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The difference between [Artifact Search: The Lion's Lantern]

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A man adorned all in black, with a brown hood over his face that whipped in the chill, walked across farm and prairie land north of Blairville. To his one side, the sloping giants of the mountains; to the other, a desert. Behind him was the city, his people, two separate entities.  The five had eaten in town before leaving restocking on food and water. Having spent everything but potential funds for lodging on their way down from the mountain, the operatives were optimally prepared to climb a mountain this crisp fall. After all, this frozen foot of the mountain was the last path rumored to lead to the artifact.

A wizened Cain had opted not to buy any wine until after the lantern was found; believing after many a merciless experience that nothing was a romp in the park until you lived to tell it like it was. He still longed to be drunk, though. His sense of smell was damped by the desire and the cold. A bearskin mask and gloves staved off the cold, but their primary function was to conceal the likeness of Tia’s old regent.

“Just look at it,” said his muffled voice. The yawn of his hood stared out on the rolling hills rising into Blaurg Mountain. Descending from the mountain’s peaks shrouded in black was a cascading energy that created evil dissonance with the city behind them. Thunder and lightning and freezing rain distributed down to the valleys so that, even in the early afternoon it appeared to be nighttime. Near the deepest scoop of the valley, a quarter mile up the dirt road, was a village. Looking down from the other side of the valley, Cain could see that rain besieged it and there was little to no traffic.

“We start there,” he said.

@Rin @Aleksei @danzilla3 @-Lilium-

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Capricorn-Man-Art.jpgNot even a day after the scientist, Esben Eden had become a part of the Dead, he was declared to head out. His table, filled with research notes and books scattered and sprayed aspewed as the old man stood and stretched. 

You couldn't tell by the way he looked, he was older than dirt. He gathered his bow and quiver, filled with many different tipped arrows and had headed out days before. He followed behind the man named Cain, stoic and silent. 

They were going to find a lantern. As best as it was described, Esben still thought it just a lantern. But he came along. He felt being dragged out of the stuffy research room would be good for him. Esben had other thoughts about that. 

And they had to choose a rainy day among other things. He was used to the rain but not walking in it. Esben pulled the black hooded cloak over him,  his hands into the pockets, the design on the back was the old cult he still had ties to. 

You couldn't wait for the rain to stop at least? I mean, I'm sure it could still be there on a non rainy day. 

Esben replied sourly, missing his stuffy research room and books.

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Commission: Riddick Skyrim OC by PanzerTheTank

The chill of death was still the greatest cold that Shikai had ever known, but as he followed Cain up the mountain he had decided that the present climate was a close second. It was a good thing he had listened to his leader and purchased appropriate cold weather gear; or else he would have been truly miserable. Like his leader, he had covered his face, in his case to conceal his unnaturally pale visage from any curious onlookers. While he wasn't as well known as some of the dead, he had been a wanted man before he joined, and his profile had seen a bit of a spike after the attack on Tia; so he decided it was better to be safe then sorry. For the same reason, he had decided to forgo bringing along any "friends," which was a shame, as they would have been quite handy for carrying their provisions.

On 2/9/2019 at 6:49 PM, Rin said:

You couldn't wait for the rain to stop at least? I mean, I'm sure it could still be there on a non rainy day. 

Shikai laughed, "If we waited for it to stop raining, we'd never get anywhere!"

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441f4dc81e73fbe350ba39de916e8ceb.jpg?b=tAs per the usual, the Apprentice treads lightly. The lack of sound produced by her movements a signature to her demeanor. What is emitted from her person, or rather from her umbrella, is the pitter patter of rain as each droplet collides with the arches of its black fabric.

Fascination comes with the rain, albeit a lack of fondness for the saturation of its precipitous moisture exists. The coalescence of their plump bodies into streams somehow beguiling to watch. Nature at its best. And this is her opinion of it.

Ultimately unhindered by the temperature, the body beneath the fabricated dome of safety is garbed less warmly than those of its counterparts. The sleeveless and knee-high gown a personal choice, worn most often on occasions such as this. In donning it she unknowingly paralleled the crisp cold of the season. Pallid skin and dark gown. Though black seems to be the color of the day.

And as funeral processions generally do they march along to the beat of a Dead drum.

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Riforte made sure she was at the end of the entire group from beginning to start, an attempt to keep herself away from the newcomers so she could evaluate them herself. The conversation has yet to happen, but will soon enough, as Cain had decided to bring new blood within their ranks all on his own. Had they not spoken about trust or had that been a tempestuous thought brought on by wish and wonder? If it had, then that only proves the conversation needs to happen sooner rather than later. 

With her attitude in check, the woman made sure she was friendly enough that the newcomers did not feel pushed away. She may not agree with Cain going off on his own, she can't blame Esben for Cain's actions, and as faulty leader of this organization, she can't allow her emotions to sway her responses easily. Shikai was also a new individual, just a bit more seasoned than Esben, so her opinions about him are not as harsh - just harsh. 

Thrusting the lapels of her jacket forward, Riforte relaxes against the pitter-patter of the rain. Just like the Apprentice, she wore attire that was less than favorable in such weather, yet she hardly reacted towards the harshness of her surroundings. Dressed entirely in black with little delights hidden on her person, she was somewhat prepared for anything at this point no matter how lazy she appears to be. Rain, sleet, or shine when there's a job that needs to be done, it'll get done. 

"The rain will be the least of your worries," she peeped up from the end. 

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There were a million things in the back of Cain’s skull unworthy of existence on the planet Valucre. Human lives twisted too far in the wrong direction and then assimilated into himself, parents he’d killed before possessing kids and knowing exactly how it had felt. Love lost; love found. All of who he had once been, was it gone? Had he ever known his name?

A form weathered by the cold steel of harsh experience and softened by months of drink gone suddenly awry led his Dead to Chister. Chister was the rainy village up to which the rainy path led, and Cain walked worldless with a feeling of vague nausea. The nausea wasn’t driven by his withdrawals— well, it was kind of— but mostly by the sensation that something was off. Not the cries of women and children both innocent echoing from the city in the rain; that was totally commonplace to Cain.

What felt off was the fact that such darkness could permeate a place that claimed to hold The Lion’s Lantern. No, there was nothing holy at all about what they came up on.

Scents of wet grass were soon muddled with the scent of iron, of blood. The sounds of rain bore a deeper undertone, until the deeper undertone became the rallying shouts of men and monsters. The wet sand path, grainy and giving beneath their feet but (hopefully) adjusted to at this point, streamed intermittently with rivulets of water. The rivulets now ran red. The grasses now parted. The cries now overcame the rain.

Cain turned, red brows furrowed over yellow eyes. Despite the rain he appeared very dry, and palpable warmth emanated from him even from feet away.

It hasn't stopped raining for a year, came his voice from beneath yellow eyes and a mask. The level of Unnatural activity in this city doesn’t make sense for the Lion’s Lantern being here. He lifted his black-gloved hand into the rain. Now that they were beneath the clouds of darkness, looking up, it was hard to perceive them. That was because, now, they were within the farthest reaches of the black obscenity extending from the mountaintop.

Behind them, yawning above in the downpour, was the series of pointed buildings that was Chister. A terraced building stories taller than the others was visibly either a city hall, the dwelling place of the highest noble in Chister, or both. In the distance, though the rain veiled much of what happened too many meters off, could be seen running citizens and creeping figures of large and dark stature. Despite the constant sky’s wet issuance, despite the smoke drifting from their masks and lips, a stillness could be felt reaching into the city behind Cain. He pointed to the terraced building, half-turned between the city and them.

We fight to the noblemen. Ask how this happened here. That might give us a clue where the Lantern is.

The team went down an alleyway leading into the city. The exiting mouth of the alley went into a marketplace. On the other side of the square were a few more blocks, then the tall terraced house. Cain was running before them through the alleyway leading up to the marketplace when the walls on either sides of them bloomed into splintered chaos. Shards of wood splashed against Cain’s back as he was cut off from the others by two giant bruisers of unnaturals.

Both were upwards of a dozen feet tall with horizontal stature to match. One of them had a six-sided gear protruding from its face, the hole in the middle the place through which one might guess its sense of sight to come from and a giant hammer for a right hand.The other had one giant putrid, yelllowish-brown eye and long clawed appendages. Both of them appeared once to have been village people, their mundane clothes torn at convenient angles to conceal their private parts.

Spoiler

PENIS VAGINA

What Cain burst out onto was a disgusting sight indeed. Had the entire village been murdered? No, definitely not, he thought, counting the corpse parts. There had to be some left. Surrounding the mound of burning corpses was a crowd of demons. They hadn’t beaten the main assault by any stretch of the term. Beyond the marketplace, Cain could see a wall had been erected around the noblehouse.

The eruption of walls like fabric in the wind had alerted the skeletal, horned menagerie to look back. Cain backed into the alleyway, turning so he faced the back of the centaurian monsters facing the other Dead. He ripped the mask from his face and roared.

Fight to the manor!

Approximately fifty-six rays of black shot from Cain’s back to impale various incoming targets even as he turned, a staff tipped with a devastating blue spear manifesting in his hand as he turned.

Closer to the burning pile of corpses was a blackened figure in a hooded robe. From the hood extended deerlike antlers.

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Capricorn-Man-Art.jpgAs Esben turned to reply, he heard a strange noise in the distance. The elf bit his lip as already they didn't get that far and there were sounds of fighting. Well, this was getting off to a poor start. 

It made him miss the study even more. He decided to go and just fight among the creatures ripping apart the villagers. He pulled out the bow and a few ice tipped arrows as he fired a few into the hearts of the attackers. And all was going well at first. 

He chuckled softly as he watched the arrows fly into the un-natural creatures. He spoke but nothing could be understood for the moment and the elf had no idea what was going on. 

He sighed as he shook his head, his hand shaking in his hand as he laughed. Almost lifting the bow but he didn't. What was going on? He didn't know.

 

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The atmosphere in the city was gloomy and dark, and it made Shikai feel just as gloomy as he moved through the deserted city streets. Before he could become too depressed however, two giant beasts that had obviously once been human plowed through the walls of the buildings on either side of the alley, cutting them off from Cain. If the intention of the surprise entrance was to leave them surprised and terrified, then they had failed, as he was delighted. Setting his sights on the brute with a hammer for a hand, he charged forward, deploying his tiger claws with a flick of his wrists. The giant aimed a punch at him with its normal hand, but he flipped over it, and landed on the creatures back, claws sinking in to keep him anchored. As the brute began to struggle, he leaned in and bit down on the things neck, injecting it with his energy before pulling away and spitting a mouthful of stale blood out.

"Yuck! You taste horrible!"

"You wouldn't have to worry about how people taste if you'd stop biting them!"

Shikai's brow furrowed at the strange voice, and looked up to see an elderly couple standing on the adjacent roof; their faces a mask of gentle reproach as they shook their heads. Blinking in confusion, the Zombie then laughed.

"Normally I have to take something before I see shit like this!"

By now his energy had wrenched control of the giant corpse he now rode upon away from whoever else might have been controlling it. He whooped in victory before directing it to swing its hammer-fist into the face of its partner.

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There was an unmistakable stench in the air; a lingering of iron, decay, and pestilence exhuming through the blankets of rain pelting the earth relentlessly. An abhorrent display of violence being brought to these unfortunate town's folk that laid scattered across the ground; Their corpses being piled up in a totemic claim of territory with survivors barely hanging onto their lives as they ran with everything they had, and lost. The executors of these poor souls, abominations with only bloodshed framing their trepenated skulls. The Dead attempting to cut a swathe through these fields of slaughter; The skeletal deviants chittering and creaked as they moved with unnatural speed. Hunger their only driving instinct. 

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A blue shimmering tear of magic appeared betwixt the hordes, and The Dead themselves; a particular ravenous fiend being caught where the portal had suddenly expanded from. His form being erupted across the ground and greeting a few of the members with undead viscera. A robed figure merging from the arcane tear before it regressed and closed behind him. He was adorned in multicored robes of reds, golds, and purples that concealed most of his form except for what appeared to be...slow writhing worms that undulated in place of his hands and feet. A removed hood exposing that his head too, was made entirely out of strange purple worms. A face lacking any facial features to speak of. 

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"I have arrived!" He called with a youthful voice of eager application expelling vibrantly from an otherwise unnatural creature. Reginald raising his arms in greeting before one of the undead horde smashed a heavy club through the wizard, reducing him to a cloaked pile. A wormed finger erupting from the pile and firing a sickly green beam at it's attacker. It's form beginning to rapidly decay and caused his body to begin flowing with the rain water. His robes beginning to jostle and rise before two arms of maggetous manifestation erupted into view. Reginald reforming and dusting his robes off before continuing "Forgive my lateness, everyone! Allow me to assist!!" He barked eagerly, listening to their instruction as he turned to face the coming foes. His hands beginning to trace arcane glyphs in the air as he prepared a spell. Arcane energy beginning to coalesce around his abberational form. 

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Cain veered for the antlered figure after turning away from his cohorts. Even the First had no inkling that shit was about to get turned upside down. You see, within the miasma of unnatural energy that submerged the city, ridiculous effects were bound to beset upon the people within. Looking around at the random deformities of the unnaturals it was clear that something of greatly varying effects had befallen the city.

The rain began to burn on Cain's skin, so he began channeling geomantic energy to embolden and thicken his carapace. Around halfway to the antlered unnatural, Cain realized his spells were having no effect on the rain against his skin. In fact, his left pinky completely fell off! Pausing in his long gait toward the antlered individual, Cain looked down to see that his skin was deteriorating beneath the rainfall. It had taken on a complexion of gigantic pores and soft, plush texture that became mushy when wet. A clawed humanoid swept at him and he leaped backward, a large chunk of his shoulder glomping away on impact. While he was weakened, he noticed his speed had nearly doubled.

Rose turned to face the rest of the Dead, his face drooping strangely beneath the rain. He had to find concealment, and double fast.

Running for the nearest overhand, Cain jumped and his wet-bread weight slammed against some sliding paper doors. The doors broke off their sliding hinges and together, Cain and them plopped to the wooden floor and slid a couple feet into the room. The gingerbread Cain laid there, rain slanting into the room on a soft breeze sweeping down from Blaurg. He laid there, willing his body to stop falling apart in the wetness. He looked back out the doorway to see what was happening to the rest of his people. Esben appeared besmirched with laughter; Shikai with a gently reproachful elderly couple.

He would yell to them, but he was quite frankly a sitting duck under this curse; so he made his way to a corner around which to watch the conflict.

"I'm not used to feeling so useless," he said with a gingerbread smirk, looking over the embattled group toward the manor. There were several overhangs between here and there, but he would have to avoid conflict if he was going to move fast enough. Gingerbread Cain began plotting his pathway.

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The puppets hammer fist connected squarely with its fellows jaw, sending it reeling back through the hole it had smashed through the building behind it. Shikai took his opportunity to launch himself at the creature, rolling and landing in a crouch behind the thing and extending his bladed claws. With two quick swipes, he cut the tendons in the back of the beasts legs, sending it to it's knees. That was when the hammer-fisted brute brought his weaponized appendage down on the prone creatures head, splitting it open like a ripe watermelon. 

"Ah, what a waste of good flesh," sighed Shikai, "But I'm not taking another mouthful of foul blood just to make another friend."

"'Friends,' he calls them," muttered the old woman.

"Is that how you treat your friends?" asked the old man, shaking his head.

"Yup!" replied Shikai cheerfully, "Now if you'll excuse me, I gotta go help my other friends!"

Before the couple could object, the Zombie had leapt back onto the back of Hammerhand, and steered him back out into the alleyway. From there he pointed him towards the strange creature with antlers, and ordered him to charge. The brute lumbered to obey, easily knocking aside anything that got in its path. As they got close, Shikai slapped his hands on his mounts shoulders before leaping off of it to land behind the creature. As Hammerhand swung with its weapon, Shikai threw five shuriken at Antlers.

@amenities

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Despite the laughing fit and trying to not eat his bow, Esben saw what was going on with Cain. He had become a gingerbread man. That made him chuckle a bit more. 

As Shikai went for the antler man, the elf figured he land a hand since both would probably need it. Raising his bow, he aimed the fire tipped arrow at the torso of the antler man and fired. 

He hoped it would at least distract the antler man so Shikai could get another hit in to get rid of it. 

Esben then chuckled again. He tried to fight the madness curse but for now he was losing.

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Cain danced along beneath awnings and overhangs, pausing at the fringe of each shadow before diving through the dispersing patches of rain between his cover. Luckily, the style of rooftops in this area allowed some protection from the rain that poured down their slanted shingles. The red-haired gingerbread man appeared almost like one of the other unnaturals, at least at first. Heading in a beeline away from the corpses that burned with evil fire even in the rain, pointedly toward the manor where the last remaining normal people likely remained.

That was when the 12-foot tall antlered Beast turned upon him. His sinister horns rotated in the rain as white eyes gazing from the blackness of his hood affixed themselves to the ginger gingerbread man. Silently, one of its long arms extended. A yawning sleeve revealed a skeletal hand, which pointed at Cain. Suddenly swaths of unnaturals began pelting at the walls along which Cain ran with reckless abandon. Cain, of significantly greater speed than them even without the speed augmentation of the gingerbread curse, gymnastically leaped over this mongoloid, back flipped over that monster and backpedaled past the other goblin. He didn't feel winded in the slightest, but his right arm was deteriorating from the wetness he had to plunge through without hesitation in order not to be captured.

Luckily for Cain, he hadn't come alone. The others were battling veritably, none hit so horribly as Cain. What I would give for some gentle reprimanding right now, he thought, spotting Shikai's elderly beseechers. Then he noticed exactly what it was that Shikai was doing.

The Beast's eyes were still fastened to the ginger figure bouncing around his Unnaturals. That was how he missed Shikai landing just behind him. The robed skeleton arm still extended, the Beast turned a face shrouded in shadow, but eyes flashing with unabashed surprise, upon Shikai.

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As soon as the shuriken had left his hands, his fingers had begun weaving the signs for the jutsu he meant to cast. A second later, he slammed his hands on the ground, and a square of ground around the hooded figure began to sink down into the earth as though he was standing on an earthen elevator. The shuriken themselves all seemed to have missed their primary target, but had found their secondary one in the flesh of the giant rushing towards the Beast. If the antlered creature looked close, he might notice the explosive tags wrapped around the hilts of the throwing knives. Though it would have also been understandable if he was preoccupied with the hammerhand giant falling into the pit on top of him. From his point of view, he almost certainly wouldn't see the explosive tags Shikai had slapped on the back of the giant before he had jumped off.

"So clever," sighed the old man, "Why can't you use those talents for something worthwhile?"

"I can't say if it's worthwhile," replied Shikai, "But shit like this is what I live for!"

"Language!" chided the old woman.

Shikai laughed and formed a handsign that detonated all of the explosive tags at once.

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Esben eyed the two as he jumped down beside them. Glad the horned creature didn't see him but also upset his arrows missed their target. 

Any chance that antler thing is the cause of what's going on?

Esben asked as he finally got a hold of his senses. Whatever had cursed him had subsided and he was back to normal. He then eyed a giant falling into a hole and an explosion. 

But the elf didn't know exactly what had caused that too as he looked at the hole. Esben then decided to go forward into the group of unnatural creatures, trying to lower their numbers. A bunch of arrows flew here and there and even so magic clashed with some of the beasts. 

He slammed his bow into the mouth of an unnatural walking towards him.

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