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ethela penna

below and beneath [outpost grey]

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Silence.

The price for it was hefty, yet after this cacophony of monsters and humans it was something calming in hearing nothing but the beat of one's heart. Jack let out a long sigh, as he pulled out his sword from the mangled corpse and detached the monkey’s head – that what was remained after Ravenbush’s desperate attack. The blood was still soaking from the left shin, but the skin around the wounds had already became sickly yellowish.

Jack groaned. The infection was the last thing he would get in the middle of nowhere. Having concentrated his inner power into his palm, he attempted to cauterize the wound. Jack squinted and gritted his teeth, as the magic fire made contact with the tainted flesh. He knew that wouldn’t get rid of the disease, but it might at least slow down its spread rate.

After the procedure Jack looked at Raven and Capria. No doubt, those beasts got them too, but among them three Madame suffered the most. He wondered how much it took for her to save a total stranger she just argued with not too long ago…

Suddenly Jack felt a strange warm in his left palm. He shifted his focus onto the sword’s hilt – the crystal on its tip was glowing… And then he heard the voice. His voice.

Jack had way too many questions for that elusive boy. What was the meaning of this? Was he luring them into another trap? How are they supposed to determine north inside this basin and this dense fog? Yet it was useless to ask the piece of glowing rock about it all – as the word of warning had been spoken, the light faded away.

The mercenary heeded attentively Capria’s words, while she was utilizing her magic to lift and carry Raven’s body. “You better save up your energy for the worst.” – he replied. – “We don’t know what might wait us there… We don’t know the right direction either.”

Jack suspected that Capria might reject his offer regarding Madame. For now, he was more capable of fighting and protecting and less affected by the poison as a whole. He took his sword back into his right arm – the shoulder was not hurting anymore.

And yet, the alarming itch on his left shin persisted…

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8c3a3b4bdb73f79319edb63ebd4f9253.jpg"Wake me up when there's food." 

The Madam was mumbling nonsense in her sleep. The physical strain and her grave injuries has reduced this poor woman to a limp version of herself, almost like a vegetable, her subconscious figure being carried by the other woman named Capria. Being held like this, in the arms of another woman was very comforting to the suffering Ravenbush. She would have preferred the cute little Hawke but as the young man was rather indisposed, she'll enjoy what she can get. 

Queer jokes aside, this was a rather annoying situation that has befallen Ravenbush. Oh it was a brand new world of pain. Her wounds were deep and infected, the poison and corruption seeping deep into her body. There's no question that she will survive this ordeal, but the question is, at what cost? She was numb from everything else, only the stinging sensation of pain and the unbridled flood of itchiness assaulted her senses. Only Capria's loving embrace was her solace to this vile torture. Oh the tragedy! The magnanimous Ravenbush reduced to such a sorry state,

Even in this prone situation, she still fought. Her spiritual energy was working double-time to keep her from actually dying but until her allies can find something to cure her. She could barely stand, much less stand up for herself. If something comes for them, then Jack would be left to fend for both her and Capria. She never liked that Jack but she for now she has no choice but to pin her trust in that man. If only he could quit his bitching, then Ravenbush might even start to like him. Probably.

Then Hawke's voice came into her, a welcome invasion into her private thoughts. She was just thinking about him and there he was speaking into her mind. While his words were very reassuring, their group's current status isn't. Who knew that a pack of zombie monkeys are that annoying to deal with. Next time, she's never joining any trips that involves foggy forests and getting assaulted by zombie monkeys. Once was enough. Never again.

Edited by Thotification

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Hawke knew better than most not to toss accusations of malevolence around so easily. Who speaks for the hearts of anyone else but themselves, and that's a losing game for when boys and girls cannot understand each other then there truly is no hope for communion between humans and things. But they tried.

There were many such presences now. Wherever his captors had been heading to, they were there now. With an army of like-minded individuals, perhaps, all coalesced in a mass centered around the prisoner. They came and they withdrew, but none of them touched him. He could feel them coming and going, like waves lapping up the shore that never quite reached the toes. Malevolence. Sharks staring out of the water. Silly, silly - sharks don't think. Maybe these didn't, either. They hissed at him. Some chanted hymns. Each of them tried to ask a question in a decaying tongue. They were are a bit garbled.

"Phnagoph dzajr memnemos."

"Er. Non habla. Nein sprechen? Try again, buster."

Malevolence, but they never lost their patience. They just drew away and another came to take their place. So it went until finally they had found something that spoke, still.

"Open the path."

Hawke frowned through his blindfold. "If I say 'soon' then will you let me see your face?" Hawke said, already hooking a finger under the cloth and pulling it away.

A shudder ran through the crowd - he felt that one too - but nothing stepped forth to cut him in half. He stopped, reached around the back to undo the whole thing properly, and let it drop onto the dirt. "Sure, soon."

Edited by ethela penna

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UZ7K9Bh.jpg?1Eventually, the quick speed at which she moves is slowed in an effort to recognize the devastation looming in the murky shadows around them. Just as Hawke had warned, bodies began to show themselves some distance back. But now they are growing in number and do not seem to be dwindling.  Although they made it to the outskirts of the Outpost in good time, time still plays against them. Capria's abdomen, having begun to itch before they took off from their previous placement, has begun to experience the fiery sensation of the infection. Now encompassing her stomach and crawling up her ribs. 

From what waste they encountered upon battling the zombonkies, the sight set before them now is none too terrifying or surprising. The putrid smell of death is only exacerbated by the acrid stench of pus and infection. The more bodies, the thicker the scent. With the humidity so high it is only made worse. As it clings to the hair filtering every breath she takes upon witnessing it. She soon comes to a complete halt, readjusting the madame in a way befitting a sack of potatoes. Bending at the knees to carefully lift and slide the woman into a more comfortable position on her left shoulder. Thus freeing up her right to poke at and examine the inanimate citizen of Outpost Grey at her heels. After a few nudges and she is finished with it. Her curiosity outweighed by precedence. From within her coat, she pulls out the previously emptied cartridge from her weapon and uses it to scrape away the already cracked and peeling flesh of the dead man's face. Redepositing it in her coat pocket for later use.

Still with a mission to complete, and without further adieu, Capria stands. First things first, they need to get inside the outpost and locate the hospital in the hopes of finding or creating a potential cure for their infectious ailments. "Jack..." @P.N.See Physical movement in the center of her body quite excruciating at this point leaves her slightly winded as she rights her frame. "We need to find a medical facility. Any kind. We just need to find it. The sooner the better, I'd wager." Capria doesn't find it necessary to define what it is she is asking the man to do. The implications of it simple enough for Jack to figure out on his own. And while the man figures it out she wonders back into her own mind, thinking about just what reason she had for initially agreeing to come to this desolate place.


 

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Jack watched carefully as the group continued to traverse throughout the fog. The road wasn’t like a muddy mess anymore. This could be the sign that there’s a civilized site nearby and they are going to the right direction. Jack exhaled – that was the only good news for the moment.

The nauseous itch on the left leg was refusing to wear off. Even though the infection was slowed down, it would be only a matter of time before it turns from an annoyance into a trouble. Jack once again glanced at Capria. It seemed crazy how she was able to sustain much pain and suffering caused by injuries and a cruel necessity to carry a fallen companion. Madame was in a certain condition that made Jack worry for her. He attempted to ignore any affection toward her – in the end, they’d part their ways in any case. Yet he wouldn’t forgive himself for letting someone die for no reason. And speaking of death…

Jack’s nose picked a foul smell, a slightly different from his own. A scent of decayed flesh, not unlike the one belonging to monster monkeys. Then, on the ground, a human corpse had emerged. And another one. And another one… The road became populated by the bodies scattered across the plain. Armor being rusted, clothes being torn… Even in such state, the garments of the fallen were telling the story of their owners. Guardsmen and commoners, men and women… All united in death.

Capria stopped before one of the corpses, readjusted Madame’s body and lowered herself to take some sort of probe.

“Not the best idea.” – Jack commented. – “The dead would better stay that way. Undisturbed, you know…”

“Jack.” – Capria spoke, as she stood up and away from the corpse. – “We need to find a medical facility. Any kind. We just need to find it. The sooner the better, I'd wager.”

Jack looked at Madame (@Thotification) sleeping in her hands. Her petite face was bearing a painful grimace and had a sickly pale hue. Why did he still care about her? He couldn’t answer.

“Yeah.” – Jack replied to Capria (@-Lilium-). – “I would not keep company with them either.” – he nodded at the bodies then continued. – “Say, do you know what exactly we are looking for? What can help get rid of that… stuff inside us?”

Edited by P.N.See

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As grave as the situation may be, she cannot surrender to the plight delt her. Capria continues forward willing to sacrifice what precious energy she has left.

For what? For yourself… For her? What Justice do you find in dying?

A flourishing bombardment of inner questioning brings her back to the questions Hawke had asked.

Justice for me, means fighting until you no longer can. To protect the lives around you, even if it’s futile. Giving up...and surrendering to the shadows we live in. It just isn’t an option.UZ7K9Bh.jpg?1

The secondary voice snickers, hidden in the valleys and pits of her mind.

Suit yourself. I’m just here for the fun.

It’s brief, the slight grin breaking through the atmosphere of pain she tries to hide. The stark white of her skin the only indicator of feeling outside that fickle bearing of teeth, that is quickly re-hidden by the pallidity of her pink lips.

“I don’t really know what we’re looking for. But, there’s a chance the initial outbreak was recorded in the hospital's databanks, and any analyzed samples as well. I don’t even know if this affects us on the same level. Our biological--” There’s a sharp intake of air slices through her sentence dismantling her thought process only for a second or two, “Biological difference can possibly hinder and slow it, or exacerbate the infection. We just need...to get there. Now! At this point, Capria has no choice but to rely on Jack to find it and direct them there. The burn, the itch...growing with each passing second. Now, she can only begin to imagine what the necrosis of her own tissue will like. The idea of watching herself die and turn more than disturbing. @P.N.See @Thotification @ethela penna


 

Edited by -Lilium-

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@-Lilium- @Thotification

“…And what if we find nothing there?” – Jack objected. The low tone of his voice indicated that the question was meant to be rhetorical. Generally, the mercenary was skeptical about the chance of getting a cure from their disease. After all, those bodies of deceased one weren’t in favor of cure’s existence. Oh, how deceivingly easy to spit out such things aloud when all you’d got is just a nasty itch, where the rest of your pack are as good as done for…

Jack felt as the burden of responsibility laid down onto his shoulders. A terrible, yet inevitable feeling. Even though those people barely knew each other, from this moment they were relying at him. At least Capria had shown her trust, while Ravenbush wasn’t just able to do that – on conscious level, that is.

“Alright.” – Jack sighed. – “As we arrive, you’ll do what you know best. For everyone’s sake.”


Suddenly he stopped, then slightly tapped the ground with his healthy foot. The soil was firm, unlike the muddy road back then. It was presumably pressed tightly under dozens of pairs of someone’s boots, even though there were barely any fresh footsteps.

“Well… We’re here.”

From the darkness of the mist several building blocks had appeared before the company. The cluster they had entered seemed abandoned and devoid of any source of light. Surprisingly, from the outside point of view, the outpost exterior wasn’t yet touched by time and decay. Simply put – a perfect setup for an another trap.

Jack once again recalled the boy’s visage – the one he remembered before the undead monkey ambush. He might be a mastermind behind this particular incident, yet a ground for decent proof was needed before making any claims. That and the boy himself. And, of course, the cure…

The problem was that almost all the buildings were looking indistinguishable from each other. How one could understand which one is a hospital or a generator room?

“We don’t have much time to scoop every single block.” – Jack spoke. – “We need to check the closest one for some sort of printed map, so we won’t wander around here until we drop dead.

I know it’s difficult for you to keep up, but stay sharp... and quiet. I’ve got really bad feeling about this place…”

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8c3a3b4bdb73f79319edb63ebd4f9253.jpgThe Madame Ravenbush dreamed. She dreamed of days past, memories she had presumed forgotten. She was back at her castle, within the confines of her study, away from the nightmares and horrors of that forest. The whole affair with Hawke and his justice seemed so surreal, so distant from this dream she was reliving. 

"Hello, sister," came the woman's voice. It was soft, gentle even, one Ravenbush was most familiar with. It was the voice of her one remaining sister. She cannot remember when was the last time they ever spoke so casually, nor bereft of vile hostility. Her sister's past transgressions had made conversations hard to do so.

"Did you enjoy your sleep?" 

The voice came again and Ravenbush had to turn to face her sister. "I'm wide awake and hungry, Middy."

Her sister laughed. "Of course you are, sister. Now be a dear and wake up from your sleep. The others are waiting."

Perhaps it was her injured state but even in this dream, Ravenbush felt weak and weary. Even here, the world started to spin, her vision blurry. 'Middy...I...feel fainting. What do you mean...sleep?"

"I'll be waiting for you, Shishi. We'll meet again."

"Middy!" Ravenbush screamed her sister's name before everything turned black.

Yellow eyes opened to a very different place. Groggy and weakened, Ravenbush willed herself to speak but failed miserably so. Her lips were chapped, her mouth dry as drought. Her eyes flickered from one familiar face to another. There was the unbearable Jack, she disliked the man's guts and yet trusted him with her back. There was Capria. Being cradled within the woman's arms is a godsend for the Madame.

"Middy...fuck you," she whispered under her breath. That dream had been vivid and meeting Middy still left a bad taste in her mouth. She moved then or tried to but It seemed her body was still beyond recovery. But at least she's conscious now. And there's one thing she needed most right now.

"Goddammit, Jack," Ravenbush started. "Food. Gimme."

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