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X9o62Pn-GsNuN_8pBFMEO_gcZbDATW5XsCXsRJIkiayqolLJOrqk7E6jQYR65duVn_sAFlGJHupZbkXoW2QoonNCiQhG8uDRjwLKPhTVAiPkO-hbu7f2JxFU4MTea4kfp9peZavRsO6FNOf8uQhcFHgoyDl57UQyBHV4hzOhg-v70ya6iDiyxfl5SnbbbQe7JedX8o9c3VR8RBkHfvGSrJwInr8pK51DKz7pJPKyMx1xeyyrXKh5_gMEyXQFEpLKYhUXp5F4U7kiM3Y99DzH1Pdxv8ICP4CdPD7qysTiqZVRV7ENpw2wHm5wxia0nsPendCBw6nw8kcSTrw0XL1QgLcH45F-pu-8SEAk1T-Y80j_pWKlhvhucY7JW9FfBm8P1cQ5M2kb_wcLPtFgASCkModWxy9y6O3ifknNVX8hyC4GzmJxlFchdSeuD_GlTfTNGwIFyR7uPLYk4IIWLgqdDYMz5XSx_NyCxHIT7oW9ZLYj06Ly5PvqzRJPWngFaFCY_DD0ql1u3HYxRFBbg5eaqesUK4WV4o-VIpK7GAlk_a4uaZ1eAdYYg2fGad4Cww0lzPJjpEk-jdeCI6g65Tkqe1j-hKs3iBEloCdrEwlEHOY_JB8xL3MXWQWbqzucI3Rq4Sy1qeD_iYvmTUDjwDg_UXBikXtxYwcxCZTJEX8jYuZnFXBPcmOS6Y9Lt0TLcYCRQE_bj4Krrn8S_-ZsaA=w400-h600-no         vYh8R7i4CZCTqQssl7SIpMUM1GUibgDs0zAltl_pZsmK0WmxvF2Vo0lA4OQlN4E2ZsST6ac6AHQwWcML1LTVciQbUpVSTdNt-jW2u5zGVJdiWmeyO_ASd4v-yJf_u2Ix0ZILb81khc_wn3N_v17UvAQYS0bhjDtxmhsMzpkz0BETt7QSriXNaCkRg908RmaWPvv3YraaGaE23wd--iVQp-EoHKM6ykzUp4IdxAjMigI0qFZbWdV05g7W22W4nW-KPWFLDoXSJI23v8xcNNRrb_e3YcDhBqIUQY5hVH1HSjCTUu2xu1nTqWNKiJCpAAPqlA7suKMsTZdmlbCrtep-FJ42YWmlrQbzzaJ_vl8U9XkhbjYCIgYVg_1Z1Q4wXfX7xyS0L46kwxzptPXHiz32Kt5IDMoMGFHIRZy_TiwHLoO_2xslsJnOnbEaXYLV_7nJSpU_LU333WLk5P3296fw3iX2lixjRflMOEz5tpnnQlkF7UA7e20m1lCwd2Pb6EhI4yb0w7SQMoolJ7pgYoWJCQfIqV5vnZC_06NbEKJKSP8n6qQIbUQyR-wMUsbxcN90d9b_mY0H5exv3pdgi5R8Wk_Z4T1BlzgujTwV4TAP99_ETRAf2OYqOusuWsfspHj5QdHQ83KR2y5P95tT-Zy_vaUIchXDyrpuDvsHdvuCvU2q4bsYEF3KOdq36yY4ETWCUuCvogAvnPINSI5sng=w400-h600-no

>Pretty. Even on the inside. Reie’s a lucky a man

Reie snorts, rolling his eyes. "No flirting with my wife." Still, the quip has a trace of humor in it.

Kail smiles. She moves to brush a lock of hair off her face, her hand faltering as she feels the missing flesh. She grimaces, then lets her hand drop.

>You called us ‘non-elucs’ earlier. What did you mean by that? I’ve never heard the term before

Kail glances at Reie. He shrugs.

"Non-eluc. Short for non-elucidated. You're like us, but your powers haven't activated yet," Kail simply says.

"They'll probably get them soon, considering all the trauma Elendaron's throwing at us," Reie chuckles weakly.

>You also called yourselves Skjold and Kore. The protector and the cure. Seems kind of important, if you ask me. Why the name change?

Reie pulls his mask down under his chin. He's grinning. "Neat, aren't they? They were codenames to keep who we were secret, back before it all went to hell."

"They don't matter anymore," Kail says quietly. "The others are all either dead or..." she taps her face, "Like us."

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Alethea

We proceed in silence, with Kail leading at the front. When she finally turns back, I gasp, an involuntary reaction to her deformity. “Yo-your...” I stop myself when the man compliments her. I turn away. It is painful to watch them waste away like that. The sorrowful cry behind us seems to accentuate it.

There is a shadow in the distance, but I can’t make out what it is. If only we had- oh. Oh wait. I have not tried changing the rod to any other shape yet. In truth, I was spooked by the question that the girl had asked earlier. Is it safe? I wonder that myself. What if that’s what been eating away at the couple? However, I can’t pass up this perfect chance to try it. I imagine the rod turning into a telescope, and it reacts fluidly, pointing at the shadow as if it can read my mind. Well - I’m pretty sure it can.

”Is this.. a power?” I ask Reie, pointing at the telescope. I look through it. “It’s a city ahead,” I report to everyone. “A habited city, with bright lights. Hodra?” I make a guess. There’s something strange about it, like it didn’t fit into the surroundings, but everything here is strange anyway. I leave the telescope floating there, in case anyone else wanted to take a look. I put down the satchel entrusted to me and sit down beside the other man. “I’m Alethea. By the way.” Introductions are way overdue.

Edited by jaistlyn

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X9o62Pn-GsNuN_8pBFMEO_gcZbDATW5XsCXsRJIkiayqolLJOrqk7E6jQYR65duVn_sAFlGJHupZbkXoW2QoonNCiQhG8uDRjwLKPhTVAiPkO-hbu7f2JxFU4MTea4kfp9peZavRsO6FNOf8uQhcFHgoyDl57UQyBHV4hzOhg-v70ya6iDiyxfl5SnbbbQe7JedX8o9c3VR8RBkHfvGSrJwInr8pK51DKz7pJPKyMx1xeyyrXKh5_gMEyXQFEpLKYhUXp5F4U7kiM3Y99DzH1Pdxv8ICP4CdPD7qysTiqZVRV7ENpw2wHm5wxia0nsPendCBw6nw8kcSTrw0XL1QgLcH45F-pu-8SEAk1T-Y80j_pWKlhvhucY7JW9FfBm8P1cQ5M2kb_wcLPtFgASCkModWxy9y6O3ifknNVX8hyC4GzmJxlFchdSeuD_GlTfTNGwIFyR7uPLYk4IIWLgqdDYMz5XSx_NyCxHIT7oW9ZLYj06Ly5PvqzRJPWngFaFCY_DD0ql1u3HYxRFBbg5eaqesUK4WV4o-VIpK7GAlk_a4uaZ1eAdYYg2fGad4Cww0lzPJjpEk-jdeCI6g65Tkqe1j-hKs3iBEloCdrEwlEHOY_JB8xL3MXWQWbqzucI3Rq4Sy1qeD_iYvmTUDjwDg_UXBikXtxYwcxCZTJEX8jYuZnFXBPcmOS6Y9Lt0TLcYCRQE_bj4Krrn8S_-ZsaA=w400-h600-no         vYh8R7i4CZCTqQssl7SIpMUM1GUibgDs0zAltl_pZsmK0WmxvF2Vo0lA4OQlN4E2ZsST6ac6AHQwWcML1LTVciQbUpVSTdNt-jW2u5zGVJdiWmeyO_ASd4v-yJf_u2Ix0ZILb81khc_wn3N_v17UvAQYS0bhjDtxmhsMzpkz0BETt7QSriXNaCkRg908RmaWPvv3YraaGaE23wd--iVQp-EoHKM6ykzUp4IdxAjMigI0qFZbWdV05g7W22W4nW-KPWFLDoXSJI23v8xcNNRrb_e3YcDhBqIUQY5hVH1HSjCTUu2xu1nTqWNKiJCpAAPqlA7suKMsTZdmlbCrtep-FJ42YWmlrQbzzaJ_vl8U9XkhbjYCIgYVg_1Z1Q4wXfX7xyS0L46kwxzptPXHiz32Kt5IDMoMGFHIRZy_TiwHLoO_2xslsJnOnbEaXYLV_7nJSpU_LU333WLk5P3296fw3iX2lixjRflMOEz5tpnnQlkF7UA7e20m1lCwd2Pb6EhI4yb0w7SQMoolJ7pgYoWJCQfIqV5vnZC_06NbEKJKSP8n6qQIbUQyR-wMUsbxcN90d9b_mY0H5exv3pdgi5R8Wk_Z4T1BlzgujTwV4TAP99_ETRAf2OYqOusuWsfspHj5QdHQ83KR2y5P95tT-Zy_vaUIchXDyrpuDvsHdvuCvU2q4bsYEF3KOdq36yY4ETWCUuCvogAvnPINSI5sng=w400-h600-no

>Is this.. a power?

Reie looks flatly at it. "No, girl. That's a telescope."

Kail hides a laugh. "That's... useful, but probably just an anomaly from Elendaron. It seems helpful, at least."

>It’s a city ahead

The couple exchanges looks.

"That's too near to be Hodra," Kail says carefully, "but we should stop by. There might be supplies, or some way to travel faster."

>I'm Alethea

"Nice to meet you, Alethea," Reie replies. "Keep that bag safe."

 

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The girl takes her seat cross-legged, setting down the Under Thing’s leg on the ground beside her and watching quietly as the woman summons a telescope to appear from the glass river rod. The moans emanating from where they had come from send a chill down her spine, and she hunches tighter around herself, arms clasped over her body like a shield.

She does not try to look at Kail or Reie any longer than she has to; it is altogether morbid, the sight of them, and fear crawls up her throat every time she catches sight of their degradation, as the masked woman had called it.

As the adults converse with each other, Setsuko observes, and listens. One of the men, the one with the gun, asks about the suited couple, and then the woman makes mention of a city up ahead that she’s seen with her device. When she then introduces herself as Alethea, the girl realizes they have yet to introduce themselves to each other, and so opts to be next in line.

“Um, m-my name is Setsuko,” she tells them in a soft tone: the voice of a child, still, through and through. “I don’t know why I was called here, but I will help where I can.” The word non-elucidated does not ring any bells in her mind, but Kail and Reie had called them such; perhaps it is important. “What exactly are you?” She asks curiously, head tilting as she gazes at the couple for the barest of seconds before she has to look away again. “What exactly are we? We get—powers?”

 


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X9o62Pn-GsNuN_8pBFMEO_gcZbDATW5XsCXsRJIkiayqolLJOrqk7E6jQYR65duVn_sAFlGJHupZbkXoW2QoonNCiQhG8uDRjwLKPhTVAiPkO-hbu7f2JxFU4MTea4kfp9peZavRsO6FNOf8uQhcFHgoyDl57UQyBHV4hzOhg-v70ya6iDiyxfl5SnbbbQe7JedX8o9c3VR8RBkHfvGSrJwInr8pK51DKz7pJPKyMx1xeyyrXKh5_gMEyXQFEpLKYhUXp5F4U7kiM3Y99DzH1Pdxv8ICP4CdPD7qysTiqZVRV7ENpw2wHm5wxia0nsPendCBw6nw8kcSTrw0XL1QgLcH45F-pu-8SEAk1T-Y80j_pWKlhvhucY7JW9FfBm8P1cQ5M2kb_wcLPtFgASCkModWxy9y6O3ifknNVX8hyC4GzmJxlFchdSeuD_GlTfTNGwIFyR7uPLYk4IIWLgqdDYMz5XSx_NyCxHIT7oW9ZLYj06Ly5PvqzRJPWngFaFCY_DD0ql1u3HYxRFBbg5eaqesUK4WV4o-VIpK7GAlk_a4uaZ1eAdYYg2fGad4Cww0lzPJjpEk-jdeCI6g65Tkqe1j-hKs3iBEloCdrEwlEHOY_JB8xL3MXWQWbqzucI3Rq4Sy1qeD_iYvmTUDjwDg_UXBikXtxYwcxCZTJEX8jYuZnFXBPcmOS6Y9Lt0TLcYCRQE_bj4Krrn8S_-ZsaA=w400-h600-no         vYh8R7i4CZCTqQssl7SIpMUM1GUibgDs0zAltl_pZsmK0WmxvF2Vo0lA4OQlN4E2ZsST6ac6AHQwWcML1LTVciQbUpVSTdNt-jW2u5zGVJdiWmeyO_ASd4v-yJf_u2Ix0ZILb81khc_wn3N_v17UvAQYS0bhjDtxmhsMzpkz0BETt7QSriXNaCkRg908RmaWPvv3YraaGaE23wd--iVQp-EoHKM6ykzUp4IdxAjMigI0qFZbWdV05g7W22W4nW-KPWFLDoXSJI23v8xcNNRrb_e3YcDhBqIUQY5hVH1HSjCTUu2xu1nTqWNKiJCpAAPqlA7suKMsTZdmlbCrtep-FJ42YWmlrQbzzaJ_vl8U9XkhbjYCIgYVg_1Z1Q4wXfX7xyS0L46kwxzptPXHiz32Kt5IDMoMGFHIRZy_TiwHLoO_2xslsJnOnbEaXYLV_7nJSpU_LU333WLk5P3296fw3iX2lixjRflMOEz5tpnnQlkF7UA7e20m1lCwd2Pb6EhI4yb0w7SQMoolJ7pgYoWJCQfIqV5vnZC_06NbEKJKSP8n6qQIbUQyR-wMUsbxcN90d9b_mY0H5exv3pdgi5R8Wk_Z4T1BlzgujTwV4TAP99_ETRAf2OYqOusuWsfspHj5QdHQ83KR2y5P95tT-Zy_vaUIchXDyrpuDvsHdvuCvU2q4bsYEF3KOdq36yY4ETWCUuCvogAvnPINSI5sng=w400-h600-no

"You're pretty resourceful... Setsuko." Kail comments, eyeing the Under-Thing leg.

>What exactly are you?

They are silent for a moment.

"... humans?" Reie says.

Kail bursts into laughter. Her giggling lasts for half a minute before she wipes her eyes, choking out a response. "Humans! It's true! It-"

She bites her lip, suddenly somber. She blinks, then touches the side of her head. "Ah, sorry. I think... it's getting worse. B-but yes, you're humans. We're humans. Just human."

>We get—powers?

"Through- uh-" Reie gestures vaguely. "Elucidation."

"Hmm, yes." Kail blinks hard. "When you're- p-pushed past your limits. Your mind and body. Mind or body." She raises a palm, then clenches her fist. "Breaks. And your powers activate."

"Ours was a bomb," Reie traces the scar on his face. His fingertips are gone.

"My first shield was for him."

"She was near-dead after. I healed her"

They are silent for a while, leaning against each other.

The screams in the distance grow louder. Kail sighs. "We'll deal with that when it gets there. But-" she points towards the mountains. "Follow the river. Through the forest. We used to have an outpost in the Breach- a canyon beyond the mountains. Maybe you'll find some of us still there."

The screams grow louder.

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Alethea

There is a question sitting at the back of my mind. I’m panicking on the inside. “How can you be so calm about all.. this? Pushing past limits?” I stare at Kail. “Disappearing? How do you know what we are? What if we’re just.. just humans?” Without powers to shield or heal ourselves. I look at everyone else. They’re normal, like people who would die if a bomb goes off.

The screams sound again, louder, closer. A chill goes down my spine. I spring up to my feet, too restless to stay seated. The telescope swings around to my will towards the south, and I peer through it. 

I gasp and step away from it, my heart pounding wildly. “Zombies! Monsters. I-I don’t know what. We need to go. Now!” The human torsos on the mounds of tortured flesh nauseate me. I grab the satchel, ready to run.

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Laurent quirks an eyebrow. Powers that haven’t activated yet? Despite everything he’s seen in the past hour, he has a hard time believing this.

“Laurent,” he says, nodding in Setusko’s direction before shaking Alethea’s hand. “A pleasure to finally meet you.”

Out of curiosity, he peers one eye through the strange, shimmering telescope. He nods in response to Kail’s suggestion that they stop by the city.

“Agreed. It could be worth checking out. If we get a bad vibe walking in, we could always make a run for it.” 

Alethea pivots the telescope to the south. Laurent takes another turn when she pulls away. His lips flatten into a thin line as he straightens, rising to his full height.

“She’s right. We won’t stand a chance if those things catch up. Let’s head over to the settlement and see what we can find.”

Laurent looks over at Kail and Reie.

“You guys going to be okay for a run? The big guy and I-“ He gestures to himself and the other man with the thick accent. “-can carry Reie if we need to. I mean, if keeping up that stretcher becomes too tiresome.”

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X9o62Pn-GsNuN_8pBFMEO_gcZbDATW5XsCXsRJIkiayqolLJOrqk7E6jQYR65duVn_sAFlGJHupZbkXoW2QoonNCiQhG8uDRjwLKPhTVAiPkO-hbu7f2JxFU4MTea4kfp9peZavRsO6FNOf8uQhcFHgoyDl57UQyBHV4hzOhg-v70ya6iDiyxfl5SnbbbQe7JedX8o9c3VR8RBkHfvGSrJwInr8pK51DKz7pJPKyMx1xeyyrXKh5_gMEyXQFEpLKYhUXp5F4U7kiM3Y99DzH1Pdxv8ICP4CdPD7qysTiqZVRV7ENpw2wHm5wxia0nsPendCBw6nw8kcSTrw0XL1QgLcH45F-pu-8SEAk1T-Y80j_pWKlhvhucY7JW9FfBm8P1cQ5M2kb_wcLPtFgASCkModWxy9y6O3ifknNVX8hyC4GzmJxlFchdSeuD_GlTfTNGwIFyR7uPLYk4IIWLgqdDYMz5XSx_NyCxHIT7oW9ZLYj06Ly5PvqzRJPWngFaFCY_DD0ql1u3HYxRFBbg5eaqesUK4WV4o-VIpK7GAlk_a4uaZ1eAdYYg2fGad4Cww0lzPJjpEk-jdeCI6g65Tkqe1j-hKs3iBEloCdrEwlEHOY_JB8xL3MXWQWbqzucI3Rq4Sy1qeD_iYvmTUDjwDg_UXBikXtxYwcxCZTJEX8jYuZnFXBPcmOS6Y9Lt0TLcYCRQE_bj4Krrn8S_-ZsaA=w400-h600-no         vYh8R7i4CZCTqQssl7SIpMUM1GUibgDs0zAltl_pZsmK0WmxvF2Vo0lA4OQlN4E2ZsST6ac6AHQwWcML1LTVciQbUpVSTdNt-jW2u5zGVJdiWmeyO_ASd4v-yJf_u2Ix0ZILb81khc_wn3N_v17UvAQYS0bhjDtxmhsMzpkz0BETt7QSriXNaCkRg908RmaWPvv3YraaGaE23wd--iVQp-EoHKM6ykzUp4IdxAjMigI0qFZbWdV05g7W22W4nW-KPWFLDoXSJI23v8xcNNRrb_e3YcDhBqIUQY5hVH1HSjCTUu2xu1nTqWNKiJCpAAPqlA7suKMsTZdmlbCrtep-FJ42YWmlrQbzzaJ_vl8U9XkhbjYCIgYVg_1Z1Q4wXfX7xyS0L46kwxzptPXHiz32Kt5IDMoMGFHIRZy_TiwHLoO_2xslsJnOnbEaXYLV_7nJSpU_LU333WLk5P3296fw3iX2lixjRflMOEz5tpnnQlkF7UA7e20m1lCwd2Pb6EhI4yb0w7SQMoolJ7pgYoWJCQfIqV5vnZC_06NbEKJKSP8n6qQIbUQyR-wMUsbxcN90d9b_mY0H5exv3pdgi5R8Wk_Z4T1BlzgujTwV4TAP99_ETRAf2OYqOusuWsfspHj5QdHQ83KR2y5P95tT-Zy_vaUIchXDyrpuDvsHdvuCvU2q4bsYEF3KOdq36yY4ETWCUuCvogAvnPINSI5sng=w400-h600-no

>How do you know what we are? What if we’re just.. just humans?

Kail looks pained, "No, no. Even the first was human. But it's possible you'll never elucidate. It can't be forced. so many Nomas have tried to force an elucidation. Never ends well."

>Zombies! Monsters. I-I don’t know what. We need to go. Now!

Kail and Reie are staring south. There is a distant look in their eyes as they watch the approaching figures. To the WEST, several bulges in the ground herald the arrival of more Under-Things.

"Cajal limit's dropping," Reie says softly.

Kail moves the shields carrying Reie close to her. The shards break into smaller pieces, rearranging to form a crude seat. Reie pulls himself up, settling in a more comfortable position.

>You guys going to be okay for a run? The big guy and I can carry Reie if we need to. I mean, if keeping up that stretcher becomes too tiresome.

"You four go on ahead," Reie says. He pulls his mask up over his face.

"We'll keep those things from following you," Kail says.

Her mask reappears, enclosing her head. She squares her shoulders, standing a little bit straighter. Reie leans forward, eyes fixed on the monsters.

For a moment, you are able to catch a glimpse of what these two had been before their homeland had begun to die.

 

Kail walks back toward the beasts, bringing Reie beside her.

The mounds of soil are gaining speed. The ground ripples in their wake. Four slimy bodies claw themselves out in a spray of soil, snaking towards the pair.

The five shambling figures move faster. Multiple mouths stretch across each body like gaping scars, dark red tar bubbling from every orifice. The acid stench of vomit grows stronger with each heavy step.

It becomes all too clear this is a last stand.

"Go, now!"

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Alethea

”You four go on ahead.”

I stare in disbelief. That is practically suicide. More monsters are coming, converging at our location. Even with their powers, just the two of them would not be able to take all of them on at once. 

Kail and Reie prepare, with the same calmness that they had exhibited the whole time. Suddenly, the reason why hit me. They had already accepted their fate. They must have seen many of their friends and family fade the same way. At this rate of degradation, they won’t be able to make it to Hodra. They are depending on us to complete their mission, while making their lives mean something in this dying place.

I hold the bag closer to my body. “We’ll keep it safe. Promise.” I say, a lump in my throat. That is the last thing I can do for them. 

I turn to the north and start running, wiping a stray tear off my cheek.

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QT-VaB7gvfCftbWwzcIaEU7bJHyPcV7reCqld4RY

You arrive at the settlement. A wooden signpost by the road displays its name in bright letters:

WELCOME TO LIVINGTON

The air grows noticeably lighter as you enter the town. The once ever-present maroon sky has disappeared, darkening into a dull greenish-grey. The road under your feet is concrete, cracked at the edges.

The singular, wide street cuts through the small town. On either side of it loom tall concrete buildings, every window shining with warm yellow light. Perhaps it is a trick of your eyes and the dim lighting, but behind them, the other buildings appear to be flickering.

What first catches your attention is a wide-windowed, brightly-lit building to the WEST. Upon closer inspection, it appears to be a grocery store.

You are suddenly aware you haven't eaten since arriving in Elendaron.

 


  To the NORTH, at the end of the road, is the edge of the kaleidoscopic forest.

Some distance to the WEST, hidden from sight, the glassy river murmurs.

     From the SOUTH, you hear the dying cries of monsters.


Edited by OBELUS

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RejHudX.pngThe sickly wails of those atrocities caused him to stop and listen. Almost hypnotized, his chest began to sink in both paranoia and a rather somber emotion.

He wished to believe they were fine. Maybe not in one piece (they already weren't) but fine.

But that's too naive, especially for a man like him.

In the North where they had fled, the group is greeted by Livington, though it doesn't seem like anything lived here. A town that reeked of green, a strangely comfortable sight due to the general indicator of such color. As he scanned the lonely street sprawled out before them, a simple question arises. Is it safe?

He turns to the people beside him, behavior implying that we must all get a move on, for their sake. He clears his throat. "I see some grocery store." He grumbles, hand resting on his dry-bloodied knife. "Though I doubt we'll get any sort of customer service."

. . .

"I'm Grigori, by the way," Grigori says. He did not partake in their conversation a while ago. 

He also reeked of smoke. "Let's stick together. Maybe the shop has snacks. Or candy. For the girl." 

Edited by SweetCyanide

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Alethea

I thought we would find other people here. No, the street is eerily empty, the lights illuminating a ghost town. I enter warily with the rest, looking left and right in case something or someone is lying in wait.

The bright yellowish wash of the grocery store’s light stands out against the green tint. I look through the windows. It seems normal inside, rows of shelves with ordinary-looking products. The normalcy beckons to me. It is surreal in our current situation. I feel nostalgic about my home already, although not more than a day could have passed. It’s been a while since we ate or drank anything, and I could use a coffee. A smoke would be nice.

Cautiously, I enter the store. “Hello? Anybody here?” I call, peering down the shelves.

Edited by jaistlyn

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QT-VaB7gvfCftbWwzcIaEU7bJHyPcV7reCqld4RY

Quietly, the store's doors swing shut. The large, bulbous lamp at the center of its ceiling flickers, then glows a bright violet. The counter disappears. In its place is a gaping hole from which emits a red-purple infrared glow.

The floor tilts away from the door, dropping down towards the counter-hole and curving up at the walls. Everyone within the store is thrown off-balance. The tiled floors provide little traction.

The SOUTHern wall on the opposite end of the hole begins moving NORTHwards, intent on pushing you towards the hole.

 


 

You are inside the Store

 


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Alethea

The lamp in the middle flickers, then turns a bright purple. Immediately, I get reminded of a theme park ride - but that of the horror variety. I back out the door.. or at least I try to, but I hit solid glass. The door is shut. I turn back frantically, to see the other three standing outside. The floor tilts suddenly, and I start sliding on the tiled floor, towards a hole in the middle. I scream at them for help, but now I’m on all fours, clawing unsuccessfully at the smooth floor. I grab at one of the unmoving shelves when I slide past, relief flooding me for the moment. Until the accursed thing started moving silently towards the hellhole.

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Laurent’s not quite sure why he takes aim at the grocery store. 

It’s like there’s an invisible hand guiding him.

Making the decision for him. 

Stupid, he thinks, unsure of what he’s supposed to shoot at. He can’t help but feel a little ridiculous pointing his gun at box of Cap’n Munch. 

Then he sees the bulbous lamp glowing at the center of the ceiling. 

Right above the vortex sucking in Alathea. 

It reminds him of a movie. 

That must be the uvula.

Laurent lifts his gun. 

Oh, so it’s a girl grocery store.

A smile splits his face. 

“Stupid,” he mutters, shaking his head, and then-

BANG!

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