider it a favor. My people might not have taken as much care when reclaiming the item as you would really like."

Bellum raised her eyebrows in mild surprise when Links asked that she refrain from spreading the word, but after a moment she nodded.

"If that is what you wish," she said. "I try to make it my practice to be entirely honest with my daughter. If you're able to set things right, however, I see no reason why I should trouble her unduly. Or you. And, no, it is not my wish to be cruel."

She took hold of Links, then... not physically, but with some part of her divine power. He could see, somewhere in the Northumbrian wilderness, a ruined fortress. Somehow, he knew that it was here that the Alithean cultists had taken their prize. Somehow, he knew that he could find the way.

"I would suggest that you take care to prepare yourself adequately before you begin your, let's say, 'noble quest,'" Bellum said. "The Alitheans are dissolute, but fierce. There are several Necromancers among them, contributing their magics to carnal rites too disgusting to think about on a full stomach."

She clicked her tongue, giving him another mother-in-law sort of look.

"Keeping with the theme of self-improvement, you might take the opportunity to advance your craft as an Elementalist. Are you even an Adept yet? It seems as though you should be, should you not?"
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Old February 11, 2017, 11:19 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Light and understand was shed upon the situation almost instantly once Alithea's role was explained. Links shook his head slightly in agreement. She did not need to draw him a more detailed picture. He could color in the lines himself. His only remaining question he didn't voice. Why did this cult take his? Was it just a coincidence and a product of misfortune as they targeted Bellum? Or was it an attack aimed directly at him as well? The dracon did not consider himself well known across the empire, therefore he supposed it was more than likely the former situation.

"Thank you for your discretion. Clearly no offense but I would not trust any of your children to take proper care. I have met most of them." While he wasn't sure exactly how much influence Bellum had over her creations, they themselves would not have been as kind as the dracon would have wished them to be.

"Now, if I do this task for you, which I obviously will considering my own personal stake in the matter, what would be my reward? Do I get to keep the prize? Or did you have something else in mind? I would prefer the former, if I get any say in the matter." The request really didn't need to be said. Of course he wanted it and obviously she wouldn't give it to him unless she decided to. However, a little persuasion never hurt.

Link saw the fortress. He knew where to find it. Now it would be a matter of getting there and liberating his prize. It seemed easy enough, but Links was a seasoned warrior and adventurer. It was never that easy. "Necromancers you say? That will make things interesting for sure. And not in that carnal way, mother! I know they can be trouble. I've dealt with a few before." The knight quickly ran over in his mind his previous conflicts with the dead dealers. Bellum hen-pecking him didn't help him though. "No, I'm not an Adept yet. Svafa's been too busy with the dracolings to test and instruct me. And my own free time is also tied up with raising them. We are in agreement though, I should be an Adept by now." Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, the dracon family hadn't been confronted with a situation yet that required Links to be an Adept.
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Old February 27, 2017, 08:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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"Reward?" Bellum raised her eyebrows in amazement that he would have the gall to ask such a thing. "It seems I've given you the wrong impression. This isn't a favor for me. If anything, it's for my daughter. For Svafa. In case you should ever mature enough to become the husband she deserves, and so earn your equipment back honestly. And not to alarm you, but considering the nature of the Alitheans' rituals, it is very possible that they might damage or destroy it."

Her thin shoulders rose and fell in a careless shrug.

"If you need further motivation, I suppose it's possible that Alithea's cultists might have belongings that you could take, as adventurers do. Certainly I wouldn't want anything that had been in their filthy hands, or elsewhere, but to each his own."

So, nope, no reward for Bellum was on offer her. But if he did it without a lot of whining and showed "self-improvement" maybe it would count as big points toward the eventual return of what she had taken! That was probably the most he could hope for. Still, Bellum did nod her head in apparent sympathy, and perhaps even in approval, when Links explained that he had been preoccupied in helping to raise his family. Certainly that was a pretty good excuse in her eyes for not-being-an-Adept-yet.

"At this stage in your Elementalist career,"
she said, "direct experience is probably the best teacher. Anyway, there's certainly no time like the present. Before you head out, just go on and do your little Amplification Ritual, and have Svafa Impart the basic spells. From there it will be up to you. I'm sure you'll have plenty of opportunities for practice when you're dealing with the Alitheans' stronghold."

Yes! Time to Amplify and such. Also to say good-bye to the family, maybe, and pack whatever supplies Links thought he might need for his heroic quest.
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Old March 10, 2017, 09:29 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Links held up his hands defensively. "I just thought I would ask. I just wanted to fully understand the situation. Reclaiming it is certainly motivation enough for me." And indeed it was. Even though Bellum still refused to restore him to his former state, the fact that she couldn't now even if she had wanted to was enough to almost drive the dracon into a blinding rage. He wouldn't get it back from rescuing it, but at least the option was restored. It was a small amount of consolation.

As per Bellum's suggestion/instruction, Links spoke to Svafa, giving her a much doctored version of the situation. Bellum had a task she needed done. She wanted Links to do it, as a show of good will and give him a chance to prove himself to her. He needed to Amplify up to an Adept in order to fulfill the task. Once the orange draconess was on board, the knight went outside and prepared the ritual.

Summoning his staff, Gess Murz Kiiren, the wingless dracon performed the ritual, his body and essence flooded with more strength and power. Without testing it, Links could feel the massive increase to his reserves, at least for that brief moment after the expansion. He then waited for his wife to impart the basic spells of his new level, the stuff to help him gauge the new limits of his spell casting.

Amplification done, Links went about preparing for his quest. His standard weapons and kit for adventuring. He say his goodbyes and words of encouragement and obedience to his dracolings. His words of love and endearment to his wife and mistresses. It would be a dangerous trip, but he promised to return in short order.

Goodbyes said, supplies packed, with body and mind trained and ready, Links strapped on his golem wings and launched himself into the air, rising quickly upwards into the sky from his small farm. Once he reached a good elevation, he leveled out and circled around until his was facing the general direction of the Alithean stronghold. His wings angled and locked themselves into a comfortable gliding position, the wings carrying the dracon forward.

A low growl sounded in his throat as he thought about his quest and how "personal" it was to him. Those cultist would suffer and pay. A very angry dracon would see to that.
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Old March 20, 2017, 08:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
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And lo! With Svafa's help, Links ascended to Adept, and was Imparted all the typical spells in an Adept Elementalist's toolkit.

Was it really so simple? Apparently it was! The dracon knight's newly enhanced power settled over him as easily as a well-tailored coat thrown over his shoulders. It suited him. It seemed that it had indeed been time. All the same, the power was still wild within him as yet. Unstable. He would need to master its intricacies before his new knowledge flew from him and his newly expanded Vis bled back away into the multiverse. How fortunate that he had just the quest with which to test himself and prove his mettle... to Bellum, to Svafa, and the world at large.

And so his goodbyes were said, with the little ones obligingly promising to be good for him in his absence, and with Svafa blessedly oblivious to the true nature of her quest. No doubt she would sleep better not knowing exactly what was at stake. Up, up, and away Links flew!

He flew and flew and flew some more, and eventually the ruined fort that Bellum had shown him came into sight. Was that a slight tingle Links felt, down below? As if some intimate part of his body had somehow fallen asleep and developed pins and needles? Presence rather than absence. Just a tiny bit. But still! The missing part of himself was definitely down there.

Given Alithea's nature, and the epic nature of Links' quest, the ruined fortress that was serving as her impromptu temple ought to have looked a lot more perverted than it did. Towers like giant phalluses, huge boob-shapes outbuildings with nipple domes, that sort of thing. But, nope, there was none of that. Perhaps even a band of Alitheans bold enough to rob Bellum herself had still managed to muster enough discretion not to advertise. Probably all the really good stuff was hidden away inside the building, anyway.

It was night when Links arrived there, and there were lights amid the ruins. Some shining from windows, but some dancing oddly, as if they were torches being carried by guard patrols. He could see, dimly, people or creatures moving around in the darkness down there, not well enough to get much of an idea of their nature or their numbers.

How was Links going to play it? Loud? Quiet? Just swoop on in from the air, or try to sneak in on foot?
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Old March 26, 2017, 03:33 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Links couldn't help but look down and scratch at the void between his legs as he felt the pin pricks and tingles. He had forgotten what it felt like, how important it was. If he hadn't been motivated enough before, that faint sensation was enough to drive him over the edge. It was down there. He was down there. It was time he was freed.

The dracon climbed to higher altitudes to avoid detection as he circled around the fortress assessing the situation. In the dark, there was no way for him to accurately see how big of a force he was dealing with. However, it was a safe bet that Links was heavily outnumbered, especially if Bellum's warnings about his arcana level were any indication.

The dracon's instincts, fueled by his renewed connection to himself, wanted to charge in with fireballs flying and destroy everything with reckless abandon. Fortunately for Links and his family, his warrior training checked that impulse. Quiet stealth was the better way to go, at least until he knew what he was facing. Then the fireballs could start flying.

Links picked out one of the taller towers still standing which appeared mostly sturdy and solid. He swooped down and landed on the roof, talons digging in for purchase. He would work his way from the top down. That way, if he had to retreat or was escaping, then he knew he would have access to the sky.

Using talons and strength, the dracon made his way across the roof to an opening inside. It it was hole in the roof, he would drop in. If it was a window, he'd climb in. Either way, he would enter, make sure the room was safe and secure, and then make his way down the stairs.

It was going to be a long terrible night. For the Alitheans of course.
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Old March 28, 2017, 08:40 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Links landed on the tower roof with a thud and a scrape of claws against the stone. No shout of alarm sounded, which was good, but someone... somewhere... must have heard something. A great beam of light flashed up from below, shining on the tower on which Links currently perched. The beam swept this way and that, almost casually. It was fairly easy to avoid if he hunkered down and pressed himself to the stones beneath him. And after a short while the light was gone again.

Next, though, came the stirring of wings in the air. Something was flying up to make a cursory pass over the tower. Whatever it was, it was shaped rather like a curvaceous humanoid woman, though with a tail and bat-wings and outsized horns on her head. Fortunately Links was able to slink in through the window before the being drew very near. Again, there was no warning cry: he had left no visible sign when he landed. For the moment at least Links was in the clear. And the tower itself? Abandoned. There was a great deal of cobwebs and dust, along with moldering wreckage that might once have been furnishings. There was no sign of any guards however. No lights, either, which made descending the long winding staircase a bit of a chore.

At the bottom there was a door, which presumably lead to the courtyard of the ruined fort. But the door wouldn't open at his touch. Not even if the dracon was so bold as to shove it with all his strength. It appeared to have been sealed from the outside. Possibly even bricked over.
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Old April 7, 2017, 09:13 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Links stood stock still in the upper room of the tower, listening and ready to pounce as the wingbeats circled around. He had only caught a glimpse, but he could see that he wasn't dealing with just a bunch of backwoods farmers worshiping some glowing rock. There was some actual monsters here, and he needed to bring his "A" game. Unfortunately for the monsters however, Links had brought his "A" game, and his quest was very, very personal.

The dracon stood there for a long moment, studying the sealed door before him. When he touched it her didn't feel the tingle of activated arcana, so it had to be a physical type of seal. Possibly bricked over or buried under rubble. Either way, the door wasn't going to open without some major noise and effort. Noise and effort he did not want to expend right away. Anyone and everyone around the fortress would know something was up in there was a rumbling crash. Links needed to remain stealthy, until he could pick his engagements on his terms.

However, with no where else to go but back up the tower, Links was almost out of options. A mage if never, truly out of options. The dracon entered clara and crafted a spell. He had done something similar before when mining through a mountain. He would send out a shockwave through the stone, rocks, and earth. He would then watch and follow the waves to discover if another cavern or chamber was nearby. If he found one, especially if it was beneath his current position, he would form a follow up spell to remove the earth between himself and it and tunnel his way to the next chamber. If he found nothing... he would take a second look at that sealed door.
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Old April 10, 2017, 06:32 PM   #14 (permalink)
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As he entered Clara, Links suffered a moment of disorientation as he remembered that there was no such thing as Clara anymore! Or at least there was no longer the kind of Clara that had once lent itself to the popular children's jumprope line, "I see Vis, I see Ara, I see Essence in my Clara." Which was to say that the meditative state of Clara was still relaxing and all, but it no longer served any useful purpose as far as spellcasting went.

Regardless, Links cast his minorI'm assuming Initiate spell, and sent a small wave of energy rippling through the stones in the area. As he had hoped, there was indeed something underneath the tower in which he currently lurked. Less of a cavern, really, than an underground hallway or room. Well, of course the Alitheans would have a dungeon! Probably a sexy dungeon, but also possibly otherwise. Maybe even sexy and otherwise. Anyway, shifting the stones beneath his feet in order to drop into the passageway beneath him was a simpleAgain, 1 Vis enough matter. No alarm was raised at the sounds of grinding stone either. The Alitheans' defenses were impressive, so far as they went, but they were hardly infallible either.

On into the hallway below! Links had no idea where he was going, of course, but... oh, wait... he sort of did. That vague tingly sensation seemed to lead further ahead down the passage before him. Possibly deeper? It was difficult to say. The feeling was hardly exact. And the hallway was not exactly abandoned. Lit torches lined it at regular intervals, providing a dim and eerie light. And as Links proceeded he would eventually encounter a pair of sentries.

Undead, this time. A pair of largish humanoid zombies that were too decomposed for him to properly identify the species to which they had once belonged. The things were obviously on patrol, but they were currently walking away from him and didn't seem to hear the dracon coming up behind them. Each was armed with a sword and carrying a shield, although... for reasons to horrible to contemplate... they were dressed not in armor but in some sort of fetish wear.

Assless chaps on a zombie? Yikes.
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5/8/18: Apologies for the extended delays. Busy time of year + severe lack of inspiration lately. Hoping to start catching up over the next few days.
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Old April 19, 2017, 10:17 PM   #15 (permalink)
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The dracon slunk along the passageway. With all the torches lighting the place up, he didn't bother with trying to conceal himself against the wall. He did keep his footsteps quiet, or he tried to. Talons were not much help when it came to stealth. No noticeable alarm was raised, so he continued onward, following the tingling sensation in his gut.

In retrospect, following the tingling in his gut was what lead him into this situation in the first place. At this point, and taken out of context, one might wonder if the dracon would finally learned his lesson and ignore that fateful tingling. Of course, this situation was different than the last times. Even if that was the most common excuse, it was still the truth. Therefore, Links would continue following gut.

Two guards. Two very creepy looking guards. Links quickly matched his pace with theirs so their footfalls would mask his own. He considered his four options. One, turn around and find another way. He dismissed that one immediately. Two, follow the undead guards until he could find a side passage and hope they don't notice him. He didn't like that one either. Three, take down the guards with magic for a quick, silent, safe kill. It had its strong appeal, but he wanted to save his strength for when things really turn bad, which they certainly would once he was escaping. Four, dispatch them with physical violence. It wouldn't be clean, considering how rotted they were, but Links was used to getting down and dirty at times.

The dracon increased the length of his stride to close the gap between himself and the zombies. His axe appeared in his hand ready to strike. Out of habit, he placed a quick elemental enhancement on the blade, an electric current sizzling through the metal for extra bite. He stepped up behind the guards and attacked. He would swing first at the one on the right, aiming to lop its head off from behind before either knew what was happening. He would then follow through with the momentum and bring the blade over and down in a massive splitting chop into the second zombie's skull. If that didn't stop them, he would have to chop some more until they did.
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