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Dredge

Break On Through (Cold Mountains)

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”Everyone’s got a friggen gimmick.” Dredge said with a sigh. 

 

From his lawn chair, the Overlord let the battle go on for a bit. While a few goblins were sure to be vaporized or maimed in the crossfire, Dredge knew that Kru needed to fight something of substance. The Devils wouldn’t face him, nor the Demons, or any other monster in this camp. His disciple had been relegated to hunting down Owlbears and other large beasts that this mountain had to offer for both the meat and sport. Pitiful creatures such as that would not be entertaining for very long to a monster such as the Djinn. So Dredge simply bided his time and let the two duke it out for a short period. Yet all things had to come to an end eventually. 

 

Slowly rising to his feet with the sinister aura of a cobra ready to strike and kill its prey. Dredge ran his iron covered gauntlet against the faceplate of the darkened helm. Without drawing the massive bone bastard sword attached to his back, the Overlord simply walked over to Kru and his foe. With every step a dark and evil energy began to grow. A well of rage, hatred, passion, and the power that came with them began to engulf and swallow the very magic and energy that flew through the air. From that source of power the nightmares and horrors that laid within the depths of the Nexus of Dredge’s being began to manifest themselves. All around him the aura of red arcane power began to shape into the forms of darkened figures of alien races. Men and women who comprised the very being of the dark lord who they now stood among. 

 

The wispy and at times veiled figures stood by the armored Goliath and in unison they all spoke in a deafening volume that rustled the trees and shook the earth beneath their feet with but a single word. 

 

”Enough.” Though spoken so plainly and simply, the word boomed through the camp and would cause those nearby to drop to a single knee in praise and servitude of the Nightmare King Dredge. 

 

A small pause took place as the now deafening silence took over. Casually sweeping his hand to the side, the spirits around Dredge blew away like leaves in the wind. The King would now speak. 

 

”Why is it that every time someone shows up they want to prove their worth by fighting? Is it simply too much to ask to have people just write a letter? Maybe show up and say ‘Hello. I’d like to join this organization, where can I apply?’ But no, everyone has to somehow make a grand fucking show it. The next time you’d like to meet with me, talk to my secretary! It’s what she’s there for!” Dredge then pinched the bridge of his armor’s nose and let out another deep sigh. 

 

”Kru, good job. You did good. Keep up the excellent work.” Dredge then turned his eyes to the intruder. 

 

”As for you. Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t destroy you down to the last atom, because you interrupted my break.” Dredge said with nothing but venom and an itch to finally kill something. He hoped whatever this person had to say wasn’t worth his time so he could end them in the mist vividly painful way he could imagine. 

@The Courier @Djinn&Juice @Akako Akari

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The hospital was the last place the vixen ever wanted to visit, but this was a special occasion. An elderly fellow lay in a semi-reclined bed as a nurse began to remove the apparatus that delivered medication that kept him from feeling the agonizing pain which came along with his particular illness. Akako was at his side, sitting at the edge of his bed while his family gathered around them, some weeping, others watching with morbid fascination. He was dying, and perhaps Akako could save him, but that wasn't what he wanted, and she couldn't fault him for that. He was human, and by every account, he had lived a long and fulfilling life. He was tired, and he missed his wife. 

The request had come a few days ago, and later this afternoon, Akako was going to assist in the delivery of supplies, men, and her familiar to Dredge. The timing was impeccable. In the letter, the eldest daughter of the man asked for Akako to give her father peace, and he had asked to see his wife one last time. Additionally, he had asked to be put to rest, assisted suicide, which was unheard of in Caelum. There had never been a case so severe that a patient requested death, but in this instance, it wasn't out of the question. 

It was how she found herself here, mere hours before her departure to pay a visit to the Lord of Legion. Akako had seen a picture of his wife, and that had been enough. With a breath, her yoki expanded throughout the room, warming the air and pressing on all of those within. Then the feeling was gone, and the family let out a collective sigh as the demoness pulled the power back within her core as she envisioned the woman he missed so dearly. 

Like a droplet falling into still water, Akako's appearance rippled then changed. The illusion fell into place with practiced ease, the smallest details matched from the lines in her face to the shadow cast against the opposing wall. A plump silver-haired woman with smile lines around her mouth and crows feet at the corners of her eyes smiled down at the prone man. His eyes opened, and he looked up at her in awe for a long moment. Akako knew he was unable to move, so she took his hand in hers and kissed the tips of his fingers.

He continued to stare, unabashed. Akako's smile softened, and she nodded gently. Realization shone in his glassy eyes, and he moved his chin the barest fraction to mimic her movement. Then, she leaned down and pressed her lips to his in a chaste kiss. His soul stirred within him, an ember of light that she could see, then ever so gently, Akako retrieved the soul from within him while her lips remained sealed against his. 

Pulling away, Akako, in his wife's image, watched him as she felt the boon of his soul as it absorbed into her. Meanwhile, his breathing slowed, and then he was gone in peace. The nurse that had remained checked his pulse and called time of death before making notes on his chart and removing herself from the room to allow the family a moment to grieve. 

The illusion fell away, and the daiyokai stood as the eldest daughter approached her. She thanked the daiyokai then went to her father's side. The other siblings followed suit, and finally, Akako slipped out of the room and into the hallway where Aiyoku waited. 

They met each other's gaze a brief moment before they made their way down the hall in silence. The family may not know, but they had just ensured that Akako would accompany Aiyoku. 

____ 

She rarely fed. It was taboo to consume human souls, but it was how Akako remained alive for so long. Void kitsune were rare, and she was the only one at her age. She was hardly the oldest of her kind, but she was certainly unique. With age, her need to feed dwindled and now she only did so once every several decades. Fortunately, she usually did so within the Void Realm, but this time she didn't. The meal, as meager as it was, whetted her appetite and gave her a boost in her magical stamina and strength. It was impossible to not daydream about more, perhaps something younger. Her lips upturned as she finished getting ready. 

____

Just outside of Legion's encampment, the air became stagnant, thick, and warm. Not that there was much in the area that could notice, but if there was, it was an obvious thing that would leave most unsettled. What followed was a grotesque noise like the tearing of flesh paired with the visual of space tearing. A vertical and jagged line severed space in a downward motion and only stopped as it met the ground, the snow melting immediately beneath it. From the wound, two sets of fingers wiggled their way through before gripping each opposing side as if they were holding a curtain. It was no simple thing, this magic. The two sides were pushed apart until there was a gaping black hole about 10 feet tall and 16 feet wide. From the pitch, the vixen emerged dressed in black leather pants, black boots, a black silk blouse, and a dark red wrap coat. What followed the vixen was several carts of supplies and rations, then cattle, and finally, the men she promised him. 

Once everyone was through the portal, Aiyoku stepped through along with Akako's newest familiar. The serpent waited a moment for him to fall into line at her side before following the rest of the group as they approached the camp. 

Akako lifted her hand, signaling the group to pause before turning around to face them. "Aiyoku, Kofudo." Aiyoku moved without hesitation and made her way to the front of the caravan to approach the demoness. Gold, impassive eyes looked between the pair before she issued her command. 

"Be sure everyone is settled in." 

Then she faded to mist. Her image dissolved before them, transforming into black wisps of smoke, then trailing towards where she could sense that dark aura that was impossible not to recognize. 

As she approached, she caught Dredge's last statement, which demanded an answer, though it wasn't posed as a question. The black tendrils of mist twisted through the crowd before gathering a handful of feet away from Dredge, carefully out of harm's way. From the mist, the Void Kitsune emerged seemingly amused by the way her lips tilted into a ghost of a smile. 

"What impeccable timing... what have I just interrupted," she asked before turning her attention to the familiar and curious being she'd met once before. "Kru'Gorah... to think we'd meet again and so soon. Such a pleasant surprise." 

 

@Dredge @Djinn&Juice @The Courier @Twitterpated

Edited by Akako Akari

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"Hmph-"

The Cripple let out what sounded similar to a laugh - an unsettling crocodilian laugh. Amid the silence that Dredge had created, all attention was now on him. The intruder. The silence was deafening as he stood unmoving, his sword poised like a statue. There was tension in the air. Every monster here hoped to rip out his soul. But there was a certain laziness to that feeling as well. He sensed it. And for as many a creature that wanted to witness a bloodbath, there were in equal number those who just wanted to get the drama over with and go home. The Cripple took his time to frown and contemplate. Dredge was formidable, but the Cripple had a power that the legion may have once understood but clearly no longer did.

He had nothing to lose.

Abruptly, he hoisted his weapon upwards, spinning it twice in his hand before sheathing it. Darkness began to leak out of his body from every possible groove in his armor, manifesting into a smokey haze. His features began to mar as the cloudiness assailed his body, reshaping him once again. Then, it cleared.

The man before Dredge was broad shouldered, carrying about him the appearance of a male human in his early thirties. His skin was pale and randomly pigmented, definitive signs of his undeath. His irises were red. Bright, crimson red, staring back into helmet of the dark overlord. A spectacularly curled mustache adorned his rugged face, spelling an elegant demise for his would be foes.

Slowly and deliberately, he kept his gaze on the Dark Lord while reaching out to the parchment that he had displaced to the right of the battle prior to his scuffle with Kru'Gorah. With a soft hum, the parchment flew into his clenched fist via telekinesis. Only then did he deem it appropriate to answer the Dark Lord's question with utmost illustration.

"I'll give you one. When I watched your forces during the sacking of Tormo, I saw a vigor. A passion and fury that accompanied the Legion in its wake of destruction. I saw a man whom wanted to liberate the fallen races of Valucre. I saw you plunder and I saw you protect. I saw you fighting with a fury that few in history have ever wielded."

He began a slow stride as he walked around in a wide circle, addressing the Dark Lord's followers.

"I saw a drive that I had never encountered in my life. A determination that could inspire and unite those whom had no power or authority to defend themselves. A defender of the underdogs. Is that not who you are? Is that not who you all are?"

He whirled back to Dredge, his voice reaching everyone who sat in the amphitheater.

"Is this what the Legion has become? Idle? Resting on our buttocks while families out there continue to suffer? Waging senseless wars for blood? Killing our own to achieve what? Riches? Glory?"

He began a steady approach on the dark lord sitting idly on his lawn chair. He was fairly certain that some form of harm would soon befall his person. He anticipated it, a pelt of darkness rising just below his skin, ready to spring out to protect the caster.

"I, Corren Ghostwalker, bring to you, Lord Dredge, a plan to bring back the former glory of the Legion," he would bend down on one knee as he came within whispering range of the Dark Lord.

"Tell me, have you heard of the-"

"Eternity Pebbles?!"

@Dredge

 

Edited by The Courier

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632452cdd760942d0f725c41343548ce.jpg He peered out from beyond the veil, his scarlet eyes glowing from the abyss in likeness to dancing tongues of flame. Stepping out as he had already been trained to do, he bowed deeply to show respect to his Queen prior to her brief salutations to them, and the ultimate deliverance of her orders.

"Hai."

He stated plainly as he rose from his deep bow, even though she'd already left them to their duties. Though she failed to physically be there for his verbal compliance, he knew better than to think she'd failed to notice it. He had no interest in testing to see if she in fact was incapable of watching or knowing at all times. Lest he was prepared to incur her wrath.

Looking out to the crowds of the encampment, Kofudo looked genuinely confused. When he'd heard the rumors floating about that they'd be welcoming monsters into their home, he never imagined how diverse a cast they were compared to the brand known as Yokai. While these monsters seemed to look more of the part in a variety, it was important to remember that Yokai could only appear as human such as himself once they reached a certain age and prowess. Otherwise they were no different than any other monster, or so his opinion stood. After all, he wasn't once of the types of Yokai like his Master, he had no origin as an animal or the likes there of. 

Without causing disruption, Kofudo strolled the streets at his leisure. His left hand rested lazily upon the butt of his tsuba, his robe like jacket waving in his wake. He took note of much of what he saw, though he was careful not to offend with a stare. Finally, a smile crept onto his face, a snicker escaping him briefly as he came to stop completely and fold his arms over his chest. Standing at 4'10" he sure didn't seem like much, though that was the perk of appearing as something you weren't. For all the nervousness of their new neighbors, he was relieved to see that they weren't so different in his eyes. He couldn't speak for Aiyoku or the others, but he honestly supported their Master's decision without fault.

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Kru'Gorah hadn't been so elated in quite some time, admittedly the time spent here in Genesaris had been used for building an alliance with The Kitsune's nation. He felt such pride acting as their emissary but he was at his nature a chaotic creature that yearned for the torment of anything and everything. This fight was a true release of his abhorrent soul; It was how he felt the most useful and most utilized. He was at his core...a weapon of war. The Djinn wanting to so badly reveal the third stage of his terror feast to his lord and master. He would see the true potential of the most dangerous weapon in his arsenal and understand! His flesh splitting with ghoulish fervor as he neared the pinnacle of his capabilities. This foe worthy of such an abysmal revelation. It was at this moment did he hear the voice of the supreme being and halted the transformation and attack upon The Cripple. Kru'Gorah exhuming from the ground and shaking the debris off his form; The wounds of the battle beginning to heal slowly as the terror that had been built up in his system was absorbed. His form skulking to his master's side where he continued to watch Corren with interest. He was dealing with Dredge now and the demon would only interfere if he was ordered to do so.

His patchwork cloak rose from the floor and snapped to his body as though it were a second layer of skin; obscuring his form once more. Dredge gracing his servant with a compliment and causing The Djinn's massive tail to wage with reckless abandon as he laughed with what could barely be recognized as glee "Your words are too kind My Lord, I am merely acting as your most trusted shield and sword" He said, bowing graciously as Dredge spoke to Corren. The counter argument made by the intruder causing the demon to hiss, but remaining silent. He dared proclaim their glory had faded underneath Dredge's leadership. They would all be lost, diseased souls adrift a maelstrom if it wasn't for him. This one was brave to insult the very banner he was standing under with such falsehoods.
Was it false? The doubt like an ugly splinter digging into his deepest recesses. He wasn't meant for peace or correspondence. The body count he had amassed was a testament to monster he was. He remembered the unsure, uneasy faces of the audience surrounding him at the town meeting. It revealed just how different he was outside a massacre. 

A new scent catching his nose and distracting him from such alien thoughts. It was something powerful...something...familiar. A grin splitting across his obscured features; It was The Kitsune. A goddess second only to his lord. She held such a sway in these lands she called hers and he found himself quite entertained in her presence. Her aura felt quite visibly now as she stood forth in the flesh with another familiar scent of what he could only assume was her ward. The Djinn letting Dredge and Corren continue their conversation as he immediately put into practice the routines he had started learning for their more...tame encounters. He approached the two of them and gave a deep bow; pulling back his hood as he greeted them. "This one is pleased by your presence your grace; Are you here to discuss those we seek to umbrace?" He asked pulling from his cloak a brick red tea kettle; two cups balancing atop his tail as they were presented before Akako and her plus one. "This is a beverage of my own creation; For guests who deserve such a celebration" He was still understanding the customs of other nations an civility as a whole. The demon pouring an opalescent orange liquid into the obsidian cups. The drink coming out piping hot strangely. "It is my first attempt at hosting without bloodshed, please enjoy a delicacy I call Mauldread" Any investigationg into the drink itself would reveal that it wasn't poisoned or tampered with in the slightest albeit it's ingredients unknown to this particular plane. It's taste sour at first before twisting into a sweet numbing sensation that cascaded down the throat and felt eerily narcotic. The taste aberrational and almost addictive in it's odd taste. 

@Akako Akari

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@Akako Akari @Djinn&Juice @The Courier @Twitterpated 

There was a single moment where not only the face hidden behind the dark helmet cringed, but the Stygian abyss and blood red eyes did as well. The dark Overlord pulled his head back and looked down at Corren with a look that could only be described as “what the hell is wrong with you?” After gaining his composure once again, Dredge took a few steps back and began to speak. 

 

”Okay, first off. We’re both grown men and you just casually walked up to me like you were about to whisper sweet nothings into my ear like I know you. I mean are we friends? Do we go way back in the day? Because to me it seems like you feel like we do!” Dredge had only just gotten started. 

 

”Second! You walk into my camp and proceed to insult not only me, but my people as well. ‘Is this what you’ve become? Resting on your buttocks’ Fuuuuuuuck you dude. Not only are my people now taken care of, but they don’t have to worry about being hunted down and killed. Had it ever once occurred to you that we’re happy here? Not only that but you’re calling for basically open war and battle in front of Queen Akako and her edgy harem anime boy toy!” Dredge said and shortly after turned his head over to Akako for a small aside.

 

”Hello Akako you look lovely today. Give me one moment please.” Now refocusing in on Corren, Dredge was about to go for the throat. 

 

”And lastly. Why would I risk the lives of my people. The people that so many fought and died for, and risked everything for. To run around for some fucking quest to find some god damn cliche MacGuffin that nobody gives a shit about?! Tell me Corren, cause I am just seconds from turning you into a smoldering pile of ash!” It was safe to say that Dredge was quite angry. He was enjoying his concert on the greens. He was relaxed and perhaps even finding some semblance of peace in his life. Was he still conflicted? Yes, but all the man wanted to do today was relax and get some supplies from Lady Akako before going back to his job of overseeing his people and the public works project that they were getting paid to do. 

 

”Also Kru could you make sure Lady Akako and her plus one are well taken care of, and if you could set me aside a cup of Mauldread that would be great. Two sugars, you know how I like it.” Dredge then kept his murderous eyes on Corren. 

 

Corren would be able to see something if he was perceptive enough. While what Dredge said was true and that was how he truly felt, there was still that fire in his eyes. The Dark Lord Dredge destroyer of worlds and slayer of entire species. As tame as he had tried to force himself to become, that side of him would always be a part of him. Someone who hungered to fuel the ceaseless flames of war.

Edited by Dredge

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