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jaistlyn

Night of Terror [Knoles]

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The storm had come suddenly, hours before daybreak. The intensity of it had the townspeople of Knoles convening in pockets outside of their homes, gripping onto their nightdresses and caps in the howling wind, looking to the roiling dark clouds that would soon hit their peaceful town. Such storms were rare, though not unheard of. Worriedly, they anchored down their belongings, waterproofed what they could, and pacified the young children. As for the damage that would be done to the farms; there was nothing that could be done for it. Oh, how little they knew that it would be the least of their worries this night.

The first strange sign of the storm was the sounds carried over the wind - almost guttural, demonic screams. Lightning flashed constantly, coming from directly above the Anima Imperium, the lab built by Dr Marigold. Their relationship started off rocky, with the Doctor clearing out a whole area of forest in a day, affecting the town’s logging activities. It was only when Marigold offered reparations that Knoles formed a new, untested relationship with him. This storm, that gripped their hearts with fear, seemed to be connected to the Doctor.

Raindrops pattered down, chasing the people back into the shelter of their homes. The rain smelled of iron, and ran faintly pink over the paved paths of the town. Some sort of mineral that contaminated the rain? Others said it was blood.

“I knew it, he’s a shady character, some sort of demon or witch,” the whispers went around like wildfire, doors and windows a poor barrier against its spread. “The goddess is coming to us for harbouring a demon! Leave, leave now, before her judgement falls on us!”

-

“They’re actually leaving, Hedia!” a guard slammed open the door of the town hall, addressing the mayor.

“What!? Fools they are!” the middle-aged woman looked at him, gritting her teeth. “Leaving their homes in this storm and cold? Dragging children with them! Where would they go?” She pushed past the guard at the doorway. “I need to knock some sense into them!”

Before she even took two steps, however, a man rushed up to her, with his wife holding a baby following behind, soaking wet. “Hedia, our house hadn’t been built as sturdily as the rest.. We fear it could collapse. Do you think.. We can take shelter in here until the storm is over?”

Even before the man finished speaking, Hedia was ushering them in. “Of course! Come in, come in, don’t stay out there in the rain!” Turning back outside, she saw more of the townspeople making their way towards her. After a second’s thought, Hedia patted the man’s arm. “Mark, could you do me a favour and spread the message around? Those who want to, are welcome to find shelter in the town hall, and also, the library, the school.. And my house too - tell Keegan that I said so.” Her twelve year old son didn’t want to follow her to the town hall, insisting that he would protect their home. She had shaken her head at his big boy act with a smile, but had given in to his wishes for now. She pulled her hood over her head and stepped out into the rain. “I need to dissuade some fools from leaving..”

Hedia hurried along, using one hand to keep her hood up. It wasn’t doing anything to keep her dry, but at least it somewhat shielded the rain from running into her mouth. She occasionally spit out a mouthful. The water tasted foul. Ahead of her, there were figures made hazy by the rain, securing backpacks and getting ready to go.

“Hey!” Hedia yelled. “It’s dangerous out there! Everyone knows wolves hunt in the forest!” 

Someone walked towards her. “Come with us, Hedia.” It was Charice, the one who had the most faith in Gaia, and was in turn most favoured by the goddess. “This is not a natural storm, and you know it. We’ll be in greater danger here. Some have already left, and wise they are for it.”

“No, what are you saying? Listen to yourself! There is no shelter out there for the storm.. No.” Hedia shook her head, then raised her voice for the rest to hear.

“Please, stay. All of us are gathering at the town square. Together, we’ll keep each other safe!” There was a ripple of hesitation among the people. Fear driving them away from their homes, versus their mayor begging them to stay. Which was the greater risk? Hedia continued, “Look, the lightning seems to have stopped.” And indeed it had, though it was unclear when.

In the space of the silence, a scream of terror ripped through the air. It was followed by more screams and then.. Chaos. Something was tearing through them, literally. Right in front of Hedia’s eyes, a humanoid monster took a chunk of flesh off a man’s neck, and its hands twisted his spine, while he screamed in agony.

It was the snapping sound and the clacking of mandibles that haunted Hedia as she raced away from the scene, her heart pounding and her breath choking. She did not know how fast she ran, or who was beside her. Everything was a red haze, and the next she became aware, she had been herded back into the town hall. Somehow, she knew that they were surrounded by the monsters. Someone must have said it, but she had no memory of hearing it. Somehow, she knew that the remaining townspeople were all gathered in the buildings around the square. Remaining people. She should have felt something with that word: horror; heartbreak. But instead it left an empty, hollow pit. Somehow she knew the guards were outside, standing heroically to fend off the monsters. And somehow, she knew that they were greatly outnumbered.

The sniffles and wails of children brought Hedia out of her stupor: most of their young had been gathered into the town hall. And Keegan.. Hedia looked around frantically. No, Keegan was still in her house. She despaired. It was not just the young who were crying, the adults were too, they cried tears of hopelessness. Was Charice right - was this divine judgement? But Hedia couldn’t imagine that those.. those things were the servants of gods. They were clearly called by the devil.

It was the start of the longest night in Knoles.

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This storm was far worse than one could imagine; The rain tasted awaful, and it's source wasn't that of a naturally occurring bastion of Gaia' influence. Sigrid didn't like it's make one bit, watching the town's folk beginning to barricade and prepare themselves for the storm's potential intensity. It was a town that wasn't accustomed to such fierce visages of nature. Her solid ruby eyes watched the skies from Louise' home. The exuberant woman a source of nervous energy as she moved from corner to corner "Oh such sorrow! Such dismay! Even the skies call for the blood of Louise! What are we to do Sigrid? Such a storm cannot be simply silenced!" She spoke; he words a level of drama and passion that took Sigrid almost their whole time sailing together to get accustomed to such a unique personality...The elf turning her head toward her doors as they began to bang heavily from several hands. Sigrid taking action and holding up her hand for Louise to hold; the small strides of the goblin woman moving slowly toward the frame before pulling it open...her hammer at the ready. Faces of numerous commoners who both welcomed and her and vindicated her racial difference stood at Louise' threshold in growing concern. "S-Sigrid? Is Louise here? The farms...It's too dangerous to try and save them. Can we take shelter here?" One of them asked...Conrad. A polite farmhand who had always been kind to her; her eyes flicking toward his less than kind father before they heard the sound of Louise' decedent tones "But of course Darling Conrad! My home has always been but a vessel for the people of knoles!" She called all the while beginning to board up the windows. Sigrid nodding, and opening the door to about 30 or so individuals. Louise' shop forty feet ahead of the town hall. A nice plot of land Louise had garnered. 

Her and Sigrid arriving here only five years ago, and yet they had become one with this community no matter the underlying tension between races. Louise roamed the store, providing refreshments and blankets for all those who needed it.
The sounds of screaming tearing through the evening air
Sigrid' looking toward Louise with concern who immediately attempted to quell the fear beginning to acclimate the air. Sigrid moving immediately toward the window and observing anything she could discern. Strings of villagers beginning to run passed the window, seeing movement passed them...in the trees...her eyes looking more grave as she saw forms begin to shamble toward the village. What was going on? Was this that quack's work? Did he have a hand in this?? "The town's in danger" Sigrid said firmly, taking her hammer and her shoulder strap, moving toward the door immediately "Sigrid, please be careful! I must sacrifice my efforts and keep them safe" Louise said, looking at Sigrid with a worried expression 
Sigrid nodding once before swinging open the door, and slamming it behind her. She didn't know what was going on, but she was going to try and put a stop to it. 

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What is in a deed? Does one have to be noble to save people? Can a cold heart do good and still be cruel to those around it? The risk is high and the reward scant in comparison. What guarantee is there the act committed will be worth the possible consequences afterwards? All these thoughts and more crossed the Deep One's mind as she came to the besieged village known as Knoles.

It started with the rain, a soothing thing that always helped Riley feel more calm about being on dry land. Deep within the ancient fathoms of the ocean, one didn't need to worry about a lack of water, only feeding and survival. Here on the mainland everything seems so much more dangerous, more hostile than in her aquatic home. For a while she wondered about resigning from the Monster Girl Expeditionary Force and returning from whence she came. That was when she heard the ghostly screams, which lead her to this place. Perhaps fate had different plans for her on this day.

Monsters of mud and death roamed the area, killing anything they could get in their possession. These mindless wretches desired only the blood of the innocent, and would stop at nothing until all life in this place was snuffed out. What would be the right thing for her to do in this situation? That she wasn't sure of exactly, but called upon a story she knew of the great idiot god known as Azathoth.

Azathoth is the dreamer that must never wake, for if he does, all reality as we know it will be destroyed. This is why faithful servants play flutes of haunting lullabies, keeping Azathoth in his unending slumber, so that all living things may still live. Is it evil to want to keep a living creature asleep at the expense of everything? Perhaps, but the preservation of life is the greatest injustice one can commit against the universe. Defy the order of the universe, and protect that which you find dear to yourself...

What was dear to Riley then? Family? Friends? The others in the Expeditionary Force? Perhaps, and if that were so, this action would not keep her from being the monster that she is. Even if she saved all these people, they would still shun her, and demand she be driven out of their village. It was the way of things. Of humans, of life, of all one may perceive in this world, yet still she would fight, if not for the sake of the other monsters who cared about her.

Pointing her staff towards the nearest group of zombies, Riley let loose a spell of great power, one that summoned forth tentacles from a different dimension. These wild appendages struck the earthen fiends with great intensity, cutting down their numbers before dispersing back into their nightmarish homes. Still more to kill, more to fight, and more who could destroy her. Riley knew who she was fighting for though, and so would resolve to overcome these odds, no matter what.

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Where did she go?  The search for Ilpholin has been fruitless thus far and it's been nearly a month.  The trail has long since grown stagnant and cold, only continued by snippets of caught conversations and vague similarities.  It didn't help that communication has been extremely one sided.  Even if they could understand Mister Squiggles, it was kind of hard to ask questions when the majority of the responses involved shrill screams and running away.  This would have all been made moot if they had actually received their reward for assisting the wall instead of having it swiped out from under them.  Everything just seemed to be getting worse the longer they stayed in Terrenus.

Mister Squiggles chitters solemnly as the storm boomed overhead just to emphasis the point.  This really was no good.  A little rain is fine, but this deluge was too much.  Too twisted.  He should find shelter before too l- a scream?  Several even.  From up ahead.  Must be the town he was headed for.  Looking around it was clear the screams weren't for him.  They were for some grotesquely mutated insect zombies.  Well that's good.  Insects are vastly different from arachnids, so there wasn't any problem there.

Granted, that's underselling the situation.  There were serious problems.  Lots of them.  These insect zombies were clearly aggressive and attacking the town.  That's not good at all.  There's about a ninety percent chance the people here didn't deserve horrible death at the hands of these monstrosities.  Better interfere and save all he can.  It was the right thing to do really, though they might also stick around long enough to answer his questions.  Or at least allow him shelter until the storm passes. 

Skittering up to the first group he can see in the hazy dark storm, Mister Squiggles interposed himself between the zombugs and the school, using his powerful mandibles to take a large number of them by surprise, severing their heads with an audible crunch.

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With heavy rain pouring all over her in torrents, Sera calmly assessed her situation. Stuck in Knoles for a week with scant amount of resources and no still no contact with the local agents. A few weeks back, the Cartel had heard of disturbing reports regarding the Anima Imperium built by a certain Dr. Marigold. The cartel's Black Head, having taken keen interest in the Doctor, have sent Sera to investigate, observe and if possible force the Doctor to be indebted to the cartel. As always, the Black Head's sources are extremely questionable but in all the years she had been working for the cartel's boss, the Black Head's order have always been right and Sera has learned to trust in her boss.

When the storm hit, Sera was on her way towards the Doctor's laboratory, a part of her daily routine. Trained in the arts of voyeurism surveillance, trespassing infiltration and stalking tracking, she had been all around the place taking note of Knole's existing status quo. Judging by the townspeople's reactions the Doctor is supposedly connected to this drastic change in weather. However, there seems to be a commotion in town as the storm, and judging by screams of terror and pain she had been hearing, something terrible must have happened. Taking pity on the poor townspeople, Sera decided that she should prioritize the safety of the locals before confronting the Doctor.

Gloved hands pulled up the collars of her long coat, her shoulder hunching as she marched through the downpour with an ever present scowl on her face. Her hair, which should have been the long glossy and silky black kind she inherited from her mother's blood, no longer existed, burned right to the scalp years ago. Instead of finding a healer to grow it back for her, Sera opted for a more special replacement. Thousands of thin iron wires replaced every strand of hair on her scalp, sustained by her magic and each can  act as a separate limb. As of now, those wire hairs have meshed into something of a mix between an umbrella and a hat, it's wide brim keeping the worst of the rainfall off her. 

On her way to the nearest house, Sere was greeted by a congregation of creatures. Something of a mix between the undead and insects, their horribly disgusting visage sent shiver down Sera's spine. Cracking her knuckles, power coursed through her hands forming a thin layer of crackling lightning around her hands, and feet. With her spell on the ready, she preceded to smack and stomp on the zombie creatures, hitting hard and fast but despite her efforts there seemed to be more coming. Surrounded on all side, Sera's face scowled even further as her longest night in Knoles began.

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How long had it been?

By her estimates, it had been somewhere between five to six months since that fateful night in the shadows of the Blackridge mountains. It was there that she and two other mercenary adventurers had encountered and killed a wolf-like daemon called Ragnar, the Dire King. What had started out as a simple hunting expedition on behalf of some bedraggled Dwarven construction workers had turned into a desperate conflict for survival, not just for the mercenaries, but for all life in the region. Alongside the forest's guardian, a demigod called Gorgorron, the adventurers managed to defeat Ragnar and vanquish the corruption he sought to spread across the woodland and beyond. But even though Ragnar was nothing more than a pile of disintegrating ash now, Nikki Stratton had not slept right since that cursed night. Something had changed in her, though she couldn't sure what caused it. Strange visions, bizarre dreams, thoughts in head that seemed out of place, and other subtle yet disturbing symptoms, had begun to afflict her as she left that forest. Her companions had gone their own ways, but she swore before they departed that she saw a haunted expression in the face of one of them, as though he were suffering the same as her. She never asked to find out.

Instead, young Nikki had trekked across plains, over hills and through forests, always heading east. Why was she always heading east? She had asked herself that many times, yet she could never explain why. It was like there was a subconscious draw in that direction, one she was barely aware of consciously, but one she simply could not ignore or disobey. And because the draw was such a subtle thing, overshadowed by her dreams and visions, she had never been able to truly try to fight it. Instead she dwelt on the more dramatic experiences, such as those brief, but terrifying moments when her right eye, which had been mutated during a magical accident some years before, seemed to perceive things outside the realm of reality. Her human eye would fog over as this happened, while the monstrous mutated one would seem to take on a mind of its own as it tried to focus in on whatever this otherworldly plane was. But before anything could become clear, the vision would end, and Nikki's eyesight would return to normal. She had obtained another eyepatch, having lost her original one during the battle in Gorgorron's forest, hoping that keeping the eye covered would prevent future occurrences. It did little to help.

But she suffered worse than just those fleeting glimpses of the trans-dimensional during her waking hours. On particularly clear nights, she would have strange and fantastic dreams, which she likened to those suffered by the protagonists of the stories she read growing up in her family's cabin home. But even the greatest deliriums described by Phillips or Ashton could not do her own experiences justice. Amazingly vivid were her dreams, far more than any of her daytime visions, yet they were also maddeningly disconnected with any semblance of reality. At times she perceived she was floating through endless abysses of formless cosmic nebulae, her own body hidden from her vision as she watched the vague forms of what she assumed to be sentient creatures float past her. Other times her dreams took a more concrete appearance, as she wandered on foot through twisting metal hallways that defied all sense of logic and geometry. She would occasionally glimpse other forms in those hallways, vague shapes of humanoid men and women that drifted across her peripheral vision. There had been a time or two where she had seen something much larger as well, an amorphous creature that contorted hideously as it traversed those senseless corridors. A small, illuminated orb could be seen floating beside the chaotic blob, but any time Nikki tried to focus on either creature, they vanished from her sight. Indeed, she had never been able to focus on any singular being while immersed in these strange dreams, for they always remained at the very edges of her vision. But most memorable of all the things in her nightmares was that incessant, insane laughter. It echoed across the unfathomable abysses and through the perverted metal corridors, drowning out any and all other perceptions of sound. And though the laughter seemed to jeer mockingly at the girl as she stumbled through her nocturnal deliriums, she seemed completely unable to stop herself from laughing with it.

Still, these horrors were not without periods of absence, sometimes for weeks at a time. It was fortunate, since had they been a continual occurrence, Nikki would surely have been completely mad by now. Even so, the strain on the girl's sanity grew ever greater as she neared the end of her eastward journey. She wanted to return home to the safe embrace of her family, but that indescribable pull denied her at every attempt. Now she was thousands of miles from any familiar place, and it seemed there was no other chance than to find whatever was calling to her. She knew she was close. The dreams and visions had increased in their frequency and vividness, and so when a storm began to brew in the distance, Nikki rejoiced at the sight of a tangible danger to distract her from the ones lurking in her subconscious mind. But that sentiment began to wane as a strange, pinkish rain began to drizzle down from the heavens, while a horrible shrieking filtered through the tries from a distance.

"I should really learn to be careful what I wish for." she muttered to herself in regret.

Alas, that daemonic screech came from the very direction she was being drawn, so there could be no avoiding it. She was going to come face to face with something terrible, but wasn't that why she had left home in the first place? Her fascination with the macabre was what caused her departure from the safe, albeit boring, world of her childhood. Now, when faced with the very things she once sought above all else, she wished to retreat back into the safety of that childhood. But she couldn't. That draw would not let her. Or perhaps it was curiosity that drove her on now? The line between what was her own desire and what was foreign had become so blurred.

All at once, the shrieking in the distance ended, plunging the dark forest into a relative silence, broken only by wind and rain. This persisted but a few moments, before a new, far more terrible cry emerged from the darkness. It was nothing inhuman or demonic, yet its connotations sent a shiver down Nikki's spine as she froze in her tracks.

It was the cry of a dying child.

That one cry soon became a chorus of screams of terror and agony. Finally able to overpower that insufferable subconscious pull, Nikki pulled her magictech rifle from her shoulder and primed it. She now resumed movement, much more urgently now, and this time in defiance of the pull. She instead ran to the source of the screams, finally uncovering their origin as she emerged from the thicket at a slightly elevated location just southwest of the village of Knoles. Deformed monstrosities were descending up the tiny settlement, ripping apart man, woman and child wherever they could catch them. A few guards were fighting desperately to hold the creatures off as the denizens of the town retreated into the safety of their buildings. The entire scene was horrible, yet Nikki couldn't help but be thankful that it was tangible and external.

"Finally, something I can shoot." she spoke aloud to herself, voice quivering in a mix of fear and anticipation.

Before she could raise her weapon to fire, she noticed another figure entering the village to her left. Roughly humanoid in shape, yet decidedly inhuman by its coloration, movements and appendages. As Nikki paused to watch, the figure raised a staff of some sort, summoning a mass of writhing, nightmarish tentacles from another dimension, which attacked the shambling monsters with vicious purpose. Once again, Nikki was reminded of those stories she used to read so long ago, but even more she thought of her own nightmares and visions. Was this being connected with them?

She would have to ask it later, for the undead hordes were on the move. Flicking the safety on her rifle, Nikki propped it on her shoulder and targeted a band of monsters that were attempting to enter the town square by passing between a couple mercantile structures. But her aim was unsteady, as her hands shivered from her elevating heart rate. Her volley of shots missed hopelessly, doing nothing but potentially drawing the attention of the beasts. Nikki lowered her rifle as it recharged, whilst noisily exhaling in exasperation.

"Well, shit..."

Edited by Tyler

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When people were out of options, they look to their leader, as if they were miracle-workers. That was what Hedia felt, the immense pressure of her people’s eyes on her. She wanted to throw her hands up and wail. What was she supposed to do? She was just one human, like the rest of them, as mortal and as vulnerable.

A voice broke through the tension, calling from outside. “There’s help! We have help!” 

“Who? What?” Hedia asked incredulously, rushing to the door. Others also rushed to the windows, scrambling to peep through to see what was going on.

“Someone or someones are coming from outside, and fighting the monsters!” One of the guards said. The atmosphere in the hall lightened up immediately as a surge of hope went through the room. Hedia’s spirits lifted. Though details were vague as to who the help were, there was no doubt that the monsters’ advances seem to have slowed down.

A flash of idea struck Hedia. “Help.. help.. I’m sure we have things that can help..” With refreshed vigour, the mayor started going around the town hall, throwing open drawers and digging through items. However, the place was relatively large, and her initial search yielded nothing of use. “Come on! There must be something - healing items, anything!” She turned around to the people closest to her. “Help me look through the place! Bring out anything that could be useful for fighting!”

Edited by jaistlyn

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The sound of combat and chaos thundered around her the instant she left the comfort of Louise' shop. Her emerald eyes darting from the scrambling villagers to the guards attempting to defend them from creatures of unimaginable horror. Anger and steel soon dulling her surprise as her small form charged forth, ducking toward the town hall as she saw several of these creatures bashing mercilessly into guards ahead.

Rage fueling her actions as she took her maul and spinning her entire goblin form around; swinging the heavy metal object into the lot of them. The jagged mass of steel careening into the undead carcasses of eight of these creatures and sending gore and limbs scatterimg about in a firework of viscera. The goblin was only small in size, and she made damn well she proved it.

The guards ahead of her feeling a surge of vigor as the goblin they had once begrudgingly allowed in their borders raged forth in valiant defense of her home...of her Louise. 

Edited by FirePenguinDiscoPanda

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In the harsh darkness of the night, Riley noticed what remained of the group she attacked shambling towards her. Death, earth and malice thing heavy upon them, murder being clear in their intentions. Such mindless creatures, willingly shackling themselves to such pathetic shells to enact a vague sense of vengeance for no clear or justifiable reasoning. Their creation was indicative of a reckless master with no true regard towards the consequences of their actions. Clearly a fool in one of the worst ways had unleashed these monstrosities.

Something had to be done about the monsters, but she couldn't allow them to close in on her and surround her. Not only that, she needed to get close to the village, to try and connect with the survivors of this place. It was possible they had information she could use for their benefit, a clue on how to defeat these monsters. Should they hold no key information, they could provide aide of some kind to her.

First she had to put distance between herself and the monsters coming for her. With nimble steps that danced past any clumsy attempts at stopping her, she advanced towards the village. Staying on the move helped to keep one alive, to evade the grasp of your enemies so you can figure out a plan for later. However important it was to stay alive, Riley understood the value of keeping up the attack upon these invaders. With every one of the monsters dispatched, the job got a little easier, a little more plausible in achieving victory.

Turning around to face her pursuers, Riley cast another spell upon them, though her aim was off set by the amount of running she had to do. The conjured tentacles were able to destroy at least one of the abominations, meaning her actions weren't a complete waste. With so many more to destroy though, the situation was starting to feel difficult at best, but she would push onwards. Such horrors could not be allowed to continue existing on this plane, and she would see too it they were sent back to whatever pit they were dragged out of.

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The storm cracked loudly as the tussle between Mister Squiggles and the immediate zombugs continued.  The giant dire spider clearly underestimated their ferociousness as they tore a chunk from his side, trying to climb and rend and chew.  With a mighty chitter, Mister Squiggles reared back, tossing the remaining zombugs off of him.  Using his many legs, he pivots while half standing in mid-air and comes crashing down upon them, brutally ending the scuffle and what passes for these abominations' lives.

A moment's respite was received, during which time he could vaguely make out on the other end of the village an alien looking creature that seemed at home in aquatic environments like the sea, a lake, or outside in this storm.  It motioned and acted in a manner similar to a spellcaster, but Mister Squiggles couldn't suss the results as more pressing matters drew his attention.  Namely the horde closing in on him from both sides, twice the size of the group he just dispatched.

He can't say he's had the pleasure of understanding the adage 'one falls and two more rise to take its place' quite so thoroughly until tonight.  The spider braces itself and skitters in place to keep his legs warm and moving.

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Besieged on all sides, a healthy mix raindrops and sweat trickled down the unmasked portion of Sera's face. Her umbrella hat hair has long since transformed into four squiggling tentacle-ish appendages protecting Sera's back from the shambling undead around her. Tried as she might but it seems her attacks have been futile. Not to mention the lucky strike one of the now destroyed creatures managed to inflict on her back. Thankfully, it did not bleed as her coat is more or less resistant to tearing but it sure as hell hurt. Now her back is now black and blue. Great.

A stream of curses escaped her somewhat black lips, the unrelenting downpour dealt constant damage against the thick edgy maquillage she religiously plasters on the unscarred side of her face. Bending her body backward, Sera narrowly evaded the incoming blow from her blind side. Using the monster's momentum against it, she caught the creature's outstretched limb and proceeded into a shoulder throw. Crunching sounds echoed through the night as the flung monster landed on it's brethren knocking the others down but it's not enough to kill them. As she expected, her crude attacks are not as effective as earlier.

Taking on a defensive pose, Sera settled her self into deftly knocking back her opponents' attacks while power gathered inside her. Biding time like gave her some breathing room and it might even present an opportunity for her to release one of her finishers but their prolonged struggle might alert the other group of creatures lurking about. The thought of her crappy odds finally brought a twisted smile on her ever scowling visage. With cheap mascara running down her face and her hair tentacle-ish appendages writhing and wriggling about, Sera appeared to be more monstrous than the creatures surrounding her.

 

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Great! She'd really screwed up this time! The zombies that had been shambling into town were now bearing down on Nikki from the front, while another, slightly larger band was approaching her left flank. As if that wasn't enough, there was a third group to her right, which was slowly moving in as well. She was now faced with two undesirable choices. She could flee back into the woods, losing them among the trees and maybe picking them off one-by-one if she didn't just leave the area outright. But something about being chased by twenty or more zombies into shadowed forest, alone and without backup, while abandoning the town to its fate, did not appeal to her. Perhaps it was the desire to feel that thrill of being the hero again, or perhaps it was a sentimental obligation to stay close to and assist her fellow man, or perhaps it was something far more inexplicable, but whatever the case, she instead elected the second of her two choices.

As the abominations drew in closer, Nikki suddenly sprinted slightly to the right of the horde, dashing past them and coming to a halt next to the back of the mercantile building the zombies had been lingering next to just moments ago. Now that she had some distance, Nikki whirled around and lined-up her rifle again. She promptly fired at the closer group, only to again miss horribly. Now she was beginning to question her own competency, having somehow botched two attempts at relatively easy shots. She only then became conscious of how shaky her hands had become, not to mention a faint discomfort in her head caused by defying that ever stronger directional pull. She'd have to overcome these obstacles and to get it all together soon, for the zombie groups were now consolidating and were about to be led right into the heart of town thanks to her.

She'd screwed up again, hadn't she? Maybe she should have retreated back into the woods after all....

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The town hall picked up in a flurry of activity - men, women, children searched every nook and cranny of the place. It gave them something to occupy their minds, rather than wait helplessly for death. Drawers were overturned, papers were strewn about. Files, reports, bills, profits, all these were unimportant in the face of real danger. 

While the others searched the main hall and the meeting rooms, Hedia headed to her own office. It was not large or extravagant, but it did have numerous boxes and shelves, containing both her work and personal belongings, as well as gifts. All these came off the shelves as she rummaged through them as fast as she could, discarding the useless ones on the floor. The items started to pile up, but she did not care. 

She came up to the display case, which held medals and plaques from the farming and lumbering competitions that Knoles had won against other towns. In their couple hundred years of history, they had accumulated a sizable number of them; some kept in boxes. 

One small, black box in particular caught Hedia’s eyes. It wasn’t something that the town won, but given to them by someone years ago. A paladin, who had been found unconscious and injured in the woods. The town rescued her and nursed her back to health, and she had given this to them in return. Hedia opened the box. In it was a green stone on a silver chain, and the stone was glowing with a soft, warm light. What was it? Hedia vaguely remembered the paladin mentioning something about using it to heal the gravest wounds. It hadn’t been glowing like this at that time though.

Hedia brought the necklace out to the hall. She didn’t know how to use it, but maybe someone else would. If there was such treasure here.. Maybe there would be others nearby too, stored and forgotten. She had to go find them, to help in any way she could. It would also be better for morale if the rest of the townspeople saw their mayor in person.

She passed the necklace to one of the men near the door. “Give this to one of the fighters if they come here, will you? They might be able to make use of it! I’ll go check on the other buildings!” 

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Sigrid hadn't realized just how many their were; her swing had been devastating, but still one of these hellspawn managed to bear down upon her. Blood spilling from a gash on the side of her face. Sigrid bearing her teeth as she faced off with this fiend. The chaos around her now garnering attention as she heard screams, inhuman roars, and the sound of gunshots. She could see that both the town hall and the library were being overrun by these horrors, and with a mighty kick. She disengaged from the singular threat "Deal with this! The Mayor is in trouble" she barked at the nearby guards as she swiftly moved towars the town hall. Her mace heaving forward as she put it through one of the creatures closest to her.

"Hedia! Mayor! The town is overrun! What should I do?" She asked. She was no guard, but she was a warrior all the same. Her eyes keeping constant vigilance as she headed toward Hedia.

Nikki felt those self doubts of hers swirl like a miasma; her eye beginning to twitch as she felt that pull toward that same wayward direction. There was a new revelation however as she for the first time since Ragnar...heard a voice. Yessss...Kill them...grow strong...DRINK...their...sanity...fear will...falter...Smile In..it's....absence hahaHAHAHAHA.

It was a strange sensation to feel the muscles in her face shift, a smile meeting her lips that burned away that doubt, that fear. It felt good.

 

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Battle was a difficult thing, with many different factors at play that could influence the outcome of either success or defeat. In this particular moment in the battle for the village of Knoles, the factors were very much against Riley.

The monsters were advancing closer, prompting the Deep One to try and put more distance between them and her. Just by their appearance alone she could tell they could inflict some major damage to her if they wanted, so she refused to even give them the chance. Just as before she would go on the offensive for the attack, only this time it would not even be marginally successful as before.

Her spill had whiffed completely, shooting off into the distance where it would do no damage whatsoever. Cursing in her alien tongue, Riley would stand ready for whatever may come for her. This battle was far from over, and she was far from being considered finished with these monsters.

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